Enough Already! Nurses Are Not Sex Objects
Does this sound familiar? A nurse bends over a patient's bed to help turn the patient and feels a hand on her buttock. She startles and whirls around, only to find the patient's son sheepishly removing his hand.
Why should this healthcare provider, one who is there to provide medical care for someone who is very sick, be treated like a sex object? The answer is often attributed to images of scantily clad nurses in short white uniforms and high heels, appearing in print, video and advertising. (Come on now, walk in a nurses' shoes for 1 hour when she's on duty and see how quickly those heels come off!)
Isn't it about time these stereotypes ended? Of course many of these images are meant to be funny and nurses have a sense of humor like anyone else. But enough is enough.
Over the top is the latest Mariah Carey video, "Up Out My Face," featuring Carey and pop star/rapper Nicki Minaj in skimpy "nurse" outfits with white stockings, garters and high heels.
Seeing the sad irony in this video, Sandy Summers, MSN, MPH, RN, executive director of Baltimore-based The Truth About Nursing, which seeks to increase public understanding of the role of nurses, says: "I'm sure Ms. Carey was inspired by the nursing research that shows how music can improve patient outcomes, and she just wanted to pay tribute to the profession." Summers, coauthor of Saving Lives: Why the Media's Portrayal of Nurses Leaves Us All at Risk," knows that's definitely not the reason Carey and Minaj are dressed so provocatively.
It may sound funny, but it really isn't, Summers says. "Research indicates nursing's sexual image does hurt the profession." She cites a 2008 study from Scotland's Dundee University proving TV images of nurses as "brainless, sex mad bimbos" discourage academically advanced primary school students from pursuing nursing.
But the debasing images seem to keep coming. Last season's TV show HawthoRNe portrayed one nurse as quite willing to more-than-fondle her young male patients. So is that what a guy should expect when he is admitted to the hospital? Definitely not, but the repetition makes this issue so hard to combat.
The only thing that will stop this inaccurate and demeaning portrayal is to make your view known. If you don't want to be portrayed as a sex object, speak up. Join the campaign to protest the Carey music video. Go to www.truthaboutnursing.org/media/music/2010/mariah_carey.html and scroll down to "Take Action" and send an instant letter to Mariah Carey. We have to start somewhere and Summers has learned persistence does produce positive results in campaigns she has launched against specific inaccurate or exploitative images.