The Round-Up: June 7, 2011


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Open Thread: Sex Ed

Reading the 24 Hours I came across this story: “Canadian Ignorant about HIV: Survey”, which discussed the results of a recent natural study that revealed only 50% of Canadians believe condoms to be effective against HIV transmission, when they’ve been shown to be 80% effective in stopping HIV transmission between heterosexuals.

I was surprised at the number too so I thought it was a good opportunity to have an open thread on sex ed.

I had my first sex ed class in Grade 6, for which my school brought in a local public health nurse. She also did sessions for classes in grades 8 and 9 at my Junior High. She addressed a range of issues, including same-sex sex, the use of dental dams for oral sex, and the normalcy of masturbation. In Grade 7 sex ed was part of our science curriculum and was taught by our teacher, who treated heterosexual sex as normal. In High School sex ed went from being part of gym class (a couple very awkward sessions where the gym teachers would put us in a room and show us videos like “Captain Condom” and one about a boy concerned about his penis size), to being part of Career and Personal Planning. I found the sessions run by the public health nurse much more honest, open, and useful than the ones teachers were forced into teaching.

So what was your experience? Some questions to start things off:

1. Where did you get most of your sex ed? (School, parents, friends, on your own on the internet?)

2. If you had sex ed in school, what was it like? Who taught it? Anything particularly memorable?

3. Were there particular topics that weren’t covered?



Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Politics 7 Comments

Browser Alphabet

I got this idea from not martha, one of my favourite craft blogs. The idea is to get a snapshot of your web activity by seeing what sites your browser suggests on auto-complete when you type in each letter of the alphabet. Like not martha’s Megan, some of the results suprised me (no Facebook or Twitter, for example), and it doesn’t reflect many of the sites I read every day on RSS. But I thought it was interesting nonetheless and encourage you to try it if you’re curious or bored.

A: Artmind – One of my other favourite art/craft blogs. I am determined to try out their idea for homemade scratch-off lottery-style tickets.

B: Bitch Media – Not surprised by this result. I’ve been a Bitch Magazine subscriber for 3 years and I’m currently writing a guest blog series for their site.

C: Cynical-C – a site with a good variety of content. I started reading it because of its segment making fun of one-star Amazon reviews of classic books and movies, but it’s also great for keeping an eye on the wackiness of the Christian right.

D: Dreamhost – My web host, which I am so far pretty happy with.

E: Etsy – Too many cute crafts…

F: – Where I catch up on the latest episode of Top Chef Canada and check out new recipes.

G: Gender Focus – Quelle surprise

H: Hootsuite – This kind of explains why Twitter didn’t show up. I lurves Hootsuite for all my Twitter monitoring/updating needs.

I: Instructables – Immense resource of ideas for DIY projects.

J: Joe.My.God – Good American LGBT blog that always has the latest headlines.

K: Klout – I get pretty into analytics and Klout is quite addictive/competitive. I have to say going from “Explorer” to “Specialist” was one of the most exciting things to happen to me in the last month.

L: Lunapads – Awesome Vancouver-based company that sells reusable cotton menstrual pads, amazingly comfortable Lunapanties, Divacups, and related stuff.

M: The Mary Sue – Great resource for geek girls.

N: Neatorama – My source for random awesomeness.

O: Our Turn: Feminism for Newbies – The title says it all. This site has lots of great material for people just being introduced to feminism.

P: Plastic Manners – An enlightening eco-blog from Vancouverite Taina about our reliance on plastic and her daily interactions with plastics.

Q: Queerty – Queerty (“Free of an agenda. Except the gay one”) almost died this year but thankfully it’s back and continues to be a key source of the latest LGBT news.

R: Racialicious – Awesome analysis on everything to do with race. I particularly like their pop culture coverage and book reviews.

S: Sports: Figure Skating at CBC – My favourite sport! Where I go when I’m feeling bitter that everyone around me is watching hockey and I’m the only one who cares that Patrick Chan won the figure skating world championship this year.

T: Tenth to the Fraser – A great local blog from New Westminster, BC, where I live. I am also a very infrequent contributor to the site.

U: Urban Dictionary – Words I have looked up recently include: “aggro”, “otaku”, and “scrabble”. I am so not hip to the times, slang-wise, so Urban Dictionary is a big help.

V: Vancouver Observer – Another local site to which I am an occasional contributor. I originated the “Gender Files” column at the VO and they’ve got tons of commentary, news and events on Vancouver happenings.

W: Wikimedia Commons – When I’m looking for a picture for this blog, I often turn to the huge database at Wikimedia Commons to find images that have been licensed for common use.

X: – Canada’s gay and lesbian news.

Y: YWCA Canada – Runs many great programs across Canada dealing with important issues like violence against women.

Z: Online with Zoe – Feminist blog by Zoe Nicholson which I came across recently through Feminist Fatale.


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FFFF: Pledge of Allegiance

This is not brainwashing.


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The Round-Up: May 31, 2011


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My (Online) Real Life

A couple weeks ago I hit up the 2011 Northern Voice conference at UBC, which was a great opportunity to learn more about blogging, podcasting, social media, and other web-related activity, as well as a chance to meet a bunch of cool folks I’d only known through Twitter.

I attended lots of great presentations but the most inspiring was Alexandra Samuel‘s “Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life.”

In her session, Samuel took on the whole idea behind the acronym “IRL” (In Real Life). In her related Harvard Business Review post, she writes: “if we still refer to the offline world as ‘real life,’ it’s only a sign of deep denial — or unwarranted shame — about what reality looks like in the 21st century.”

The way I’m seeing it applying to me is twofold.

The first part is dealing with the criticisms that portray online activity as not real. I am proud of my blog and I promote it to my offline friends and family, but I don’t generally tend to disclose that I used to write fanfiction, and I avoid talking about my Twitter friends to my offline friends. Even when I do talk about my online life I can get a little defensive or downplay its importance to me.

That’s partly because I keep hearing this idea that somehow online experience isn’t real experience, that the friends you make on Twitter aren’t as legitimate, that blogging isn’t real writing, and that being hooked into the internet through laptops and mobile devices is somehow preventing people from engaging in society in a healthy way. I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers being a teen gamer and fanfic writer and having a parent harp at me to spend more time away from the computer screen.

But what I’ve learned and what Samuel helped articulate is that our online activity is just as “real” and important as what we do offline. For example, my blogging has let me engage with feminists around the world, in a very real and dynamic way and I’ve learned to much from these interactions.

Writing fanfic has not only been an outlet for creative expression but working in an online writing community has helped me develop my writing, editing, and collaboration skills. I have online friends around the world who I’ve never met in person, but there are many I’d love to go for coffee with if we were in the same physical location, and I have a few great long-term offline friends who I first met online.

The second component comes out of Alexandra Samuel’s recommendation to fully embrace your online presence and make it more authentic.

This may mean purguing some Facebook not-really-friends and treating the remaining ones as you’d treat offline friends. For me, it also means taking my writing and photography seriously as art and using my online time on things that are valuable and important to me like helping promote feminist causes, engaging in an online feminist community, and more deeply exploring my other interests.

One of the 10 reasons Samuel sites to stop apologizing for your online life is: “When you focus on creating real meaning with your time online, your online footprint makes a deeper impression.”

That’s why she suggests an alternate acronym to IRL: RLT or “Real Life, Too”.

Though I haven’t purged my not-so-real Facebook friends lest it inhibit my ability to publicize my blog, I am determined to try to live the RLT idea better, to stop downplaying my online life, and to make sure my real self comes through in this world of real life, too.


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FFFF: Don’t Say Gay…Or Anything Else


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