AMBER LOVE 17-SEP-2014 I had to update this post because I found this Kickstarter campaign for a “Women of EMS” calendar which perfectly illustrates my point about cheesecake and beefcake calendars. As you can see the “Women of EMS” are following along with cheesecake tradition featuring women baring a lot the way the men of the NY Fire Department do. There are campaign problems with the “Women of EMS” project: first, they don’t have any backers which means even this guy’s friends won’t put up $25 for it. Next I see that he doesn’t even have models or photographers booked so he’s looking for upfronting funding which is not as successful as a project that only needs print and distribution funding. Finally, based on the California style model with blonde hair and huge boobs, there’s no indication that the cast of allegedly real EMS workers will be diverse. Cheesecake calendars have their place (preferably not in an office) but this Kickstarter looks like a failure already. The NY Fire Department calendar is actually failing in a different way when they presented their first female firefighter in a modest way which I explained a month ago (see below).

women of ems

AMBER LOVE 14-AUG-2014 About a month ago, the New York Fire Department announced that it would include a female firefighter for the first time in their notorious beefcake calendar. Now, the bad feminist in me feels like I’m ready to talk about this because I don’t think the NYFD calendar was the “time and place” to decide to take a stand on feminism. I know, I know. I’m out of my mind.


Historically, the FDNY calendar has been filled with glorious half-naked muscle-bound male firefighters to objectify them with purpose and consent. This notion of taking ownership of objectification and being sexualized when we want to is often missed on the conservative or the bra-burning feminists.

The FDNY calendar sales, first of all, are done to raise money for their foundation which was “established to promote Fire Safety in New York City and fund professional development, training, and education programs for members of the FDNY,” according to their website I guess there is a segment of the population that doesn’t believe the best way to raise money for a good noble cause is through porn, even the softcore calendar variety. According to the online order form this is what you get when you purchase the calendar through a donation:

Product Details

The only Official FDNY 2015 Calendar of Heroes! It’s back! Special edition honors the 150th Anniversary of FDNY. Hot calendar also features a female firefighter for the first time! Hotter than ever this year! Photographed by Celebrity Photographer Patrick McMullan.2015_Calendar

Notice that they use the description “Hot calendar” when they emphasize that a woman is being featured for the first time. Yet, when the female firefighter auditioned, her motivation was not to be considered “hot” but to be considered a good role model.

“I wanted my picture in the calendar so that young girls and young women can see me and know that they can do this job,” said [Danae] Mines, whose calendar shot – in a gray FDNY tank top, red suspenders and equipment belt – is more modest than her male counterparts’.  – PEOPLE MAGAZINE

You can be hot and you can be a role model. Yet Mines is not depicted as “hot” the way the male firefighters are. Scantily clad is often debated in the comic book world as being poor taste of characters designed to be role models. The men of the FDNY are eye candy. They’re still role models in their every day lives and every single shift they work. When they pose for the calendar they are beefcake. Being role models is NOT the point of this calendar. Little boys and girls are NOT the target marketplace for this. The gay men and straight women of the world are the demographic for the FDNY calendar. I’d even give leeway that teenage boys who are looking to model their future bodies after someone would be part of this demographic. If that’s the case, scantily clad women would be appreciated too.

FDNY Behind the Scenes; source: flickr
FDNY Behind the Scenes; source: flickr

If we wanted to see pinups of role models rather than beefcake, they’d have their uniforms on. Just like in comics, there are “kids’ comics” and there are “teen+” comics. The uniforms of the superheroes change depending on the target demographic. A perfect example is considering today’s new adult version of the DC Comics character Starfire and comparing her to her cartoon variation which is targeted to all ages. There’s a giant difference. Young Starfire is innocently boy crazy but she’s not the sexually liberated vixen that mature Starfire is.


I’m no expert on beefcake as an artform; I know a bit about cheesecake, the feminine variation thereof. Beefcake doesn’t need to be Tom of Finland but, in the U.S., it seems we’re perfectly fine accepting the Chippendales and Thunder from Down Under for what they are. Having the firefighters calendar models covered up based on gender is like asking Playboy bunnies to stop wearing those cute bunny suits.

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