Exponential

September 2, 2008

I am a minority in a majority: I am male, and I am a nurse. I am also straight, which according to some views makes me a minority in a minority in a majority. There is also the problem that nurses, as a vast and discrete body of people, are viewed by themselves and others as professionally and socially oppressed – by governments, by doctors, by the media, by the institutions they work for, and by their own persistently poor self-image. Which would, theoretically and despite their numerical advantage over every other group of health care workers, make them, in character at least, a minority.

Which makes me a minority in a minority in a minority. A minority3 as it were.

This might be enough to unman me (though paradoxically, that might help) were it not for Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen is depressing, yes, but to a man in my severely minoritized position he also offers the best source of hope. “The minority,” he famously says, “is always right.” (That he has a doctor say it is merely one of life’s perverse little twists). As a straight male nurse, that makes me right to the power of three. Or right3.

I only wish I knew what it was that I’m so abundantly right about…

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