Sexism in Nursing (a male point of view) - page 3

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   mario_ragucci
    Originally posted by fergus51
    What I tend to see is that male nurses are so fawned over it is ridiculous.
    Thank you for the vocabulary Fergus. FAWNED. I am fawned whenever women attack me because we're not supposed to do that. I also fawn when females act like I am doing something wrong by blatently ignoring me and won't communicate. And as a student I haveno alternative but to fawn.

    But it's okay now, and I have learned so much from reading here, about myself, and what makes me fawn. And, I am accepting that I can fawn some people just by my presence, the words I chose and the sounds of my voice. Even though the last thing I am thining of is indimidating anyone, some are indimidated by me and I can't help it. I can't change who I am. I don't like to turn my back on anyone, but if someone is trying to fawn me, I have to utrn my back on them and dismiss them. It's a shame, because I like to love everyone. :kiss
  2. by   kmchugh
    Perhaps there is another way to look at some of the issues raised by Chigap than sexism. Perhaps, what you are seeing is utilization of nurses according to "strengths" and abilities. When I worked in the SICU, I was often asked to help with moving patients. I never saw that as a sexism issue. I saw the reality that I was 6'4" and weighed 275. Long time military service gave me strength that simply could not be matched by the 5'2" 125 lb female assigned to the obese quadraplegic. So, in some cases, I simply saw it as a matter of the best utilization of assets.

    Not to say there is not anti-male sexism in nursing. I have confronted that, as well. Sometimes it is subtle, sometimes it is open. Complaining about it generally does not happen, for a couple of reasons. Most males are socialized to handle problems themselves, and often do not complain until the problem is out of control. The other reason is that while a female complaining about sexism is seen as a victim, the male making a similar complaint is seen as a whiner. Again, I've seen that happen enough to know that if I ever do have to make a complaint, I will try very hard to do so with rock hard documentation to prove my point. For example, where I worked, we had nurses with physical disabilities (bad backs, etc). If they deferred from helping with physical labor, there might be some grumbling, but generally the reasoning was understood. I, on the other hand, could not use that. I am a disabled veteran, with a very bad knee. No ACL in the right knee, with severe degenerative changes. Most times, it does not bother me too much, provided I am careful. However, there are days when getting out of bed is just agony. On those days, I have to be particularly careful, lest I pop the knee out of joint. Grumbling when I begged off in helping move patients was much worse. One coworker had the temerity to ask me "Whats the matter? A little knee pain turn you into a wimp?" Needless to say, the response she got was not the cowering, weak response she expected.

    It has been interesting for me to see the issue from "the other side." I guess my perspective has been broadened. But, I'd never go back to bedside nursing. Anti-male bias is not the only reason, or even the biggest reason, but it would weigh into my decision.

    Kevin McHugh
  3. by   researchrabbit
    Originally posted by chigap
    (especially the real men to whom this poster is directed)
    Um, are there fake men?
  4. by   MHN
    Chig,I have experienced some of the things you spoke of about being asked to lift a lot of the time.I also agree with the idea of changing the culture within nursing but that can only be done if we are to critically examine our practice and to be more reflective in our thoughts so we can put our thoughts into action.

    I can also remember in the early seventies being paid an extra $5 a week because I was a male and was expected to lift and the girls were forbiden to do so as the hospital I was working at had orderlies and backsmiths that did the lifting.

    Thank goodness things have changed now a lot of institutions hospitals have a sensible non lifting policy , and they supply lifting equipment to save your backs and make it safer for the client.

  5. by   sjoe
    "My point is that nursing is a female dominated profession and the working environment and culture reflects that and it's not always a good thing. It may not be PC to say so, but in order for nursing to attract and RETAIN more men, the culture may have to change and become more inclusive. "

    Chi--I agree, THIS is really the point, and the lifting business was simply one physical example (though all too often, seeking a guy to do it is nothing other than laziness and done with a spirit of "sullen entitlement" since "women are such victims").

    IMHO--The main problem is the entire sub-assertive, people-pleasing, passive-aggressive, politically-correct, don't-make-waves, confrontation-avoiding, I-need-everyone-to-like-me, behind-the-back,"we are victims" kind of working environment that is all too widely found in nursing and the fact that we guys are much more likely to simply deal directly with facts, tasks, and results instead of getting all tangled up in this kind of political stuff. (We have our OWN kind of political style, of course.)

    By the way, also IMHO, the "macho" ad is designed for guys who don't know whether or not they are really men and desire to prove to themselves that they are. The same group appealed to by "The Marines Build Men" ads. (That's really for a different thread, but since it was mentioned on this one....)
    Last edit by sjoe on Nov 18, '02
  6. by   mario_ragucci
    Originally posted by sjoe
    [BBy the way, the "macho" ad is designed for guys who don't know whether or not they are really men and desire to prove to themselves that they are. The same group appealed to by "The Marines [/B]
    i agree - An ad should appeal to caring, which is not gender based. Gender has nothing to do with your ability to care. "Can you care enough to be a nurse?"

  7. by   Dayray
    Thank you for starting this post. I work OB/GYN and am also male. as you can imagine I deal with these issues on a daily basis.

    when I worked other floors I was called on quite often to lift heavey patient becuase people assumed I was stronger. even though Im 5'7 ( a littel soft in the middle) and have a bad back. I useully helped becuase I wanted to be a team player although I was a littel upset about always haveing to drop what i was doing to help someone who was just a physicaly able as I to lift.

    In my current job the issue is much more complicated. Im not sure how it applies to this conversation but I'll put my 2 cents in.

    The general public has littel understanding of what nurses do or what we really are. Many people see male nurses as sissy's or to dumb to go to medical school. some of this is carried over into nurses attuides. there are also quite a few nurses who see males in the profession as an intrution into female domaine and others who question men's motives for care delivered to female patients.

    I love what I do and my patients are very appriciative of me. I don't however enjoy my work environment. I get along with my coworkers but they see me as strange and some don't trust my motives. I am very offten treated differntly and sometimes unfairly.

    I have tried to talk to some of my "friends" at work about this and have always been told things like "well what did you expect" or "I dont know why a man would want to work here anyway". I am talked about behind my back, I am questioned for doing things the way I do and have had some very viscoius, untrue and very damageing rumors spread about me.

    I respect and admire women for their plight to be treated as equals in the work place.

    Even if you don't agree with the lifting example Im sure you can see that nurseing does treat men differntly then women. Some people have told me that this is fair becuase women are discriminated against.

    I love my job but I dont now how much longer I will be able to put up with all the crap I have to endure from co-workers.

    How do you think female doctors differ from males? I personaly dont see much of a difference. why is it different with nurses?
  8. by   RNConnieF
    Kevin, you took the words right out of my mouth. Yes, I call my male co workers to help me lift because they are larger and stronger than I am (5'2" 120#) BUT my male colleagues call me to help with the Alzheimer's patients because that is my specialty. I also have a male co worker who I call on if I can't get a line started cause he has the "touch". I get called more than the men on the unit when things "break" because I seem to be able to figure out what is wrong and fix it. Is any of this "sexist" or just wise use of available resources?
  9. by   Glad2behere
    I have never had any problems with this, in fact I expect it. Men are supposed to do the heavy lifting when called upon and if I am aware that a anybody needs help...I help. Especially the gals. I hold the elevator door open for them, and walk with them to the parking lot to make sure they are in their cars safe when shift is over. I treat them like ladies all the time at every opportunity, and I have always sensed a feeling of gratitude and admiration.
    Sometimes spoken, sometimes not, but I don't expect to be petted for treating them respectfully. Respect is earned, not granted. And it is nice when one of them has that rare opportunity to go downstairs for groceries and they bring back a plate especially for me totally unsolicited....I kinda like that.
  10. by   alwaysthere
    I beleive that a large part of the attitude towards Nurses who happen to be men...varies in each facility..according to how they treat their employees in general. If the overall atmosphere is one where staff is treated equally and has clear cut policies some attention to staffing ... then the overall atmosphere of the nurses and is going to be one of respect... Nursing is is a inperfect science practiced by an inperfect person...Which means some of us are going to be better at somethings than others...
    Personally....I have worked with males who I would not let lift my pt's...either because they had bad backs... or simply were not skilled at it...When we do get the occasional male on our unit...we dont always give them the hardest group...or the psych pateints....(in fact thats when they call me )
    How ever some males I have worked with have taken it upon themselves to help lift pt's without being asked....Usually I just ask whoever is closest..
  11. by   fergus51
    Mario...huh? Do you think this is any different from how a lot of girl students get treated by nurses? That's a whole nother issue. I don't consider it sexist necessarily because it's a woman attacking you, a man, she may just be that type of person...

    It may not be your experience, but I am one of those nurses who always hears that women are catty and we need men to save nursing and it is so much nicer to work with male nurses than female. I consider it fawning. It gets to be a bit much...
    Last edit by fergus51 on Nov 18, '02
  12. by   JonRN
    To clarify my earlier posting........... a lot of my back problem was my own fault for never saying no, and believing that I was so strong I didn't need to worry about lifting techniques. I don't think I was discriminated against, it was just the best use of resources. I was guilty of it too, getting my male friends in resp. therapy to help me lift pt.s on occasion. And like glad2behere said, I was appreciated by nearly everyone and had many a plate of food brought to me. So it wasn't all bad, it just ended badly. It hurt me worse because I loved my job, and loved caring for the veterans, I guess I still feel like I let them down. Sorry, this is a very emotional subject for me. Like Russell said, I was one of the girls too.
  13. by   baseline
    Well I am unfortunately old enough to remember when male nurses WERE rare.....and now matter how green they were...they made more money than I know....back in the 70's...and the gender bias was seen differently.......

    There have been some interesting thoughts expressed here...and again I guess I am very fortunate to work in a place where the male nurse is not unusual.....we have LOTS of them!!! On all units, and many of our security guards are female.......The more I read on this BB the more grateful I am of my employer! Y'all make me see how lucky I am.....nursing shortage and work in a hospital that embraces diversity.