So you want to be a Nurselady

And even though you don’t know any other guys who want to be nurseladies, you persist.  Because quite simply, you think you’ll like nursing, as a career, a job, an endeavour.  So you take your high school maths and sciences, you do quite well, and you get accepted into nursing school.

Where almost all the students are women.  You feel like you don’t really belong, you feel odd, you stand out.  There are a few other men in the class and at first you hang around with them, but you don’t really like them.  Part of you thinks you should like them, but, well, you just don’t.  You try hanging around with some of the women, and they’re pleasant enough and they talk to you, but you never get included in their group things outside of class.  So you become a loner, part of nothing, sort of invisible.  But you persist, you keep coming to class.

All the profs are women and they keep saying things like “Well, ladies…” as if you weren’t there.  There’s one who makes a point of adding, as a cute afterthought, “and gentlemen”, but something in her tone bugs you and you’d rather she just stick to “Well, ladies”.  And there’s another one who asked once why, with your build, you weren’t playing football instead.  You were speechless.  But you persist, you don’t drop out.  (Even though you wonder sometimes at the average marks you get for work you think is above average.)

There’s only one men’s washroom in the whole building.  On particularly bad days, it annoys you when you have to go to a different floor just to go to the washroom.

And it seems that some knowledge is assumed as background.  Things like how to hold a baby.  How are you supposed to know what they haven’t taught you yet?

And there are no nursing uniforms for you in the campus shop.  Something special has to be ordered.  It’s different, of course, and makes you stand out even more, as someone who doesn’t really belong with the group.  This is especially bad in the training hospital – people keep thinking you’re security or something.  Sometimes it seems you have to spend so much time and effort just getting accepted as a nurse, you don’t have anything left to actually do any nursing.

But you persist.  Even though you probably won’t get a job when you graduate – men are thought to be not as emotionally sensitive, you’ve already been criticized for being gruff (you swear you were just speaking normally).  And if you do get a job, it’ll probably be in some no-name hospital god-knows-where with no chance for advancement.  None of the headnurses in any of the hospitals you’ve been in were men.  But you persist.

One day it occurs to you that it would help if they stopped calling it ‘nurselady’ and just called it ‘nurse’.  When you suggest that, you get weird looks as if you’re obsessed with sex or over-reacting (or both).  A few agree to use just ‘nurse’, but the way they say it defeats the purpose.  The same sort of thing happened when you said something about the uniforms and the washrooms.  You were criticized for making a fuss.  But you persist.  Because damn it you want to be a nurse!

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