Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NDP Women's Forum

So on Tuesday (Oct. 29th) I will be at the NDP Women's Forum in Ottawa. I'm on a panel called "The Politics of Advocacy" (I know, what does that mean?) with some really cool-sounding people, and altogether it should be a good event.

If you're going to be in Ottawa and you want to attend, you should! It's free, but you do have to register (which you can do here).

I'm especially stoked that the keynote speaker is AMAZING and WONDERFUL Metis artist and activist Erin Konsmo, who rocks my socks. Seriously I am in complete awe of this lady and her kick ass art. I have to be honest, I am a little bit cynical going into an NDP event but I think it's really cool that they asked a young activist to be the keynote speaker. I am not so in to having older feminists tell us how to do activism all the time.

Anyway obviously I am scrambling to write some semi-coherent stuff to say at this thing, but I wanted to put the notice up here just in case you wanna come see some amazing women chat about THE STUFF OF OUR LIVES, etc.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Bloody Weekend

So, a weird thing happened this weekend. FYI I'm about to talk about my vagina again so just take a rain check on this post if that's not the sort of thing you want to read about.

Some friends were visiting from the States, and staying with us all weekend, so it was good times. I was kind of bummed when my period came earlier than expected but you know, you gotta roll with it.

On Friday things were normal. I was bleeding normally - if a bit on the heavy side - but my IUD has been fucking up my periods for the last few months and I'm still waiting for shit to balance out. So whatever. On Saturday things were getting a little heavier, and the blood was a really deep, vibrant red. In the afternoon I started noticing clots. My underwear started looking like the scene of a particularly violent murder. I couldn't change my pads fast enough.

At dinner the situation persisted. I was still just thinking it was a heavy period, annoying but not worrisome. After dinner we went to a concert and it was there I got a little tired - bone-weary would be a good way to put it - and lightheaded. In the washroom I discovered that SINCE DINNER I had bled through my (new) pad, my underwear, and working on the inside of my jeans (well, that escalated quickly). Luckily it was near the end of the show.

At home I notices more clots. There had been some tissue earlier but I thought that was just normal - I usually notice some tissue with my period, just the uterine lining coming out. That's the point of the whole exercise. This time though the tissue was bigger. I inspected it (gross, I know, but I NEEDED TO KNOW) and it was blobby and lighter red, just smaller than a golf ball.

"Hmmm." I thought to myself. "That shouldn't be there."

In bed I took out my phone and started googling, and determined that based on my physical symptoms and the description of the tissue, I most likely had an early miscarriage.

In this time I could feel the blood seeping through my pad. I thought briefly that perhaps I should go to the hospital, but that seemed like an unnecessary hassle. When my partner came to bed I got up to change, then came back and said, "I think I just had a miscarriage."

I explained to him what had happened, my quick research, and the fact that IUDs only stop implantation, so it made sense. He didn't seem to know how to react - I could tell he was waiting to take a cue for me.

"It's not anything. It's not emotional, it's just gross." I said. We hugged and went to sleep.

I'm still bleeding but it feels more like an ordinary period. I don't know what to think of the whole thing; to be honest I would have expected to feel more feelings about it than I do. It's just an annoyance, really. More laundry to do. Something to watch out for next time. I don't really think you could say I was technically pregnant, since implantation didn't happen. It's nice to know the IUD works, I guess.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Just Don't Look!...?

Maybe it's because I'm on my period (TMI alert, etc. etc. - honestly if you read this blog at all you know a lot more than that about my vagina), but when I read this article about the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform posting a huge exploding fetus banner across an overpass in Hamilton I got so angry I didn't know what to do with myself.

Generally, at this point in my journey as an activist I don't get super angry about this stuff - more of a mild, disappointed contempt. I'm not as young as I was (although I would like to think I remain just as idealistic). But yeah, I don't know, these CCBR people really get my dander up.

I almost came on here and wrote an angry screed (don't you love the word screed?) about it but then I got myself into a thought tangle about how much energy one should really spend getting worked up - especially publicly - about these idiots. It's that eternal debate about giving the anti-choicers attention and exposing their bullshit as harmful and terrible, versus not lending them legitimacy by paying attention. I've never really taken a conclusive side and have, in fact, gone back and forth about it more than any other thing in my activist worldview. Starting this blog was, arguably, a huge exercise in giving the antis attention, and they did delight in it, but at the same time I think it has been an immensely positive thing in a country where apparently NO ONE knows what's happening with abortion and sexual health access in New Brunswick. I thought at the time, and I still believe, that giving attention to the situation was worth giving publicity to the protesters.

But not every situation is the same. The CCBR is slick in their own way - they are very different than the ragtag group of elderly weirdos that protest at the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic. The CCBR thrives on publicity - any publicity - and they are not at all interested in being nice. They are willing to alienate their own potential supporters - people who openly identify as pro-life, anti-abortion - in order to get press hits with their big, disgusting stunts. They know exactly what they are doing, and I can't help but feel that even writing anything about them is playing right into their hands.

But shit, man, you can't just put disgusting banners on the overpass. It's actually causing traffic accidents. In the article the police give some bullshit excuse about not taking sides - completely missing the point that it's not the group's position people object to, it's the fact that their banner is distracting people to the point that they are crashing their fucking cars. Come on.

So, you know, fuck you Hamilton cops. And fuck you CCBR, obviously.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Someone Notices a Problem

Check out this article on abortion access in Canada on VICE, of all places, with a nifty chart (below)! They're not totally clear on the New Brunswick situation in terms of hospital provision vs. clinic provision, and I wish they'd gone more in depth with additional barriers like race (particularly the challenges often faced by First Nations people trying to access abortion), but overall it's good the issue is getting this exposure.

Friday, August 16, 2013

CCBR: Knights of the Patriarchy

The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (ie the charming folks behind the GAP project in Canada, and the recent anti-abortion recruitment at Toronto high schools) is at it again, this time distributing 100,000 postcard-style flyers in mailboxes in the Peel region. Guess what's on the flyers? If you said mushed up fetus pictures, you're only half right, because they also show a picture of the MP representing the riding in question.

I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on these exploded fetus pictures and how effective they are at changing people's minds about abortion. Most of the reaction to them that I've seen in the press and in person (stuff passersby have said when they see protesters holding the pictures at clinics) seem to indicate that even among self-identified "pro-life" people, the pictures are not a hit. People get upset about their kids having to see it, and I think people themselves don't want to look. The anti-choice crowd insist that this is what it's all about, that it's supposed to be disturbing and make you think about what "we" do to "babies," etc. But I have to think that the bottom line is, you're spending the money to get 100,000 of these things printed - what's the net benefit of that? Is it generating more ill will towards abortion than to your organization?

I used to believe the main problem with the exploded fetus images was that they were inaccurate - very few of them are actually sourced, they just say something on them like "abortion at 12 weeks" or whatever, while depicting a much later abortion, or a stillbirth, or an actual dead baby. I also think it's ridiculous to base an argument on grossing people out; I don't want to see pictures of knee surgery but I still think it should be available.

The main problem, however, is that the pictures don't tell the whole story, and that's deliberate. The "abortion" is decontextualized so as to appear as a monstruous thing, and to center the morality of the choice on the fetus. But where is the person whose choice it (supposedly) is? These pictures purposely detach the issue from women's autonomy and rights in order to make us not only forget that the issue is more complex than murder/not murder, but also to dehumanize women who choose abortion.

There is nothing that convinces me that the pro-life movement will happily throw women under the bus than these pictures. In fact, I think it's more than a happy side-effect for them; they want sexually active women to be demonized for their choices. Being actively anti-abortion is to support this tired but incredibly effective form of social control: keeping women in their place.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Event: Morgentaler Memorial in Toronto

Just to let you know, there will be a memorial for Dr. Morgentaler in Toronto this Friday (July 19th). I will be there and I hope to see you all there as well!

Where: The Great Hall, Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto
When: Friday, July 19th 2013
Time: 7:00pm (doors open at 6:30pm)

See the Facebook event here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

“You can be the only person in the world who believes something, and still be right.”

If you haven't already, go read Abraham Morgentaler's remembrance of his father in the Globe & Mail.

There should be a public memorial for Dr. Morgentaler coming up in Toronto in July - more to come.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

RIP Dr. Henry Morgentaler

I just heard that Dr. Morgentaler passed away. I have a lot of feelings. I'll probably be writing something appropriately sentimental for Abortion Gang, but just wanted to let you all know in case you hadn't heard.

And to say thanks, as always. Thank you Henry.

**Update: here is my post at AG - and cross-posted at Shameless

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another Roadblock for Abortion in New Brunswick

Bad news in New Brunswick: remember way back in 2008, when an anonymous doctor filed a complaint with the NB Human Rights Commission about how the abortion policy in New Brunswick discriminated against her female patients? Apparently the HRC handed that case off (somewhat bizarrely) to the Labour and Employment Board - a development I wasn't even aware of - and they decided that while the doctor couldn't bring a complaint on behalf of her patients, there was merit in having an inquiry into the accessibility of abortion in the province.

So of course the provincial government saw the wheels of justice turning a little too quickly and last week the Court of Queen's Bench ruled there wasn't enough evidence to conduct such an inquiry, and hey, back off Labour and Employment Board, why can't you be a little more useless like the HRC? And believe me, an inquiry is just about the height of usefulness in New Brunswick politics.

This is a frustrating decision for a number of reasons. First, it is unclear to me why the HRC would think this had more to do with labour and employment than with human rights, as it is clearly about the right of the patients to access abortion, with the doctor simply acting on their behalf when filing the complaint. They should have heard the case and not foisted it off on the LEB - is the HRC afraid of controversy? Isn't that their whole thing - human rights?

Secondly, I am curious as to why the LEB felt the doctor couldn't bring this complaint; surely when it went in front of Labour and Employment it was about the doctor's ability to refer patients being threatened? Anyway, while an inquiry is the bare minimum of solutions, at least it would have pushed the issue further into the public eye.

Which brings us to the most frustrating aspect: that there is no moving forward on this issue in New Brunswick without at least some cooperation from the provincial government, as they have every possible legal route to justice at their disposal. Could it be that the only way forward is the election of a progressive government in New Brunswick? Could this ever even happen?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

These Two Guys

Two of our favourite anti-choice MPs - Stephen Woodworth and Mark Warawa - are back in the "news" this week to remind us all that grown men whining about abortion is the way to get things done in this country.

First, Mr. Woodworth is very sad that ARCC has not answered his ridiculous correspondence about supporting his motion to declare the 'equal worth and dignity' of all human beings (ie figure out some legal way to value a tiny peanut more than the agency of a grown woman - sorry, some way to further do so). Because Joyce Arthur was not interested in pursuing further dialogue with him until he came to the discussion in good faith - acknowledging that this is, in fact, about abortion would be a good start - Woodworth feels very sad and the CBC feels this is newsworthy. Sure. Vicious cunts are we who will not even answer his letters - must be because we hate human rights. Damn you Woodworth and your formidable intellect, you have penetrated our clever disguise and seen us for the rights-hating, baby-eating, non-letter-replying bitches that we are.

And over here trying to out-whine Woodworth is our friend Mark Warawa, who plans to speak about "gendercide" in the House of Commons tomorrow. The very frustrating thing about this issue, particularly evident in this article, is that Warawa seems to understand the underlying issue in sex-selective abortion; that girls are valued less than boys. Yet still he is fixated on abortion, as if destroying the tool could wipe out the desire. When you oppose sex selection, but seek to remove the option of abortion without changing the conditions that make it desirable, you are basically implicitly endorsing female infanticide. When people are aborting based on sex there is a problem here, but the problem isn't abortion.

Were I a less cynical person, I could be excited that an MP has recognized that we have a problem in our society, that girls are seen as less valuable than boys. I would reach out to him to offer my support, and even suggest ways that he might use his platform and influence to effect change. But I'm not that person. The fact that the blame for sex selection is being put squarely on the shoulders of the women seeking the abortions - and specifically on South Asian women - tells me all I need to know about the Mr. Warawa's intent.

Right now it seems they are both shouting into the wind, thankfully.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Return of the IUD

Well I never thought I would do it after my first nightmare experience with IUD insertion, but I got a new one. Honestly I really liked the IUD while it was in, and if it hadn't fallen out I would be perfectly happy, even after the horror of the insertion. But it did fall out, so I had to make the difficult decision of whether or not to get another one put in and potentially go through the most painful experience of my life again.

I brought my partner for moral support, took my Advil, and made sure that the doctor doing the insertion was completely aware of what had happened last time and why. I even asked her for an Ativan (she couldn't find one, but did locate a Lorazepam, which made me a bit loopy). She seemed very confident and relaxed, and she listened to everything I said, answered all my questions, and even recommended a different IUD than the one I had last time, which may have helped the insertion to go more smoothly. She was perfectly lovely.

I got up on the table, clasped my partner's hand, and tried to simultaneously relax and brace myself for the worst. First the speculum, no big deal. Then the horrible measuring wand - bad cramps, but I breathed through them. Then the pinch-y cervix holding thing, which they always tell you will be the worst but I don't find it more painful than the measuring wand. I closed my eyes, and - "Ok, it's in," said the doctor.

I don't think I said anything for a couple seconds. I seriously thought she was messing with me. I asked her if she was joking. This is the worst episode of Punk'd I can think of, I thought. (Remember Punk'd???). But she wasn't joking. She took out the speculum and told me to take my time sitting up. The whole thing took about ten minutes. Last time it took almost an hour and a half.

I'm not sure what made the difference - the different IUD, a better doctor, knowing beforehand the particular challenges of my bits, or perhaps my cervix was just in a better mood this time. But holy shit, what a relief!

I had an ultrasound a week later and everything was fine, the IUD is in the correct position. In a few more weeks I will go back to the Bay Centre and get a check up. Guys, I am so, so happy about how well it went this time! HIGHLY RECOMMEND, WOULD IUD AGAIN!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Public Safety

When I worked at the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, there were anti-abortion protesters every clinic day. The boundaries of our property defined where they were and were not legally allowed to walk with their signs, and for the most part they followed those rules. That meant the surrounding sidewalk was full of them, and it was not a wide, big-city street; it was a standard two-person-wide affair that was blocked very easily by the protesters, especially when they had large signs. It wasn't a super interesting street either, so they drew the eye of drivers going by, who would sometimes even pull over to engage with them.

There was the guy who stopped his big silver SUV almost every week for a time, to argue with the protesters about the Supreme Court. There was one memorable woman who leaned on the horn starting a good block away from the clinic and continued blaring it for a block afterwards, using her free hand to flip off the protesters. One pickup truck carrying a patient and her partner was the source of an empty plastic water bottle being lobbed with stunning precision at one unfortunate protester's head.

These situations (and hundreds of others like them; this stuff happened on a weekly basis) were the foundation of our lobbying the government for a bubble zone around the clinic; besides the safety of our patients and staff, it was (is) an issue of public safety. When cars are slowing down without warning, when people walking by are getting into heated arguments, when customers of businesses nearby feel threatened, then it is an issue of public safety. I know many anti-abortion protesters lean heavily on a "free speech" argument when talk turns to turfing them from public sidewalks, and I sympathize because I lean absolutist in the free speech debate. But I also feel that personal safety is paramount, and public safety should be everyone's goal.

So when I read this article in NOW Magazine about the anti-choice activists who are targeting Toronto high schools, I have to agree with the teacher quoted in the article who points out that while the protesters (who occupy the sidewalks just outside of school property) have a right to be there and a right to freedom of speech, high school students don't have a choice about whether or not they have to go to school, so they should have an expectation of safety. And even if the protesters aren't threatening their physical safety, I would argue (as the teacher, Michael Erickson, does) that the expectation of safety should extend to not having to be exposed to triggering images or situations. What does it do to the students who have experienced abortion or miscarriage to see those signs, or to have those people approach them to tell them the "truth" about abortion? It isn't fair that high school students are not free to avoid those messages.

I recommend you read the piece, because it is very good but also terrifying.

Friday, April 12, 2013

"Gendercide" is not even a word

So, the episode of Context TV that I told you about is up online. I don't know what I can say about it, really, except that ARCC will probably ask me never to do TV again after this. There are some two shots of me and Barbara Kay that are truly epic; you can actually see me struggling to process the extremely offensive bullshit she is coming up with.

Anyway, check it out. My face is the star.

(There are three segments, posted in order here; I'm in the second one, and the charming and super prepared Dr. Jesse McLaren is in the first):

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Adventures in Christian Television

If there truly is a god, Context TV will have edited the segment of my "debate" with Barbara Kay out of this episode, but that may be too much to hope for:

I like that although they originally approached the pro-choice people on the show (myself included) in the context of wanting to hear from "both sides", they went ahead and named the episode "Gendercide" anyway. Great job being impartial.

This will air on Global this Sunday, as well as on various Christian networks: full details here. Most likely you will be able to watch it online as well if you're into that sort of thing.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Access to Abortion in Canada: Distance Travelled

I just stumbled across this very interesting project mapping the distances people travel to access abortion in Canada. One of the ways we talk about moving the focus away from a "pro-choice" framework and into a more holistic reproductive justice one is by looking at who can access sexual and reproductive health services.

Working in abortion provision in New Brunswick, I've talked many times about the barriers to accessing abortion in the Maritimes, specifically financial. All those things that apply to abortion also apply to every other sexual and reproductive health service; there is a wide range of services - of varying degrees of accessibility - concentrated in the larger cities, and next to nothing everywhere else, forcing folks in rural areas to travel.

Unfortunately, Canada is a vast place consisting of relatively remote outposts. Our urban centres are few and far between. So when we talk about abortion being legal in Canada, it doesn't make a lick of difference to those for whom it is not accessible, and there are a lot of reasons that the distance between a person and a clinic can make an abortion inaccessible. Some people don't have the vehicle to make the drive or the money to access mass transit (when it's available). Some cannot afford to take the day (or more likely, two days) off work. Some folks are in abusive relationships or other situations that don't allow them to safely get out of town without explanation for a day. Some cannot afford or find childcare that would allow them to make that trip. Some folks have disabilities that preclude making the trip. And on and on.

Even though there are those who do make the trip, it's a terrible thing to ask of them. Abortion may be legal in this country but if it can't be accessed, where's the choice? Looking at these maps and imagining the vast amounts of time, money and energy involved in each trip is exhausting. It's cruel to tell people we have access to abortion in Canada, because we don't.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lack of Access is Torture

The UN has released a report on torture that includes lack of access to abortion.

I don't know how useful this will be; the linked article seems to think it will be helpful in some way to changing the situation in Nicaragua, but I can't say I'm that confident it will make any difference at all. I love the idea of the UN with my entire heart, but I have a strong lack of faith in their ability (or sometimes, willingness) to get anything useful done.

That said, it is a good thing to have the lack of access to abortion recognized as a serious issue on a global scale, and it gives reproductive rights activists a(nother) credible source to cite when lobbying for change in this area. I firmly believe that the use of someone's body against their will does indeed constitute torture (and that includes forced abortion too) and for what it's worth, I wholeheartedly support the UN on this one.

Friday, March 29, 2013

This Post is Not Spam: Discount Sex Toys!

Guys, one of the things I love about living in the super-trendy West Queen West neighbourhood in Toronto (yes I said West Queen West - everything west of Bathurst is even that much cooler than plain ol' Queen West) is that there are so many delightful shops that are experimenting with different business models. It's hard to stand out in an area that is so overrun with "quirky" shops and hipster-friendly merchandise, so that means there are lots of really fabulous places that cater to, I'm just gonna say it, the Pedgehog aesthetic. Like vegan restaurants, all-you-can-eat-sushi, really fabulous drag queen dresses, Japanese candy, and one store that pretty much exclusively sells fascinators and Hello Kitty merchandise. It's a pretty great place to be.

Probably my favourite place in the area, though, is Come As You Are. This is technically in Queen West - being east of Bathurst - but it really encompasses the spirit of the neighbourhood. It is a straight-up sex-positive, women, queer and trans positive, co-operatively owned sex shop. Everyone who works there is also an owner, and they are the friendliest, funniest and most fabulous folks on Queen Street. It is a wonderful, magical place.

So of course they are in trouble. I guess rent is going up all along Queen Street - we were in Ten Thousand Villages the other day and the woman at the counter told us they were closing up, and I've heard rumours of a couple other places also shutting down or at least leaving the area. It sucks.

Anyway I just wanted to tell you about CAYA because they are having some sweet sales, and you can shop online too so you don't have to be in Toronto to help out. We all know sex toys can be expensive, so if you're in the market for something, you need to jump on this. You can get off while supporting a local, worker-owned, feminist business. It's win win!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ok it's Dead. Let it Go.

So by now you've probably heard the good news: Sex-Selective Abortion Motion from MP Mark Warawa Killed.

Awww yissss! My favourite part of the article:

Warawa is vowing to appeal what he calls the sub-committee's "shocking and undemocratic decision."
He can appeal to the procedure and House affairs committee to overturn the sub-committee's decision.
If that doesn't work, Warawa could then appeal to the Speaker of the House of Commons, triggering a rare secret ballot vote by all MPs.
Warawa says he'll appeal the decision "as far as necessary."
This fucking guy, am I right? It's like, dude, you lost. I get it if it's something really serious, like something that will actually make a difference (like actually outlawing sex-selective abortions), but all this motion is asking is that the government condemn sex-selective abortions. That's not even some kind of legal action. That's...well, I don't really know what that is. I'm imagining a make-work project for some intern at the Ministry of Health designing a poster that says "don't have a sex-selective abortion; it's stupid" that they can put up in doctors' offices or something. I mean, what else could it possibly accomplish?

What I have to wonder is, why is Warawa even in politics? Does his constituency really want him to spend any more time chasing after this useless motion that's doomed to fail? No wonder so many anti-choicers express their disapproval of women's choices/sexuality by being assholes outside of clinics; when they try to go the legal, acceptable route of making change through the law, they can't even get that right. Note to assholes: legally mandating disapproval is just not helpful.

It is great that this motion has been killed. I just wish Warawa would let it die, and get back to the other 99% of his job which I hope does not involve quite so much fruitless prying into women's private lives.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Non-Hippie's Guide to Reusable Pads

Ok full disclosure, I guess the title isn't entirely accurate, since I was kind of a hippie in high school. And though I no longer wear a bathrobe as a coat, or that sick Janis Joplin t-shirt with the purple darts, and my hair is only moderately long and I no longer smell like "marijuana and salad" (actual friend's opinion on what I smelled like in high school), I do still just want everyone to love one another and, like, chill out. So I guess I'm not completely a non-hippie. But the point is, I am a reasonably together person with a real job and a bank account, and I am easily grossed out by shit hippies love, like, you know, reusing things, and dumpster diving etc.

The point is, I love reusable cloth menstrual pads. And if I, a lady who does not enjoy camping, can get into them, you can too. Here's how!

1. Figure out why you're doing this.
Just because if you do, you're more likely to stick with it. My own personal reason, as is often the case, was a sudden guilt attack related to the environment and over-consumption, etc. as well as my growing identity as some kind of feminist crusader who might need to be doing something suitably hippy-dippy regarding her period. Ok it doesn't seem like a great plan but I've been motivated by less. I recently allowed my hair to hang greasy and unwashed for eight weeks out of similar environment/consumption guilt, with less positive results. But the point is, having a reason (or reasons) that works for you will make it easier to stick it out.

2. Find out what works for you. 
I definitely had a disappointing and frankly guilt-inducing experience with the cup/keeper, chronicled here (yes, read not one but TWO internet articles about my vagina!). I think even if something seems pretty perfect for you on paper, it's hard to know how it's going to work out. Unfortunately, a lot of these alternatives are expensive to just buy and try them out if it turns out you won't like them. But do what you can - it might involve a lot of research and asking around as an alternative to buying a bunch of pads right away.

There's also a lot of different kinds of reusable pads - different designs, patterns, shapes, price points, etc. If it's within your budget to do so, I suggest buying a couple, maybe even from different vendors, to see what you like. A lot of vendors offer sample packs, which include an assortment of styles and sizes to help you figure out what you like. Also, don't be afraid to ask around - you might be surprised how many people are already using them and can give you recommendations.

3. Don't cheap out
I know, this is something that is easier said than done depending on your economic situation. However, if you can do it, buy good soft, thick pads from recommended sources. Don't just search Etsy and buy the cheapest thing. Trust me, I made that mistake. A thin pad is not a great companion; neither is one that doesn't secure properly and slips all over the place in your underwear. Reusable pads can be costly ($12-15 each generally), so a good strategy might be to buy one at a time as you can afford them, and slowly wean yourself off pads and tampons as you build up a full set.

4. Take care of them!
My first attempt at using reusable pads ended in disaster because I am extremely lazy. I was just throwing them in the laundry basket with my clothes, and so they got really stained and worn out and were no longer comfortable. Taking proper care of your pads will make them last way longer and be a lot more hygenic (and less smelly!). Most reusable pad companies offer care instructions, but in the absence of these what I recommend is designating a big bowl or tupperware for pads only (don't use it for anything else once you've picked one!) and putting used pads in there with cold water to soak until laundry day. I change the water each time I put a new pad in, and at the end of my period I wash the container.

5. Travelling
I don't know. If I have to travel while on my period I generally bring disposable pads and tampons because I just haven't found a way to travel with reusable pads. How/where would you soak them? What about washing them? Any tips?

That's all I got. There are lots of great reusable pads out there - I recommend Party in My Pants, which is what I currently use and they are super awesome.

Happy bleeding!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

You're Taking it Personally: The Godwin's Law of Sexism

A guest post by Jenn Gorham

I work at the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre (FSACC). I love my job, but one of the weird by-products of working at FSACC is the awkwardness of telling people where I work. It manifests in different ways, but one of the most challenging for me is when the discussion of what I do turns into a debate on sexism or sexual violence. Typically something is being discussed that I comment on, my comment then makes someone uncomfortable, we have a back and forth, and then my position is dismissed because, “you are taking this too personally, you are being sensitive because of where you work.” End of discussion. The Godwin’s Law of sexism.

I understand what has happened. My contribution to the discussion has made the person uncomfortable. And when we are uncomfortable, we can react defensively. Often people confuse pointing out a sexist comment (song, movie, comedy etc) with an accusation of being sexist. Jay Smooth at Ill Doctrine had a great vlog similar to this around racism.

For example perhaps I have criticized Eminem for being misogynist. The other person points to the song he performed with Rihanna (trigger warning!). We debate the merits of whether this song/video was actually empowering to women in domestic abuse situations. I point out that this seems hypocritical coming from the man who not only wrote but still performs the song Kim (lyrics here - HUGE trigger warning). Because the person is a fan of Eminem they see my criticism as an attack on them personally and at some point, the person feels the need to point out my sensitivity due to where I work.

Still, I am always floored by this statement. I am on the phone with someone who has survived childhood sexual abuse and is struggling to get through their day. I am sitting across from your teenage daughter who is telling me her boyfriend is pressuring her to text him a nude picture and she is crying. I work every day with people who have been impacted by sexual violence. Don’t you want me to take that personally? Don’t you want me to be upset by this and say, “This is wrong! And we are going to do something about this? We are going to try to stop this from happening to others!” Don’t you want that? I do. If my sons went to someone because they were in pain, looking for support, I want that person to take it personally and be caring and empathetic.

I also want that person to know what they are talking about. The volunteers at FSACC go through an intensive screening process that includes two interviews, a reference check and 60 hours of training. 60 hours. They cannot miss one session or they do not make it. I coordinate and run this training. In New Brunswick no public service group requires this level of training around the issue of sexual violence – not doctors, nurses, Fredericton police, RCMP, guidance counselors, social workers, or addictions counselors. No one. In fact it was such a gap in services that FSACC was asked to create a training program for these groups. My co-worker Jenn R. and I then developed and deliver Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention Training (SACIT), a 40 hour training course which we have delivered province-wide to police, nurses, counselors, and social workers.

All of this training and education is based on volumes of academic research spanning a spectrum of the human and social sciences to neurobiology. It is meticulously researched, updated and monitored by committees of experts on a consistent basis in order to ensure that it is ethical and includes the most current research and best practices.

I am really good at my job. Really good at it. So yes, I do take it personally, and I also know what I am talking about.


The above was a status update on Facebook, posted here with Jenn's permission. To learn more about the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre (including how to get involved as a volunteer or donor), please contact them.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Motion 408: The Pretender

Remember Motion 408? Yeah, that's still happening. ARCC has put together a great run-down of what it's all about, along with a brief history of some other sneaky anti-choice motions put forth in recent years. Check it out!

Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day 2013

Happy International Women's Day! Listen up, starting today, until Sunday, the National Film Board's new documentary "Status Quo?: The unfinished business of feminism in Canada" will be online for FREE! You should definitely go and watch it if you have 87 minutes free this weekend; maybe even have a couple friends over and watch it? You would be supporting an amazing young filmmaker named Karen Cho, who is simply the greatest. Check it out!

Status Quo? The Unfinished Business of Feminism in Canada by Karen Cho, National Film Board of Canada

Monday, February 11, 2013

Quick Hit: NB Media Co-op on "Status Quo?"

Do yourself a favour and check out Tomi Gbeleyi's article for NB Media Co-op today entitled "A province stuck in time?". It's about Status Quo? but mostly talks about the New Brunswick abortion restrictions covered in the film. They got some additional quotes from me as well as some of the folks doing the work in NB, and it's a really well put together piece.

Check it out!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Medicine is Murder!

I direct your attention to this story, which tells us that three Conservative (surprise!) MPs have written a letter to the RCMP Commissioner in which they implore the RCMP to investigate abortions past 19 weeks gestation as homicides. Their "reasoning" for this super great idea is based on the Criminal Code - they believe that abortions performed at 20+ weeks violate section 223a.

Here is that section:

223. (1) A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not
(a) it has breathed;
So these douchenozzles are asserting that because of the method used to perform an abortion at that gestation - which would have to involve the fetus being completely removed from the woman's body for it to count in this argument - the child is a human and the person killing it (I'm assuming they are going after the doctor here) should be investigated for homicide. Sure. Why not.
Never mind that there is no attempt here to differentiate between the intent of a murderer and a doctor performing their (legal!) job. What confuses me is, what the hell kind of abortion are they talking about? I may be wrong, but my understanding of late term abortion is an IDX (intact dilation and extraction), which does not involve the fetus being removed completely until it is utterly dead. It is not supposed to proceed in a living state from the body of its mother. 
In fact, in order for section 223a to apply, the entire fetus would have to be removed alive, and then somehow killed, which I just don't think doctors do. When labour is induced at that stage for termination purposes, I think it is to expel an already dead fetus. 
What I think this illustrates is these MPs' total lack of empathy. They have no understanding of why someone would seek a late-term abortion (hint: it is mostly because of health risks or fetal abnormalities/fetal death), or the strain and emotional toll that situation can take on women and families. They have no understanding of what doctors do - I'm sure they picture docs pulling adorable children out of women and stabbing them on the operating table. They have no understanding of the law in Canada. They are, frankly, stupid.
This is just such bullshit, you guys.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Parenting and the Holidays

A guest post by Mary Wilson

The gift-giving holiday season can be terrifying, especially for a feminist mother of two girls. There are so many opportunities for family to unknowingly offend my feminist sensibilities with pouty-lipped dolls or a toy purse... Last year they got a set of toys that were plastic pink cleaning supplies. And they loved it, so I couldn't say a damned thing.

My husband and I celebrate Christmas. We both identify as agnostic and were raised with Christian traditions. We do not attend church and do not plan on raising our kids with any particular religious traditions. We're not spiritual people.

Basically, we're in it for the presents. And the family time. And the booze. 

We were fortunate enough to be able to host my family this year. This means that we will not be seeing my in laws until the new year. That means that they made up for their absence with some pretty big gifts.

I have learned that it is better for everyone involved if I curb my feminist gift requests when my in-laws are concerned. It makes everyone much happier. I've also learned that my girls are growing up in a world with rigidly defined gender roles. It seems that no matter how hard I rail against it, my kids are still subject to these definitions. My youngest is in to pink princess dresses and my oldest is in to playing Mommy. They both love princess things and dancing. I have accepted all of these as useful skills that will help them grow as human beings. I try not to dwell on the gendered overtones and I try to supplement these activities with traditionally male activities (read: toy cars, playing ball).

The most I can do is expose them to as many women and girls in non-traditional roles as possible and hope they are able to form a well rounded concept of gender roles that aren't too rigidly defined. Most of the women in their lives are not too bogged down by gender roles. 

We escaped this holiday season without any sexualized baby dolls and their favorite gifts are their race track with a loop, Lego, and a set of plastic cupcakes. My oldest has a birthday coming up and has asked for a purple princess cake. I will try to balance that out with a less gendered gift.

I am terrified that my kids will grow up buying into rigid gender roles. I have no idea what to do if they are "girly" but I also don't want to stifle any part of them. There is such a fine line between guiding them and pushing them. I know I will cross it repeatedly as a mother and there are times when they will need that push but I try my best to be conscious of it. That way when I cross it it will be deliberate and I'll be prepared for the backlash from my strong-willed children.

Feminist parenting seems to be about picking my battles, both with society and with my children. I won't always come or unscathed but it is important to try to know which battles will be worth the wounds. Usually ill-conceived gifts from generous but clueless relatives are not worth it. Fake a grateful smile and bury those gifts at the bottom of the toy box.


Mary Wilson is a mom, wife, geek, and crafter, but not necessarily in that order. She is raising two preschool aged girls in small-town Nova Scotia with the help of a husband and a greyhound. She has an undergrad degree in philosophy and women's studies and currently works for an e-commerce site making how-to videos for YouTube. She has no idea how any of the above happened but has decided to roll with it.

Monday, January 28, 2013

25th Anniversary of the Morgentaler Decision: Round Up

Happy anniversary everyone! Y'all know I have a lot to say about what decrim hasn't done, but today is a day to celebrate the work of our mothers and grandmothers, along with Dr. Morgentaler, in getting the law struck down. That is not nothing!

I've rounded up some info for you if you're interested in reading up on the anniversary and/or attending a celebratory event in your community. Feel free to let me know in comments if there's anything I've missed!


Calgary - "Status Quo?" Screening of the NFB documentary, followed by a short Q&A on the unfinished business of the Morgentaler decision and the state of reproductive rights in Canada. The Plaza Theatre, 7pm Jan. 28, $5 at the door. Presented by the Calgary Pro-Choice Coalition.

Toronto - 25 Years Since the Morgentaler Decision: A Celebration! Panel featuring Judy Rebick, Michele Landsburg, Carolyn Egan, Angela Robertson, and Jillian Bardsley. Followed by a screening of The Life and Times of Henry Morgentaler. Innis Town Hall, 7pm Jan. 28, $5 at the door. Presented by OCAC.

Toronto - Morgentaler Decision Panel Discussion. Panel featuring Dr. Robert Scott, Morris Manning, Kirk Makin, Lorraine Weinrib, and Carolyn Egan. Bennett Lecture Hall, University of Toronto, 5:30pm Jan. 29, FREE (Registration required!!). Presented by the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights.

Sudbury - A Celebration of Struggle. Screening of "Abortion: Stories of Choice" followed by discussion. Women's Centre, Laurentian University, 2:30pm Jan. 28, FREE. Presented by Department of Women's Studies, Women's Studies Association, the Women's Centre and the Mineure en etudes des femmes.

Ottawa - Reception & Discussion. Live streaming of Toronto panel discussion, light refreshments, and speeches by Ottawa activists Melanie Jubinville-Stafford and Sahra Maclean. Room 7-50, 131 Queen St., 6pm Jan. 28, FREE (RSVP required!!). Presented by Niki Ashton and ACPD.

Everywhere - sign the guestbook with a message of thanks for Dr. M on ARCC's anniversary website


25 Year After R. v. Morgentaler: Where does the law go from here? by me and Not Guilty (Abortion Gang)

Access Still the Issue on Anniversary of Supreme Court Decision by Women's Equality Prince Edward Island (PEI ACSW)

Twenty-five years on: how we won abortion rights by Carolyn Egan (

Stories from the front lines of the abortion victory in Canada by Judy Rebick (

Henry Morgentaler's Supreme Court win a landmark for abortion rights by Heather Mallick (Toronto Star)

Let's protect the rights we've earned by Vicki Saporta (Vancouver Sun)

Celebrating the Morgentaler Decision by Michelle Lovegrove Thomson (The Paltry Sapien)

Call to Action: 25th Anniversary of the Morgentaler Decision by the Radical Handmaids (Radical Handmaids)

The Morgentaler decision, 25 years on by Jesse McLaren (Socialist Worker)

Thank you Dr. Morgentaler! by Jennifer Rowe (Fat and Not Afraid)

Friday, January 25, 2013

In Honour of the 25th Anniversary of No Abortion Law

A press release from ARCC-CDAC

Abortion Rights Group Launches Website to Celebrate Jan 28, 1988 Supreme Court Decision and Dr. Henry Morgentaler
NATIONAL – In honour of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s historic 1988 decision to overturn the nation’s criminal abortion law, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada is delighted to dedicate a new website to the anniversary:
The day of the court decision – January 28, 1988 – was one of jubilant celebration for Dr. Henry Morgentaler and pro-choice movement activists who had worked for decades to win abortion rights. “Our website honours the heroic sacrifices of Dr. Morgentaler, including numerous trials and a jail sentence, before he was finally and fully vindicated by the court,” said Julie Lalonde, the Ottawa-based spokesperson for the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC).
“The website also lists the benefits that decriminalizing abortion has had for Canadian women and society, including improved health outcomes and more equality for women,” said Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of ARCC. “Canada is the first country in the world to prove that abortion care can be ethically and effectively managed as part of standard healthcare practice, without being controlled by any civil or criminal law. Our success should be a role model to the world, because Canada’s experience is proof that laws against abortion are unnecessary,” said Arthur.
The Supreme Court of Canada had struck down the abortion law because it violated women’s rights to bodily security, as well as life, liberty, and autonomy. The justices ruled the law unconstitutional because it required a woman to obtain approval from a committee of three doctors before she could get an abortion, resulting in discriminatory obstacles and delays that increased medical risks.
“We invite the media and public celebrate the anniversary with us by signing the Guestbook on our website, checking out one of the events listed on our Events page, sharing a personal story about meeting Dr. Morgentaler, or sending him a private message, said Lalonde. ”The site is also a place to learn more about Canada’s abortion rights history and the Morgentaler Decision.”
The website contains many articles and photos related to the historic Supreme Court decision and the decades-long struggle by the pro-choice movement to achieve access to abortion for women. It includes a biography of Henry Morgentaler, a list of books and films featuring Dr. Morgentaler, a comprehensive history of the struggle for abortion rights, excerpts from the Supreme Court decision, updates on abortion access today in each province, and much more.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

25th Anniversary Reflections (and events!)

January 28th, 2013 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Morgentaler decision. This is an occasion, for some, of pure celebration, but for the rest of us I believe it will be more a time of reflection - on what has been achieved, certainly, but also on what hasn't happened, and on where we go from here. The Canadian movement seriously needs to talk about how the Morgentaler decision - while momentous - was the culmination of a push towards goals that serve only white, urban, middle class cis women and leave the needs of poor, rural, racialized and trans people sorely unmet. We need to move beyond legislation, beyond access, towards justice.

I do think it is important to thank Dr. Morgentaler and the courageous folks who fought beside him, and this is as good a time as any! You can check out the pretty great site ARCC put up to commemorate the anniversary, which allows you to leave a special message of thanks (or whatever) to Dr. Morgentaler. You could also use this occasion as an excuse to check out your local clinic, maybe contact them to see if they need volunteers, or just send a card of thanks and appreciation. Personally I am celebrating by having a new IUD inserted, because I am a festive kind of lady.

In news more on the "reflection and moving forward" side of things, guys, you should all check out Status Quo?: the unfinished business of feminism in Canada. Here is the trailer:

There is going to be a Cinema Politica screening in Toronto on Feb. 5th at the Bloor Cinema - please come if you can! I promise you will love the film, and you'll even get to see me! In the film and also watching the film! Super meta.

In Fredericton, Cinema Politica is screening it on March 1st, so go check it out if you can. If you are not in either of these places, look out for it, because around International Women's Day (March 8) it should be playing in lots of cool places.