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The Ubyssey Feb 7, 2017

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Coordinating Editor
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Every year, The Ubyssey releases a sex issue. The
theme of each issue varies. In 2016, we focused on
the science of sex and the processes that make people tick.
This year, we chose intimacy as our theme. It's
a broad and diverse idea — which is exactly what
..j wanted. While brainstorming, we struggled
to formulate the specific questions that we would
prompt people to write about, keeping in mind
that the concept of intimacy is not restricted to the
physical and the emotional realms. Intimacy is so
abstract, filled with nuance and complexity — and
we soon realized that the way to do it justice was
simply to listen.
With that in mind, we asked UBC students to write
us with only the flexibility of our theme to go off of.
We wanted to know what intimacy meant to them
— to know their thoughts, their feelings, their minds
(and what a rich subject to mine). We knew the quality of our submissions would be high, but we didn't
expect to be quite so moved.
We hope that the issue does for you what it did
for us in its creation — provide you an outlet to understand, to laugh, to maybe cry a little and to learn.
—Samantha McCahe, Web JYem Editor
Joshua Medicoff, Photo Editor 04
Longform creative non-fiction mulling the
concept of intimacy — whatever that means.
Short and sweet moments of a time when
intimacy was created.
Short pieces on a person with which the
author feels intimacy.
Tinder has the reputation for being "the hookup app," but
what does it actually do for us in terms of building human
Succinct, honest essays on the concept of
intimacy in all its forms.
We asked UBC students what advice they always wanted to
give, but never had anyone ask them for. the ubyssey
the sex issue
Personal Essays
04 three's a crowd
The two real boyfriends that
I've had were similar in
many ways. They were both
incredibly kind-hearted, funny
people. They made me feel light,
buoyed by their presence. They
always made me laugh.
But they were also alike in that
neither of them knew about my
longest relationship with my Ii'iM-H
Wi1iUUUi«liWJmidt»±flBfil Although I've spent much of my late
teenage years and early 20s trying
to shake him, I was born with him
tangled up in my genetic code,
causing a chemical imbalance
in my brain. Although he comes
and goes irregularly, we've grown
codependent — and after so many
years together, it's difficult to imagine my life without his presence.
He's a possessive lover. He gnaws
and snaps and claws at me, clinging us together, until my brain is a
bruised and bitten peach.
There's rarely room for some-
one else.aBS&mSEinfl
and grasping for my time and attention for there to be a party of
My depression sometimes feels
like the wild manifestation of a parallel life I have on the side. My real
self, I'd like to think, is very happy.
I'm animated with close friends and
family, in class and at work where
I smile for a living — "welcome to
Earls!" I'm usually having a pretty
good time. I love to read and talk
politics, and can spend countless
hours with my best friends. I like
hanging out with my neighbours'
cats. Given the amount of time
Milo and Ruby spend with me, I can
only assume it is mandated by Cat
Law to put in a certain amount of
hours socializing with single, emotionally fraught women. But most
of all, I like to date. _^^__^_
More accurately,HE^EEia
For me, a first date is the ultimate
curated experience — a new addition to my incredibly diverse dating
portfolio. I like choosing a sleek
outfit and putting on my jasmine
perfume. I like the representation
of our best selves, our even-tempered voices, the atmosphere of
the candlelit bar we've agreed on.
And as a student of psychology, I
always find something so intriguing in being up close with another
person. He'll smile easily. He'll be a
sculpted David come to life. He'll be
achingly intelligent, conscientious
of our increasingly turbulent world
and seeking to fix it. Sometimes he
will be all of these things at once
and I'll melt like caramel ice cream,
sweet and dripping. I'm aware of
the effort we both put in — but
unlike most people, I enjoy it.
Most of all, I like how a first date
permits me to feel close to someone, all while only having to reveal
the specific amounts of neutral
emotional territory that I want to.
After the first date, though,
things change. This is when my
two diametrical lives uncomfortably intersect, for depression will
make himself known as soon as I
have the opportunity to create real
intimacy. He's a low hiss in my ear
when I want to ask the person I'm
seeing a deep, probing question. A
firm, clenching hand on my shoulder warning me not to go there,
because if they ask me something
real about how I'm feeling, it'll be
painful to lie about it.
Given too much time with a certain person, things will swing like a
pendulum away from the facade
of first impressions or the rawness
of passion to an uneasy middle
ground. Others might call this a
comfortable familiarity, but there
me. Almost anything can be said
and found adorable when someone doesn't really know you. An
absolute void of spatial reasoning
skills and a money-back guarantee
that I will get lost in three square
yards? I couldn't count the number
of men who have tried to help poor
me learn the basics of navigation.
A fantasy I occasionally have that
includes filling my pockets with
stones and walking into English
Bay? How many people could understand that? Depression is not
a sweet quirk I want to share with
someone. It's so, so ugly. I like
pretty things.
I know it can't continue forever like this. I usually see people
for a spell of a few months before
moving on, because keeping men
at arm's length for longer than
that is draining. When things with
someone are purely physical, it's
a little easier. For me, sex and depression have a similar physical
manifestation: a racing heart, a
heat in the stomach, a tension in
the muscles. In a sick sense, it's exciting. It's crude. It's a release. But
above all else. IHE1 J No real
intimacy is expected, and that certainly helps in moments of "You've
been Trumped!" — a phrase I've
coined when I find out guys I've
been seeing are supporters of
Orange Hitler. This has happened
three times and each time, I have
immediately morphed into Jim
Halpertfrom The Office, staring into
the camera, silently begging to be
But what did I expect? That's
what happens when you don't
share who you really are or care to
learn who the person you're seeing
really is. What's actually difficult is
keeping my emotional barriers up
around men I could genuinely see
myself with. For these truly empa-
thetic people I've met who share
my values, I turn on a nice movie
about myself for them to watch
with the volume turned way, way
down. All of my bad and broken
parts are muted, it's true, but my
good qualities remain hazy and
half-present. They deserve better.
And in moments of clarity when
my mental fog dissipates for a bit, I
My relationship with depression
is the biggest source of toxicity in
my life. Breaking up with him will
probably be the hardest thing I'll
ever have to do. But it's necessary
to eventually let someone else in —
and as much as I dream of becoming a clinical psychologist or living
abroad one day, having a strong
partner who knows all of me just
as I know all of him is something I
want out of life. Part of it will mean
accepting my depression and my
mental health likely won't ever be
perfect. But acknowledging it feels
a little like a few of the bruises I
have are beginning to heal. "Q red sea
As if I were Moses parting the
Red Sea, I learned from a
Lyoung age how to separate
the oceanic forces of physical and
emotional intimacy.
HS3SSESEE5EE1 love was not
something I ever considered. This
wasn't by virtue of my upbringing.
My parents are textbook upper middle-class, white, liberal Canadians. I
was warned about the pitfalls of intolerance and instructed as to which
words and attitudes were unacceptable. My 82-year-old Jewish grandfather did not bat an eye when he
learned I was gay. Instead, he chronicled his experiences working at a gay
club in 1960s Montreal.
But something inhibited me from
EffflflSHflEMffMSffHSniBBai Maybe
it was the lack of representation in
the thousands of movies I devoured
after my dad introduced me to Jurassic Park. (If I'd been able to watch a
gay palaeontologist battle a T. rex,
who's to say where I'd be now?)
Maybe it was fear that I'd be accused
of being a "faggot" by boys in junior
high classrooms. For the purposes
of this essay, however, causation is
irrelevant — crucial is the shaping of
my ability to be intimate with others,
and therefore my ability to be intimate with myself.
What's a young boy who feels a
desire for his same gender to do?
Well first, he questions why this had
to happen to him. There's a reason
why people tread the well-worn
cliche of feeling "different" so often.
Why, I'd wonder, was I not allowed to
be like my male friends, who'd chat
authentically about their crushes on
girls or about the awesomeness of
boobs? I felt cornered, jammed into
a stuccoed wall that agitated and
broke the surface of my skin. Underneath my flesh: a secret waiting to
expose itself to the world. It wasn't
outright homophobia that prevented me from accepting my queerness,
but the anxieties that accompany
being different	
IAMLUI.I;«W^JJM.I in which I
mixed two chemicals with no safety
goggles on. For me, those two chemicals were an aggressive sex drive
and an inability to accept my identity, which when combined, lead to
an unstable but strikingly active
reaction. I resolutely decided that
I would allow myself to be sexual
with men and leave emotions to
relationships with women. If I could
separate the two, the uncomfortable truth of my gayness would be
a distant thought. I became sexually active relatively early — and
then swiftly ventured into a string
of awkward physical relationships
with boys similarly closeted and
afraid. When two people try to
ignore their truths together, an odd
and melancholic air lingers. There
is little comfort in sharing such
an uncomfortable sensation with
someone else — the truth bubbles
between your bodies^	
like perversion. I thought the act —
with their lips and your lips, your
face and their face — was what
you did with someone you liked or
someone you loved. And I wanted
to do it. And I felt daring. But after
it happened, I felt myself retreating
into the secluded corner I'd inhabited for most of my adolescence
— except the room this corner existed within was shrinking. I fought
harder and harder to repress romantic thought or feeling, acknowledgement not an option.
It took until the last fading days of
multiple girlfriends for me to come to
terms with myself. I enjoyed my time
with the women I dated like I enjoy
strong friendships, and therein lies
the issue. No happiness came from
lying to them as well as myself, years
spent desperately trying to convince
myself of who I wanted to be and not
accepting who I am. Shortly afterwards, the sun set on dating women.
However, intimacy does not
simply follow acceptance. For years
of my adolescence, I'd learned to dichotomize the sexual and the emotional, so unlearning took — and is
still taking — some time. Physical
intimacy requires different skills
than emotional intimacy, and melding the two together is a process
and a half. The intricacies of the
body are bound to the complexities
of the mind, with the two stuck in a
messy, moving dance. They zig and
zag, turn sharply, stop abruptly, and
begin their movement once again,
all within seconds. When you don't
grow up considering the relationship
between the two, educating yourself on how they interact is quite the
learning curve.
When I felt comfortable enough, I
thought a boyfriend would magically appear and a package of confetti would explode upon his arrival.
I soon realized that relationships
are aslJXW«1ll»AH4JLIJLilUJ[aan
— with twice the emotions to deal
with. (And my overblown sex drive
never subsided.)
Those aren't negatives, though.
I think they're just part of the later-
in-life epiphanies queer people (and
maybe people in general) have when
they come to terms with themselves.
At 19,1 have had relationships and
I have had breakups, and they've
been resplendent and hurtful, rewarding and painful. But look at
where I am now. I am fortunate
enough to walk home on rainy evenings and inhale the ocean air with
which I am surrounded, experiencing thefullest range of human emotion I could at my age. If allowing
myself to feel intimacy opens me to
the potential for hurt, I will gladly,
willingly, let the Red Sea cave in and
be whole. '3 the joy of
Iknow that a person should have
an orgasm as often as their partner. This feels right, fair and sensible. Yet, for years after I started
having sex, it just didn't happen for
me with my partners. "It just takes a
long time," I'd say, or "that felt really
good," eluding the question of my
orgasm entirely. Often, Q
These approaches felt wrong, but I
was utterly bewildered as to how to
make it happen. My body became
unknown amd uncooperative during
sex. I would command and it would
That is, until I discovered the true
joy of one of nature's age-old carnal
delights: ESSffiHI
The summer after my first year
of university, I went home to the
US. I lounged on a pool chair in the
backyard, read books all day and relished, for the first time, in the joy of
doing nothing. When a friend asked
if I wanted to go on a weekend road
trip I felt, surprisingly, no inhibitions.
I said yes right away. In the carload
of people was a boy I'll call Nick. Nick
and I had always had flirty chemistry
in high school, but a relationship had
never bloomed, sexually or otherwise.
On the second night of the road
trip, with all of us curled in sleeping bags on the floor of a stranger's
living room, Nick and I talked. In
the dark, our hushed voices floated
up to the ceiling, vanishing in the
air like smoke. It wasn't sexual. We
talked about dorky people from high
school that we had practically forgotten, and traced back the reason
for why he and I had stopped talking
in the first place. When the conversation luiljedandaquietfell on the
room.HUife.liilJJillilJiUl'.'ll got up
to go pee, to push the feeling down.
In the bathroom mirror my cheeks
were flushed. When I came back
Nick was asleep, one foot poking out
from beneath his blanket.
I went back to Vancouver shortly
thereafter. One day, I got a text from
Nick. We chatted. It was comforting
to talk with someone from home as I
navigated landing an apartment and
a job in a city that still felt so foreign,
and soon the conversation turned to
I felt silly at first. Sexting was a
thing I'd dabbled with in the early
years of high school, when my sexuality felt so completely outside
myself. I had hoped then that following neat, orderly rules would deliver
me to supreme womanhood. Kiss a
boy, let him touch your boobs, send
him a picture of your butt and bam!
You're a sexually mature woman!
When I realized this wasn't the case,
I'd thrown out some behaviours —
including sexting.
So when Nick first moved into
that territory, describing my body
with words that made me blush, I
thought this wasn't for me.
But as we continued to chat in
the coming days, our conversations
full of memes and idle chatter about
what we were up to, I began to like
the sexting that inevitably happened
each night. And I mean really like it.
It was the sexual exploration
porn was never able to provide.
Porn felt rehearsed and unreal — it
was sexually stimulating, but not in a
way that felt applicable to me, transferable to my own life.
writing sexts manifested my realization of my actual desires. The letters
on the page forced a truth where it
hadn't existed before. I didn't lie to
Nick about the sexual things that
I wanted. In fact, nearly every sext
began with "I want you to..."
The pressures of a person's
naked body in my presence was
lifted. There was no need to fake it.
There was only my own body in the
Nick and I stopped talking eventually. Feelings had become confusing
on both of our ends and I had grown
to want a partner in my Vancouver
world, who would do the things I
had finally figured out I wanted. I
now wanted a real body in the room
with me.
When I met my now-boyfriend
for the first time at a bar in East Vancouver, I felt high on this new need.
We ate nachos and drank cider, and
smiled at each other a lot. A few
dates later, when we had sex, it felt
like a completely new experience. It
was awkward and clunky, as most
new-partner experiences are, but I
was satisfied in my newfound awareness of and advocacy for myself.
Months later, when I went
home over winter break, I didn't
meet up with Nick. We exchanged
some terse texts and I explained
that I had a new person in my life.
Neither of us made mention of
the months when we both badly
wanted to be together in person.
Instead, I sexted my boyfriend. I
felt theEElBEBlltJMIil JJ1=UI JJl'd felt
the summer before, with one difference. This time, when I got back
to Vancouver, I could turn those silly
sexts into a reality. "JU the ubyssey
the sex issue
Intimacy in Brief
the rule of threes
To the boy wearing a black toque who I
saw leaving the Nest as I entered it last
We made eye contact three separate
times in our 30-second encounter, each
glance building intimacy and sexual tension. I understand the accidental first look
during which our eyes met — but once the
count passed two, I took that as the equivalent to a marriage proposal and wanted
to use this opportunity to accept it.
here's your chest
To the pretty girl who came by the pizza
place and to whom I said, "here's your
chest" instead of "here's your change":
I was seven hours into an eight hour shift
and my brain was primitive and it just
slipped I'm sorry let's go out some time.
importance of food
To the nice stranger who awkwardly chatted with me before my psychology exam
and proceeded to sit beside me during
the exam:
Sorry I left early. I was hungry.
Canada's Largest International University and Student Travel Expo
Study and s
^^^^^^m ^^^^^^m ^^^^^^m ^^^^^^m ^^^^^^m ^^^^^^m
sure, buddy
I have been sexually active since I was 15
years old, but when I was 21, I orgasmed
for the first time.
For years, I told partners that I had
never climaxed and every single one's
answer was the same: "I can fix that."
Sure, buddy.
The first time I had an orgasm, I was
in the back of a soccer mom van. He had
been in between my legs for the better
part of an hour, and every time my body
made a weird noise or I apologized for
being too loud, he whispered to me, "It's
okay." I felt so comfortable, so warm, so
content — and with my fingers buried in
his hair, I came over and over and over
When it was over, our eyes met and
we laughed in tandem, his arms wrapping around me in a tight hug. The seat
beneath me was sticky and soaked with
warmth, and I felt safe in his arms. The
environment was less than sexy, but it remains one of the most intimate moments
I've ever shared with someone.
It wasn't about love, it wasn't about accomplishment — it was about making me
comfortable. I think that's what it's about.
To the boy who fell asleep on me after a
drunken night of failing at beer pong:
You're heavy. And you have a cute smile.
I bled colours all over her sheets. Someone You're Seeing
the ubyssey
the sex issue
when in love
mth a friend
"I think I'm in love with you," I want to say.
But don't worry.
I'm in love with you, but it's a slower,
gentler burn than what you are picturing.
The way I love you is quiet. It always
will be. It is a big love, foundational like
the tidal pull of the moon, but I don't need
to scream it from the rooftops. This love
is simply there, like the scars on my left
knee from where I fell when I was 11, in
a screaming, triumphant leap down the
stairs to the beach on a family vacation. I
like to choose my own catastrophes.
I might dream of you sometimes, and
I know you can tell when you look at me.
But don't worry — I'm in love with you, but
it's softer and less fervent than what you
are imagining.
We're in a crowded room, you look up
and our eyes meet; everything is very still
and the background blurs, and you can
tell by my expression that I've thought
about kissing you. Don't worry, I won't.
Though I hang the moon by your gaze,
I'll sit on my hands so I don't take yours.
almost toe good
to be true
My pinkie toes are kind of special.
For starters, they don't really look like
toes — they look like fleshy tadpoles. As
if their looks weren't enough, instead of
helping me walk like toes are supposed
to, they just get in the way, half-wedging
themselves between the ground and my
ring toes. They're useless and ugly, and
for a long time, I was certain that my hideous toes had destined me for solitude.
Until I met my boyfriend, I'd never actually
encountered anything that matched their
level of unsightliness.
My boyfriend is a lot of things. He's
soft and kind and sweet. He's confident,
but never too proud to ask for help. He's
always, always there. He's also pretty hot.
But the day I fell in love with him wasn't
the first time I unzipped his pants. It was
another kind of disrobing altogether. It
was the day I took off his socks to find that
his pinkie toes look exactly like mine.
I don't think I've ever met anyone that understands darkness as well as I do
Your fingers write symphonies on my skin
And I see rainy evenings in your eyes
I dream of your arms around me, watching the ocean
Turbulent, they called me
I believe that I'm a storm you want to
"Crazy, or crazy for you?"
Your breath blankets me
Safe in your embrace the ubyssey
the sex issue
The Psychology of Swiping
•* HELEN ZHOU Maybe you're on it after
a bad breakup. Maybe
you're on it to pass the
time during your long bus ride.
Maybe you're on it to genuine-
ly look for someone to make a
il'ill'iTJJIIB JHilflil with (in
which case, maybe you should try
Plenty of Fish instead). No matter
the reason, there's a good chance
that you are one of the 19 million
college-aged Tinder users.
The infamous dating app,
where you swipe left or right on
profiles to either try and match
with them or reject them, has
gained a reputation for being
a place for people to seek out
hookups and casual sex — as
well as a net worth in the billions.
Gone are the days of hanging out
at the bar, setting your sights on
someone and wooing them with
your superior flirting techniques.
Or are they?
Tinder has the reputation for
being "the hookup app," but what
does it actually do for us in terms
of building human connections?
What does it mean for the way
that people interact and judge
one another when they go back
to real life?
According to UBC professor of
philosophy Dr. Carriejenkins,
our expectations about love —
especially ones that are socially
constructed — have evolved since
the advent of online dating.
"If you just rely on walking into
a bar and hoping to meet someone, the chances of meeting someone who wants the same kind of
relationship as you, [especially] if
you want anything at all that's not
the 'normative standard,' is quite
small," she said.
The "script" for prescribed relationships changes as more people
WlfflMdMiEBHiBHiniathev want
to be in — they no longer have
to be monogamous, have an expectation of leading to marriage,
or be heterosexual. The power to
"filter" through the kinds of people
you would be interested in seeing
is made possible through Tinder,
noted Jenkins.
This concept of a new "script"
applies to the way that relationships pan out as well, said UBC
sociology professor Dr. Yue Qian.
She cited a study done by an American scholar, who found that it was
not the case that young people are
currently only hooking up instead
of getting into romantic relationships. Rather, the way that romantic relationships come about are
now different.
"Think about courtship in the
old days. Two people go to dinner,
see a movie, they try it out through
dates, and then they define a serious relationship and continue
dating," said Qian.
"Nowadays, relationships start
in the bed and then they decide
whether they want to have shared
events outside of the bed. The sequence of events has changed a bit
— maybe with the help of online
This new-age dating method, in
many ways, isn't very new-age at
all. In fact, Qian said that it is only
the technology that is recent, and
that traditional dating dynamics
are still prevalent.
"For example, in the US, research has shown that when they
ask online daters to rate online
dating profiles, they find that
highly educated men have higher
rating scores than highly educated women. So being educated is
a much more preferable attribute
for men than for women." It seems
then that while there is new technology to facilitate new kinds of
relationships, the way that people
use them still trends towards traditional preferences.
Despite Tinder's popularity and
the large number of people using
the app, there is still a degree of
stigma around it. One student said
that he and his current girlfriend
met through Tinder, but they both
tell their parents they met at a
party or through mutual friends
because he knows they wouldn't
But even among young people,
there is a certain aspect of negativity surrounding online dating.
"[My friend] said that he didn't
like how it was basically the same
thing as walking through a club
at the end of the night when the
lights go on, trying to findbrai
fflCTBlffRTJI But you're not drunk,
you're actually just online," said
Jemma Dash, a third-year psychology major.
"There's something to be said
about something that's so physical, and then transforming the
entrance into that physical world
in a way that has absolutely nothing physical. It just seems like two
extremes bashing together, which
doesn't work for me."
The signature swipingmotionof
Tinder allows users to~|§ ^J
gjgfj^UJJQ g often
rTtaKin^asna^judgement based
on just a single picture.
"These kinds of apps can reinforce stereotypes towards certain
groups," said Qian.
For example, Qian cited the difference between Asian men and
women on the dating market. Asian
men are often stereotyped as the
least preferable racial group, while
Asian women are often fetishized
as one of the most preferable.
What this means for online dating
is that there is a very clear mechanism and filter in place for people
to be selective about the race of
potential mates.
"When we look at the profile
pictures on an app like Tinder,
what do we identify first? Race,"
said Qian. "Without the intention
of even trying to get to know that
person, we are more likely to make
rash decisions about who they're
interested in based on longstanding stereotypes, especially about
The quick, surface level interactions of the app were off-putting to Dash, who deleted it after
three days.
"I think going into it, you can't
really expect it to work if you
want more than [surface level
interaction] or if you value more
than that because you're going
into a platform where it's so appearance-based," she said.
On the other hand, the ^
£llUlIllEBEl decisions we
make about people aren't necessarily restricted to the online
"We make instant snap judgements about people within the first
few seconds of looking at them. In
some ways, Tinder is really just
mirroring a thing that happens in
the offline world as well," said Jenkins.
"Even people who swipe quickly, I don't necessarily think they're
doing anything particularly different from what we do in real life
when we meet new people. But
they're doing more of it because
they're being presented with more
The long and the short of online
dating, hooking up and relationships is to think critically about
the social construction of what
love and dating looks like.
Hookup culture, for example,
may not actually be as new of a
concept as it's generally perceived
to be.
"With the rise of social media
in general, we see things now that
we didn't notice at first because
we just weren't able to and [it]
was so filtered out due to a lack
of communication, at least at that
level," said David Pashinsky, a
first-year forestry student.
"I think hookup culture's always
been there, but it just hadn't had
a way to manifest itself until now."
With Tinder and romance in
the era of technology, Jenkins
urges people in general, but especially students, to be mindful
of misconceptions and misinformation. The idea that everyone is
on Tinder hooking up with people
can in fact perpetuate a kind of
pressure on people to do just
that, or risk being seen as "weird."
"It's important to ask questions
like, 'Hang on, where did that
pressure come from? How does
it interact with what I really want
from my life right now?' That's a
question where the answer's going
to be different for everybody, even
if the pressure is the same," she
"You have to think about all of
this really hard and you have to
no one else is going to do what you
need to do." 9 the ubyssey
the sex issue
Mini Essays
I confess
Lately I've been told that I shock people, and
you've admitted I've shocked you, too. But I
have my own confession — something that
took me off guard.
The other day, you taught me just how
many nerves exist on human hands. You
reached over and weaved your fingers
through the gaps between my own. Then and
there, I discovered just how much my hands
could really feel. They have held newborns,
strummed guitar strings and had a love affair
through the keys of a piano. They have whispered sweet words through midnight messages, and have felt life leave from within
their grasp, but I confess that I never imagined a simple clutch could send such a shock
through them, traveling across my entire
body with a single, natural gesture. As we sat
side by side, shoulders touching, fingers intertwined, hands growing warmer with every
passing minute, I felt a heat rush through my
entire being.
And when you rubbed my fingers oh-so-
gently?ltwasas if someone had just started a
circuit on my skin — and even though sparks
and ashes from flames can give you third-degree burns, I confess that I have never felt a
warmth more pleasant. In fact, I welcome the
scorch. %
To him, to you
It is fucking intimate when someone leaves
you feeling broken.
Ifs intimate when someone tells you that
you have too many flaws — that you are a
good person to hurt. When someone gives
up on you so easily, I hope you discover that
intimacy the way that I did. A lot of things
were broken, but my heart wasn't broken. It
was working overtime, exhausted and heavy,
trying to heal the rest of me.
I felt sad, so I tried to heal through my
pain, searching for my own faults, examining
every word and memory to explain why the
relationship failed. I felt hurt, so I tried to heal
through my anger, searching for his shortcomings, setting fire to every memory. It was
his fault, wasn't it? But the blame game is a
losing game. We both made mistakes. I'm not
perfect. He isn't perfect. It wasn't me. It wasn't
him. It was us.
The moment that I walked away and
didn't look back, I began to know what it truly
meant to be intimate. I still need to heal, to
fix the emotional damage that he left behind
when he told me that I was flawed, but not
how I was flawed. How do I prove that I am
worth love? How do I prove that I am not as
flawed as he said I was? I am learning, but it is
so fucking painful sometimes.
I have learned to tenderly hold my beautifully imperfect body the way that I tried to
hold his. That is intimacy. I have learned to
gently hold my heart the way my friend held
me as I cried for the whole morning. That is
intimacy. I have learned to be patient with
myself — we don't heal in one night, in one
essay. A friend reminded me of this in a note
that simply read, "time heals all wounds."
That is intimacy. I have learned to love myself
when I don't want to, the way my parents
continuously loved me when I told them that
I was gay. That is intimacy. I may never know
exactly how I am flawed, but I will find healing
in intimacy with myself, my friends and my
family. I will be okay.
To him — forgive me, I know you meant
well and you are kind.
To you, the reader — you are perfectly
flawed. Find intimacy. Love yourself patiently.
Healing takes time, tl The healing
properties of
the vagina
"My dick is fucking raw," he said, bent over
the bed with his hard-on exposed. "I think I
can feel your IUD."
I narrowed my eyes at him in indignant
speculation. He was neither the largest nor
the most enthusiastic sex partner I had been
with that summer. How could that be? (This
is actually nearly impossible.) And then to
think, that while I was on top of him, I was
actually stabbing him with my IUD... I felt embarrassed and angered by his lack of grace. I
made a secret vow to myself right then and
there that I would never again ride him. Ha!
Except, for logic-defying reasons unknown, I wanted to have sex with him again,
and thought about it frequently. Maybe it
was his repetitive, sweet pillow talk which
occurred incessantly both nights we spent
together. He was still mourning the break-up
with his long-term girlfriend that happened a
year and a half ago, calling her his "girlfriend"
on more than one occasion.
"You have a girlfriend?" I once asked incredulously.
"No, I mean my ex-girlfriend." If that isn't a
big enough sign to get out while you still can,
I don't know what is. But my ego got in the
way and I viewed us as two people cut from
the same cloth — two melancholy victims
of awful breakups who were still somewhat
caught up in the evil vortexes of their villainous exes. In a romantic comedy, this was
the perfect set-up for us to fall in love while
we soothed each other's broken hearts with
oral sex and reverse-cowgirl. He was broken,
and so like many other women in the world,
I thought, alas, it is only I who can fix him
with the healing properties of my vagina! The
success rate of this idea sits at a slim two per
cent (probably) and like many heroic women
before me, the fallen man continued hobbling along his crooked path, having now hurt
both of us even more in his delusional quest
of the broken-hearted, ft
He had finally kissed her for the first time that
Her lips were soft and puffy — like cotton
candy, if you please — and oh god, how it
melted on him. A part of him kept calling
out for more... more... more... because that
was what he was supposed to do because he
was in love. The world was tilting and spinning and exploding, and he couldn't stop for
fuck's sake because he was madly in love and
in love and in love. But a small part of him
— that teeny-tiny good part which always
reminded him to wear a condom, for instance — prevented him from overdoing it.
So he pulled away slowly, having kissed no
more than the tip of her lips, and turned his
thoughts to strawberries, because that was
how she tasted and how he would remember
her for the rest of his life, for god knows how
long how long how long how long —
Her eyes slowly opened and looked into
his, but he could never decipher her because
she wasn't his. Not for a twitch of an eye, or
a split of a second, or nanosecond, or never
and ever because she wasn't his, she wasn't
his, she wasn't his. So he cupped her delicate
face with one of his large hands (perhaps a
bit too large for comfort) and used his oversized thumb to trace the smoothness of her
pink skin, feeling for her warmth. Remembering it.
There were no tears to trace, feelings to be
told, nor love to be made because why should
there be? It was just a moment. A moment
to be remembered and the moment was
short, the moment was long, the moment
was eternal, the moment was fleeting, the
moment was nothing, the moment was everything. Why couldn't things be both nothing and everything, and why did they have to
be so black and white and black and white
and black and white and black and white and
black and white and black and —
"Will you remember me?" he whispered.
But she never answered, and he never
asked again. Somewhere the clock struck 12
and the music halted. Something borrowed
must be returned on its due date, ft
helps those
who help
The prevailing image of love today is one of
raw, unadulterated desire. One of unconditional irreverence and worship. Passion that
dazes you and leaves you short of breath. A
love comprised of indestructible energy and
the unfailing laws of attraction. Heaven.
We are constantly bombarded with this
image — on television, in movies, in art and in
music. But this image also carries a more insidious undertone: that our quest for intimacy should come before all else, and that we
must fight for it even at the toll of ourselves.
From this idea comes the common belief that
relationships are nasty. That we are meant to
feel bad or even feel unsafe in relationships
and that we should hold on to them at the
expense of our own emotions.
I am not advocating for collectively throwing ourselves off of a cliff like lemmings and
ending all relationships that we feel challenged in. I am challenging the idea that relationships cannot be fulfilling, that we can't
co-exist without tearing each other down. I
am saying that a loving relationship, where
you both support each other's goals and help
each other achieve them, is a perfectly real
thing and that we can all get there.
How can we get to the point where our significant others respect us and make us feel
safe? We need to love ourselves first and not
settle for less.
That sounds selfish, but it is only when we
are good with ourselves and know ourselves
that we can then know what we want out of a
relationship. Many of us have these thoughts
floating around in our heads of what we want
and who we want to be with. But often we
choose the first person that comes by who
only remotely fits into that mould, jumping
headfirst into the opportunity and discarding
our other desires and needs that are in those
moments seemingly unimportant.
Those issues come up more often as time
rolls by — and as the honeymoon goggles
come off, the boxing gloves come out. Instead of compromising on certain things, we
start to sacrifice them.
There's a saying where I'm from, regularly touted as something between a universal truth and a religious piece of advice —
"heaven helps those who help themselves."
Help yourself. Take care of yourself. Love
yourself. Never play yourself.
And someday, maybe someone will love
you too.ft the ubyssey
the sex issue
Unsolicited Advice
ho® to deal mth a
breakup, scientifically
Relationships are all about feelings,
not facts, but a healthy dose of data
won't hurt your love life —just keep
it out of the bedroom. Here's what
can you learn from science to have
a less-than-awful breakup:
First things first — breakups
suck. Psychological research has
equated breakups with the grief associated with a death. It's okay to be
mad, angry, sad, or disappointed, or
all of the above. The fastest way to
get over it is to embrace the suck.
Just give the suck a big bear hug —
it'll be shorter that way.
Unfriend them. Unfriend and
unfollow them on every social
media platform you have. Delete
their phone number. Facebook even
has a tool to help you forget your
ex. Seeing their posts — or your
ex seeing yours — is just asking for
more emotions than you can handle
right now.
Don't drink. Drinking away your
sorrows sounds like a great idea —
it's not. Alcohol is a depressant and
isjustgoingto make you feel worse.
And don't go out and try an upper
because that will just bury the problem for an hour or two before all
those feelings come crashing back
down on you.
Reach out to friends. Humans
hate rejection. Back when we were
hunter-gatherers, being rejected by
a group meant death. While a breakup is not (repeat not) life-threatening, your brain isn't good at differentiating between types of rejection
and loss. A little acceptance — with
help from your friends — can go a
long way towards tricking your brain
out of its post-rejection slump.
Exercise, eat well and get
enough sleep. More and more research is coming out about how
taking care of yourself really is the
best medicine.
And whatever you do, don't get
back together with your ex. ft
ask sexy natalie
Dear Sexy Natalie,
How do you feel closer to your partner when in bed?
I'm guessing you're not talking
about sleeping here! But the same
advice applies when talking about
anything to do with sex: communication and consent are key. What works
for one person might be completely
wrong for others. Some people like
a lot of eye contact to feel intimate,
but some like... knowing that their
partner isn't going to choke them too
hard. Different strokes for different
folks — pun absolutely intended.
My girlfriend really wants to be
dominated in the bedroom. How do
I do this?
Let me say it again for the people
in the back: communication and consent. What are both your and her
comfort levels? What does "domination" mean for her exactly? Where
do you want to draw the line? Talk
about this beforehand, and think of a
safe word or just go with the "green,
yellow, red" rule. Remember, if you
don't feel comfortable dominating
her or you just know that you won't
have a good time, say so — consent
goes both ways! Make sure you give
each other proper aftercare. And
have fun! ft
ho® to have a
healthy relationship,
according to science
Relationships are really, really hard
and no relationship is without its
problems. Even that couple you
know that has been together for
years, is always smiling at each other
and posts cute couple photos all the
time? Yep, they have their problems
too. Perfect relationships simply
don't exist — get that through your
So what does science say is the
best way to have a healthy relationship?
Communication: Duh, but communication is hard. One simple
lesson to learn from research is how
to argue well. The point of an argument isn't to win — it's about finding
a solution. Your partner isn't your
enemy, so don't treat them like one
— even when they are being objectively annoying.
Compassion: There are two components to compassion — kindness
and generosity. Say your partner is
a giant nerd and points out a big-
ger-than-usual moon, which you
give zero fucks about. Instead of
dragging them away, suck it up and
stare at the moon with them. If it's
important enough for them to have
wanted to point out, show some
compassion and indulge them. It
might seem like a little thing, but this
mentality could be the closest thing
love has to a magic bullet.
Physical intimacy: Sex is a good
start, but it isn't the be-all, end-all of
physical intimacy. A lot of research
says that the more sex you have,
the better your relationship is going
to be. But just sex isn't enough —
you need to show physical intimacy
beyond coitus. Cuddling, hugging
and kissing are all strongly associated with greater relationship satisfaction. If you like someone, show
them. They'll be happier and so will
Don't be a jerk: This is easier
said than done, but it basically boils
down to just not being selfish. Relationships have to be mutual. Give
a little now and then — you might
even like it.
Bonus tip, free of charge: Do
new and exciting things with your
partner. Your brain is too unevolved
to know the difference between
the excitement of the new thing
and excitement associated with a
person. Your brain will associate all
the adrenaline from narrowly avoiding death-by-skydiving with your
partner, ft ginyah 's
there is no saviour
There is no saviour in a relationship.
Nobody, no matter how much they
love you, can fix you.
If you are looking for the kind of
person that soft-rock bands in the
90s sung about ("Wonderwall" by
Oasis, "Fix You" by Coldplay), you
should leave those ideas behind.
Not only is it unrealistic, but it is
also unfair to expect your significant
other to save you. They are similarly flawed individuals that have their
own troubles to deal with. You can
help each other work through things,
of course, but you cannot expect
them to whisk you away to their
golden palace or have them turn you
into a pouty vampire to mope eternally together.
This isn't meant to sound cynical. You aren't doomed to wade
through your problems alone — you
just have to respect your partner's
problems as well. Don't make their
troubles more difficult for the sake
of your own ease. Understand each
other. Help each other as best as you
can, but do not mistake self-sacrifice
for some romantic idea of what love
is. Love is a balance of all respects.
Strength in yourself is as vital as the
strength you have together.
If you can make it through the
most difficult of times, your relationship will be stronger because of it. ft
abstinence isn't
always a bad thing
In third year, after a string of bad
sexual partners, I abstained for eight
months. What I learned was simple
and seemingly obvious, but nevertheless important: sex should be
a choice. It should make you feel
good (while you're having it and afterwards) and waiting for the right
person in order to avoid sex that
makes you feel shameful, sad or
lonely is a perfectly fine idea, ft
Light a few candles, put on some Patti Smith,
pull out your pocket mirror and get a good
angle: it's time to get close and personal with your furry friend we all know as the
vagina. Here's a short list of facts that you
should have been learning in your middle
school health class while they were putting a
condom on a banana for the fifth time.
No two vaginas, much like chicken nuggets,
are the same. Put simply, vaginas are extremely varied in size and shape of the clitoris, labia, amount of pubic hair and more.
So don't worry if it doesn't look like a Georgia
O'Keeffe painting — mine doesn't either.
Something that still shocks me to this day is
the "common knowledge" that to prevent or
help prevent the risk of getting a urinary tract
infection, consider peeing after sex. A urinary
tract infection is caused by bacteria that travels up the urethra and enters the bladder,
and peeing flushes out the bacteria that may
have accumulated post-sex. Just make sure
you wipe front to back, you fucking animals.
DOJV'TBEA douche
I don't know if I've emphasized this enough:
your vagina is magical. It is a self-cleaning
machine that features natural processes that
work to maintain a pH balance. By introducing foreign materials like douches and body
washes, you're going to piss it off (no pun intended). So stick to warm — and if needed,
minimally soapy — water.
To quotejenny Slate, 'There is no woman that
ends her day with a clean pair of underpants
that look like they've ever even come from
the store. They look like a little bag that has
fallen face down in a tub of cream cheese."
According to Vanessa Cullins of Planned
Parenthood, 'The purpose of discharge is to
keep the vagina clean," and likewise, gynaecologists say that a healthy vagina will release
about a teaspoon of discharge in the span of
24 hours. Discharge can range widely in consistency and colour, change throughout your
monthly cycle and should only cause major
concern if there is a dramatic change in its
appearance and/or smell. Your discharge can
be a great barometer for your vaginal health,
and knowing that the presence of it is normal
is the first step to identifying what's abnormal or unhealthy.
Your menstrual cycle can be influenced by
a multitude of factors despite any previous
patterns of uniformity. Diet, exercise, medication, stress, age, sleep, travel, alcohol and
drug consumption can all have effects on the
length and time of your period or ovulation.
Whether you have a vagina or not, I hope
this list gave you confidence, knowledge and
much-needed lip service (pun intended) to
the eighth wonder of the world: the vagina, ft in your  program
Athabasca University has over 850 courses for you to choose from
to meet your needs. Monthly start dates of undergraduate courses
fit into your schedule so that you can work at your own pace.
Fill the gap and save a semester.
I University
n. online, everywhere.


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