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The Nurse's Secret


A fascinating historical novel based on the little-known story of America's ...
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What gender dynamics are at play in the novel? Do those same dynamics exist today?

Created: 03/02/23

Replies: 9

Posted Mar. 02, 2023 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 3442

What gender dynamics are at play in the novel? Do those same dynamics exist today?

When Edwin tells Una he doesn't care who knows about their romance, she replies, "Easy for you to say. You don't have anything to lose" What gender dynamics are at play in the novel? Do those same dynamics exist today?


Posted Mar. 03, 2023 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Holly H.

Join Date: 09/29/22

Posts: 4

RE: What gender dynamics are at play in ...

The interactions of the doctors and nurses certainly reflected the thinking of the time, with the doctors, especially Dr.Pingry, being portrayed as having unimpeachable judgement even though they spent far less time with the patients than the nurses. The observations of the nurses, no matter how accurate, were nearly always dismissed or even ridiculed as being uninformed. But there were also dynamics at play in the way the women interacted with each other. The head nurses were not always supportive and Nurse Hatfield actively tries to undermine Una. The book also shows strong friendships between women and Una finds an equal partner in Edwin after she is truthful with him.


Posted Mar. 03, 2023 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
carriem

Join Date: 10/19/20

Posts: 263

RE: What gender dynamics are at play in ...

I agree with what Holly H said about the interactions between doctors and nurses at the time the novel was written about even if as said nurses spent more time with the patients and had valid insights. Even today some doctors especially those trained in other countries continue to have similar attitudes. Today nurses get more thorough tand advanced training and therefore more confident to interact.


Posted Mar. 03, 2023 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
angelaw

Join Date: 05/26/22

Posts: 93

RE: What gender dynamics are at play in ...

Misogyny reined during the time period and this was also reflected in the relationship between the doctors (men) and nurses(women).


Posted Mar. 05, 2023 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sumo

Join Date: 05/16/21

Posts: 3

RE: What gender dynamics are at play in ...

The "Godlike" attitude of Dr. Pingry towards the nurses was disparaging and condescending. He was unwilling to learn anything from Dr. Lister's research, such as the importance of hand washing, bacteriology and new medical treatments. I have two daughters who are RNs. From what I have heard from them, the attitudes of doctors during Una's time are not as common today. Doctors and nurses respect each other more today, although there are still those doctors whose egos do not allow for a respectful relationship with the nurses on duty.


Posted Mar. 05, 2023 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ruthiea

Join Date: 02/03/14

Posts: 280

RE: What gender dynamics are at play in ...

Men in that era could not conceive of women knowing as much or more than themselves. There were jobs for men and jobs for women. The old Doctors didn't respect the new doctors, were not open to new ideas. I think things are better now that there are female doctors and there are medical standards that must be followed. However, sadly, I don't think the gender bias is gone, I don't think all doctors respect nurses, I don't think all doctors are open to new ways of doing things.


Posted Mar. 07, 2023 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 466

RE: What gender dynamics are at play in ...

I think people were willing to turn a blind eye to “bad behavior” by men, whereas, a woman could lose her position or never even get a chance to have an opportunity.

Edwin’s father is a great example. He was a big drinker, a rebel, maybe somewhat of an embarrassment to the family-BUT Edwin didn’t miss any opportunities because of his connection to his father. Una most likely would not have been eligible for the program because of the drunken behavior of her father-she would have been held responsible for his affliction.

Some doctors dismissed the input and ideas of nurses. They acted as if the nurse’s job was of little importance. There weren’t the academic standards attached to applying to the nursing program. The focus was more on character. I think this made it easy for doctors to dismiss nurses. There was very little focus education or intelligence, so doctors assumed they were dealing with ninnies.

Only Conor didn’t seem to judge women or men differently in their actions. He held both genders accountable!


Posted Mar. 21, 2023 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
AmandaSkenandore

Join Date: 03/21/23

Posts: 6

RE: What gender dynamics are at play in ...

One interesting thing I learned just recently (after finishing the novel) was that Florence Nightingale and Elizabeth Blackwell (the first woman granted an MD in the U.S.) were friends. But they disagreed about whether women should be doctors. Florence Nightingale believed that women should stick to the sphere of nursing. Thankfully, that's not a sentiment seen often today. I think both professions benefit by being open to people of all genders.


Posted Mar. 23, 2023 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sprokope

Join Date: 08/14/14

Posts: 6

RE: What gender dynamics are at play in ...

This is such an interesting question; I do think that there has been a great deal of change in gender dynamics (and maybe even more since the advent of the MeToo movement) but I would agree with many of my fellow readers that some things seem not to have changed. Edwin really doesn't have any understanding of how Una (or any woman's) reputation would be damaged and what the significant social and economic fallout would be for her should their relationship either become public or if it ended badly. Women had few options and I would imagine that Una would have had even fewer despite her resourcefulness.


Posted Apr. 01, 2023 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cindyj

Join Date: 06/26/18

Posts: 34

RE: What gender dynamics are at play in ...

The gender dynamics portrayed in this novel are still present today although not as prevalent. Doctors and nurses interact more as a team. As has been previously stated, nurses know their patients more and can provide valuable information and incite about the patients which can guide diagnosis and treatment and prevent errors.


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