Feminist Theory the Profession of Nursing and Essay

  • Length: 5 pages
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  • Subject: Health - Nursing
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #55096593

Excerpt from Essay :

Feminist Theory

The profession of nursing and feminism go hand in hand ever since the theory was introduced. The correlation was as such due to the close link between women and nursing. Nursing has always been considered a very feminine profession. No one really pictures a man when they think of a nurse. There are many beliefs and assumptions that have come out ever since the theory had been stated. The assumptions of the theory are very simple and clear cut. One of the major assumptions of this theory is that women are oppressed. Surely, there has to be an underlying cause for a theory to come forward or for people to speak against. Another assumption is that the theory must be directed towards the normality, centrality and the relevance of women's experience. A major assumption is that gender is socially constructed. Even though many theorists go on to think that the aforementioned notion is true, it is not always the case. When we talk about gender roles that are constructed socially, the idea of family comes forward as well. Family basically goes on to support women being oppressed. This is a major assumption that the feminist theory goes on with. Family contains heterosexual class and culture stereotypes. Surely, women would have to alter their role to some extent if they have a family to look after. Another assumption in this theory is that methodological approaches and social change should be value committed. Lastly, women believe that if the only way they can change the oppression is if they succeed in higher fields in life.

The assumptions are also subdivided into the three eras during which the feminist theory actually developed. The first division was in the 19th century when the feminists went on to root for women's right to vote and to own property. In the 1960s, feminists rooted for women's liberation. Liberation over here meant in terms of political cultural social and sexual issues. The most recent division was in the 1990s and 1980s when there was the talk of feminism along the lines of class and race. Feminists believe the women's value to the society should be based on what they can give to the society as a person. This value should not rely on the sexual or the biological characteristics they have. (Allan, 1993)

The entire paradigm of nursing involves of four different subjects. These subjected are basically person, health and environment. The paradigm basically refers to the sick person as not a patient but more as a subject. This subject can be how other social groups or family come to view as. In simpler terms, a patient therefore doesn't fall under the general category of being sick. Even though he comes under the general criteria of being sick, he is looked upon being an independent person and completely autonomous. Feminists would link this paradigm of nursing to the general link that is made between nursing and women. Nursing occupies a very specific niche when it comes to occupations. In other words, it is a profession that is often linked best with the typical feminine characteristics. (Hoffmann, 1991) This profession falls somewhere in the middle of the non-professional hospital staff and the professional hospital staff. Feminists would look at this paradigm as being linked to the womanly characteristic that female nurses are supposed to show. Apart from the stereotypical settings, even history as hinted as nurses being very womanly and caring. For instance, Florence Nightingale was made seem like a very passionate and caring nurse. She is mentioned as a person who using her feminine characteristics went onto speaks against the norms of that time. She went against all the expectations, and thus went on to distinguish nursing as a separate profession. (Woodham-smith 1951) Feminists are thus against these traditional roles and expectations that are expected out of a female nurse. Where nurses are supposed to consider a person as a separate individual, feminist would argue that the same motives and incentives should be there for doctors and surgeons as well.

As is illustrated earlier before, feminists do tend to think that history has gone to exploit the structural and cultural forces that mold the nursing profession today. Even though nursing was just beginning as a profession for her, Nightingale knows the biases and discrepancies that would be present for women in this field. Even before starting off her career, she made it very clear that she will work with the doctors but not for the doctors. (Holliday & Parker, 1997) If seen today, then many feminists and nurses are left with the same dilemma that a lot of women face today. Women are left with the dilemma of deciding between two extremes. They are either left with choosing between very feminine roles or a very masculine role. (Holliday & Parker, 1997)

The concept of health isn't only diagnosing a condition or treating a disease and helping the person recover. It is also very general and it doesn't only stick to the general conditions. It looks at and deals with nurses as being equally learned medical professionals rather than being mere subordinated to doctors. In other words, there is no general definition of health. It is often a very negotiated and contextual term. Nurses have often been oppressed in different staff and clinical settings. Therefore feminists would agree with what this concept says about nurses being equal to doctors. Even though that statement is present in the metapardigm, the reality is quite different. The nurses that work in hospitals still face occupational hazards, low pay, and low mobility and sever understaffing. (Bent, 1993) If looked closely, nurses do hold the true responsibility of the first mediator of the patients. Nursing care can make a patient's hospital experience very good or very bad. Along with their experience, nursing care is crucial when it comes to the recovery and resolution of the patient. Even though they have crucial roles in hospital care, their administrative rights and power over the hospital is very little. Nurses have to continue to battle for their rights of having a higher pay and better relationship to the physicians.

Nurses were seen as not having knowledge of their own and as not being very learned persons. Even now, not much importance is given to nursing training and nursing knowledge. (Bent, 1993) Physicians and surgeons seem to think it is not crucial for nurses to be trained to do what they do best. The nurses are still undervalued and not given much credit for what they do. Even though it is the doctor or the surgeon that provides the diagnosis and cure, nurses play an important role in achieving that role. Along with nursing, teaching is also looked upon as a feminine career. However, where teachers require a 4-year baccalaureate degree, nurses only required a 2-year degree.

Environment is also a very important metapardigm and it goes on to explain health care and nursing in more specific details. As mentioned earlier, a patient's recovery and experience in the hospital largely depends on how the nurses treated him or her. Environment of patient could affect his home life, mental state, chances of relapse and overall cure from the disease. If a nurse has the true skills of maintaining a healthcare environment friendly and more family orientated, then the patient would do much better.

Nursing has always been considered a very family friendly occupation. Back in the day, women who wanted to be a nurse was told that she will be able to work wherever her husband could find a job. She would be able to drop off her children at the day care and adjust the timings of her job according to her family needs. (Sullivan, 2002) This shows that nursing and family up…

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