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.

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Imagine there are no prostitutes

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What would happen if all sex was consensually free?

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

We consider it the oldest profession, but such a claim creates an illusion that what is happening now and has been happening since the dawn of men and women is okay. Now, I’m all for people doing whatever they please with their bodies, and should they decide to sell it for sex, neither I nor anybody else has the right to stop them. Not even the law, right?

Yet I also know that a large number of women, and many we can only refer to as girls, who enter the trade do not consider what they do empowering. It’s slavery. Many are taken from their homes, trafficked to different countries, and sold like products on the streets. So the people who choose to take on prostitution as a career are in fact crippling those that don’t.

There is no honest way to stop prostitution. It’s not a company. It’s an industry. You can close down Safeway, but people who want groceries will simply go over to Superstore. Same goes with illegal sex. You can get rid of a drug dealer, but another one will just fill in the gap and fulfill the demand. It’s a business, and like all businesses, as long as there is demand, there will be suppliers.

So the question when it comes to stopping prostitution isn’t how to stop prostitution, but how to stop men from paying for illegal sex. After you utter such a question all you can do is give a big exhale, because even the most optimistic of folks can agree that such a mission sounds impossible.

The thing about prostitutes is that many of them aren’t offering sex exclusively; they are offering companionship. They are “escorts.” If it’s just horniness that drives the male desire for sex, then a few minutes alone with the Internet should be enough to suffice. But loneliness is a whole different beast. The longing for physical touch is not something that every person is blessed with. If we want to end prostitution, we must find a solution where we can give people the satisfaction of human contact and emotional intimacy, while preventing them from falling into drugs or other abusive habits.

When you peel away the skin of the problem and look at the core, you can see that the need for prostitution is continued due to the fact that some men are just bad at interacting with women. These men are so undesirable, or they feel so undesirable, that they cannot imagine woman spending time with them without having to pay. I believe we live in a world where people can rise above that shitty attitude—the attitude of self pity and shame from people who want something but aren’t willing to work for it. They take the easy route, and that is what prostitution is. Instead of driving around the block looking for free parking, the driver will just pay for a spot in the parkade. It’s easier.

I don’t like the people who approach prostitution as lusty entertainment for a stag or stagette party. I think that tradition needs to be wiped out. However, no matter how much I’d like to believe that we can find ways to seek other companionship, prostitution as a source of comfort and cure for the lonely is something this world cannot be without for now.

Not that kind of role model

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Lena Dunham’s questionable childhood shines a light on dark area of parenting

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

The awkward years of adolescence—we’ve all been there. For many of us it’s an aspect of our life we don’t revisit often. We tend to bottle up our past, repress memories, and avoid conversations where we open up about those “innocent” isolated incidents. We do this because as an adult it’s hard to say that those behaviours were in fact innocent. The fine line between curious sexual discovery and negligent abuse is a problem that recently surfaced in social media discourse.

I’m of course drawing connection to the events described in Lena Dunham’s memoir Not That Kind of Girl where she confessed to bribing her sister Grace with candy for kisses, in addition to having her sister expose herself. In one incident, Lena was a seven-year-old; Grace was one-year-old. Lena jokingly described herself as a sexual predator, and that statement ultimately caused a backlash. Judgment rained down from Twitter, and the Dunham sisters’ parents took the brunt of it.

Although Lena’s behaviour may seem repulsive to some, the Dunham sisters stood by each other, instead turning their story of incestuous behaviour to awareness for parents.

Policing young children’s sexually driven activities is not a simple task, and for many parents, they bypass the optional birds-and-the-bees lecture all together. Without guidance, children may find themselves in situations that might leave permanent scars. One could argue that the Dunham sisters have turned out fine, but because it’s such a taboo subject, there are probably countless cases out in the world that go unspoken, and many more occurrences go unseen.

A child’s actions will always be a reflection of the parents. The relationship between siblings, especially those with a significant age-gap like Lena and Grace, has been shown to be one where the older child has dominance over the younger. This case requires the parents to be in constant conversation with their children. Parents need to educate the elder and assess the younger. They need to encourage curiosity, yet set strict boundaries. Still, another element causes unease: how young should children be educated about sex?

Once children start interacting with other kids in a physical manner, be it violent or sexual, then a conversation needs to take place. Few parents will have the resources to supervise a child for long periods of time, and a lack of trust can become detrimental for both parents and children. When children are forced to interact, parents must explain what is appropriate and what is not. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sibling or if it’s a schoolmate, violating personal space through coercive or manipulative means is never appropriate.

It’s incredibly bold of the Dunham sisters to be open about such a sensitive experience in their personal lives. It was a shame to see so many people approach them and their parents with scorn. Who of us can say that we didn’t perform a questionable act in our youth, regrettable or not? And can a parent out in the world really say that they know exactly what to do in such a situation? There is no clear procedure to parenting; it’s trial and error. But with so many educational resources out in the world, there is no reason for any aspect to be brushed off.

The boob tube

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Television’s bait and switch tactics are working too well

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 19, 2014

Any good salesperson knows that in order to sell a product, they first need to catch the consumer’s attention. Television, for lack of a better word, is a marketplace and you’re the customer who’s passing through. Since you’re just passing through, or channel surfing if I may, you don’t have time to linger and enjoy six seasons of anything, let alone one with multiple character arcs and complicated plot twists. Solution: nudity!

Sex sells. It’s not just a phrase used in advertising, but a legitimate formula for commercial success. But by applying this tactic repeatedly, like so many independent broadcasting networks and entertainment providers are choosing to do, the content itself turns into one of two things: pornography or satire.

Don’t get me wrong, I love nudity. I can appreciate a well-photographed love scene and smut on different levels. But I also believe there is a time and place for it. The audience should be able to control their own intake of controversial images. Once I’m hooked to the storyline, there is no reason to overindulge me with unrelated nude scenes. I care more about the progression of the storyline, the plot, and the characters’ expositions, than some attractive female lusciously draped over the screen—at least for now.

No, I’m not a prude or immature, but we all have a perv-side to us—that’s why sex sells. We have all experienced sitting down as a collective to enjoy a show with explicit nudity peppered throughout. When nipples appear on the screen, a few things could happen: either the room hushes up with slight discomfort, or someone will break the silence with a blatant statement addressing said nipples, and laughter might or might not ensue. Regardless, that little pulse of misplaced horniness is harmful to the storytelling.

Sure, it might be the artistic direction to include sensible nude scenes; there are many reasonable situations to showcase boobs, etc. But it’s clear that certain producers, with the intention of getting the largest viewing audience possible, are jeopardizing the artistic craft of filmmaking by pumping more nudity into the shows, thus turning an adult drama into soft-core porn.

Naked women should not be used as props to engage an audience. They should not be strategically placed in the background, while main characters discuss betrayal. They should not appear randomly to seduce the leading man only to disappear, never to be seen again. They should not be used to arouse or tease an audience without justified reasons. Am I angry that sometimes they are? No, not that angry, but when I see some of my favourite shows subjected to these low level bait-and-switch tactics to garner more viewers, I feel ashamed to like the show—and I know that true fans are not watching to see Lena Dunham naked or the next Westeros femme fatale.

We love the stories, we love the characters, and we love the fact that the show isn’t some homogenized Canadian show about life in the Prairies. Television producers should understand that by using nudity as a lure for viewers, they are only misguiding people, offering them something that is unsustainable on television and that there is already so much of on the Internet.

GILF me a break

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Does Japanese elder porn get better with age?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 28, 2014

For a country that censors genitals in “regular” pornography, while producing an ample amount of grotesque tentacle erotica, bukakee, and tamakeri, it’s not hard to believe that 20-30 per cent of the current adult entertainment in Japanese cyberspace is elder porn, i.e. old people having sex on camera.

It makes sense, after all: Japan has an aging demographic with a younger generation less interested in intercourse and more interested in relationships with animated avatars, inanimate feminine objects like pillows or dolls, and computer generated personalities. Now, I’m not one to criticize what other people do in the bedroom as long as no one is getting hurt—which I’m not always sure of when “researching”; what bothers me is that pornography is starting to give modern society a musky stank and an unachievable expectation for intimate interactions.

“It’s mostly older men who watch. Maybe some single women who are a little older,” Shigeo Tokuda, 79-year-old porn star told the Globe and Mail. “Definitely, they want to have some connection to a character that’s their age, to feel they can have the same satisfaction.”

I get it; we all have fetishes and we need outlets so we don’t repress the animal urges inside of us and explode. But we have made pedophiles out of people who are attracted to young girls and boys—would watching animated pornography (hentai) of children be any more acceptable? Niche markets work, every art form relies on some form of niche to keep the medium afloat, but just because there is a supply and demand, does that mean it’s appropriate?

I personally don’t want to see my grandparents doing it—and I wouldn’t want other people seeing my family members do it either. That shit is traumatic. The same way a family would be disappointed in their teenager for partaking in recreational drugs, having an elder adult porn star at the dinner table is not any less reassuring.

That being said, all porn stars must deal with that eventual fate of having someone near and dear see their work; it’s just a naked, wrinkly elephant in the room.

Sure, elders are adults and they deserve to make decisions of their own, but with the Internet being accessible to anyone of any age, shouldn’t we be more conscious of what is online?

I don’t want to make any low blows here, but the term elder porn means that the people participating in the act are old, and therefore, will soon face the inevitable. What would it be like living in a world where we’re watching pornography of people who are no longer alive? What will that do to our psyches with such content so easily accessible? Will videos be relics or artifacts of Japan’s ahead-of-its-time evolution? The Internet is able to hold content temporarily, but any computer-user can save the files onto their own hard drive. Porn stars die, but the pornography they create doesn’t.

I’m not against elder porn; I’m against the idea that the pornography world has created bedridden, tissue-wasting creatures who aren’t trying to achieve anything greater than self-satisfaction—oh, and sex robots. Sure, what people get off on is none of my business and I don’t want it to be, but I do feel there is going to be a legitimate problem; maybe not now, but if the trend continues and the Japanese continue to build an empire of bizarre erotic entertainment, how is that going to affect the next generation?

The same way recreational drugs have made a blip in our radars and demanded attention—I foresee pornography doing the same, perhaps to a wider scope.