The illegal Birth Control Handbook printed by McGill students in 1968

A little piece of McGill University history was recently highlighted in a post from Atlas Obscura called The Illegal Birth Control Handbook that spread across college campuses in 1968

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Under Canada’s Criminal Code at the time (1968), the dissemination, sale, and advertisement of birth control methods were all illegal, and abortion was punishable by life imprisonment.

Originally aimed at McGill students, the Birth Control Handbook was mostly self-funded, but students at 10 other Canadian universities, as well as Princeton University and the University of Maine, also chipped in. The McGill Daily wrote that the Handbook hoped to “bridge the gap between high school hygiene courses and street corner advisory sessions.”

The handbook did much more than bridge that gap, providing much-needed information that many women today still struggle to access about their own bodies and reproductive health. It also still holds up pretty well and is quite explicit even by today’s standards.

Definitely worth flipping through if not only for the beautiful images included. You can check out and flip through the handbook in full on Archive.org (my favourite place to visit online).

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For more on the handbook and legal landscape at the time of printing and distribution of The Birth Control Handbook, you can check out the original article from Atlas Obscura.

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Getting Frisky Without Being Risky

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My boyfriend and I are disease-free and we both dislike condoms, but neither of us want an accidental pregnancy. I take the pill, and he uses the “pull-out” method, but other than that and peeing before sex to clear out sperm from pre-ejaculate fluid, are we taking every possible precaution? I don’t want to feel like we’re taking a huge gamble every time we have sex, and I don’t really know how big of a risk we’re taking. I feel like the law of probability will catch up to us the longer we stay together. —Law of ProbaPILLity

Check out what I had to say in The Link!

This question was originally asked October 29th, 2013.

Yes, No, Maybe So: A Sexual Inventory

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Scarleteen has put together a really awesome “Yes, No, Maybe So” sexual inventory. A sexual inventory is a list of different experiences to help you consider what you might enjoy and what you are or aren’t open to trying with or without a partner. Different topics include Body Boundaries, Words & Terms, Relationship Models & Choices, Safer Sex & Overall Safety Items and Behaviours, Sexual Responses, Physical and/or Sexual Activities, Non-Physical Sexual Activities, and Birth Control/Reproductive Choices.

Something especially awesome about this particular list is that it includes a fantasy section!

This list can be used in different ways so here are a few:

  • To set boundaries. Sometimes in the heat of the moment or when we really care about someone we can get carried away and go a little further than we wanted to. The beauty of a sexual inventory is that you can consider a variety of situations and your own boundaries on your own and without any outside pressure so if or when the time comes that you’re presented with them you’ll feel a little more confident knowing where you draw the line.
  • To separate fantasies from reality. Many people have fantasies they wouldn’t actually ever want to act on for whatever reasons and sometimes it can be hard to separate fantasy from reality. It’s usually good to know the difference so that you don’t end up feeling really uncomfortable trying to make a fantasy-only situation a reality. 
  • It can be hot. An inventory can be really hot if you’re down to share it with a partner. It can get you talking about things you’re into and want to try with something concrete to fall back on if you feel awkward.
  • It can change. It can be something you reevaluate because over time the way you feel about certain things will likely change, while others might stay the same.

Also check out Taking Sexual Stock, a column I wrote in January about the Sexual Inventory!

Why Are Some Men Pulling Out Women’s IUDs?

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Here’s an article from Jezebel on something we don’t hear about very often: Reproductive Abuse and Coercion. We’ve all heard something here or there about so-and-so’s partner poking holes in condoms, or lying about being on birth control but this article talks more about abusive practices of not allowing the use of birth control, sometimes by physically and aggressively taking it away or out of someone. Anyone else feel a little nauseous thinking about an IUD getting pulled out?  *shiver*

Some of the comments on this article are also pretty great. Among the many complaints of nausea, vagina trembling, and “this made my vagina hurt,” my personal favourite comes from Mrs. Beeton who said:

“Often, it’s about taking away choices, taking away freedom, control and self-esteem.” Who do these abusive partners think they are, state legislators?

While an interesting topic, it’s super important to note that reproductive coercion and abuse are not something only men engage in, although this article really only presents that perspective. Anyone can be doing this to anyone else regardless of gender.