Not staying in Vegas: Truth chapter protests "naughty nurse" contest at the Mirage
May 17, 2010 -- Today members of the Las Vegas chapter of the Truth About Nursing staged a protest outside the Jet Nightclub at the Mirage Hotel, and rather than letting the story stay in Vegas, we're going to tell you about it. The club was holding a contest in which the winner would receive $2,500 for the best "naughty nurse" costume. The event was held on a Monday night from 10:30 p.m. - 4:30 a.m. Determined members of the Truth's Las Vegas chapter, led by chapter co-president Dee Riley, RN, MSN (center), gathered outside the club and greeted patrons of the Jet with signs as they arrived. The chapter members report that they had friendly interactions with patrons, educating them about the value of nurses and the damage caused by the naughty nurse stereotype, which sexualizes the profession and undermines real nurses' claims to the resources and respect they need to save lives. We thank Dee Riley for her leadership, tenacity, and donation of the posters for the protest. We also thank chapter members Juliann Riley, Carla Diaz and Rocky Diaz for speaking out forcefully about stereotypes that harm nursing. We urge all Truth chapters to consider organizing such events to challenge poor images of nursing. With enough of this kind of spirited advocacy, we can beat the house!
Dee Riley reports on the protest:
Well, there were only four of us there, but we were armed with posters and flyers! We stood for nursing outside the Jet Nightclub at the Mirage Hotel wearing nursing uniforms and scrubs. At first the man standing at the podium who ran the door came over and asked us if we were there for the evening's "event". We said that we were. He wanted to know if we were judges! So we gave him a flyer. After that we had many young men in suits coming over to check us out--one even asked if he could take a picture! They seemed amazed that nurses would object to their contest.
We had several people come over and check out what we were doing- two nurses from Canada, a police officer from Chicago, a parole officer from New Mexico, another RN from Phoenix--all voiced their support for nurses! After about an hour, security came along and told us we had to leave. We left without too much of a fuss, but we did make our stand for the nursing profession!
This was an interesting experience. For example, four young women were checking us out for a few minutes. Finally one woman strode over and wanted to know what we were about. I could see her friends stifling giggles. We explained that we were nurses and we objected to the Naughty Nurse Contest and this imagery for the nursing profession. She shot back that other professions have people dress up in "sexy" costumes--so what was the big deal (more stifled giggles). I pointed out that this image was especially pervasive for nurses and that this devalued idea of nursing as a professional occupation only added to the nursing shortage since young people did not take nursing seriously. She really backed down and nodded agreement- and the giggles stopped. I feel I actually made some headway with the group.
Everyone who stopped was supportive and agreed with our stand. A few people wanted to take pictures with us, especially the nurse from Phoenix who thought it was great that someone was finally complaining about this type of advertising. We gave her the address to the website.
I think they (The Mirage) actually let us have some time there to protest. It doesn't look good to kick out nurses--the most trusted profession! But I expected to be asked to leave within 5 minutes or so. A plain-clothed security guard came over and spoke to us very quietly; he was polite, but firm.
We would have continued the campaign outdoors, but one of our members is a victim of a 20+ year nursing career. She has severe, chronic back and neck pain due to years of lifting and moving patients. She should be on disability, but she insists on working. She works in the office of a large home health company. Anyway, after an hour her back was really starting to pain her, so we decided to disband when security ousted us. I really stress to my students that they must care for themselves and not allow themselves to be injured this way (by consistently using lifting equipment, not the "body mechanics" they taught us in school!). Another nurse who was supposed to come along was diagnosed with pneumonia earlier that day and had to cancel! If we had had more time, we could have drummed up more support.
So it was a learning experience. I did not contact the press or TV about the protest, because I knew Tony Allen of the University of Nevada - Las Vegas (UNLV) School of Nursing was on top of issuing a press release, but I did email the Las Vegas Sun (no response). Wish you could have come along! :)
Below is a letter that Dee Riley sent to Mustafa Abdi, director of marketing for the Jet nightclub, asking him to avoid the naughty nurse stereotype:
May 17, 2010
Dear Mr. Abdi:
I am the Co-president of the Nevada Chapter of a national professional organization called The Truth About Nursing. We strive to have the nursing profession portrayed in advertising and the media in an accurate light.
Having a contest like the "Naughty Nurse" one Jet nightclub is sponsoring tonight is degrading to the professional nurses in the United States. This image of nurses assuming the role of brainless, sexual playthings for physicians and patients is ridiculous, but extremely pervasive in our society. We feel it leads to negative stereotypes in society, especially among young persons, like those who are patrons of Jet. This group tends to see nurses, not as professional healthcare providers, but as background decorations in hospital dramas for romantic plots, and handmaidens to physicians. The lack of interest in nursing as a serious profession helps to perpetuate the nursing shortage the US has faced for many years.
Unfortunately, we only learned of this contest late Friday evening, so this message is getting to you late; however, we ask that you cancel the Naughty Nurse contest tonight and refrain from planning such events in the future. Please show respect for the three million registered nurses in the U.S.
Dee Riley, RN
Co-President, Nevada Chapter
The Truth About Nursing
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