Research reveals the real reasons you’re having sex

U of T study investigates avoidance and approach in sexual motivation

Research reveals the real reasons you’re having sex

A recent University of Toronto study explores the real reasons couples have sex. U of T post-doctoral fellow Amy Muise led the study, in which motivations for sexual activity were broken down into two broad categories. The study, “Getting it on vs. getting it over with: Approach-avoidance sexual motivation, desire and satisfaction in intimate bonds,” was published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

WILLIAM AHN/THE VARSITY

WILLIAM AHN/THE VARSITY

Unlike most animals, humans use sexuality to shape levels of happiness in a romantic relationship. Sex is an act that goes beyond reproduction, and a healthy sex life is often considered a key part of a healthy relationship.  According to the study, romantic couples engage in sexual activity more often than those who have sex with one-off partners.

There are many reasons why couples engage in sex. A 2007 University of Texas study identified 237 distinct motivation for sex, which ranged from the simple ­— stress reduction, physical satisfaction — to the complicated — revenge-cheating. The University of Toronto study was able to significantly simplify the number of motivations; only two were described, “avoidance” and “approach.”

An avoidance motive is a motive that seeks to avoid a negative outcome for the couple’s status, such as feelings of guilt in one part of the partnership or a certain conflict that may transpire if sex does not happen. Conversely, an approach motive seeks a positive outcome for the relationship. This approach often results in feelings of intimacy or a desire to be closer with the special person.

What this study found was that on days in which the couples were having sex for approach reasons, the sex was better, the relationship was stronger, and the level of satisfaction was much higher. On days in which couples had sex for avoidance reasons, the opposite was true ­— the relationship was less healthy, the sex was not as good, and overall satisfaction was much lower. Avoidance motivations were believed to be more common in older relationships than in newer relationships, in which couples are beginning to explore their sexual tendencies.

Of course, this does not imply that couples do not enjoy the sex in an avoidance situation, but only that it is more of an “in-the-moment” satisfaction with negative psychological outcomes coming later. It is apparent that approach motivation leads to healthier and stronger relationships.

In order for couples to engage in approach-motivated sex, as opposed to avoidance-motivated sex, the study found that there needs to be more meaningful communication between couples. This communication needs to be much more in-depth than small talk — it must explore new and challenging emotional connections. It becomes apparent, as couples begin to build a relationship outside of the bedroom, that the sex becomes better as well — a win-win scenario.

Living Arts: Getting published in Urban Dictionary

An honourable pursuit, not a total waste of time

Living Arts: Getting published in Urban Dictionary

This past summer, a friend of mine was engaged in a casual relationship with a rather philosophical and balding Middle Eastern man. He had the demeanour of Woody Allen and could often be found watching lengthy foreign films or meandering around obscure art exhibits.

One evening, he called her to come over to his place at quite a late hour, leading us to believe that this was most certainly a “booty call.” She excitedly skipped over to his apartment, prepared for a lovely unexpected romp. Once there, however, he explained that he had called her because he had just watched a six-hour Hungarian documentary, and expressed the need to share his thoughts on it with someone.

This prompted me to coin the term “snooty call.”

Convinced this was a brilliant addition to the canon of English colloquialisms, I decided to submit a formal definition of it to Urban Dictionary so that the world could share in its usage:

 

Snooty Call

n. Alternative to “booty call”; a late night call from a lover for the purpose of intellectual conversation (rather than sexual relations).

Eg. He called me at 2am to come over and discuss a six-hour Hungarian documentary he watched — such a snooty call.

 

Shortly after submitting my entry, I received an email of rejection. I was appalled, obviously, but accepted the rejection as a challenge to continue my efforts of getting a word into the dictionary.

When I looked further into how words actually get into the dictionary, I found out that the process operates by public vote. I then became an Urban Dictionary editor myself (a very credible resume item) and started voting on different definitions. I voted for the inclusion of “mewp,” a noun referring to throwing up in one’s mouth, and “on the same banana peel,” an alternative to “on the same page” with the alternative meaning of “being bad at Mario Kart.” I rejected “blanch,” a verb meaning “to throw up,” brought to you by the same person who came up with “mewp,” which offered the example, “At first I thought I was only going to mewp, but then I totally blanched.”

I also researched what sorts of words make it into Urban Dictionary. It seemed that there are two categories for what gets published on this bastion of human intelligence: either extremely silly and stupid ideas, or clever but ultimately stupid ideas. “Farte Blanche” was added on August 24, meaning “permission to fart freely,” exemplifying the second group.

In discussion with Science Editor, Katie Vogan, she encouraged me to try once again with the term “snooty call.” She felt it had potential. We adjusted the definition using the principles of virality to appeal to the lowest common denominator. In other words, we dumbed it down:

Notice the elimination of details and capital letters. We simplified the definition and example for mass relatability, and tried to make the example less seemingly “stuck-up.” We also changed the specificity of the initial example to achieve broader appeal. After a few minutes of tense waiting, our experiment paid off, and I received an email notifying me that “snooty call” was published in Urban Dictionary. You can now purchase mugs, t-shirts, and mouse pads featuring my original term and its accompanying definition, with the official Urban Dictionary logo certification on them.

It is a great honour and achievement, which I will certainly add to my resume, to have my witty turn of phrase among the ranks of “masturbathe” (touching oneself in the bathtub), “vurp” (a burp laced with vomit), and “clam jam” (“the female equivalent of cock block”), in Urban Dictionary — an infinite well of vernacular gems.

Romance and Woe

Romance and Woe

Love is a drag, except when it’s not. In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, students shared the highs and lows of their university love lives.

Three’s a Crowd

In my Film History course at Innis Town Hall, I became fast friends with a peppy girl who sat five seats away from me during the first few weeks of class. We had a good system going, sharing notes and making jokes. Then one day, a tall, painfully shy boy who sat a row above us interjected when I asked her a question, and soon after, he began to sit with us. Through lectures and film screenings, we stayed loyal to our little seating arrangement.

I don’t really know when it happened, maybe when I discovered the mysterious boy had great taste in music, but I developed a crush on him. But no matter how eager and hopeful I was, there was always a distance between us. When our mutual friend would skip class, which was surprisingly often, the boy would leave an empty seat between us, or awkwardly fill it with his backpack during darkened film screenings.

I finally understood where the boy’s intentions lay when my friend and I got out of our tutorial on the third floor of Innis College one day to find him waiting for her by the single row of desks, killing time with assigned readings. His advances were timid, but he never failed to wait for her every week. I tried to remain content playing the friend, but luckily I could stop when our union didn’t endure past the school year.
—Anonymous

Love Tutorial

The last place one might expect to fall in love would be a Political Theory class located in the bleak, poorly-lit lecture hall of New College (what up, Wilson Hall 1016). This unfortunate setting, however, did not obscure my ability to truly fall for the ethnically-ambiguous, beauteous young man in my class.

While our noticeably aged professor spoke of Marx theory of class struggle and the welfare state, I shifted my head slightly and fixed my attention on the boyfriend of my dreams (this prediction was based purely on appearance and course choice).

The best part? We shared a tutorial session. Our chance of interaction increased tenfold. He walked in one cold January wearing an Urban Outfitters cardigan with two red stripes on the arm. I owned the exact same cardigan, and took it as a green light from the universe. We were meant to be. Taste in clothing must translate to fruitful compatibility, right?

I played the self-assured young female thing and found him on Facebook, added him and sent him a quick “I think we’re in the same polisci tutorial?” The subtext read, “I know you are, let’s hang out and DO IT.” We ended up dating briefly after. It didn’t work out, but I will always have a place in my heart for that purely authentic university style interaction. I can’t think of a better setting than U of T’s dim, fluorescent lecture halls.

—Navi Lamba

 

First Steps

I was nervous about coming out,  but I finally told a guy whose attention I had been trying to get for ages, since we met at the dining hall. It was only after that moment that he started to notice me, tried to get to know me, and invited me to sleep over. As my first real intimate “relationship” continued, I still felt really distant from him. After asking what he considered us, and getting “I’d rather not put a label on it” as a response, I figured it was just fun for him and he didn’t actually care. A long-time friend came to visit me at residence a few weeks after this had started, and came out to me. He slept over and … well … things happened. After he went back home, I told my “friend-with-benefits” what had happened. He seemed distraught, and disappointed I would do such a thing. Sorry, for ruining what I didn’t know we had. And sorry, for trying to apologize to you for the rest of the year. Thanks though, for giving me a try.

—Anonymous

Artsy Encounter

I would always notice this guy in my art history course at Sidney Smith. He would often wear a black vest over a light blue dress shirt and had several interlocking bracelets on his left arm. I would peer at him from across the lecture hall. The next semester we were in a smaller classroom and I decided to get a bit closer to him, so I started sitting right behind him. I enjoyed seeing him cross his legs, playing with his curly hair and ever so elegantly typing on his laptop. At first, his physical appearance attracted me to him, but then I started to notice him browsing fashion and art blogs, and suddenly my urge to be in his life grew more intense. I wanted to talk to him about everything. I wanted to do things with him, like get drunk off free wine at gallery openings or down 40s of Olde English on hot summer days at Trinity Bellwoods. I had a great desire to hug him every time I saw him. I’m a male, I’m straight, and I had a girlfriend at the time. I wasn’t sexually attracted to him, I just wanted to be a part of his life.

—Michel Herzog

 

Lunch Date

In my first week of classes, I went to a five-buck lunch event at Hart House. The meal was chicken and odd pea-looking things; the room was a beautiful banquet hall; I was alone and didn’t know anyone there. It was in this frame of mind that I came upon a second-year music student with yellow hair and giant headphones. He was alone too. We became fast friends in a matter of minutes. We exchanged details — names, what faculty we were in, our intended majors. He was from a small town in Alberta, and had just transferred to U of T. I came to learn other things — jazz musicians that he was really into, how he rejected an engineering scholarship for music a couple of years ago, and his love for European history.

I was as enamoured as you could get for being naïve and 17.

A week later, a botched first date followed in which he told me about getting drunk at 13 and shooting signs and animals with rifles in Northern Alberta.

I come from a conservative Muslim background, so I was kind of petrified. Guns? Alcohol? WHAT? Needless to say, we broke it off.

—Anonymous

 

Heart House

When we met in the Music Room at Hart House two years ago, I barely noticed him. But he persisted, and we started dating. Soon, perhaps too soon, we were sharing secrets, and sorrows, and promises of forever.

On a Saturday evening this past December, he told me he wanted to take a walk. As we wandered past Trinity College, he looked at me and remarked that much of our relationship has been tied to this campus. “Sure,” I said, not understanding.

When we approached Hart House, icy drops of rain began to fall, and he steered me inside. In a quiet corner of the building, he held my face in his hands, kissed my forehead, and got down on one knee. He said wonderful things that I could not hear because my heart was pounding, and I was shocked and scared and so very, very happy.

—Anonymous

Lost Chances

Since coming to U of T, I’ve found that a repeated theme in my ‘romantic’ interactions on campus has been missed connections. I’ll see someone who I find attractive, but the situation won’t be right for me to approach them, or the timing will be off. There was once a guy in one of my tutorials who I thought was really cute. He made cheesy jokes, had a funny haircut, and possessed a sexily extensive understanding of history (only at U of T, I know). At the end of the last class, I finally approached him, and he told me all about his excitement over his impending move to a new country. Great.

This theme of poor timing has been mirrored during my time here by the popularity of the short-lived website LikeALittle and its predecessors, the Facebook pages “UMentioned UToronto” and “UTSG Compliments.” One day, I was tabling for a club at Gerstein. A lot of guys passed by my table on their way to the library, and I mostly just sat and read, smiling at people as they passed, and offering to tell them about the group. My friend later pointed out to me that I had been mentioned on one of these pages by someone who had passed me by. He went slightly overboard describing my eyes, but it was a relief to realize that for all the guys I’ve noticed at U of T who will never know, there may be some who have noticed me too.

—Danielle Klein

 

Lucky Fool

Last year, I was in a class I absolutely hated. But I was taking it with an acquaintance from home, K. I didn’t know K very well, but I’d thought she was cute since seventh grade. But for two months, I said almost nothing. Then, more than halfway through the course, I finally gathered my courage and went over to her post-lecture. And I said:

“So, uh, if you, uh, ever wanted to. Go to the library. Or something. I’d be okay with that.”

This, apparently, was my idea of courage — inviting a cute girl to study in the most passive way possible.

Now, while I had convinced K to do something with me, the day we went to the library I was late, I was in a foul mood and I was followed there by a very ill friend. I barely spoke to her. And after that disaster I didn’t speak to her for months.

Cut to summer. I contacted K over Facebook. Just some casual conversation. Then I guess she got impatient. She invited me over to watch Buffy. We watched a while, we drank wine, we kissed a bit. And then I tried once more:

“So. Tonight — this was really fun. And I. I was wondering. If you might, maybe, want. To do it again. But … with dinner?”

It wasn’t eloquent. It was, however, an actual question that she could answer.

Her answer — though God knows why — was yes.

And somehow, we’ve been dating ever since.

—D

 

Robarts Romance

We met on my first day of university. He was my frosh leader and I was a shy first-year, intimidated by my new surroundings. We both lived in residence and hung around similar people, but never really spoke to one another, later each admitting that we were too shy. A year and a half went by. He was no longer in residence and the only contact we had were brief moments passing each other on campus, each of us too busy, or too timid to share more than a “hey.” Annoyed by our lameness, fate intervened, and one cold January day I met him on the steps of uc; we were in the same class. In that big lecture hall, we connected. I nervously laughed at his jokes and our elbows touched in those cramped chairs. That same semester Robarts was transformed into a club; the event was called Party in the Peacock. I hosted a pre-drink and invited him. Later that night, we kissed for the first time! Yes, our first kiss was in the cafeteria space in Robarts. Perhaps not the most romantic place on campus, but, hey, at least there was a disco ball. It’s two years later and we are still going strong!

—Anonymous

What is “I’m sorry” worth?

U of T students weigh in on how to move past mistakes in our relationships

If you are dateless this Valentine’s Day, as many of us are, it is probably because an old or potential significant other has screwed you over. When that happened, you may have been subjected to a predictably insincere apology. We throw apologies around every day —that person you didn’t hold the door for or that person you accidentally ran into — so shouldn’t we treat the people we care deeply for with a little more respect? In romantic relations, as with others, apologies should be replaced with something much more tangible: change.

I tend not to apologize because I get confused about what I am really sorry for.  What we are actually apologizing for tends to be the pain we caused the person, instead of whatever caused that pain. In my opinion, because of its vagueness and overuse, the phrase “I’m sorry” has lost its value. It has turned into a mere societal convention, which should only be applied to the polite treatment of strangers.

In my relationship experience, I haven’t wanted my ex-partner to apologize. I have wanted them to discuss the situation with me, to listen to what I have to say, or to understand my point of view, but I realize that I expect these things regardless of a preceding apologetic phrase. I say, skip the apology altogether and go right to the action of trying to scrape off the residue stuck to the relationship.

I asked some other single U of T students to give me their take on apologies. Nancy Yu agrees that action speaks louder than words and that “apologies should be quick so you can both move forward. Drawing them out destroys the apology’s value.” So in order to maximize the positive effects from an apology, says Nancy, it is ideal to quickly move onto changing what went wrong as opposed to dwelling on apologizing.

Liza Korp finds it hard to accept apologies because significant others use them “as an excuse. It is easy to fake being sorry through an apology.”  Saying two words is a lot easier than proving to someone how much you care, that the mistake won’t occur again, and that you are aware of your slip-up. However, those three tasks is exactly what an ex-boyfriend of mine claims is covered by an apology.

I decided to check out the flip side of these opinions by asking a couple of my ex-boyfriends to share their thoughts about apologies.  The aforementioned ex said that “apologies are really important to me” and that by saying “I’m sorry” his partner would cover those three important tasks. I agree that acknowledgement, prevention, and compassion are key when mistakes occur, but how they should be conveyed vary by person. He said that “it might not be the same for someone else” but an apology accomplishes that task in his opinion.

What is accomplished in an apology could be accomplished better through action, or even just different words. Why can’t partners just say that they cares about us, they realize they messed up, and they won’t do it again? What does “I’m sorry” really do?

Another ex-boyfriend of mine take a position half-way between the two alternative. “I think it’s obviously more meaningful to show you’re sorry rather than just apologize,” he says and he agrees with Nancy that “you need to put things behind you quickly.” The “timing” of the mistake is important, he notes, because often “the other stuff in your life” influence the behaviour in relationships, even though the two don’t necessarily correlate. “If possible you would both just show you’re sorry. But both [apologizing and showing you’re sorry] is even better.”

All in all, I think there’s mutually agreed on being sincere and moving forward from what goes wrong in our love lives. What isn’t as clear cut is whether the phrase “I’m sorry” is really necessary. Every connection with another person is different, but showing you care about the other person by respecting what they deem to be fair seems to be universal. Perhaps getting to know how your partner deals with problems before you have them may be your key to a V-day date next year.

Christina Atkinson is a first year student studying Economics and Public Policy.

The science of love

Taking a closer look at the brain chemistry of arousal

The science of love

Writers, poets, musicians, and filmmakers have long claimed that love is inexplicable. It defies explanation and can emerge almost spontaneously between two people. The Romans explained love’s occurrence through the god Cupid, who would strike unknowing victims with his arrow, causing them to fall in love. Romantic love, the love most celebrated on Valentine’s Day, is a passionate and emotional love between people. What explains these feelings, how do they emerge, and who triggers them? What happens when Cupid’s arrow strikes?

The first step in “falling” is lust and attraction, driven by the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. These hormones motivate you to look for a mate. When an attractive target is found and an interaction is initiated, the monoamine neurotransmitters take effect. Dopamine, the pleasure molecule and the neurotransmitter that is increased by drugs and sex, makes being with and pursuing the target rewarding. Norepinephrine is also raised, and puts the love-struck in a state of enhanced vigilance to pursue. Lastly, serotonin is also implicated in this process. Known as the policeman of the brain, it regulates cortical function; those deeply in love have been found to resemble individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Romantic love is often associated with long-term commitment, one of the most important predictors of relationship stability that is contingent upon the process of attachment. Attachment is regulated by two hormones: oxytocin and vasopressin. Oxytocin is released by the hypothalamus during childbirth and breast-feeding, and is implicated in the bond formed between mother and child. It is also released during orgasm and is believed to cement the formation of the intimate bond between two partners. Vasopressin has also been found to be involved in the bonding process. It was first examined in pair-bonding between voles, one of very few (less than three per cent) mammals that form monogamous relationships. Voles were also found to have receptors for both oxytocin and vasopressin in brain regions associated with pleasure and reward.

Genes and transcriptional regulators determine the level of translation and abundance of these neurotransmitters, hormones, and their receptors, and raise interesting questions about whether individuals with certain genetic variations are more or less susceptible to forming attachments and falling in love. If so, some predict that accepting marriage proposals may one day involve consideration of the proposer’s genomic makeup.

So what happens when attachment has formed and a couple has made the decision to remain committed? Certain cognitive processes have also been observed in couples that show higher relationship commitment and stability. Greater self-other overlap is positively correlated with relationship stability. This involves the merging of your and your partner’s identity and a cognitive entanglement that makes it difficult to differentiate who you are from who your partner is. Studies have found that couples that take longer to differentiate words descriptive of themselves versus their partner are more likely to remain together than couples who responded faster.

The process of self-other overlap occurs early in a relationship when there is plenty of initial self-expansion. This describes the expansion of one’s self-constructed identity to include the aspects of your partner’s. Early in the relationship there is an abundance of new facets for self-expansion made available to you by your partner’s presence in your life — new friends, new experiences, new interests, and new resources, such as cars, apartments, and other objects. This period eventually slows down as you come to know your partner better and relationship satisfaction plateaus as the serious integration of your partner into your life occurs. Couples who make it past this phase will eventually experience continued self-expansion and increased satisfaction but at a slower rate. This latter phase characterizes the more stable satisfaction found in older couples who have formed a solid basis of companionship.

Couples who are more stable also demonstrate cognitive superiority. They believe their relationship to be better and happier than the relationships of their friends. They also see their partner as better than attractive alternatives. Studies have found that men will denigrate more attractive alternatives more than less attractive alternatives, as very attractive alternatives pose more of a threat to the relationship.

So for those of you lucky enough to be in a loving relationship, or for those who hope to one day be in one, here’s some advice to keep in mind this Valentine’s Day. First, do something new and exciting. Novel activities have been found to be quite effective at increasing relationship satisfaction and buffering against habitual activities and the mundane. Second, do something your partner will really enjoy, and try to enjoy it just as much as they do. One crucial factor found to be important for marital stability and satisfaction is the ability for individuals in a relationship to become genuinely excited and happy for the things that make their partner excited and happy. Lastly, be physically affectionate. Although frequency of sex is positively associated with relationship satisfaction, it is not as strongly correlated as physical affection in general.

Newman Centre courts controversy

U of T community voices concern over gay Catholic support group

Newman Centre courts controversy

The establishment of a group called “Courage” at the Newman Centre on U of T’s St. George campus, which sets out to “provide support for the inclusion of the Catholic homosexual person into the Catholic Church,” has been widely critiqued as offensive since it was first reported by The Globe and Mail earlier this month. Increasing scrutiny has prompted the university to issue an official statement distancing itself from the program.

“I know there are some people who have been going to the Newman Centre, who no longer feel they can participate in parish life because of [the Courage] program, and will either look for another Roman Catholic community, or maybe feel like they have to leave their own faith tradition because it’s yet another instance of the church being inhospitable,” said Reverend Ralph Carl Wushke, ecumenical chaplain at the University of Toronto.

Courage is an apostolate of the Catholic Church which ministers to “persons with same-sex attraction.” It was founded in 1980 by Father John Harvey, and introduced to the city of Toronto six years later.

Though not an official entity of the university, the Newman Centre Courage program was formed at the request of “a number of people [within the university community] aspiring to live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality,” said Bill Steinburg, communications manager at the Archdiocese of Toronto.

“Courage is one program available to those in the university community who wish to be involved — only those who wish to be involved have any direct connection with the group,” said Steinburg.

“This is an important ministry to those who have chosen to be involved, and I support their wishes to gather in prayer and discussion,” announced Newman Centre pastor, Chris Cauchi, during Sunday Mass on January 6, at the adjacent St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church.

The controversy surrounding the program stems largely from “the twelve steps of courage” patterned after the twelve steps for recovery from alcoholism, originally proposed by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. (aa).

“The twelve step program is pathologizing same-sex attraction as a sickness, and I think that’s quite hateful,” said Wushke.

“Reparative therapy is harmful and doesn’t help gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people come into their own, to find a healthy, whole life that is spiritually grounded in a positive way,” Wushke continued. “It may look like a positive solution for people suffering from the effects of homophobia, but in the long-run, gender identity is deeper than surface behaviours or passing experiences. I don’t think you can be cured of it. I think you can possibly repress it for a while but it’s going to come out in some other neurosis.”

U of T alumnus Rob Walker reflected on his past exposure to groups like Courage: “I was told for years that I am a ‘bad Christian’ for living as a gay man,” said Walker.

“In the best circumstances, students who would opt for a program like Courage do so because they have the full courage of their convictions,” Walker explained. “These young adults may experience tremendous pressure to be ‘good Catholics’ by conforming their self-understandings to what the church teaches. It is very difficult to achieve clarity of thought when you are told that, should you decide to live as a well-adjusted queer Christian, you are arguing with God in a state of moral sin, or potentially destined for the flames of hell!”

The existence of the program has also provoked a condemnatory response from the University of Toronto Students’ Union (ustu). The union wants the program discontinued, as does the university’s vice-president of human resources and equity, Angela Hildyard.

“This has no place on a university campus,” said Shaun Shepherd, president of the utsu.

“I would encourage students to familiarize themselves with the notorious history of the ex-gay movement, and how programs like Courage continue to stigmatize queer identities, while offering little in return to participants,” said Shepherd.

Walker offered encouragement to fellow students, saying “There are ways to read Scripture, respect tradition, and incorporate the insights of science and personal experience that allow people to live as queer people, and I encourage you to make sure you give yourself the opportunity to ask many questions and to express your doubts and joys. In the end, choose the path that allows you to flourish — and allow others, in peace, to disagree with you and to make choices that are different from your own.”

Schools shouldn’t be promoting polyamory

Last month, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) began hanging posters for their “safe and positive spaces” campaign. The content of these advertisements for equity were washroom stick figures in love. Entitled “Love has no gender,” the poster sports the rainbow of possible couplings: male stick figures with female stick figures, male sticks with male sticks, female sticks with female sticks. Two couplings are triplets of bathroom signifiers: one female figure with two male figures and two male figures with one female.

The posters have drawn the ire of angry parents and organizations who claim the posters endorse polygamy. The TDSB denies this, with spokesman Ryan Bird claiming that “all it is trying to depict is that a person can love either gender.” Though such a limited response smoothed few raised hackles, the outrage to the poster was relatively well-contained and the Board was free to focus on the impending temporary collapse of education.

Try to guess what the posters’ designers may have been getting at with the juxtaposition of love, the emphasis on gender and the double inclusion of triplets. Polygamy? Heavens no, we’ve graduated to far more sophisticated terms. Polyamory? Likely. The practice of loving a number of people at one time has been around since the Stone Age and it is an appropriately Paleolithic practice.

You don’t have to look far to find justifications from sexual diversity studies departments on the many advantages of this lifestyle. Paper needs to get inked somehow. The intellectual development that polyamory seems to represent to some theorists — a concrete emotional improvement that does away with the worst parts of that catch-all term for ignorant straight practices, “heteronormativity” — is worthy of a round dismissal.

I am a frequent user of GRIDNR, a social application designed for homosexuals that asks each client to submit a picture and some basic information. Nothing is mandatory in your profile but once created, you are sent to a mosaic of small picture boxes where you can view the profiles of other users, and they yours. A green dot will tell you if the individual is online, and an illuminated outline whether or not you’ve spoken to someone that day. You speak to these faces with bodily statistics.

The conversations go unmoderated, but you are given the option of blocking another user should a talk go south. You can send more pictures within the chat box or your location. The purpose of the application varies person to person. Its most frequent use, in practice, is finding sex, but people tend to claim they use GRINDR to make friends. While I’m sure that occurs, the ability on GRINDR to tell other people your exact place and distance from where they sit indicates that some immediacy is involved in the application’s intended function..

And it works. Every day us gays who’ve added this application to our mobile devices at U of T and around Toronto hook up with other gays. Everyone has a different way of fishing, and they change their flies depending on the catch they’re trying to attract. As with fishing in most Canadian wildlife parks, what is caught must be thrown back. My guess is that few successful relationships originate on GRINDR, and those that do must always carry the burden of telling people they met on a mobile sex site — not everyone’s dream.

The purpose of this diversion into GRINDR is to illustrate a development that appropriately reflects the truths of polyamory. It is a sex-based practice that fulfills the libido and satisfies the heart about as much as a mirage. I make no exceptions to this claim. If the polyamrous can demonstrate that they can stay with their people, raise many children, and show that this arrangement is capable of making useful contributions to society as a long-term effort, then showing the next generation TDSB’s “love has no gender” poster will be perfectly appropriate. Until then it is irresponsible for the School Board to promote a lifestyle that has its advocates in the classroom but none as living examples of the success of multi-party stable relationships.

They should give love with the heart the value of two and stay well out of the bedroom guest list.

New genetic contraceptive for men

University of Edinburgh researchers discover gene that could lead to male version of the Pill

It’s no secret that women have a lot more options available to them than men do when it comes to contraception. Faced with a wide variety of pills, intra-uterine devices, diaphragms, and surgeries available, making a choice can often be difficult. A recent study by researchers at the University of Edinburgh published in PLoS Genetics is predicting a shift in this dichotomy.

The researchers found a gene called Katnal1, which is essential for the development of sperm. They argue that finding a drug that could target this gene may result in a male version of the Pill. Currently, men do have the option of taking drugs to lower their fertility, but the majority of these drugs are hormone-based and cause a variety of negative side effects such as acne and mood swings. Katnal1, however, is not associated with hormone levels in the body, and so remains a promising target for a new generation of male contraceptives with reduced side-effects.

The Edinburgh-based research team was able to create mice that lacked the Katnal1 gene, which rendered them infertile. The gene is responsible for the development of a cellular structure called microtubules, which are very important in sperm maturation. The researchers noted that any contraceptives arising from this research would be fully reversible, since the gene only affects late-stage sperm formation, offering men a non-permanent alternative to vasectomy.

If you’re looking to put away your child-making potential  permanently, there’s good news for you as well. In addition to the reversible contraceptive, the researchers claim that a more complicated, irreversible treatment could be developed in the future. Introducing a DNA sequence that permanently blocks Katnal1 would induce sterility; however, this treatment is unlikely to hit the market for another decade.

Source: Science Daily