Australia

Sydney fire station caught up in 'toxic masculinity' debate after sign backlash

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The sign outside the fire station in Sydney's inner-west read: “House fires are toxic, our masculinity isn’t”.

A Sydney fire station has come under attack for putting up a sign, seemingly in response to Gillette's controversial advertisement. 

The ad, which launched two days ago, started trending on YouTube and almost immediately activated a debate around the world. 

It addresses issues such as toxic masculinity  and sexual harassment by urging men to be "the best they can be" in a post #MeToo era - a twist on the razor company's long-standing motto: 'The Best A Man Can Get'. 

A Sydney fire station has apologised for posting a controversial message on a noticeboard, in response to Gillette's latest advertisement.
A Sydney fire station has apologised for posting a controversial message on a noticeboard, in response to Gillette's latest advertisement.
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After the launch, the Newtown branch of the NSW Fire and Rescue updated its bulletin board, with a message reading "House fires are toxic, our masculinity isn’t".

The message has since been taken down, with many claiming the fire station had taken a side in the debate surrounding the razor brand's ad.

But the Newtown Fire Station has told SBS News the sign wasn't a response to the Gillette ad, but a statement against toxic masculinity.  

"We strive to provide a safe non-toxic work environment that all people can feel safe in. We simply were stating that we don't promote or practice toxic masculinity," it said in a statement. 

The Gillette ad
Gillette's new commercial addresses toxic masculinity.
YouTube, Gillette

Newtown Fire Station is known for its humorous messages, often using the noticeboard to spread tongue in cheek safety alerts and occasionally even some social commentary. 

The station said its staff worked to be "proud men" by helping others.

"This may be achieved in many ways: [by] being inclusive, standing up for minorities, standing for those less fortunate, standing against bullying and unfair labels," it said. 

The Newtown Fire Station showed support for paramedics and volunteer ambulance officers are the front line of health care in Australia.
The Newtown Fire Station showed support for paramedics and volunteer ambulance officers are the front line of health care in Australia in May last year.
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"The sign was for people concerned that there is way too much toxic [sic] out there. To show that there are groups that fight it."

A NSW Fire and Rescue Spokesman told News Corp the message was “not considered appropriate” for a public noticeboard and was subsequently taken down.

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