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NY Times: "Instead of Dr. Ruth, a Nurse Called Sue"

February 19, 2004 -- Today's New York Times included a fairly good article by Mireya Navarro about Sue Johanson, a Toronto registered nurse who is the host of popular television talk shows focusing on sex in both Canada and the United States.

Ms. Johanson, who the Times notes "looks like a 70-something grandmother," dispenses frank advice to callers both on her Oxygen cable television network show "Talk Sex With Sue Johanson," now in its second season in the U.S., and on her Canadian show, "The Sunday Night Sex Show," which started nine years ago. Topics include sexual practice and related health and relationship issues. The story notes that Ms. Johanson has written three books on sex and has received the Order of Canada, the nation's highest honor for lifetime achievement.

The piece could have linked Ms. Johanson's recent work with her nursing background more directly, since all nurses educate people about health in one way or another. The article states that Johanson "found her calling as an educator" in the 1960's when a friend of one of her daughters sought help with an apparent pregnancy. Presumably already a nurse--the article doesn't say--Johanson started a birth control clinic at her daughters' high school in 1970 and ran it for 18 years. Apparently during this period, Johanson took graduate courses in human sexuality and counseling, and started a Canadian radio call-in show about sex. The piece includes quotes from experts praising Johanson for her work to demystify sex and encourage open discussion; one of them does express reservations about what she views as Johanson's failure to put answers in a broader cultural context, and the potential for her shows' short-answer format to mislead. Though the nursing link is not made as strongly as we might like, we commend the article for resisting any statements about nurses and sex that might have reinforced the damaging "naughty nurse" stereotype.

See Mireya Navarro's article "Instead of Dr. Ruth, a Nurse Called Sue" in the New York Times. (free registration)

Learn more about Sue Johanson's books, and radio and television programs and when to tune in.


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