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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Female Condition

I know Michelle by a superhero name.  She is @cyberslate on Twitter and her avatar is a green She-Hulk.  She is super cool.  But I didn’t know how cool until the mHealth Summit, for as I left the hall on Monday.  I heard, “Is that you Regina?”  I whipped around to see Michelle.  I asked if she would like to split a cab with me as it is rather expensive to get back to the city from Washington Harbor.  She said, No, she had driven out, but would be glad to give me a lift back.  She proceeded to give me lifts to and from the conference for the next two days.  We talked about everything under the sun including the female condition.

Now you may think I mean that we spoke role of women in tech, and we did speak a little on that.  After all Michelle is the Enterprise architect and founder of the Women in SharePoint, DC.  But we spoke specifically of her jacket for The Walking Gallery.

This is Michelle Strah’s jacket: “The Female Condition.”

The Female Condition: Cyberslate's jacket

This is a painting of Wonder Woman. 

But this is very different Wonder Woman.  She is a patient and she has suffered from domestic violence.  Her eye is bruised; her customary golden tiara has been replaced with a bandage that seeps blood.  Her indestructible golden bracelets are removed and in their place is a layered mesh of hospital bracelets that coil around her arms.  Her hospital gown is half torn off, revealing most of one breast.  This is the kind of hospital gown that snaps across the shoulders.  It is never good to be in one of these gowns, it means the patient is using an IV and cannot take off a traditional gown.

The Female Condition

This is a sick and injured Wonder Woman.  But look at her; so brave, so willing to take on the unjust world.  She arches her back and bares her chest.  Her arms are loose with muscle well-defined and she is ready for a quick defense.   These words she issues forth, “Being female is not a pre-existing condition.”

Cyberslate is brilliant.  She has a PHD and can talk circles around most tech gurus.  I could paint so many pictures about his woman, but this is the most important one.

For even Wonder Woman can fall, even the best and brightest among us can feel the steel gauntlet of abuse.  And when that happens, or if that happens, we want to be treated with dignity and respect.  We want to be able to receive treatment at any hospital in this fair country without losing future health insurance coverage due to our status as a victim.  

Thank you Cyberslate for your willingness to speak out for us all, it is your bravery that shall rule the day. When I painted this I thought of you as the lone Amazon fighting against a world of injustice, but now I know you are a super friend.

I learned the origin of Cyberslate. I learned that on August 5th, 2009 Michelle was a new resident of DC and to meet friends who shared her interests she decided to join a brand new meet-up group: Health 2.0 Stat.  That night she performed her first ignite-style speech.  She was one of three speakers.  The other two were David Hale from NIH and Mark Scrimshire organizer of the ever popular Health Camps. 

It was amazing night. 

After their speeches David and Mark found out that Michelle had never heard of Twitter. Right then and there they built her profile and Cyberslate was born.

On that day some super friends began to meet each other.  But they had no idea we would one day don our capes and mantles.  We had no idea that our group of healthcare heroes would one day walk as a mighty force of justice called The Walking Gallery.   


  1. Great post! I love the superhero analogy....

  2. What a great story! Michelle IS a superhero!

  3. thanks for writing this Regina, shining the light on those who suffer from Domestic Violence is the only way to address the epidemic we face in America and around the world. And thanks to @cyberslate for walking... no easy task with this message on her back. K

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