Tag Archives: sexist

Journal of Christian Nursing II: Male biases off the deep end

UPDATE: My good friend Zach pointed out that this critique was overly harsh, and after reviewing it I agree with him. I still think most of the points I make are valid (there are still many biases and subtle sexism throughout the article), but my tone was very out of line. I probably should not have just taken a small chunk and picked at it. There are things in the article I agree with, I realize men have some obstacles to overcome in the nursing profession. I’ll leave the original text up for everyone to read and critique and continue to interact with, but know from the start I realize it is harsher then it should be.

Two days ago we talked over a short quote by the editor of the Journal of Christian Nursing and critiquing some of the implications of that brief quote. Today, we are going to look at a longer passage (from an article applying Wild at Heart to nursing), along with my running commentary, and hopefully we’ll learn some important lessons.

From the Journal of Christian Nursing, “Men in Nursing: Hard-Wired for Adventure” page 15:

The way men are wired greatly directs the areas of nursing in which we find ourselves.

Gender exclusive statements like this always bother me a little. It always seems to imply a hint of “unlike women,” as if the way women are wired doesn’t necessarily direct nursing. You might find this being a little too critical, but what if it said: The way black guys are built really impacts the way they play basketball… or The way Muslim’s handle the Christian-Muslim tension is really commendable. Those two statements are a little more awkward (and racist).

Nurse anesthetists, for example, have a male population approaching 50 percent, despite the six percent total of nurses who are men nationally. Emergency rooms, intensive care units, circulating nurses in the operating room and nurse managers in all areas have higher rates of men than are reflected in the nursing population as a whole. Note that these areas have some similarities.

Let me jump in with my notable similarities (thanks Mindy). These positions are more prestigious and also pay more. Similar to management positions which also are dominated by males. Before we start seeing this as commendable, we should recognize that the affect of sexism and oppression has played a role and still plays a role in any place where men (particularly us white ones) are in positions of power and prestige over women. It’s changing, but it’s not their yet.

There are distinct battles that can be fought every day (an operation, an emergency situation, a critically ill patient or a bottom line to meet). Also, the battles have a clear outcome, a reflection of a man’s input into the battle.

Again, the implications here seem to belittle the more “female” nursing areas, as if they aren’t battles as well. I realize this “battle” terminology is important to Wild at Heart, but I read this and I ask, “What’s your point?”

It is not uncommon to hear men in the break room talk about the struggle involved with a particularly difficult case, and how hard it was to overcome those struggles.

Now this one is really bothersome. What in the world do you think women sit around the break room talking about? Their nails? (according to the author, Richard Haas, women, unlike these men, spend their time “gossiping.”). And in a hugely female dominated field I would think the majority of the time the “men” are usually talking to “women” about these cases, unless they are still keeping to their elitist male circles (and that would be a problem).

Some of these battles provide a background for an adventure, an exotic case or a patient whose condition is extremely tenuous.

“Exotic case”? Are you kidding me? You can go hike through an exotic jungle or go on an exotic vacation, but I highly doubt any patient would like to be referred to as an “exotic case.” Listen carefully to that sentence, it’s very self-oriented. I want the adventure for me. “Battle, Adventure, Exotic, Extremely Tenuous,” all these things make me more excited about the mountain I’m conquering. That’s not what nursing is about.
Nursing is about being a patient advocate. It’s not about the nurse and her prestige or exotic adventures, it’s about her patient and their well being. It’s about speaking up for the patients rights when a bunch of doctors walk-in and talk about this “exotic case” as if the patient wasn’t laying their dying of the disease the doctor’s are calling their latest “adventure.” Nurses love with a selfless love.

Further, some of these areas provide greater financial rewards, important to men who are primary wage earners for their families. –

Once again, the implications of gender exclusive language are disturbing. Let it be known that “Greater financial rewards” are important to WOMEN who are the primary wage earners for their families. But maybe “greater financial rewards” isn’t the point. Maybe women aren’t worried about that, they’ve probably got their priorities straight, it’s about helping people.

Let me finish by saying this: I’m not saying men can’t have their adventures and fight their battles. I am saying when we start elevating men’s motives and activities in such a way that it implies the exclusion or the belittling of what women are and do, we have a problem. Men and women are different, I fully agree. We are wired differently, I can agree with that too. What I can’t agree with is when people (Christian’s especially) lean on these “differences” to support sexism and discrimination.

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

Relevant removes it’s incriminating Radiant Ad

Okay, so the title here is a little harsh, but you’ve got to wonder. I’m listening to the Radiant Podcast to say if they say anything about it. From what I can see they decided to remove the ad with “It’s Our Turn Now” across the top. I’d like to think it has something to do with the discussion that was started here regarding the sexist implications of that statement.
Radiant's new Ad
I emailed Cara and asked what she thought about my thoughts on it, but it doesn’t seem like she responded at all. It could be purely coincidence that the Ad has been changed, but that’s just a little suspicious. Oh well, I think it will remain a mystery.

UPDATE: Though I never got a direct response on the ad change, Cameron (Prez over at Relevant) did reply with some thoughtful comments on my Message Board post.