Stay the night

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What to expect when you invite a couple over to your place

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. February 3, 2016

Behind closed doors, it doesn’t matter what two people do. Regardless of who’s home or where you are—as long as it’s private—people deserve their privacy. You cannot govern someone’s sexual behaviour even if it is on your property. Naturally, when you invite people over to your place for a sleepover, a weekend, or a vacation getaway, you don’t often jump to the conclusion that your home would turn into a sleazy hotel room. But people do have sex, and you’ll have to accept it.

As a host, it’s impossible for you to keep track of your guests 24 hours a day. Should you hear some bump in the night, remember that they are just enjoying themselves and it’s temporary. Brush it off or laugh it off. If it’s too obvious to ignore, it’s your right as the host to pull your guest aside later on the next day and let them know that sex is okay, but they should perhaps be more discreet.

As a guest, it’s your job to be respectful. Depending on the person’s home, you can gauge whether raucous noise in the middle of the night will be frowned upon or if others in the house are probably getting some as well. There’s a difference from staying at your in-laws’ and your friend’s summer home.

I’m quite liberal with sexual freedom. People should be allowed to have sex, especially when it is private. Even when it isn’t, I live by the rule: if nobody knows, nobody cares. Yes, afterward someone will have to clean up the sheets, but hell, if the hosts weren’t prepared to do a bit of cleaning, they shouldn’t have invited people over.

You cannot welcome people into your home and say things like “make yourself comfortable” and then get angry because they did something you didn’t want them to do. When you open the door to people, you have to accept that they will do what they do. Your house is not a prison and you’ll just have to trust that your friends and family members will just behave and be respectful.

One of the worst fears for many people is walking in on others having intercourse. If that is a genuine concern while you are hosting, then maybe you shouldn’t have them sleeping in the living room or in an area without a closed door. If you don’t have any other options, then that is just a risk you are going to have to take. Maybe when they are “asleep,” you shouldn’t go wandering into where they are staying. If they are in their room, don’t go barging in. Follow the old rule: before you turn the corner, knock.

Let’s be adults. Sex isn’t that big of a deal. There are far more traumatic things in the world. Get over it and stop acting so stuck-up.

The art of ghosting

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How to disappear from a long night of partying

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. November 11, 2015

Sometimes known as the Irish goodbye or the French exit, ghosting is the act of leaving a party without announcing it or saying farewell to the host or the rest of the guests. It can be humourous for some and insulting to others. Some will be happy that you’ve been able to make it there at all, while others would demand some sort of appreciation for their efforts. As we approach the festive season, where our free time begins to fill up with parties and get-togethers, I figure it’s a good idea to touch on the idea of ghosting.

Before we go any further, I want to say that I am a proud supporter of ghosting. After a long night of drinking or whatever the party entails, you are tired. Just get yourself home and rest. Friends don’t need friends to go through all the bullshit formalities required to leave. Simply leave and forget about it.

We are so connected these days through our phones and social media that if a goodbye was not exchanged, a simple text can fix everything. There is no shame to ghosting and there shouldn’t be any guilt either.

Making it out to a party is hard enough without having to feel rather shitty for leaving early. You might have been having fun; you might not have. Either way, it is not work. You are not being paid to be there. Therefore, you don’t need to punch in and out—in addition to punishing yourself.

You don’t need to ghost completely. Say goodbye to those in your vicinity when you leave. Let them relay any parting messages you may have for other people in the venue that you have missed. Note: they probably won’t relay any messages for you, but they will act as witnesses to your departure. On your way out, you’ll likely say goodbye to a handful of people smoking.

There are many social gatherings that hold attendees to a higher standard than other engagements. Weddings, for example, are a big pain in the ass if you want to leave early. Sometimes people even expect you to help clean up—say what? A dinner party, one where there is a place reserved for you specifically, is different from a night of binge drinking with friends. However, you don’t need to make your exit a big scene. Say goodbye to the host, if nobody else. Thank them quickly. Excuses aren’t really necessary, unless they force it out of you. Pay for your portion (if that is expected), and just leave. It’s ghosting, but that doesn’t make you a monster.

What is war (and I) good for? Absolutely nothing!

U.S. marines fire on a group of insurgents shortly after they launched a rocket propelled grenade at their 7-ton truck while on a 'movement-to-contact mission in order to flush out insurgents operating in the Fallujah area  south of Fallujah on Thursday, April 15, 2004 in Iraq.  The marines are part of the 3rd Battalion, 4th marine regiment, which saw heavy combat at the beginning of the war last year, and is now back in Iraq embroiled in intense fighting with the resistance.  Today, the men of the 3rd Battalion were ambushed half a dozen times while they patrolled the palm groves and wheat fields around fallujah, and the marines killed at least 10 insurgents, and suffered only minor injuries. (Credit: Lynsey Addario/ Corbis, for The New York Times)

Would I become a soldier if there was a war to fight?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. November 11, 2015

There was a time when refusing to fight in a war was an act of cowardice. Conscientious objectors were often shunned for being “unpatriotic” and “disgraceful.” Many of them in the past were even considered criminals. Thank god we don’t live in those times anymore. As Remembrance Day approaches, I’m often left with a bitter, remorseful feeling, because I know, I’ll never make such a sacrifice—I won’t!

Those who serve on the front line today demand respect. However, that does not necessary make them “heroes.” The way I see it, it makes them victims. I respect them not because of their training, but how their training and their experiences have corrupted them. Hate begets hate. War does not elevate kindness, tolerance, and benevolence in people; it pulverizes it with fear and righteousness. Post-traumatic stress disorder is chalked up as a workplace hazard for soldiers like carpal tunnel is for office workers.

We are currently living in the most peaceful time in the history of humanity. Yes, there are countless wars taking place on this planet, but most of them are civil wars or wars between countries separated by a thin border, far from where I am. These wars are feuds between neighbours that have lasted generations upon generations. If I were to pick a battle to fight, it would be an intrusion. Me sticking my nose in something I truly don’t understand.

One nearsighted saying I hear from those who are willing to join the army is this: I fight so my children won’t have to. First off, your children will do whatever the hell they want to; they’re their lives. Secondly, if you truly care about your children, you should teach them acceptance, rather than aggression. Teach them that there is more to a war than simply good guys fighting bad guys. Thirdly, if you think there is anything to gain from becoming a pawn, you are right, there is. There is a lot of profit, but don’t be surprised if it all goes to corporations—not to you or your children.

It might sound selfish of me to say that I wouldn’t defend my country. But what does it mean to defend my country? Does it mean entering someone else’s home and killing innocent people there until I find the few that are doing wrong to the true north strong and free? I hope not. In Canada, wherever we send our troops, we say we they are there for “peacekeeping” reasons. I don’t know how peaceful I can be waltzing into a battle zone.

We need to appear strong in the face of adversity. We need to have muscle so that the world at large won’t push us around. But the thing I never understood about our military, and those of our allies, is this: How will our guns stop their guns? How will our blood wash away their blood?

I’ll support our troops by taking off my hat during ceremonies, but man, there has got to be a better way.

Chivalry is dead and feminism dug the grave

 

Is my shining armour sexist? 

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Mar. 11, 2014

I believe in equal rights—at least, I want to. I believe I’m like a lot of other men, straddling the line between sexist and feminist, teetering back and forth by the push and pull of social expectation and traditional beliefs. Yes, I’m the kind of guy who wants to hold the door open, who wants to pull the chair out, and who also wants to split the bill at the end of the night. I want to be chivalrous, but what does that word even mean anymore?

Men pride themselves on being financial supporters. If my situation were different, I would pay for everything, despite the fact that my female counterpart will be earning the same amount or more. After all, a woman’s success is her success, not my failure by any means.

Yet, there is still this stigma towards a woman treating a man in certain situations, mainly in public—maybe it’s all in my head, but I don’t believe it is. I know that deep down men still strive to be the dominant gender. We feel good when we can open jars for her, do heavy lifting for her, and even put a roof over her head. It’s not that we consider our mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives, etc. to be inferior, but like I said, we’re proud.

Women would argue that men do not need to be chivalrous; they only need to be polite and respectful. Many feminists will say that women don’t need men to protect them because they are not damsels in distress. But men want to protect women and save them from distress, even if there isn’t any. Guys, how many times did you feel the need to walk a girl home at night, or at least to the bus stop or the SkyTrain station? You know, because her safety matters. Girls, how many times did you judge a guy for not offering or for outright refusing to take you home? What a lazy thoughtless bum, right?

I don’t want to feel responsible, but I do. I know that if something does happen to her, I would feel guilty, and that is just the way I was moulded to feel. Sure, it wasn’t my fault. I’m not a superhero, I’m not even a mall security guard, but when a man can’t protect those he cares about, then in a way, he can’t call himself a man. It might be my generation’s narcissism or it might just be my own insecurity; either way, I feel a greater need to protect the women in my life than the guys. I’ll hold the door open for you, dude—while I’m here anyways.

It might be the fact that men have been mistreating women since the dawn of time, and there will always be dick heads out there. That was why chivalry existed during medieval times, to protect women from those dick heads. Now in the modern age, the measuring stick is not that apparent for either gender. But guys, whether you are a feminist or not, normal human decency will always ring through; it’s more important than any useless labels.

With all that being said, the chivalry period is over. But that doesn’t mean us guys can’t still do the things Prince Charming did. Yes, we should still open doors, we should still pull out chairs, and hell, we should split the bill once in a while—not only with women, but with all people.

What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me

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Maybe you’re born with it, or maybe you fake it till you make it

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Previously published in The Other Press. Feb 4, 2014

I’ll admit it: I’m still not sure what this whole love thing is all about. I understand others’ interpretations—you know, the Shakespearean sonnets, the Nicholas Sparks novels, and that scene from Up—but what is love, and why am I so skeptical?

I have been told that I have the same range of emotions as a well-functioning blender (nobody actually said that) and that my excitement level can often reach the point of mild elation. I’m not the kind of guy who categorizes feelings or even acknowledges them. I mean, I feel hungry, tired, and cold—but can I feel love? Is it like a chill that runs down my spine when I hear about a traffic accident? Is it like the anticipation of pain as I prepare my lips for a hot drink? Or is it just something I haven’t experienced yet?

Like every other child growing up, I was taught to love my parents unconditionally. I guess I love my mom and dad, even though 90 per cent of the time they are the worst company. They gave me life and in return I offer my love. But love can’t be currency, it’s not something you exchange with people for goods and services and life. Can anyone put a value on love? I sure hope not. Even the thought of myself doing something for love disgusts me. I hope love doesn’t collar me up and pull me along on a leash like a lovesick puppy. Then again, how do I give something that I don’t even know I have? Or receive something so abstract? Where does this love thing come from?

I thought I had it before. Yes, I too have lied about my love for someone. In fact, I’ve done it multiple times under different circumstances. And I can’t promise that I won’t do it again. The thing was, I knew I was lying the whole time, but how did they know? I think people can see the lovelessness in others when they lie about something like that. It’s the same way people can see that I can’t grow a beard or that I’ve been up all night. As much as love can feel like an internal thing, it seeps up onto the surface, like a woman’s glow when she’s pregnant, or an ailing man’s cancer.

Love can be something that just happens, but I also believe that love is something we earn, like trust or respect. But how does one earn trust, respect, and love?

You can’t force it—that much I know. To agonize over love is to overwater a flower, drowning the plant in your own insecurity. No, love is more like a weed: it can grow in the most trying locations, flourish with little assistance, and spread with great conviction. I remember the old saying “if you love something, set it free,” I guess that’s like blowing dandelion seeds and watching them catch in the wind and parachute down. “If it returns, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it wasn’t.” That thought scares me, because commitment is terrifying. Love by that definition sounds so permanent, yet daunting. It leaves me feeling hopeless. If that’s the case, do I even want love at all?

Of course I do. The same way I want a warm blanket, a feeling of security, and a sense of wonder. As humans, there are no greater risks than admitting that you truly love someone; to take that emotional leap of faith and to really open the seams into our souls and let another see all the turning gears that are powering us—or at least me since, after all, I am robotic. Perhaps I require some reverse engineering, or maybe my love is still up for beta testing. I’ll wait. I’m not worried.

The Report Card: Public Displays of Affection

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 Formerly published in The Other Press. Feb. 4, 2014

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Public displays of affection, or PDA as the kids like to call it, is scornful, repulsive, and shameless; at least that’s the current cultural attitude. Yes, PDA is as tactless as bragging about your good grades or wage. But why should showing your affection toward someone be condemned? Publicly displaying your affection for someone can be as inoffensive as a handshake or a hug—that is, if it’s done with class.

Pass: In social settings

Why should affection be confined to the bedroom? Romance should be breathable wherever a couple goes, especially in social settings. Every couple, like every individual, is different, and generally people behave differently in public than they would alone. Obviously not every couple will be the mushy-gushy kind, but if your significant other is too embarrassed to direct any emotional or physical affection in your direction when you’re with a group of friends, I would be wary.

I’m not saying that there needs to be a passionate embrace during all your social excursions, but a community that embraces the love of two people is one that will foster affection, instead of repression. If your relationship is strong, but your friend circle constantly criticizes the loving way you behave with your partner, barriers will be created and unwritten rules will be established.

Many foreign cultures embrace PDA as if it’s their birthright. European and Latin American countries are renowned for their romantic customs. It’s not uncommon to walk down a promenade and see a pair locking lips and holding each other passionately. There is nothing wrong with that, and the fact that North American culture sees a problem with two people in love outdoors is a real knock on our zeitgeist. And as meaningless as it may sound, we should reevaluate our “Get a room” mindset for the sake of love.

Fail: On social media

However, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are not the places for you to express your love towards another user. There are other platforms out there for you to communicate intimate thoughts, but social networking sites should not be one of them. Sure, there are the dating sites like, PlentyOfFish, OKCupid, and eHarmony, but those are designated dating sites with specific purposes. Still I would imagine those who’ve used dating sites would also eventually move to a more private means of corresponding.

Here are the reasons why I think posting lovesick statuses, tweets, and Instagram photos are a bad idea. First off, there is something artificial about social media. It’s a place where you show off the brightest side of you or a place where you vent. Facebook can often feel like one big circle-jerk, and by putting your affection online, many will see that as an attempt to seek approval. After all, it’s all about getting those “likes.” Your relationship is more than just others’ “likes.”

Secondly, love comes and goes, lust comes and goes, and blind infatuation comes and goes—but regrettable status updates and pictures last forever. You can delete them off the Internet, but you cannot erase your persona from people’s minds. You don’t want to develop a reputation as a psycho who is emotionally unstable and throws all their love successes and problems online. Facebook friends and Twitter followers aren’t your real friends—they can’t really help you, but they can sure troll you.

Lastly, you’ll put your partner in a strange and awkward position when you post about them. There is nothing worse than seeing an enthusiastic girlfriend’s status and the boyfriend with a lackluster response (oh, that’ll end well). Internet personas are different and they should not be confused with real emotions. Spoiler alert: real emotions are the ones you should focus on.