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