On ABC’s The View, Joy Behar and Michelle Collins made some comments about the Miss America pageant that set the internet ablaze with outrage and offense once again. The offended party this time? Nurses.
For the talent portion of the pageant, Miss Colorado, Kelly Johnson walked onto the stage in scrubs with a stethoscope wrapped around her shoulders and performed a touching monologue that discussed her profession as a nurse.
The next day, the co-hosts had much to say about her unconventional performance. “The woman who sang opera was incredible,” said Collins, “but then there was a girl who wrote her own monologue, which I was like, turn the volume up, this is going to be amazing, let’s listen. She came out in a nurse’s uniform and basically read her emails out loud, and shockingly, did not win. That’s not a real talent.”
“Why does she have a doctor’s stethoscope around her neck?” asked Behar.
Nurses everywhere didn’t take kindly to the perceived implication that their profession is “not a real talent,” and of course, they promptly took to Twitter and Facebook to vent their frustrations at The View. “Your comments were totally unacceptable. You owe nurses an apology,” tweeted one nurse. Another wrote, “Her monologue was beautiful. None of us are “just a nurse”! Educate yourselves.”
Do I think that The View co-hosts owe anyone an apology? Of course not. This is just another classic example of everyone getting offended at everything they see and hear and demanding an apology because their feelings were hurt. The co-hosts’ comments were innocuous and totally taken out of context. Yes, it takes a lot of perseverance, patience and talent to be a nurse. Collins and Behar never said it didn’t.
They were critiquing Miss Colorado’s monologue because in the context of a Miss America pageant, where you have a number of women actually working hard to hone and perfect a particular craft outside of their everyday professions, a monologue about being a nurse just doesn’t hold its own. I mean, let’s face it; any one of us could stand on a stage and recite a monologue about our professions. But how many of us can belt out a near perfect rendition of Tu Tu Piccolo Iddio from Madame Butterfly like Miss Georgia, Betty Cantrell? I give her props for attempting something different, but Miss Colorado’s performance was just not up to par for a pageant like Miss America. Many people defended it because it struck a chord with them emotionally, but had her profession been a stockbroker or lawyer, it probably would have gotten the criticism it deserved. Talking about your profession in a talent show is just not a talent.
That being said, I know a lot of people in noble professions like nursing and teaching. They don’t go into these professions because people will offer them gold medals for doing their jobs everyday; they go into them because they genuinely care about people and want to make a difference. They know they will often go under-appreciated and undervalued, and they don’t stomp their feet and demand respect when they are, which is what I saw a lot of in people’s comments and tweets. I was surprised at how upset and angry people got over Behar’s simple question, which seemed like a genuine question, as to why Miss Colorado had a stethoscope around her neck. While some nurses reacted by using it as a teachable moment to educate the public about their jobs, many used it as an opportunity to condescend Behar as if to say, “Shame on you for not knowing anything about being a nurse!” But really, why would she? Is she a nurse? Nope.
If you ask me, if anyone is to get offended by anything in this situation, shouldn’t it be that we’re still parading women around like circus monkeys in pageants? Maybe if we took some of the attention off of women who don’t have much more to offer this world than a pretty face and a song and a dance, the women who truly make a difference might get some of the recognition they deserve. Because in the real world, outside of the glitz and the glamour, is nursing a talent? It most certainly is.