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This Unrealistic Depiction Of Nurses On Television

1932 words - 8 pages

When one imagines a female nurse in America, one may think of a smiling woman in pink scrubs helping a new mother care for her baby, a comforting hand to hold in a time of need, or even a soft voice counting, “One, two, three...” before administering an injection. Nursing is a profession that is dominated by women at ninety-two percent (US Department of Labor) and is accurately characterized by its commitment to the care for individuals and the promotion of healthy living. According to the American Nursing Association’s Code of Ethics, “The nurse, in all professional relationships, practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of health problems.” Because of these professional and altruistic values, it is no surprise that the profession of nursing has received the highest ranking in Gallup’s annual Honesty and Ethics Poll for the eleventh year. Eighty-one percent of Americans claimed that nurses have “high” or “very high” ethical standards (Gallup). Clearly, the American public thinks quite highly of nurses, however, when is turns on the television, these well-respected individuals are portrayed on popular medical dramas as disposable sexual objects and as subordinate helpers. This unrealistic depiction of nurses is a reflection of the misogyny in American culture that presents itself through entertainment such as ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Fox’s House.
The writers of medical dramas are creative in that they find ways to make scrubs “sexy,” however, this attribute of the female nurse ultimately leads to their mistreatment by the shows’ men. The physicians in the shows, who are predominantly male, view the nurses as sexual objects for their own pleasure and disposal. For example, in Grey’s Anatomy, the male surgeons commonly make degrading comments about the female nurses and use them for sex. Dr. Mark Sloan, a plastic surgeon nicknamed “McSteamy,” makes a very clear judgment about nurses when he is discussing cupcakes for a going away party for another surgeon. He asserts that the cupcakes should be high quality because it’s not “just some baby shower for some nurse who couldn't keep her knees together” (The Truth About Nursing). The character McSteamy is glorified by his sexual dominance, while the female nurses who take part in the physician-nurse relationships are victimized. This is a reflection of the double standard that exists in American society; the sexual conquests of men are praise-worthy, while promiscuity among women is looked down upon.
Another instance in which Grey’s Anatomy depicts nurses as sexual objects is when Dr. Derek Shepard dates his scrub nurse, Rose. Dr. Shepard, nicknamed “McDreamy,” begins his relations with Rose immediately following a breakup. Nurse Rose is easily accessible to him, and he takes advantage of his prestige in the hospital...

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