You know, sometimes things have a hidden context. Sometimes, that context can be kind of ugly. When I see that, it causes me to wonder why we allow these things to continue. Hence, this thread.
Recently, two threads on this board have given me pause for the hidden context they contained. Both have planted in my mind the question "Why are we, as male nurses, tolerating this?" I have a few ideas of my own, but what are your thoughts?
This is the first thread, and it appeared in the male nursing forum under the title "Men's sexualality (sic) in Nursing." In this thread, the original poster questioned whether we, as men, were really able to put our libidos aside long enough to do an exam/procedure on a female patient without looking at her "private parts" in "that" way. Essentially, she suggested that we would be unable to do so. As I read the original post, I wondered whether sparks would fly. Not because I wasn't sure whether any of us would take offense to the thread, but because I figured that post would be rapidly reported, and yanked off the board. It wasn't and no ire was raised. Sparks didn't fly. No one even poked fun at the notion that we didn't have anything better to do than leer at this (or any) woman's "private parts." In fact, I felt the tone of most responses was almost apologetic. Why is that, I wonder? After all, didn't the post attack our professionalism as nurses? Didn't the OP suggest that we are nothing more than sexual beings, with no ability to control our baser instincts? Why did we tolerate this?
This is the second thread that gives me pause. In it, the original poster asks what is at least nominally a legitimate question as to whether or not men with copious chest hair should be required to wear t-shirts under their scrubs
. When I saw the thread, I expected at least nod in the direction of infection control, or good grooming and the presentation of a professional appearance. Turns out that's not where that thread went at all. In fact, within the first page we were treated to some nurses' opinions about how sexy a hairy chest was (or wasn't), and how they wouldn't mind a male nurse with a little virile chest hair showing. And we all went along with the "joke." Again, why is that?
Now, before I am accused of being a humorless stick in the mud, let me say that I can see the humor in both of these threads. Both caused me to at least smile. At the same time, however, the first thread seemed to me to perpetuate the stereotypes of men in general, as well as men in nursing. We are unable to control our sexual urges, and should not be trusted to look at women without drooling. In the second, we are treated to what is essentially a reduction of male nurses to sexual objects. Why do we allow this, when our female counterparts won't tolerate the slightest hint of the same thing from men?
Consider what might have happened to both of these threads if they were put up about female, rather than male nurses.
In the first, suppose it was a woman who came up on the board stating that she didn't like her husband, the doctor, working with female nurses. After all, women became nurses just so they could hook a rich doc for a husband, and didn't care whether they stole him from someone else. I would guess that the OP would have been ripped a new one, and on very short order. However, boil both down, and the accusations are very similar. In both cases, the OP is simply suggesting that the nurse would be unable to control their baser instinct and act in a professional manner. In both cases, the OP would be suggesting that the nurse might behave in an immoral fashion because of that base instinct. However, in the actual thread, it seems to me that we are almost apologetic for the OP's perception of men. Why do we need to apologize for her prejudice?
In the second case, let's suppose that rather than chest hair, the OP had been concerned with large breasts on female nurses. Should they be required to wear a t-shirt, to prevent the scrub top from falling while the nurse is bent over, effectively "flashing" her chest at patients? Would that be an acceptable question? Moreover, suppose I posted a response to the question that said "Hey, I like big breasted women. If I had to be in the hospital, I wouldn't mind a flash or two, to occupy my mind." How long do you suppose it would be before I would be reminded (with righteous indignation) that the nurses were not there for my entertainment and titilation? How long before I was kicked to the curb for such vulgarity?
So, my question is this: Why do we, as male nurses, so readily tolerate that which would be intolerable if it came from us?
Mar 6, '05
I'm at work and I don't have time to re-read the first thread you're talking about. But as I remember the thread was ended by a moderaor and many people were indeed riled up about it.
About the 2nd thread, now that you mention it, if a male nurse said females should wear such and such a uniform because it made them look sexy that male would be flamed to a crisp. So I agree, why do we tolerate this? I had a female nurse grab my buns one night and say what a nice a## I have. I tolerated it then because I was a mousey newbie nurse, but if a male did that to her he would be sent to jail for sexual assault and harrassment.
Thanks, I'll be more on the lookout for these double standards.
Last edit by Tweety on Mar 6, '05
Mar 7, '05
Quote from SmilingBluEyes
I guess I don't get being all worked up over chest hair. Women have tolerated rude remarks about our "assets" for years. I guess I did not see it as a directed insult toward men, myself. Just me, splitting hairs as usual. rofl.
Well, it's not all about chest hairs, it's a little more than that. So if womyn have been tolerating it for years, then two wrongs make a right and they are allowed to make crude comments about men? Most of the womyn I know, and on this message board, aren't so quiet in the "tolerating" of comments about their assets unless they are soliciting them.
Are you silently tolerating sexism by male in your nursing practice? I know you do OB, but by other males besides nurses, like MDs or other personnel, you may come into contact with. Somehow I doubt that you would.
Last edit by Tweety on Mar 7, '05