Blush: Sex Ed Consultation in Ontario

Hello parents and educators!

Protest sign from a rally in Toronto July 19, 2018. Image from toronto.ctvnews.ca

Were you aware that Ontario has started their consultation of parents? I wasn’t. The first part (the open consultation) closes on December 15, 2018. Here is information from their website:

We’re consulting with parents across the province to address concerns and get feedback in several areas of the education system.
Feedback from these consultations will help shape decisions in the following areas:

  1. Improving student performance in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)
  2. Preparing students with needed job skills, such as skilled trades and coding
  3. Improving provincial standardized testing
  4. Ensuring students graduate with important life skills, including financial literacy
  5. Managing the use of technology in classrooms, such as cell phones
  6. Building a new age-appropriate Health and Physical Education curriculum that includes subjects like mental health, sexual health education and the legalization of cannabis
  7. Developing the first-ever Parents’ Bill of Rights

The online survey will be “coming soon”. I’ll be sure to write another post about that when it happens.

The third part is the telephone town hall. Dates and registration details TBA.

As my daughter is not yet school-age, I’m worried that they won’t take my feedback seriously. I don’t like that they asked the question about the age of the child at all. The sex ed curriculum affects us all.

We’re relying on you, parents of school-age children. Help shape our future!


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Blush: Recommendation Wednesday: Nadine Thornhill, Ed.D

Ontario scrapped the Health curriculum. I’m sure you’ve heard about that. In the interim of coming up with a “better” version, they’ve reverted to the 1998 curriculum in Elementary schools, eliminating talk about consent, LGBTQIA2S+, cyberbullying, and more from the curriculum. Secondary school curriculum hasn’t changed as much, fortunately, but I’m still concerned about what they might change it to.

Fortunately, there are people who have the province’s children’s best interests at heart, and Nadine Thornhill, Ed.D, is one of those.

She is a sex educator, and while her website has workshops for parents and teachers, her YouTube channel has videos for free. #savesexed are her videos specifically for students in primary, intermediate, and secondary schools, although the rest of her videos are great as well.

#savesexed is Nadine Thornhill’s YouTube series geared towards students in the Ontario school board. Image from www.youtube.com.

Ontario’s government might be stuck in the past, but together, we can work together for our future.


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Top 10 Statements Guaranteed to Make Éric Rant (and Angry) Part 2

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Last Tuesday I posted Top 10 Statements Guaranteed to Make Éric Rant (and Angry) Part 1

Now here is:

Top 10 Statements Guaranteed to Make Éric Rant (and Angry) Part 2

5. Fad Science

Superfoods, toxins, free radicals, coffee enemas, diets based off of the food cavemen ate, and many more topics are junk/fad science. I’m not talking traditional medicines or all-natural remedies.

When people start trusting celebrities, fake doctors, and random articles over what their doctors say, we end up with people who truly believe that a fruit smoothie will remove harmful substances from their bodies or that pomegranates cure cancer.

The true dangers of this mentality is the fear of science, doctors, and health professionals. That’s when we get dead infants because their parents thought turmeric could heal meningitis, herbs can cure strep throat, and babies should be on gluten-lactose-free diets.

There’s no “SECRET DOCTORS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW”, there’s no quick fix, and sometimes genetics is the problem. Eat a balanced diet and consult a doctor.

Anyone who’s offering you a quick fix is trying to sell you something.

4. Sexual Education is Not Necessary

Want to improve you and your child’s knowledge of sexual education? BUY BLUSH HERE!

I spoke about it

My wife spoke about it

And we are trying our best to educate people

Let’s just say I believe that subjects like proper body part names, consent, bullying, and LGBTQIA2S+ belong in a well-rounded education. Knowledge and discourse are the way to acceptance and understanding.

3. Video Games, Movies, and Television Create Violent People

Every once in a while a study by a special interest group will pop up saying that TV, movies, and video games cause violence.

It comes up every time someone sees the uptick in school shootings in the states or perceives the violence around us.

As I said in point 9, the world is actually a better place. We are exposed to more violence but that’s because we’re not sitting by and ignoring the violence around us. Racial violence, violence against LGBTQIA2S+, and religious violence are finally being exposed (mostly) and that makes the world look bleak, but we can’t fix a problem if we don’t know it exists.

Video games can cause addictions but so can books and collecting stuff. (Hey, hey… I don’t have a problem with collecting books.) Violent video games are a way that many people use to alleviate the anger and frustration that bombards our near powerless daily lives.

2. Vaccines

With the exception of a statistically minor portion of the population, the only thing vaccines cause are adults. In point 9 the graphic shows that child mortality has been steadily dropping since the 1900s. One of the major reasons for this is vaccines. You don’t have to worry about your child dying of smallpox or being crippled by polio.

Despite what some idiotic celebrities will tell you, the harm caused by not vaccinating is immense.

Measles cases hit record high in Europe (Warning there are some sad images of children with measels)

Have a look at this wonderful cartoon explaining how vaccines work.

1. [Insert Person] Doesn’t Deserve the Same Rights

All people should be treated equitably no matter their sexual identity, sexual orientation, skin colour, culture, country, religion, physical health, metal health, or intelligence.

It’s easy to be afraid of people you don’t know anything about. Fear of the other is a natural human reaction. It’s not logical or useful however. We need to accept others as they are and as they tell us they want to be treated. If someone from a minority tells you they’re not comfortable or don’t like your behaviour, listen to them.

Everyone deserves to live a life that is free from fear and hate.

Stop thinking of political correctness and start thinking of human decency and treating people with respect.

And yes I’ve ranted on this before:

 

Those are my top ten rant buttons.

Later days and future arguments,

Éric

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Blush: Sensitivity Editing

Author and friend Talia C Johnson wrote about queer and trans sensitivity editing here. You should go read that.

Sensitivity editors can be hired for race, religion, gender, sexuality, chronic illnesses, mental disorders, physical disabilities, among others.

Sensitivity editing is not limiting authors, but allowing them to write about experiences that are not their own.

Image from lithub.com

Yes, we should have more published works by diverse authors. I am not arguing against that.

But I definitely feel that character diversity within a book will only improve it, if it is done properly.

One of my favourite book series growing up was The Bobbsey Twins. This was written in the early 1900’s, to give you context if you’re unfamiliar with the books. The main characters were two sets of twins that solved mysteries. They had servants, named Sam and Dinah, who spoke with an accent and were…well, what a white person thought a black person was like.

The books have been re-written since the original. I have both versions, and the differences aren’t really visible, at least where Sam and Dinah are concerned. A sensitivity editor would change how these characters are portrayed, fix the language chosen to describe the characters and how they speak, and remove the tropes and stereotypes.

The old saying of “write what you know” is limiting, and frankly, boring. If my husband, Eric Desmarais, only wrote what he knew, the three books that he has published wouldn’t have female protagonists. (They also wouldn’t be set in fantasy…)

Sensitivity editors let authors expand their worlds without misrepresentation. Take Cait Gordon, for example. By her own words, she is allo cis-het (allosexual, cis-gender, heterosexual), but she writes fantastic stories about aliens, who are as diverse as can be. My favourite characters of hers are two gay lizard-like aliens that are amazing, and will have their own story soon in The Stealth Lovers. You can bet that she had a sensitivity editor; Talia C Johnson.

So please, write about anything you want. But if it’s outside your personal experiences, get a sensitivity editor. They are worth their weight in gold.


References

https://taliacjohnson.ca/services/queertrans-sensitivity-editing/

https://www.dotanddashllc.com/single-post/2018/03/15/What-Is-Sensitivity-Reading

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/24/books/in-an-era-of-online-outrage-do-sensitivity-readers-result-in-better-books-or-censorship.html

https://lithub.com/on-the-use-of-sensitivity-readers-in-publishing/


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Blush: Skene’s Gland

The other day, as I was scrolling through Tumblr, I came across a question about squirting; whether it was a real thing and what it actually was.

The person said it was a real thing, gave a couple references with the disclaimer that they were all gender-insensitive, and said that when you squirt, it’s urine.

Which made me pause.

Because I was pretty sure that I remembered my University professor talking about squirting, and saying that it was NOT urine.

So I figured, if I’m going to research this anyways, I might as well write a post about it.

A surge pool in New Zealand. Image from www.sciencesource.com.

First of all, I have got to agree with that Tumblr user: gendered language is rampant when you try to find resources on this topic. So please, be warned if you click the links in the blog post.

Secondly, WOW was it hard to find references from good sources! Because squirting is considered a “fad” right now, there are a lot of magazines and random reddit pages dedicated to it. None of these have actual sources, just personal experiences.

Not to discount personal experience. That is super important. It tells us that squirting is a thing that happens, to more people than “a few”. It is normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

However, unless those people have a degree in Biochemistry or at the very least, know how to test the contents of the fluid that is emitted, those personal experiences do not tell us anything about what the fluid is composed of.

The first place I looked was on Dr Lindsey Doe’s Sexplanations channel. She had done a video on squirting, and that was helpful in a way. Taking a look at the transcript, here is the key moment:

I hear about the Skene’s Gland, that there’s an identified organ from which the fluid exits the body. It’s considered a para-urethral tissue, meaning it’s around the urethra, which is why fluid content is two percent urine: proximity. Ejaculation is also comprised of – oh we don’t know exactly – why is that.

Great! I feel a surge (pun intended) of validation. However, she doesn’t include her sources in the video.

So I dove back into the research pool.

The first article I found was…not very helpful. It essentially said that the ejaculate was urine.

Okay…

I clicked on the link within that article, and it is to Wiley Online Library, a textbook resource. Great, I think. This will be a valid source.

This particular source is a study done with ultrasounds before, during, and after sexual stimulation. It showed that the bladder was empty before, filled during, and was empty after the emission.

I’m starting to doubt my memory of the professor’s lecture.

I change tactics. I now research the Skene’s gland. Hopefully that won’t draw in the articles that are all about the “fad” of squirting.

I get a definition, firstly. (Modified to eliminate gendered language)

The Skene’s (paraurethral) gland is the histologic homologue to the […] prostate. […] This gland is formed by tubuloalveolar adenomers surrounded by connective tissue and smooth muscle fibers.

Okay. That doesn’t help with much, other than it exists.

Next I read a really interesting study that explains how the Skene’s gland morphs – the more you use it, the easier it is to use it and the more openings there are, essentially.

Great. But that doesn’t explain why that study found the the bladder appeared to be full when they did a pelvic ultrasound.

So I decided that I wanted to see a picture of the Skene’s gland. Where was it EXACTLY? And more importantly, could it swell with fluid to make it seem like the bladder was full?

Do you know how many diagrams of the genital system don’t even bother to label the Skene’s gland?

A lot.

I found a couple that were properly labelled. Click for images of the vulva and interior shots.

The Skene’s gland is found around the urethra, between it and the vaginal wall. Colloquially, you might know it as the G-Spot.

So now I know exactly where it is. But I still have no idea if it can swell with fluid or if it mimic a full bladder. And I’m out of resources.

Unfortunately, not a lot of research has been done on this, as it has only recently been discovered. I can tell you a couple things, though:

  1. With the proximity of the Skene’s gland openings to the urethra, leftover urine would most definitely be in any samples collected from the Skene’s emissions.
  2. The fluid emitted from the Skene’s gland contains PSA – prostate-specific antigen – the same biochemical component found in prostates.
  3. Not all people with vulvas have this gland, and even if they do, they might not have many openings for the emissions.
  4. More research is desperately needed for this. The lack of valid sources on this topic was discouraging.

So I’m going to have to leave this topic here. I can’t say with absolute certainty why that study showed a full bladder with a pelvic ultrasound, but I have a hypothesis that it was the Skene’s gland masquerading as a bladder. Anyone want to prove me wrong?


References

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzngn1ZPr4k
https://nerdfighteria.info/v/lzngn1ZPr4k/
http://www.thesexmd.com/squirting-really/
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jsm.12799
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12201043
https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(16)30629-4/fulltext
https://medwrite.biz/61478_skenes_gland_diagram_skenes_gland_diagram/
http://www.actforlibraries.org/the-skenes-gland/


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Blush: Pregnancy Physio

A friend of mine recently told me that she’s pregnant (woo!!!) and I asked her to let me know if she thought of anything that made her go “Wow! I didn’t know that!” about pregnancy.

She said this:

“In my second trimester, I’m going to get recommended to a physiotherapist. I didn’t do it for my first, but I really think I should for my second.”

That really made my day.

Because, while my pregnancy with Dragon was pretty mellow, I did have pain in my hips when my ligaments shifted to accommodate the pregnancy changes. And it never ONCE occurred to me to go to a physiotherapist for it.

It seems pretty obvious now.

I thought I should do some research into why it’s recommended, and if there are any risks.

Image from americanpregnancy.org.

Please note, I am not in the medical profession. If you have any questions about whether this is right for you, please see your doctor. I don’t know your medical history, whether you are considered high risk, or other factors.

Searching for resources on physiotherapy during pregnancy was difficult, to put it mildly. Most of the sources I found ended up being written by physiotherapists on how to exercise safely while pregnant. Since I thought that was also important information, here is the best article I found on that subject.

Physiotherapy is recommended to prevent and help lessen pain in the lower back and joints of people who are pregnant. It will also help prepare for labour.

A good physiotherapist will also give home exercises to do to keep mobility up and pain down.

Risks that I found seemed to be related only to exercise in general (if you’re bleeding, stop; if you feel increased pain, stop; etc). However, any physiotherapist will tailor their routine to your needs and that of your body.


References

https://physiotherapy.ca/pregnancy-related-pelvic-girdle-pain-words-can-hurt-susannah-britnell

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/pregnancy-and-physical-therapy/

http://dynamicphysiotherapy.ca/blog/physiotherapy/is-it-safe-to-undergo-physiotherapy-during-pregnancy/


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Blush: Toys

I have to say, I’m thrilled that people are using our anonymous question box! Keep the questions coming!

Question

I was cleaning out my room the other day, and found a dildo in the back of my drawer under a pile of papers. It was sticky! I’m sure I washed it properly before I put it away, bc I always do that, but it was so long ago I don’t actually remember. What happened, and can I expect my others to do the same?

Answer

There is no indication of the material of the sex toy, but I can guess that it was either jelly rubber or plastic. Those are the cheapest materials used to make toys, and although the question doesn’t indicate the cost of the toy, the cheaper ones degrade over time, no matter how carefully you take care of them.

Image from howtocleanstuff.net

An example of cheap plastic:
When we bought our house four years ago (four? already?) my mother gave me several boxes of my old toys, including my Barbies. Several of these Barbies had to be thrown out due to discolouration or sticky plastic. I was really upset, but didn’t know what had happened until I started researching for this question.

Some Barbies (including one or two of mine, apparently) used to be made with cheap plastic. This plastic has now been banned for use in household items and children’s toys, but not in adult novelty items like sex toys.

How do sex toys slip through a ban like that?

Legal jargon.

Because they are not specifically mentioned, and are considered “novelty items”, there is a legal loophole. So consumers have to be careful when buying products. They should double check the materials and be sure to buy from reputable companies.

There are two criteria that must be carefully considered when buying a sex toy: the chemical composition and porosity of the material.

Lots of plastics are made with phthalates, and these are what has been banned in children’s toys. But phthalates interact very poorly (or well, depending on how you look at it) with mucous membranes, such as the one in a vagina, and can cause itchiness and chemical burns. Yikes!

Porosity is the measure of void spaces in a material. The more porous something is, the more likely the material is to harbour bacteria. Even if you wash a toy with soap and water, a very porous material will never be completely free of bacteria. If you own a porous toy, I recommend using a condom over the toy to prevent any problems. If you’re considering buying a porous toy, don’t.

The recommended material for sex toys is silicone (and you can use water or oil based lube with silicone toys), because it can come in a variety of densities (flexibility), is not made with phthalates and is completely non-porous. A good company to buy from is Bad Dragon. (Caution, do not click this link if you are not prepared to see dildos of many shapes and sizes)

So to get back to your question, what probably happened was degradation of a phthalate-ridden porous material. It will happen to your other toys of similar quality and make. When it comes to sex toys, quality is definitely better than quantity, and you definitely get what you pay for.


References

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/removingthefigleaf/2016/03/toxic-toys-and-an-unregulated-industry/

https://www.lovehoney.co.uk/sex-toys/buyers-guide/sex-toy-materials-phthalates-rubber-silicone/


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Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette – Recommendation Thursday

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

One thing that I’ve said a lot on this blog is that I’m inspired by stories. Stories to me are everything; they frame our lives, they feed our minds, they are what humanity is based on.

Last night Jen and I watched  Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s quite possibly the most powerful comedy show I’ve ever seen. I laughed a lot, I learned a lot, and I cried a lot. Hannah is a brilliant comedian and public speaker, but most of all, the writing of the show is beyond anything I’ve seen. The writing is perfectly paced, beautifully self referential, and exquisitely done. This is a writer at their peak and anything she does after this I will follow.

Go watch it!

Obvious warning: It’s a comedy show for adults so there’s swearing, sex, violence, and feels.

Have you seen the show? What did you think?

Éric

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Blush: PA safety

Anonymous Question

Hi! I’m considering getting PA piercing and I recently became sexually active. Is there anything I should know about safe sex with a PA?

Answer

Thank you for using our anonymous question box!

I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that a PA piercing is a Prince Albert piercing – where the piercing goes through the opening of the urethra and out the underside of the head of the penis.

Image from worstofehow.com

You should definitely wait until your piercing has fully healed before any sort of intercourse.

Safe sex with any sort of jewelry is difficult, because jewelry has all sorts of sharp/hard edges to them. I’m actually finding conflicting information about what to do about condoms. Some are saying that you should remove the piercing before putting on the condom, but others are saying that you shouldn’t remove the piercing for longer than a few minutes because the holes might close up, and you should get a condom with a larger receptacle at the head. If you go the route of larger receptacle, lube the inside of the condom and the piercing itself to reduce friction. I had a hard time finding out anything about a plastic piercing, so that might be something for you to consider. Ask your piercer! They should know all about the risks and safety precautions.

There is a potentially higher risk of contracting an STI with a genital piercing, because there is a larger chance of the STI entering the bloodstream. Because of this, barriers should definitely be used.

I also found a recommendation to clean the pierced area with saline immediately after intercourse.

I also saw a suggestion that was interesting – get a dildo pierced. Then you’ll know what it looks and feels like during sex, and you can decide whether or not you want it for yourself.


References

http://www.thebody.com/Forums/AIDS/SafeSex/Q8940.html

https://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/a19543667/prince-albert-piercing/

https://learn.condomdepot.com/2014/04/21/body-piercing-genital-piercing-braces-safe-sex/

https://www.webmd.com/sex/genital-piercings#3-7


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Blush: Bondage Safety

With the continued popularity(?) of 50 Shades of Grey, and the release of the movie The Book Club (very well acted, I’d give it a 8/10), where the main characters read the book, I wanted to cover something that isn’t mentioned often enough.

Safety.

Rope. Image from www.amazon.fr. Please do not assume that this is appropriate rope for play. I have not researched it.

I’m talking about more than simply having a safe word (you also have to know how to use/listen for it). Use the right materials, and know how to use them properly.

If you’re just starting out, don’t use metal handcuffs.

Don’t jump right into a complicated suspension.

Do your research. Make your partner do research. Everyone involved should read about all aspects (tying up and tied up) before starting, and if you have questions, there are places you can go to ask.

In Ottawa, both Venus Envy and Wicked Wanda’s have education seminars. If you can’t make it out to one of those, the staff are incredibly knowledgeable and can either answer your questions or point you in the right direction.

Have fun, play safe!


References

(Mostly SFW – no big images)

https://www.theduchy.com/safety/#1513538858156-e1f5698a-c494

http://www.restrainedelegance.com/bondagesafety.php


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