FEBRUARY 10, 2021
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NEWS & EDITORIAL
Indigenous community members at Ryerson don’t support new statue task force name By Sarah Tomlinson Indigenous community members at Ryerson say the task force committee addressing concerns around the Egerton Ryerson statue on Gould Street should have used one of the local Indigenous languages as opposed to the Cree language in the new task force name. Ryerson’s task force, previously called the “Egerton Ryerson Presidential Task Force,” recently changed its name to “Standing Strong,” a Spirit Name written in Cree as ‘‘Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win.” The task force is composed of alumni, students, staff, faculty and community representatives, including Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices. It was created in September 2020 after thousands of Ryerson community members signed an open letter to university president Mohamed Lachemi, demanding that the Egerton Ryerson statue be removed from campus. The letter was prompted after Black Lives Matter – Toronto protesters splashed pink paint on the statue in July 2020. Hayden King, director of the Yellowhead Institute and Indigenous educator for the Faculty of Arts who is Anishinaabe from Beausoleil First Nation on Gchi’mnissing, said the Cree language shouldn’t have been used for the Spirit Name. “Toronto is home to many Indigenous people, and we can use many languages and dialects; Anishinaabemowin, Mushkegowuk. That being said, I do think that we should try to use local languages and modern writing systems to the best of our ability,” he said. This concern was echoed by Damien Lee, an assistant professor in sociology, Canada Research Chair in Biskaabiiyang and Indigenous Political Resurgence and member of Fort William First Nation, an Anishinaabe community near Thunder Bay, Ont. He said that Nishnaabe and Haudenosaunee voices should be given priority in how Ryerson represents Editor in Chief Catherine “Will Die on the ARTPOP Hill” Abes News Charlize “U Suck” Alcaraz Alexandra “I Hate Children” Holyk Heidi “Ugh, Sure” Lee Photo Laila “Howl Is Hot” Amer Harry “Red Light Stays ON” Clarke Jes “9/11 Was An Inside Job” Mason
to have a Spirit Name? This isn’t something I would ever consider or support,” he said. Likewise, Jewell said Spirit Names are normally given to beings with a spirit after careful reflection, petition and ceremony. “Giving a Spirit Name to a task force stirs mixed feelings in me. I worry that it decontextualizes our complex ceremonial and social practices,” she said.
PHOTO: ALEXANDRA HOLYK
“Cree is foreign to that territory. It’s still a colonial name”
Indigenous initiatives on campus. “Ryerson University sits on Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg territory, which is a space shared with the Haudenosaunee through the Dish with One Spoon Treaty. While Toronto is home to many Indigenous individuals from many nations, it is still Nishnaabe territory,” he said.
“It seems like Indigenous faculty are often an afterthought to the senior administration” Veldon Cobourn, an assistant professor in Canadian and Aboriginal studies at the University of Ottawa who is Anishinaabe from Pikwàkanagàn, said using a Cree name on non-Cree territory doesn’t honour the sovereignty of the local Indigenous nations. “Cree is foreign to that territory. It’s still a colonial name,” he said. Another issue is that the task force’s Spirit Name doesn’t use Cree orthography despite the name being in Cree, according to Eva Jewell, an assistant professor in sociology who is Anishinaabekwe from Deshkan Ziibiing, located on the north bank Arts Abeer “Fake Harry Styles” Khan Sports Will “First Language Facts Second Language English” Baldwin Biz and Tech Aaliyah “Doing Hot Girl Shit” Dasoo Communities Kiernan “Cool Beans” Green
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of the Thames River in Southwestern Ontario. Instead, the task force uses English spelling to communicate the name, “which doesn’t adequately convey this language in a university community that is still learning about the diversity and intricacy of Indigenous worldview and thought,” she wrote in an email. On Feb. 1, King tweeted his reaction to the task force name, saying he believes that no Indigenous faculty contributed to its naming or orthography. “I know that Ryerson is trying to do good work around reconciliation and I don’t want a tweet to take away from that good work, but at the same time, it seems like Indigenous faculty are often an afterthought to the senior administration,” he said in an interview. According to a statement from the task force, the name was selected by the two co-chairs, Joanne Dallaire and Catherine Ellis. Dallaire is a Shadow Hawk Woman of the Wolf Clan, and is Cree Omushkego with ancestry from Attawapiskat, Ont. She is also the elder and senior advisor of Ryerson’s Indigenous relations and reconciliation and the
chair of Ryerson’s aboriginal education council. Ellis is the chair and associate professor in the Department of History. Dallaire has given several programs and spaces across the Ryerson campus Spirit Names over the years, including the staff and faculty well-being lounge. This space was given the Cree name Ahnoowehpeekahmik, which means “a good place to rest.” According to Dallaire, the name for the task force came to her during a traditional ceremony at home and was selected to guide them through recommending actions on what the university can do to reconcile with the history of Egerton Ryerson. “It is our hope that incorporating a Spirit Name into the work that the task force is undertaking represents another small step towards further awareness and recognition of Indigenous worldviews on our own campus,” the co-chairs wrote. However, King said he feels using a Spirit Name for the task force is inappropriate. “Ceremony doesn’t really have a place in an administrative setting. And I think it actually trivializes Indigenous ceremonies. For a contentious university committee of mostly non-Indigenous people
Lynn Lavallée, strategic lead for Indigenous resurgence in the Faculty of Community Services who is Anishinaabe registered with the Metis Nation of Ontario, agreed with King that not enough Indigenous faculty members at Ryerson were consulted in the naming process. According to Ryerson’s 2018 Employee Diversity Self-ID report, Indigenous faculty members only make up 1 per cent of the university’s racialized faculty group. Although Lavallée said she’s been contacted by Indigenous community members outside of Ryerson to know how the name was chosen, she also wasn’t consulted in the process. “It’s a little bit embarrassing to have to say I wasn’t involved at all. It places us in an awkward position and really exposes the institution for not being inclusive with respect to the Indigenous people who are part of the university,” she said. “The reason why we’re speaking out is because the community is speaking to us.” Lavallée said she would’ve wanted to be more involved in the process because the decision affects the Indigenous community at Ryerson the most. According to the statement, the task force is planning on engaging the entire Ryerson community— students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners—in the upcoming consultations. “We will keep the community informed on next steps,” the two co-chairs wrote.
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Contributors Sarah “Will Sarahnade You” Tomlinson Stacey “Lasagna Tiger” Nguyen Elena “Pass the Boneless Wings” De Luigi Thea “Pronounced Tay-uh” Gribilas Soofia “Best of Both Worlds” Omari Mariam “Literally Texted Five Friends” Nouser Anna Maria “But Platonic” Moubayed Anna “Two Day Turnaround” Wdowczyk Thea “One Question About Pull Quotes” Gribilas Gavin “Grew Up On The CFL” Axelrod Casidie “Instant Edit” Prebianca Serena “Bridgerton Sucks” Lopez
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Anastasia Anokye Pia Araneta Zanele Chisholm Mercedes Gaztambide Donald Higney Funké Joseph Abeer Khan Serena Lopez Jessica Mazze Alethea Ng Kadija Osman Emily Peotto Vanessa Quon Rochelle Raveendran Uhanthaen Ravilojan Meghna Sarawat Lizzy Sargeant Eduard Tatomir
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Three tracks for your main character moment by funké joseph inside, so it’s okay to be a bit self-indulgent and The world is exploding and most of us are trapped you are—you stand out in a crowd, everyone focus on yourself! Take some time to realize who main character, and we have a playlist just for knows your name, people want to be you! You’re the pop to U.K. garage, will pair perfectly with any you. This medley of songs, ranging from rap to hyper self-realization montage. Band y’s Larr Fat 1. “Zoom” by s to see a wonderful sunrise, you’re the main You walk up to the window and open the blind is a sparkly song that never fails to pick me character, baby! Your day has just begun! “Zoom” and happy lyrics that are delivered so up when I’m down. This song is full of bright charm genuinely. It’s your day, take control! 2. “Get Your Wish” by Porter Robinson one. Porter Robinson popped off with this I can’t think of a more ‘main character’ song than this top make it feel all too personal. This over s smooth beat, and the soft, almost whispering vocal you in the centre of your own little universe. track is exciting and moody, and excels at putting ude 3. “Flowers (Sunship Edit)” by Sweet Female Attit Sweet Female Attitude developed this song n. reaso a for 2020 in song d playe most my This was . The groovy two-step of U.K. garage makes in a lab for the sole reason of making a club hitter works superbly as the soundtrack for quirky it the go-to genre for any main character. It also the most for someone else, no matter the impromptu dance scenes. “Flowers” is all about doing one a call, get them a gift, be a nice prosome cost, so take that passion into your real life. Give tagonist—they’re the best! Check out the full playlist online!
I don’t need to be in a relationship to know what love means to me by dhriti gupta When I was younger, I’d urgently scribble in my diary about how this would be the year. The year that someone would have a crush on me, that someone would finally press their lips to mine, that someone would call me their girlfriend. As each year passed with written goals left unfulfilled, the more frustrated I’d get. The pages of my journal continued to fill up with gems like “WHEN WILL I HAVE MY FIRST KISS?? I’M 17 DAMN IT!!!” I’m able to joke about it now, but for so many years, I felt abnormal and unlovable. One by one, I watched all of my friends find their way into relationships, both irl and via dating apps. I happily listened to them gush about their firsts, but secretly pondered what was wrong with me that I didn’t have mine. I cried at teen romance movies, not only because I’m a water sign, but also because I felt like that would never be my experience. Now I’m 20, and my circumstances have remained relatively the same. I still haven’t had my first kiss. I’ve never had sex. I’ve never been in a relationship. I’ve never even held hands with someone romantically. But everything about how I process those truths has changed. This past year has forced people to become friendly with the experience of being alone, and while isolation is difficult, it also makes space for us to return to ourselves. I’ve stopped trying to control when my life will happen to me and instead try to focus on what it’s given me. My outlook changed last semester, on a late-night FaceTime with my best friend, Zanele, as she was helping me brainstorm ideas for a personal essay assignment. “You should write about your relationship to love,” she said, her eyes wide. “What about it?” I snorted. “There’s nothing to say—I haven’t had a single successful relationship in my entire life.” “Umm, okay, and?” she rebutted. “There were so many times you could have, but you didn’t because you know what you want.” Zanele was right. Not to say I’m a hot commodity, but it wasn’t like there weren’t opportunities or moments that I could’ve had these experiences; times where I’d met someone but not quite the one. Sure, I’ve spent most of my life engaging in unrequited yearning, but there have also been situationships and unspoken connections along the way. If I wanted to have sex for the first time, or kiss someone without caring who it was, it’d only take a few swipes on Tinder. But that’s not enough for me, personally. While I’m still not 100 per cent certain on what I want, all I know is that it needs to feel natural, comforting and special. When I tell people about my “lack” of experience, the first response is always pity. It’s often disguised behind head pats and reassurance that “it’ll happen when it’s time,” but it’s clear for me to see. It’s ironic to me then, when the same people come to me for relationship advice, or to complain about their romantic troubles. What could I possibly know about love if I didn’t have a terrible first kiss in my high school parking lot? But, you know what, there’s a lot you can learn from observation and dipping your toes into the proverbial dating pool without diving headfirst. For me, remaining single doesn’t mean being in the dark. There have been plenty of times where self-growth was unavoidable, like the times I’ve had to build myself back up from friendship breakups so sudden that closure wasn’t even on the table. I’ve supported those close to me through toxic relationships, taking stock of the red flags so I can shield them from the next one before it even happens. I’ve watched enough episodes of Gilmore Girls and Jane The Virgin and any other corny mother-daughter sitcom to learn that while pretty (and mostly white) boys with dark hair come and go, family—given or chosen—is forever. That’s exactly what A Love of One’s Own seeks to remind us: you know more about love than you think. Love and sex exist outside the boundaries of romantic and sexual relationships, and “experience” doesn’t necessarily mean, or guarantee, understanding. This issue gives credit where credit is due to all the other aspects of our lives that inform our understanding of love and sex, be that our platonic relationships, our self exploration, the treatment we internalize from others and, most importantly, how we take care of ourselves. The world is fucked up and inconsistent, and people leave, but you will always, without fail, be stuck with yourself. For that reason, A Love of One’s Own puts you at the centre. Examining and strengthening your relationship with yourself; getting to know your boundaries and expectations; and what makes you feel validated. Some lessons in love and sex you’ve assuredly picked up before the world was ending. Moving forward, I think it would do us well to think about love on an individual level more often, because being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.
Speak your own love language
We spend so much time thinking about how we can best care for others that we often end up neglecting the most important relationship in our lives: the one with ourselves. The five love languages, a concept created by author and marriage counselor Gary Chapman are general ways that we give and receive love. They’re most often understood as ways we practice love with a partner, but let’s explore how we can show ourselves some love using our knowledge about our own love languages. Words of Affirmation If you like hearing you did a “good job” or “I love you” from a loved one, then this is your love language. Though this is usually reliant on what others can do for you, you
can also create a bubble of affirmations for yourself. On a few cue cards, write down some traits you really appreciate about yourself or reminders to combat your insecurities. Read these aloud or in your head, first thing when you wake up. As you walk around your home, write little notes to yourself on sticky notes, or create notifications on your phone that remind you how amazing you are throughout the day. End your day by writing in a journal; take note of things that made you smile, things that you’re grateful for and things that you’re proud of yourself for. Then, on the days when you feel a bit down, re-read your entries. Receiving Gifts If a little token of appreciation or a surprise sweet treat is one of the ways you feel most loved, then receiving gifts is your love language. A way you can apply this to yourself is to splurge on some flowers from you, to you, or treat yourself with that thing you’ve been eyeing. Some stores like Sugoi Mart and Grandma’s Basement Co. even offer mystery boxes if you want to retain the element of surprise. But it can even just be smaller, more consistent
You don’t need someone else to know how to take care of yourself. words by meghna sarawat | visuals by jimmy kwan and jes mason
gifts to yourself that make you smile. Personally on Sundays, I wake up and go for a run, then stop for a coffee on my way home. I start my day doing things completely for myself—exercise for my body and coffee for my soul. Quality Time To be one’s own best friend may be the best present of all. Spend some quality time with yourself to learn more about you. Try browsing TikTok to learn a new obscure hobby like rug-making or how to knit a frog by hand. If you miss going on dates or spending the day with friends, plan an entire day for yourself to do things that make you truly happy. Make yourself brunch, go window shopping (once we’re not in a provincewide lockdown), have a picnic and bring a book, and order dinner from your favourite restaurant. All the things that you would appreciate to do with someone else, do them with yourself. Physical Touch Sometimes a nice, warm hug or holding hands is what we need to feel safe and loved, so if you’ve been living alone for the last couple of months, you might be a little touchstarved. There are, however, ways to find our own means of physical comfort. Try taking a long, warm shower and create a pamper routine to hydrate and nourish your skin. Moisturize and give yourself a little
massage, and then wrap yourself up in some cozy clothes. You can also do some stretches or invest in a weighted blanket; it feels like a hug and reduces anxiety. Acts of Service When someone does an act of service for you, like doing the dishes or running an errand, you feel their love through their care for your time. This love language doesn’t usually cost any money and goes to show how self-care can be so much more than buying bath bombs and candles. To do this for yourself, complete smaller tasks that you know you’ll have to do in the future, when you might have less energy. For example, make your bed in the morning so that you can just fall into bed at night. Or you could meal prep on a day when you don’t have a lot to do so you don’t have to worry about meals when you’re busier the next day. You can also prepare a daily schedule before going to bed to allot the time you need for each task. This way, when you wake up in the morning, you have a plan to tackle challenging tasks whilst staying calm and organized. Use these various love languages to show and remind yourself that you care and are willing to go the extra mile to put a smile on your face. You are amazing and deserve it all. Happy self-caring!
Dear Eyeopener: An advice column You asked, we answered; there’s no right or wrong time to learn about love. words by serena lopez | visuals by laila amer Do you feel like you haven’t had as many experiences in the love department as your friends? Haven’t had your first kiss yet? Or have yet to experience your first relationship? Never fear! For this year’s annual Love and Sex Issue, The Eye is offering our advice to you lovely “late” bloomers to help you navigate the nuanced world of love and relationships. Am I doomed? I’m a third-year university student and I’ve never been in a serious relationship. Every time I get close to someone my anxiety gets the better of me and I unintentionally distance myself from them. I’m not exactly sure what I’m afraid of, what I want from a relationship or if I’ve even ever had a serious crush. I just know that anxiety and denial make the decisions before I can. How do I become the ruling force in my potential relationships? - Anxious Andy When it comes to getting involved in a serious relationship, there’s no right or wrong time. If you start developing feelings for someone, ask yourself why you feel that way about them. Try writing down what you have in common, why you like spending time with them and how they make you feel about yourself. We often try to mirror or recreate a feeling or a scenario that we’ve seen in mov-
ies or heard from others, rather than checking in with ourselves about how we actually feel. Take the time to get to know people without any expectations; maybe a friendship is all you’re ready for. Another important thing to keep in mind is that there’s absolutely no rule that says romantic attraction to someone always has to result in a serious relationship. It’s OK to enjoy each other’s company, even if it doesn’t go anywhere. Instead of concerning yourself with the possibilities of what a relationship with this person could look like, acknowledge that what you’re feeling is scary and new and you can take as long as you need to figure it out. A way to lessen some of the uncertainty that you’re feeling with relationships is to strengthen your connection with yourself first. What are your passions? Who are you when you’re alone and no one is watching? The more that you know and love about yourself, the less scary it is to let someone else in on your greatness. Only you can decide when that feels right to you. When you are ready to take that next step, I’m sure it’ll be great.
do with my eyes, hands or mouth. Help! - Sophomore Smoocher First things first, does the other person want to be kissed? Besides reading their body language, ask them if you can kiss them before making your move. No, it won’t ruin the mood, I swear. Being on the same page about a kiss is not only necessary but also alleviates some of the stress of kissing someone. After you’ve established that both people involved are interested in macking on each other, one way you can initiate is by slowly moving your hands to the side of their face, neck or waist. Lean in, relax your jaw, pucker your lips slightly and press them into the other person’s lips. Start simple; once you get comfortable with doing that, if your partner is into it, you can maybe try kissing with tongue—just not in the way Edward practically eats Bella in Twilight. The more you try it, the more natural it’ll feel. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to charging people at kissing booths.
I think the one foolproof flirting trick that works with girls, gays, theys and whoever else is to make the other person laugh. Joking with someone is a great way to break the ice and initiate a conversation. You don’t have to be a comedian but banter a bit, tease them and try to develop inside jokes. Always remember to pay attention to consent and body language, but you don’t have to be afraid to actually express your interest. It can be easy to fall into the trap of overpoliteness and a purely platonic approach because we all know what it’s like to receive unwanted attention. But if she’s expressed some form of interest as well, you don’t have to feel guilty or creepy for making a move. Compliment her, ask her about her interests, whether she’s seeing anyone and most importantly, listen. If you want to really impress her, bring up topics she’s talked about in your next conversation or send her things that make you think of her. It shows her that you care about what she’s thinking and what she likes. And hey, maybe by then you’ll have a good gauge on What advice do you have for a girl whether it’s time for you to confess your feelwho thought she was straight well into ings for her and see where things go. You’ve her teenage years and has only ever been got this! How do you initiate a with guys? Flirting with girls is totally kiss? Every time I think about it I get super different. How do I do it? Questions have been edited for length and clarity. stressed out because I don’t know what to - Fresh Flirt Visit aloveofonesown.theeyeopener.com for more.
abby Noga wove through the crowds of girls in the camp cafeteria, heading towards the middle of the room. As she reached the buffet table which separated the boys’ half of the cafeteria from the girls’, a boy approached the table from the other side of the plates of under-seasoned chicken and salad. Noga barely glanced at him, aware that making conversation with a boy would be against the camp rules, which prohibited interaction between boys and girls. The day before, the leaders of the camp had separated a brother and sister who were walking together and announced that even siblings weren’t exempt from the rule. She loaded up her plate in silence.
At 12 years old, this was Noga’s first time attending this Christian camp. She was raised in a nameless branch of Christianity where she was only allowed to start dating (or “courting,” as Noga puts it) once she was done with her undergraduate degree and could attend a religious training institute. “Legally it’s not a cult, but there’s some speculation about it,” she says. Noga assumed she would wait until after university to date, like the rest of her peers in the church, especially because her school and extracurricular commitments kept her too busy for a relationship during her teenage years. In university, however, her worldview shifted. As she met people outside of her old community and took a new interest in social justice, her fundamental beliefs began to change and she eventually decided to distance herself from the religion. Now in her third year of creative industries at Ryerson, Noga no longer associates with her family’s faith. She doesn’t plan to attend the religious institute where her sister is currently training, and she doesn’t avoid talking to men. However, Noga says she’s still waiting until she finishes her undergraduate degree before she starts dating. Just like her peers in the church, she’s decided to put her love life on hold during university, but religion isn’t the driving force behind her decision. Part of the reason that she’s holding herself to this rule is that she wants to do as much as possible during her university years, so she can graduate with as many opportunities as possible. She’s usually working on at least two theatre productions at a time, as a performer or a crew member, which can add over 16 hours of rehearsal to her weekly schedule. In addition, she tries to take six or seven classes per semester and maintain her GPA. Adding a relationship on top of her existing commitments would be too much for her schedule and it would require emotional energy that she’s not willing to expend. “My school and my extracurriculars rely on me being able to be creative and emotionally invested,” she says. “I can’t be worrying about
my personal relationships.” Not dating allows Noga to keep her eye on the academic ball and spend time pursuing her passions. But being so career-minded isn’t always easy, especially because most of her friends aren’t as focused on their academics as she is. “I kind of wish that I didn’t have to care as much about constantly doing so much,” she says. “I’m like, ‘[My friends and I] just have different goals, and I’m sure we’ll end up wherever we need to be.’ But sometimes it drags me down a little.” Noga is far from the only person to delay her search for a relationship, or avoid dating before a certain milestone. Younger Canadians are getting married far later, on average, than the generations before them. According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian woman in the 1960s would get married at 23 years old, which is roughly the age of someone just out of university. The same survey found that in 2008, the average age for women to get married had increased to over 29. Sarah Knudson, a sociology professor at the University of Saskatchewan, says young people are delaying their love lives partly due to a cultural shift and changing expectations about relationships from the past few generations. She says that over the decades, parents and peers of young adults have become less likely to pressure them to start dating or start a family. “If you looked at somebody in 1971, it’s like, ‘You’re not married. You don’t have a kid. You’re 25 years old. What’s wrong with you?’” she says. “Nowadays, there’s not the same stigma.” In addition, more and more young people are attending higher education in Canada, which Knudson says can also play a role in why more people are choosing to delay their search for a relationship. “A lot of people will say, ‘The next four years of my life are about attending law school,’ or ‘The next four years of my life are about doing a bachelor’s degree.’” But for some, that decision is made unconsciously. Even a student who says they’re open to a relationship during university may put their search on the back burner while dealing with deadlines, stress and part-time work, Knudson says. A 2016 survey by the American College Health Association found that almost 60 per cent of the university student respondents had felt overwhelmed by everything on their schedule in the two weeks before they were surveyed. But while delaying dating may allow someone to accomplish more during their university years, get better grades, and keep themselves emotionally stable, it can also cause anxiety and a fear of missing out on love.
hen she moved out of her parents’ house for the fall 2020 semester, Rebecca Tran seized the opportunity to download Tinder and try online dating. With COVID-19 restrictions clamping down on in-person interaction, Tran used Tinder as a way to satisfy her social needs virtually while taking advantage of the freedom of living alone. After a few failed Tinder matches, Tran connected with someone from Brampton, Ont. who had interests similar to hers. They texted
for a few months, hung out in-person once or twice, and then he brought her to see his family. While she was at his house, Tran enjoyed meeting his sister and playing with his German Shepherd puppy. But afterwards, she started worrying that she had gotten too comfortable with him in too short a time. “It felt very serious very fast,” Tran remembers, and this anxiety pushed them both into reevaluating what they wanted from a relationship. Tran is in her fourth year and about to graduate from the industrial engineering program. “I should be looking for jobs now, and I really need to start considering concrete steps to get myself to the place that I want in the future,” she says. Focused on her academics and future career, she didn’t feel like it was the right time to get serious about dating, so the relationship slowly fizzled out. Living on her own, Tran didn’t have to sneak around to avoid her parents like she did in high school. But despite her newfound freedom, Tran has decided to avoid dating for now, at least until she’s graduated university. “Right now I’m in a very unstable place in life,” she says, referring to her upcoming graduation. “That’s a really big switch and I definitely don’t want to mess that up.” With school being online and no need to live downtown, Tran has moved back into her parents’ house, which is preventing her from dating openly. Her parents had strict rules about dating when she was younger, and continue to discourage her from seeking a relationship. They told her: “This is a crucial age for you to be focusing on yourself. Relationships come later.” Knudson says that as much as your parents influence you, their beliefs are also influenced by their own education and income.
Knudson cites the findings of sociologist Kathleen Gerson, who found that parents who didn’t go to college were less likely to pressure their daughters into seeking higher education, when compared to parents who went to university. As a result, these young women would get married and achieve certain milestones like starting full-time work earlier than those with college-educated parents. “Parents with degrees [aren’t] going to put that same pressure on [their kids] about marrying younger,” Knudson says. “Because they themselves took a much longer time, on average, to get established.” People in university now, like Noga and Tran, are likely to encourage their own children to get a degree and look for a relationship later. This creates a cycle of parents and children with later timelines. Pursuing a degree in engineering makes dating difficult too, Tran says. Engineering students’ hectic schedule and heavy workload contributes to a culture that doesn’t prioritize looking for love. “We’re kind of just ‘all books and no relationships.’”
The Eyeopener previously reported in 2020 that engineering programs at Ryerson facilitate burnout and glorify suffering, making students believe that they’re lazy if they’re not constantly stressed out. Being in an environment where most people seem to be primarily focused on academics can cause your own priorities to shift. There’s a mentality in STEM that “if other people don’t have time for [dating], I don’t have time for it,” Tran explains. Although Tran has decided to stay single for now, it’s not always an easy decision to stick to. Being single when all her friends are dating is sometimes hard on her emotionally, especially when she “third-wheels” with a friend and their boyfriend. Seeing them together can cause her to catch glimpses of her own “fear of missing out and a little bit of jealousy, and ‘Oh, why can’t I be in a relationship too?’” she says. But overall, Tran doesn’t mind waiting. “I think you get more in life, honestly, if you just let it happen,” she says. “The priorities for different people are different. And mine are definitely not really about relationships right now.”
hen she developed feelings for one of her friends about a year ago, Noga decided it was time to give dating a go. Because the relationship had grown organically out of an existing friendship, she assumed it wouldn’t disrupt her life or her schedule. “I was like, ‘Oh, this won’t be a stressor at all,’” she remembers. “I thought I would just continue on with my life.” They dated in-person for around a week during winter break, and continued texting and using Snapchat when Noga went home to Edmonton. However, over the next two weeks, she noticed he was taking longer and longer to respond to her texts. When she asked him about it, he admitted he didn’t want to be in a romantic relationship. Noga had been best friends with him for a few months before they started dating, so losing him as a boyfriend also meant losing him as a close friend whom she could rely on. Not only that, but their breakup caused tension in their mutual friend groups, which stressed her out. Noga tried to convince herself she was fine. It took her two months before she gave in and let herself feel sad, and a couple more months before she stopped feeling angry that she was sad. “I enjoyed the three weeks that went well, but then the fallout of it just took so much energy and so much time,” she says. “I feel like it was like a four-month-long breakup process for a three-week relationship.” The stress from the relationship and breakup cemented Noga’s decision to wait until she graduates before dating. One day, she’d like to be in a long-term, happy relationship, with someone who’s like a best friend to her. But for right now, Noga is okay being single, despite some of the people around her being more interested in dating. “If that’s what you want to do, good on you,” she says. “But I got a bunch of stuff I gotta do first.”
Hung up on hookup culture: With more than 13 million Canadians having tried online dating, a weakening stigma surrounding women having casual sex and an influx of unrestricted sexuality represented in pop culture, it seems as if the pre-pandemic world was the best place to be to be knockin’ boots as a university student. Movies like Neighbors, Animal House and The To-Do List have taken the concept of casual sex and turned it into a thrilling, fun and essential part of the university experience. However, according to American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus, released in 2017, nearly a third of surveyed college students in the United States opted out of hookup culture entirely. While the media may portray sex as a no-strings-attached experience that leaves both parties feeling satisfied, some women at Ryerson aren’t finding hookup culture as enjoyable as it may seem. “I personally just don’t feel comfortable being sexually vulnerable with someone who’s not committed to me,” said third-year psychology student Janay Ferguson. “Sex comes with emotions and I think it is an emotional thing. I’m a very intuitive person and in touch with my emotions like that.” “I know people have different perspectives on it, like, ‘Oh, it’s just two bodies, trying to get to one goal.’ But a lot of times for people it’s more than that.” Attaching emotions to sexual interactions with someone isn’t uncommon for the average person, despite what the media may portray. Psychotherapist Kat Kova runs her own practice in Toronto called Kat Kova Therapy. She and her growing team of relational therapists work with both couples and singles, looking at the wider social structures and relational environments that impact people’s lived experience. She acknowledges that people’s desires and needs differ greatly, which is why hooking up isn’t for everyone. She says that some folks have “an on and off switch” in their brains when it comes to flipping between casual and committed relationships, while others have difficulty differentiating between the two. “I think there are some people who really want to make an investment...into quality long term relationships instead of more loose, casual encounters that are maybe incredibly satisfying for a period of time, but don’t have that same sort of depth,” she says. “Some people just need to have an emotional and mental connection with the other person in order to feel safe enough to share their bodies.” Ferguson says she’s also had negative emotional experiences in past relationships—another factor that contributed to her discomfort with casual sex. “I feel like [with people I’ve slept with in the past], all of them gave me bad energy after,” she said. “I was like ‘OK, I feel like shit about myself. I don’t feel like myself anymore, I don’t know what’s going on.’” “That’s why I’m kind of picky about who I sleep with...so that I know their intentions and energy are good so that I’ll know I’ll feel good after I’m done the deed.” Ferguson is not alone in experiencing this gut feeling. Corinne Werder, managing editor at the lesbian publication GoMag, acknowledges
that “sexual energy is powerful,” and can sometimes make people quite vulnerable. In her article published in 2017, Werder writes that “as much as we want to be the cool no-strings-attached girl, sex can get messy. Real. Quick.” Kova also acknowledges that students with a more anxious attachment type may have a harder time engaging in casual sex. One of four types of attachment styles recognized by psychologists globally, anxious attachment can translate into relationships in adulthood through the craving of intimacy, needing lots of reassurance and being too dependent on a partner. “[People with an] anxious attachment
If TV make sex look fun, why lady sad? words by lizzy sargeant | visuals by rhea singh
might think, ‘Oh gosh this is too overwhelming for me, why haven’t they called me back?’” Kova says. “They might feel a lot more safe and secure when they share a deeper connection with somebody, and may only look for folks who are also wanting the same.” A deeper connection is exactly what third-year business major Laura Kim needs before she decides to sleep with someone. “It’s hard for me to engage in hookup culture because I feel like I really need to have a connection with someone before I can even speak to [them] or acknowledge this base level of respect,” said Kim. “I think apps have made it seem like people are so disposable, and I don’t really like that,” said Kim. “It’s so easy for your mental health to deteriorate.” “You really just feel like you’re that next person in line and it’s this waiting game of how long can we engage with each other until
one of us gets bored and just up and leaves.” As a Black woman, another layer of difficulty and frustration Ferguson faces in the dating scene that prevents her from participating in hookup culture is the fetishization of her race. “Especially on dating apps...the first thing that they say to me isn’t ‘Hi,’ it’s ‘I’ve never been with a Black girl before,’” she said. “It’s not even like a guy is actually interested in me, I’m just a free sample for him to say that he did it—like he marked it off his bucket list.” Meanwhile, other men may say Black women “just aren’t their type,” according to Ferguson. Ferguson believes this idea that Black women are either fetishized or undesirable, with no inbetween, is largely peddled by the media. “If you were to come up with similarities between all of these roles [Black women were casted in], the underlying common factor that can be found is the proponent of sex. Black women in the media are portrayed as sexual objects and this is not on accident,” wrote Annalycia D. Matthews in “Hyper-Sexualization of Black Women in the Media,” part of a Student Work Collection on Gender & Sexuality with the University of Washington. In addition to hyper-sexualization, Black people have historically been subject to dehumanization. As a 2018 study in Psychology of Women Quarterly states, “history is replete with examples of Black people being viewed and treated as less than fully human.” Black women specifically “are more commonly presented in visual media as animals and are objectified to a greater extent than white women,” the study says. Ferguson is now concentrating on claiming her “divine femininity” and focusing on herself instead of the pressures of casual sex. “I’m kind of taking a break from guys. Now I’m on this journey to embrace and own my femininity,” she said. “I’m happy with my choice.”
The package: A monologue words by uhanthaen ravilojan | visuals by jes mason Oh god oh fuck, shit shit shit, FUCK. I should’ve been up early to snag my vibrator from the mailbox before my folks found it. Why’d I stay up ‘til 3 a.m. last night reading the Golden Girls Wikipedia page? Maybe it’s fine...maybe they won’t know what it is? They’ve probably never even heard of masturbation—they have the sex drive of a stamp collection. I think I was conceived through a firm handshake or a lengthy discussion of RESPs. But what if Raji auntie forwards my mom a Whatsapp post warning her of the perverted hedonism her child could fall prey to? Of sophomore sex parties where once innocent children rub their butts together? Of strange sexual gadgets that give users something called an “orgasm,” which is proven to lower their chances of getting into law school? Of sexting clubs where students send nude selfies to potential employers, the prime minister and their grandmother? Should I say the toy was ordered by someone who coincidentally has the same name and address as me? A 3-foot-tall old woman who lives in our vents and only
eats canned olives and rice crackers? An insatiable cum goblin who needs an industrial strength vagina rattler to quench their lust? Or should I say it was sent by a former classmate trying to sabotage me? Someone with a vendetta against me after I refused to cut class with them to say curse words and ruin our credit scores together? I only wanted a vibrator because cumming on antidepressants is otherwise impossible. Every time I try, I see the ghost of my orgasm before it disappears like I’m Simba chasing his spectral father in The Lion King. I love my body’s built-in entertainment system, but this whole pandemic thing’s kind of a turn off. I barely qualify as horny anymore—how could I when the sexiest part of my day is breakfast? The last time I touched myself I thought about how to perfectly soft boil an egg. Masturbation is usually easy dopamine, but my folks’ place is relentlessly unsexy. Like, how can I get turned on in my childhood bedroom while my high school graduation picture stares at me from across the room, her 18-year-old eyes shining with the unshakeable confidence that can only be attained by performing “Can’t
Hold Us” by Macklemore, acapella, at the winter talent show? Back then I thought I’d change the world. My report card was adorned with praise like “shows initiative”; now I just waste my time trying to revive dead conversations on dating apps. I thought adding a picture of a frog wearing a tiny cowboy hat to my Tinder profile would land me a cute girl with a mullet who exclusively texts in lowercase, but instead I just match with dudes who listen to Björk. You know what, I can still save my skin. I’ll tell them it’s a back massager, that my hunchback posture caught up to me. Or maybe I’ll say it’s an anti-dark-circle device; they want my complexion to be flawless to attract all the high-earners in the arranged marriage meat market. I’ll just have to accept that I’m doomed to jackhammer myself with my digits while fantasizing about being married to Emma Stone (“Wow babe,” she said while eating the ramen dinner I prepared, “these eggs are perfectly softboiled”), trying my best to ignore the mechanical hum of my dad using my vibrator to massage his feet.
Go it alone: Breaking free from codependency
words by pia araneta visuals by laila amer
Constantly being in a relationship can make us forget that we can still be happy on our own
n June 2020, Lexy Benedict stood outside of Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital with her partner’s family. They couldn’t go inside because of COVID-19 regulations, but tears rolled down her face as they awaited news on her boyfriend’s emergency surgery. Earlier that day, her partner had an aneurysm, fainted and was rushed to the hospital. His mother was the first to hear about the brain tumour. Benedict replays this day in her mind like a slow-motion movie. “All I can remember is my heart just beating so loudly I couldn’t hear anything, like to the point where I couldn’t even see anything,” she says. Just the night before, the two of them were at a friend’s birthday gathering, having socially-distanced drinks in the backyard. “Everything was so good.” Benedict and her partner, Tyler Swirla, have been together for eight years. The 23-year-old Ryerson journalism graduate met Swirla in elementary school and they’re best friends to this day. Benedict used to rely on Swirla for most things: car troubles, cooking, hashing out big life decisions. But when her partner was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer with an average life expectancy of 12 to 18 months, Benedict had to find ways to fend for herself and learn how to be alone. “When it comes to Tyler, I’m so dependent on him, and I didn’t realize how dependent I was until I was so close to losing him.” After the surgery, Benedict had difficulty being alone with her thoughts. She’d avoid her apartment and constantly be on the move between work and her parents’ house. She says she felt anxious, exhausted and remembers being physically sick from stress. Codependency is the excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of illness or addiction. Though it’s natural for all couples to depend on each other to some degree, for those in long-term or back-to-back relationships, codependency can manifest itself as a loss of individual identity. Carling Mashinter, a Cambridge-based psychotherapist and relationship therapist, says it’s important to take space away from our partnerships. “Alone time is imperative for a healthy, interdependent relationship, because if someone isn’t okay with alone time, then they’re going to be depending on other people to stop them from being alone.” Interdependency, as opposed to codependency, is what she tries to achieve with each of her clients, Mashinter adds. This is achieved when two people have a sturdy sense of themselves and are evolving as individuals. An interdependent couple is just as good together as they are alone. One 2009 study published by the journal of the International Society for Self and Identity found that people with a clear sense of personal identity have better quality romantic relationships. But when all you’ve ever known is being partnered, it can be difficult to differentiate where your own personality and aspirations begin, separate from those of your significant other. For some Ryerson students, this can hinder personal growth or result in loss of identity.
axine Pichler remembers sitting in her bathroom, unable to move by what she’d found. Downstairs, her mom and her boyfriend were having dinner. After she collected herself, she went downstairs and asked her boyfriend if he’d like to go for a walk. This is when she confronted him about the pornographic videos on his phone of him with other women. Pichler, a professional communications graduate, used to think of her now ex-boyfriend as her second half. He was charismatic and she was thrilled when her family and friends approved of their relationship. It was for those reasons she ignored all of the red flags, even when she felt herself changing for him. When they had sex, she was in love and felt ready. But before that point, he would pressure her despite her fear of having sex for the first time with the wrong person. Later, she received a message from another woman informing Pichler that her boyfriend was hitting on the woman. “I thought I was the problem. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to be with him.” According to a 2016 HuffPost blog, some signs of someone losing their identity within their relationship include: feeling a loss of purpose, no longer doing things that brought them joy, using the “we” pronoun more than “I” and a loss of self-confidence.
“I lost a part of myself,” says Pichler, adding that her identity has completely changed since they broke up in 2019. “I lost my trust in people. I became someone I never wanted to become—overprotective and a jealous girlfriend.” The relationship was Pichler’s first serious, long-term one. Even though she could feel them drifting apart, she felt like she needed to see the proof in order to end things. She says she liked the idea of him more than the connection itself. Mashinter says maintaining long-term relationships just because of the “high-school sweetheart fairy tale,” can lead to people being
disingenuous and putting their needs aside “so that it keeps up with the story.” She adds that 52 per cent of people get divorced, which is an important statistic to recognize when people cling to “together forever” or “you complete me” narratives. When people meet each other when they’re young, it’s inevitable that they’re going to change, she continues, and it’s important not to cling to young love if you’ve outgrown one another. Not only was Pichler’s identity skewed throughout her relationship, but she says her partner became unrecognizable. She says he manipulated her and lied to her and her family about his identity. When their two-year relationship came to an end, she felt as if she dated a stranger. “From the moment I met him, it was all based on lies,” she says. The bond Pichler and her partner built together—as well as her family’s approval—kept her from ending the relationship earlier on, she says. “I think I was digging myself a grave if I’m being honest.” She adds that she was hesitant to tell her friends about the breakup because saying it out loud would have solidified her new reality. “I never once complained about my relationship. I kept everything private because I was scared people would tell me to break up with him,” she says. Pichler remembers telling everyone she was fine long after her relationship ended. It wasn’t until she took a solo trip to Croatia two months later, physically removing herself from the situation, that she realized she wasn’t. A 2015 study done by Social Psychological and Personality Science found that repeatedly reflecting on a breakup can help quicken the emotional recovery process. Pichler says she’s still healing from the relationship, trying to find a way to go back to the trusting girl she used to be. “I thought I would feel so lonely if we broke up, but I was too afraid to admit to myself that I felt lonely for a very long time.” Mashinter says people can be lonely within their relationships if they feel like they can’t be themselves, or have a hard time communicating their feelings. “When you’re with a person who you think
you should feel super connected with, and yet you’re not [able] to be vulnerable with that person...the effect of that is loneliness.” Even in marriage, many couples can find themselves feeling lonely. A survey taken in April 2020 by The Knot, found that even though a quarter of married couples were spending more than 35 hours together per week, only 29 per cent reported satisfaction with the amount of quality time they had with their partner. Only 18 per cent of the surveyed couples were satisfied with how they communicated with each other. Mashinter says people need more education when it comes to learning about healthy relationships and what they should look like. She adds that a healthy relationship allows for self-exploration. “[For] someone who’s in a toxic relationship, it might not actually be emotionally and physically safe to do exploration,” she says. Having the means to explore your own interests within a relationship can help people form their identity. Things that inhibit that can include physical, emotional and financial abuse (someone else controlling shared finances). The Ontario government’s 2019 sexual health curriculum is supposed to introduce the concept of healthy relationships and consent at Grade 3. Many adolescents are still left in the dark, however, seeking sexual education through the internet and porn; which can lead people astray and create unrealistic expectations. Mashinter says her sexual education focused mostly on abstinence and the scientific terms for reproductive organs. Sadly, many others can resonate with this experience and don’t feel equipped to set healthy boundaries within their relationships.
bout four months after Swirla’s surgery, Benedict remembers sitting down on her couch, writing in her journal and finally allowing herself to feel the impact of her situation. She says that before Swirla was diagnosed, they were having serious conversations about getting a house and a dog. “I just let it all hit me,” she says, “which was hard to do.” Thankfully, doctors were able to remove about 98 per cent of Swirla’s brain tumour, but recovery has been a long and unrelenting process. He used to be the one to remind Benedict to take care of herself, since she was always a go-go-go-type of girl. Now, she’s found a way to do so on her own even if it’s under extraneous circumstances. While Swirla takes everything one day at a time, Benedict says the best way to take care of him is to focus on herself. That way, she says, he won’t stress about how she’s doing on her own. Just the other day, Swirla, a hockey player, was back on the ice for the first time since his surgery. Now, Benedict looks forward to spending time with herself, pouring herself a glass of moscato, having a bubble bath and playing Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whisky”—her and Swirla’s “song.” “You’ve got to love yourself before you can be a good partner,” she says.
me, myself and i
My boyfriend’s words were never enough
remember falling down the TikTok rabbit hole for the first time. It was a couple weeks into the beginning of the pandemic, and I found myself staring at the clock. I had consumed most of the reality TV Netflix had to offer—Love Is Blind, Too Hot To Handle—I even painfully made my way through Tiger King. I was bored out of my mind and TikTok was the answer. It seemed like every single video was either about whipped coffee, Amazon must-haves or workout challenges. As I laid there scrolling in my pajamas at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, I came across a girl with a flat stomach, sculpted legs and toned arms that were just the perfect amount of dainty. My hand subconsciously brushed over my belly. There she was in her perfect body, telling me all I had to do to look like her was run for three miles a day after doing a 30-minute glute circuit (and cut out absolutely every type of sugar while following a calorie deficit). Every time the video replayed, her voice urging me to “seize the moment,” made me hate the bed I found so much comfort laying in before. Naturally, I went to the comments, looking for others with no care in the world except their love for sleep. But every comment discussed the elation that came with finishing their daily run or thanking the user for making a workout video during lockdown, since “there’s no excuse now!” I looked outside my window, realizing the sky was already turning orange, and started to feel guilty for not using my pandemic time “wisely” when that girl was probably going for her second optional run of the day.
I threw on a sweater, grabbed the closest pair of sweatpants and picked up my keys. Within two minutes, I was sliding into the driver’s seat of my Mini Cooper, trying to find a yoga mat so I could start an ab circuit first thing in the morning. When the clerk at the Giant Tiger mentioned they only had one mat in stock, I grabbed it from its container and briskly walked to the cashier as if someone was going to take it. My stomach couldn’t help but drop at the thought of being the last person in town to buy a yoga mat. It wasn’t always like this. I used to be the girl who preached self-love. At a young age, I had a confidence in myself that even the Regina Georges on the playground couldn’t understand. “Why do you smile so big when your teeth are so crooked?” I looked back at the pig-tailed girl with her arms crossed. A huge grin spread across my face. “Who said you had to have perfect teeth to smile?” I’d like to think that the quick-witted eight-year-old who knew her self-worth wasn’t defined by the alignment of her teeth was still in me, but I felt like I was losing her as the pandemic progressed. Last year, I was probably the most confident I’ve ever been. Despite gaining the socalled “freshman 15,” I was loving my body for what it was. I wore crop tops to parties, got comfortable with my personality while meeting new people and worried about getting my money’s worth from my food plan by eating all the cupcakes the cafeteria had to offer. A year later, pandemic guilt had me chasing a body that wasn’t mine.
When these upsetting thoughts started to disrupt my daily routine, I decided to talk to my boyfriend, Jake, about it. The side of my face pressed to the speaker, my heartbeat echoing my ear as I waited for the rings to subside and his voice to solve all m y problems. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with how you look. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever met, and nothing is going to change what I think,” he said softly over the phone. I waited for the moment where everything would be at peace in my mind, but it never came. I felt a knot form at the back of my throat. “Yeah,” I mumbled, biting a hangnail off of my finger. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the words he said went through one ear and out the other. “Hey, I mean it. Never feel like you have to change a thing.” “Yeah, thanks.” A couple weeks later, I woke up with strong period cravings that only a Caramel Ribbon Crunch frappuccino from Starbucks could quench. I drove home from the coffee shop with tears blurring my vision for what felt like the hundredth time in the past week. I quickly grabbed a napkin with one hand while steering with the other. I made a mental note to Google how many crunches I would need to do to burn off the 470 calories I had just consumed. My anxious breaths started to slow, knowing there must be some quick fix out there to act as a reverse button. Looking back, I know I wasn’t alone in hoping for a fast solution to pandemic resting guilt. Between March 15 and May 9, the term “diet” jumped in Google searches from a 55 to 90 on its popularity scale. In the same time period, popular fitness YouTuber Chloe Ting gained around 6.4 million subscribers and more than 472 million views on her channel. Her most popular video, “Abs in Two Weeks” has over 298 million views at the time of writing this. I could do the routine backwards in my sleep. The view counts pushed me into overdrive. All these people were doing it, so I thought I had no excuse. If I wasn’t doing something to make my lower stomach fat melt away or make my legs slimmer, it felt like time wasted. In an article for Shape.com, therapist Sheava Zadeh said humans thrive on routine and losing it can cause anger, depression and other emotional issues. People who were used to working out before the pandemic may therefore feel the need to keep up with the routine in spite of the barriers to doing so, she said.
words by anastasia anokye
While there are valid reasons to not work out during a pandemic–lack of energy, access to equipment, work out spaces, simply not wanting to exercise–the loss of routine can result in feelings of failure and falling behind. I masked my pain by making it seem like fitness was something to help keep my mind off of things. Jake would even comment on how proud he was of me for finding a healthy hobby during quarantine. He continued to remind me of how gorgeous I am, but it still wasn’t doing anything to fix the way I looked at myself. As the weeks passed, my body changed but my sense of self-worth didn’t. There was always more I thought I could be doing; my stomach still wasn’t flat enough and my thighs still moved when I walked. One day after a workout, I looked at myself in the mirror—really looked. Since nothing else was working, I needed to confront my body. Instead of averting my eyes from the glass or pointing out the imperfections like I usually did, I challenged myself to stare. I was tired of being afraid of the way I would treat myself. My body had seen me through a pandemic, yet there I was, making it my enemy. In reality, it’s the only thing that’s been with me every step of the way. It kept me healthy, nourished and strong enough to get in and out of bed every single day, which wasn’t the case for many others, be that due to a positive test, mental health struggles, or any other issues that can come up amidst a pandemic. I could almost see the eight-year-old me on the playground looking back through the mirror with her huge smile as I rubbed my stomach pouch. I posed dramatically without worrying about how much my thighs would jiggle. As my poses turned into a full dance party, I started thinking back to all the times Jake told me he loved my belly rolls and my round face. I realized I simply couldn’t hear any of it until I truly believed it myself. My boyfriend believing I’m beautiful is amazing, but his love can’t be a substitute for the love I should have for my own body. I needed to do some deep self-reflection to find true peace within it. No one could ever provide that reassurance to me except myself. This eureka moment in front of the mirror didn’t solve all of my insecurities—I’ve still been fighting an uphill battle. I had to learn that it’s okay to sleep in an extra hour instead of rolling the yoga mat out when I’m tired. It’s okay to drink that Caramel Ribbon Crunch frappuccino. It’s okay to love my body the way it is. Through it all, I realized that this is the only body I have, and the only time I’m ever wasting is when I sit around wishing I was in another one. If I think I’m absolutely stunning, then that’s the reality I claim.
shhh...it’s a secret
Tell me you’re queer without telling me you’re queer words by eduard tatomir | visuals by laila amer The first things you’ll notice when you walk into Tommy Chan’s bedroom is a full-body mirror designated for outfit pics, a clothing rack with a few handpicked pieces for the season and small clusters of houseplants littered around the room. The Ryerson psychology alumnus said this is how he expresses his queer identity. “I strongly believe that you can measure just how gay someone is by the way their room looks. Or, in my case, how many plants they have.” Chan picked up a monstera plant almost as tall as him, with leaves larger than his head splaying away from his face. “So, in my case, pretty gay.” This brings up the question: What makes a person queer? Is it their physical and sexual attraction to someone of the same sex, or is it their stride as they walk down the hallway? Their clay earrings? The way they style their hair? The colour of their socks? The (obscene) number of houseplants they have? The answer, according to University of British Columbia researcher Matthew Isherwood, is yes—to all of it. According to Isherwood’s 2020 paper, “Toward a Queer Aesthetic Sensibility: Orientation, Disposition, and Desire,” being queer is more than just who you’re attracted to—it’s something you show the world. He discusses “aesthetic objects” and how we channel and affirm our desires through them, even if they aren’t necessarily queer-coded. Isherwood’s connections to white socks, He-Man figurines and a poster of Leonardo DiCaprio that used to be on his wall are examples from his own younger years. They helped him to express his queer desires in a way that was safe and personal. He writes that it helped him to “look on these objects queerly and imagine someday all this could be free and all this could be [his].” For Chan, his houseplants and clothing did the same thing; they make his room feel like a welcoming and safe space for him to express his queerness. “I take photos in the mirror of outfits that I would probably never wear out, with way-too-flashy jewelry and pieces that make me feel most like myself.” As for his plants, he describes them as his “babies.” “I love taking care of them and looking at them. They’re my prized possessions and, weirdly, they make me feel secure about who I am.” Melanie Singh, a first-year undeclared arts student who describes herself as a “through-
and-through lesbian,” says she uses colour as an identifying marker for her sexuality. “My mother gave me an emerald-coloured bracelet when I was around eight years old. It used to be her favourite colour. I’ve always kept it and worn it and since then, it’s somehow become a token of me being gay.” Her mother died when Singh was in her midteens, before she came out to her. She says she regrets not telling her before, but she thinks her mother always knew. “She dropped hints all the time and always said she’d accept me for who I was,” Singh said. “Maybe that’s why I still associate emerald with being gay—because I know she would’ve loved me still, so it makes me feel safe and seen.” By seen, Singh means that she also uses green as a way to show the world who she is. “Just like when people use rainbow pins and graphic tees to tell the world they’re queer, I use emerald.” And it works. Singh remembers dates she’s had in the past where she was told the other person knew she was gay simply because of her emerald necklace or dress, or when they asked about her favourite colour. “It’s apparently a dead giveaway, a secret language only other lesbians speak.” This “secret language” can be vital to keeping the queer community alive and safe in a heternormative—and often homophobic—world. Historically, queer communities have relied on several coded systems and symbols to help express identity in a safe yet secretive manner. According to a 2013 paper by Andrew Reilly and Eirik J. Saethre on queer semiotics, red neckties, suede shoes, inverted pink triangles and the Greek letter lambda have all been used at different points in time to signal queer desire. “Queer aesthetic sensibility must detect queer desire in objects and situations that might not be obvious to others,” Isherwood wrote in his paper. “Through these objects, queer folk can imagine other ways to live and love away from the harsh criticism of a normative culture that would end them before they begin.”
Patrick Stewart, an alumnus of Ryerson’s English program, does this with the way he dresses. “I’m fairly closeted and almost no one I meet suspects I’m bi,” he said. He thinks this is because he doesn’t conform to people’s cookie-cutter ideas about men who date other men. This includes stereotypes like acting flamboyantly, speaking in a high-pitched tone or using expressive hand gestures. Stewart is more of an athletic type who’s dated women in the past and has many straight male friends. He describes himself as a “recluse.” As a bisexual man, Stewart says he’s often thought to be completely gay when h e dates men or completely straight when he dates women. This form of bi-erasure— the systemic invalidation and underepresentation of bisexual people in our society— coupled with his closed-off personality, makes him feel invisible to the queer community and potential male partners. “That limits my prospects when it comes to dating men,” Stewart said. “No one expects me to be gay so I usually have to tell them, either outright or with my clothes.” He wears a “uniform” of tight-fitting pants and floral print shirts that he says are inconspicuous to his straight peers, while signalling to potential partners where his desires lie. This “uniform” still allows him to pass in heteronormative society in order to feel safe and avoid violence. The Eyeopener previously reported that some queer students at Ryerson often have to “assess the risk” when choosing between outfits that affirm their identity by subverting norms and outfits that are more “publicfriendly” to avoid harassment. According to the 2014 General Social Survey via Statistics Canada, “those who identified as lesbian, gay and bisexual were significantly more likely to report experiencing violent victimization than those who identified as heterosexual.” “They say the days of hiding are over, but that’s not always the case,” said Stewart. “I’ve experienced homophobia on the streets many times when I was with male dates and partners, but I blend in when I’m alone. I prefer it that way.” Aesthetic objects play a key role in the LGBTQ2IA+ community, allowing queer people to stay connected to our innermost selves while validating our desires to the world. Be it a houseplant, a colour or an outfit, “a queer aesthetic sensibility enlarges one’s sense of being in a body,” as Isherwood wrote. “To practice [it] then, is to be in a constant state of becoming, and to understand that there’s always more to be seen and heard.”
Eight things that happened this year instead of my ﬁrst kiss
words by anita kiss 2021 is already off to a wild start, so I thought maybe this is the year I would finally have my first kiss, but no such luck so far. Instead, here are nine of the wildest things that have happened to me in 2021—sadly, none of which involved someone pressing their lips on my lips. 1. I accidentally ripped a hole in the space-time continuum by simultaneously watching Mamma Mia! on my laptop, playing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again on my TV and streaming ABBA on my phone. After briefly blacking out, I woke up to find that my family’s faces were all inverted and my sister had become a chicken nugget. 2. A spam bot started following me on Goodreads. It messaged me asking whether I wanted to meet hot singles in my area. Of course, I said yes. Two weeks later, I received a mysterious sizzling package on my doorstep that was so hot it had melted the small mound of snow that it was nestled in. Inside was a collection of steaming Kraft Singles cheese slices. 3. I ate 35 per cent of my own body mass in pasta, which meets the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s minimum threshold for a lasagna. I was then legally declared a lasagna. For two days, I was the subject of a bidding war between Walmart and Loblaws, both of whom were looking to add a reasonably priced lasagna to their product line. 4. I stumbled upon my mother’s birth certificate and discovered that she was born in the underwater lost city of Atlantis. When I confronted her about this, she backflipped off the porch and turned into a mermaid. She now spends most of her time in the giant fish tank that’s typically used to store Maine lobsters in Costco. This has put a slight strain on our relationship. 5. My dog ate a magic mushroom during a walk and became a vocal being. He told me where my grandfather hid the family jewels—in a shoebox under the floorboards of his bedroom. When I checked, I found no riches; the only item in the shoebox was a Chicken Little Happy Meal toy from 2005. 6. I’ve had ten consecutive stress dreams in which the Duolingo owl feeds me salad while I study. I believe this is a manifestation of my three New Year’s resolutions. The dream always ends Freddy Krueger style, with the Duolingo owl chasing me around my room with a cherry tomato skewered on a fork. I wake up with wilted romaine lettuce leaves in my sheets. 7. I realized that all my life, I’ve compared myself to standards based on the behaviours of my peers; whether it be in the educational realm or progress in romantic relationships. I finally understood that to free myself from the shackles of perpetual unfulfillment, I must truly accept myself for who I am. 8. I became the Joker.
Find your #FakeFriend Quiz Take this quiz and add up your points to see if your friendship is mutually supportive, could be with some work or is something you should get far away from (and stay far away from after the penne pasta).
something mean to your friend without meaning to. They: a. Ignore your texts for a day and then message you asking if there’s a time you both can talk (+5 points) b. Send you a long paragraph explaining their feelings, tell you they need space and they’ll text you when they’re ready to move on (+2 points) c. Ignore your text but post quotes about “eliminating toxic people from their life” on their Instagram story (-1 point)
You and your friend took the same online elective this semester. When the professor thanks you for always participating during the last class, your friend: a. Texts you: “LOL, this prof is so cheesy!” (-1 point) b. Reacts with the hands clapping emoji on Zoom (+5 Your friends text you to points) hang out (in the year 2031, postc. Doesn’t mention it (+2 points) pythagorean theorem). When you see the text you feel: You tell your friend that you’re a. Indifferent. It would be great really sorry, but you need to to catch up, but your (wellcancel the FaceTime you had meaning) friend group chose planned. You just aren’t feeling the activity while you were up to it. Your friend: away, and the plan is to do a. Asks if there’s any way they something you really don’t can still call, since they have like (+2 points) something they really wantb. Already exhausted to tell you (-1 point) ed. They want to b. Says “Okay, but please don’t spend four hours miss the next one!” (+2 together, but you points) have a lot of work to do. You c. Reassures you that it’s alright know that if you try to leave and asks if there’s another early or say you can’t make it, time coming up that works they’re going to be annoyed, for both of you, so they can so you’re hoping someone still fill you in (+5 points) else says they can’t go before You’ve had a bad day, and you say you do (-1 point)
Excited to see them but nervous because you have an assignment due! You look at your schedule and figure out what you need to get done to be able to make the plans, even if you can only stay for an hour or two. When you text them about it, they offer to change the date to the day after your assignment deadline (+5 points)
actively listen without making you feel like you’re bothering them and always respond to you respectfully, 5 to 7 points: This friendship even when they’re hurt. When might be cool but probably someone’s needs aren’t being met, shouldn’t be your main source it’s helpful to have a conversation of support about what exactly each of you It seems like you and your friend wants out of the friendship. are misunderstanding each other Don’t be afraid to seek out supand it’s having some significant im- port from other people, as it can be pacts on the friendship. Have you pretty precarious to have one person considered whether you two have be your sole support system. If you anything in common? feel like this person, while Your friend, an English student, Think carefully about well-meaning, doesn’t unsees that you’re stressed out by whether you two have any derstand your goals, try an essay you have to write for shared interests or experiences, reaching out to people your literature class and offers and how any major differences from your class or job to look over your draft. You: could be impacting the way you who might have a better a. Tell them you’re fine and treat each other. understanding of certain confident that your work is If you constantly feel drained challenges you face. good enough to get an ‘A’ on at the idea of explaining yourself, its own. Do they really think your decisions and beliefs to your 16 points and higher: This you can’t write an essay? (-1 friend, or if you feel judged every friendship is a mutually-serving point) time you try to go to them for ad- support circle b. Agree and let them look it vice, they might not be the person You seem to have this friendover, but only accept a cou- you should lean on. ship down to a science, and when ple of changes so you don’t things go wrong, you’re likely hurt their feelings, decline 8-16 points: This friendship has able to communicate effectively the rest and submit the essay potential, but you both have to because you have a good underalmost exactly as you wrote put in work standing of each other’s needs. it (+2 points) While this friendship seems good What you need to focus on now is c. Thank them for offering and on the surface, there’s something maintaining that support system. give them some key things here that isn’t fully clicking—and As long as you can to look over. When you get it’s causing at least some of your confidently say that the draft back, you accept support needs to be left unmet. the friendship is both changes that make sense and Luckily, this is a problem that open give and take, you ask your friend to clarify communication can help you work should look forward the others so you can decide through. Someone who communi- to the day you get to whether to accept them or cates effectively should be willing hug this friend again; not (+5 points) to hear out different perspectives, they seem great!
Five coming-of-age ﬁlms that look beyond awkward ﬁrst loves
We all know the classic coming-ofage films that perpetuate unrealistic expectations of young love. She’s All That, 13 Going on 30 and The Spectacular Now—these movies all have the same underlying theme: you haven’t “come of age” until you’ve experienced a relationship. But the genre, just like people’s reallife experiences of youth, is much more diverse. There’s self-discovery, rocky relationships between parents and finding your people—the ones you aren’t afraid to reveal your truest self to. With all that in mind, here are some recommendations for your next movie night:
John Singleton drew inspiration from his own life for his directorial debut Boyz n the Hood. This movie is about the hardships and joys Black teens faced growing up in the ’90s in South Central Los Angeles. The film is a timeless piece that discusses race, romance, violence and religion. It also features big names like Ice Cube, Regina King, Angela Bassett and Cuba Gooding Jr.
The Florida Project (2017) dir. Sean Baker This film features a lot of unfamiliar actors (excluding the iconic Willem Dafoe), but what the cast lacks in familiarity is made up for with brilliant acting. Set over a summer in Florida, the story follows six-year-old Moonee (BrookBoyz n the Hood (1991) dir. John lyn Prince) and her young mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite). They rely Singleton
heavily on welfare and live in the shadows of Walt Disney World at a motel. While Halley jumps from job to job struggling to provide for her daughter, the motel manager (Dafoe) does his best to occupy and protect the young family from the jarring reality that they face. The Florida Project is gritty and authentic as it doesn’t shy away from the real-world process of growing up in poverty, shown from both Moonee’s perspective and Halley’s. Lady Bird (2017) dir. Greta Gerwig Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is one of my favourite movies of all time and for good reason! It follows a strong-willed high school senior Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson
(Saoirse Ronan) as she comer to the skate group and navigates college applifalls out with her mother as cations, quirky (but not she falls in with the group. all-encompassing) first It’s a refreshing story about loves and new friendships. female friendships, puberty While Lady Bird does want a and jealousy. boyfriend, the core of the film is the heart-wrenching love story be- Okja (2017) dir. Bong Joon-ho tween her and her mother (Laurie Premiering on Netflix in 2017, Metcalf). Okja follows a young girl, Mija, who goes to extreme lengths to protect Skate Kitchen (2018) dir. Crystal her massive pig-like animal from the world; be that activists, evil sciMoselle Originally a short film on You- entists or corporate greed. Some Tube, filmmaker Crystal Moselle would argue that it’s more corporate transformed the piece into a feature satire than coming-of-age story, but film on a real-life skate group based the relationship between the girl in New York. The group consists of and her super pig is sweet and spesix fearless girls who come together cial. On her solo journey to save her and overtake the male-dominated pet from being slaughtered, Mija sport of skateboarding. Skate Kitchen learns about the “real” world that follows a suburban teen, Camille her grandfather tried so tirelessly to (Rachelle Vinberg), who’s a new- shield her from.