The Toronto Star writes that there was some trepidation on the part of the university in accepting a substantial collection of pornography that was donated to the Centre for Criminology in May, 2000. Well, look and you shall find. Conservatism within university administration is no big surprise. They have big issues to consider—not the least of which is legality, as pointed out in the story.As shocking as Star readers may find this conservatism, I’m sure most students have reconciled themselves to it. What is truly shocking is the amount of conservatism—especially concerning sex—coming from students around this campus. The university has an international reputation to uphold. Their credibility as a research centre might come into question. But most students have nothing to lose for holding liberal attitudes toward sex. So why don’t we? Now, I’m not trying to incite an orgy here. Sex is a special kind of thing. It inspires all kinds of intense emotions of different kinds. A variety of feelings about sex is good, and should be expected, but… It’s about time someone screamed out a forceful and healthy: RELAX! It’s just sex. Talking about it isn’t going to hurt anyone. Seeing pictures of it going on is relatively harmless; joking about it, even more so.Before I go on, I should admit that my sense of student attitudes is based largely upon the letter responses we have received here at the Varsity, particularly those responding to suggestive comics published in our paper. Comics like the Sex Boys, Joe College, Li’l Skeeter, and even the relatively innocuous Now What?This may not be the best litmus test of liberalism on this campus—as numerous letters in defense of these same comics will attest—but it still gives one pause. It all began with graduate student Jason Lin, who lamented, “Coming to U of T has taught me to welcome a lot of unique lifestyles but not to affirm gratuitous and carnal desires of really warped sex.” That was September 4. In the same issue another letter writer complained but was unwilling to have their letter published. (Because readers might think the writer was a conservative idiot, perhaps?)What exactly does gratuitous and carnal desires of really warped sex mean? Sounds like some kind of weird metaphor for prude to me. The most recent controversy has arisen surrounding the “Xtreme Masturbation” comic published in the October 22 issue of the Varsity. The comic in question depicted one of Mike Winters’ intrepid heroes, “Li’l Skeeter,” swooshing through the air wearing nothing but a helmet and elbow-pads, his hand upon his (not insubstantial) wiener. Andrew Tyler wrote: “The cartoon to which I’m referring serves no purpose but to advertise what the Varsity will let it get away with.” The Varsity wasn’t trying to “get away” with anything. We published the comic because we thought it was funny. It was really that simple. Olga Abramov voiced similar concerns in our November 6 issue, both castigating Mike Winters and lauding the letter by Andrew Tyler. (In defense of students, Scott Rudan eloquently expressed his support of the comic.) All I can say to these people is: RELAX. If you don’t like the comics, don’t read them. We put them at the back of the paper, where they are easy to ignore. You find sexuality vulgar. Fine. But there are bigger issues out there. Let’s all grow up and start acting like the crazy—open minded and iconoclastic—students that everyone expects.
Published: 9:00 am, 12 November 2001
Modified: 4:52 pm, 11 January 2012