New investment policy ready for a test run

U of T administration has finalized the terms of reference for an advisory committee to oversee and direct investments made out of the university’s $5 billion in assets. The committee, made up of students, faculty, and alumni, will accept nominations starting Feb. 23.

Existing investment policy directs the U of T Asset Management Corporation, an independent subsidiary of the university, to manage investments based on a profit-maximization model.

The committee will concern itself with human rights, environmental sustainability, corporate governance, and health issues that come up in the university’s investments. In the past, appeals from the university community to drop ethically dubious investments have been processed by standing committees struck by the Governing Council. The university divested from the South African Apartheid regime in 1988, and sold its tobacco stocks in 2007. More recently, GC rejected a student group’s appeal to withdraw from corporations operating in Darfur.

According to Thomas Felix, president of the Responsible Investment Working Group, the premise of the new committee is to allow the U of T community to have a say in the investment process. The advisory committee will set the agenda at the beginning of each year with the area of focus depending on faculty support and research. It will make recommendations to the administration.

“Traditionally investment managers for U of T were instructed to vote in the shareholders’ interests.” said U of T VP business affairs Cathy Riggall. “Now a group of people believe that we should be more specific in how to vote proxies.”

“At the moment we are very passive with proxy voting. We don’t really vote against management. We’ve seen the policy records,” said Felix. The new arrangement would make for an investment environment conducive to the values of the institution, since the university would be able to use its weight as a shareholder on corporate policy decisions. Felix said this will allow the university to protect the long-term value of their funds. The new advisory committee will address these major issues.

Organizations with advanced social funds such as Harvard University, Brown University, and Canadian Social Funds have adopted similar investment models.

This committee will be reviewed in three years and could possibly make recommendations directly to the business board.

Applications for nominations and the terms of reference will be available on the Business Affairs website. Nominations for the standing committee will be due on March 6.

Firsts… And Lasts

The First Embarrassing Romantic Gesture

In Grade Seven I was, as I continue to be today, woeful in all of my interactions with women. Now, I know to keep my mouth shut—in Grade Seven, the idea genuinely hadn’t occurred to me yet. While my colleagues had been raised on a diet of football and cars, I had an emotional affinity with my mother, a mother who encouraged blind romantic ambitions in me for no good reason. Why else would she have shown me An Affair To Remember, or Casablanca before I was 10?

The girl of my potential affections was lovely—musical, pretty and, against all odds, nice to me, or so I perceived it. Thinking back, the only time I can remember us interacting was when she had asked if my “face was ok” after a bad outbreak of acne. I must have confused that for interest at the time.

But I had no way in. No common interest by which to initiate the cosmetic niceties that eventually give way to a caring relationship. While she was a prolific violinist, I had no sense of rhythm or music (a teacher had once told me to abandon musical ambitions “for everyone’s sake”); while she was nice and gregarious, I was afraid of both crowds and being alone.

I eventually decided the easiest way to get her attention without actually talking to her was also the most unnecessarily complex. My student council was selling “candy-grams”—little pieces of chocolate that would be attached to heart-shaped notes—to raise money. I convinced myself that this would be my vessel for initiating contact, though I was too afraid to make a direct pitch for her affections. Instead, I included what I perceived to be a “code” for my name—instead of actually writing my name out, I would include numbers that corresponded with the letter in the alphabet of my first name and last initial. I could just imagine it—her reading the numbers, puzzled yet oddly excited, and, in a moment of epiphany, realizing that I was the mystery man of her dreams.

So I went ahead with it, assuming my cleverness would be rewarded, and my deep sense of romanticism would immediately sweep my girl off her feet. Little did I appreciate how badly publicized the whole “candy-gram” program would be and that mine would, in fact, be the only candy-gram purchased that year, making its delivery to her classroom an uncomfortably personal affair. Worse yet, I did not realize that my “code” should have been proof read, and that by putting a “04” as my last number instead of a “02”, my friend “Chris D.” would be accused of sending the message (“at least she figured it out,” I would later lament). Feeling guilty, I had to eventually fess up to the girl that I was responsible for the message. It was, and remains, the most uncomfortable conversation of my life.

I’ve never been one for subtlety, and this did little to improve the fine skills of my emotional intelligence. It would be four years before I went on a proper date, but by then I had at least realized that women like directness. Or at least that they dislike creepy heart notes with cryptic numbers attached to Hershey’s kisses sent to them in class.

The First Time I Got Fingered

I was 17 the first time I got fingered, although it wasn’t until months later that I would come to enjoy such a gesture. It was after my Grade 12 semi-formal winter dance (I, uh, grew up in Oakville?), in some kid’s mansion on Lake Ontario. I was determined to kiss this one guy who I’ll henceforth refer to as Ron, who was skinnier than me, shorter than me, listened to a lot of hip-hop and was super enthusiastic about watching sports. It was back in the days when I still thought guys who wore basketball jerseys over t-shirts were acceptable conquests; in my defence, there’s not a ton of selection at prep school (thank God for MySpace).

Things didn’t work out so well with Ron, because he showed up at the party with a girl on each arm (probably a good argument for why upper-class high school boys shouldn’t be allowed to watch Entourage). Enraged, I got a cigarette from this guy I’ll nickname Big Bird, because he’s tall, blonde, and has a massive nose. I had never smoked a cigarette before and this seemed like a good time to start. Big Bird seemed to understand my problems, and did I want to go into the bedroom with him so we could talk about our feelings? I’m not sure what led me to say yes, whether it was my desperation for a man’s touch, or my first dose of nicotine, but off I went. (Here’s where I’ll mention that I’d been drinking warm Goldschlager from a flask all night.) So the next thing I knew we were tangled on some leather loveseat as he mauled my face and struggled to pull my tights off. You’d think a 17-year-old boy would have watched enough porn to be able to locate the clitoris, or that he’d at least trim his nails beforehand. It was like he was trying to play the bongo drums. Who slaps a vagina right away? It was terrible! I remember lying there and thinking, “I must be a lesbian.”

Yeah, the situation couldn’t have gotten much worse, but it did. Big Bird forgot to lock the door to the bedroom, and about 30 seconds later, five dudes burst into the room. My vagina, never before exposed to a male, was now on display to six of them. Quickly closing my legs and screaming “GET THE FUCK OUT!” I managed to regain poise, quickly getting the fuck out of there myself. The following Monday, a rumour was spread that they had walked in on me losing my virginity. So yeah, I’m pretty happy to be out of high school.

The First Kiss

He didn’t remember our first time.

I don’t blame him entirely. After that fateful night, I didn’t see Michael again for years. During that period, I mostly shied away from other guys. Occasionally, I’d go dancing with Johnny, who sent me love notes with my name spelled wrong, or Aaron, whose punk-rock spikes freaked out my parents satisfactorily. I never felt much for these boys: somewhat precociously taking a page from Vonnegut, I was loving whoever was around to be loved. Michael, though, was the real thing.

We’d been riding a motorcycle borrowed for the evening from an acquaintance. Steppenwolf was blasting in the background, and we lip-synced every word. (Fire all of your guns at once, and explode into space!) Michael was the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen, with steely blue eyes and a perfect left dimple. I quietly admired him all summer long, while all the other girls chased him more resolutely. In the end, he told me, that’s why he chose me—he liked that I was quiet. I blushed, unable to come up with a sufficiently mysterious response. Luckily, he wasn’t expecting one, and he planted his lips right on mine.

Now, when you’re eight years old, this kind of thing is a big deal. But the fact that the whole scene (motorcycle, Steppenwolf, and all) had occurred during a skit at summer camp made the whole episode more incredible. My first kiss had been watched by a crowd! As the summer faded away, so did my attachment to Michael, but I held strong to the mythology of the kiss.

I ran into him at a party in Grade 10, the type of suburban shindig that almost always requires cream soda and Green Day playlists. Michael was as cute as ever, though he hadn’t grown —I still towered over him at five-foot-three. In my 15-year-old mind, fate had reunited us for a reason, and we were soon Frenching behind a staircase. I thought I was being tremendously coy when I whispered, “You’re even hotter than when we met!” But Michael replied confusedly, “10 minutes ago?”

Maybe he didn’t make the connection that I was the same girl he’d kissed on a motorcycle when we were eight. Or maybe he’d stolen smooches from all of my grade school pals in 1996, and I was nothing special. So I tried to forget the Michael of my first kiss. There was a pressing matter at hand, and his name was Michael, too.

The First Time Doing What They Don’t Describe In Health Class

Every high school student feels a mounting pressure to lose their virginity by the end of senior year (I am, admittedly, of the American Pie generation). The latter part of my high school experience consisted of so many of my “bro”-friends regaling me and our smoker’s group with tales of their first time having sex, I began to feel left out. I met my high school boyfriend on Myspace (yes, I’m also of the MySpace generation). He went to the high school across the street from mine. Like any good homosexual high school relationship, mine consisted of hanging out in this dude’s basement on weeknights, watching our favourite MTV series The Hills, cuddling, making out, and the occasional and abrupt session of oral sex on his couch. But my stories during the post-first period smoke break the next morning never seemed to stand up to my heterosexual buds.

Finally, after dating this dude for four months, I felt like it was time, you know, to consummate our adolescent romance. That day happened to be Victoria Day, 2007. On paper, it was actually really romantic. We started off the evening with our usual channel 50-something viewing and cuddling, where we feigned interest, passion, and moved, tongues locked, into his bedroom. He lit some candles, dimmed his fluorescent bedroom light, and put on his pre-made playlist of Death Cab for Cutie. Outside his basement-bedroom window, his younger siblings were in the backyard lighting off fireworks in celebration of the holiday. On my back, I was prepared for something monumental, something romantic, something that would validate my sexuality, and effort towards this young man. What I was not prepared for was the pain. Not understanding the dynamics of anal sex, or the sacrifice made by the “bottom,” I realize now that no amount of lube could have made the loss of my virginity any less excruciating. With Ben Gibbard singing softly in the background, my boyfriend tried awkwardly to get his fully erect, nearly foot-long genitalia into my…well I’m sure you understand how that goes. Needless to say, despite Transatlanticism, I basically passed out from the pain and he freaked out. I’ve ripped open my eyelid and undergone gum surgery, and none of these experiences compare to the pain felt in my bowels—not just in the moment, but for two days after. Yeah, I got a story out of it, but my buddies the next day could do nothing but laugh hysterically at my horror story of losing my virginity. My boyfriend and I broke up a week later.

The First Time I Had Sex With Myself

The first time I had sex with myself was about a year and a half after I had lost my virginity proper. I was 19-years-old. Prior to that wonderful, transcendent afternoon I had had, as relationships will allow, successful intercourse countless times. But ever since high school, non-copulative activities, such as handjobs and blowjobs, had always been miserable failures. Hands, with their hard, clumsy grip, and mouths, with their unwieldy, serpentine tongues, made me go limp faster than I could say “It’s not you, I promise, I’m just tired, please don’t leave me.” My penis wanted vagina, and only vagina. So it was that I had my first real orgasm the first time I had sex, rendering me hopelessly and destructively dependant on the affections of women.

It’s not that I had never tried masturbating. I just, unlike my friends, didn’t persevere. For a period of about six months when I was 13 one of my best friends would call me up every Saturday night. As we ogled the women of Sex and the City in our separate basements he would jerk himself off while I, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, made all the appropriate grunts, sighs, and “Oh yeah, Charlotte, fuck me’s.” It was no foreskin off my nob—you can’t miss what you haven’t had.

In March 2006, I lay bored in bed and decided to give autoeroticism another try. As always I had no trouble getting erect; I was single at the time and my pent-up sexual energy was back to its Herculean adolescent levels. But as usual, I felt nothing but discomfort after that. Suddenly, the (some would say obvious) epiphany came: I should imitate a vagina. So, imagining how my penis felt inside someone, I started experimenting with angle, force, and rhythm until everything clicked at once and, in a moment of pure and true ecstasy, I exploded all over my stomach and chest. “Fuck!” I cried, as much from joy as from the realization that I had stained one of my favourite t-shirts. About five minutes later I tried again, just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, and again—again! —was able to give myself what previously I had only been able to get from someone else. I thought, free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I am free at last…and I’ve been blissfully independent ever since.

The Last Kind Gesture

Last year, I was sitting on the subway, as were many other people. But unlike everyone else, I was in an army uniform with all my military equipment. There was a general in town so he needed to be acknowledged by members of the Canadian Forces like myself who couldn’t have cared less about him but still needed to respect the rank. I had forgotten my iPod so I started to polish my boots. I knew the civilians were watching me, they always watch me, even if I’m just sitting there looking at the subway ads. All of them seem to think that I don’t notice them outrightly staring at me. Apparently there is something very intriguing about a young woman in uniform.

Not too far from me was a man in a typical business suit holding a single rose on top of his briefcase. That’s when I realized it was Valentine’s Day. Not only was I single, but I was going to a base on a Friday evening and on Valentine’s Day.

My stop was coming up so I got up, heading towards the subway doors just as they opened. All I heard were the fast-paced footsteps behind me. For a split second all I could think of is, “Great, someone wants to mug this soldier.”

I stopped and looked behind me. Standing there was the businessman. He handed me the rose, smiled and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” I couldn’t help but smile at him like an idiot. I thanked him. He smiled and walked away.

The Last Time I Felt Bad After Sex

The last time I felt bad after sex was in El Jadida, the coastal town where Welles shot Othello. I saw the cistern, approached fading minarets, took grey photographs of a cloaked man walking his bicycle along a thin ocean wall. Outside a supermarket I met a young man named H—-. “Let’s go to a club,” he said, “let’s get some girls.” “Not tonight,” I said. “Tomorrow.” The next day we met at the beach. I asked if he had any condoms and he pulled one out of the pocket of his jeans. It was dry, unpackaged, and had a bit of sand in it. He turned it inside out and brushed it off as we walked.

Outside the small concrete building where H—- lived stood a large woman in a djellaba with whom we exchanged pleasantries. We went through a door, then ducked under a hanging sheet into a room with some cushions on the floor and an old tape deck. We sat down and a boy of 12 came in with tea. Pictures of girls were produced. Phone calls were made. No one was available. I gave the boy money and he went out and bought red wine, vodka, cigarettes, and condoms. We drank and listened to cassette tapes (gnaoua, Rod Stewart). More phone calls. No girls. H—- stumbled outside and I heard him persuading, pleading in whispered tones with the woman out there. Finally she came in, sullen and shy. H—- went first, while I waited on the other side of the sheet, sipping wine. He came out smiling and perspiring, then it was my turn.

She was fat and middle-aged. I tried to get inside of her but it was awkward. She was too tight, too afraid. I wondered how H—- had managed. I took my condom off and she sucked me for awhile and then I jerked off until I came. Her faced was flushed and she didn’t make eye contact. After she left we drank more and then H—-’s older brother came home. He had a chiselled face and gentle eyes. He showed us a bag of heroin he’d found on the street. We cooked some chicken on a gas burner and a neighborhood girl of about 15 came in and sat on the floor to eat with us. We tried to get her to drink but she wouldn’t. Her eyes were dark and really shiny.

The Last Time I Indulge Someone Else’s Fantasy

A long time ago, I was dating an older guy who liked to discuss the multitude of his previous sexual experiences (being very gullible, I only doubted their accuracy after we broke up, when I realized that his threesome story sounded exactly like every porn flick ever made). When the relationship started falling apart, I thought that maybe I could salvage it by indulging in one of his fantasies that my younger, less experienced mind had previously felt weird about.

Thus, ignoring my dime-store feminist (and intellectual) instincts, I dressed up as a schoolgirl to try to please this guy, who had a bit of a “barely-legal” fetish going on. But when I presented myself, complete with shortened kilt and itchy knee socks, he couldn’t even sustain an erection. That night as I passed out drunk, lonely, and sexually unsatisfied, I could swear I heard Gloria Steinem whisper, “I told you so.”

The Last Time I Watched Porn

When I was a small child, about seven or eight years old, I discovered pornography. My grandparents apparently had a healthy interest in sex —their house is still filled with novelty items like cute modernist statues of two dogs having sex while their masters held them on leashes—and when I was a kid, my relatives really let it all hang out. I guess they figured that no kid would ever understand these things, but once I pulled a porno catalog off the kitchen counter and ran with it up to the guest room. I could feel my mind expanding as I poured over page after page of ludicrously large breast implants and knee-length dicks (this was the early ‘90s so there was a shininess to it all). I thought to myself, “No adults I know have parts like this!” This was still a few years before I understood penetration, so I thought that sexuality was a cartoonish display of the weirdest things adults could imagine. I had no way of understanding any of these images, but somehow they struck a major chord. I suppose it was cable TV that trained me to understand sexuality, and it seemed like I knew what to think from all the Janet Jackson music videos and car ads. From that moment on I knew: sex was awesome. I immediately showed the images to my little brother, who was about four, and began an odyssey for every vestige of porno that my underdeveloped hands could grasp. All the while I knew that if an adult caught me with any porn, my life would immediately end from sheer embarrassment.

But my desire to see and hear the performance of sex was too great. One evening, when the entire family was gathered at my grandparents’ house for some holiday, my brothers, cousins, and I were watching TV in my grandparent’s bedroom, and I had the clicker. While surfing, I found the scrambled porn channel and was immediately enthralled. My brothers and cousins were grossed out (they are all younger than me, so just imagine a room full of kids between the ages of two and eight watching scrambled porn together), and kept trying to steal the clicker to switch the TV back to Nickelodeon. But I asserted my dominance as the eldest grandchild and continued to jump on the bed and watch porn. Pretty soon my younger brother ran into the kitchen where the adults were gathered and yelled, “Daniel won’t stop watching the sex channel!” All of my relatives erupted into a loud and shrill laughter. I was mortified. It wasn’t too long before I decided that pornography was a juvenile activity, and that I would never have anything to do with it ever again.

The Last Time I Faked An Orgasm

If lesbian relationships are supposedly more egalitarian than their heterosexual counterparts, then why is it that I’ve had to fake so many orgasms? Perhaps it would be more efficient to not critique the structure of lesbian couplings, but rather my abysmal taste in women.

My problem is that I never follow my tiny, misshapen heart, or even my hairy crotch—I am drawn to women who are ridiculous by virtue and never amount to anything more than fodder.

There was one girl I briefly courted, only because she quickly designated herself as the token idiot in a friend’s class, and I had to incessantly hear about her antics. Later, trapped within the confines of her miniature childhood bed with her parents a few doors away, she asked me to pretend as if I were eating her breasts. This sentiment both shocked and appalled me, never being one to fetishize food or big tits. Before I could refuse, she sat on top of me, shoving her fleshy mounds into my mouth when she realized I wasn’t going to eagerly begin chomping on my own accord. Her orgasm tally would total three by the end of the night while I was scarcely able to reach arousal.

At my first and last kegger in someone’s dirty basement, I engaged in a threesome with two ladies—one akin to a rabid dog, the other a militant feminist. During this tryst, the aforementioned canine descendent bit on my nipple so ferociously that it actually split open. Minutes later, a head popped into the room to ogle the girl-on-girl cesspool, whipped their dick out, and pissed all over the carpet. From there, I ran with unfastened pants saddling my hips out into the night, sans orgasm.

Most recently, I got out of a quasi long-term relationship. We mostly tackled sex in a very generic, get ‘er done kind of way. One day, while wearing my strap-on, she requested I fuck her doggy style for the first time. As she assumed the position, I noticed remnants of shit in her ass that killed my libido to the point where I swear my silicone dildo went flaccid. I managed to feign fatigue, narrowly escaping an unwanted foray into scat play.

Lately, I have been logging onto XTube to help me get off, and for the first time, have no problems achieving climax.

The Last Time I Felt That Way

I met her on Halloween. My friend had bumped into her on the street outside of the bar and he was apologizing to her. I stumbled outside, drunk, and walked up to the two of them. I assumed that they were friends and I began talking to her as he left. She was going to the same party as us and walked beside me. Neither of us were dressed up as anything and we stood outside the party talking for hours while everyone we knew was inside, dancing, drinking, and being high. At one point she took my hand and led me through the party to find some water and then watched as I drank it. At the end of the night she gave me her number. When I tried to kiss her she backed away and, acting as if I hadn’t, she smiled.

A few days later we hung out. We went to the liquor store near her house and bought a bottle of cheap red wine. We drank it at her apartment, the top two floors of an old house on Dovercourt, where she lived with two roommates. I felt strange. I was 23 years old, freshly graduated, no job. She was 27, immigrated to Toronto when she was 13. She worked in a kitchen, and she had dropped out of art school.

On the third night that we’d hung out she took me to her bedroom and we made out on her bed and began to fool around. I undid her pants and put two fingers inside of her while we kissed, but she stopped me. We lay in her bed and she told me that we couldn’t be lovers, but that she wanted to be my friend, and that she never wanted to be anyone’s friend. I was confused and frustrated but I looked at her face and her big black eyes, told her that I didn’t want to be friends with her and left.

I kept seeing her for a few months after that. We would go out and drink and kiss and hold hands and we would fool around on the couch in her living room, but I never saw her bedroom again. I would fall asleep with her, wake up with my contacts still in, eight missed calls from the cab that I had phoned hours before. I would stumble out of her house on Sunday mornings, still drunk, walking past groups of people going to church. We had sad conversations about life and she constantly depressed me, but I felt comfort when I was with her. I saw her every other day. We made food and jokes and I kissed her neck and she smiled the most beautiful smile that I had ever seen. I tried to explain to her how I felt, but couldn’t really put it into words. I’m sure that she knew what I meant, but she would just look at me and smile and I’d stammer on to something else.

So, it fell apart. She started brushing me off. We hung out less. I went out of town for the Christmas holidays. We stopped talking. I thought about her constantly, but I didn’t call her. Weeks passed. Eventually I just assumed that I would never see her again, and I never did.

I’ve never been able to completely forget her and I’m always wondering if I’ll run into her in this small little town. But I never do.

What do you f***ing hate?

“I HATE THIS F*ING SCHOOL!” UTSU bets you’ve thought that at some time or other, and held a town hall Tuesday to get specifics. UTSU got what it asked for: roughly 40 students showed up for a spirited session. The most pervasive complaint, ironically, turned out to be a lack of communication. John, a history student, summed it up: “I never find out about these things. Maybe a lot of these problems would be solved if the UTSU or maybe the university in general were to rethink how information gets to us.”

Students also aired grievances about sustainability, poor representation of international students, the career centre, inadequate desk space at Robarts after hours, and the high price of club space. Bellyaching over food on campus drew applause from the whole room.

One student described “toxic” relationships between students and professors and said that high workloads lead to bad relations and poor learning. Rohan, an electrical engineering student, suggested advocacy for students when dealing with professors.

Discussion also turned to the lack of awareness about the Ombudsperson’s office, which offers advice and assistance with complaints unresolved through regular university channels.

UTSU itself drew some pointed criticisms. Karen Cao had a whole list: “I hate the fact that our student union could not negotiate a UPass; I hate the fact that we can’t opt out of our health care coverage,” she said.

“I hate the fact that our student union was voted in by 13 per cent voter turn out. I hate that the UTSU did not effectively publicize last year’s election, resulting in the fact that every single UTSU exec on right now did not run against a single candidate except for Sandy.”

“There is one thing that dropped this year, and that is club money,” said Mueen, a member of the Muslim Students Association. UTSU’s executive director, Angela Regnier, replied that Mueen’s concerns “have been definitely raised” in discussing the union’s newest budget.

One student called for better communication between students and their government. Antonin Mongeau, president of the French Club, then criticized UTSU’s lack of availability. “We elected them, and we pay for them, but they don’t really represent us,” said Mongeau, who was recently booted from UTSU’s Clubs Committee in a secret vote.

Regnier, the moderator, responded by pointing to Karen’s concerns about the UPASS. When Mongeau asked her to clarify UTSU’s availability, president Sandy Hudson entered the discussion.

But after a few exchanged words, Regnier interrupted with “Sorry, this isn’t a two way discussion […] if you want an opportunity to yell at [Sandy] and tell her everything that she has to feel then maybe you can do that afterward.” She then proposed to have a “show of hands of everybody who wants to see you sit here and yell at Sandy.”

As Adam Awad, VP University Affairs, put it, the purpose of the discussion was to “figure out a way for every member of the union […] to work together on issues to make this a better place for everyone, which is pretty much our mandate.” Here’s wishing UTSU, and students, good luck.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I’ve been sexually frustrated ever since I can remember. What started as curiosity became abject desperation once I hit puberty: acne prone, brace-faced, and sporting an eye patch thanks to Bell’s Palsy (a disorder that makes half your face freeze up), I was in no position to act on those first unendurable urges. The internet facilitated a couple of awkward first encounters, and for awhile it looked as though I was off to a good start. Then came art (high) school, with a girl to guy ratio of six to one. Virginity remained the monkey on my back for years afterwards, and I learned that masturbation is far from a quick fix: it’s a way of life.

Like a child with no friends, I developed a rich inner sex life, cultivating involved fantasies likely too horrible to realize. As I blossomed into a reasonably attractive young woman, sex became more and more elusive. I had more opportunities, but my inordinate drive was tempered by a neurosis which drove me to get HIV tests every time I got kissed. By the time I lost my virginity, I had dodged more than a few imaginary bullets. From then on, every encounter brought on weeks of sleepless nights as I Google-image-searched the strange STIs I knew I’d caught through condoms that must be defective. My relationships never lasted very long, because I grilled my partners about their sexual health records until what chemistry we had was neutralized. I thought everyone was trying to infect me.

But the stronger the suspicion, the stronger the attraction. I didn’t realize it then, but my sexual proclivities and mental tics had developed synergistically: some part of me wanted to be taken advantage of, while the rest worried incessantly that I would be. The result was a strange contradiction: my desires reached a dead end which eliminated the possibility of satisfaction, but gave rise to the desires themselves.

By a stroke of luck, I found someone with a compatible set of issues. Disease-free sex has been free and easy for over two years now (and I’ve always thought that getting over germaphobia was a matter of finding someone whose germs you don’t mind). It’s been nice, and God knows I’m thankful to have found someone willing to put up with me. But being in a stable relationship has only reinforced the gaping chasm between fantasy and reality. The sex is great, but it’s relationship sex.

My sex life and my private thoughts are completely independent of one another. Of course, comfortableness and attraction are markedly different states, and the honeymoon period only lasts so long. But when your fantasies involve an element of abuse, love and desire can be difficult to reconcile. The idea of “lovemaking” has always left me a bit nauseated, and the thought of donning a gimp suit while my boyfriend paddles me on the ass seems good for a gag at best. Ours is a sex life that can’t be mediated by accessories, or hardened through suspension of disbelief. Fantasy is more about intention than anything else. I don’t think my boyfriend could pretend to be a “bad man” if he wanted to, and that’s probably a good thing.

But what’s strange is that my boyfriend and I have fantasy in common: in fact, his porn addiction is part of what united us in the first place (a story for another time). A latecomer to sex, adult films were his only recourse until he lost his virginity at 24. And as everyone knows, reality doesn’t eliminate fantasy: it only pushes it further. So here we are, like two bashful kids at a makeout party, holding hands while our single friends do things we could only fumble towards before collapsing in limp resignation. Sure, we can talk about what we want, but we can’t do it with one another: there’s just too much respect.

This is a common lament. Every relationship requires a compromise where sex is concerned. If it were anything else, we’d get over it: after all, part of being an adult is dealing with disappointments and personal shortcomings. But we’re steeped in a culture of sexual one-upmanship, and everywhere you turn, someone is boasting about the fun that you’ve never had. While everyone’s resigned themselves to the adage “you can’t always get what you want”—the guy who sang it never wanted for sex in his life. The coupled get flak for rubbing their love into single people’s faces. Perhaps this is our best defence.

Now that I’m mostly cured of my hang-ups, a part of me wonders why I’m not doing anything about it. Could I mute my conscience just long enough to satisfy my curiosities? If I finally sold my boyfriend on the idea of an open relationship, could I make the most of it? The guilt would be unbearable—but it would probably feel pretty good, too. Rifling through my sexual to-do list, I’m not sure. Nothing is ever as good as it is in your head. There’s a good chance that I’m as satisfied as I’ll ever be. ❤

Bribery allegations at Concordia

Concordia University’s student union is under fire for questionable changes to its health care plan. Its current provider accuses the union of leaving when its execs didn’t get bribes, and has asked university administration to take over.

Quebec Student Health Alliance (ASEQ) has provided a health and dental insurance plan to the Montreal university since the company’s 1996 inception. ASEQ serves about 400,000 students in over 50 unions. The company negotiates plans with insurance companies by divvying allocated funds and assessing the effectiveness of complex insurance plans.

Concordia Student Union’s health insurance contract, worth $2.9 million, was the first contract entrusted to ASEQ, who now claims CSU has switched insurance providers.

In a January interview, CSU president Keyana Kashfi told student newspaper the Concordian she had renegotiated a health plan.

Elie Chivi, CSU VP communications, told the Concordian in a Tuesday article that the union has not replaced its insurance provider, but has contracted consulting firm Morneau Sobeco “to go out and look for different health plans for us.”

A Dec. 11 document shows the union appointed Morneau Sobeco, in association with a CFS-owned company, as consultants to the student benefit plans for next year. “All commissions will be payable to Morneau Sobeco,” reads the document, written three months before Kashfi was hired as a CFS staffer.

Chivi also said that ASEQ “allowed the CSU’s current health plan provider to earn a surplus profit that is potentially in excess of one million dollars over the past three years.” Lev Bukhman, executive director of ASEQ, said his company’s role involves managing funds allocated to insurance companies.

A letter declaring ASEQ’s loss of confidence in CSU and Kashfi was sent Monday and forwarded to the university president and dean of students.

The letter, written by Bukhman, has been posted on Macleans’ blogger Joey Coleman’s personal blog and cites “extraordinary incidents involving [Kashfi] and members of [her] administration, which are reprehensible”.

Bukhman alleged in a signed affidavit that he was asked last March by Stephen Rosenshein, an election slate campaign manager, to contribute $25,000. The funds would be used to support campaigns of candidates running in last year’s election, including current prez Kashfi. Bukhman said Rosenshein inferred that CSU would consider switching insurance providers if no contribution was made.

Bukhman also said Rosenshein verbally attacked him while doing a presentation on insurance plans to CSU a few days later. Bukham claimed Kashfi, once installed, had been hostile towards ASEQ and leaked confidential documents to competitors.

The university has not been involved.

“The CSU is an entity completely independent of the university and this precludes the university taking any action in this matter, be it trusteeship or otherwise,” Christine Mota, director of media relations at Concordia University, told The Varsity in an email.

The Concordian received a copy of Bukhman’s letter but was told not to print any of it.

“Our client considers its content to be extremely defamatory,” wrote Francis P. Donovan, a lawyer representing the Canadian Federation of Students-Quebec, in an email. “To do so would be to render yourselves complicit in acts of defamation, and you may be held liable for any and all damages resulting therefrom.”

With files from André Bovee Begun

College Under the Covers

Dear Wyndham, I just got out of a long, tumultuous relationship and the last thing I want to do is get involved with someone new. That being said, I also really want to get laid. How do I ethically sleep around without sending mixed signals?

—In Need Of A Booty Call

Short of getting membership into Club Wicked, the best way to go about this is through straight-up honesty. At bars, parties, or through friends of friends: there’s a lot of people (yes, girls too) that just want some horizontal mambo, no strings attached, and while meeting them isn’t always easy, it’s not impossible. But when you do meet a foxy lad/lady that you’d like to sex up, you’ve gotta let them know the score.

While that doesn’t mean revealing it during a handshake introduction, it is always helpful to slip in some hints during the chit-chat that follows (for example, dropping in a “Right now, I’m focusing on having fun and meeting as many people as possible” is usually a good clue that you aren’t on the monogamous track).

My rule to let someone know that I don’t want to go further than one night is to come forward post-initial kiss, which allows them to decide if they want do get down, or if they’d rather go home and look at wedding magazines. You’ve got to be brave, and stick to your word: no spending the night, no “I can’t believe I met you,” no promises of calling in a few days. People who give mixed signals are cowards who don’t have the balls to say how they really felt, so they put on a façade of romance. At the beginning of making out, let him/her know what you want out of the evening, and be prepared to accept that your truthfulness might cost you the booty. But getting laid under the false pretence of a possible romantic future is one of the cruellest things you can do to another person.

Dear Wyndham, I have a great boyfriend who thinks our vanilla-style lovemaking isn’t enough. Lately he’s been putting pressure on me to do more and more explicit things—anal sex, dirty talk, and finishing on my face. I’m not quite sure I’m ready, but I love my boyfriend and want to make him happy. How can we find a happy medium?

—Can’t We Just Cuddle?

Oh, sweetheart. We’ve all been there in some way or another, and while I usually stick with Dan Savage’s mantra, (you’ve got to be “good, giving, and game” in bed) acquiescing when you aren’t comfortable is only going to cause trouble.

When you have a partner that wants to try something new, you should first take a moment to think back to your recent fantasies and daydreams. Is this something that you have independently thought would get the juices flowing? If you are both interested in anal sex but worried about discomfort, anal toys (like butt plugs, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes) are a good way to ease you in. So is a finger, which is significantly smaller than a penis. If this play arouses you without any pain, then you can decide if you want to move further.

Same with the others: dirty talk can begin with just saying, “I want you, you turn me on,” and a guy can ejaculate on your thighs or breasts to see if you like the feeling. You (and your partner) shouldn’t expect to move into new territory overnight—that will likely leave you both shaken and confused (and probably sore). But fundamentally, if your boyfriend or girlfriend is suggesting something new that you have never thought of as fun or sexy, proceed with a lot of caution.

It’s okay to say no, and still be an open-minded and generous lover. Most importantly, you both should feel comfortable and hot together, be it through urinating on each other, or just snuggling under the covers.

Dear Wyndham, I’ve been having sex for about two years now with various partners, and well, I can’t get off. Whether it’s fingers, tongues, or penises, it doesn’t seem to matter, and I’ve certainly been with guys who seemed to know what they were doing. I’m sick of lying to myself, and to them. Though I can make it just fine on my own, will there ever come a day when I orgasm with another person in the room with me? What the hell is wrong with me?

—It Was Not That Good For Me

There’s nothing wrong with you, and most of us have faked enough orgasms to put Jenna Jameson to shame. But faking isn’t constructive, it leaves you unsatisfied and your partner with a false sense of accomplishment.

If you can get yourself off through your own hand, then why not do that with your partner? Layers of skin sheath the pleasure receptors in the clitoris, causing many women to only reach orgasm through battery-powered devices. Using a vibrator or your hand to stimulate you during sex (doggy-style is popular for a reason!) is a good way to reach climax, as is mutual masturbation with your partner, which can be one of the most intimate sexual acts.

And if your guy/girl gets uppity because you need assistance? Fuck them. Or more precisely, stop fucking them, and find someone who wants nothing more than to see you come, whatever the method.

Dear Wyndham, Whenever it’s that time of the month, let’s just say I get antsy. I want to try having sex on my period but am concerned about the whole gross-out factor for my partner, not to mention clean up afterwards. Any tips on how to get down when Aunt Flo’s in town?

—My Bloody Valentine

Period sex can be a divisive issue—some people find it awkward, while others have honestly told me that they couldn’t care less if I happened to be surfing the crimson wave.

First of all, you must talk to your partner beforehand, as no one wants that kind of surprise in the midst of coitus. If you’re both comfortable but worried about the uh, mess, the most common route is to do it in the shower, where you can both end up even cleaner than when you started (and water pressure can add to the mix). If you simply want to get off but don’t necessarily crave penetrative sex, you can wear a tampon while fooling around with your partner and orgasm through hand or vibrator contact.

Some guys have felt more comfortable having period sex with a condom on (which you should really be using anyway), and placing a towel beneath you is usually a good bet to save your sheets any stray stains. Since we spend 25 per cent of our time on the rag, it’s important to talk to your partner and find a medium that works for both of you. Besides, nothing else soothes cramps like some time in the sack.

Dear Wyndham, When I masturbate, I fantasize about having sex with guys in the AC shower. All my past relationships have been with women, but this idea really seems to turn me on. Am I gay?

—Probably Into Chicks, Right?

Probably not, though “gay” and “straight” are pretty restrictive labels. Most people have been, at some point or another, attracted to members of both sexes, which is totally normal. Furthermore, you would be hard pressed to find an individual that has never fantasized about a member (or members) of the same gender, or been aroused by the thought of exploring that frontier.

I’ve had boyfriends that have only dated women but admitted to watching gay porn and thinking about men naked—and those guys made the best lovers! If you start being attracted to the men you meet in person, then you should follow your heart (or your cock), but whether you live out your fantasy, or it remains as such, you shouldn’t worry about your sexual identity. You can date a man and still feel heterosexual, and you can certainly fantasize about it and be straight as an arrow. Fantasies are fun, and they should never be impeded by moronic social codes that attempt to place us in arbitrary and restrictive categories.

But the AC, really? All the hot guys shower at Hart House.

Money on my mind: G8

The G8 will likely focus less attention on Africa in the wake of the global financial crisis, announced the G8 live Research Group. On Feb. 11 the group presented its 2009 findings at the Munk Centre. The student-run analyst group is U of T student’s division of the G8 Research Group, which keeps tabs on how well G8 countries measure up to their promises from the previous summit. Founded in 2006, G8RG is run by 150 undergrad and grad students at U of T, who work as volunteer analysts.

The Group of Eight is comprised of the major industrialized countries of the world: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This year’s summit is in Italy from July 8 to 10.

“Most of the states, with the exception of Germany, are making big cuts in official development assistance spending for the 2009 fiscal year,” said lead analyst Nike Adebowale. “Germany has been one of the major pushers to increase aid to Africa. German Chancellor Merkel has always placed it on the top of her G8 agenda.” But overall, the G8 is concerned with financial stability.

The group also found a positive outlook for the G8’s commitment to biofuels initiatives, which could lead to major reform. The G8 also has high compliance to promises of aid for China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa.

The G8RG also archives essays, news briefs, and other information on their website. For more, head to g8live.org.

Isn’t It Bromantic?

It’s Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air. But this year, the most commonly whispered word on smitten lips is “bromance,” a portmanteau that defines the love shared between straight men everywhere.

But bromance is not a gay thing (not that there’s anything wrong with that), it’s just the latest development in the world of masculine psychology.

The widespread adoption of the term bromance is a major advancement in the ways men are allowed to behave socially without fear of reprisal. Put simply, it’s about the right to express a meaningful, platonic bond between two male friends, a type of male liberation.

Too long have men been saddled with the challenge of living up to the hyper-macho standard set by 20th-century heroes like Ernest Hemingway and John Wayne. These were larger-than-life personalities who embodied the male ideal: stoic, solitary, emotionless.

They defined the type of hard-drinking bull-fighter that gave birth to countless redundant phrases like “manly man” and “guy’s guy.” Hemingway wrote volumes about his youthful, carefree days with friends in Paris, but it’s hard to imagine him grabbing F. Scott Fitzgerald in a bear hug and crying out, “Scottie, you’re my bro, and I love you!”

In recent times, new masculine idols have emerged, like the original metrosexual himself, David Beckham. But back when Becks was the brightest star of the metro movement about four or five years ago, the most men were allowed to do was moisturize and exfoliate. It seemed liberating at the time, but in hindsight, metrosexuality was a mere aesthetic movement designed to improve grooming patterns. A whirlwind bromance comprises far more complex emotional terrain.

That’s why a bromance is a significant alteration to social norms, because it’s an indication that machismo is on its way out the door. Consequently, it’s become permissible for men to embody what was once a cardinal feminine virtue: being in touch with one’s emotions.

Nowadays, it’s acceptable for guys to love their friends just as women do, with similar levels of expression and trust. Before bromance, the best term we had for this kind of relationship was a “man-crush,” which always seemed to imply a hidden insecurity, as if dudes who enjoyed each other’s company had to feel as sheepish about it as a 13-year-old girl fawning over the captain of the football team.

The earliest recorded usage of the term bromance was in the late 1990s, when Dave Carnie of skateboard magazine Big Brother used it to describe the close relationship between skaters who practiced together, partied together, and shared rooms when travelling.

Since then, it’s been used to describe countless friendships between grown men. In 2007, Canadian indie rockers Joel Plaskett and Peter Elkas were profiled together on the cover of Exclaim with the tagline “A Fine Bromance.” (For further evidence, check out the YouTube video where they sit down for a heart-to-heart to “examine their relationship.”)

Other famous bromances include the almost co-dependent bond between Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, or the four main characters on HBO’s Entourage, who are quite obviously involved in a tightly-knit four-way of bromosexuality.

But the television show to thrust the concept to the fore of pop culture is Brody Jenner’s recent six-episode reality series in which the former Hills love interest lined up a group of suitors eager to score the most precious commodity of all: friendship (a luxury condo was also part of the winning package…but nothing could be as valuable as friendship, right?)

As Jenner induldged his candidates in a variety of amusing pursuits (schmoozing with supermodels, trying on new jeans, hanging out in a hot tub), it became clear that Bromance had been given the perfect tagline: “Brody needs a bro-friend.” Don’t we all?

It’s hardly intellectual fare, but a deeper look reveals the show to be an earnest search for a new best friend and close confidant. After all, Brody lost his best bud Spencer Pratt forever once he shacked up with the talentless demon goddess Heidi Montag. Spencer is now married, taking him out of commission for all bachelor-related activities, thereby making him extremely lame.

After a rigorous selection process, Jenner chose Luke Verge to be his new best friend. His declaration that he’d found his bromance was an oddly touching moment, as if anything was possible for two straight men in their early 20s who love each other and aren’t afraid to admit it.

The concept of bromance has led me to consider the ways I value my own best friends. I’ve since determined that ours is not an overly complicated relationship. We hang out as often as we can, drink pints, and discuss life’s most pressing issues: sports, girl problems, and insurance payments on cars we’ve yet to buy.

At our parties, it’s as perfectly natural for the guys to hug hello and goodbye as it is for the girls. The phrase “I love you!” gets kicked around as frequently as “More beer!” I used to think our abundance of emotion could be chalked up to a European spirit, but now I know better—it’s just one harmonious bromance, and it’s a blessing.

I know exactly what Jenner is going through. At this point in my life, friends matter most, and I’m not ashamed to say that I love them. I’d still prefer to spend Valentine’s Day with a girl, but that’s another matter entirely. ❤