The image of a nurse projected by the media is typical of a young white single female being over-sexualized as well as diminished intellectually; this idea is then portrayed in get-well cards, television shows, and novels. The over-sexualized nurse is commonly referred to as a naughty nurse and is shown as a sex symbol or nymphomaniac.
Above is an excerpt from Wikipedia regarding nursing stereotypes. The radical feminist that lies dormant inside me, but always ready for battle, listening, watching and waiting for a just cause, suddenly awakens with a vengeance and I have what feels like could be a small TIA when considering this stereotype still exists. I thought that this naughty nurse business is a thing of the past? Reality then kind of slaps me across the face and I have a brief recollection of November 2016. Wasn’t there a guy who was running for the highest position in all of the land caught saying something to the effect of “I can grab any woman by the pussy?” And that women everywhere, supposedly like this man grabbing them there because he is great, all knowing and all powerful? Essentially all of the pussy in all of the land is his for the taking if and when he wants it. And apparently that women like this because he is great.
Was that real or all just a dream? If you asked me about this stereotype before this past November, I would have responded that I thought, for the most part, we have evolved and moved past this nonsense; But alas, it is July 2017 and none of it was a dream, although some may argue it has all been an incredible nightmare. I fill with a bit of rage all over again (Must repress. And I don’t care what my therapist says about repression, sometimes it just needs to be). I suddenly have the urge to dig my pink vagina hat out of the closet and slap it on my head again and march somewhere. Anywhere…. Anyone….? Side note: Was that hat really supposed to be a vagina anyway? I thought it was supposed to be cat ears as in “pussy.” It bothers me all over again that I have never got to the bottom of this.
In all actuality, I never did wear or purchase one of those hats. I did, in fact, march, but my head was pink pussy hat free. Not that there is anything wrong with them! Although Anna Wintour may disagree. A pink hat and it potentially being a vagina on my head is just not my jam, sorry. I think that there could have been a smarter, more tasteful way. But that is just my useless opinion and you know what they say about opinions. So this is another conversation for another blog. Let’s move along. My point is, just when we thought we may have evolved past this nonsense and any number of different stereotypes, we sadly, are faced with the realization that change and progression are much, much slower than we had hoped.
Any who… The sexy, naughty, nympho nurse stereotype in particular still exists to some degree sadly. But who knows? Maybe there is a group of oversexed nurses running around out there wearing fishnets and stilettos in short white cleavage bearing dresses just dying to give men sponge baths….But I kind of don’t think so. I know that I and I think many of us have had experience with the repercussions of this particular stereotype to some degree; however, let’s call it what it really is and dig a bit deeper. The acting out on this stereotype coming in the form of sexual harassment. I know, big scary words. Which in turn quite probably is brought on by the media’s portrayal of nurses as oversexed, scantily clad women who are just dying to give you a sponge bath while licking their plumped and pouty lips. This image is laughable and definitely not seen as often today, however, it used to be quite common.
When thinking about this, buried thoughts start unearthing themselves in my head. An all too familiar icky feeling starts to creep into my stomach. Ya know…. That feeling we all get when some creepy guy says or does something inappropriate… I remember an older man who was the videographer at my nursing school graduation, telling a few of us, we could practice nursing on him anytime (whatever that means), and that he was really sick. He said this as he fake coughed for effect. He next laughed his way to a real smokers coughing fit which made the icky feeling in our stomachs go away that much quicker as we then proceeded to laugh at him. Gross, gross and grosser.
We also have a few other stereotypes that you may or may not be aware of in our wonderful profession. They are well documented.
I am sure that you may have heard before that nurses are possibly a bit known to party quite hard (I plead the fifth on this one). Or that many of us are addicts and pill poppers. Or what about… aren’t all male nurses gay? These are, the more common ones we hear about. Any truth? Well…. Where there is smoke there is fire usually, no? Maybe a little. I for one partied pretty dang hard in my 20’s with my fellow floor nurses on Martha’s Vineyard when we all lived and worked there for a time. The best time. Oh, the stories we could tell. But is every nurse like this? Of course not. The addict stereotype?… Well, sure, I know of many nurses who have struggled with addiction. But then again, I know of many people who struggle with addiction also. I think in any high pressure, stressful, challenging profession you are going to see people “blowing off steam” in maybe some not so healthy ways. This is not at all uncommon. Lastly, let’s address are all male nurses are gay? Well, I for one know that’s not true! But I don’t kiss and tell.
Stereotypes, while not politically correct, sometimes have a bit of truth to them. C’mon… You know I am right. Part of the reason I believe some of them start or take on a life of their own is that let’s face it, I honestly don’t think many people understand really all of what we do. I know even my close friends and family do not. Maybe educating the public more is what is needed and we can start with the people in our own circles. Let them know what a bed bath really looks like. And that a bed bath is a tiny fraction of what only some of us do.
The patients in the critical care areas who are ventilated, have multiple lines, wound vacs, burns, who are combative, restrained, detoxing etc. Need baths too. And believe me, it’s not at all sexy. Not in the least.