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Saving LivesWhy the Media's Portrayal of Nursing Puts Us All at Risk$
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Sandy Summers and Harry Jacobs Summers

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199337064

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199337064.001.0001

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Winning the Battle-Axe, Losing the War

Winning the Battle-Axe, Losing the War

(p.245) 8 Winning the Battle-Axe, Losing the War
Saving Lives

Sandy Summers

Harry Jacobs Summers

Oxford University Press

Too often the media presents nurses who exert authority as battle-axes-bitter, rule-bound older females bent on choking the spirits of others. The classic manifestation was the sociopathic Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but the 2012 film Cloud Atlas included Nurse Noakes, the oppressive, violent supervisor of a nursing home that held older people against their will. The battle-axe has survived on prime time television as a vindictive bureaucrat enforcing oppressive, trivial hospital rules. Characters that prevail over the battle-axe look heroic. The battle-axe image seems to counter the angel and naughty images. But it is another one-dimensional female extreme. So while today’s society may be ambivalent about punishing women generally for exercising power, it seems to remain acceptable to punish women for trying to be powerful nurses. Perhaps modern women are allowed to be tough and independent-as long as they pursue a traditionally male career.

Keywords:   battle-axe image, nursing leaders, Nurse Ratched, M*A*S*H, Hollywood, healthcare bureaucracy, gender roles, female leaders, women in power

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