A few shortish pieces on injustice, middle school, and other things that shouldn't have happened.
Nurse Johnny v. Status Quo
To introduce this rant, allow me to present you with a list. Try to guess what all the items have in common:
- Plastic dinosaurs
- Baby dolls
- Train sets
- Matchbox cars
- Plastic and/or plush horses
- Cute, fuzzy, cuddly stuffed animals, ranging from crocodiles to bunny rabbits
You probably guessed that the common feature of that list was that all the items were toys. You would be correct. Bonus credit for those of you that intuited that they were all toys I used to play with when I was little.
My point? I’ll get to that later. First, another list:
- And…drum roll, please…chartreuse.
I do hope you guessed that all of the above items were colors. Don’t worry, I’ll explain myself later. Just one more list:
- Auto Mechanic
You may have noticed that this list consisted of professions. Just jobs—not any specific type of job. One could organize them into categories, or course. Some require more formal education than others. Some are more lucrative than the rest. Some are hands-on, others hands-off. Some are dirty, some are sterile, some are somewhere in between.
Some of you have probably figured out what I’m up to by now. As for the rest, here’s the big reveal:
Jobs—not male jobs and female jobs. Just jobs.
Colors—not feminine colors and masculine colors. Just colors.
Toys—not toys for boys and toys for girls. Just toys.
Yes, folks. Let’s talk gender discrimination.
So why am I writing about this wide and weirdly controversial subject at this particular point in time? Not because of the fact that I ‘liked’ several decidedly liberal pages on Facebook and have since been bombarded with a multitude of stories and videos on the matter every time I glance at my newsfeed. Not because I’m a tomboy, even though I am. Not because I have been discriminated against in person, although it’s happened before. Not because I recently turned 18 and am now a registered Democrat (woot!). Not even because I listen to NPR, even though I do, for a minimum of three hours per day.
I’m writing this because of something that happened to a friend.
Our local community college, like community colleges everywhere, offers several programs aimed at providing students with the skills necessary to enter into a specific profession. I don’t know all the details, but it goes around to the area high schools, asking their respective counseling offices to promote such programs to interested upperclassmen.
Anyway, one day, a counselor comes into fourth period Anatomy and Physiology, bearing tidings of the CC’s nursing program, and asking anyone considering a career in that field to please stop by her office for more information.
So the friend in question stands up, intending to seek out this promised “more information”, only to be told (by the Anatomy teacher) that the community college’s nursing program is “only for girls.” Which is a problem, you see, because he isn’t one. A girl, that is.
And of course, in this, the fucking Eisenhower Administration, male nurses are totally not a thing. They simply don’t exist. It’s physically impossible. Your life is a lie.
At this point, it may be helpful to give you a bit of background concerning Oregonian politics. We have five congressional districts. 1, 3, 4 and 5 are all small, relatively populous areas, clustered together in the westernish, slightly northerly part of the state, where tharr be rain and tharr be hipsters. The remaining two-thirds of the entire state of Oregon is occupied by the 2nd Congressional District, a vast sea of GOP red encompassing the arid eastern to the dry central to the drought-prone southern. California borders the 2nd District. Idaho borders the 2nd District. Washington borders the 2nd District. The goddamn Pacific Ocean borders the 2nd District. While it's mostly monotone red, there are a few purple splotches in some of its more populated parts, along with this little, tiny, bright blue dot that is my hometown.
My town is an island. A beautiful island where we traipse about in hemp-fiber clothing, flaunt our organic food, march en mass in the annual gay pride parade, and pretend that we are ethnically diverse.
(Now that I've basically told the internet my address, as well as my political leanings, please, no one hunt me down. That wouldn't be very nice of you, would it?)
The point that I am trying to make is that it is understandable that the policies of this particular community college might be a bit more conservative than we in the modern world are accustomed to. It is, after all, far enough outside the walls of the progressive bubble that I call home for it to have gotten lodged in the 1950s.
Understandable, but not excusable.
At any rate, to continue the story where I left off, my friend is more than a bit bewildered. This is, after all, the twenty-first century, and this sort of blatant injustice must surely be illegal by now. So he goes up to the counseling office after school to make sure the teacher was not mistaken.
Now here’s the thing: not only does the counselor confirm that the CC’s nursing program is only for girls—it’s auto mechanics program is…you guessed it, only for boys.
Because we must encourage our men to be manly. And manly men must be hairy, muscular, and smell of motor oil.
I’m not advocating the elimination of every gender-based academic program. It is reasonable for a typically male-dominated field to offer courses for women only, so that more females become interested in that field and can more easily enter it, allowing for a state of balance. We still need girls-only science camps—that way, there will be more female scientists. But nursing? That’s already a female-dominated profession, and it always has been. I can’t see how letting men in will damage women’s prospects in any foreseeable manner, and I wouldn’t think it would cost the college very much to take down the gender barrier.
And even if it did cost money to make the switch, it wouldn’t damage their coffers nearly as much as a lawsuit would…