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Academics are not the experts, managers are the experts but what fitting-in can do is to help managers to use their expertise.

Theory without practice is a waste - Practice without theory may just be dumb!

 

The word "Masculinity" is often used to describe men’s behaviour. When this happens what does the word mean to you? Unless you and the people you are using the word have the same understandings then it can mean all sorts of things.

The dictionary describes masculinity as ‘behaviour appropriate to a male’, but what exactly does that mean? Surely, in deciding behaviour appropriate to a male it depends on who the male is? Clearly, a ballet star, a high court judge, a salesman, a manager and a firefighter would not be expected to share the same behaviour. However, men in each of these occupations may think of themselves as masculine; and for them their thoughts are true. The male ballet star may argue that the combination of his agility and strength give him the power to be able to lift the female ballerina and therefore he is masculine. The male high court judge may claim that the objectivity, integrity and rationality associated with his judgement are masculine. The salesman may claim to be at ‘the cutting edge’, in similar terms as the male manager who claims to be an ‘entrepreneurial captain of industry’. Male firefighters may claim that their extreme physical skills, determination and strong sense of public service, which lead to their heroic imagery, are signs of their masculinity.

This list of male occupations could continue and wherever their are men at work, it seems that they will moreoften identify their work or their behaviour as 'masculine. Equally it would be possible to link masculinity to a list of sports that men take part in. Sportsmen could then in turn judge their skill, extreme physical effort and teamwork as masculine. The same might be said whenever 'boys' get together; their behaviour could be judged as masculine or a form of masculinity. In effect, anything that men do they may describe as 'masculine.'

When you look at the term in this way it seems that masculinity may not be a very good word to describe men’s behaviour, because different men (and women) are likely to use the word to mean different things. Making the whole debate much more difficult, is the question "what do you call a ballerina?" Is she feminine or does she display very similar skills to her male counterpart. The same could be said about women judges, and saleswomen. Could they not take on the same attributes as their male counterparts?

However, without such a word or a substitute it may be difficult to understand men’s behaviour. So perhaps it may be good to go back to basics and ask how men may describe their behaviour. The next article will look at this.


 

 

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References: See what The Swedish Fire Service, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Fire Services, Swedish MSB and Tom Carroll (Past president of CFOA ) and others have said.

Fitting-in can provide a cultural audit that not only feeds back on attitudes in your service it also provides an outside view on how your organisation is thinking at all levels that is supported by recommendations for focussing change.This is what Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service had to say about the Ethos research, communications and training project:

"The Service are delighted with the research and reports produced by "Fitting-in. We believe that your original hypothesis and work undertaken in Merseyside has resulted in a ground breaking piece of work that can only serve to inform the wider fire and rescue communities." 

For further information or just to talk about what fitting-in can provide ring Dr Dave Baigent (FIFireE) 07802 495 329 or email

Academic theory without practice is a waste - practice without theory may just be dumb

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