Journal of Christian Nursing: reeking of sexism

Mindy recently received the spring issue of Christian Journal of Nursing (the subscription, a gift from Wheaton College). The particular theme was about issues men face in the field of nursing. It seemed like it had potential for some interesting discussion, but a lot of what we read disgusted us both. I’ve decided to take two sections from the magazine (one today, one later) and post them along with my commentary. There was a lot more we could address, but I’ll just start with these.

Men [in nursing] report they have to be careful in their conversations and action with female colleagues because they don’t want to appear paternalistic or sexist. –Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner from “Reverse Discrimination?”

I find it fairly disturbing that a women would feel this is worth noting. I personally (regardless of my field of study or audience) NEED to be careful to not BE sexist or paternalistic. Let me explain. One, whether a man is in nursing or in the locker room should not be a factor in the statement above. Two, this statement shouldn’t even be exclusive to men; women also should not be sexist nor paternalistic. Three, isn’t it much more important that we not BE sexist than simply not “appear” sexist? You can “appear” as unsexist as you please, but if you really aren’t sexist, then the need to “be careful in their conversation,” should not be a problem at all. Is it just me or does that statement above reek of sexism?

Obviously, if I am going to critique that statement, I should make an attempt at providing an alternative that addresses the issue. The paragraph is hinting at the idea that there are biases held against males and that has made it difficult for those males in the nursing field. Yet, the reason those biases are there is because there is and has been a lot of validity to them. I think it’s important to acknowledge that first. Then it seems appropriate to note that many well meaning and very forward-thinking guys may have been perceived a certain way because of the biases in nursing. Finally, it’s important for those males to recognize that this is just a teeny tiny taste of what so many women had to go through and still go through in our society and that it is a small price to pay for their opportunity to join, grow and learn from these amazing women.

Here’s my quote:

Though there is still sexism and paternalistic tendencies in health care and in our society that reinforce our biases and stereotypes; some of the most well-meaning men have felt misunderstood and wrongly judged based on these biases. Fortunately, many of the males in the nursing field realize this is only a glimpse of what their female colleagues and predecessors have faced in sexism and they are more then willing to work through it and learn and grow from their experiences. I, especially with my women’s liberation tendencies, need to be more open to the fact that some men share my views, rather than misinterpreting and judging them.

Stay Tuned for part II

4 thoughts on “Journal of Christian Nursing: reeking of sexism”

  1. As a nurse who has been in the field for nearly fifteen years and who has several male friends in the field, I believe you’re being over-analytical and hard on JCN. I believe the portion you quoted perhaps could have been written more clearly, yet I “get” what they are saying. My male RN friends have told me of instances where they have difficulty doing there jobs since they are expected to have different standards of behavior than their female colleagues in identical situations. An example would be female RNs who go out of their way to tell dirty jokes, etc, usually in the presence of their male co-workers. My male friends could never tell the same jokes without being considered sexist/paternalistic; some even are frowned upon if they laugh at the joke! Also, there is a weird culture in nursing where many female nurses resent male nurses and go out of their way to make life hard for them. They will look for anything in the male nurse’s demeanor, actions or words to use as an excuse to accuse him of sexism. I believe this is what this article is trying to convey.

    When I read this quote, I interpret it this way: “they don’t want to appear paternalistic or sexist” is indicating they are NOT paternalistic or sexist but some persons have tried to convey they ARE because these persons have misconstrued their actions. I try to believe the best of others, especially those who are fellow members of the Body of Christ and we have a pretty strict admonition from the Lord Jesus in Matthew 7:1 concerning judging others.

    I can understand if you were offended by what was said, but I truly believe there was no intention on JCN’s part to imply any of what you said. As to the statement “reeking of sexism” I completely disagree with you. To “reek” of sexism would mean they allowed their underlying sexist attitudes to seep through into their writing. They were trying to convey a point and made a mistake in the attempt. It could have simply been worded in a better way but it was a MISTAKE and their intent was not in any way to convey what you say they are conveying. Finally (& I do apologize for how long this is) I would leave you with a verse to think on: 1Corinthians 13:5; I’ve heard 1Corinthians 13 referred to as the “Great Love Chapter” and I believe it’s a wonderful standard to live our lives by.

  2. Thanks Debbie for responding. I appreciate what you shared and I feel like I agree with you on a number of points.
    To me it seemed like what you said about guys not necessarily meaning to be sexist is similar to what I said and what I suggested the article say instead. Do you disagree?

  3. Yes, Ariah, I do think we were saying similar things. I guess I was a little shocked by both the title of your entry and it’s pettiness. My view on this sort of thing is to give the journal a chance by reading it over time to see if its intentionally going against my belief system. If I find this is so, then there is no problem in my writing my opinion about it. It just felt as tho’ you were ripping into this journal without giving it a chance!

    I’m sure, tho’, its been a learning experience for you and that’s never a bad thing!

    God bless!

  4. Debbie,
    Tell you what, I’ll certainly give the journal as a whole a chance. Even if this editor is some what sexist, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have anything else of value to say.

    I think my major beef was with that guy who wrote the other article. I just felt like that was way off base. And I feel like those things need to be addressed.

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