Mixed feelings about the FDNY calendar girl

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All of the firefighters with their hands raised

All of the firefighters with their hands raised claim to be single. We're not sure about flexin' Mr. February. Photo Credit: Nina Ruggiero

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Rachel Figueroa-Levin Rachel Figueroa-Levin

Rachel Figueroa-Levin tweets as @ElBloombito, @Jewyorican and @EveryGentrifier.

Another glass ceiling has been shattered.

NYC firefighter Danae Mines, of Engine Co. 60 in the South Bronx, has become the first woman to be featured on the Calendar of Heroes -- until now a splurge of usually half-dressed male firefighters that has become an annual fundraiser for the FDNY Foundation.

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I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I'm all, "You go girl! Rock that calendar!" But on the other hand, I worry that the calendar, which even if playfully turns firefighters into sex objects, will do the same to Mines, an 11-year veteran of the department.

Mines, 41, isn't topless and isn't striking a provocative pose, but I'm still concerned that her inclusion in the 2015 calendar may take away from her accomplishments with the FDNY. I have visions -- perhaps mostly out of fear -- of street harassment and cat calling from bystanders toward women fighting fires. Perhaps my discomfort with the calendar as a whole -- but Miss March in particular -- really stems from being programmed by a patriarchal society that can't seem to figure out what to do with that equality thing.

Please stand by while I set my bra on fire.

Aside from apparently being a prude, I worry the calendar may fuel those who over time have raised questions about the ability of female firefighters. Questions about the low number of women in firefighting, their lack of representation in higher positions, could be met with: "But you guys were in the calendar that one time."

I don't want this calendar inclusion to distract from the real glass ceiling: Fire departments across the country remain majority male -- with women accounting for about 3.5 percent of all firefighters, according to federal figures. So after we're done yelling "Girl power!" and showing our daughters Mines' calendar photo (and have that awkward conversation about why we have the calendar in the first place), we should take note that there are other ceilings to break.

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There are only 41 female firefighters in the FDNY, which has about 10,000 uniformed members. If we really want to teach our girls that they can do anything, including fighting fires, women's representation in the field has to get better than that.

Rachel Figueroa-Levin tweets as @Jewyorican and @ElBloombito.


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