Blush: Sexual Harassment and Assault

On Sunday October 15th, #metoo was all over Twitter and Facebook. Eric had to explain to me what it was about.

I’ve seen amendments to the tweet by changing “women” to “people”, and I think that makes it better.

People is a better term because it is inclusive of trans and nonbinary humans, who are just as likely to be harassed as cis-women.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the #metoo movement was started by Tarana Burke, a Black woman, ten years ago! To join Burke’s movement to amplify the voices of sexual assault survivors, go to metoo.support. (Source that I highly recommend reading. Go! This page will still be here when you’re done. It even opens in a new window! You’ve read it? Good. We can continue.)

I have also seen a couple articles mentioning that there are victims who do not feel safe enough to join in. My heart goes out to them, and please know that this blog is a safe space. Comments are moderated before being posted, so no hate speech will get through. If you need help, we will do everything in our power to help you.

And yes, #metoo.


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Blush: Consent and kids

Last week we went to a family birthday party (five celebrated at once, from the ages of 1 to 70!) and a lot of fun was had. However, it definitely brought to my attention that our daughter has no concept of personal space, boundaries, or consent.

She’s 1 years old. This is normal.

Normal it may be, but consent is something she needs to learn. And now that she’s walking and able to chase down other kids, she needs to learn it fast.

Fortunately, there are some pretty great resources to help us. I encourage everyone to read at least this guide (it’s 4 pages) if you have any children in your life, whether they belong to you, your family, or your friends.

My sister is already really great at respecting my daughter’s limits. Every time she visits, she asks “Can I pick you up?” before touching her. I know that if she ever says “no”, it will be respected.

As adults, we need to be aware that a child’s “no” to hugging, kissing, or being held, is not them casting any aspersions on our character. They’re just not in the mood to be touched, and we should respect that. Offer an alternative, like a high five, a fist bump, a blown kiss, or a simple wave.

Along a similar vein, if the child has agreed to be touched, and then wants to stop, they should be listened to.

This is all common sense, and easy to follow because we’re adults. We understand the reasoning. How do we teach it to children?

Part of teaching consent to kids is modelling it. Showing that they have agency over their own bodies is a big step to understanding that others are also to be respected.

My daughter and her cousin, whom she terrorized last week.

She walked up to the only other person her size and tried to hug them. She kept her balance (and grip) quite well as he tried to wriggle away… I feel like I dropped the ball at this point. I should have taken her aside and explained that he wasn’t interested in being held, just like she didn’t want to be held by the strangers at the party. I might not have gotten through to her, but I should have tried, multiple times if necessary.

Teaching them empathy is another part. Our daughter also pulled the his hair. He cried, understandably. But she doesn’t seem to understand that having hair pulled hurts – she does it to herself all the time, and doesn’t seem bothered by it. She thinks it’s funny when she pulls other people’s hair. I made her apologize to him (I held her while I apologized for her because she is non verbal) and told her not to pull other people’s hair. I don’t think it has sunk in yet. She pulled mine the next morning.

It’s a work in progress. Suggestions are welcome.


References

http://www.teachconsent.org

Parent Discussion Guide

https://goodmenproject.com/families/the-healthy-sex-talk-teaching-kids-consent-ages-1-21/

http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/advice/how-to-teach-your-children-about-consent/


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Blush: Sex and Menopause

Once menopause hits, a lot of changes start happening, and most of them are hormonal.

In case you don’t know, pretty much everything that goes on in your body is regulated by hormones, but especially your sex drive. For example, just a small change in testosterone (everyone has this, btw) can make your sex drive fluctuate drastically.

I was trying to go abstract with a wrinkled piece of paper, but I wasn't liking it. This is a much better image to suit menopause. Image from here.
I was trying to go abstract with a wrinkled piece of paper, but I wasn’t liking it. This is a much better image to suit menopause. Image from here.

The North American Menopause Society is a great resource for people approaching menopause. It has a plethora of references, articles, and resources.

After reading through this website, some of the things that struck me are:

  • yoga helps with a lot of the problems
  • don’t be afraid to ask for a therapist (if you’re in Ottawa, Sue McGarvie has excellent reviews as a sex therapist)
  • do Kegels daily – not only does this increase blood flow, but it helps to strengthen your pelvic floor (and this should be done by all adults at all ages!)
  • lube is not a frivolity, but a necessity (again, for all ages)
  • a lot of people are going through this – don’t be ashamed to ask for help

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Blush: Ejaculate colours

Hello readers!

To continue the colour theme from two weeks ago, I decided to write about the colours of ejaculate!

A sperm whale. Image from www.coolantarctica.com
A sperm whale. Image from www.coolantarctica.com

The usual colour of semen is white-grey.

Its consistency can vary, but as long as it isn’t extremely sticky and viscous (a sign of possible inflammation), it’s completely normal. Some viscosity is perfectly fine!

If the semen is slightly brown, pink, or red, there is a possibility of blood in the semen. This could be because of inflammation or bleeding in the interior organs (prostate or seminal vesicle). This is only a worry if the colour persists for a week or two. Get it checked out at this time at the latest.

A yellow tinge to semen could be because of urine, a high white blood cell count, or jaundice. Again, if the colour continues to show up after a week or two, go and see a doctor.

If semen is yellow-green, this is a sign of a possible prostate infection. Again, something to keep an eye on over the next couple of weeks, and if the unusual colour continues to show up, go get it checked out.

If the above colour changes also happen at the same time as other symptoms, such as fever, pain, blood in urine, and/or sexual dysfunction, go see your doctor as soon as you can. Unusual colour changes (especially accompanied by other symptoms) can indicate a medical condition, and it’s best to catch the more serious ones early.


References

www.mayoclinic.org

www.healthline.com


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Blush: Period Blood Colours

If you feel that your period is not your normal, it is recommended to see your doctor. You know your body best!

Image from www.monthlygift.com. This blog has no references, but some interesting content.
Image from www.monthlygift.com. This blog has no references, but some interesting content. It was written by an RN.

The colours you are most likely to see during your period are:

Bright red – this shows up for the longest amount of time during most people’s periods.

Dark red – this colour is associated with heavy days, first thing in the morning, and clots. This colour will only be seen at some points during the period, not the whole time. If this colour is the dominant one, get it checked out. Heavy periods might indicate anemia.

Brown or black – this colour is usually at the beginning or end of the period, and it’s just the old blood that has been oxidized the longest. If this colour is the dominant one, get it checked out.

Pink – this colour is mildly unusual. It might mean the flow is very light, that estrogen levels are low, an unbalanced diet, or that a high level of exercise is shortening the period. Not all of this is bad! However, if this colour is the dominant one, get it checked out.

Any other colour (in my research for this, blue, purple, orange, and grey have all been mentioned) should be seen by a doctor asap, as they indicate some health issues.

Any bleeding in between periods should be checked out asap as well, as that could indicate other health problems.


References

Trying to find good, sourced references on this topic was very difficult. I’d find an article that told me all about the colours of the blood, but then there’d be no references in the article, and I’d have to start all over again. Very frustrating!

http://www.webmd.boots.com/women/guide/menstrual-blood-problems-clots-colour-and-thickness

http://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/why-is-my-period-brown#1

http://www.teenvogue.com/gallery/period-blood-colors-what-they-mean


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Blush: Recommendation Wednesday

The baby Dragon has been very clingy, which has been limiting my research time, so the post on period blood is going to have to wait until two weeks from now. In the meantime, this awesome and adorable webcomic is my recommendation for today:

Assigned Male webcomic by Sophie Labelle. Image from Sophie's Twitter header.
Assigned Male webcomic by Sophie Labelle. Image from Sophie’s Twitter header.

It’s called Assigned Male, written by Sophie Labelle. You can find the comic on Tumblr, like it on Facebook, follow Sophie on Twitter (@assignedmale), buy stuff from its Etsy shop, support it on Patreon, and eventually, hopefully, find the comic on its website. The website is currently down because of a violent series of death threats and hacking, which you can read about here and here.


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Blush: Teen Vogue and Anal Sex

In case you weren’t aware, Teen Vogue has been stepping up on it’s hard-hitting, serious, and factual articles (seeing as the press, both print and video, is having difficulty with some of those concepts).

Teen Vogue

One of the things that Teen Vogue has started doing is de-stigmatizing and de-sensationalizing sex. They are doing this through education, something that I think is fantastic. Not to point fingers at specific magazines, but for the most part, they sensationalize (for the lack of a better word) heterosexual sex. Knowing how to “please a man” isn’t the sort of sexual education I would like for my daughter to experience.

Which is why I think Teen Vogue is doing a great job of providing educational articles.

Despite what some parents might think, teens have access to a lot of sexual content. Not all porn has to be paid for, and both video and photos are available through the internet. Literotica is also relatively easy to get access to.

To be clear: I have zero problem with the above. My problem is when teens ONLY have access to the above.

Porn and literotica are not usually the most educational of sources (there are exceptions, I’m sure). They go for flashy, titillating, and evocative. They don’t mention the mundane, like protection, safety, lubrication, stretching, or even the emotions that come through being intimate with another person.

So to have an accessible magazine write educational articles about sex is a really good thing, in my opinion.

Here is Teen Vogue’s most recent article about Anal Sex. It’s causing a lot of controversy among certain groups. Apparently they think that reading an article about how to have anal sex properly might give teens the idea to actually do it. Sure, it might. But I bet they probably already had the idea before they read it…and now they know how to do it safely.

I’ve read mysteries where they describe how the murderer killed someone and where their mistake was so that they ended up getting caught. It doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and kill. (I promise you, I will not kill anyone.) On a less serious note, I’ve also read a lot of articles on how to make cute kids crafts. I’m really not sure I’ll ever do them.

In other words, just because you’ve read something, doesn’t mean you’re going to do it!

Another reason why I think it’s a really good idea to have articles like this is because the sexual education that teens are getting (especially in the US) is abstinence only. This means that they have no idea how to protect themselves, or even safely have sex. Combine that with the outdated patriarchal idea of vaginal virginity, and you get kids who will try anything and everything but PiV intercourse. Cue crude but hilarious (and very much Not Safe For Work) Garfunkel and Oates video The Loophole.


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Blush: Asexual Spectrum

I was amiss in not writing a Blush post in June about Pride. I apologize. I wasn’t thinking.

To make up for it, I would like to talk about one of the least talked about and most erased letters of the LGBTQIA+ family: the A.

(Also, this article by Talia C. Johnson was written yesterday on this subject. You need to go read it, because she was so much more eloquent than I.)

This video was released on June 5, 2017. I almost turned it off when I saw what they chose to use for the A – Ally. Seriously? As someone who used to call themselves an ally (it’s a four-letter word…this post by Talia C. Johnson is a good one to read about that), I was extremely offended that that was included in the LGBTQIAlphabet instead of Asexual. But I decided to continue watching. Perhaps they would include Asexual in some other letter? But D was used for Drag, G used for Gay, and as I kept watching, none of the letters included anything on the Asexual Spectrum.

I was annoyed.

But then I realized that I also don’t talk much about Asexuality on this blog, and other than this guest post by S. M. Carriere, I have been remiss.

I will attempt to rectify this now.

640px-Asexual_flag.svg


The best resource I have found for Asexuality questions is The Asexual Visbility and Education Network. I am really impressed by their FAQ section.

The Asexuality Spectrum is fluid, and if you identify as Ace (Asexual) you might find yourself identifying as Asexual, Gray-Asexual, or Demisexual. Aromantic can also fall under the spectrum.

Definitions

Asexual: Someone who does not experience sexual attraction.

Demisexual: Someone who can only experience sexual attraction after an emotional bond has been formed. This bond does not have to be romantic in nature.

Gray-asexual (gray-a) or gray-sexual: Someone who identifies with the area between asexuality and sexuality, for example because they experience sexual attraction very rarely, only under specific circumstances, or of an intensity so low that it’s ignorable.

(From asexuality.org)

If you have further questions about asexuality, I highly recommend reading about it.


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Blush: How could someone not know?

One of the many mom groups I’m in on Facebook has a member who just found out she is pregnant – at 26 weeks 5 days. Some people (in her real life) are questioning her about how she didn’t know. I don’t know the specifics of her case, but the point is, she didn’t know. Here are some reasons why she might not have known:

Pregnancy tests are crap

Pregnancy tests look for hCG in your urine. There are ways to get false positives (like some fertility treatments – how awful is that?), but it is very easy to get a false negative as well. If your levels of hCG are low, it won’t be detected by home pregnancy tests.

Weight gain is inconsistent

Not everyone gains a ton of weight when they get pregnant, or look like they’re smuggling a beach ball, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc. In my personal experience, I lost 9 pounds over the first 4 months of my pregnancy. And I didn’t get a noticeable pregnancy bump until around 5-6 months, because I already had a tiny bit of extra in my lower abdomen. Someone who is extremely exercise conscious, who is tall, who has extra pounds, who is stressed (all different cases there) could easily not know they are pregnant. They may not have this symptom, or it might go unnoticed.

6 months
6 months
6 months
6 months
7 months
7 months
9 months
9 months
2 days overdue
2 days overdue

 

“Morning sickness”

I didn’t get nauseated in the morning. I got it at 5:30 pm, like clockwork. However, if I ate small snacks throughout the day, or took a nap in the afternoon, I didn’t get it. And I only felt a little queasy – I didn’t have any vomiting.

But morning sickness can show up all day, at any time during the day, or not at all. If they are one of the lucky ones who fall into the latter category, then this symptom wouldn’t help to define pregnancy.

What about menstruation?

Sure, if you’re regular, you might notice that you’re not menstruating. But irregular periods happen… er, regularly. There is also a chance of period-like bleeding happening whilst pregnant. I was told by my doctor to keep an eye out for spotting, so it’s fairly common.

Baby movements

Not all babies move in distinct ways. Personally, I didn’t realize that the uncomfortable gas bubbles I thought I was feeling was actually the baby moving until week 19, when she made my stomach pop out a bit. I can see how someone who didn’t know they were pregnant would just think they had bad indigestion or something.

Also, my baby moved A LOT. Some babies don’t. We’re told to count 10 distinct movements every day. I had 10 in under a minute. The doctor counted. He said that he didn’t often feel them moving that much…and this was well after the 6 month mark, because my baby was shy when somebody else’s hand was on my belly (including my husband!).


There are many more reasons, including existing health issues, contraceptive use, infertility, etc that might hide a pregnancy from all involved.

Do you know anyone who didn’t know they were pregnant? How did they find out? When did they find out? Tell me the story in the comments!


Reference

http://health.howstuffworks.com/pregnancy-and-parenting/pregnancy/issues/10-reasons-you-might-not-know-you-are-pregnant11.htm


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Blush: Nursing

Please note: This post is not meant to shame those who formula feed, stop nursing “early”, or continue nursing “late”. This is about my own personal nursing journey, and how I will be choosing to interpret the research I have done. I respect and rejoice in everyone’s decision on how best to feed their own babies. Any comments that shame anyone will be deleted. This is a safe space.


Nursing was very easy for me, minus a little hiccup overnight the first night. Keladry enjoyed chewing even back then, so I thought I was doing something wrong because it hurt. However, in the morning, things looked brighter (literally and figuratively) and we were able to progress quite well. Lanolin helped immensely.

I'm getting good at taking SFW pictures of Keladry nursing!
I’m getting good at taking SFW pictures of Keladry nursing!

At this point, Keladry is 8.5ish months. We feed her solids at every meal. She hates purees, so we give her tiny pieces of whatever we’re eating. And I’m nursing in between the meals. I’m also nursing before bed and when she wakes in the night.

Last week, my mother asked when I was going to stop nursing.

I had no idea. It certainly doesn’t feel right to stop at this time.

So I decided to do some research. And why not write a blog post about it?


The World Health Organization recommends nursing exclusively up to 6 months (we’re past that, so that’s good) and weaning around age 2 years. Personally, I currently feel like that’s a little old, but who knows how I’ll feel when she gets there? I think it feels old because I’m hung up on the number. But I can easily see how the comfort of nursing, and that bond felt with the child would push past any weirdness I feel. I really think that I’ll nurse until Keladry gives me an indication of wanting to stop.

If Keladry wants to stop before 1 year old, I would have to feed her formula until her birthday. At that time, I would be able to switch her to whole cow’s milk. Whole milk is important for babies because they need the extra fat content.

As for feeding solids, Keladry started showing an interest in our food at 2 months. She would track the food we put in our mouths, and open her mouth too. We held off feeding her anything until we got the go-ahead from her doctor just after 4 months, which is earlier than WHO recommends, but she was so enthusiastic about eating! So we fed her a little bit at each mealtime, and we didn’t cut down on nursing. When she had her first cold at 5 months, we cut out food and exclusively nursed so that she’d get more antibodies. I think that this plan worked okay for us. I would not recommend feeding solids earlier than 6 months without the approval of the baby’s doctor.

A note about extended nursing: It is not unusual for a child up to 4 years old to nurse. The health benefits are numerous, and it’s a shame that society pressures families to stop nursing because of their discomfort.

I found a number of really good sources for how to stop nursing. Oddly enough, two are from Australia. Please note; these references refer to “breastfeeding” as opposed to “nursing”.


References

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/breastfeeding-deciding-when-to-stop

http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/feedbaby.htm

https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/lactation-suppression


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