Sexism in Nursing (a male point of view) - page 14

As a male in nursing, I feel that I am sometimes treated differently because of my gender. I believe that I am expected to carry a heavier patient load with less assistance from my female coworkers.... Read More

  1. by   LilgirlRN
    Thanks Suzy
  2. by   nurs4kids
    Originally posted by kmchugh
    However, to nurs4kids, see my previous post in this thread. There is anti-male bias in nursing, and against male nurses in the general population. For me, the question isn't how do I rail against it, but rather how do I get around it to do my job? You wanted examples, I'll give you a couple more.

    Before I ever became a nurse, I was in the Army. Knew I was getting out, many people asked me what I planned to do. Told them I was going to become a nurse. More than once, I was confronted with the comment "I didn't even know you were gay." (Not necessarily in those words, but that was the sentiment.) Heard it from both military members and civilians. There is a presumption among many that if a male wants to be a nurse, he must be gay. ***** I could care less about anyone's sexual orientation, but this presumption continues a stereotype that helps no one.

    In nursing school, during my OB rotation, I had an instructor who made my life miserable. She did the same for every male who came through the program. My first ever assignment was to care for a post-partum woman of middle eastern descent. She, and her husband, had gone to great pains, owing to their beliefs and heritage, to ensure no males were involved in her care. Her absolute right. My instructor managed to push me into the room just as the lactation consultant was giving breast feeding instruction to the woman. A very uncomfortable situation for all, and I have since learned that my instructor KNEW exactly what she was sending me into. Fast forward to the next semester. The same instructor, starting with a fresh section from the class behind me. She walked into the room on day one, noted that all the students were female. First comment out of her mouth? "I like to see this. Only women should be nurses."

    Now, nurs4kids, does that meet your criteria for anti-male bias?

    I will say that since becoming a CRNA, the bias seems to have disappeared. Hmmmm.... I guess men can be advanced practice nurses.

    Kevin McHugh
    Thank you for your non-defensive reply. As usual, you are capable of making an articulate debate w/o personal attack..I appreciate that.

    Now, I do not deny or doubt one thing you've posted above. Nursing school was a nightmare for us all. I went to an all black nursing school and there were things I went through that I KNOW was because of my skin color. HOWEVER, that was nursing school and as we all know, nursing school is not nursing. I have never accused all blacks of being racist just because I had a few racist nursing instructors.

    As for the "gay" issue. That is a societial view, not a nursing view. And I was informed earlier that THIS debate is not about society, but about nursing. However, I do think this is an unfair "label" and I do think as more and more men enter nursing, that stigma will leave.

    So, Kevin, I guess respectfully..No, that does not meet my criteria. This post says there is "sexism in nursing (from a male perspective)". THAT is what I want to hear. Since entering the field of nursing, have you been treated differently by your boss or by coworkers?
    Last edit by nurs4kids on Nov 21, '02
  3. by   researchrabbit
    I would like to make one more point about lifting...

    Bigger people are frequently called on to help, whether they are men or women, as "big" is often equated with "strong".

    Nurses who are "fluffy" like me are often asked to help with lifting. And as for myself, I may be larger now but I am much less stronger than when I was thin and fit.
  4. by   Q.
    Originally posted by nurs4kids
    So, Kevin, I guess respectfully..No, that does not meet my criteria. This post says there is "sexism in nursing (from a male perspective)". THAT is what I want to hear. Since entering the field of nursing, have you been treated differently by your boss or by coworkers?
    I agree here Kevin. Throughout this thread, we have been told that sexism here has absolutely nothing to do with how society views things, patient care choices, choices made with regard to capabilities, but that is a nursing issue. Not a social one, but a NURSING one; a nursing problem independent of any other social concern. Much like mandatory overtime and short staffing is a NURSING issue, we've been informed here that sexism is a NURSING issue. It is this evidence that I am looking for, otherwise, to pin sexism as a nursing issue or problem that needs addressing is somewhat inaccurate.
  5. by   Dplear
    Lets see...hmmmm if as a male a female does not want me to cath her or take care of her...hell so be less thing for me to do. Just find the charge nurse and let them worry about it. Just my two cents. Sexism is going to exist no matter what....get over it and get on with your life....racism should not exist and that should be stamped out completely and should not be tolerated. As men we went into this field knowing that women are the majority. I cannot even remember what it is like to have a male supervisor...does it bother me? HELL NO!! SO people just let this thread die a natural horrible death....

  6. by   fergus51
    I tend to agree that a certain amount of sexism exists in OB in particular, because som male posters have actually been denied jobs because they are male. Clearly fits with the definition of sexism by nurses and shouldn't be ignored.

    The larger question for me though, is does sexim in nursing cause damage to male nurses from a career pov? Despite all the negative aspects of being a male nurse, I have read that male nurses are promoted faster (over women with similar qualifications) and tend to get into leadership positions, so tend to make more money, etc. This seems to be a trend among males in general.

    Did any of you see the 48 hours report about how boys are being left behind in schools? Girls are far better educated and prepared for college. In fact, many Ivy league schools have to practice affirmative action for men to maintain a somewhat even student body. The man responsible fo this research noted there was no public outcry to improve teaching to boys like there was for girls a few years back. Why? Because despite this, men go into the world, get better jobs and make more money. Is this like nursing?
  7. by   sanakruz
    Yes fergus- And with that Im outta here.
  8. by   Furball
    It' so odd to me that most people who go out and shoot up a bunch of folks out of "anger" are white men? I know, I know, the BIG exception is the snipers in Va, Md.............low tolerance for frustration?
  9. by   Dayray
    To those of you who keep asking the question "where is the sexism in nursing".

    I'm tired of giving you examples. I think it is evident that you do not wish to admit that this problem exists because you would like for it to remain that way or because you are guilty of sexism against male nurses and have a need to rationalize and moralize it.

    As to the people that keep bringing up the patients right to choose. Please read the several posts when I have stated and restated my position that I believe patients have the ultimate right to refuse nurses weather it be because of gender, race, bad breath, funny hair, ugly pants or what ever.

    My issue is with the underlying bias that causes NURSES to continually raise the subject of patient's right to choose in order to defend their personal bias. None of my posts are directed at patients. If you re-read the pages of posts on this subject you'll notice that valid points are made about sexism in nursing and they are then countered with rhetoric or semanticisum and redirected into to other issues. Patient choice, child abuse, anatomical differences and a few other subjects have been used to dilute the issue. Yes discrimination does exist in nursing and these are all attempts to convince others that it does not or is not that bad.

    As for those of you who have twisted my words to imply I argue that sexism is only a nursing issue. I say that "this is a nursing issue" because your responses to this thread were nursing opinions coming from nurses on a nursing board and the only time patients came into the discussion was when you used them to validate your nursing opinions regarding male nurses.

    As for those of you who accuse me of having a political agenda, perhaps there is some truth to that. However, I fail to see how you can think that discussing this "agenda" on a nursing board qualifies as letting it effect my patient care.
    Do I think its wrong to refuse care from a nurse because of race or gender? Yes, do I think that right should be taken from them? No Do I have these discussions with my patients? No
    Last edit by Dayray on Nov 21, '02
  10. by   ERN
    .....A long time a galaxy far far away, I was pulled from a tele floor to work as an aide on an L&D floor. This was at the same hospital where I had been pulled to the psych unit. Time had passed and two things were now abundantly clear to me; 1) Nursing administration was dead set against male RN's and 2) It was damn near impossible to get those stains out of my shorts. I was ignored after I had reported to the charge RN. Assignments were straightened out, people dispersed and then I was informed that I would be an aide since all the assignments were covered. God knows, my mother tried to break this rebellious streak in me when I was a younger non-sexually oriented person, but the devil had a secure grip on me and there was a twinkle in my eye. I went to the kitchen/lounge, sat down and reveled in the delight that nature had seen fit to place me in a position where I could sit on my arse and get paid. My musings were interupted by a person loudly shouting while flying into the lounge and banging into the furniture. She was a dead ringer for Quasimodo. "I am the lead aide on this unit", she barked. I just stared into her eyes......I was fascinated with the one droopy lid that was oozing. She told me that ALL the female duties were hers and that taking the laundry down, clearing the meals, washing the dirty instruments etc. were mine. I let her know I was grateful for her assistance but that she should organize her schedule to work alone since she was the only aide for the unit. The mental image of the hump, the droopy, wet eye, and that crimson red face will forever be with me. She left the room in the same lady like manner as she entered. I left the lounge and went to the nurses station looking for the charge RN to let her know I was about to rip a hole in the fabric of the supervisor's universe when I spied a row of charts marked BREAST FEEDING. "You're an RN...You're an RN...You're an RN..." the little devil sitting on my shoulder kept whispering in my ear. ( Kinda felt nice!! ) Looking through the charts, I picked out a first time mother, professional women in her 40's as I recall. I went to her room and to my and the little devil's delight she had her baby with her. Her baby was being held by her husband sitting next to her on the bed. I was very professional and proceeded to assess their needs and abilities as new parents. They were as dumb as a post, both of them. I considered at that point telling them that I really was a female RN.....but I realized that I had already scratched myself like a first basemen and the husband wasn't THAT dumb. I was nearly finished teaching breast feeding techniques, answering their 1 million questions, encouraging and reinforcing good behaviors when the mom takes my hand and thanks me for being so great and tells me how comfortable and reassured they both felt. She explained that they were both executives and had waited for so long to have a child, they wanted everything to be perfect. The husband was grinning like a proud father as he held his child to his wife's breast. I left the room after they insisted that I leave my name and number so they could call me with any questions. Leaving the room, I walked into a maelstrom at the nurses station. It seemed they were franticly looking for someone and couldn't find them.......then they all turned and stared at me. A thought passed through my mind......" I wonder if ajax will take this stain out?" The supervisor looked down her hawkish nose and demanded to know where I had been. Yep, I told her. I placed the chart back in the rack and she grabbed at it like a chicken going after a june bug. I'm pretty sure at this point she was speaking in tongues cause I couldn't make out a damn thing she was saying. In short order, I was escorted to a room off the unit and told to wait. I felt something was amiss and checked my fly, nope, still zipped. "I quess we'll just have to wait and see what's going on", the little devil said. Three supervisors arrived and a sort of kangaroo court convened...."Did you know what you were doing?...What did you say to that women?...Are they upset??...What were you thinking??... On and on it went until I finally asked why I was there and where was all this going. Apparently I had violated a number of policies and practices. In fact the situation was so grave, I was told that it was a good thing they had "found me" before I made matters any worse for myself. In due course, I asked to see the policies that I had violated. I wanted to see which hospital policies had been broken so grieviously. This whole ordeal went on for about an hour. I still can't believe to this day that I am not a felon convicted of three murders. They insisted that I sign several disciplinary forms and write out a statement admitting I had done something wrong. One super even offered to help me write it. Even the devil on my shoulder was surprised at that offer!! Finally I had a policy book taken off the shelf and shook in my face while being reprimanded for not signing the papers. I asked to open the book and look at the policy and quess what.....there wasn't any policy. No policy stating that a man couldn't act as an RN discharging the duties and privileges of a professional practice. I insisted that I write down all their names correctly and let them know I was going to discuss this incident with the lawyer that my malpractice insurance carrier made available to policy holders. I swear if you listened closely you could hear the nylon twisting in that that room.

    Afterwards, I was assigned to male oriented floors at this hosp. Ortho, surgical, neuro because as I was blatantly told, " This is where we need the men cause the pts are hard to move". I was a pariah after this incident and even had a few female nurses regularly report my activity to the sups. Incidently, I had applied for a position in the ER and was told that I was still lucky to be a nurse and that I would NEVER be in critical care. Of course, this was said in private without witnesses because this super had learned the hard way what a good lawyer could do with a witness.

    Well, where does that leave us.... I won't pretend to know the difference between sexism and gender bias or the subtle completely destructive nuances of prejudice. I do know that it is very debilitating at best and robs all of us of a closer connection to each other. That is the ultimate failure in any relationship between the sexes. But like the man ( read: woman, person, sentient being ) said, "I don't know nuthin about fine art, but I know what I like when I see it". Differences that divide us are as plentiful and unique as we are as nurses. Until we develope a truely professional set of behaviors that are clearly and consistently practiced, we will treat each other based on the programed behaviors that society has given us and will have to live with the consequences.
  11. by   LasVegasRN
    ERN, I applaud you. I wish we had a "Best Post EVER" section because that one was outstanding.

    You made the point well, I understand it now COMPLETELY. Thank you for taking the time and effort to break it down so WELL.

    With that, I agree with Dplear, time to let this thread go. See ya!
  12. by   Q.
    ERN, I too have to applaud your post. Your post was written in a humorous, story-telling way and you made your point. I understand it as well. This has nothing to do with being asked to lift patients; if anything, it has to do with hospitals or administrators not allowing you to practice professionally as well as trying to discipline you for it. I guess this wasn't evident in past posts here in this thread.

    Thanks for your well meaning and very articulate post, without rhetoric.
    Last edit by Susy K on Nov 21, '02
  13. by   dianacs
    ERN, I applaud you. I wish we had a "Best Post EVER" section because that one was outstanding.
    Hear, hear!