Categories
Arts

Love in the Modern age

Concordia student-run magazine launches love-themed poetry reading at Le Frigo Vert

On Feb. 9, the Concordia student-run pixie Literary Magazine and Soliloquies Anthology united to launch a poetry reading event on the topic of love, with the goal of expressing the understanding of love and its different forms.

Julia Bifulco, the founder and editor-in-chief of pixie indicated that her motive for doing the topic on love is the search for the meaning of the word love.

Bifulco was inspired by Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s poem “Variations on the Word Love.” She realized that people use the word love more than we used to. “But really, love is supposed to be the utmost passion that you can feel for something,” she said.

Modern love tends to evolve much more rapidly than it used to. With the flood of dating apps, love seems to be everywhere.

Bifulco recalled a conversation about dating apps that she had with her friend. “She told me that she doesn’t like dating apps because of the lack of power to converse, and it really makes me think about connections.”

The idea of trending on dating apps ties to some contemporary poetry. “Like trendy and instagram poetry,” Bifulco said. “Some of them are very desired, quick and easily digestible.” 

With the great belief that contemporary poetry seeks to create a new poetic movement, Bifulco uses the word “Groundbreaking” to describe the young creative writers. “I hope people that are writing now are writing new fresh things,” she said. “The writing era we are living in is something that’s looked back on is iconic in the way the romantic period is.”

Jade Palmer, co-editor-in-chief of Soliloquies Anthology, referenced a poem the magazine published last year as an example of contemporary love. “The poem used a lot of chat-speak, things like ‘lol’ that you would not normally hear in a poem — that’s so based in our time. It’s such an interesting way to express love rather than saying someone looks like a flower.”

Ribs Beauchamp was one of the presenters at Thursday evening’s event. She is a third-year Concordia student majoring in film studies. “The media makes more types of love accessible, and it makes it easier to share and witness and recognize and talk about,” she said.

The theme of the poem she shared was her mother. “Female love is much different than male love, and that’s one of the biggest reasons my poem is about my mom,” Beauchamp said. “It is because she shares her love and she is not afraid to do it, women are raised as caretakers — it’s a lot easier for us to share love.”

How the lack of romantic validation in earlier years has affected my dating life as a young adult

I was never shown any romantic interest, nor did I feel approachable, which explains my deep-rooted psychological issues regarding dating

Growing up, guys never asked me out. No one showed any romantic interest, nor was I ever considered one of the pretty girls in school.

In high school, I spent a lot of my time with the popular and pretty girls group. They were gorgeous, funny and absolutely lovely.

When I think of my high school experience, I instantly remember my days spent at the cafeteria and class with these girls listening about their romantic relationships and talking about boys. The guys were constantly gushing over them and pining over them.

I, on the other hand, did not peak in high school. I’ve also lacked a lot of confidence. I thought I was small, scrawny and wore ugly glasses. I was always on the sidelines. I was the “other friend.”

Within my first few years of high school, I developed several insecurities about myself. I started to think that I didn’t receive the same attention because I wasn’t physically appealing, likable or lovable.

On top of that, being a person of colour who doesn’t fit into western beauty standards made it easier for me to believe I wasn’t appealing to most people.

With this mindset, I sought academic validation instead. I focused on my studies. Getting good grades and being a “nerd” were my only personality traits.

I wasn’t completely opposed to the idea of dating, but I wasn’t actively trying to date someone.  The opportunity never came up. I didn’t date in high school. I didn’t get asked out until a few years ago in CEGEP.

This lack of experience in dating and romantic validation in my earlier years affected my ability to hold romantic relationships as a young adult. I had such deep-rooted psychological issues and insecurities surrounding my appearance that I didn’t know how to act when someone showed a slight interest in me. I still don’t – I think.

During my two years in CEGEP, I tried to put myself out there and explore the dating world, but I blame my insecurities for never going beyond a hookup at the bar.

I eventually became friends with a teammate who showed interest in me. We spent a lot of time together training. He was sweet, and I enjoyed spending time with him.

Yet, once we crossed that bridge from platonic to a romantic relationship, it made me feel incredibly weird. I started to see him differently, and it made me uncomfortable to have someone think of me in any romantic way.

It was a foreign concept to me to think that I could be appealing to some.

I sabotaged that friendship and relationship, because I didn’t know how to approach it.

Since then, I’ve tried even more to put myself out there and be more open-minded about dating, but every time someone gets too close, I don’t know how to act. I’ve questioned myself and wondered if I was asexual. Although I’m a 22-year-old woman who feels uncomfortable thinking about romantic relationships, the answer is no. I’m very much attracted to men and see myself being intimate with them.

A few months ago, I met someone through a friend and didn’t really think it could go anywhere — you know, because of all those issues I listed.

We started seeing each other as friends, and once again, when we crossed the line between platonic and romantic — I didn’t know how to approach it.

He was genuinely a nice guy. It felt nice to feel loved and appreciated. It was refreshing to finally take that next step of accepting that kind of romantic love.

He was someone who cared for me and understood me. Yet, no matter how much I tried, I didn’t feel the same way towards him.

All the built-up insecurities are the reason why I couldn’t hold any sort of relationship with him. I subconsciously appreciated his affection, but it didn’t go beyond that. It wasn’t fair for either of us.

I continuously either sabotage myself or avoid relationship opportunities. Perhaps it’s because I’m still not past my insecurities and can’t be emotionally vulnerable and intimate with someone.

They’re right when people say you need to love yourself before you can love anyone else.

 

Graphic by Lily Cowper

Categories
News

Queering Montreal’s Map

Interactive database Queering the Map reveals the queer experiences that are everpresent yet invisible in the physical world

In May of 2017, Lucas LaRochelle launched Queering the Map, a crowdsourced digital archive for queer experiences, which now features over 20,000 written entries from around the world. 

The idea for Queering the Map came to LaRochelle while passing a tree where they had met and shared numerous experiences with a long-term partner. Reflecting on their own mental map and queer experiences led to the concept of a database where anyone could anonymously share their own experiences with a pin on the space where they’ve occurred. “The aim of the project is to make legible memories, histories and moments of queerness that would otherwise disappear,” said LaRochelle to CBC Arts in 2018. 

Submissions are entered as pins on the map and comprise feelings, events and stories. Ranging from love, sex, heartbreak, and happiness they reveal an honest image of queerness relative to the physical spaces it occupies. “Our first date. We talked for hours and you kissed me outside my apartment. 2 years later and I still think about you” shares a submission pinned in the Plateau-Mont-Royal. In February 2018, engagement shot up after the map went viral on Facebook, sparking growth from around 660 pins to 6,500 pins in just three days and garnering attention worldwide.

During their time as a resident of the Fine Arts Reading Room (FARR) at Concordia in Design and Computational Arts, LaRochelle created the map with a little help from friends and tech consulting from the FARR Lab. LaRochelle noted, “I was primarily inspired by Tumblr in the early 2010s, which is one of the places where I for the first time saw queer and trans people expressing themselves on their own terms vis-a-vis text and image.” For LaRochelle and those they connected with online, anonymity helped form the digital landscape into a place where identity and queerness could exist at ease and as intended by each user. Anonymous submissions on Queering the Map serve to mirror the positive effect a platform which universalizes user presentation has had for online queer community.

After five years online LaRochelle is seeing how a queer approach to space develops after its first steps and successes. With the project’s expansion to the global scale, it must reckon with how the growth of the space we inhabit conflicts with a core facet of the Map: the intersection between queer liberation and decolonization. 

Its moderation system, which vets submissions for hate speech, spam, and personal information shows where they must adapt, given how moderation is currently based in Montréal but overlooks entries coming from global, specifically non-Western, perspectives. 

“Rather than myself and most of my friends [who do the moderation] who are located in the western context, a better moderation system would be moderated by people who have more knowledge of that specific culture and context,” said LaRochelle, referring to a localized moderation system across geographic regions.

Queering the Map has since used event opportunities to explore the project’s themes and questions in a concrete space. In 2019, Concordia’s 4TH SPACE hosted Queering the Map: On_Site, a public exhibition which sought to embody how it’s themes interact in a complex way when brought off the digital platform. The collaborative event held curated workshops and performances including digital self-defense for marginalized communities, a latin dance partner class, counter-cartography through beadwork, self-reflection through hip hop, and mapping desire through movement.

With potential for a podcast and docu-series, there is much on the horizon for Queering the Map. Still, it’s impact in the past five years can be seen on the site itself across the thousands of heartfelt contributions which connect the queer community across the map.

Check it out or submit your own queer experiences at www.queeringthemap.com

Long-distance relationships — could you make it work?

It can’t be that hard to live in different cities… right?

Long-distance relationships always seemed implausible when I was younger: how could two people be in a relationship, yet spend their day-to-day life apart?

I had seen my parents go on work trips for a week or two at a time and all seemed well, but my media consumption also showed me the well-known trope of girl and boy in a long-distance relationship: girl surprises boy, boy is cheating on girl, girl eats a whole pint of ice cream on a curb in the rain.

But while sitting at the dinner table during one of my parent’s dinner parties, picking the green peas out of my rice, I overheard my mom’s diplomat friend say something strange. “Yup! This fall, I’m moving to Sweden, while David stays back in Seoul until next winter. Then he will come join me…” A unique situation notwithstanding, I started to realize there are nuances in relationships, and different things can work for different people.

Fast-forward 10 years, and here I am, two-and-a-half years deep into a long-distance relationship. When I moved to Montreal two years ago for school, I was forced to leave my partner behind in our country’s quaint little capital. Although we had only been together a little over six months, and had initially planned to break up like most people do when they start this new phase of life, we decided to give it a go!

Ottawa to Montreal is only two hours by bus, train or car — so when I say to people my partner and I live in different cities and they initially give me a glance of pity, I must swiftly clarify that it’s a mainly-long-distance-relationship-but-is-it-really-long-distance since we practically see each other every second week.

When I tell people how long we’ve made it work, they always seem impressed — for me, it didn’t seem exceptional — we were just like any other relationship. It didn’t occur to me that we were doing anything different. Yet the more I think about it, the more I see the differences between relationships where two partners live in the same city, and those where they don’t.

Here are a couple things I like to keep in mind when trying to navigate the relationship landscape.

Communication is key

This may be one of the biggest relationship clichés, but it rings more true than ever when you have to decipher body language and tone over FaceTime or texts. In general, 20-somethings have trouble communicating their feelings efficiently, which can lead to frustration and miscommunication.

In my experience, I’ve found that I often get frustrated when my partner can’t match my “energy” when it is convenient to me: you could call it a remnant of immature childish behaviour. I tend to take my frustration out on him, which has led to me creating an unsafe space for him to express his feelings in the past.

Rather than shutting down and getting upset that my partner can’t relate to my current state of mind, I need to allow him to feel what he wants, without it impeding my own expressions. In short, it’s okay to be experiencing different things at different times — acknowledge what your person is feeling, and empathize with them without letting it impact you in the now.

The independent side of your relationship

When you’re in your twenties, everyone is always expected to be mingling — going out and meeting all kinds of people. And I mean, I like going to restaurants, or even the occasional party or park hangout. All around me there is a perception that being in a partnership — especially a long-distance one — could have a negative impact on the quality of your classic ‘uni life’ experiences, but I disagree.

Maybe I’m lucky in the sense that I hate clubbing — so even if I was single, it would never be something I would pursue — but I’ve found that if there is a basic sense of trust between you and your partner, you are able to do all the fun partying and mingling you want, without the pressure of flirting and/or rejecting flirtation. Instead, you get to go make friends and then come home to a heartwarming text reminding you to take some Advil from your boo thang.

Speaking of my boo thang, shoutout to him for being super kind and driving up to Montreal every second week despite the parking situation in the Plateau — love you.

 

Feature graphic by Madeline Schmidt

Categories
Music

Ashe, toxic relationships, and when to walk away

Singer/songwriter Ashe’s tracks about toxic relationships show just how common these situations are.

Music conveys many messages and Ashe has put out two songs that capture the reality of being in a toxic romantic relationship. I have been in a few toxic ones myself and “Moral of the Story” and “Not How It’s Supposed To Go,” both released in 2019, struck me with many emotions. I wish I had these songs when I was going through tough times.

In “Moral of the Story,” I found the lyrics to be poignant and relatable. The opening lyrics are “So I never really knew you / God I really tried to / Blindsided, addicted / Felt we could really do this / But really I was foolish / Hindsight it’s / Obvious.” When hearing these words I was instantly brought back to how I spent way too much time thinking about all the things that could have been done differently in the toxic relationships. The mention of addiction is also relevant because toxicity can become addicting. Often, in bad relationships, we spend too much time thinking about what could have gone differently, rather than moving forward. This song captures this perfectly.

There is another set of lines in the song that resonated with me; something that we often get told is that “They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Ashe chose to include “That could be a load of shit,” and I agree with that sentiment. This perpetuates the idea that even if the love was bad that it’s better than no love at all. I have sadly believed that lie, and hearing this song drove home just how easy it is to fall deep into unhealthy relationships.

“Not How It’s Supposed To Go,” really stayed with me for days after my first listen, as it reminded me of many of the same pressures I felt during these relationships. The opening lyrics are “Be a good girl, pretty housewife / Need to have sex every night.” As a woman, this is so powerful, and sadly expected of many of us. Women are expected to be perfect for men. I have had many conversations with both women and men on this topic, and have heard the general opinion that women should just be readily available for their husbands. This perpetuates such a negative idea for the expectations of consent when it comes to women’s feelings, and Ashe does a great job of calling it out.

The chorus of the song is “I was filling up my head with those lies / Tryna tell me everything’s fucking fine / I wanted love, you know I wanted it so right.” Sometimes we push the idea that because we want love, we should just accept it no matter what the circumstances are. I have put up with things because I just wanted to be loved, and Ashe is calling attention to it, which is important.

“Moral of the Story” and “Not How It’s Supposed to Go” are two songs that help to rethink how we view the role of women in relationships. These two songs are provocative in their messaging, and give women — myself included — hope that we will move to a much better place. 

 

 Graphic by Lily Cowper.

Categories
Opinions

Age gap relationships: Why we should stop judging and let people love each other

Who are we to judge what a “socially acceptable” relationship is?

I will start this article with my own personal experience. I’ve been in an agegap relationship for the past three years and I’ve never been happier so as a full disclaimer, I may be a little biased. My age gap with my boyfriend is 18 years; he’s 39 and I’m 21. For many, this may appear as an unacceptable relationship.

When we first started dating I had just turned 18, so you can say we received a lot of backlash and negative opinions about our relationship. To make matters even more controversial, he has two kids, ages nine and eleven. You probably just did the math in your head; I am closer in age to the children than to my boyfriend. Shocking, you might be thinking, but to me, everything is completely normal because we are a family just like any other.

I understand that it’s an unusual situation, and one study has shown that only seven per cent of married heterosexual couples have over a 10 year age gap (where the man is older), making my relationship quite uncommon. On a side note, women are older in only one percent of 10-year age gap relationships. It’s also understandable that you may have questions for me such as “How do your parents feel about it,” or “Do his kids like you,” or “What about when you want to have kids?”

Curiosity is an essential part of human nature and my current situation sparks the curiosity of many. Most of the time I’m open to answering these questions when they come without judgment because if I weren’t in this relationship, I too would be curious.

Knowing myself, I would be intrigued to know how a couple with an 18 year age difference can be so successful.

At the beginning of my relationship, it wasn’t always easy for me. All I knew was that we were two people madly in love, as cliché as that sounds.

The backlash I received was brutal. I lost most of my friends at the time (looking back, they definitely weren’t real friends) and he received a few negative comments from his entourage. To make matters worse, the people I was “friends” with at the time did everything to try and sabotage my relationship with him —  it went as far as inventing defamatory stories about my boyfriend. Also, they constantly tried to tell me that I would be missing out on my “young adulthood” by being with an older man. I was also constantly told that people would judge me when we go out in public because our age difference is obvious. For a while, I wouldn’t even hold his hand in public in fear people would judge us or think negatively of me.

For my boyfriend, one comment he received from a friend was in regards to a calculation you can do to see if your relationship is “socially acceptable.” You divide the oldest person’s age in two and add seven, and the answer is the age of the youngest person you can date. If we would have followed that calculation, the youngest person my boyfriend could have dated would be 25.

For a while, we were so afraid of what society thought about us. Every time we would go out we would feel ashamed for being together when we had absolutely no reason to be. I always think back on how I would have missed out on this amazing relationship if I would have listened to what is socially “acceptable.”

After asking people on social media how they feel about age gap relationships, to my surprise, lots were “pro-age-gap.” Many believe that if both parties are legally consenting adults, the relationship should not be an issue to anyone. I am in complete agreement, but some believe otherwise.

Many people are misinformed about age gap relationships. They believe the narrative that the older man is a “creep” or a “perv” and the younger girl is a “gold digger” or has “daddy issues.”

“We can’t make generalizations about all relationships,” according to Kristen Finn,* who I spoke to through my survey on social media. Kristen and her husband have a 21 year age gap —  she’s 35 and he’s 56 —  and they have been together for almost 11 years; married for six.

Another woman surveyed stated that “It’s just not right” for couples to have a significant difference in age and “The older person in the relationship is predatorial on the younger person who is impressionable.”

“I don’t think people should judge on what’s right for other people’s relationships as long as both people are consensual adults, they should decide what’s right for themselves,” said Isabella Hernandez. Isabella and her boyfriend have a 14 year age gap and have been together for over a year.

The definition of the word predatorial is “(someone) seeking to exploit or oppress others.” Calling someone “predatorial” is a serious accusation and it could be seen as defamatory if not backed up by evidence.

I have never felt my boyfriend has been “predatorial.” Since the day we met, he has been nothing less than kind, loving, supportive, and respectful.

“We don’t decide who we fall in love with,” said Romane Bocquet. She and her boyfriend have been together for over two years and have a 23-year age-gap.

I believe that people need to be educated on what it means to be in an age-gap relationship.

Love is love and that fact is independent of gender, sex, race, or age.

 

*This name was changed to protect the identity of this individual

 

Photo collage by Christine Beaudoin

Categories
Student Life

The art of being single: Having patience vs. wasting your time

Last week, I saw a tweet pop up on my timeline that said “you gotta know the difference between being patient and wasting your time.”

While both may involve waiting on someone or something to come around or to change, there is a difference between being patient and wasting your time. It may not always seem like there is much that distinguishes the two, but the difference lies in what the end goal is and if you have any control over the outcome.

If you’re interested in someone but they say they aren’t ready for a relationship, believe them and let them be. Conversely, if you see that someone is interested in you but you’re not ready for a relationship, don’t lead them on, no matter how interested you may be in them as a person.

This might be controversial—so please don’t come for me—but I don’t think there’s such a thing as the right person at the wrong time. If it seems like it’s the wrong time, it just means it’s the wrong person, no matter how right it may seem at first. People tend to forget that there’s more than just being interested in someone for it to be “right.” Think about your mental stability, your emotional availability, your willingness to commit to someone—when it comes to people’s feelings, yours or another person’s, don’t half-ass it because that just ends badly for at least one of the people involved.

What does this have to do with knowing there’s a difference between having patience and wasting your time? Keep an eye out for these things to know where you stand with someone. If someone is showing interest but isn’t making the effort, let it be. If someone says they’re not ready to embark into a new relationship, let them be. If you’re only interested in someone for what they do and not them as a person, let them go.

What’s it like being patient, then? It’s being around them and feeling yourself become happy. It’s feeling their energy shift after a few days or weeks of seeing each other regularly, whether in a group or on an individual basis. It’s also sharing some tender moments and not feeling rushed or pressured. It can be spending so many nights cooped up in a car having late night chats, and your favourite thing about it all is the way their eyes smile when you look at them, or the way their hugs are a bit tighter every time you say goodbye.

And sometimes, it’s having a mutual friend that knows what both of you are too afraid to admit to each other.

Graphic by Loreanna Lastoria

Categories
Opinions

Thinkpiece: Our Romantic Heart Needs To Be Known

I believe we should be asking ourselves “What is the meaning of love?” more often than we usually do. 

It’s not uncommon these days to end up dating someone without knowing exactly what the outcome will be. We don’t know where this intimate bond stands, either between friendship and committed love, or outside of these two poles. That’s why current generations emphasize this open-ended ambiguity with sayings such as “seeing each other,” “being friends” or “dating.”

Two things remain unchanging while developing interest in someone, whether it be from a two-date period to a defined relationship; Our self and our psychological attributions. Our projections of insecurities and natural attitudes remain, but in the face of a romantic phase they take place against a seemingly different world.The world slightly changes when we’re in love: things seem more positive and don’t matter as much as they should, but in spite of that our insecurities and innate attitudes remain.

The infamous statement “It’s not you, it’s me” allows the speaker to shoulder the blame without explicitly confronting what the problem is. Following a break-up, more often than not, we reflect on what we should or shouldn’t have done. In the early stages of dating, however, some of us scrupulously analyze our text messages, become incredibly vigilant about seduction strategies and try to figure out what our potential partner likes. We readily accept to go on a quest to know what the other likes in order to hide the qualities  we think would repel them. Sometimes we simply shut ourselves to an increase of romantic opportunities for various reasons. We put a stop to moving forward in a relationship for reasons that have nothing to do with the partner we’re with.

In the aftermath of a relationship, the motto “just be yourself” can’t help us when we fall into thinking that we did something wrong—which is why this advice is usually given before the relationship stage, otherwise it’s useless. Most of us are ready to compromise our identity in a heartbeat for the chance to succeed in loving someone. This adaptive behaviour can take place subconsciously with the presence of the other that makes us have an intuitive burst of adoration for them. Sometimes a simple glance at our partner makes us freeze and lose the confidence that we have no issue nurturing with other people.

What do any of these examples say about us and our view of love?

I believe that more often than not these behaviours reveal a crucial lack of understanding of our subconscious belief about the meaning of love. Before, during and after dating someone, we should be asking ourselves more than once about the meaning of love.

“What is love?” is a question that is more complicated than what it might seem. It’s another way of asking, “What does love mean to me?”

Figuring that out, or at least being aware of the uncertainty of the answer, could help us be careful and healthy in our romantic life. That way, we can decrease the chances of becoming traumatized from relationships and views projected onto us by social discourses.

We can begin to understand the kind of person we are when it comes to loving someone other than ourselves. In this way, to be in love is both a challenge and a revelation of our most innate attitude toward the world, which explains the need to understand our core beliefs concerning this mindset.

Some of us feel comfortable diving headfirst into a new relationship weeks or days after the previous one ended. Others would rather take it slow to avoid being hurt again. Asking “what does love mean to me?” often leads us to more philosophical questions that are crucial to maintaining a healthy mindset when we fall in love. Why do I love this person and not someone else? What am I ready to give up for a partner? What do I see, or miss, in the affection given to me by my partner? What do I want out of my romantic relationships?

Once we have set clear expectations, we can comfortably let love sweep us off our feet. We’ll know we have the appropriate psychological resources to take hold of ourselves when our mind starts to run amok amid all the action love generates. 

Graphic by Lily Minkova

Categories
Opinions

Violence against women and Valentine’s Day

Heart-shaped balloons, chocolate and teddy bears are all part of Valentine’s Day’s trademark. We usually take this as an opportunity to spend some quality time with loved ones, or with ourselves. 

In June 2017, the University of Calgary released the results of a study on the connection between sporting events, holidays and domestic violence. The study revealed there is an increase of calls to authorities regarding domestic violence on numerous holidays, including Valentine’s Day.

As the holiday frenzy dies down, I wondered: how does Valentine’s Day affect women who are survivors of domestic violence? How were they possibly feeling on Feb.14?

Following the passing of two women, Jaël Cantin, a mother of six, who was murdered by her husband; and 22-year-old Marylene Levesque, who was murdered by a client, I read horrible comments made about the victims on social media. People partly blamed Levesque for her death because she was a sex worker.

This made me realize that we must address domestic violence and femicides more than we currently do. The Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability revealed that in 2015, women murdered by their partners counted for 45 per million population, which is five times more than the rate of men killed by their partners.

Femicide is defined by the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability as “the most extreme form of violence and discrimination against women and girls.” Femicides are primarily perpetrated by men.

We should see a lot more prevention measures about crimes against women, such as programs in schools about healthy relationships and gender equality, a lot more commercials about the issue, etc. The media must report on such tragedies. But what comes after awareness? Are we making a difference? Are we looking to change things?

A lot of women who report domestic violence to the authorities feel as though they are not taken seriously or do not have the support they need. Because of this, they are less likely to ask for help if their partners commit another assault.

This must stop. Our society must ensure a safer environment to allow women to speak up. We have to stop blaming and shaming women for something they cannot control. Parents and schools must educate children and teenagers, but mostly young boys on how to treat women respectfully. We must teach the importance of healthy relationships

As a society, it is our responsibility to come up with firm ways to learn how to prevent violence.

Just like self-defence is taught to women, we should continue to teach the importance of consent and the consequences of violent behaviours. This education should not only apply to men, but to everyone. Giving special attention to proactive measures such as consent training will empower people in terms of understanding the effects of domestic violence and consent in a fair way, rather than implying that reactive measures like self-defence, are the only ways to handle the issue.

Women need emotional and legal support. They should be able to feel secure and loved by their partner without any fear.

Valentine’s Day is not just about flaunting our idea of a ‘perfect relationship.’ It’s also about acknowledging the women who are suffering behind closed doors.

As we all enjoy the day to celebrate love, we also have to remind ourselves of the negative impacts that Valentine’s Day may have on women in an abusive relationship. Let’s not just talk about domestic violence, let’s find a way to change the way things are. 
Photo: Sasha Axenova

Categories
Student Life

My first Valentine’s Day as a single girl

It’s that time of the year again: chocolate hearts and Hershey’s kisses galore. Overwhelming pink and red confetti in that wretched drugstore aisle when all you wanted to do was buy conditioner. The looming stuffed animals that somehow lose their balance on shelves and end up falling on your head. What? I’ve seen it happen. 

You guessed it—it’s Valentine’s Day! 

I was never a big fan of the praised “V-Day.” In fact, I always avoided it like the plague. Probably because, up until I was 18, I had no one to celebrate it with. My “relationships” or whatever you can call two-week-to-30-day-long makeout sessions, always seemed to fizzle out before that day would come. 

The first time I celebrated Valentine’s Day, I have to admit, was quite sweet. Roses on my doorstep, a box of chocolates under my boyfriend’s arm and a little black dress waiting for me with a note that said “wear this tonight”—a scene straight out of a movie, I tell ya. 

However, the following years were not as special for a number of reasons. 

The “holiday” would often sneak up on me, and I would grunt at the thought of having to clear my schedule for it. Plus, when you work in a restaurant, most of the time, your weekends/nights aren’t your own—especially on holidays.

Valentine’s Day had to be either a few days earlier or later than the initial date. It started to feel like an inconvenience more than a celebration of love. Both of us would get mad if the other didn’t put in the effort. Suffice to say, Valentine’s Day wasn’t our favourite—neither of us would admit it though. 

Our last Valentine’s together was last year, and I was working on the actual day. Long story short, the relationship was no more a month later—for many reasons. 

Now it’s 2020, and your girl is single again—and I still hate the day with a passion. Walking into a Dollarama, Pharmaprix, or Jean Coutu always irks me—what was up with all the pink and red when it was only January?! They take down Halloween decorations a day after Oct. 31, while Valentine’s day seems to drag on two weeks after Feb. 14. I get that it’s a day to celebrate love—but do y’all have to be so loud and obnoxious about it? 

Yeah, yeah, I can hear everyone screaming at me to leave people alone and let them celebrate. I didn’t say otherwise, but I’ve always been averse to this holiday because—and call me a boomer or whatever—in my opinion, Valentine’s day should be every day. 

The stress that comes with it, whether you’re single or in a relationship, is just too much. If you’re single, you’re a lonely spinster who can’t do love right no matter how hard you try. If you’re in a relationship and life gets in the way of your celebrations, you’re a terrible partner! And the ones who don’t care for it are simply heartless. 

I’ve been single for almost a year, and most of the time it’s been great. During the holidays, I will admit, a little pang of loneliness did hit; Christmas time and New Year’s Eve were the worst. For some reason, most of my friends are in relationships, dating, or stuck in the in-between phase of our wonderful hookup culture. In all cases, they’ve all got something going on, while I’m watching Sex and the City reruns.

Therefore, I propose a motion: for Valentine’s Day to be cancelled, and a second Halloween to take its place! 

Photo by Britanny Clarke

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Student Life

The art of being single: The fear of being alone

Romance is one of my favourite genres of movies — shocking, I know.

As I was watching the Netflix original The Last Summer last week, Maia Mitchell, who plays Phoebe in the movie alongside KJ Apa’s Griffin, said something that made me pause the movie and scatter for my notebook and pen: “I fear whether I’m even capable of love or if I’m just destined to observe it for the rest of my life.”

If you’re new here, hi, my name is Kayla and I have an existential crisis every few days.

This one line, which took up maybe 13 seconds of the movie, summed up my whole dilemma with finding love. You know how people, usually those a generation older than you, always tell you to slow down, to not rush things because you’re young, you have time for everything to work out, to find love? Those people stress me out because how do they know?

They don’t.

I have so many people in my life who are in their 30s, 40s, 50s and who are still alone. I have family members whose lives probably went very differently than what they planned or hoped for. Sure, they might be happy but they also might not be; they may have just adapted to what life threw at them because they had no choice other than to accept it and move on.

What does this have to do with the movie, you may ask? If you go back and comb through my previous articles, or if you know me in real life, then you know that I’ve struggled with going after what I want and just letting things happen the way they’re supposed to. I always simply chalked it up to the kind of person I am, to my drive and character — but it’s more than that.

There aren’t many things in life that I want more than to find love, to marry someone and to have a family of my own. This one line in this cheesy teen romance movie brought these two things together — seeing so many of the people in my life alone and struggling with letting go of going after the things I want. I fear not being able to experience love for myself, of being destined to only observe it from those around me.

So to those people that ask me why I’m so worried, that say I should just let things happen the way they’re meant to, that I’m young and have my whole life ahead of me — you’re wrong. Life doesn’t work out the same for everyone so bare with me while I fear never being able to be in love while I have to watch everyone else around me have what I want so badly.

Graphic by Loreanna Lastoria

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Student Life

The art of being single: I just want to know

This week I have a lot to say – so here we go.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve written about a variety of topics that deal with the less *glamorous* side of the dating world, where things don’t really go as planned. With pieces like “Let it go,” “It really be like that sometimes,” and, most recently, “Stop overthinking everything,” I got pretty deep into the type of psychological strength it takes to just let things happen when it comes to dating.

And while I’ve become more inclined to take my own advice recently and do just that – just let things happen – there is a gray zone. Sometimes, the hardest part of not being able to just let things happen is the uncertainty: not knowing if the other person is remotely interested and whether or not all your interactions seem like they might mean they’re interested because you’ve overthought every detail. Not knowing if there actually is any chemistry between you or if you’re projecting because you like them, but are maybe too scared to admit it because you’re just trying to let things happen.

It’s being uncertain of if you should take the leap and potentially jeopardize whatever platonic relationship you have with someone. All this is because you’re unsure how they feel about and you don’t want to ruin what you already have but aren’t opposed to potentially having more because the chemistry is there and other people see it too.

It’s like in international relations (I’m a political science major too, okay, bear with me): in an archaic world, realists and liberals hate uncertainty because there’s risk involved. This is also in economics and free-market theories, for all of you who might relate to this by that approach.

Basically, the uncertainty of the situation – of whether they might like you, of whether they’d be down to try to build something with you, if there’s actually chemistry or if you’re projecting – is scary. The “maybe, maybe not” of it all can really wreak havoc on your mental state and can cause even more overthinking, which, as I’ve previously written, we should try to avoid.

If the whole world would just be upfront about what they wanted, we would all be so much better off. Imagine that: someone likes you? They tell you straight up. Don’t feel the same? Tell them. You have a loathing for someone’s entire existence? Woah there, but also, you do you boo, tell them and it probably won’t be such a big deal because everyone would just be telling their feelings all the time.

Honestly, all this is just to say that the gray area in any aspect of life is hard to deal with, but it can really take a toll on your mental state when it comes to relationships. Personally, I would just want to know how people feel about me to avoid the whole guessing game and to undercut all the “maybe, maybe not.”

This brings me to my next point – two for one this week! – in the case that things don’t work out as you hoped and everything goes to shit (re: “Shit happens, routines fail”), just allow yourself to feel. It sounds simple enough, but often we’re upset at ourselves for being so upset about things not working out as we hoped. Instead of being upset over actually feeling an emotion, we should just skip a step and actually just feel everything – and then move on. Trying to prevent yourself from the natural process of reacting to something, especially to something sad or shocking, will only do more harm than good and will also likely cause you to overthink.

SO, to sum all this up: 1) the gray area sucks, so try creating as few as possible to avoid heartbreak; 2) if you get heartbroken, allow yourself to feel and then just move on.

 

Graphic by Loreanna Lastoria

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