Masculinity, Gender, And Men

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Masculinity, Gender, and Men in Nursing Since the time of Florence Nightingale nursing has been popularly understood to be a highly gendered profession based on abilities of caring, helping, and nurturing – which are characteristics stereotypically identified with women and not men in the Western world (Cottingham, 2014; Rajacich, Kane, Williston, & Cameron, 2013; Stanley, 2012). Nightingale’s profound influence on nursing was filtered through the rigid Victorian cultural concepts of her time that viewed women as carers and helpers and men as active doers and experts, with white women of the middle class being the ideal helpers for knowledgeable and powerful male doctors whose primary function was scientific excellence and technical mastery and not the human dimension of caring, showing empathy, or serving others (Andrews, Stewart, Morgan, & D’Arcy, 2012; Cottingham, 2014). After Nightingale, the identification of femininity with nursing continued as the essentialist notion that women are carers and men are doers went essentially unchallenged (McMurry, 2011; Rajacich et al., 2013). This construction was based upon gendered notions of the characteristics of masculinity – defined as “hyper-heterosexuality, control, technical/physical competence, autonomy, and rationality” that are constructed as superior to “feminine” characteristics and deserve more respect, celebration, and recognition by society (Cottingham, 2014). In essence, to be a male and a nurse was therefore to be
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