feminism and nsg--whatcha think?

  1. I'm a second year BScN student and I'm writting a paper for a Sociology class (senior elective) about feminism and nursing.
    I've found plenty of academic info about the subject, but I'm looking for some 'real' opinions...So, whatcha think?
    Do you think feminism has anything to offer nursing?
    Is feminism something nursing puts into practice?
    If so, how?

    Any other general comments you have would be appreciated...

    thanks, thanks, thanks!

  2. Visit seven profile page

    About seven

    Joined: Jan '01; Posts: 39
    student, nsg/bsc


  3. by   oramar
    I have posted my opinion on this subject in the past. I consider myself a feminist in the broad sense. In addition, I think the nursing profession needs feminism to help it shake off the 100 years of oppression that it has built into it. However, I have personally watched the womens movement from the late 60s till the present turn it's nose up at nursing. As a young LPN I heard the "womens libbers" refer to nursing as a female ghetto and a pink collar ghetto. All my life I had looked up to nurses because they were the only professional women I ever encountered(teachers also) and I was confused and depressed by the sudden drop in prestige the profession experieced. Believe it or not in the late 60s and early 70s I was a rare bird. A person from a blue collar background that was actually a card carrying member of NOW. When I think back to the 60s and 70s it appears as if the womens movement was nearly derailed by it's failure to address the needs of the majority of women who were in those pink collar professions. In the the late 70s and early 80s interest in the women's movement fell off because it had no mass appeal . At that time there was a reorginization and a push to broaden the appeal of the women's movement by bringing in all women and men. That was when the movement became feminism and the slogan "equal work for equal pay" came into being. The family medical leave act came about as a result of that particular reorginization. Personally I think the feminist leaders need to refocus again and zero in on the places where women actually live and work. It is fine to fight to bring women into medicine and law but you will only affect the lives of a small number of women that way. Most of us females continue to be concentrated in the same places we have always been and we need help here. Do you ever watch oxygen? What do you see? Candice Bergan interviewing judges and physicians because they are female. I would like to see Candice occasionally interviewing nurses, teachers and maybe a manager at Walmart. The answer to the original question posed by seven is YES!!! Nursing could benefit from a big dose of feminism. My question is why haven't we been helped more in the past and why aren't we being helped right now as we speak?
  4. by   nurs4kids
    NO!! Nursing does NOT need feminist speaking for them. The feminist movement, in MHO, hurt women far more than it helped. To have feminist speak for nursing, would in effect, be doing nothing more than saying we're a bunch of wimpy women who can't stand for themselves. What nursing needs is for NURSES to stand for themselves. Nursing is no longer a women's profession, as many men (thank God) have entered the profession. I do believe in equal pay for equal work. Women need to stand up and demand this, we don't need some big feminist movement to do it for us.

    Do you think the female lawyers and doctors made it because of a feminist movement within the profession? lol..hardly. They made it because they have the guts within to fight for what they want. Do you really think there is no sexism in those fields??
  5. by   fergus51
    I think we are all feminists at heart, but feminist has become a four letter word in the recent past. People seem to think that feminists are a bunch of bra burning men hating lesbians (not that I have a problem with bra burning men hating lesbians...).

    Of course nursing could benefit from feminist ideals. Feminism is about valuing people equally whether they are male or female and who can argue with that? I have absolutely no doubt that the state of nursing would be different if it wasn't seen as a woman's profession and if society actually viewed women in the same way as men. Case in point: rural doctors withdrew their services last year over money (200K a year and up is just poverty!) and the public overwhelmingly supported them. When nurses here stopped doing OT (we were all still doing full time and there were exceptions made to the OT ban) we were called selfish. How could we desert our patients? I have no doubt that this is because we as women are supposed to be selfless and care for others more than ourselves.

    I totally agree with Tracy that it has to be NURSES who put feminist ideals into practice and stand up for themselves. I think they are starting to do it.
  6. by   Cindy_A
    I think the feminist movement helped these women move into law and medicine. Thye may have been able to do it themselves, but I believe feminism did help to provide them with the courage and the realizarion that they could be lawyers and doctors. I think feminism provides a voice for those of us (myself included) that are not very outspoken. I think there are several people on this list who would make great leaders.
    I think femisism has a place in nursing. Perhaps it will help to make our profession more valued as educated professionals instead of professional waitresses and bedpan carriers that some people think that nurses are. Since nursing IS a largely female profession, I do believe that feminism definitely has a place in nursing.
  7. by   Peeps Mcarthur
    It's already difficult for the males to fit in. Don't you think that would make it a little more awkward(if that's even possible) for a male to be percieved as "normal" if he wanted to be a nurse.
    I personaly struggled with it for several years before I decided that gender was a moot point. I still have people ask me if I'm going to medical school When I tell them, "no I want to be a nurse" they still say something kind but look like they're feeling a little uncomfortable anyway.

    Do you see my point? If the feminism movement becomes active in nursing(instead of in the backround where it is now) You may not even be able to recruit the stereotypical gay male. Can you imagine the ribbing someone like me would get? "Do you have a N.O.W. membership?" "Did you burn your bra too, or are you just a little overweight?"

    Now that being said, if you wanted to get rid of males in the profession then BINGO, you have just developed a focused recruiting slogan.
    "nurses support female rights, but men are still allowed to come work for us, that is if you don't mind not being part of anything."
  8. by   KC CHICK
    Well said, Peeps.

    So, are you saying you get the same responses from people as Gaylord Focker does in the movie 'Meet the Parents'??
  9. by   CareerRN
    Originally posted by Cindy_A
    I think feminism provides a voice for those of us (myself included) that are not very outspoken.
    This is not a personal slam, but this is one of the basic problems in our profession.

    Too many nurses feel and act this way. So instead of taking matters into our own hands, we want to write the congress, the president, or some how enlist the general public to make the changes needed.

    Too many nurses are happy, comfortable. or just too scared to face our own problems. These are the nurses who sit quitely and provide no support when someone speaks out during a staff meeting and other similar situatations.

    Peeps Mcarthur said a mouth full. He was so right on target with his comments. There is a stigma about males in nursing. It has subsided some in the last decade. Male nurses are looking for change within the profession, but it is still seen as a profession of soft spoken do anything you want to me and I will take it profession by many males within the profession.

    There is only one thing that will change this appearance in general. That is a basic change among the nurses who continue to feel and act like they need to have someone else speak for them.

    If even 40% continue in this type of behavior of running for cover or not standing up and fighting back then the changes which are needed today will not come for years or even decades.
  10. by   Peeps Mcarthur
    KC chick, CareerRN,

    Thank you both...........I thought I was becoming a mental case there.
    Yes KC, just like the guy in the movie. Some stanger will come up to the counter at my job and see that I'm studying anatomy (even MD's) and say "hey, that looks familiar. Going to medical school?""no nursing"......"oh...yea.....good for you. they certainly need them"...........Friends: "so how is school going........Me:I'm still pulling a 4.0 but it's getting more difficult. Friend:"wow, your such a good student............Why don't you become a doctor?"
    "your in medical school....right?"..............
    "no, I want to be a nurse"
    "Why....snort!....giggle.....do you want to marry a doctor.....snort!...giggle......sweetie?"
    HA!HA!..........Do you have to wear a hat????HA!HA!

    It's not always outwardly belittling, but even my own father tells people that I'm going to medical school until I correct him(he's 72 so he could just be senile ), but for the most part people can't help but hold back a smirk. Nursing is still percieved as a female profession just as it is one in which you "take care of bedpans or something" to the general public.

    The male nurses at your work might not say it to you, but I'm sure they are going through some of the same uncomfortable crap that I am.
    When the ignorance about males in nursing of the general public
    is wiped out, I suppose it will happen about the same time that people percieve nursing as a profession filled with talented, caring, well educated, compassionate people that could do anything they desired for a living, but chose nursing.
    Not because they couldn't get into medical school.
    Not because that's what women do if they want to be "professionals" or marry a doctor.
    Not because they might be kinda gay.

    Because it's an honor to be counted among such a group, if you know what it really means to be a nurse.
    I do.

    Columbia, MD
  11. by   Cindy_A
    OK, so maybe not feminism. I certainly don't want to alienate my fellow male workers, who I agree have a pretty tough time of it as a male in the nursing profession. I do think we need some type of organization to help our profession. I think maybe part of our problem is that as women, many of us were broght up to be "nice" and not get angry and always put others needs before our own. So it's tough for some to switch gears and start looking out for ourselves instead of everyone else. I don't mean to ignore you guys, but since the profession is largely female we need females who are willing to speak up and not take any crap. I guess I'm more of that "old-fashioned" type. There are a few people on this board who are quite direct and outspoken. Do you think they could give me lessons?
    I think that something is defintely needed. The nusing profession has changed a great deal in the past few years. We need to let the public know what exactly the nurse does, how much responsiblity is involved and how mcuh education it takes to become a nurse. I don't think the general public is aware of these things. I think maybe shows like "Trauma" should focus on nuses more instead of the docs, and the public can see what the nurses actually do. Now, it looks like the docs do all the work and the nurses just take orders.
  12. by   Jenny P
    WOW! When did standing up for my rights make me a feminist? Or not speaking up for myself in a situation turn me into a wimp? Listen, I was raised by a woman that taught us 4 girls that if we wanted anything in life we had to go after it ourselves.
    This woman (my aunt) ran for County Superintendent of Schools- a mainly male occupied position- back in the 40's and won against stiff competition. One of her female friends (Coya Knutson) ran for Congress in the 50's, won and was very successful in politics; but was blackballed and her careerand life ruined thanks to dirty politics.
    We were also taught that if we stick our necks out, be ready to pay the price for standing up for ourselves.
    There have been times in this past year that I have been verbally attacked for taking certain positions in this politically charged nursing climate (remember: MNA metro nursing contracts; the miscount; the strike?). Most of the time I have been willing to take the flack because I believe in what we are doing for nursings' future. But there have been times where I have NOT spoken out because it wasn't worth the emotional toll it was taking on my life. I have a dream of what nursing CAN be and what MNA and ANA can be and what they can do for the nursing profession, but I can only pound my head against the wall so many times and still be able to walk away in one piece. And what is really frustrating is that it is NURSES who expect so much from each other; but are unwilling to help out or listen to others who make it so tough to change nursings' future.

    Sorry I'm off track here, but until each and every nurse is willing to do SOMETHING to help the nursing profession as a whole, I welcome everyone who speaks up for nursing. We are a profession that has the publics' trust, but the public has no idea of what we are or what we do, nor what our capabilities could be.

    BTW, re: Coya, there has not been another female from Minnesota in Congress since she lost the 1958 election.... until this past November, when Betty McCollum was elected. Does this say something about females or the perception of females in this state?
    Last edit by Jenny P on Nov 11, '01
  13. by   oramar
    I would be the first to admit that nurses are quilty of not sticking up for themselves and the profession. It was a mistake to be as compliant and eager to please as we have been for the past 100 years. I certainly include myself in this. However, not accepting help from any group who offers support simply because we want to do it all ourselves is fool hard. The only groups we should refuse to accept support from is those that would do harm like the KKK or the Taliban. There are culture wide forces at work here which are at the root of the health care woes that affect us all. It is going to take the involvement of a lot of groups to solve these problems, we can't do it ourselves.
    Last edit by oramar on Nov 11, '01
  14. by   OC_An Khe
    Jenney P
    You are definetly not off track but right on. We must pick our own battles to insure continued success and survival. But by not choosing to fight any battle is a recipe for defeat and the ultimate destruction of our profession.