Thursday, March 5, 2009

Against the Flow

My tender male student nurse feelings were tested on Tuesday during my assessment lecture. The topic of the day?

Male & female genitalia and rectum & anus. Surely you see the male-bashing potential from just that bit of information. We'll also ignore the adolescent-silly comments that peppered the entire lecture, and move on to what really pissed me off.

We were discussing the need for STD testing, and the lecturer asked the class if we thought that a patient that claims to be in a monogamous relationship should still be tested for STD's. Of course the correct answer is yes.

But then the lecturer went on, and way too far, in my opinion.

She said, "You know these high paid executives, they run around and sleep with any little young thing they can. And then they come home and give these STD's to their unsuspecting wives who have stayed home working hard to care for their children and keep the house just the way the husband likes it."

Now, I'm positive what she describes has happened before. But I'm also certain, (from personal experience), that husbands are NOT the only people who cheat. Wives do too.

I couldn't resist it--I raised my hand and made that point. The lecturer begrudgingly agreed. But it wasn't 5 minutes later that we were discussing statutory rape, and she made another comment about how when this happens she has to "turn the boyfriends in to the cops."

Again, making the assumption that the males are the only ones who might commit statutory rape--a point that is debased quite effectively I think by the rash of female teachers having sex with young students in the news lately.

My clinical group and I (all females) were discussing this at lunch. One of my clinical-mates asked me, "What did you expect going into a female dominated world? If I (she) had gone into engineering, I'm sure that there would be all kinds of female bashing jokes and comments being made."

I responded that while that may be true, that it certainly doesn't make it right.

As nursing students we are expected to act as professionals at all times, representing our school in a respectful and courteous way. We are constantly being reminded to develop our critical thinking skills. One of the principles of critical thinking that we were tested over was the removal of bias and discriminatory language from our discourse.

Unfortunately, this lecturer apparently missed that class...

Maybe I've been over-sensitive here. And the truth is I'm up for a joke as much as the next girl. If the same words had been said in jest, I think they probably wouldn't have bothered me. What bothered me was the fact that the lecturer was completely unaware of her bias.

I'm sad to report that sexism wasn't her only downfall. She is not our regular professor, and she had a poor grasp on the material in both of her lectures. Her previous lecture was on the heart, where she informed the class that ventricular filling is what triggers the systolic contraction...without mentioning the conduction system except in passing... This lecture she made several breast cancer gaffes and reversed syphilis and gonorrhea. Not my favorite lecturer.


  1. wow! totally narrow minded of her, and stereotyping men into cliche's like that! Egad! Our class has a lot of men, but I can honestly say, there's just not that kind of crap going on in our class. I wouldn't blame you if you went to the dean. But I know how tricky it is to make waves, when there are so many other fishies that would take your spot. (ummmm maybe I'm speaking of myself here..I left a crappy school because of bashing). Anyway, I apologize on the behalf of women everywhere. We do NOT believe ALL men should be lumped together with the pigs. There!

  2. I agree with you. As nurses we should be holding ourselves to the higher road on these isssues. I guess you learned a different lesson from this lecturer than she intended. Amazing sometimes lessons come from the most unexpected direction. Cheers to your learning process

  3. I have also recognized when this has happened within my class. We only had 3 male students in my class, but it didn't make a difference. If there were topics that sometimes made them look 'less than par' everyone's focus turned to them to gauge their reaction. Had I not disliked these particular guys I may have felt for them. lol Anyway, like you said...UNPROFESSIONAL! Unfortunatley this happens too often. And not top mention the conduction system? What the..? That has everything to do with everything. Pfft.

    ....glad the sun is rising...

  4. Oh my, my! She has to be one and the same, or at least a relation to my MH instructor. Don't get me started...

    Love the " the next girl" LMAO!!!

  5. Thank you all for your support. :)

  6. Wow.
    Are there days when you go to school that it is hard to find the temporal vortex that leads to the entrance door? I swear you step back 30-50 years for some of these things...

    Maybe someday you'll have the pleasure of being her nurse ;)

  7. SAMTNS--Agreed. The funniest part is listening to all the professors bitch about how things from academia "take an average of 18 years" before they're applied in real life practice.

  8. Welcome to nursing my fellow male nurse. These incidences will never stop, but you will change your perspective and how you react to them.
    Always remember no matter what, at the end of the day you are simply a NURSE. I could talk for miles about the types of things you are going to encounter being male in a predominantly female profession.
    But the reality is, the only difference between the 'problem' and the 'solution' is being sure to view your career and the personnel as simply a nurse. Not a male nurse. Not a female nurse. Simply a nurse.
    Stay strong. The journey is worth it.

  9. Thanks for the words of encouragement. As I was writing it up I wondered if a few years ago I might read back and think I was a sissy for getting my panties in a wad.

    I like the thought of being 'just a nurse' as opposed to being gender labeled. The 'male' thing just seems to get in the way.

  10. Boo-urns. That's way worse than the shit going on at my school. My profs' biases are, for the most part, limited to she-nurses and he-physicians. Still, I don't get it, I was griping about it to a classmate and she looked at me blankly saying, "What do you expect, with the ratio of women to men in nursing?". Unbelievable.