“I’ll bet you a million dollars your dad’s not a nurse.”
Belinda didn’t know how to respond to the girl she’d just met in her new school. “Then you owe me, because he is. That’s why the Army moved us here.”
“Men can’t be nurses,” Kelly stated as if she knew what she was talking about. “You mean he’s a doctor.” Kelly’s friends snickered and bobbed their ponytails in agreement.
“I know the difference,” Belinda said. “My dad’s a nurse. He just finished college for it.” It had been kind of boring at Daddy’s ceremony, but everyone clapped when he stood up to speak. Mommy said it was because he got such good grades and everyone was proud of him.
Belinda was proud of him too. Her dad was smart, and handsome, and fun to be with. And he was definitely a nurse.
“You’re a liar,” Kelly said. “I’m going to tell Mrs. Reardon.” She turned and stalked off, her troupe of friends in pastel skirts following closely.
“Okay.” Belinda went back to doing pullovers on the bar like she’d learned in gymnastics.
Obviously, Kelly was not going to be a friend. Belinda didn’t bother with stupid people.
Today’s Squirrel was inspired by a conversation I had on the playground more than 25 years ago about my own father, who is retiring from the Navy nurse corps next month. I’ve had the good fortune to meet many male nurses over the years. They are nothing like the stereotypes perpetuated by the little bit of popular culture that even bothers to consider the possibility. Even the TV show Heroes–which I applauded for having a main character who was a male nurse that wasn’t gay, creepy, effeminate, or evil–buckled to social mores and brought Peter back as an EMT in later seasons.
I challenge you to question your own ideas about “men’s work”. No one blinks twice at female doctors, engineers, or police officers anymore, but in the so-called “caring professions” where women are the majority, men still have a long way to go to gain social acceptance.
Thanks for reading!
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