Giving Blood

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In a few minutes, I will be taking a calming drug so I can give some of my very popular blood and not faint. Yes, Dr. Bossypants was born a universal donor (meaning I’m O-negative). They love me, but I’m a needle-in-the-vein-phobe. When they begin draining blood out of me, I drop like a stone. And I get very sick when they yank me up from the howling blackness. They don’t like this outcome, nor do I. So, by introducing the magic of a vasodilator, we all win. The first time I tried the prescribed drug, and didn’t faint, I was so happy I bought a chainsaw.

Giving blood is different than giving a kidney, or bone marrow, or part of your liver. It is different than donating sperm or eggs. It is different than making sure your body can be used for pieces and parts after your death. And it is different than sharing your uterus and a lot of bodily functions so a fetus can develop into a fellow human being. But there are similarities. Each of these kind acts can give, save, or improve lives. Each should be a loving, conscious act that involves willingly extending the use of the body you were born with.

Such acts are tremendous and praiseworthy gifts. Sometimes, such acts can be quite painful or inconvenient. But they should never be mandatory. Autonomy over one’s body and body parts is foundational to human freedom and dignity. We are rightly appalled when we hear of forced use of someone’s body for slave labor, sex, or scientific research. Forcing someone to use their body to bring a pregnancy to term should be equally appalling. Yes, people die because we choose not to give in certain situations. Yes, the unwanted fetus’s chance to develop and be born is ended if the use of the woman’s body is denied. But as I’ve pointed out in an earlier blog, I suspect, if given the choice, many fetuses would not wish to be born unwanted. It is never an easy choice.

These profoundly personal decisions must entail adult reasoning and be left entirely to the individual. Even though giving a gallon of my nice O-negative blood would save more lives in the short run, it would be a very bad idea. It would end the source. Giving of our bodies to save or nurture others must be done in the context of our overall responsibilities to ourselves, our families, and our community.  People, we are in dire need of wisdom and compassion. Legislating the use of someone’s body involves neither.

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Get Real About Abortion

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For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, clear, and wrong.

H.L. Mencken

People, we need to grow up. This whole abortion “debate” is a sham. The realities require compassion, tenacity, and wisdom, not rigid adherence to the idea that the law will save us.

  • Abortion is a political tool used by the far right to get votes. Many of them do not actually oppose abortion. Many have paid for abortions for their lovers, daughters, and wives, and will continue to do so, regardless of “the law.” They are people who see themselves as above the law. They are posers, tricking naïve but well-intended Christians and others who “hold their noses” to vote for them so they can enact legislation that is decidedly un-Christian and immoral.
  • Even if made illegal, abortions will continue to happen, but just as in other domains, we will make very evil people very rich because they provide illegal, but highly sought-after services. Think pimps. Think drug dealers. This is the type of person we will empower and enrich.
  • Some women will lack the resources to hire a crook to end an unwanted pregnancy. They will give birth to unwanted children for whom they cannot adequately provide. These children will often not be welcomed. They will have a very slim chance of having good lives. I would personally choose to be aborted rather than be born in these circumstances. I feel certain my fetal-self would slide right into a better realm.
  • Some women will take desperate measures to try and end the unwanted pregnancy. They will be seriously injured, or die.
  • Many women will get abortions, but they will not be able to be as thoughtful and careful as they could be if abortions were a viable choice–safe and legal. There will be panic, rumors, and unnecessary fear. Some may rush to abortion, but given time and less shame, would have made a different decision.
  • If made illegal, late term abortions will happen less often because of fears of prosecution. Therefore, women will be forced to deliver fetuses that will die in minutes, days, or weeks after birth due to the severe disabilities of the fetus. Some women will die due to the complications of such profound disabilities, or they will die of late-term life-threatening conditions. Often these will be women with other children. We will deprive those families of their mothers.

If you really want fewer abortions, support the availability of birth control. Work to stop unwanted or uninformed sex. Offer compassionate settings for decision-making in the event of an unwanted pregnancy. Stop the shame. STOP THE SHAME. You imagine you are saving the life of an unborn child. You are not. You are forcing a living person to use her body to continue a process that will, over time, produce a baby. It isn’t a baby yet. But the woman in question IS, in fact, a living, breathing human being. You are willing to violate her rights and autonomy, and risk her health, her future, and even her life, for a human-in-the-making. You value her reproductive function more than you value her as an already-here child of God.

Get off your simplistic self-righteous high horses and use your God-given brains to reason through this complex human dilemma. There are compassionate ways to reduce unwanted pregnancies, but we will never end all unwanted pregnancies. There are times when an abortion is the most loving choice possible. We live in an imperfect world and often have to make wrenching choices. If a woman wants to risk her life and her future for the sake of a fetus, and devote her body to that amazing reproductive process, that is absolutely her choice. If she does not wish to do so, the Government should not step in and place more value on a potential life-in-the-making than on the already-here human being. We do not force people to donate their bone marrow, kidneys, or portions of their livers to save existing humans in need of those organs. We honor those who donate, but we do not force them to use their bodies to save lives, even when doing so would not impair their futures in any way. We simply do not cross that line.

We simply do not cross that line.

Dear ones who sincerely see abortion as wrong, you are much wiser to devote your lives and energies to eliminating unwanted pregnancies, offering viable options, surrounding every woman with love and respect, and refraining from cruel judgments. Do not vote for those who promise to make abortion illegal—they are using you, and should it actually happen—it will only bring about great suffering, increased illegal activities, and crippling shame. We can find better ways to reduce the number of abortions, to care for babies born into terrible environments, and to build a better, more loving and sane society. The law will not help us do this. Compassionate will.

Taxes and Such

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As many of her admirers know, Dr. Bossypants is an astute observer of the human species. The conclusions she reaches may not be shared by the masses, but she remains undaunted in her quest to offer what she sincerely believes are helpful insights and guidances. Her end-goal is the survival of the species, but unlike Ayn Rand, or most Republicans, she does not believe this will be achieved by squishing weak or disadvantaged people like unwanted bugs. Nor will things work out well by draining the poor of the little they have, denying them educational advantages, or keeping workers trapped by inadequate health care, unfair wages, and inferior housing. And of course, no one will ultimately be happy with a trashed planet. Even living under a fancy dome with other rich people will be at best an extension of a miserable end.

Yes, hatred, greed, and paranoia are excessively present in many human personalities. But Dr. Bossypants believes this is a mutation due to trauma—a destructive adaptation—either individually or culturally—that doesn’t work out very well. Greed and paranoia eat away at the fabric of community, are highly contagious, and result in shallow, frightened, hate-filled lives devoted to accumulation of weapons and goods that in the end will only impoverish and destroy. Greed and paranoia must be recognized as disabilities, not elevated as admirable ways to be.

This is why we must pay taxes for the common good, even though we don’t like to. We must pay more taxes and elect excellent leaders. We don’t need less government. We need better government. We need honest elected officials and skilled, caring inspectors who actually understand why you need to wire your microwave a little differently than mind-and-heartlessly-applied “code.” We need advocates for the ignorant, encouragers for the downtrodden, opportunities to advance for those who don’t know how to advance. We need graduated taxes that invite (okay, force) corporations to pay their full share for all the advantages of our infrastructures and resources. We need environmental regulations with big, firm teeth. We need common sense.

People, listen. It is immoral and unwise to pay workers unfairly and get super, super rich from other’s labors. It’s not okay to severely punish someone who steals little stuff from the big guys, but to let the big guys skate when they’ve stolen from all of us. We need a big-boy, big-girl government, empowered to rein in those big folks who run rampant over that which is essential to the long-term health and well-being of people and planets.

Government regulations that are designed to irritate the common person but are sidestepped with a wink and nod by the uncommon rich folks are sickening. They make Republicans out of those annoyed people who don’t have time to sit down and think it through. Countries with little to no government are not happy countries. Countries with robust, moral, transparent governments thrive. Humans need governments able to provide safety nets, limit cancerous growth, and provide equilibrium rather than rampant accumulation.

Bottom line for now: Stop acting like taxes are bad. Demand honesty from those we elect, but be willing to pay for what we need to thrive—which includes educated people not strapped with huge debt, opportunities to advance for all, living wages, adequate health care, limits to extractive, destructive actions that are endangering the planet, resources for scientists, inventors, artists, dancers, thinkers, and care-takers on par with the resources we give money-makers (or money-takers!).

And in the meantime, be careful with each other. We’re all we have.

Accommodations–Gendered and Otherwise

Dr. Bossypants just jogged up the hill in a pair of black silky long johns constructed for those who have a penis they may wish to free from cloth constraints in order to relieve themselves. It’s pretty nifty how only the penis need be exposed. No such option for me, sans penis, but full bladder. Why was I wearing men’s underwear? This is not relevant to the story, but if you must know, Dr. Bossypants is a gleaner. She found them in a pile of nice, discarded clothing. Don’t worry. They were laundered in hot water. But wearing them was revelatory.

In this day and age, one would think garment inventors could make openings friendly to female genitalia. Yes, a few are trying, and it is possible to purchase a funnel sort of gadget in order to pee standing up, but so far, these efforts are clunky and far from mainstream. We need grab and go, stylish pants and underpants that do not require being peeled to the ankles in order to pee.

I’m not terribly squeamish about urinating in the woods, or in alleys, or along the highway, or in parking lots of big events, but there are forces to contend with beyond shyness. Mosquitoes. Poison Ivy. Freezing temperatures. Tight pants. Awkward positions made even more precarious by having to strip layers of clothing down past one’s knees and then bunching them up to avoid getting them wet. At this point, balance is everything.

Anatomically, the expanse between he-man-male and she-woman-female is populated with interesting gradations, but generally, the penis is still regarded as normative and the object of envy. This is silly. As an intuitive psychologist, Dr. Bossypants happens to know that men secretly (and I mean very secretly) envy the relative discretion and safety of the vagina and the folds that decorate and protect that area. And they envy the uterus which identifies one’s offspring without question (sperm are a great, but often anonymous contribution). And they envy the breast—the only source of perfect baby food. Who in their rational mind would envy a painfully vulnerable appendage that sometimes arises unbidden?  Or a set of obstructions between the legs that sag with age?

Oh, yes. Now I remember. The appendages aren’t the objects of envy. It’s the advantages that come with them—especially if they are attached to a tall, white, Western European hetero pelvis. Frankly, I’m getting too old for this nonsense. Sick to death of it. Dr. Bossypants is determined to continue pointing out the obvious, railing in her own special way about white male privilege and the terrible costs of this wrong-headedness. We must hold out hope for the development and adoption of sensible clothing options for all concerned. And while we’re at it, let’s hope for mercy and justice to extend beyond our physical apparatuses, our myriad shapes and colors, and our circumstances of birth. Radical. But possible.

 

 

The Human Condition

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The human condition defies simple analysis. The arc of our storyline includes both acceptance and defiance. We are consistently contradictory. Storefront “absolutes” fade in the sunshine of experience. Sure-things aren’t. The givens of life slip away as science, rationality, or whim take them apart. Sometimes, they reappear, refined. Sometimes they end up shelved in the great museum of human fallibility. Sometimes, we bury them in shame.

We continue to wrestle with powerful, apparently-biological urges to accumulate and reproduce. Thankfully, within our species, there are many examples of humans doing otherwise. Thus, we know that among our many capacities, we have the capacity to deny biological urges. We can say enough and mean it. We can get by with less than enough when motivated to do so. We do not always reproduce, and those who do often choose to limit the numbers of new beings they create.

But we also know that many humans dedicate their lives to unfettered reproduction and accumulation—whether that be money, homes, widgets, power, underwear, offspring, achievements, titles, friends, or enemies. It can be great fun. Some humans love to push the limits. Other humans love to watch—getting vicarious thrills from the courage, clucking their tongues at the foolishness. Some accumulations and extreme efforts appear to be harmless, but excess should always be examined and balanced. It is the rare accumulator who doesn’t need constraint. It is the rare achiever who doesn’t need the equilibrium provided by humility.

So, yes, we are complex beings, imbued with choice. Our destiny as a species appears to be dependent on the choices we make. Short-sighted greed, cruelty, and destructive accumulation are well within the repertoire of human choice. Denial has become a refined art form. Cruelty and falsehood are endorsed or tolerated in the service of far-fetched conspiracy theories, sometimes cloaked in a fetid version of a contorted God.

Suffering is suffering. Hunger is hunger. Death is death. And the earth, our home, is finite. If we had the will, we could alleviate hunger and reduce suffering. We could choose to live with more compassion, wisdom, and self-sacrifice. It is possible to set in motion systems that will heal and perhaps stabilize our little planet. But no matter what, we will die. No amount of accumulation will change that. No amount of denial.

Therefore, Dr. Bossypants offers this simple suggestion: How about we accept our mortality and plan for our deaths instead of run from them? And since we have a choice, how about we live lives filled with joy and meaning, generosity and connection? Just a suggestion. Up to you.

 

A Practical Guide to Eradicating Misogyny

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Tarana Burke opened the flood gates with two words, “Me too.” Bob Newhart famously said, “Stop it.” Misogyny will not go away until the human race decides it has outgrown this particular evolutionary misstep. Misogyny is a destructive mutation, a failed solution. It is sin. It is wrong-headed. It is unloving. It is dishonest. It is lazy. It is imbalanced, and ultimately, it is deadly.

Dr. Bossypants suggests we devote ourselves to getting rid of it, and provides a few starting points below:

Role-Models:

One of mine is pictured above. We need to create, find, feature, elevate, and support women in every possible undertaking known to humans. We need aspirational visions of women being 51% of all presidents and rulers, all pilots and police officers, all best-sellers, all superintendents, all congresspeople, all professors, all CEOs, CFOs, and UFOs. All directors, actors, janitors. All animated creatures, all muppets, all heroes, all villains, all commentators and editorial writers, all artists, all pastors, all rabbis, all poets, prophets, philosophers, priests—in other words, all people.

I said “aspirational” because we are a far cry from this balance, but we will never achieve it until we feature women in every possible endeavor we can, thus normalizing the vision for little girls and boys…thus creating something to live towards. Fake it until you make it.

Words that might need a make-over:

What does it mean to mother something?

What does it mean to father something?

What does seminal mean? Really?

“He” “Mankind” and “Guy” do not mean everyone.

Things, like God, that are beyond gender should either be nongendered, or be referred to with imaginative balanced inclusiveness.

Policies:

Birth control has got to be free and available for anyone engaging in acts that might result in pregnancy.

All sexual interactions have to be agreed upon by all parties at all times. Radically mutual.

All pregnancies are the business of the one who is pregnant. All medical care and procedures necessary to end the pregnancy or to proceed with the pregnancy must be free and available.

All parents must be equally responsible for the food, shelter, and relationships necessary for their offspring to grow into healthy adults.

Behaviors:

Do not invite more men than women. Do not read more men than women. Do not quote more men than women. Do not give men a break because they are men, or women a break because they are women. Do not listen to more men than women. Do not consult with more men than women. Do not value your sons over your daughters. Try to stop seeing the world through the white male lens. Give your undivided attention to as many women as you do men. Do not laugh at men’s jokes if they are not funny.

This is just the start of a massive list, dear ones. Feel free to share your own curative suggestions for ending this scourge. We are infected with misogyny at the cellular level, handed down from generation to generation. It’s not going away without some serious effort. Roll up those sleeves. Let’s get to it. When I’m as old as my tough, smart, feminist grandmother was when that picture was taken, I’m hoping to see some serious progress.

Misogyny has to go

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It is time for Dr. Bossypants to step up and say with whatever authority she can muster: People. It is time to admit, understand, and eradicate misogyny. Many failings of human reasoning and behavior gave us the horrific president we are now enduring but one of the taproots is especially deep, complex, and ancient. The second-class status (indeed, the throw-away status) of females globally, and throughout history, is an enduring evil. It is a pernicious toxicity that destroys human potential and promotes human violence.

There is little gain in arguing which of our many prejudices causes more suffering, especially if the effect is to pit the prejudices against each other, using up precious energy that could instead be devoted to healing. But just as parenting is the world’s oldest profession, the preferred status given to males is the oldest prejudice.

Humans seem to love hierarchical dualities—right/wrong, black/white, female/male, rich/poor. Maybe this is because we want to be on the upside of somebody. But there are better ways to explore these contrasting attributes. First, very little is “one or the other.” Perceived opposites exist on a continuum. Racial purity is a silly myth. Thanks to many brave souls, we are beginning to understand sexual attractions and gender exist on a continuum. Rich and poor are relative terms. Class is a human invention. The key concept here is continuum. We all have a little of the “other” inside us. This is another version of that wise saying “We have met the enemy, and it is us.”

Enemy? But wait. A second way to consider these contrasts is through the lens of the dialectic: For every set of opposing views, there is a truth attained only by the contribution of both. We are missing a tremendous opportunity when we fail to consider the wonders of this synthesis. Whew, howdy. This is hard work, drawing on human consciousness, heart, soul, and patience. To even begin this practice requires learning to listen—and I DO mean listen. Listen so well that you can repeat your so-called opponent’s point of view to the satisfaction of your opponent (Carl Rogers, thank you for modeling how to work on this astonishingly hard task).

Now, back to misogyny. A bucket load of white women voted for our current misogynist-in-chief. How can this be? Also, I have the good fortune of having honest relationships with a few males who voted for him too. More than one told me no way would they vote for that … (rhythms with runt). What gives? Where does this destructive hatred come from?

Some devaluing of femaleness is just blind habit. Some is internalized–unconsciously embraced as a survival mechanism. Some is driven by wrong-head interpretations of faith systems. Some is fear-based. Some is power-driven. Some is laziness (I admit I’d like a “naturally” inferior being to do my bidding and clean my house). Whatever the sources, humans are still quite prone to blame, judge, use, abuse, mutilate, and devalue women. We need to consciously, deliberately, willfully, stubbornly, and steadily get over this impediment to full human potential. This will be a spiritual victory and an evolutionary step forward for all of us.