Victor Cactus really owned his one-sock outfit, huh? I'm thrilled to learn that it's perfectly legal for me to expose my nipples and butt in public.
Truly does it swell one's heart with felicity to read such a swashbuckling, comma-studded, virile behemoth of a sentence. Bravo, Sprocket!
...have you been hiding? Ride that bike of yours to a LN-appropriate locale and dish on just what you have been doing these past two months.
I don't give a crap about beer, but I love your column. Cheers!
Absolutely terrific and timely article, Marisa. Thank you for covering this issue.
Lanemcclain, your arguments resonate strongly with me. Thank you for your comments. Please allow me to explain my rationale behind the image and my word choices in the article.
It's easy to see a photo of a nurse in a white uniform and assume that the image reinforces stereotypes. But if you shift your focus a bit to the left, you'll see the same nurse wearing a military uniform. Please do not make the mistake of overlooking her. I juxtaposed the most obvious stereotype against an unexpected image on purpose. This portrait is meant to be interpreted in the context of the article, which compares and contrasts Amy's experience with the television show Mercy.
Discussing stereotypes... and even using them to make a point... in my article is not the same thing as me supporting or perpetuating them. I'm asking readers to look at the image (BOTH sides of the image) as it relates to the article, and link the various elements together to arrive at the meaning of the article. I don't want people to get too hung up on the size of my rear end or the use of the word "blond."
I support my claim that nurses are stereotyped by discussing the show Mercy, which features a blond nurse as the main character. Describing Amy's physical attributes serves the purpose of amplifying the inconsistencies between the TV Land and the real world. Rather than reinforcing stereotypes, the article uses language and an eye-catching image to juxtapose the stereotype with alternative images of nursing, such as the visual image of a nurse in a military uniform and the written description of a nurse at war. Furthermore, discussing stereotypes allows the article to show how even nurses who do fit the physical stereotype may reject traditional nursing roles.
"The blond American is a tired and outdated stereotype, and wholesomeness is an antiquated moral judgment. While I appreciate that "Amy" is a compassionate clinician, I feel that her important scholastic background should be discussed rather than her physical attributes. In reality, although it is very flattering, what bearing does her hair and eyelashes have on her practice?"
I would agree that blond is a tired and outdated stereotype. I would also agree that "wholesome" is an antiquated moral judgment. Again, acknowledging the old-fashioned stereotype of the "wholesome American nurse" does not mean I'm advocating for that stereotype. My description of Amy was clearly related to my description of the very similar-looking Veronica from Mercy. And Amy's blond hair and long eyelashes have an enormous effect on her practice. Amy's colleagues and patients look at her and immediately assume that she's a sweet, shy nurse. This affects the way that they interpret her and treat her. I've witnessed people change their behavior towards Amy after learning that she's been to war. I think you're interpreting things a bit backwards. Comparing Amy to the stereotypical nurse is not meant to suggest that nursing roles should be filled by pretty blond women. In fact, quite the opposite. The comparison is meant to shatter the reader's expectation that pretty blond women belong in traditionally caring roles and flattering uniforms. Pretty blond women can also be found at war wearing fatigues and holding a gun, as the article and the image work to illustrate.
For the record, the white uniform in the photo is an authentic uniform from an authentic university-level school of nursing. Some nursing institutions still utilize such "tight-fitting" (oh, the shame!) uniforms. As for my "curvy figure," I can't help the size of my caboose. It's not an unrealistic image--the profile isn't anorexic with boobs spilling out of the dress or anything. BOTH the image in the white uniform and the image in the military uniform demonstrate an athletic figure.
As for the "pseudo lesbian suggestions", I can only assume that you're referring to the hand-holding. Well, I can only point out that the nurse in the photo is holding her OWN hand. This was meant to symbolize the fact that we all carry society's expectations and stereotypes with us as we pursue our own personal journey. It's also meant to symbolize the duality of the "nurse/soldier" role, which was hopefully made obvious by the stark contrast between the extremely stereotypical and traditional nurse and the military nurse.
"I can only surmise that you are trying to help make nursing look hip, sexy, and mod with your artsy portrait. But I'm left asking what your portrait does for nursing and for women."
The portrait's meaning is vague without the accompanying article. I hope the article shows that nurses can be artful, articulate, and politically and culturally engaged. If the image of me in the white uniform is more powerful for you than the image of me in the fatigues, that says more about what you're conditioned to respond to than it says about my intentions. So I'm hoping you trade your analysis of my intentions to make nursing look "hip and sexy" for a little reflection as to why our society produces people who respond more strongly to a photo of a woman in a traditional nurse uniform than a photo of the very same woman wearing the uniform of military service.
I can absolutely see where your criticisms are coming from, but I personally think they betray an overemphasis on the nurse photo, and possibly a superficial reading of the text. Perhaps we should all be asking ourselves why such a photo is powerful enough to obscure the meaning of Amy's important story. This is a question I'm scratching my head over as I consider your comment. I am very glad you wrote in so that I could have a chance to respond to your concerns. I'm sure other readers had the same thoughts regarding the image as you, so thank you for writing in and sharing your thoughts.
Meinva, to address the link you provided, it's true that vaccines carry some risks and side effects, and not all vaccines are created equally. When I state that there are numerous high quality studies from reputable sources that support the conclusion that vaccines are safe (particularly the lack of evidence support a link between vaccine and autism), I am drawing upon my general education and also thinking of several particular articles. Check out these articles and their reference lists for more information:
Andre, Booy, Bock, Clemens, Datta, John, Lee et al. (2008). Vaccination greatly reduces disease, disability, death, and inequity worldwide. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 86, 140-146.
Dennehy, P. (2001). Active immunzation in the United States: Developments over the past decade. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 14 (4), 872-908.
Hornig, Briese, Buie, Bauman, Lauwers et al. (2008). Lack of association between measles virus vaccine and autism with enteropahty: A case-control study. PLoS one, 3(9), e3140. Available at [link].
Offit, P. A. and Jew, R. K. (2003). Addressing parents' concerns: Do vaccines contain harmful preservatives, adjuvants, additives or residuals? Pediatrics, 112, 1394-1397.
Taylor, Miller, Farington et al. (1999). Autism and MMR vaccine: No epidemiological evidence for causal association. The Lancet, 353, 2026-29
This is by no means an exhaustive list, merely a starting point. A thorough review of the literature and treatment of the enormous topic of vaccine safety is way beyond the scope of this blog. Still, the article by Penolope Dennehy is particularly comprehensive and can point you in the direction of further reading. I hope these references demonstrate to you the presence of research on the subject of the safety of vaccines and vaccine components. Vaccines have been a staple of public health policy here in the states since the '50s and have therefore been studied extensively. Obviously, the evolution of vaccine technology and the addition of new vaccines warrant further, ongoing research. As the list of recommended pediatric vaccines grows, the additive effect of vaccination must be studied. And the risks and benefits of vaccination must be weighed for each indivdual patient, since each person carries her or her own unique risk/benefit profile, as does each vaccine.
I hope this helps answer your question as to how providers or consumers can form valid conclusions as to the safety (and the risks vs. benefits) of vaccines.