Our executive director's letter Accidentally on Purpose on it use of the naughty nurse stereotype. (Our petiiton is now closed)
Dear "Accidentally on Purpose" Executive Producers Claudia Lonow, Lloyd Braun, Gail Berman and Gene Stein, I am writing about the episode "Face Off" that originally aired on April 7, 2010, in which the pregnant Billie hires what the show refers to as a "baby nurse" (nanny or infant care provider) named Nicole. Unfortunately, this episode reinforces several ideas that are causing real harm to the nursing profession. At first Nicole seems nice, skilled, and professional, but as you know, she turns out to be a manipulative nymphomaniac, seducing two men for a three-some practically on sight, while she's supposed to be baby-proofing. The show repeatedly focuses on her breasts. These elements exploit the harmful naughty nurse stereotype that has plagued real nurses for decades. (See more about the enduring naughty nurse stereotype at www.truthaboutnursing.org/faq/naughty_nurse.html) At one point, Zack's friends fantasize about the hot Nicole squeezing the breast milk out of Billie's breasts, and we get a brief scene showing how that might work. But this sexualizes real nurses' focus on breastfeeding and subtly reinforces the enduring practice of considering breastfeeding a type of "nursing," which associates a modern science profession with unskilled female care giving. The episode's use of the term "baby nurse" is also a problem. I know this term is common, but it is a dangerous distortion that implies that such infant care providers actually are nurses, when few if any have the years of college-level health science training real nurses do. In addition to misleading new parents about what their "baby nurses" know, the term suggests that real nurses have as few health skills as the infant care providers do. The episode also tells us that Nicole has a "nursing degree from Cal," as if it thinks "baby nurses" really are nurses. These problems outweigh any potential benefit from Nicole's apparent knowledge about basic infant care, and the fleeting suggestion that real nurses may have university degrees. I urge you to avoid sending such damaging messages about nursing in the future and create accurate story lines about nurses to help remedy the damage you have caused with this episode. Please call on me or The Truth About Nursing for help. Thank you.