Submissions

WASH wants you to submit thoughts, articles, stories, links, ideas, reviews, stats/data, resources, questions…anything relevant to be posted on our blog!!!

E-mail: w_a_s_h_@hotmail.com

*Please indicate if you want your name to be published with your entry. If you want to be completely anonymous please feel free to access the following email account to contact us from here:

id: washanonymous@hotmail.com
password: secret

Monday, December 28, 2009

Help Save the Toronto Women's Bookstore!

For those of you who don't already know, the Toronto Women's Bookstore is on the verge of closing down. Being one of the only non-profit feminist bookstores in North America, they are a vital resource. They are not only a bookstore, but a safe space for the people who use it. They host tons of events, workshops, and provide plenty of community resources. Please help keep them around. You can purchase something from the TWB or you can donate. Anything and everything helps. Donation information can be found on their website, www.womensbookstore.com.

You can follow their fund raising events here, http://www.facebook.com/#/event.php?eid=224659239047&index=1

Thanks so much. Happy new year!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nobody warned me about the noises

Call for Submissions

WASH is in the process of putting together a new zine issue! (Currently we have
two issues out which you can get more information about here)

We want this issue to be filled by experience-based pieces about the funny/awkward/odd parts of sex that nobody talks about (and by sex, of course, we are referring to any and all of its gazillion variations and definitions). Among other things, this was inspired by something a mortified friend said to one of us shortly after she began having sex with a partner: "NOBODY WARNED ME ABOUT THE NOISES!!!!"

I think that sums up a lot about what we want to do with this.

Anyway, basically we want to discuss all the cringing and sloppiness and flopping and awkwardness that really plays a part of any kind of sex. As we mentioned, this zine is going to be largely based on personal/experience pieces and so, we are looking for you to submit stories, poetry, art, anything that you feel is relevant and you feel comfortable sharing. We welcome anonymous entries - please specify whether you want your name/information disclosed with your submission.

Please send submissions, inquiries, anything to:
w_a_s_h_@hotmail.com

If you don't feel comfortable using your own e-mail address, feel free to access our anonymous e-mail account and send your submission through there:
id: washanonymous@hotmail.com
password: secret

*Please type "Submission: nobody warned me" in the subject field.

- Vivian

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sexsomnia, not a threat?!?!

Man with sexsomnia not a threat

I don't think I will ever understand the massive lack in systems of accountability when it comes to cases of sexual assault.

- Vivian

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This is not Okay

Watching this made me cringe completely:

Heteronormativity Epitomized


This link was submitted to us with the following comment:

"A high school voted that the title of cutest couple in their yearbook should be given to two lesbian teens. I think this is personally awesome, but watch what Fox News had to say about this, and lesbian sexuality. Pretty sure somebody needs to wash their mouths with soap after saying the things the host of Fox News said (among them being that the kids voted for them in order to cause mischief aka the vote wasn't "sincere"). It's horrible to think people have on strict view of what is "proper" sexuality still." - Natalie

I can't move past the nature of the discourse used in this discussion as one that is utterly homophobic, heteronormative, and ultimately oppressive beyond belief. I am also disturbed at O'Reilly's shameless interruptions and condescending manner of speaking. One can always count on FOX for this type of garbage! Definitely disheartening.

- Vivian

That's Gay

That's Gay is a recurring segment on infoMania, addressing clueless/negative/horrifying media portrayals of gay and lesbian identities in a way that is simplified, insightful, and super funny. I find this a really interesting medium to disperse information about important issues and to allow people to question their own biases and reproduction of oppressive ideas. It's the sort of thing that makes you laugh and think at the same time, making is accessible and easy to engage with.

I love you Bryan Safi!

- Vivian

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sex gender body

A friend of mine sent me a link to http://sexgenderbody.com/

"a direct, honest and respectful conversation about sex, gender & body".

There are some really great articles to read. Check it out!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Create Community Expore Research Build Change

Research with Pride is taking place on October 2nd! For any of you interested in participating, go over to the website and register as it will likely fill up soon.

"The Research with Pride Forum provides the opportunity for community members, academics, and students to come together to explore community-based research (CBR) with regards to wellness and health among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirited, and queer people and communities (LGBTT2Q, henceforth referred to as the "Queer" community). Research with Pride is about exploring the potential of CBR to transform our communities and create positive change."

- Vivian :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Woman complains about being assaulted

I found this article on hollabacktoronto called Sex Assualt Charge Follows Subway Attack.

Did anyone else notice that the victim of assault was repeatedly refered to as the complainant? God forbid a woman should COMPLAIN about being sexually assaulted! I guess the writer of the article felt that a good woman knows her place, so to speak and so she should just keep quiet. It's as if they're likening the act of speaking up against sexual assault to a grumpy old neighbour complaining about the kids next door who always step on their grass. Sexual assault just doesn't seem to be taken seriously. Furthermore, it paints the actor of assault in a passive voice, as if he was doing something normal/natural and this woman was just being difficult.


It's amazing how the language one uses can alter how one perceives a situation.

Ladyfest seeks volunteers!

Ladyfest Toronto 2009 is a celebration of arts, feminism, and community featuring the work of women and trans- people in Toronto and beyond. This year's festival will take place November 4-8 in various locations in Toronto! Our festival is completely wheelchair accessible and we are working towards putting together an entirely free festival.

New Dates!
Ladyfest 2009 will kick off November 4th with Grannyboots at the Gladstone Hotel Ballroom! We are still organizing the rest of the events for the weekend following.

Volunteer with Ladyfest

We are always looking for people to organize with us! The first meetings for potential committee volunteers will take place near the beginning of September. All committee meetings will take place at free and wheelchair accessible spaces. If you are interested in joining a committe (such as arts, music, film, fundraising), or you want a smaller commitment, email your name, interest, and availability to ladyfestvolunteer@gmail.com

Check out their blog here

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kinky secret

I found this on post secret today and I had to share it with the WASH world.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Marshall Miller and Dorian Slot

I came across Marshal Miller and Dorian Slot's website the other day and their workshop on female orgasm seems really interesting. I'm going to contact them to see if they'll be in Toronto anytime this school year and perhaps they could come and do a workshop for us!

Check out the page for this particular workshop here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Event: Orgasm for Peace!

I came across this group on facebook called orgasm for peace.

Click here to be directed to the group.

I think that it's a great idea. My only criticism of the group/event description is that it was said that war is about "men trying impress their potential mates". I think that ideas of masculinity and femininity are central to militarism and war, but I think that it's much more complicated than men and their alleged "mating habits". Regardless, I hope that many of you will be having an orgasm on the first day of winter (December 21st) and thinking of peace.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Volunteers needed for Women's Only Gym Times At The York Keele Campus!

(From my email)

The YFS has been able to secure women’s only gym times at the Tait Mackenzie Recreational Facility in Several Fitness Spaces. In order for the Weight Room to function, we are in need of volunteers. Attached is a message calling on all female applicants interested in volunteering for the position. Would you be able to send this to the Women’s Studies Department List Serve?

The York Federation of Students (YFS) is proud to announce that we have been successful in winning Women’s Only Gym Times at the Tait Mackenzie recreational facility. Women’s only gym time provides a comfortable and safe space for women to participate and enjoy recreational activities and has become a growing trend in the recreational programming of many campuses and fitness companies.

In order to supervise the recreational space, we are looking for female volunteers to monitor the area. Once applications are reviewed, volunteers will be provided with training by the Tait Mackenzie recreational facility staff.
Women’s only gym time hours will be dependent on the response we receive for volunteers and we encourage all applicants to provide their maximum availability.

Interested volunteers can submit your resume and availability to:
Darshika Selvasivam
vpcampaigns@yfs.ca

Sunday, August 2, 2009

WASH Zine @ Bluestockings NYC!

WASH is proud to announce that you can now pick up the first copy of our zine ($2) at Bluestockings in New York City! This issue talks about hormonal birth control and things you should know about it such as different methods, dosages, side effects, ingredients, and alternative methods. So tell all your Manhattan or Brooklyn bound friends!

Bluestockings is a book store, fair trade cafe, and activist center in lower Manhattan. They host tons of readings, performances, film screenings, and workshops. If you're ever in Manhattan this place is a must to check out!

And of course, if you're in Toronto, our zine is still available at the Toronto Women's Bookstore.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Celebrating the Right to Choose

Seeing Alice's recent post about a young lady's positive experience with abortion, I decided to post a website that I have been a fan of for awhile.


It's a pro-choice website where users are free to post their experience with abortions.  There are many listed on there, and one for every situation you can imagine.

Happy reading! 
-Stef

Event: Intimate Conversations with Women of Action in Our Communities

(Copied from my email)

Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape
Political Think Tank

presents:

Feminist Activist Herstory Forum
Intimate Conversations with Women of Action in Our Communities

Rejoice with us as the women who have worked to make our voices heard,
our talents seen, and improve the lives of women everywhere share their stories.

This free interactive speakers series celebrates our lives, adventures, successes, and struggles in front-line and grassroots participation, in all its incarnations.

Taking place in and around the City wherever our energy is effected, the Forum

* recounts our stories
* remembers our purpose
* re-embraces the activist in all of us
* redefines Feminism, and
* rejuvenates our spirit for continued personal and political action

this week:

Cheryl Dobinson is a bisexual writer, researcher, and activist. In addition to working on various DIY projects such as the bi women's zine she founded in 2002, The Fence, Cheryl facilitates support groups, leads workshops and teaches courses on bisexuality. In 2003 she completed a project on bisexual health for the Ontario Public Health Association and was co-convenor of the first ever Bi Health Summit, held in San Diego. She is currently involved in research on bisexual mental health and emotional well-being as well as on sexual orientation and health disparities in Canada. Cheryl is very involved in her local bisexual community, lives in Toronto’s gay village, and wants to start wearing a t-shirt that says "This is what a bisexual feminist looks like."

Your input is invited: Bring your questions, ideas, thoughts, and energy.

Please join us

Sunday, August 9 at 2:00 pm
519 Community Centre (519 Church Street)

Refreshments. ASL by request. Accessible.

FREE. Everyone welcome.

Call TRCC/MWAR 416-597-1171 x230 for more information.

Stay updated on future events. Join our facebook group: Feminist Activist Herstory Forum

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why, God? Why?

Oh my god.  I really didn't want to ever have a ranting post but I have to... okay..
what the hell.. is up with TWILIGHT?!  I don't even know where to begin!  In normal circumstances, I read a book I don't like and move on.  But this shit keeps slapping me in the face everywhere I look!  Only cool people have Twilight STATIONARY?!  Obviously my curiosity got the better of me and I actually read Twilight.  All. Four. Books.
To briefly explain, Twilight is censored vampire erotica for pre-teens as told by a Mormon.  Not kidding.  She writes about as good as a preteen too.  And let me tell you, I have never read anything more blatantly sexist.. it even trumps books that are supposed to take place when women weren't allowed to vote.  It's about two lovebirds: Edward the 100 year old vampire virgin and Bella the 17 year old bane of my existence.  They have no interests, no hobbies, no friends.. they just love each other because he likes the smell of her blood and she is the most insecure woman to ever exist.  She validates her life by his presence.  She has no goals for herself other than to become a vampire so they can love each other for their entire immortal existence (!!!!!)
What pisses me off the most is that this is what most girls reading it (ages 13-18) think love is.  They traded in mutual respect, commitment, friendship and attraction for the less used model of OBSESSIVE CRAZY. 
The only thing Edward says (paraphrased, though sadly not by much) : "I love you.. I love you.. I'm so angry at myself for putting you in danger.. I must flee forever into the abyss to hide my shame.  You're better off without my chiseled features and controlling existence.  Allow me to protect you from afar, feeble minded female mortal."

The only thing Bella says:  "I love you so much it hurts my weak mind.  I feel dizzy and my woman legs can't carry me.  Lift me, oh strong protector of the night."
AND A DIRECT QUOTE: "Maybe my brain will never work right, at least I'm pretty now" -Bella, on becoming a vampire. I just don't understand this bizarro feminism with mormon undertones. She lets this vampire walk all over her and control her life, but then when he knocks her up and the baby will 99% KILL HER.. he respects her choice to have a risky pregnancy? WHAT?!
And the movie was just close-ups of their faces for two hours in various intense expressions.
EFF MINUS! (F-)

Furiously yours,
Stef

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 25th: The Sacred Prostitute

Something interesting to check out this weekend!

The play by Santo Cervello and Grace Lebecka, "The Sacred Prostitute"
to explore exciting new possibilities for creating fresh models of femininity in the society.

Please join us on

July 25th at the Bloor Street United Church
300 Bloor St. West, Toronto
at 7:30pm

TICKETS: $25

Buy Now On Line or Call: 416 245-3871

info@sycamoretreeinternational.com
www.sycamoretreeinternational.com

Our intention is
to bring the archetype of a Sacred Prostitute to a new level of appreciation for contemporary women and men.The play is inspired by Esther Harding "Women's Mysteries" and Nancy Qualls-Corbett "The Sacred Prostitute"

Santo Cervello is a member of the Theosophical Society in Toronto and a wayshower for the psychic program at the Edgar Cayce Institute in Virginia Beach. He has been working in theatre for 30 years. .

Grace Lebecka received a MA in Clinical Psychology in Poland, and a MA in Spiritual Psychology from The University of Santa Monica, California. She also received training through Jean Houston's Mystery School. Grace has dedicated herself to the Sacred Feminine for the past 12 years.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wash Zine @ Toronto Women's Bookstore

WASH's, Things You Should Know Zine issue 1 is now available at the Toronto Women's Bookstore!! Located at 73 Harbord Street right near Spadina. Go check it out! TWB is also a great resource center. You won't want to leave!

Also, feel free to email us with feedback or ideas/issues you want to read more about.

-Evy

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Abstinence is not the only option!

Being raised in a religious household, sexual education was never a topic of discussion at the dinner table. Turning to my teachers to inform me proved to be just as pointless. My public school decided that it would be a good idea to have a program called "Teen Talk." A supposed comprehensive sexual education program for girls only. The underlying implication was that young boys do not need to be concerned about these issues. Teen Talk turned out to be a smear campaign towards sex and definitely instilled fear into all girls involved. While we certainly learned about STIs and pregnancy, we did not learn how to prevent it.. should we decide that abstinence is not for us.
Abstinence is definitely a choice, but it is not the only choice. Kids and teens enrolled in school have the right to know all of their options when it comes to sex and reproductive health.

The supporters of abstinence argue that it is the best way to prevent young people from contracting a sexually transmitted infection or falling pregnant. However, statistics show that this is absolutely not the case. It is reported by the Guttmacher institute that over half of 17 year olds are sexually active in some form. In addition to this, a sexual active teenage girl having sex without contraception has a 90% chance of getting pregnant within the year. So, even if you want your daughter to abstain, statistics show she probably won't.. and if she is not informed about her choice than chances are good she will either fall pregant or contract an STI.



Parents.. your child's abstinence is not your choice!
Kids.. if you're not being informed about sexual health, inform yourself!

You can start by getting our brand new zine! The first issue is on birth control options. Available for reading at the zine library at Brunswick and Bloor (Toronto.) As well as Heartbeat 960 (960 Queen Street West)

Until our international "Give-A-Kid-A-Condom Day!" becomes a reality.. keep reading here! Yaaaay!

-Stef

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lyndon's Large Ladies

A couple weeks ago I had the great pleasure of meeting Lyndon Andrews, a Toronto based artist.

His current subject matter consists almost entirely of full bodied women. Lyndon's inspiration comes from his distaste towards the negative connotation associated with being overweight. In his own words, he finds it "very upsetting that an overweight woman cannot be perceived as both beautiful AND full bodied at the same time." His apartment has absolutely stunning paintings of intelligent and gorgeous women.





I'm sure all of you out there know healthy women who consider themself "fat" and thus ugly. It's definitely heartbreaking.

If you want to see more of Lyndon's work, comment on this entry with your e-mail and I will send you his info. His stuff is amazing, definitely worth seeing!

Start loving your body =)

-Stef

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wondering what to do with all those leftover tampons?

There are lots of alternative menstrual products out there for women. Organic pads and tampons, reusable pads, Diva Cups, Keepers, etc. Non organic tampons (so your big brand Tampax, Always, etc) are made of rayon (derived from wood/pulp) and then bleached to look white. This bleaching process produces dioxins which are carcinogenic (cancer causing). The synthetic fibers in these tampons can also remain in a women's uterus even once the tampon has been removed. Kind of unsettling, right?

If you haven't already, check out some of these friendly alternatives,
Natracare
Diva Cup
Gladrags
Keeper

And if you're already one of the converted and are wondering what to do with all those leftover tampons, why not get creative and try some tampon crafts!


Tampon Ghosts?



Or maybe a Pan flute (my personal favourite)! It actually works, too!

I thought this website was too funny not to share.
-Evy

Monday, June 15, 2009

ZINE ISSUE #1 AVAILABLE NOW!


WASH is really pleased to present issue #1 of its brand new zine!! Issue number one tackles, Hormonal Birth Control, an important topic that people do not know enough about! This issue tackles hormonal birth control myths and misconceptions, and begins to dissect what it is, how it works, and how it affects women's bodies. In conjunction with the zine there is another book that goes into more detail about each individual method and its medical and non medical (active and inactive) ingredients and what you should know about them. There are a limited amount of handmade, handbound, silkscreened copies for sale for $10. There are also photocopied copies available for anyone who is interested. We will accept pwyc donations for them but no one will be refused one for lack of funds. If you would like either copy, please get in contact with us and we will send you one!

Starting June 19th copies will also be available for purchase at Toronto's, Heartbeat 960 (960 Queen St West) and for reading at the Toronto Zine Library located at Brunswick and Bloor! The Sheridan Zine Library as well as the Zine Library at the Ontario College of Art & Design will also be carrying copies shortly. We will be working on getting the zine into more and more locations so we will keep you updated. If you have a distro, store or space that would like to carry our zine, please get in contact with us!

And finally, WASH now has miniature hand knit uterus pins (currently in pink or multicoloured)! They are cute and only four dollars. Want to support the cause? You can donate and get one in return!

The purpose of our zine is not to dictate but to educate and inform those interested, unsure or curious. Learning is fun!

Please email us with any interest or feedback!

-Evy

Artist of the month: Shannon Gerard (by popular demand)



This month's artist is not only one of Toronto's best print and book art artists (in my opinion), but also one of the best people i've met in a long time, and recently had the privilege of having as an instructor. Shannon Gerard is most well known for her crocheted boobs and penis' that come with a hand made booklet with illustrated instructions on how to do your own self examinations. The penis or breast contain a lump inside them that the user must find using the method of self examination explained in the book. She also crochets nipples, mustaches, and 'mature' finger puppets (entitled, Four Play). Shannon also creates and self publishes her own books. Her work is hand made, beautiful, playful, sincere and honest. Her books and book art such as her series, Hung, draw a lot from personal experience. She confronts us with the difficulties and complexities of human interaction, intimacy and emotion that is on going in every day life.
Shannon teaches at the Ontario College of Art and Design and constantly encourages her students to contribute their ideas to the community by partaking in self publication and independent practices. You can catch her and her work at many Toronto independent press events such as Canzine, Small Press Book Fair, or the Toronto Comic Arts Fair. What i most appreciate about her work is her interest in education and outreach. Her website lists many helpful websites and locations for those who are interested in getting into print or book art/publication in Canada. Her humor and good nature leaks even through the type on her website. Her work and attitude is exactly the type of thing we love to see here at WASH: work that encourages understanding, tolerance, education, and support from our very own community.To view more of her work, check out her catalogue at her website. You can also check out her entire array of crocheted work over at Etsy.

-Evy

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Vulvae vary!

Firstly, the correct name for the "female" genitalia is the vulva. The vagina is only a very small part. It is the hole just below the urethra where menstrual blood and other fluids are excreted... where fingers, penises, toys etc. can be inserted... etc. Now that this is settled I can move on to the main course.

Vulvae vary in shape, size and colour. A friend of mine sent me a link to scarleteen.com where I found the following pictures of various vulvae. Click here to see more pictures drawn by Betty Dodson.


Here's a labelled diagragram of a vulva. Unfortunately I can't remember the site where I found it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Event: Why Sex Matters (in medicine)

Women's College Hospital presents Why Sex Matters (in medicine)

Where: Sutton Place Hotel, Queen Victoria Ballroom, 2nd Floor, 955 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario
When: 8 Jun 09 (7:30 - 9:00 am)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fashionism/Feminism

Isn't it disturbing that the term 'feminism' has been co-opted to reflect this consumerist notion of freedom and women's rights? I mean, the idea that gender equity has been established because (some) women can now buy themselves a plethora of rings, shoes, and purses is just so bizarre. I really find this completely depoliticized version of "Carrie Bradshaw" feminism really problematic. So when I came across this "fashionism" site the other day, I couldn't resist. I had to comment.

I mean 'isms' (like feminism, communism etc.) are supposed to reflect some kind of politicizing of life experiences. I would not place fashion in this same realm. I'm not trying to say that fashion is totally evil and that any woman who is fashionable (what ever that may mean) cannot be a feminist. But, it is undeniable that some warped version of feminism is parading around in a "less threatening", sanitized way. I believe that this connection between consumerism and empowerment has knocked feminist progress in North America back 20 paces from where it should be today. Yes, there are activists and feminists out there today who are trying to do something constructive, and who are keeping the "spirit" of feminism alive, but the consensus today seems to be that feminism is a thing of the past. Women are supposedly equal to men. This is hardly the case!

To all of you out there who are blogging, reading, writing, talking etc. in the name of feminism, keep it up! We need to re-politicize the various struggles that women all over the world are facing today. We continue to struggle, and our voices must be heard! Feminism is not dead, and it is a valuable tool today!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I had an abortion and I don't regret it!

I always find great things on feministing.com. If you haven't made it your homepage I suggest you do! I found the following piece from the community section and it warmed my heart:

This is the story of my abortion. If you're against abortion or you are easily grossed out by talk of graphic surgical procedures, don't read. :)

I had an abortion last month. It was probably the hardest choice I've ever had to make. I love children and I want to be a mother SO badly. Call me unfeminist if you will, but my dream is to have that white picket fenced house in the suburbs with a pack of kids, a husband, and a bunch of pets. I'm 21 years old, I don't have a steady job or a car or my own house, my boyfriend and I have only been together for 6 months, my health is crap, I'm a borderline alcoholic, yada yada yada. So really, bad time to have a baby. I am not a fan of adoption - I've heard far too many horror stories, and I couldn't send my baby out in the world to be raised by someone else who might not be a good parent. If anyone's going to fuck up my kids, it's going to be me!, and given my health and drinking, it would have been likely that I and/or my child would have been seriously damaged by the pregnancy.

So the choice was clear: abortion was the way to go. Even though deep down I knew that I just couldn't have a child right now, it really hurt to admit it, and I was terrified (irrationally so) that maybe the pro-lifers were right - I WOULD regret it forever, I WOULD have "post-abortion syndrome", I WOULD be smote by God, I would become infertile and get breast cancer and DIE, or something. I was also scared that it would hurt too much, physically, and I would die from blood loss or something. Surgery scares me, and considering I found out I was pregnant quite late due to my irregular periods (14 weeks) and wasn't able to get an appointment until nearly 16 weeks, it was a more invasive and risky procedure than if I had found out at say, 6 weeks and had it terminated at 8 weeks.

So, I went in to the clinic with my boyfriend, filled out a few forms, and went in to the "counseling room" with a kind young woman who explained the procedure and asked if I had any questions. I had checked the boxes on the form for birth control prescription (obviously the pill wasn't doing it for me, so I wanted to try something new) and pap smear, so she also explained a few different types of birth control and we settled on the nuvaring, which she wrote me a prescription for on the spot. I was a little shaky, so she gave me a hug as well.

After that, I continued on to the exam room, where the tech did a quick ultrasound and gave me a muscle relaxant and some sort of white, sharp sided pill (cytotec?) to put up my vagina to soften the cervix. Ick! This was the worst part of the procedure by far. The feeling just grossed me out. But somehow I survived, and after an hour of listening to White Snake in the "comfort room", I was led to the OR and I cracked grammar jokes with the nurse while she hooked me up to an IV. I honestly don't remember much after that, but apparently the procedure took a mere 5 minutes, and it didn't hurt at all. The nurse led me out to another waiting room and fed me juice and cookies, and I was allowed to rest for as long as I needed.

And....that's it! I felt pretty crappy for about 2 weeks afterward - I bled like a stuck pig for almost a week, my breasts were swollen to painful proportions, and my emotions were a total rollercoaster, but...it got better. I'm sitting here now feeling 100% okay with my choice. My abortion went totally by the book, I haven't been smote by a vengeful god, I'm not wracked with guilt, and my boyfriend and I are still together and happier than ever.

That's my happy abortion story. Does anyone else have one to share?

Shamless Magazine


Click here to check out the blog for shameless magazine.

Shameless is Canada’s independent voice for smart, strong, sassy young women. It’s a fresh alternative to typical teen magazines, for girls who know there’s more to life than makeup and diet tips. Packed with articles about arts, culture and current events, Shameless reaches out to readers who are often ignored by mainstream media: freethinkers, queer youth, young women of colour, punk rockers, feminists, intellectuals, artists, activists — people just like you! We tackle teen life with wit and wisdom.

Proudly independent, Shameless is a grassroots magazine produced by a team of volunteer staff members, with content guided by a teen advisory board.

Each issue of Shameless entertains and inspires with profiles of amazing women, discussion of the hot topics that concern you most, DIY guides to crafty activities, sports dispatches, the latest in technology, columns on food politics, health & sexuality, advice and more.

Shameless has been making waves since its launch in June 2004. That year, Shameless was named Best New Magazine by Toronto alt-weekly NOW and nominated for two Utne Independent Press Awards (Best New Title and Best Design). In 2005, Shameless won an Utne award for Best Personal Life Writing. We were nominated again in 2006, for Lifestyle coverage. In 2005, cover story “Making The Cut” was nominated for a National Magazine Award.

Published three times a year, Shameless is available in independent bookstores and Chapters/Indigo locations across Canada and select locations in the United States.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Swallowing Ice at The Harbourfront Center


There are two really great exhibits going on at The Harbourfront Center right now, Close Distance and Swallowing Ice, both part of the Contact Photography Festival going all this month. Swallowing Ice is the MFA thesis work of Artist and Curator Jennifer Long. It is an elegant and beautifully put together work that brings to light the decision making processes and inner dialogue that women experience when deciding whether or not to have children. The images are on her website but if you're going to be near The Harbourfront Center anytime this month i highly encourage you to go check it out.


"My artwork parallels my life experiences, and as a woman in my mid-thirties, I currently find myself surrounded by discussions of parenthood. Conversations with friends rarely get ten minutes in before the topic is raised. Originally the dialogues focused on fear and debate, but quickly turned to expectations, techniques, and experiences. Between 2007 and 2008, I had seven close friends give birth, two desperately “trying” to conceive, and a remaining group feeling overwhelmed and confused by this incredible shift. This experience inspired the creation of Swallowing Ice, an exploration of the decision-making process involved in a woman’s choice to have or not have children."

Only chance to get inside her

I came across this on feministing.com. The caption in the bottom right-hand corner reads "Becoming an organ donor is probably your only chance to get inside her." Are you serious?! This is so horrific.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

When Women Rule the World


From February 11 - September 7th, the Textile Museum of Canada is presenting the work of Judy Chicago. Click her for more information!

Exhibition Overview

Living legend of feminist art, Judy Chicago’s place on the landscape of contemporary textile practice is a significant one. Best known for her groundbreaking sculptural installation, The Dinner Party (1974-1979), Chicago has spent decades exploring the possibilities of “thread as brushstroke.” This exhibition surveys some of Chicago’s most important contributions in cloth, highlighting both key and lesser-known works dating from 1971 to present. From macramé to needle point to airbrushed quilts, Chicago employs “technique as content” in her major projects selected for this survey exhibition including the Birth Project (1980-1985), the Holocaust Project (1993) and Resolutions: A Stitch in Time (1994 to present). This exhibition centralizes the labour-intensive nature of Chicago’s textile work as a metaphor for investing in the ideas, values, histories and provocations in her artwork.

May 17th International Day Against Homophobia

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Adapting Sex Toys


I came across this information from about.com which outlines ways to make sex/masturbation easier for persons with disabilities:

To give you a place to start, there are two general kinds of sex toy adaptations. There is the kind where you take a toy and change some aspect of it. You can build up a handle, change the switch, or attach the toy to something else that lets you use it. The other kind of adaptation is where you find a toy that may be intended for an entirely different purpose, but actually suits your needs.

Homemade adaptations (using grab bars, reachers, foam, tape, gloves, etc.) can be a great way to adapt a toy, and you don’t need to wait for an OT! If you stick to inexpensive toys, the adaptations will probably outlast the toy.

On the other hand, finding a toy that doesn’t need to be adapted at all can be good. For that you mostly need to be creative. A good example of this kind of adaptation is really long sex toys. At first you might think buying a vibrator that’s 14 inches long would be ridiculous. But if you’re someone who needs to get a complete firm grasp on a toy, and you have big hands, then your hand ends up covering most of the toy. You need those extra 5 inches just to get a good grip. There are other toys that are made as rings to wear around the penis, but work really well when strapped to hands and fingers. And then there are a thousand things you can do with remote control toys.

The benefit of not making a major adaptation to a toy is that you don’t usually need to rely on someone else to adapt it, it doesn’t cost you anything, and you only need to worry about the toy breaking, not the adaptation.


- Alice

Image taken from acsexxxable.ca

Guard Your Diamond


Here's a post on femininsting.com called "Why Glorifying Virginity is Bad for Women".

Please don't interpret this as a form of "virgin" or "chastity" bashing. Choosing to abstain from sex (in its various forms) is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the sexual double standard (virgin/whore) that women face when it comes to having/not having sex is an issue that must be taken seriously.

- Alice

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Look Great While You Give Birth with Pretty Pushers


Pretty Pushers is a company based in the US that is selling a birthing kit that includes lip gloss, a mirror, a dress, a lemon-water towelette, and heated massage oil. Can we find anymore ways to place even more pressure on women to "look their best" in every aspect of their lives? I mean, socially it's expected that women hide their bodily "troubles" like menstruation, passing gas, pooping, sexuality and now during childbirth (when it's arguably one of the most painful moments of one's life) one must repress any expression of discomfort in an effort to be presentable. As if child birth wasn't hard enough!

- Alice

Queer Kids Project

The queer kids project involves collecting the personal narratives of 'coming out' from individuals. The researcher is especially interested in positive experiences that set up a counter-narrative for queer kids. In the first phase of the project, she's hoping to look at the narratives of female-identified participants between the ages of 18-25.

If anyone is interested in participating (or if you know of someone who might want to participate) please email queerkidsproject@gmail.com

- Alice

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sexed FML

These entries were taken from the sex section of Fmylife.com. It's a blogging site where people can post short stories about the shitty things that have happened to them.

Today, I was at my new apartment. My fiance was coming home so I filled the apartment with candles and put on some sexy music. When he came up to my door, I answered the door, naked. What I didn't know was that he was bringing his dad to see the new apartment. FML

Today, I was having cybersex via webcam with my boyfriend. Trying to be as sexy as I could, I started sucking on my finger. Judging by the look on my boyfriend's face, he was getting really into it. As I started getting into it too, I shoved my finger too far down and puked all over my laptop. FML

Today, I was having sex with my girlfriend. She started panting harder and going, "AH, AH, AH..." and I thought she was about to come. Next thing I know, there's snot splattered all over my face and neck. Turns out it was a sneeze. FML

Today, I was flirting via text with a coworker. Things started getting heated, and I wanted to send her a sexy picture. I asked if she had any suggestions. She said, "Your nuts!" She meant, "YOU'RE nuts." I sent her a photo of my junk. I offended a co-worker with incriminating evidence. FML

Couple has sex on queen's lawn

Here's a short article from The Guardian which describes two people having sex on the lawn of the Windsor Castle for about 15 minutes. How's that for sex-positive activism? :P

- Alice

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Broaden your masturbatory horizons!

I seem to be posting an awful lot today. Being stuck at the computer writing an essay does wonders for your internet searching skills :P.

I was checking out feministing.com when I came across this new weekly column where individuals can ask questions about sexuality. Here's one that I find useful:

Dear Professor Foxy,
I just want to start off with the fact that I am a virgin who practices abstinence. I practice because I choose to, not because I think it makes me morally better or something (it doesn't). I started masturbating a couple of years ago, and recently I've been trying to make a habit of it. I feel there is a lot of validity in discovering myself sexually and I personally think that a virgin can be sexual. But I'm also very confused about masturbatory techniques.

Currently, my technique is to stimulate the clitoris until it results in an orgasm. It's very effective and it works nearly every time. I've recently discovered that my inner labia likes being rubbed as well. This is the extent of how I masturbate. I mean, it works and everything but I don't know if it's enough. I thought that sexual discovery would be more work. I feel like I'm missing out on something.

What my question is, what are other techniques can I employ for sexual discovery and orgasming? Or is what I'm doing enough? Should I buy some toys? How can I help myself become more sexual?

Sincerely.

Hi Sincerely -
Virgins are sexual people too and finding out what feels good for you before you start having sex with other people is one way of having great sex with other people.

Sexual discovery can be as much work and fun as we like it to be. Becoming more sexual is a process of discovering what we like. People masturbate in many, many ways (I am sure the readers can suggest a bunch). Here are some ideas from me to get you started:
1. The shower or tub head: If you are lucky enough to have a detachable shower head, apply it to your vulva. You can also position your vulva underneath the tub head.
2. Other parts of the body: Do you touch your nipples when you masturbate? Rub your neck? Pull on your ears?
3. Penetration: You can start off easy with fingers in vagina or anus or both. Use lube for anal penetration and for all penetration make sure your nails are short and smooth. A good test is to run them across your palm. If they hurt there they may hurt when inside you. You can even do the two handed method with one hand penetrating and one rubbing your clit.
4. Watching yourself: Position a mirror at the end of the bed while you masturbate or just use it to explore your vulva. Way too few people (especially women) know what their genitals look like.
5. Toys: you can buy a vibrator or dildo or anal beads to try out.

Happy Sexing! - Alice

HollaBack Toronto!


Check out hollabackto.blogspot.com.

"HollabackTO.com is a place for Toronto to sound off on street harassers. Because you have the right to walk down the street, go to work, and go about your day without worrying what some perv is gonna say or do."

This blog is amazing! Making the perpetrators of sexual assault/harassment/rape visible is the first step towards prevention!


- Alice

Rape/Abortion Case in Brazil

Click here to read "Nine-Year-Old's Abortion Outrages Brazil's Catholic Church".

"Archibishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of the coastal city of Recife announced that the Vatican was excommunicating the family of a local girl who had been raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather, because they had chosen to have the girl undergo an abortion. The Church excommunicated the doctors who performed the procedure as well."

- Alice

Friday, May 1, 2009

Menstruation Tabling





Our tabling event on Monday was a success! It was great to engage with the student community, and it was very interesting to see some of the students' reactions. Some students just couldn't believe that we were talking about menstruation in public. Some giggled as they took the pad/tampon packages that we were handing out, others were completely shocked and mortified. We have been talking about the stigma associated with menstruation for a long time, but it wasn't until I was confronted with these reactions that I really understood how important it was to make menstruation visible. To be frank, menstruation has been constructed as a problem that needs to be avoided at all costs. Corporations capitalize on ideologies of uncleanliness to sell a myriad of products that will help women "cope" with their "feminine troubles". And so the process of menstruation itself fades into the background. For instance the pad/tampon commercials that I've seen on tv are so ambiguous. I don't know whether they're trying to sell me a box of flowers or a box of tampons.

Although we were met with some resistance, there were many students who were very interested in what we had to offer. They were surprised to see alternative options/products, and also to find out that the products that they have been using for so many years were toxic. One individual asked, "Aren't these products FDA approved? If they weren't safe, then why would they be on the market?". The truth is that mainstream pads and tampons don't usually cause immediate harm (although some individuals may experience irration on the skin surface), but they do contain chemicals/dioxins that are carcinogenic. This means that they can cause cancer. So the question is: do you really feel safe inserting a toxic tampon into your body, or having a bleached maxipad rubbing against your skin?

We'd like to thank natracare for donating the samples of safe/chemical-free pads and tampons to us, and Divacup for donating the demo poducts. The York student community really appreciates it!

- Alice

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Event: Orgasm Inc @ Hot Docs



World Premiere of Orgasm Inc at Hot Docs Film Festival

Two screenings, both followed by a Q&A with the director Liz Canner

Saturday, May 2, 1 pm, Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West (Toronto)

Tuesday, May 5, 1:30 pm, Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles Street West (Toronto)

Admission: $12

In this shocking and hilarious documentary Orgasm Inc., filmmaker Liz Canner takes a job editing erotic videos for a pharmaceutical company's drug trial. Her employer is developing what they hope will be the first female "Viagra" that wins FDA approval, to treat a new disease: Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD). Liz gains permission to film the company for her own documentary. She soon begins to suspect that her employer, along with other medical companies, might be trying to take advantage of women (and potentially endanger their health) in pursuit of billion dollar profits. Orgasm Inc. is a powerful look inside the medical industry and the marketing campaigns that are literally and figuratively reshaping our everyday lives around health, illness, desire and that ultimate moment: orgasm.

- Alice

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WASH Logo!!!

I'm pleased to announce that WASH now has a logo that you will find at the top of this page. It was created by Evy, one of our coordinators. Thanks Evy!

- Alice

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

:-( Economy = More Vasectomies?

Here's an article from the New York Times online which has made a connection between the economic crisis and the rise in men seeking vasectomies.

Here's a discussion on the article from femininisting.com

Whether or not there is a connection between the economy and vasectomies, some individuals on feministing.com seem pleased to see a form of gender parity occurring in the realm of birth control. Let's hope that this trend continues!

- Alice

Monday, April 13, 2009

Yoga @ York

Luke Madonia is a York student who teaches yoga at the Keele campus.

"My classes change with the seasons and the needs of the students. They are typically gentle, informative, lighthearted, warm and restorative."

You can find Luke on Mondays at 3pm in the Student Centre (403).

Below is some information on yoga and menstruation put together by Luke that we thought would be of interest to those who follow this blog!

- Vivian

HARMONIZING YOUR MENSTRUAL CYCLE WITH YOGA
BY: LUKE MADONIA


Delayed Menses

- Doing yoga regularly helps mitigate the stress that causes your cycle to go off kilter.
- Doing restful, restorative poses when you feel overwhelmed, overworked or on the edge will calm your nervous system and give your reproduce system a chance to get back on track.

Heavy Bleeding

- Focus on poses that open up the pelvic region, which has a drying effect on the uterus (practice against the wall for support).
- Take care not to stay in the pose too long; instead, go in and out of it a few times.
- Don’t try to get better at or go deeper into a pose.
- Never do inversions when you are bleeding (headstand, shoulder stand, plough pose, downward-facing dog, legs-up-the-wall)
- Inversions pull your uterus toward your head which cause the broad ligaments to overstretch.
- Relax completely in each pose. Soften your abdomen, let your brain relax deeply, and direct your breath to any areas that feel discomfort – your abdomen, your head, and your legs.
- Relax your vaginal walls completely now is not the time to focus on toning that area.

Endometriosis

- Lots of rest during the first day or so of your period, and gentle yoga asanas (poses) to relive cramps, reduce stress, and deliver fresh blood to your pelvic region.

Cramps

- Soft instrumental music can help you turn inward, quiet your mind, and relax more deeply.
- Perform: Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining bound angle pose) using a strap, bolster and blanket.
- Reduce dairy products and animal protein in your diet.
- Reduce stress by increasing relaxation and body awareness activities.

PMS

- If you eat junk food, drink lots of caffeinated beverages, function with very little sleep, lack an exercise routine and consistently fail to deal with your emotions you can count on problems later on in the month.
- Yoga eases stress and promotes relaxation so the hypothalamus can regulate your hormones more efficiently.
- Practice yoga consistently.
- If you feel irritable or angry do the poses with props.


Once your period is over

- Don’t rush into things. Your body needs to regain strength and stamina
- Don’t do backbends right away, allow your body to recover from the fatigue of your monthly cycle
- Do incorporate inversions because they help dry up your uterus, restore your endocrine system, increase circulation in your abdominal region, and help your body regain its strength
- Don’t do a lot of standing poses the first couple of days if you still feel fatigue. Ease into them.

Staying Healthy All Month Long

1. Get sufficient rest: rest during the first day of your period. Relax, listen to calming music, paint, go for walks with no particular place to go. Lighten your school work load, take the evening off.
2. Be Selfish: The first day or two of your period is a time for reflection. If you meditate, now is a good time to practice loving-kindness toward yourself, your family, and your friends. Do things that make you feel good about being You.
3. Exercise in Moderation: exercise is fine (unless you are having debilitating cramps) just don’t overdo it. Walking or gentle yoga stretches work best. During the rest of the month, a consistent yoga practice and moderate aerobic exercise should help prevent PMS and menstrual problems from occurring in the first place.
4. Eat Pacifying Foods: During the first day or two of your cycle, eat warm foods that are easy to digest, such as rice (soak them in water overnight) cooked green veggies and soups. Avoid cold, raw foods, as well as anything else that’s hard to digest, such as red meat, cheese and chocolate. Sip warm water throughout the day to aid digestion and have lemon ginger tea before meals to aid digestion. Avoid drinking coffee and soda, and alcoholic beverages. Substitute processed foods with home-cooked whole foods.
5. Modify your routine: Baths disrupt the natural rhythm of your menstrual flow, so shower the first few days of your period. After that, treat yourself to a warm oil massage or a facial to distress your nervous system and soothe your mind. Whenever you can, wear menstrual pads rather than tampons, especially during the first few days of your period to encourage the downward flow of blood.

Source: The Woman’s Book Of Yoga & Health

Friday, April 10, 2009

Artist Of The Month - Annie Sprinkle

Annie Sprinkle (Born Ellen Steinberg) is a performance artist and sex educator. She is a sex positive feminist who has stared in, produced, and directed hundreds of different types of pornographic films and shows. She is well known for being one of the first porn stars to receive a Ph D. Her work is now studied in many university classrooms, which is exactly how i found out about her. When i first saw her work, i honestly did not know how to react. Her fun and encouraging attitude towards sex and female sexuality is not only what makes her work successful but also, educational.

Her website contains tons of images and writings from almost all her work. Her performance piece, Public Cervix Announcement is my personal favourite. In this piece she literally sits in a public space with a speculum placed in her vagina and allows viewers to come up and look at her cervix. While this takes place she talks to them about the functions and beauty of the female cervix. She also talks about how to perform a cervix self examination. A little over the top? Perhaps, but that is exactly what gets people's attention.



Her work, although sometimes seemingly comedic, usually contains serious political and social undertones, and is most of the time accompanied with writings or even dissertations from her PhD. Some common themes and issues prevalent in her work are sex trade work and the education and protection of sex trade workers; female orgasms, masturbation, and sex sex sex. Some links below. ENJOY!

Annie Sprinkle Writings
Annie Srinkle Art Index

-Evy Hareven

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

International Feminist Art Journal

I found this today. The articles from each issue are available online. It is also a useful resource if you are interested in feminist art and would like to submit a paper/article.

International Feminist Art Journal

- Vivian

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Event Hot Docs Film Festival


The 2009 Hotdocs film festival is featuring a number of documentaries about sex and sexuality. It runs from April 30th to May 10th. Click here for a link to the flims , to see the schedule and to purchase tickets!

- Alice

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I need a bitch

Here's some mid-day sexism to chew on. Enjoy!

Click here to listen to Cherry Pie by ICP (Insane Clown Posse) on youtube.

Here are some lyrics that stood out to me:

I need a bitch, I need a slut
I need a bitch who like bananas in her butt
I need a bitch now more than ever
I need a bitch who gots a head that I can sever
I need my cherry pie

Baby I want you, baby I want my cherry pie
Baby I want you, baby I need my cherry pie
Baby I want you, baby gimme my cherry pie
Baby I want you, baby my cherry cherry pie

I found this part of the song particularly disturbing. I feel that it reinforces sexist and misogynist notions of women as disposable posessions who are ultimately reduced to their "cherry pies". Apparently, one's body should be made available upon request, and after it is used it should be disposed of (I presume by means of decapitation according to the lyrics). For the record, I'd just like to say that I am more than my vaginal opening, and my "cherry pie" belongs to me and no one else! This final statement is not intended as a puritan call for women to hold on to their sexualities. Rather, it is an attempt to resist the social acceptance of misogyny and to reclaim expressions of sexuality that are based on mutual respect for all parties involved.

- Alice

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hot & Cold Ceramic Dildo


I came across this dildo on a website that features "designer" sex toys. On cocodemer.com, it is priced at $190 USD... which I find pretty steep considering that it doesn't dance, light up or buzz lol. Yet, it does have an intriguing function. This dildo is hollow and it has a cork on one end, which allows you to fill it up with hot or cold water! What a cool/hot idea!

- Alice

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Re: Cramps

Diuretics are supposed to help with cramping if used consistently a few days before the expected period. I wouldn't recommend taking ex-lax or any other strong laxatives (especially if it's for more than one day). Some helpful options are drinking dandelion tea, cranberry juice or aloe vera juice. I still get menstrual cramps, but they do not last as long and are not as painful. If anyone has any other tips, please email us!

- Alice

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blood Stains

A quick easy way to get rid of difficult (read: dry) blood stains is to use cold water & saliva. Rinse the stained fabric in cold water, spit on the blood stain and scrub. It will come out like magic! I read somewhere that it has to be your own blood and your own saliva...I'm not sure if this is the case as I have never borrowed/loaned saliva for this purpose. Either way, it works.

- Vivian

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cramps

I have been dealing with unbelievable cramps this week. Here are some quick tips you can try that might help.


DIY Acupressure:
Apply pressure to the inside of your anklebones with your thumb. Hold for ten seconds.

Quick Yoga: Alternate child's pose with savasana and wind relieving posture (alternatively to what is shown on this website, you can try bringing both knees to your chest, and holding your elbows with opposite hands, wrapped over your knees). Breathe! In through the nose, out through the mouth. Concentrate on taking deep breaths that fill your lungs with air. When in savasana place your hands on your belly and when inhaling make sure it fills up and expands. Hold for a moment. Release.

Apply heat: Drink hot tea! It's comforting. Get a hot water bottle (preferably one with a soft cover) and snuggle with it.

*Note: According to Alice drinking Dandelion tea a few days before your period prevents insane cramping. For more info about this e-mail us at w_a_s_h_@hotmail.com

- Vivian

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vaginal Dryness

Here's a site that has some background info on why/how vaginal dryness occurs and some natural remedies that may help your body produce lubricating secretions.

Drinking lots of water to hydrate your body is very important. Being on a low-fat diet may also cause vaginal dryness. This doesn't mean that you should go out for fish and chips, but consuming dairy products and oils (ie: flax seed or olive oil) may help.

- Alice

Paps: Why, What, How?

A friend of mine sent this to me months ago and I forgot to post it! Click here for info on who should have paps, why they're important, and what the results mean.

I am a strong advocate for getting paps! I'm not sure what "sexually active" means (women who are/have been sexually active are usually encouraged to have a pap), but similar to what Vivian has said in her post on BSE, you should get to know your body!

Paps can feel incredibly invasive and even painful at times, so it's a good idea to have it done somewhere that you feel safe (ie: at a gynaecologist's office if you have issues with your family doctor), and to consider bringing along some kind of supportive person if you're nervous.

Contact us if you would like to be referred to a sex clinic near you. Getting a pap done at one of these can be helpful because 1) they do them all the time and 2) they will explain everything about the procedure to you (which may not be the case at your family doctor's office). (S)experts are always helpful :).

- Alice

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More on the Breast Self-Exam!

I am a firm believer that being familiar with your mammary region is immensely beneficial. Regardless of what your gender is, or how many breasts you have, or the size/shape of your breasts, or any other particularity (and there are many!), there is really no downside to being able to detect changes in your body. Taking this further, it is great to be able to detect when these changes are cause for alarm and when they are simply processes that the body goes through.

That said, breast self-examination is not for everyone. It is an extremely personal choice. I posted an entry a few months back about controversy over whether breast self-examination is useful or harmful and this might be useful for anybody considering whether BSE is a "habit" they'd like to take up.

When should I do a BSE?
Normally, it is recommended to do a BSE once each month. The entire process takes about 15 minutes and is relatively easy. You can also tailor your BSE routine, figuring out what is best for you.

For those who menstruate, you may notice that your breasts are particularly tender/swollen/etc. during certain times of the month (due to changing hormone levels). Normally, it is best not to BSE during these. Rather, choose a time of the month when hormone levels are relatively stable and your breasts are less tender/swollen/etc.
*Note: there are countless reasons why breasts may feel swollen/tender -- pregnancy, medication side-effects, stress, breast growth, etc. (just to name a few)

What am I looking for during a BSE?
1. Hard lumps/knots inside the breast(s)
2. Changes in the way the breast(s) look or feel (i.e. skin dimpling, change in colour/texture, rashes, scaly skin, etc.)
3. Nipple discharge other than breast milk (i.e. blood, unfamiliar fluid)
4. As far as I am concerned, whenever I feel something "off" I like to have it checked (this is how I found I had a benign cyst in my left breast at age 13!)

How do I do a BSE?
1. Visual Exam I: Stand in front of a mirror, hands on hips and check the appearance of your breast(s). Take note of changes, especially those listed above.
2. Visual Exam II: Raise your arms, cradling the back of your head with your palms and check the appearance of your breast(s). Take note of changes, especially those listed above.
3. Manual Exam I: Raise one of your arms and use the fingers of the opposite hand to feel the mammary region, applying some pressure. Work your way around the densest part of the breast, then feel underneath it, above it all the way up to the collar bones, and up into the armpit. Repeat on other side. Check the nipples/areolae for unfamiliar discharge.
4. Manual Exam II: Lay back hoisting your head and shoulders with a pillow. Repeat steps for Manual Exam I.

*I have never used this, but a friend directed me to the Bemitt website. The Bemitt is a product that is supposed to be helpful when performing BSEs by reducing friction and enhancing the sense of touch. I have not tried this product but if anybody has, a review would be most welcome!

Some interesting/useful sources

Keep A Breast (I<3Boobies)

Abreast: The Basics of Boobies

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

- Vivian

Don't Rape

I was weeding out old emails from my inbox today when I came across this. I received the following message in an email last year amidst the numerous reports of violence against women at the York U Keele Campus:


Open letter from Graduate Women’s Studies Students Association to the York Community.
Re: sexual assaults on campus.

We’re writing this letter because we’re angry.
Why?

First, because women at York are being attacked, sexually assaulted and raped. Like everyone, we have the right to study and work without fear of violence.

Second, we’re angry because instead of hearing a loud and repeated condemnation of sexual assault, we’re told how to avoid being raped. York administration’s security bulletin calls on us to be “vigilant” about our safety. Women have heard this before: don’t make the same mistakes as ‘those’ women; don’t go out alone at night; don’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time; basically, don’t get raped.

We’re angry because this is about our bodies, our lives, our dignity. But our anger about York’s official response does not stop with administrators: when they imply the perpetrators are strangers with no ties to York, no one has to take responsibility. Rape is a public relations nightmare, but denying its rootedness in the York community will not protect us.

Sexual assault and rape at York is done by people from York. We’re angry because we want to trust the people we live, work and study with. We want to be in a community that does not tell us, tacitly or officially, “don’t get raped,” but instead, values women enough to say, “don’t rape.” Rape is not accidental, and it is not isolated. It thrives in a culture that is tolerant of violence, especially violence against women. Currently, it thrives here, at York.

We want this culture to change, and that takes work. Security cameras and extra lighting are not the kind of “vigilance” we need.

We want to feel safe and respected. So you be vigilant: don’t rape.

The GWSSA


- Alice

Vulvodynia

A while I ago I posted something on vulvar vestibulitis (pain around the vaginal opening). Vivian recently sent me some information on Vulvodynia which includes any sort of pain or discomfort of the vulva (mistakenly called the vagina). Click here for some more information on this condition, as well as the program that is devoted to treating vulvodynia at the gynaecology clinic at Women's College hospital in Toronto.

You must get a referral from your family doctor before you can see a gyneacologist. If your doctor is not accommodating or does not believe/understand/give a damn about your pain then try to find another doctor who will give you a referral.

- Alice

WASH Website Launch!

We are proud to announce that our website is finally up! It is still in its formative stages, but we are very excited about it! I'd like to thank our newest WASH coordinator Stef for making this happen :) Click here to check it out.

- Alice

Friday, March 6, 2009

Celebrating the Right to Choose

I'm Not Sorry

"I'mNotSorry.net is a site where women can share their positive experiences with abortion. The stories posted on this site may contain graphic descriptions of medical procedures, as well as attitudes that may not be in current vogue. We welcome all visitors of all opinions as long as they are respectful of our views"

- Vivian

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Event!

Interdisciplinarity in Feminist State Theory: A Symposium

This weekend there is a conference that looks super interesting going on at U of T!

What?
"What varied disciplinary legacies inform contemporary feminist scholarship on the state? What contributions does feminist state theory, as an interdisciplinary site, offer to more conventionally disciplined theories of state? How do feminist theorizations of security, sovereignty and welfare overlap or differ across national locations?
These questions are at the heart of this symposium organized by the Women & Gender Studies Institute." (for more information see link above)

When?
March 6th & 7th, 2009

Where?
William Doo Auditorium
New College
University of Toronto
45 Willcocks Street
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

How much?
This event is free! RSVP to ifst2009@gmail.com to take part in a complimentary buffet lunch on Friday, March 6th.

- Vivian

Monday, March 2, 2009

Herbal abortions

I'm not sure how effective these methods may be but anyone who's interested can check out this website which contains suggestions for herbal abortion methods. The site can be kind of confusing to navigate through but there is some interesting information in there if you're willing to search for it.

Warning: use herbal abortion methods at your own risk.

- Alice

Honey dust

Honey dust is an edible powder used as a skin conditioner. It is also a yummy way to make things interesting (by experimenting with smell/taste/texture) with yourself or with a partner(s). You can sprinkle it on skin, dust it around with feathers, put it on wet fingers/wet lips, use it to garnish cupcakes...the possibilities are endless.

It is made by the Kama Sutra line -- you can find it here or at most sex shops around town.

Alternatively, you can prepare honey dust yourself! A good friend of mine sent me this recipe. He says you have to really work it through with your fingers/sift it in order to get rid of clumps. Here it is:

1.5 Tablespoons of Vanilla Powder
1.5 Cups of Arrowroot Powder
2 Teaspoons of Honey
Mix the vanilla powder with the arrowroot powder. Add the honey.
With clean hands, work the mix with your fingers until the clumps become a fine powder.

- Vivian

Sunday, March 1, 2009

NEW: Artist of the Month - Colleen Wolstenholme

As an aspiring artist with a strong interest in feminist theory, gender politics, and women's health I am constantly on the prow for past and practicing artists whose work addresses these particular issues.
Feminism and Women's issues are dominant themes in today's contemporary art world. There are female and male artists all over the world working in every medium imaginable who are focusing their work on these topics. So, on behalf of WASH, we are bringing you a new artist profile every month, particularly ones with a strong focus in issues effecting women and women's health!


Colleen Wolstenholme is an internationally exhibiting artist from Nova Scotia whose work focuses on the effect that gender construction and media representation have on women and women's bodies. Working in sculpture, installation, photography and textile, Wolstenholme's work often takes on the look of stereotypical feminine objects, which when looked at closely are made up of composed consumerist products that are constantly marketed to women. In, Pills, large pill sculptures span over the floor expressing the over prescription and marketing of pharmaceuticals. In Birth Control/Viagra Rosary, a rosary of different birth control pills addresses the over medicalization of women's bodies,and how women's roles are perceived within certain fundamentalist cultures, whichever they may be.
Wolstenholme's work has engaged viewers for over a decade with its sheer size and detail, as well as its important and relevant content.
For more of her work and information, check out her website.

-Evy

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bikegasm

I came across this youtube video on another blog (see 'Bicycle Porn' posting). I wish I could say that I have that much fun riding my bike lol. Enjoy!

- Alice

Pseudocyesis

"Pseudocyesis, or false pregnancy, is a medical phenomenon in which women (and a few men, it has been reported) experience all the symptoms of pregnancy without actually being pregnant. Those affected by this disorder exhibit amenorrhea (the discontinuation of menstruation), tender and swollen breasts, distended abdomen, morning sickness, and even “fetal movement”. In very rare cases, a woman may even experience labor pains and phantom delivery."

Read about it here

- Vivian

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

WEN-DO Women’s Self Defense

A few years ago I took a wen-do course with a girlfriend. It was a great opportunity to talk about women's safety in an empowering and fun way. The physical techniques are practical and easy to learn.

Check out this free wen-do event happening on campus:

WEN-DO Women’s Self Defense
Sponsored by SASSL
This is a FREE event!

Dates: March 7th and March 14th
Time: 10am - 5pm
Location: Room 313 Student Centre, York University

Wen-Do Women's Self Defence is a registered charity and the oldest women's self defence organization in Canada.
For more information visit the website: www.wendo.ca

In the 2-day Wen-Do Workshop, you will:

* Learn simple, effective physical self-defence techniques
* Explore verbal self defence - reasoning, confronting, using surprise, and more...
* Discuss issues of violence against women and girls in a supportive setting
* Share inspiring real-life stories of resistance!

Classes are small, safe, non-competitive, and fun! Wen-Do is accessible to women of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities. The workshop will be facilitated by Denise Handlarski.

To register or if you have any questions, contact SASSL at sassl@yorku.ca

SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS' SUPPORT LINE
Office: B 449 Student Centre, York University
Phone: 416-736-2100 ext. 40345
24-Hour Support Line: 416-650-8056
Website: www.yorku.ca/sassl

-Iris

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Events

Eve Ensler: Creating a Women’s Revolution
Women’s College Hospital presents Eve Ensler in honour of International Women’s Day, 7 pm on Thursday, March 5, 2009 at MaRS Discovery District, 101 College Street, Toronto.

Admission $12.50 at uofttix.ca or 416 978 8849 or purchase your tickets in person at Women’s College Hospital Gift Shop at $10 per person.

Monthly Women’s Health Lunch and Learn Sessions: (except in July & August)
12 noon to 1pm in the Marion Powell Women's Health Information Centre, 9th Floor Women’s College Hospital, 76 Grenville (Bay & College)

Please see the list of upcoming events on the Women's College Hospital Website for topics, dates and times.

Everyone Welcome. Space is limited, so please call ahead to RSVP.
http://www.womenscollegehospital.ca/programs/program88.html

- Iris

Women's Health Information Centre

The Marion Powell Women's Health Information Centre is a lending library open to patients, visitors, staff and the general public.

The Centre opened in 1988 as the Women's Health Resource Centre. As part of the Regional Women's Health Centre, our mandate was to offer a central access point for women's health information, and to offer a wide range of written and audio-visual materials on different aspects of reproductive health.

In 1989, with a collection of 130 titles, the Resource Centre began to offer basic service. Throughout the 1990s, our collection and services expanded. In April 2004, the Resource Centre moved to room 916 of Women's College Hospital and was renamed the Marion Powell Women's Health Information Centre in honour of Dr. Marion Powell, a leader and activist in the field of women's health.

With the move to the main building of the hospital, the collection is expanding to cover more topics. There are now over 4,000 titles in our catalogue. Services have expanded to meet the needs of our growing client base. Over 4,000 people use our services each year.

Services Provided:
Our goal is to help women learn about the health matters that concern them. We offer one-on-one service and accessibility to current, authoritative and consumer-friendly health information. Some of the topics we have information on include:

* Alternative medicine
* Body image
* Diabetes
* Midlife/Menopause
* Parenting
* Reproductive health
* Women and aging
* Women and violence

Our collection includes a wide variety of books, magazines, videos, DVDs and online resources.

New Book Titles
The Centre gets in a wide variety of new book titles regularly. These are open to the public to reserve and borrow. See the lists of new titles here.

Library Catalogue
Our catalogue of library materials is now searchable online.

If you do not wish to borrow material you can take advantage of our wide variety of free information pamphlets. We do not circulate magazines, but they may be photocopied for a minimal charge. You are also welcome to print from our computers for a minimal charge.

Our other services include:

* Reference Services
* Photocopying
* Local Fax-Sending Service
* Information Sessions
* Book Launches

If you are unable to visit the Information Centre in person, we will be happy to mail or e-mail information to you.

Resource Finders
Our Resource Finders are brochures listing key books and websites on specific information including menopause, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart health and stress management. Please contact us to see if we have a Resource Finder on a particular topic and to have one mailed to you.

Events and Displays
Once a month (excluding the summer months) we run Lunch-and-Learn Sessions on health-related topics of interest to women. These are free information sessions that are open to all.

In addition to the resources listed above, we also have a display in the hospital lobby once a month, which includes fact sheets on different health topics.

All of our services are confidential, accessible, and tailored to our clients' individual needs.

Requirements
You must complete a membership form in order to borrow materials from the library. Please bring a valid identification that shows your name and address (e.g. driver's licence).

Location and Contact Info
Women's College Hospital, Main Building
76 Grenville Street (view map)
9th Floor, Room 916
Toronto, ON M5S 1B2

Phone: (416) 323-6045

Fax: (416) 323-6431

e-Mail: askus.whic@wchospital.ca

Hours of Service
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday
9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Accessibility
We are wheelchair-accessible

- Iris