Or, click READ MORE for the list of nonprofits I support monthly (your purchases help). In the READ MORE, you can also answer or post special requests for hardcore, life-changing, above-and-beyond superheroism.
It’s Jen, your scifi and superhero sis, here to talk becoming a real-life superhero. You know how in movies there’s always some kind of uniform montage, where the hero creates their costume or whatever?
I’m not sure what the obsession is with costumes. I get the symbols are important. I get that Batman needs to be scary, and Spiderman and Superman need America colors to give people confidence in them, and that’s all well and good. And obviously costumes MATTER to people, since they had a hissy fit when Wonder Woman changed her underwear.
But in real life, you gotta ask yourself: what purpose does what I wear serve to accomplish my mission?
No one wants to talk about child abuse. But superheroes run towards the terror everyone else is fleeing.
It’s me again, Jen–you know, the scifi author and physician hunts down ways to become a real-life superhero. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life. I vividly remember one case, in particular, of a young male Soldier who couldn’t function AT ALL during the day because he spent his nights in terror.
Hey! It’s Jen, the scifi author who sends you IRL superhero lessons sometimes.
If you’re really interested in becoming a hero–and not just an internet activist–you’ve got to do something that’s DIFFERENT. Anyone can retweet a thing. But Batman puts on a utility belt and starts running around the city with a weird hat on. I’m joking, but I’m also totally serious!
You might have seen this already, but when I was in Paraguay this year, I met a doctor who gets paid in noodles. (If you haven’t seen that yet, it’s seven minutes and super-uplifting). I’d love for you to see it, comment, and brainstorm with me–what’s a problem you see that maybe needs a NEW idea? What’s the BIG DIFFERENCE that could change your strategy right now? You’ve got to exist with some realism, right–Batman can’t fund his crazy without Bruce Wayne’s real life job–but real change starts with DIFFERENT.
Jen here, the scifi author who sends you superheroes sometimes. And who also really, really wants to become a superhero in real life when I grow up and get better from all these illnesses.
I’ve got a weird flex for you today. A scammer offered me a job, and I decided to play along so you and I can better understand how to help people escape these guys. I dropped some chill music underneath, so you can put this on while you’re doing something else–so yeah…check out my new scam job.
Recently I got the chance to go to Paraguay and interview Brian McCobb, the American ambassador for a Paraguayan-run charity that’s connecting orphans with a bigger solution than just a roof over their heads. Watch to the end to find out what this has to do with YOUR hero journey! Dulce Semillitas can be found at https://www.dulcesemillita.org/ or on Instagram @dulcesemillitapy or @littleneighborsparaguay. And look into youth mentorship programs in your area!
If you’re ready to go beyond normal life and build your own superhero identity, take the 5-day hero inspiration course. It’s free, and it starts with a story about mentoring kids. And if it doesn’t stimulate your brain for the change you need, you can email me through the course and I will help you choose YOUR journey based on YOUR passions and calling. Most people just want to be “good”; they can’t imagine beyond that. I am looking for those rare ones ready to turn their PAIN into POWER. Apply here.
1. Please don’t use this as an excuse or reason to attack trans people.
Instead, please HEAR HIM as you would hear any other victim when he talks about his healthcare story–about how he was manipulated by mental health providers while he was in a vulnerable state. I can absolutely affirm these things can happen: there was a young straight man whose record I was reviewing for deployability who had been sexually assaulted by several other men, and as I was reviewing his record all the notes from the psychologist were notes questioning whether the man really was straight and really was assaulted. “Maybe he wanted it and feels embarrassed about being gay, so he is calling it rape,” was essentially what the notes were reading. Utterly imbecilic unwillingness to believe male victims aside, manipulation does happen. There’s a reason I’ve fired multiple therapists myself. I don’t know Chris’s story, but I do believe victims.
2. Transition failure like this would not happen if there were more rigorous medical controls rather than purely psychological controls for transitioning patients.
I FULLY believe all trans patients should be given a full karyotyping and pelvic ultrasound on top of in-depth hormonal measurements. Why?
I just wanted to make sure you, dear hero, were taking care of yourself, and knew what mental health resources to give others in danger. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A THERAPIST AND NEED ONE, CONTACT YOUR LOCAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT OR USE MY LINK:
— Phone number for suicide helpline US: 1-800-273-8255 — Crisis text line: Text HOME to 741741 in US; Text 686868 in Canada — International suicide numbers — FIND THERAPY. If you don’t have a good therapist, I affiliate with Better Help which you can use for online therapy at a 10 percent discount, which also helps support the superhero projects here on the site. If you can’t afford Better Help, Open Path Collective helps people with low incomes connect with therapy, and your local health department can help you if you’re completely uninsured. — Victor Frankl’s logotherapy book helped me find meaning in my depression — This DBT Workbook by Matthew McKay helped me survive strong suicidal emotions
I really hope these resources help; they are evidence-based and they have helped me. If they don’t help, go find some that do. Your life matters. I am not your therapist; I am a fellow sufferer along this journey, and I am telling you it can get better. If you are in danger right now, please go to local authorities to protect you from yourself. If you can’t use the resources above, please consider going through the whole depression playlist on Real Doctor Adventures ASMR and working through the handouts in the descriptions. They are best used with a therapist, chaplain, pastor, wise old lady–someone who can help identify hurtful or sad thinking patterns–but they can also be used alone. Focus on the question of finding MEANING in your suffering. What are you willing to suffer for?
***I am not your therapist. If you need your own therapist, please go to your primary care physician and ask them to refer you. Ask for someone skilled in CBT/DBT. Alternatively, there are therapists you can talk to online affordably. (betterhelp.com/doctorjen) While I am a real doctor, I am not YOUR doctor; nothing I say here is official medical advice, diagnosis, or disease treatment, because I have not physically examined or spoken with YOU. You have the power to fact-check me. My medical license is publicly searchable under the state of Virginia medical boards at 0101265916.
(All product links are not sponsors, but some are affiliates, which means clicking them supports my new creations and new charity projects! You can also join me for cool rewards at patreon.com/becominghero)
Best wishes, young hero. If you’d like to stay in touch, and get inspiration for how your real life superhero journey would look, join me here.
Guest Article by Gabrielle Baglino from Oak Street Health
Many live in fear of being alone but find themselves unable to voice these concerns within a society that celebrates independence. Technology has helped promote this isolation by enabling virtual connections at our fingertips, which has further increased the physical distance between people.
Autophobia, or monophobia, refers to a fear of being alone. While it is yet to be recognized as a specific mental health diagnosis, it is a persistent reality for thousands of people around the globe.
Signs You Should Look For
For anyone with autophobia, it is difficult to articulate the fear that they experience. Signs can be masked by their elated state when surrounded by people they trust.
A first step is to look for cues in conversations that you have with your loved ones.
How do we choose the best martial art for becoming a real life superhero? We interviewed Calvin Cunningham, a military combatives champion and BJJ coach at the prestigious DeepWaters Gym in South Carolina. Watch the vid above! If you’re interested in taking virtual classes with Calvin, get in touch with me at jen at becominghero dot ninja and I’ll hook you up.
The Biden administration announced they’re considering keeping Trump and Stephen Miller’s historically low refugee admission caps. This is in direct contradiction to his earlier promise to raise the refugee admissions cap to 60,000.
We don’t get to pick and choose when we recognize the humanity of those who are fleeing violence, period. Not only does it break an earlier promise by the Biden administration, it also flies in the face of our efforts to fight for our values: Treating children and families with compassion, dignity, and humanity.
Let me be clear: We as a nation are perfectly capable of welcoming families in a fair and compassionate way. We can strive for better, and we cannot take our cues from Stephen Miller — a known white supremacist — who sadistically attacked children.
One problem with a lot of our Hollywood-driven attitudes towards deforestation is that we envision these Ferngully bad guys mowing down the Amazon while cackling evilly…when in reality, the people “mowing down the Amazon,” are, for the most part, poor people who need food and money, and have no other options.
This phenomenal, heavily researched article includes a number of solutions that work together with local peoples instead of just handing down mandates from afar (which is an unfortunate tendency of the wealthy nations that run the UN).
Bottom line up front: contact DiscoverCard here and ask them to pull their support from PornHub, which continues to allow child abuse and rape on their site.
If you’re hesitant, I’d like you to take some time to read about Rose Kalemba. She was raped at 14, and her assaulters thought it was such a great time that they uploaded it to PornHub for millions of other people to take advantage of. PornHub does not make it difficult to become a verified user, and does not require any kind of proof of consent or age from people in videos before they are uploaded. Even after PornHub was aware of the situation, they refused to take action for a long time.
What’s a carbon offset calculator? It’s when you find out how much carbon pollution your activity is emitting, and you find ways to make up for that pollution with various different activities to basically put your output back down to zero.
There’s also a browser add-on you can use to actually off-set the carbon costs of your online shopping this holiday season, too. They’re called CarbonCroc–they contacted me on Twitter after I posted this.
If you’re still confused about what carbon off-setting is, it’s kind of like doing penance in the Catholic church way back in the day. “Forgive me, environment, for I have sinned…” “Okay, go plant ten trees.”
While that metaphor absolutely makes me laugh, it’s true that we can be a little judgmental about how we take care of the world, and I don’t want that for anyone. I want to be conscientious, but kind, and human-focused. And, of course, ultimately focused on the reason I want to preserve the world: because it showcases and glorifies the Divine, and sustains so many wonderfully-made people to do the same!
So check out the article, check out CarbonCroc, and then, if you’re ready to go beyond reading to action, and activism to heroism, join me here.
For your superheroalert today, I’d like to mention Penny Arcade’s Child Play charity. They donate toys and video games to suffering children in abuse shelters and hospitals–just to bring a little bit of light to dark young lives.
It’s hard to imagine anything more innocuous and sweet.
Best of all, their yearly auction dinner is going virtual this year (2020), which means YOU can attend, bid on some crazy awesome prizes and gifts for yourself and your family, and give those proceeds to help kids! Rad, right? Check out the auction here. Or, watch the video below!
And of course, if you’d like to get started on your own hero journey–you know, go beyond reading about superheroes, fictional or otherwise, and break into your own story–then get in with me here.
Isabel grew up in Liberia around the time of the Civil War. Four of her siblings were killed during the war, one by an accident she never specifies, one by raging diarrhea–one of the leading causes of death in the majority world; there was a sister whose death I cannot remember, and another, most horribly, she describes as being butchered like an animal, chopped into pieces. The way she looks away when describing this tells me she saw this happen right in front of her.
I first met Isabel when I was working late in a military hospital here in the US. She was working as a janitor, and I thought I would give her some cookies. I wanted to reach out to her, and show her some kindness.
How absolutely silly–there is a verse in Hebrews that says that the lesser is blessed by the greater. We didn’t have much time to talk that night, but over the following evenings the scattered conversation she shared with a lonely family medicine resident became my comfort, my blessing, from this woman so much greater than I.
The janitors at CRDAMC in Fort Hood in the US are treated with no mercy. If they miss a day of work by accident, they can be instantly fired. The other two I came to know through Isabel both had health problems not effectively treated by their insurance; one young Liberian found herself up against a several hundred dollar charge for the flu that she could not pay, so she never got treatment for her back problems. Another woman was not given appropriately early evaluation for a mass in her spine, likely because it was too difficult to explain things through her thick language challenges; even though the correct standard of care is to ask for a translator, she was never once offered one in her visits to her military PCM.
Isabel never complained. And one day–perhaps over lunch, perhaps at the hospital–she told me about her orphanage.
Do you have a special skill? And an internet connection? And a little free time?
You could consider driving scammers insane. That’s what this young man uses his computer security training to do! Basically, he wastes as much of their time as possible to keep them from calling and robbing their REAL victims. Sometimes he makes them so angry they’ll be truly incapable of scamming anyone else that day. Check it out (this superhero alert pretty much speaks for itself):
Even more powerful, is this guy, Jim Browning. Watch this video where he terrifies a scammer with a picture of the scammer’s wife and child:
As always, I always try to draw you to action. If you get targeted with a scam, and have time to try to slow them down, try to get as much information as possible from the scammer. Submit the phone numbers and information to the FBI, and cybersecurity crimes divisions, online here. and to scammer.info where anti-scamming people can try to take them down. Leave their fake companies bad reviews on Google, Microsoft, and the Better Business Bureau websites. You should also forward scam emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, because there is a computer AI there being developed on rescam.org to waste scammers’ time and analyze their actions to tie up their robocalls so they can’t hurt people.
There’s a really great account of how Jim Browning and his friends took down an entire multimillion dollar scam operation in India. Unfortunately, unless you live in the country where the scammer lives, your government agencies may not be able to do anything, so the strongest defense is just to never give out your information, and never interact with these people on your personal computer or phone. The strongest offense…seems to be to turn to the dark web computer superheroes willing to take these jerks down. Some of them will even trick the scammers into downloading viruses. What they’re doing isn’t always legal everywhere, but it helps so many people. You can support people like Jim Browning on Patreon. And if you want to learn how to “scambait” yourself, you can go to scammer.info for tips and tricks. If you do that, don’t use a phone number or computer that you care about! And if you’re handy with a VPN yourself, maybe it’s your turn to stop evil online!
This is such a cool initiative. These guys turn trash into healthy, affordable homes–while using the housing projects themselves to create jobs. And they have teaching materials in place to help you get involved yourself.
I know. You’re sure there’s a catch. We’ve all grown up believing environmentally friendly living has to be expensive. But…
Recently Flo Mims reached out to me to chat about her work providing for the needs of people who live on the streets of large cities in the Southern US. I’m really excited, especially in this global time of need, to share her little interview with you about her work, Operation Heart! Flo works as a vehicle driver, and has taken advantage of her geographical range to find people in need around her; her wide-reaching “day-job” has given her the ability to travel to help people.
I think this is a fantastic lesson in using your paid job to help you find opportunities for real superhero work. You have been put where you are for a reason.
You know what’s happening. Do something useful about it. There’s a sample letter for your representatives on police violence below. It links to data-driven solutions based on validated research, and written to appeal to whatever side your rep might be on. DO include the first sentence–I have a representative I DO NOT LIKE and still found something he did that I could compliment. Convince these people. Protecting Black lives protects everyone.
Subject: Please implement data-driven solutions to the violence in my area
Dear REPRESENTATIVE NAME,
Thank-you for your work on THING I APPRECIATED. I won’t take up much of your time, because as a physician I understand a busy schedule, but as a scientist I know data matters. I wanted to ask that you apply evidence-based solutions, instead of emotional reactions, to violence in our area–especially in light of the recent uptick in violence, unconstitutional curfews, and the President’s overreach against freedom of speech and assembly. Specifically, please aggressively implement the policy packet available for you at https://www.joincampaignzero.org
There, you will find data-driven research that will decrease the deficit, decrease the unjust prison population, and most importantly, decrease violence and keep our citizens safe. Specifically, please consider the solutions that end broken windows policing, implement independent investigation into police misconduct, end for-profit policing, and improve the mandatory use of body cameras to protect both police and our citizens.
Thank-you for taking the time to consider data over rhetoric, and thank-you for the work you do for our community.
As a physician and women’s health equality advocate, I am deeply disturbed that GoFundMe withheld $2,700 in support from a mother in Zimbabwe during Choice42’s fundraising campaign.
Here are the facts. In the past, GoFundMe corporate leadership publicly organized support for Planned Parenthood. Meanwhile, recent reports state GoFundMe denied support for a pregnant woman in Zimbabwe while allowing the same support, through the same fundraising charity (Choice42), for pregnant women in the United States and Canada. Choice42 followed all GoFundMe protocol exactly the same way for all three mothers.
Put together, these events demonstrate a deep anti-woman hypocrisy that, on the surface, also appears motivated by regionalist and racist tendencies. These discriminatory attitudes are, unfortunately, quite common in modern women’s health activism: I have literally read public health books by pro-euthanasia organizations pushing impoverished, “undesirable” women to have less children in favor of the outdated “rich white babies only” Malthusian population model. In fact, in the US, clinical abortion surveys demonstrate that 30 percent of Black people in my generation have been systematically eliminated by the subtle public health measures that target minority areas over wealthy white suburbia. It appears that, like other health discrimination “charities,” GoFundMe does not believe everyone is welcome on this planet–just members of wealthy nations and privileged social groups.
I have previously raised support on GoFundMe for a friend in need in Uganda, and supported various other medical needs campaigns there–I will be doing so no more. Unless GoFundMe provides an adequate answer quickly, and releases funds to support this woman in need, I will be initiating a boycott of GoFundMe for all my future fundraising needs. I will also begin posting weekly about GoFundMe’s discriminatory behavior until the issue is resolved. The world doesn’t need GoFundMe: Paypal and Change.org both offer fundraising options. I invite you to please contact GoFundMe for further information about Choice42’s campaign.
For some good news, have you heard of this crazy ingenious malaria testing solution? As many of you know, the US eliminated malaria using DDT–but then internationally, with European assistance, banned the use of it in other nations due to environmental concerns. As a result, none of the lower income nations on the African continent had a chance to eliminate malaria cheaply before DDT disappeared. Kind of unfair, huh? Today scientists continue to struggle with cheap ways to diagnose and treat malaria in low-income areas, and new solutions for mosquito eradication range from the simple net to the unusual release of sterile males into the mosquito population. I was really excited to see the following video–check it out!
Feedthehungry.org/ – Give to them, please, people are starving because of COVID19 lock-downs and power abuses. Ongoing hidden tragedies chronicled in this growing article, each marked by date, with ways you can help speak out.
April 26th, Starving the Poor:
“The children have malaria and we are locked in–it is difficult to get medications.” At this point, the level of government control due to COVI19 in many countries is becoming tyrannical. This is a message I received from a close friend who runs an orphanage in Liberia, where they are only allowed to leave the house two hours a day. This makes it impossible for her to work, difficult for her to obtain medications for the children, and, ultimately threatens the existence of the orphanage as they struggle to obtain medications, food, and water. Because the panic over COVID19 has sparked blanket regulations instead of targeted solutions, people are suffering. People are dying.
I recently got an e-mail about emergency funds for writers.
I’m not going to lie, this irked me.
It irked me because as a writer, I know writers can work from home. In fact, with so many people quarantined to read books and watch television, things couldn’t be better for writers.
Meanwhile, the people truly affected by this insane over-the-top panic are the people who perform manual labor: the domestic workers, field laborers, mechanics, other personnel who cannot telework. Who don’t have the privilege to practice “social distancing.” I’m not saying manual-laborer-writers don’t exist, and I’m not saying that money-worthy emergencies never happen to writers like myself.
But I am saying as government-sanctioned panic destroys the world economy, pick carefully who you give your limited funds, and first support the people who need help the most. Be careful about “woe is me” attitudes from the rich (and in some ways we are all richer than we think). “Consider others’ needs above your own.”
So for today’s #superheroalert, I found a coronavirus care fund for domestic workers. I wanted to find a care fund for other manual laborers, like factory workers or field hands, so let me know, please, if you find such a thing and I will share it. We need targeted, realistic aid, like a sniper rifle, not spray and pray shotgun charity. In medicine, we learn to give specific treatments to people–a medication that works for one person might cause a side effect in another. That’s the principle that works in life, too: individualized solutions, not mass action. Not mass, everybody gets money, but instead focused money to the guys who can’t do without. Not mass quarantine, but focused care for the most vulnerable (the old). Don’t believe me? Look at Japan, where everyone is still working. Wonder why?
Focused solutions, not blanket rules.
So let me know if you find other focused ideas we can all help with.
MONEYWISE, you can take advantage of the quarantines by making money selling books on social media! Anyone can sign up for my affiliate program through Gumroad, and I’ll give you a special link that tracks your sales. You sell my books, you can get 50 percent profit on each sale. Let me know if that’s something you want–just get on my e-mail list to the right here and reply to the first e-mail you get.
SUPERHEROALERT: Women’s Rights without Frontiers saves women and children from forced abortion in China caused by the policy that limits the number of babies women are allowed to have. As you know, girls are disproportionately abandoned or aborted because of this policy–but you may not know that some women are forcibly held down and tied to a medical table as physicians rip their fetuses out of them against their will. The policy targets poor women, who cannot afford the government fees to buy the right to have a child; it also targets women in “undesirable” minority populations like Tibetan and Uyghur people groups. WRWF fights this by helping the impoverished pay the fees, or finding legal support and advocacy for threatened women. You can help them by funding them, spreading the word, signing their petition, writing to ambassadors to free Chen Guangcheng, or going to China yourself. They live at https://www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/
Last year, Nigerian police rescued 19 women who were kidnapped for the sake of becoming “baby factories.” I wanted to bring it up now as a reminder to educate yourself on human trafficking, and to brainstorm ways you can support and protect the vulnerable. Live Action News covers a lot of crimes against pregnant women and babies, internationally and through the US, so I encourage you to subscribe to them if you get the chance. They’re linked below:
Nathan Ssagala is a Ugandan comics artist with skills in cover design, ad creation, website logos, and various other image creation abilities. He was one of the two comics artists originally supported by our Patreon, which seeks to promote and support education for new, rising creators, predominantly internationally. In 2019, he took over as the full Becoming Hero webcomic artist, t-shirt designer, and marketing imagery designer for a bunch of awesome tools we’re putting together for comics creators.
In November we ran into a huge bump in the road when Nathan was robbed. He e-mailed me recommending that I cut him from Becoming Hero comics, since he would no longer be able to work without his laptop. Around the same time, he sent me some troubling blurry videos, for safekeeping in case something happened to him–videos of police shooting live rounds at his University. Female students started to protest because when they couldn’t afford the new tuition raises, professors pressured them for sexual favors instead. Male students began to protest over the severe beatings that put female protestors in the hospital, aaaand so then for a while all the students at the school had to go into hiding.
So together, our Becoming Hero superheroalert squad raised enough money to buy a new laptop for Nathan, who’s already used it to earn money to help support his mother and pay for college. He’s back in school right now, and despite the frequent power outages and other challenges he faces, he’s literally the most dedicated artist I’ve worked with. He returns revisions faster than anyone I’ve known, and that counts even experienced artists who charge more than triple his rates. You will not go wrong requesting an image from him, and his art has improved dramatically over the past year. You can see his improving artwork at our free webcomic, https://www.becominghero.ninja/comic/ or samples like the one below he made for our instagram. His Instagram is https://www.instagram.com/nexus2.0/ and he’s starting his own design business! You can hire him for jobs over his Insta, actually, and help increase our artist funding over at patreon.com/becominghero. Nathan dreams of migrating to Canada and starting a full design business that he can use to support the street children back in his neighborhood. Check him out!
Good Mythical Morning, the popular YouTube channel hosted by “internetainers” Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal, released a video this month sponsored by the National Pork Board.
“Incorporate pork into your healthy diet,” states the video description.
This is problematic on a health, and an ethical level.
I’m not here to start fights or steal your bacon, but most of the medical community considers pork just about the most unhealthy meat you can consume. With nearly 20 grams per 300 calories, pork rings in at a whopping 10 to 20 percent fat average. It contains little to no vitamin content, and the B vitamins, Zinc, and Selenium it does contain exist plentifully in other protein sources with less stress on your digestive system. You can incorporate pork into a balanced keto diet, but that diet can kill you and should be used under careful supervision for particular health and performance needs.
In fact, as physicians in medical school we learn that only two or three diets have large scale medical evidence behind them, to include the Mediterranean and DASH diets; none of those diets routinely feature pork. Instead, I usually recommend that my patients increase Omega 3s and 6s found in plant-based and fish-based protein.
The following true story is used with permission, by an old friend, who runs a business helping the elderly while she mothers her 32-year-old daughter. Her daughter, who we will call Lucy for protection, is generally nonverbal, and walks with some difficulty. She needs help eating and wiping her face, and requires much of the other care that a toddler does. I remember thinking, when I was little, that Lucy’s parents had sad, patient eyes, full of a love that knows suffering.
Let Lucy’s heart strengthen your hero journey.
Frequently I am asked, “How much does Lucy understand?” My standard reply has always been, “She understands what is in ‘her’ world.”
Certainly she understands her morning routine includes a caregiver getting her up and then feeding, bathing, and dressing her. She knows it is then time to leave the house for something fun: music therapy in Upperville, goat petting in Lowerville, people-watching in the park, or just local errand running. She has an infallible internal clock that tells her when it is time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and she has her bedtime routine down cold.
Lucy routinely has three responses, each used at the appropriate time: “hello,” “all done,” and “no.” Her receptive language is more extensive, as long as instructions are in the context of “her world.”
Not one of our barrel-riding nuns, but still pretty damn brave; this dear old lady helped Jews escape Hitler.
“Sister, this way!”
Over a dozen nuns dash from shadow to shadow under the stone arches of the cloister.
There, in the moist, cool German night, they crawl into huge wooden barrels, Bilbo Baggins style, to escape the forced nunnery they don’t believe in.
Can you imagine the heart-pounding fear and excitement–in a day when men would punish nuns who ran away–and the stifling smell of whatever food inhabited that barrel before you? The bone-aching bumping on the cobblestone roads; the voices outside the barrel; the hope that when it’s opened, it will be opened by someone you trust?
It‘s incredibly important to me, as a physician, that amidst all the misinformation and politics of the “pro-life”/”pro-choice” debate every woman has a chance to receive full scientific information about her body. I love performing ultrasounds because it’s the only time my pregnant women can SEE without relying on something I’m telling them. I don’t care very much about the political agendas various organizations have, because the labels pro-life and pro-choice don’t address the very complicated real scientific quandaries associated with childbearing; people who are “pro-life” are usually “pro” the “choice” of the baby, and people who are “pro-choice” usually don’t believe in destroying “life.” Beyond those philosophical generalities about rights–when do we address the reality of my actual patient hemorrhaging from misopristol while she digs frantically through the products of her abortion searching for a baby she suddenly realizes she wanted?
She will remember that for the rest of her life.
Most people simply don’t have all the scientific information they need to understand reproductive health consequences, and greedy physicians benefit from that monopoly of information. Doctor tells you a procedure’s no worse than a period, doctor doesn’t make sure you understand the cons, then you get procedure and doctor gets money. The more people doctor pushes through, the more money doctor gets. It’s basic economics.
That’s why I want to make sure women get free health information if at all possible. That’s why I like this organization, where ultrasound technicians are required to be informative and nonjudgmental, and women can get free, safe ultrasounds anywhere they are. They need support funding an ultrasound bus in New York. Will you help?
Today’s #Superheroalert features LIFE AFTER LIFE documentary producer Tamara Perkins. LIFE AFTER LIFE follows three men who spend their entire lives in prison after committing crimes as teenagers. Today we question the problems with our incarceration system. Why does America incarcerate so many Black people? How come we had just over a couple hundreds thousand people in prison in the 1980s, and now have over 7.1 million? Are we really healing victims and making streets safer? Why is the overall “repeat offender” rate so high?
And most importantly, how can YOU protect a teenager from losing his or her entire life to the prison system?
Jen Finelli is a physician, science fiction author, former reporter, therapist, and activist who wants to become a superhero one day. Because of her adventures Jen believes anyone can have a good idea: from prostitutes to Senators, from children to the aged, from the able to the unstable, liberal, conservative, libertarian or communist or alien conspiracy theorist. As a consequence, views expressed in these interviews may not necessarily be her own; Jen is not here to promote any organization, government, or political party (although she reserves the right to do so), but to find PRACTICAL ways YOU can make a difference.
My dear superheroes, certain members of the American Board of ObGyn ARE LIMITING WOMEN’S ACCESS TO GYN CARE by decreasing the number of ObGyn residencies in the country.
If you decrease the number of ObGyn residencies, you make less ObGyns. That means less doctors to help women through cancers, childbirth, and trauma.
How are some ABOG members hurting women? By adding a new board certification called “Complex Family Planning”. This happened at the Sept 11 ABMS meeting. If this goes national, every ObGyn residency would have to have an expert who performs Complex Family Planning (and every resident may be required to get certified). This will require many residencies to close.
“Women shouldn’t have to hold a bake sale to get justice.”
Does your state actually test evidence after rape?
Did you know many states don’t fund rape kit testing? To translate that, some states don’t pay anyone to examine the evidence collected from rape victims’ bodies for years at a time. Missouri has a backlog of 5000 kits that haven’t been examined; in Texas, women are now crowdfunding rape kit testing. I’m all for crowdfunding, but this isn’t a park or an art fair we are talking about, this is CRIMINAL JUSTICE. This is the entire point of the government; this is what the government exists to pay for, even under the strictest libertarian definition of government.
Are we seriously paying for libraries and public schools and art fairs and monuments while we ignore actual crimes against women because we can’t bother to pay to test the evidence?
Do something about it.
Find out how your state does below, and then submit a letter to your representatives. Feel free to rip off mine.
Our state has 14,435 untested rape kits, and has enacted only modest reform to change this.
This means we have 14,435 women and men, mostly from low-income settings, still waiting for justice.
It is appalling that funding rape investigation is not our main priority. Even under the strictest libertarian definition of government, government exists to protect people from each other. When we have rapists going free because we can’t be bothered to make rape kit testing our priority, we as a state make the clear statement that we don’t give a damn about Florida women, who suffer the brunt of these gendered crimes. As a healthcare provider and a woman in the military, I am horrified to find that we are behind Missouri and even Texas.
Are we seriously paying for libraries and public schools and art fairs and monuments while we ignore horrific violence because we can’t bother to pay to test the evidence?
Do something about it.
Jen Finelli Veldhuyzen, MD
To read more about the issue, follow @FeministsforLife on Twitter, and read their update about it here:
Rape kits are an essential tool to ensure justice for survivors of sexual assault. Years ago, it became a hot topic during a presidential election, only to find out that this was a widespread problem. When FFL President Serrin Foster looked into it, insurance brokers told her it was the norm. But there appeared to be a push for change.
So you can imagine our shock and disgust that some states STILL appear to treat rape kits as a second-tier priority.
In Texas, rape kits areactually being crowdfunded by allowing Texans to donate to a state account when they renew their driver’s licenses. Texas has a backlog of more than 3,500 untested rape kits, and each kit costs between $500 and $2,000 to test.
“It’s great that people are donating in Texas to get rape kits tested, but it shouldn’t be up to crowdfunding or donations during driver’s license renewals. This isn’t about funding a community park. This is rape,” Foster said. “And victims of serious crimes deserve to have the evidence tested and kept until the perpetrator is arrested.”
Meanwhile, in Missouri, a backlog over nearly 5,000 rape kits finally promptedpassage of a law creating guidelines for testing, processing, and storing rape kits.
The state attorney general found that approximately one-third of law-enforcement agencies destroyed evidence before the Department of Justice-recommended period of 20 years.
“If they aren’t going to do anything with the evidence, what is the point of having a rape victim suffer through a humiliating, invasive procedure, including photographic evidence in front of a police officer as well as medical staff?” Foster asked. “And can you imagine the frustration of the police officer who does everything possible to help ID the perpetrator, only to let the evidence go unexamined or destroyed, knowing the rapist could go on to assault others?”
FFL Speaker and rape survivor Joyce McCauley-Benner also shares Foster’s outrage:
“Words fail me,” McCauley-Benner said upon learning that some hospitals don’t know how long to retain a rape kit after testing or even where to send it.
“This sends a message that victims are meaningless and not a priority. And we wonder why many victims see no point in coming forward. It’s not taken seriously, and I think it’s even more cruel to do the rape kit itself and then just let it sit or destroy it. You make her relive the horror then, in effect, say, ‘Sorry, never mind. We won’t get to that anyway.'”
McCauley-Benner finds crowdsourcing equally appalling: “Asking for donations is used for unique situations beyond one’s control, NOT for evidence in criminal justice cases. Women shouldn’t have to hold a bake sale to get justice,” McCauley-Benner concluded. “We really deserve better than that!”
According to End the Backlog, there are likely hundreds of thousands of rape kits nationwide that have yet to be tested, and over 225,000 untested rape kits have been uncovered thus far.
“THIS is criminal,” Foster said.
End the Backlog is a program of the Joyful Heart Foundation, the national nonprofit organization founded by actor and activist Mariska Hargitay.
P.S. “reCLAIM YOUR VOICE,” FFL’s timely issue exploring the #MeToo movement using our unique pro-woman, pro-life voice, comes with membership. Join or rejoin us now if your support has lapsed ($35 minimum/$25 for student).
Other evergreen theme-based back issues of The American Feminist® are also available atwww.feministsforlife.org/covetable-stuff, including “Forward Into Light,” “A Crying Shame,” “Voices of Women — and Men — Who Mourn,” and “MANIPULATION.” Feminists for Life was the only pro-life group in the National Task Force on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence to work successfully for the Violence Against Women Act (as well as the only feminist group to support the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, aka Laci and Conner’s Law). Among other essential measures, VAWA introduced the federal rape shield law and also funded victim assistance services, including rape crisis centers and hotlines.
Aight, Superpeeps, another superheroalert. Bottom line up front: Join me in helping Puerto Rico recover by heading to the PMSFRELIEFFUND.org and iniciativacomunitaria.org.
Iniciativa Comunitaria normally works with clinics in the north of the island to help the homeless and reach out to Guatemala and Haiti, but now, with the disaster around them, they’re turning to local aid relief. They work with Puerto Rican Senator Vargas Vidot. I don’t know much about his politics, but I can tell you, having met him in person, his heart’s huge. Please read to the end of this article to read his truly inspirational speech about saving the soul of medicine!
My heart’s got a special place for the PHSU foundation, too. Since the crisis began, the students/faculty have provided medical and psychological support services and have been delivering over 100,000 lbs of privately donated goods and supplies to the residents, most of whom lost their homes and all of their possessions in the hurricane. That’s my alma mater, people!
It’s another superhero alert–this one jokingly, to talk about how to warn people of danger. Don’t be a pretentious douchebag: if you believe in hell as an actual reality, for example, you should totally warn people about it, but there’s more than one way to have that conversation. If I don’t believe in it, you screaming at me probably won’t back my spirit away from the cliff I can’t see. It’s the same with suicide, alcohol abuse, or a brick on the street that might make a guy stumble. You come off as a jackass when you think you’re somehow special, somehow better than someone else.
Thought that was pretty cute, huh? Buttersafe’s cool, you should check them out.
I wanted to bring up black cats for this #superheroalert because we’ve got Halloween coming up. More black cats are tortured and killed around this time of year than any other month, and that’s pretty messed up. The stereotypical activity of a superhero—rescuing a cat out of a tree for some little old lady, right? We should do that.
This year, I’m “rescuing” by boycotting Halloween.
“Wait, what? Why you gotta hate on Halloween? Why can’t you just NOT torture cats?”
Great point, imaginary person I invented for the sake of argument. Here’s the deal. If you look into the history of Halloween across multiple Western (usually Catholic) cultures, you’ll find it almost always revolves around people placating some dead spirit (benevolent or otherwise) or demon, which is actually kind of anti-humanist. You know, like we have to bow to cruel forces, rather than rebelling, because of fear. Fear’s a great thing to talk about, as hero-wanna-bes, because it’s a healthy way for us to remember our place in the Universe. We’re not the biggest thing. We’re not even the best thing. Fear is healthy sometimes. But when our fear becomes a celebration of, and a submission to, the tyranny of evil, we have a problem.
“Oh, silly Jen, you’re over-exaggerating. Dressing up as ghosts isn’t a ‘submission to the tyranny of evil.’”
Michael programmed a “Pokemon Go for water” to teach local Milwaukee natives how to protect their water—and to connect them with the history of the Great Lakes around them. He also made a board game for kids to learn about invasive quagga mussels–it helps them think practically about how to protect their environment from invasive species. Here, he gives tips on grant-writing, water conservation, and using your creative capacities for community good. All this and more in the above water stories with Michael Timm: using apps and games to improve environmental sustainability!
What will you do for your #superheroalert?
Check out other #superheroalerts at http://becominghero.ninja (search for superheroalert), where I talk about how to become a superhero!
I have a lovely treat for you Superpeeps today! Wanna become a superhero? This is kind of an interview/guest post by superhero film actor @RickyDaVision: what can we learn about heroes by pretending to be them?
There are a lot of words that people often use to describe a superhero. Courageous, brave, sincere, compassionate, determined just to name a few. To be all of those things ultimately doesn’t require having the strength to move mountains or ability to read people’s minds.
I’m writing from the past to tell you that YOU live in the future.
I don’t mean that metaphorically. You live in a wild science fiction world that many people can’t even imagine, and you can impact and change that scifi tale if you want. Let me show you. Or, as a freaky man once put it, “I’d like to play a game.” Tell me which of these three technology scenarios is in development–or already working!–right now.
Do you have a family member with cancer? Do you know a child with cancer?
We talk a bit about responsible shopping and consuming here on the #superheroalert blog, and I love this anthology because all the writers involved, all the editors, just came together to give money to families who can’t afford cancer treatment, through the National Children’s Cancer Society. If you like horror, it got nothing but good reviews. So yeah.
I truly believe everyone has a weird little superpower that other people can’t understand and that we don’t usually document. I believe this because after studying neurobiology I’m awed by the power of our chemical minds.
Hey SuperPeeps! Today we need to talk about art, and about how sometimes becoming a hero means celebrating someone else’s dreams. NGOs are discovering this, too–rather than handing out charity, or a one-time save, how can you help someone save themselves?
#ArtfulSpoons is a hashtag and account on Twitter that celebrates the art of #spoonies, or people who are suffering chronic illnesses. We had a chat with Alex, who runs the account.
Ever noticed that Batman always makes his decisions of discovery alone?
I’m sure you’ve seen the brooding pictures of any number of superheroes, slumped over with their heads in their hands like the Thinker.
How much time do you give yourself, in silence, alone? Away from social media. Away from DOING THINGS. Away from the party and the work. How often do you check your life’s direction, and re-set your goals, and center yourself on what really matters to you as you take the next step? How often do you allow yourself to experience your grief, your doubts, and your questions about how the world works, and just work through the deep stuff? And then, how often do you let your mind grow blank, and just wait for inspiration?
How can you become a superhero if you can’t even save your own thoughts?
“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” ~ C.S. Lewis, ‘Weight of Glory’
If you want to become a superhero, you must get used to spending time alone.
Hey Peeps! Just a short little post today–sharing a link to this Inhabitat piece about the plastic bottle house in Nigeria. The architects noticed that they had waaay too many plastic bottles, and way too few houses, so they thought that problem should solve itself.
What if we did something like this in the more temperate areas where you live to help homelessness? And more generally, how can you use the things you don’t like in your life to solve the problems for the things you need?
True superheroes know how to use the things no one wants to make a difference.
Lukysha Sims-Neal, a child abuse survivor who writes a blog about living beyond childhood trauma, comes to us today to talk about how we can all, survivors or not, help the healing. Some of her answers are really challenging and even surprising, so I hope you’ll read all the way to the end. This is important stuff, SuperPeeps.Read More…
You remember those moments? The ones where a superhero makes you hold your breath. When Barry Allen, in Flashpoint, gets up and starts running even though there’s a huge spike jammed through his quads. When Peter Parker, at the end of the Ultimate Spiderman comic series, bows down before the spectres of all the enemies he’s ever faced, and gets up to keep fighting. Those moments when everything is broken, but the hero doesn’t give up.
Those moments…that make us want to become superheroes.Read More…
Real quick #superheroalert for you peeps. This village lets you wander without getting lost, because it’s actually a locked center with only one exit. As creepy and scifi as that sounds, it seems like a pretty good idea!