Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

To make Comments write directly to Jim at jimt@quixotic.ca


Published on Sunday, April 14, 2019

Breaking an ancient taboo

By the end of this year, all B.C. schools will have to provide free menstrual tampons and pads for students.

            The announcement begins to end a prejudice that seems to have been around as long as civilization. The Bible, an authority for three world religions, considers menstruating women unclean. They must be segregated. Anita Diamant built that exclusion into her best-selling book, The Red Tent.

            Half of human population have, or have had, menstrual periods. Yet it remains a taboo subject.

            TV ads for feminine hygiene products never show blood. Based on advertising, you’d think women bled blue.

            Although most schools do make pads and tampons available for emergencies, “many young women feel awkward asking for menstrual products at a school office,” said Rebecca Ballard, a Grade 11 student in the New Westminster school district. She called the government decision “progress towards eliminating the taboo nature of menstruation. This is something all young women go through and should never feel bad about."

            New Westminster was the first district to endorse free feminine hygiene products in washrooms. Their approval, said chair Mark Gifford, “reflects some of the stigma around periods and menstruation.”

            And if that’s the situation in Canada, imagine what it must be like in more traditional countries like Uganda.


The period problem

            Erika van Oyen went to Uganda in 2008 as a volunteer. She quickly realized that many girls got short-changed on their education. Unable to afford disposable sanitary supplies – indeed, often unable even to afford underpants – they missed a week of schooling every month.

            “Before we started this program,” van Oyen says, “schools taught about women’s biology, about menstrual cycles. But a girl in her period is ridiculed. Teased if she soils her clothes. Humiliated. So they stay away. They fall behind in their classes, and eventually they drop out.”

            The same happens in Canada, to a lesser extent.

            van Oyen’s solution was pads that could be used, washed, and used again. She started making menstrual kits based on the Days for Girls model: eight pads, two shields, two pairs of underpants, two Ziploc bags and a facecloth. Four of the pads are made in Uganda, by local people, using local materials. Four are sewn in Canada, along with the panty liners, because the special waterproof fabric is not available in Uganda.

            van Oyen and her mother have organized sewing bees here in Kelowna. Up to 35 women and men meet monthly to make up pads and liners.

            The Kelowna group has been busy all winter. “We have almost 1500 kits ready now, and I hope to have 2,000 to take with me this summer,” says van Oyen.


Making a change

            Over the last ten years, she has distributed kits to about 6,000 girls.

            That’s an infinitesimal fraction of Uganda’s 25 million female population. But it’s having an effect. Wherever van Oyen has led sessions, school absenteeism is down. “The girls are using the kits,” van Oyen says. “Some share their kits with girls who were not able to come to our training sessions.”

            She and her volunteers – who all pay their own way -- do a lot of teaching. Uganda has rescinded its former ban on sexual education, but there is still no program to teach teachers how to teach students about their maturing bodies.

            “A large part of our work is education to prevent pregnancies,” says van Oyen. “So we teach women how to know when they are fertile. We promote abstinence first — providing menstrual supplies and sex education is NOT promoting sex. But if it’s going to happen, we want it to be safe sex, in a healthy relationship.

            “That means learning what consent means. No means no. Girls need to know that they can say no. Even to adult men, in a male-dominant society.

            “If they’re going to say no, they need to say it loud and strong. And men and boys need to learn that only yes means yes. Corey [Erika’s husband] talks with the boys about why they get horny, and why it’s still wrong to force sex on a girl.

            “Consent is not just the absence of No.”

            In modern Africa, van Oyen adds, women do all the work. They fetch the water. They do the cooking and cleaning. They look after the children. “So it’s important for girls to learn that they can be in control of their lives.”

            To raise funds for continuing this work this summer in Uganda, van Oyen’s charitable foundation ISEE International (www.iseesolutions.org)is currently fund raising. For more information, write erika@iseesolutions.org


Copyright © 2019 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups encouraged; links from other blogs welcomed; all other rights reserved.

                       To send comments, to subscribe, or to unsubscribe, write jimt@quixotic.ca





Last week’s column was actually about politics, but I used the cliché of a string of clichés to explore it. And I challenged readers to identify the right number of clichés used in the column. The answers ranged from 7 to 22. The correct answer was 18. At least, that was my answer, and sinceI wrote the column, my answer has to stand as the right one. 

            If anyone is really interested, I can send you a coply of the column with the clichés highlighted. 

            The winner of the contest, such as it was, was Stella Majic of Kelowna, who sent in the correct answer before anyone else. Several others did get the right answer, though. 

            And yes, Stella and I did have coffee last week. I don’t what I’d have done if she lived in St. John’s. 


The only substantive letter about that column came from Brian Sutch, who wrote, “One thing you did not touch on was the filing of positions by 'quotas' by the Liberals to garner the votes of various groups. This led to many appointments in both the political and federal workforce of people who were simply not qualified. During my almost 30 years as an employee of the Federal Government, on several occasions I had people parachuted into my unit who were simply not qualified for the work they were performing, simply so someone in upper management could get a sticker on their CV for quota-filling.  (E.G. How does your previous job as an airline steward qualify you for a job in auditing?) 

            “With regards to Jody Wilson-Raybould, I suggest people read Conrad Black's recent article on her actions in disregarding or changing laws with which she did not agree, and it becomes obvious that she very much had her own agenda. One has to ask, if quotas were not being filled, why the present incumbent was not given the job in the first place? (I never thought I would agree with anything and that Conrad Black had to say, but he was 100% correct in his research on the background and previous actions of JWR.)

            “I have always considered myself as a humanitarian which pretty much placed me in the Liberal camp but I am having serious doubts with the present Liberal government particularly after they reneged on their promise of introducing proportional voting. And I have had more than enough of their attempts to buy the votes of every minority group in Canada with our tax dollars. The upcoming election is going to be very interesting as the results of many recent elections around the world have shown that people have had enough of politics as usual and they want more influence in what is happening than just being given one vote every four years or so. 

            “As General De Gaulle once famously remarked ‘Politics is far too an important business to be left to politicians’.”






If you want to comment on something, write me at jimt@quixotic.ca. Or just hit the ‘Reply’ button.

                       To subscribe or unsubscribe, send me an e-mail message at the address above. Or subscribe electronically by sending a blank e-mail (no message) to sharpedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca. Similarly, you can un-subscribe at sharpedges-unsubscribe@lists.quixotic.ca.

                       You can now access current columns and seven years of archives at http://quixotic.ca

                       I write a second column each Wednesday, called Soft Edges, which deals somewhat more gently with issues of life and faith. To sign up for Soft Edges, write to me directly at the address above, or send a blank e-mail to softedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca

                       And for those of you who like poetry, I’ve started a webpage http://quixotic.ca/My-Poetrywhere I post (occasionally, when I feel inspired) poems that I have written. If you’d like to receive notifications about new poems, write me at jimt@quixotic.ca, or subscribe yourself to the list by sending a blankemail (no message) to poetry-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca(If it doesn’t work, please let me know.)





To use the links in this section, you’ll have to insert the necessary symbols. (This is to circumvent filters that think too many links constitute spam.)

                       Ralph Milton’s latest project is a kind of Festival of Faith, a retelling of key biblical stories by skilled storytellers like Linnea Good and Donald Schmidt, designed to get people talking about their own faith experience. It’s a series of videos available on Youtube. I suggest you start with his introductory section: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u6qRclYAa8

                       Ralph’s “Sing Hallelujah” -- the world’s first video hymnal -- is still available. It consists of 100 popular hymns, both new and old, on five DVDs that can be played using a standard DVD player and TV screen, for use in congregations who lack skilled musicians to play piano or organ. The website for this project has closed but you can continue to order the DVDs by writing info@woodlake,com

                       Wayne Irwin's “Churchweb Canada,” an inexpensive service for any congregation wanting to develop a web presence, with free consultation. <http://wwwDOTchurchwebcanadaDOTca>

                       I recommend Isabel Gibson’s thoughtful and well-written blog, wwwDOTtraditionaliconoclastDOTcom

                       Tom Watson writes a weekly blog called “The View from Grandpa Tom’s Balcony” -- ruminations on various subjects, and feedback from Tom’s readers. Write him at tomwatsoATgmailDOTcom or twatsonATsentexDOTnet



Comments (0)Number of views (156)


"gate of the year" #MeToo 150th birthday 1954 1972 3G A God That Could Be Real abduction abortion Abrams abuse addiction Addis Ababa adoption Adrian Dix affirmative action aging Ahriman Ahura Mazda airport killings Alabama albinism albinos Alexa algorithms Allegations Almighty Almighty God ALS alt-right altruism Amanda Todd Amherst analysis Andrea Constant Andrew Copeland Taylor anniversaries antidote Ants aphrodisiac apoptosis App Store Archives Ardern armistice Armstrong Art artifacts astronomy atonement atropine Attawapiscat attitudes attraction audits authorities autism automation autumn B.C. election B.C. Health Ministry B.C. Legislature B-2 baby Bach bad news baggage Bahai Banda banning books Baptism Barabbas barbed wire barbers Bashar al Assad BC BC Conference Beans bears beauty Beaver Beethoven beginnings behaviour bel-2 belief systems beliefs benefits Bernardo berries Bible biblical sex birds birth birthday birthdays Bitcoin Blackmore blood blood donors boar body Bohr bolide Bolivia Bolivian women bombing bombings bombs books border patrol both/and bottom up Bountiful Brahms brains Brazil breath breathe breathing Brexit broken bubbles Buber Buddha Buddhism Bulkley bulldozers bullets bullying bush pilots butterflies butterfly Calendar California Cambridge Analytica. Facebook cameras Canada Canada Day Canadian Blood services Canal Flats Canute caregivers caring Carnaval. Mardi Gras carousel cars Carter Commission cats cave CBC Cecil the lion. Zanda CentrePiece CF chance change Charlie Gard Charlottesville Charter of Compassion Checklists checkups chemical weapons Chesapeake Bay Retriever Child Advocacy Centre child trafficking chivalry chocolates choice choices choirs Christchurch Christian Christianity Christine Blasey Ford Christmas Christmas gathering Christmas lights Christmas trees church churches circle of life Clarissa Pinkola Estés Clichés cliffhanger climate change clocks close votes coastal tribes coffee collaboration collective work colonial mindset colonies Colten Boushie Columbia River Columbia River Treaty communication Communion community complexity composers conclusions Confederacy Confederate statues Confirmation confusion Congo Conrad Black consciousness consensual consent conservative Conservative Party contraception Conversations conversion therapy coral Cornwallis corruption Cosby Cougars counter-cultural Countercurrents courtesy courts Coventry Cathedral CPP CPR CRA Craig crashes creation creche crescent Creston crime criminal crossbills cross-country skiing crucifixion crypto-currencies Cultural appropriation cuneiform Curie curling cyberbullying Cystic Fibrosis Dalai Lama Damocles Dan Rather Danforth dark matter darkness Darren Osburne Darwin data mining daughter David David Suzuki de Bono dead zone deaf deafness death deaths decision Definitions Delhi Dementia democracy denial Denny's departure Depression Descartes despair determinism Devin Kelley dew dawn grass Diana Butler-Bass dinosaurs dissent diversity division divorce dog dogs dominance Donald Trump Donna Sinclair doorways Doug Martindale Dr. Seuss dreaming dreams Drugs Duvalier dying Dylan Thomas earth Earth Day Easter Eat Pray Love Ebola eclipse economics Eden editing editing by committee Edwards-Sawatzky Egypt eight-track tapes Einstein either/or Elizabeth Gilbert Ellithorpe email embassy emergent emotions encryption English Entropy epiphany epitaph Erika van Oyen erosion Esteban Santiago eternal life eternity ethics Ethiopia Eucharist eulogy evacuation evacuation orders Eve Evelyn Glennie Every Note Played everything evil Evolution expectations experiment extinctions extremes extremism eye for an eye Eyes Facebook faith False Creek fascist fate fear Fedex feel feminine hygiene Fentanyl Fibonacci Field figure skating Fire fireball fires First Nations Fitbit flirting flooding floods floppy disks flow chart flow charts flowers fluency flying Flying objects fog Folk sayings Food Bank forensic Forest fires forests forgiving Four Pests campaign franchises free free speech free will freedom friend Friendship friendships fruit fundamentalism future Gaia games Gandhi Garbage Garrison Keillor Geese genes genocide Gerald Stanley Gerard Manley Hopkins Ghomeshi girls glaciers global economy global warming go north God gods Golden Golden Rule Goldilocks good Good Friday good intentions goodness Google Google Play government Governor General grammar gravity Great Barrier Reef greatest story green Green Eggs Green Party Gretta Vosper grief Grinch Grounded Group of seven groups growth Guiado guilt guns Habits hackers Haidt haircuts Haiti Hal Niedzviecki handshake Harari harassment Harjit Sajjan harmony Haskins hate Hawaii health health plans hearing hearts heat heaven Heisenberg Hell helping herd instinct heroes heroin Higher Porpoise highway Hillary Clinton Hinduism history Homulka Honduras honesty hope Horgan Horton hospitality houseflies houses Huawei human rights Humboldt humour Hunsberger hurricane ICBMs ice dance Icefields Parkway identity IMF imitation immigrants immortality immuno-globulin inclusive language income taxes independence
Copyright 2019 by Jim Taylor  |  Powered by: Churchweb Canada