Firefighters have turned their hoses on ITV2’s Love Island and toilet cleaning brand Harpic, by castigating their malign influence in reinforcing sexual stereotypes of the service as being full of ripped, male sex objects.
Commissioner Danny Cotton led the charge by lambasting producers for “rolling out every offensive cliche possible with their so-called 'fireman challenge’”, a broadcast she also dubbed "offensive". Cotton, the first woman ever to hold the most senior position in the London Fire Brigade (LFB), added: “No wonder so many young women are put off by that.”
Of 5,000 operational firefighters in the LFB just 300 are currently women, a situation not helped by ITV2’s summer hit, which instructed male-only contestants to strip down to their underwear and pretend to rescue their female companions.
This is in stark contrast to other services such as the army and police which have managed to increase female representation, examples which Cotton is now seeking to emulate.
Illustrating the continued pervasiveness of such myths, Cotton also turned on an ad for toilet cleaning brand Harpic, which fell back on a ‘lazy cliché’ of a woman flirting with a butch male firefighter in order to flog the Reckitt Benckiser-owned product.
The Committee of Advertising Practice has carried out a consultation on tighter rules for ads containing gender stereotypes.