|For immediate release
October 26, 2006
Real nurses want "naughty nurse" off menu
Nurses are asking an Arizona theme restaurant to change one small thing about the "naughty nurse" outfits its waitresses wear: omit the "nurse" part.
The nurses argue that Tempe's Heart Attack Grill is exploiting harmful stereotypes at the worst time for their profession. The Grill, which sells "double bypass" burgers, boasts that its food is "worth dying for." But that's a result the nurses say really will become more likely if they cannot overcome nursing's status as the most sexually-fantasized-about job on the planet and resolve the worst shortage in its history.
"The 'naughty nurse' isn't going to save your life when you need her to," said Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH, Executive Director of the Center for Nursing Advocacy, which works to improve public understanding of nursing. "And I think the Heart Attack Grill could clog just as many arteries if it altered its naughty nurse uniforms to be just, well, naughty."
The restaurant uses tongue-in-cheek health care themes to suggest that its fat-intensive food tastes so good that it's unhealthy. Its web site displays scantily-clad "nurse" wait staff serving burgers and beer mainly to young males, sitting on their laps and pushing them in wheelchairs.
"It may be silly," Summers says, "but that kind of intense personal interaction is still likely to create a strong, lasting link in customers' minds between jiggly sex objects and nursing."
The Center acknowledges that patrons likely realize Grill waitresses are not real nurses. But the group points to research showing that even the entertainment media affects how people think and act as to health care. It says the frequent association of nursing with sex in the modern economy discourages real nurses, encourages sexual abuse, and weakens nurses' claims to adequate resources. That drives understaffing and the shortage, a global public health crisis that is killing thousands if not millions, Summers says.
The Center expressed regret that many Grill supporters reacted to nurses' concerns with name-calling and aggressive, sex-related obscenities. The Grill itself has threatened to turn a firehose on any nurses who distribute leaflets outside the restaurant.
"The reaction we've gotten proves our point about the link between this imagery and contempt for nurses," Summers said. "To some, nursing may seem like a marker for female subservience, and by objecting, real nurses have strayed from the traditional script. But we're confident that Grill supporters will come to see the value of nursing. Especially if they keep eating there."
The Center cited a recent poll finding that 54% of British men have sexual fantasies about nurses--more than about any other profession--and that 47% of women dream about "firemen." "In contrast to male fantasies of nursing, the objects of female fantasies tend to be traditionally male jobs associated with heroism and/or socioeconomic power," Summers said. "No man will be deterred from becoming a firefighter because of this image, because men gain respect from it. But the female sex object and handmaiden images do not appeal to career seekers of either gender. It's especially discouraging to men, which is one reason nursing remains over 90% female."
The Center for Nursing Advocacy, founded in 2001, is a Baltimore-based non-profit organization that seeks to increase public understanding of the central, front-line role nurses play in modern health care. The focus of the Center is to promote more accurate, balanced and frequent media portrayals of nurses and increase the media's use of nurses as expert sources.
For more information, please contact:
Sandy Summers, MSN, MPH, RN
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937