Photo by Matty Flader / Photo Reporter

By: Alannah DeAngelis, Contributor

Dates can be a fun way to get to know your partner better and try new things together. Between school, catching up on all your Netflix shows and hanging out with your friends, it can be tough to make time for date nights. Try out these five date ideas where you can stay on campus and avoid breaking the bank! 

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Planetarium Show

The W. J. McCallion Planetarium, in the basement of BSB, is an out-of-this world date idea! Shows run Wednesday nights and there is a new theme each week. Learn about outer space, stars, planets, comets and more. For more information, check out the McMaster Planetarium website.                                                                         

Cost: $7 per person.

 

Photo by Matty Flader / Photo Reporter

Video Game Room in Lyons New Media Centre 

Get your game on in the Video Games room on the 4th floor of Mills to find out which of you is the “Mario Kart” champion! There are five game consoles that you can choose from: Wii, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PS4. They offer many games to play, all of which are available to rent for free. Bookings for this space can be made for up to 2 hours per day for all McMaster students.

Cost: Free! Just bring your student card to rent the controllers and games.

 

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McMaster Museum of Art

Check out some cool art with your partner at the McMaster Museum of Art right on campus. The museum is recognized internationally for its European paintings, drawings and prints. It is also known for its specialist collection of early 20th century German prints. This highly notable museum is just steps away from the Student Centre.

Cost: Pay what you can (suggested donation is $2).

 

 

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Trivia Night at the Phoenix

Test your knowledge at the Phoenix Bar and Grill’s Trivia Night, which happens every Tuesday at 7 p.m.. The theme changes each week, so you are sure to never be bored. Top teams will win gift cards to the Phoenix; perfect to use for another date night! 

Cost: Free when you purchase food or drinks.

 

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Hike at Cootes

McMaster is surrounded by beautiful hiking trails with breathtaking views. Go for a hike at Cootes (start at the trail behind the Alpine tower) and explore what nature has to offer in McMaster’s backyard. Notably, the Sassafrass trail includes a lookout platform onto Lake Ontario. Who knows, maybe you will even see some deer along the way! 

Cost: Free! 

 

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Photos C/O Aaron de Jesus

Twenty. That's how many weddings I shot in 2018 as a wedding filmmaker, and that's how many couples I've witnessed embark in the romantic tradition of love through ceremonial spectacle. As Aristotle puts it, love that is "composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”

But what stems from this poetic union of two perfect swipes matches? A spiritual bliss? Unconditional passion? A fulfilled soul? Maybe. But there is a definite partner in crime to romantic love we all need to control: ego.

What is Ego:

Not the Freudian ego, but that Kanye ego. You see it in films, you hear it in music and you feel your eyes rolling back when your lab partner urges you to believe that they "meet the perfect criteria" for their Friday-night-fling. Or better yet, the heavenly Friday-night-fling "fits all my checkboxes."

This is only the bark of the evergreen ego, which we can define using author Ryan Holiday's definition as an "unhealthy belief in our own importance” found in his book Ego Is the Enemy. This is synonymous with arrogance, vanity and of course, Kanye.

What is Romantic Love:

The ego in love inflates our own level of significance, while at the same time projecting ambitious standards for another to meet. With this principle narcissism, we begin to see the clinging relationship of ego with "romantic love" — which we can describe through the wisdom of Alain de Botton as a lifelong passion of unconditional affection, monogamous sex of the deepest expressions, independent of any logical reasoning and relying only on instinctual emotions and feelings.

Take that in — romantic love lives solely on emotion without logic. To the casual reader, these childish thoughts may seem obvious, but reflecting deeper, we begin to see signs within ourselves and our closest circle. We must control this. Let's take a look throughout your life.

Children: The Seedling Ego

Going back to where this all began, childhood is where we first experienced love. Most can associate child affection with a loving authority. Whether we called them our parent, sibling, relative, or neighbour, we needed them. The attachment theory research of John Bowlby throughout the 1900's, followed by Prof. Sue Johnson's couples therapy research today, brings sound evidence for our dependence on others. When we screamed for food, we got it. When we cried to be held, we got it. When we laughed for playtime, we got it. This is a good thing. Relying on others is the fundamental reason our species has survived millennia. The downside is in its longevity and growth through life.

Yes, we need others in life, and yes, our deepest instinct is to seek attachment, as outlined by Prof. Johnson, but the feedback loop of the Ariana Grande-esque "I want it, I got it" is the root that sprouts the dark ego of romance. Getting things as children paves the way for this underlying principle of romantic love: When we want something, we'll find a way to get it.

Adolescence: The Budding Ego

Which brings us to the next step of the growing ego in love. Found in puberty, high school, college or university, new experiences with decreased micromanagement and guidance. This is when the ego begins to experiment. Our claustrophobic wants begin to explore outside the supervised home and seeks easier ways to be watered. Whether through becoming captain of the volleyball team, taking the alto sax solo in band and most notably, finding a significant other to seek love and affection from.

This is also the point where ego meets romance. Our idea of love at this time is heavily influenced by the media, family and friends, and I'm willing to bet they all follow the blueprint of romantic love defined above. The fairytale love. The princess and prince charming love.

The budding ego spreads its roots and leaves into new terrain, searching for nourishment through this angelic and socially-acceptable soil called romance. This fair ground is for taking, stemming from it the seedling motto of “doing it because you want it” which only leads to the growth of our selfish plant called ego.

Into Adulthood: The Warped Ego

This is when our ego blooms the biggest, taking our primal egotistic need for affection and mixing it with the socially-acceptable irrationality of love. It almost becomes Machiavellian in the way it finds love.

Robert Greene, author of The Laws Of Human Nature, highlights a few archetypes of the folly relationship: the victim types that need saving, the saviour types to save victims, the devilish romantics of seduction, the image of perfection that never comes to fruition and the straight-up "they'll worship my ego indefinitely and unconditionally because of who I am" type.

Nowhere near complete, these types in relationships are ever-present. They may not come to mind right away when we think of romance, but when we look deeply at traditional love stories, the Romeos and Juliettes, the Snow Whites and Prince Charmings, there they are. And when we look beside us, there they are.

Is this a bad thing? Aristotle once said that to fix the warped curvature of wood, one must apply pressure in the opposite direction. And I do believe that regulating our growth should be at the forefront of any visionary. But is this subjective idea of "true love" really a disservice to our growing forest of human interaction?

 

The Solution:

Yes, I do believe this traditional view of love has well overstayed its visit. Especially with our cultural shift towards individuality and independence. And the first step to grow with the grain is understanding and loosening our ego.

For better or for worse, it's our ego trying to keep up with the Kardashians Joneses in love. But they're not you, and only you know what climate is best to grow love. Not Disney, not the latest country ballad and not the many wedding films found online. There are 7.4B definitions of love, and we need to rid our ego of any unexamined soil.

This means stop assuming that relationships are the norm. Stop associating sex with love. Logical thinking can be just as divine as cupid's arrow. You don't need to love everything about someone to love them. Arguments are arguments, and not signs from a higher power. We can't put full responsibility on another to complete ourselves. And above all, it doesn't make you any less of a person to love someone.

Let go the ego to let love grow.

 

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Anonymous contributor/ WGEN column

For all intents and purposes, I felt that I had consented to what my partner did to me. I invited him over, we engaged in sexual activities and we stopped when I wanted to sleep. When I woke up a few hours later to find his hand between my legs I felt violated and in distress, but I pretended to sleep. I didn’t tell him to stop what he was doing, but I also didn’t say that I wanted him to touch me like that while we slept. It took a very long time for me to feel comfortable with sex after that encounter, and an even longer time to realize that what he did was wrong.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between someone asking for your consent and someone demanding it.

My story is not unique; many people have had similar confusing and upsetting encounters where someone they are dating crosses a line. Justifications for your partner’s actions are commonplace and understandable and usually stem from the belief that you already gave consent or owe your partner sex even when you don’t want it. This stems from unhealthy understandings of relationships on the one hand and a partner’s sense of entitlement on the other.

Consent should be an easy concept to grasp; when two adults both express that they want to engage in sexual activity, they do. However, consent in relationships can be a grey area because you’ve already established that you are attracted to your partner and want to have a physical relationship with them. In addition, the vulnerability required in a long-term relationship can lead to someone agreeing to sex against their will because they feel that it is their duty to their partner. For those such as myself who’ve never been in a healthy relationship before, it can be difficult to tell the difference between someone asking for your consent and someone demanding it. A partner who respects consent will respect boundaries and take no for an answer (and ask for a “yes” in the first place), while a partner who does not respect you will push and push until you “consent.”

Dating someone doesn’t mean you are entitled to their body at all times. Like casual relationships, just because someone has agreed to something before doesn’t mean that they have to do it again. In a healthy relationship both parties feel comfortable expressing their desires and only proceed if both people are interested. If you find that your partner continually pleads and manipulates you into engaging in sex that you aren’t comfortable with, it’s probably time to take a look at your relationship and its power dynamics.

It’s important to remember that while sex can be a wonderful way to feel closer to someone, it isn’t the only way. We sometimes forget that vulnerability exists outside of the bedroom and that relationships require emotional partnership to be sustainable. Look at most of your platonic relationships — I’m sure those are just as fulfilling as your romantic ones, and probably have few, if any, sexual components to them.

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By: Kaiwen Song

Television programs, with their widespread reach and exposure, can have many beneficial impacts on individuals and society. TV not only provides entertainment, but can also help generate societal acceptance of minority groups such as the LGBTQ community through positive representation. Looking back we can see the impact that TV shows featuring LGBTQ characters, such as Will & Grace and Glee had on the increasing acceptance of queer people in North America. These shows had a snowball effect, with many others beginning to feature LGBTQ characters. Indeed, 2015 saw a plethora of attempts at positive representation. Unfortunately, they often left much to be desired. Here are three major ways in which we could improve LGBTQ representation on television in 2016.

First, give LGBTQ characters enough screen time to fully develop. Creating a character that only says a few inconsequential words every episode — or worse, flashes by on screen for mere seconds — is not enough to leave a lasting impression. One example is Captain David Singh in The Flash. While the show is theoretically highly inclusive, Singh, the gay police captain is only featured in 16 of the 23 total episodes with a total screen time of less than two minutes. Similarly, Teen Wolf featured the token gay lacrosse player Danny for less than five minutes throughout its first three seasons before the character disappeared altogether with no explanation. These token LGBTQ characters are extremely disappointing. How can an audience enjoy or relate to a character they don’t get the chance to know?

Secondly, ensure that your attempts at positive representation don’t end up doing more harm than good. Quantico, one of the most anticipated shows of 2015, had commercials that highlighted the inclusion of a major gay character named Simon — the show held extra promise as it was created by Joshua Safran, who is openly gay. This promise was shattered almost immediately when it was revealed that Simon was only pretending to be gay, meaning that TV was robbed of some potentially fantastic queer representation. Safran didn’t stop there; the other minor gay character on Quantico was depicted as cowardly, running away from a bomb while others stayed behind to defuse it, later committing suicide at the prospect of facing imprisonment after being caught for a crime. Both actions perpetuated the negative stereotype of the cowardly or incapable gay man. Needless to say, LGBTQ characters do not, and should not, have to be perfect human beings, however, with so few representations of queer characters on TV, we must take care that the few rare portrayals of LGBTQ characters on TV don’t buy into pre-existing negative stereotypes.

Thirdly, do not be afraid to show LGBTQ characters engaged in romantic and sexual relationships. Modern Family, a comedy series with several LGBTQ writer-producers, is a success on many fronts: it features a gay couple in major roles and allows them to be both good and bad, nuanced just like the rest of the characters. However, Modern Family has long been criticized for glossing over displays of physical intimacy between its gay character. According to the American Sociological Review’s 2014 study, although people may support civil rights for the LGBTQ community, many are still be uncomfortable seeing same-sex public displays of affection. Thus, it is important for TV shows such as Modern Family to play a role in normalizing same-sex physical intimacy. Seeing characters at their most affectionate and intimate is an important part of seeing them as human.

2015 saw a plethora of attempts at positive representation. Unfortunately, they often left much to be desired. 

Fulfilling all three criteria, all the while maintaining critical and commercial success, is not impossible: take a look at How To Get Away With Murder. The show features a lead bisexual character and a major gay character, each with individual strengths and weaknesses, who are part of romantic relationships that are depicted with as much explicitness as their straight counterparts. By taking the time and effort to portray members of the LGBTQ community in a meaningful way, TV shows can be elevated from being simply entertaining to being influential and important. Writers and producers — straight and LGBTQ alike — take note!

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Does it seem like everyone is getting into relationships these days? You may be witnessing the social phenomenon referred to as “cuffing season.”  SHEC is here to answer questions you never thought to ask.

What in the world is cuffing season?

“Cuffing” describes the supposed biological urge to find romantic or sexual partners (or both) when the autumn season commences. The intention is to “cuff” a companion to stay with throughout the upcoming winter months.

Is it real?

On its face, the theory does seem reasonable — as days get shorter and leaves begin to fall, the autumn season can put a damper on the fun and carelessness of summertime. Some may feel lonely on increasingly dark nights and seek the company of a special someone. Why wouldn’t we seek out the company and closeness of others with the impending frigidity of a Canadian winter? In fact, a study in the journal Emotion published in 2011 purported that humans associated colder temperatures with increased loneliness and solitude. Nonetheless, cuffing season remains to be verified as a real, scientifically based theory.

What biological reasons can explain the phenomenon of cuffing season?

It can likely be explained from an evolutionary perspective. Since the term “cuffing season” does not sound very scientific, and no research has been done on the subject, I can only invent an argument to explain it. For example, it would surely be advantageous for a primate to share body heat with a partner in the cold fall and winter months.

Those are interesting physiological theories. Are there any possible strategic explanations?

Yes, certainly. A relationship may facilitate the acquisition of resources, mainly food that the couple can share. Also, going on romantic dates might mitigate the effects of the oncoming Seasonal Affective Disorder that results from the bad weather.

But really, how healthy are relationships, with two people drawn together by the cold?

I would not jump to the conclusion that these relationships are necessarily unhealthy. Every relationship has a unique starting point or a trigger, some more romantic and perhaps warmer than others. However, to the individuals who are feeling the desire for some warm romantic cuddles, I would proceed with caution. Be honest — first to yourself and then to your potential cuff mate — about what you want out of this relationship. Perhaps a good test to see if you’ve fallen into the cuffing trap is to ask yourself if you would want the same relationship in the summer. Once successfully cuffed, make sure to check in with your partner every so often to ensure everyone is still on the same blanket, especially as the days get warmer. A last word of advice for those feeling colder and lonelier as the days get longer and darker: friends can offer some lovely cuddling benefits too, without the risk of heartbreak!

Photo Credit: Arno Burgi/Getty Images

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