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OPINION

'Uniform dating takes us back to old days of Carry On films'

  • 11 Comments

My relationship with the television has, much to my wife’s chagrin, changed over the past couple of months.

For years I simply didn’t watch it and her life was a happy festival of Neighbours, America’s Next Top Model and Come Dine With Me. I stayed well away beyond occasionally suggesting that someone might like to invite people from America’s Next Top Model on to Come Dine With Me because they certainly look as though they may benefit from some nicely decorated potato and a bowl of posh trifle.

Anyway, I had the house to myself one evening and watched a programme called NCIS and now I watch it all the time. Nobody in my house is happy about this but you know how it is, sometimes that is all the more reason to do it.

I have noticed that adverts have changed since I was last a regular television watcher. In the old days someone - Kevin Keegan for example - would tell us that buying a specific aftershave would almost definitely make you happier. Clearly, as people have become more demanding, Kevin Keegan’s advice is no longer enough and adverts have had to become more sophisticated. Right?

Well, maybe not. It seems to me that the premise modern advertisers often take is one of shared understanding. We know what you want, we want it too, you and us are the same.

Consequently, one imagines that advertisers hope that their target audience sees whatever is being sold to them and thinks: “Yes! They are talking to me, I love these people and I want to be part of their club,” and “I shall buy their trainers or aftershave, or join their dating agency.” Which reminds me that I am not much of a target audience.

It was an advert for a dating service aimed at people who want to date people who wear uniforms that made this point most forcefully. It made me flinch. The advert urges people who are attracted to people in uniforms to sign up in order to meet the nurse, solider or traffic warden of their dreams and shows - through a series of inexpensive graphics - a nurse and patient with throbbing love hearts holding hands.

Yes, it’s unattractive and unknowing but some will argue that “it’s just a bit of fun” and “like it or not, there is a market for it and it doesn’t really do any harm”. Indeed, my discomfort is not born primarily of the idea that nurses are being portrayed as unprofessional - I mean the fact that they are being fetishised is a bit galling - but maybe I’m old fashioned.

Instead, I dislike it because I think it is ugly and I think it makes nurses look crass. I think it implies - to me at least - that if you, the patient, don’t get a date from a nurse while recovering from your broken leg or prostatectomy all is not lost, you can log on and have another go. Indeed, if you are not too picky about who is in the uniform you can extend your search to include firefighters, and maybe even the odd dinner lady.

Maybe I flinch because it denigrates whatever it is a person becomes when they become a nurse. Maybe I retreat from the animated suggestion that a hospital admission is a good way to meet your next partner.

Or maybe I thought we’d come just a little bit farther than that. That, for all the so-called professionalisation or, more importantly, the attempts to articulate the place nursing has in the world, it remains, in the perception of some, the same as it did in Carry On Nurse.

  • 11 Comments

Readers' comments (11)

  • I agree, the same advert made me wince too, as an ex soldier and now a Nurse. Regardless of those who think that it is just a bit of fun, portrayals like these DO have a cumulative effect on our status as a profession for numerous reasons as I stated in the image of Nursing series. This cumulative effect on our status has an effect on the public perception of our profession, and this in turn leads to some of the current uneducated, misinformed vitriol aimed at Nurses by the general public and mass media in general.

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  • Well it's just another example of the gender problems we have in nursing. I haven't seen the advert but I'm willing to bet it was a female and not a male nurse that was depicted?

    Female nurse are sexually objectified and male nurses are raised to hero status. Before you all shout at me consider people's response when a man wnats to become a nurse- they think he's brilliant, amazing, especilaly if he goes into something like paeds. Comments like that aren't made when women want to join the profession

    These stereptypes don't help either gender, and before you start Mike, I've seen a fair number of sexist comments posted by you

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  • Anonymous | 6-Sep-2011 3:30 pm, I don't think so, as a so called 'male Nurse,' I never got the so called hero worship that you are on about. I got a significant amount of gay jokes though ...

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  • What's wrong with being thought of as gay?

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  • Actually I agree with Anon 6-Sept. Both my brother and I are nurses and i can honestly say that the response he gets off people is significantly different to the response i get. He;s treated like some kind of super hero cos he entered the "caring profession". no on makes a remark about the fact that I'm anurse too

    And also Mike what is your problem with gay jokes?

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  • I am a nurse of 20 years. My husband is a 2nd year nursing student. When a neighbour collapsed and we went to his aid his family practically knocked me over to ensure they got my husband to see him AND when the paramedics arrived they directed their questions to him

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  • Oh for crying out loud, I was pointing out that there isn't the hero worship across the board for men as some of you seem to suggest. Although I will say in response that sexism in Nursing is rife, and women are generally the prime perpetrators, the issue of gender is beside the point. The issue here is about our status and image as a profession, how we are seen and portrayed by the general public and the mass media.

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  • Hear, hear Mark for your article and for your last sentence too Mike. And Mark if being respectful and professional is old fashioned then long may it continue! And please don't be too hard on Mike folks as I think he was genuinely just trying to diffuse the situation a little. I think a bad attitude is a bad attitude whichever sex it's from or refers to. Professionalism and respect is the key.

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  • So all the sexism in nursing is from women directed to men is it?

    You're a funny guy Mike. I thought to begin with that you were just a pompous and over opinionated twit. Now I realise that your postings are jokes and you're having fun! Keep it up, makes my day!

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  • Anonymous | 9-Sep-2011 8:10 am Never mind, you'll grow up and have something interesting to say one day.

    Still no debate on the actual topic I see?

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