Dec 1, 2011

In my Professional Growth class in term 7, my group and I presented on the subject of “sexy nurse image.” Through our research we found that the sexy nurse image began in the early 1930’s with Betty Boop. Since then, statistics have shown that nurses are the most fantasized profession, and fireman follow closely in second place.

Term 7 studentsI understand that the media has a powerful influence on an individual’s perception, but it seems as though the image of sexy nurses is embedded in our society. The media generates a lot of money with the sexy nurse image from producing television shows, pornography films, and advertising desirable outfits (used as lingerie or Halloween costumes). The way the media depicts nurses effects the whole profession. In our presentation, we compared different television shows and how they portray nurses, and compared this to what nurses actually do as professionals. We compared House, Nurse Jackie, ER, and Grey’s Anatomy. The four different television shows depicted nurses as: individuals who have no voice and should only follow the doctor’s orders, handmaidens with low-skilled jobs, individuals requiring supervision and management by physicians, only women (because male nurses are only there to be mocked), stereotypically lazy, and lastly, not autonomous individuals. My colleagues and I were astonished, as these descriptions did not represent the nursing profession accurately. After describing how the media portrays nurses, I asked the class a simple question: “how sexy do you feel after a 12-hour shift spent rushing from room to room?” Not a single person said that they felt sexy. This response shows that nurses do not feel sexy during work; we don’t have the time to flirt with our patients or doctors! It is disheartening that the media devalues and disrespects the work of nurses. Nurses spend 4 years of hard work and dedication in obtaining a bachelors degree and for what? Where can we go from here? And what can we do as nurses to change this image?

We further looked into how this sexy image affects individual nurses. My group and I concluded that the image of sexy nurses encourages sexual harassment and sexual discrimination since nurses are being stereotyped as being submissive, bimbo females (which is utterly not true!). According to a human rights website, sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination which includes: inappropriate touching, making offensive jokes or remark, making sexual requests or suggestions, and staring or making unwelcome comments about someone’s body. Not too long ago, I experienced a form of sexual harassment during clinical practice where my clinical partner and I were promoting our clinical project in Richmond. A male building manager stated that he once had a female nursing student whose practicum was at this site. He continued by saying that he could not wait until he was at that age where he would receive a sponge bath from an attractive young female such as myself.

In conclusion, it was important for my group to bring forth awareness regarding the subject of sexy images to the class because it affects the profession and individuals. It brings up questions such as, what are we doing individually to change the image of nurses? Is there anything we can do to change this?