Sunday, June 25, 2017

Are You Man Enough... To Be a Nurse?

This is probably not the most shocking thing you are going to hear today. While male unemployment is high jobs are going unfilled because men do not want to do them. Better yet, their wives do not want them to do the jobs. And those who hire people for the jobs do not want to hire men. Those who do the jobs do not want men as colleagues either. I am talking about care giving jobs, like nurses and home health care workers.

Naturally, Susan Chira attributes it to stereotyping, but does she know better than the men, their wives and their prospective colleagues? At the least, she ought to respect the views of the women who live with these men.

Yet, as Chira presents the case, the feminist vision of male nurses and male home care workers fades into oblivion. Gender interchangeability is just another dumb idea… one that takes permanent leave from reality.

Chira opens:

Traditionally male factory work is drying up. The fastest-growing jobs in the American economy are those that are often held by women. Why not get men to do them?

The problem is that notions of masculinity die hard, in women as well as men. It’s not just that men consider some of the jobs that will be most in demand — in health care, education and administration — to be unmanly or demeaning, or worry that they require emotional skills they don’t have. So do some of their wives, prospective employers and women in these same professions.

Notions of masculinity have developed for reasons that have everything to do with human nature. Why is that so difficult to accept?

A sociology professor who sets her straight:

Ofer Sharone, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, has studied middle-aged white-collar professionals who have lost their jobs. He found that some men who might have been willing to consider lower-paid jobs in typically feminine fields encountered resistance from their wives, who urged them to keep looking.

“Marriages have more problems when the man is unemployed than the woman,” Professor Sharone said. “What does it mean for a man to take a low-paying job that’s typically associated with women? What kind of price will they pay with their friends, their lives, their wives, compared to unemployment?”

That may be, he said, because other sociologists have found that while work is important to both men’s and women’s identities, there remains a difference. “Work is at the core of what it means to be a man, in a way that work is not at the core of femininity,” he said.

Clients do not want to hire male caregivers, either. Perhaps they have bathed in the ambient culture, the one that demonizes men as repugnant abusers. Perhaps they understand that men lack the genetic make-up to be good caregivers:

Sherwin Sheik, president and chief executive of CareLinx, which matches caregivers with families, said that many clients remain suspicious of male home health care aides, worried about abuse or sexual predation, and convinced that women will be more caring.

And, of course, women who work in what have traditionally been women’s professions do not want a lot of men around:

Men can also face resistance from their female peers. Jason Mott, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, said some of his male students were teased by their female classmates. “They feel they need to really express their manhood, stressing the athletics they take part in,” he said.

Nursing offers a perplexing case study. In theory, nursing should appeal to men because it pays fairly good wages and is seen as a profession with a defined skill set. Yet just 10 percent of nurses are men, despite “Are You Man Enough … to Be a Nurse?” posters and other efforts to enlist men.

Of course, it’s all a messaging problem. You want to attract men to nursing, you need more posters about how only a man who is man enough can be a nurse. 

Women know better. They are not rushing out to marry male nurses. Men whose manhood has been compromised by such occupations often believe that they need to become more macho than thou, more aggressive and more violent… to assure themselves and their prospective mates that they are really man enough.

If women do not want it, we should respect their views.


Sam L. said...

"If women do not want it, we should respect their views."

Of course, there's the old question, "What DO women want?" Will they tell us what they really want?

LordSomber said...

The male nurses I know are pretty hard-ass.
One is a former paramedic and the other was a former Army Ranger.
Both are confident in what they do.

James said...

Well it made me think of this, take it Ry, Bobby, and Flaco!

Deana said...

This just made me chuckle. I am a nurse and I'm married to a wonderful man who's been a nurse for two decades. We both do critical care at a large trauma center in the US. My husband's patients adore him. And so do I.

I am well aware that some people automatically think male nurses must be gay. Whatever. In my department alone there are six male nurses, all of whom have been married to their respective wives for years and years. Most female nurses I know WELCOME male nurses. We need them because:
1. They do everything women do and they can more easily lift heavy patients
2. Their presence alone makes the trouble making patients calm down. Male nurses can't be threatened.
3. This is becoming less common but doctors don't verbally abuse male nurses. Their presence in the nursing staff helps promote nursing as a profession.

Many male nurses have military backgrounds. The ones I know spend their time off shooting, kayaking, fishing, working out, and taking care of their families. What is unattractive about that?

Frankly, I thank God I am married to a nurse. We will never be rich but we make a nice living. We will never be unemployed. Any woman who has a husband who treats her well and is willing to work an honest job needs to thank her lucky stars and get over the absurd notion that nursing "compromises a man's manhood."

And for the record, my husband is a hottie. When I first met him, it was like I had a fever I was so crazy about him. Now we have a more mature, married love. But whew! He can still make me not even think straight!

Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...

Thanks to Deana for offering excellent advantages for male nurses and her personal counterexample. Similar reasons can be made for male elementary school teachers and it may be 10% male teachers is sufficient to "balance" things out.

Stuart: Men whose manhood has been compromised by such occupations often believe that they need to become more macho than thou, more aggressive and more violent… to assure themselves and their prospective mates that they are really man enough.

There may be some truth there, and in anywhere men are insecure about their masculinity, but that would seem to say more about a specific man than men in general.

Perhaps a partial answer here is to have a different name for a job. If "nurse" is feminine, like nursing also refering to breast-feeding, it makes sense this isn't the best term. So "Are You Man Enough … to Be a Nurse?" is simply a poor PR move.

Deana said...

Ares - many nurses have noted exactly what you have: if nurses were known by any other name (para-doctor, medic, physician assistant, whatever), you would see more men entering the field and fewer people assuming males in that field "must be" gay.

One other thing: One of the reasons men currently enter the nursing field is because they want to go on to become nurse anesthetists, who come out of their masters making six figures.

Non-medical people who haven't been in a critical care room or dialysis unit honestly believe that nurses just bathe patients and empty bedpans. I rarely do either but people cling to the idea that nurses today only do what nurses did in 1917.