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By: Sophie Geffros

I tend to view having a relationship with your biological father as being somewhat akin to owning a dishwasher. It’s nice, sure. It takes some of the work and pressure off of your primary caregiver, and a lot of people have them. But fundamentally, plenty of us grow up without them and do just fine. That said, nobody assumes you will be a criminal if you grow up without a dishwasher.

In July, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said, “We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it’s falling apart because of single moms … What we have is moms raising children in single-parent households simply breeding more criminals.”

I wish I could say that I was surprised. As one of four children raised by a single mother, I have spent my life being alternately outraged and depressed by these statements. I also wish I could pretend that this sentiment is simply a disease of the far right, and that good liberals are immune. However, I have heard the same poisonous sentiments from the left — they simply phrase it more gently. Liberals will praise the strength of single mothers while still implying heavily that being the wrong kind of single parent is a tragedy. That is, it’s very impressive if you are a white middle class woman in her thirties who chooses to have a baby by herself; but if you are poor or a teenager or a person of colour, it is the result of systemic failures. Often, single mothers and their children are thrown into debates on abortion in a way that feels distinctly eugenicist.

I often describe myself, semi-jokingly, as “not anti-dad, but certainly dad-critical.” As a society, we place minimal demands on fathers, and we applaud them when they satisfy the most basic of expectations. Married fathers refer to watching their own children as “babysitting”. Single fathers are treated with the kinds of accolades usually reserved for returning war heroes. Every couple weeks a story goes viral which could be summarized as “single father does bare minimum.” When men do their daughter’s hair, or play pretend, or tend to their children’s emotional well-being, we treat them as though they have done something amazing. A single mother is a whore, a single father is a hero.

Attitudes towards single parenthood are not benign. Aside from the damage it causes to children to hear the way society speaks about them and their mothers, it also forces women to stay in unhealthy relationships. My mother divorced my step-father when I was 12 after enduring years of domestic abuse. She has told me that she stayed so long because she wanted my little brother to grow up with a dad. She is not an isolated case. In the view of society, it is often better to grow up with an abusive or neglectful father than an absent one.

It feels distinctly radical to say that growing up with a single mother made me a better person. There is no better role model on earth than a loving single mother. She was determined that all of her children know that despite what we might hear, there was nothing wrong with any of us. She loved us enough for three parents, and she nearly killed herself with work to try and give us a better life. When she was my age, my mother was the sole caregiver of two small children. As of this writing, I have killed two ferns. She somehow found the time to teach us to read and ride our bikes while working two jobs and putting herself through school. I can barely manage to wake up in time for my 8:30 class on Wednesday morning.

When she was my age, my mother was the sole caregiver of two small children. As of this writing, I have killed two ferns. 

Correlation is not causation. Rates of addiction and poverty are not higher in children of single parent households because there is something intrinsically damaging about it. The attitudes of Mr. Santorum and his ilk would be far better directed to the systems, which conspire to keep single mothers in poverty and abuse, which condemn their families to bad neighbourhoods and bad schools, and which demean families like mine as “trash”. Until they change targets, they can take a hike. That’s the other thing being raised by a single mother taught me; nobody talks shit about my family and gets away with it.

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By: Sunanna Bhasin

In 2011, Adele released what she called a break-up album titled 21. After a painfully long hiatus, Adele is releasing 25, which she calls a make-up album. The teaser track, appropriately named “Hello,” was released to the public on Oct. 23, 2015. Having been out for just a few days, it has already generated positive feedback from fans, who are excited to see what is to come on Nov. 20. Covers of the track are already all over YouTube, and it seems like the music-loving community in general has a case of Adele fever. What is it about “Hello” that makes it resonate so completely with listeners? While Adele may have a flawless track record, there is something hauntingly beautiful about “Hello” that makes it stick out after only a single play.

In “Hello,” Adele refuses to go back to that dark place — whether it is a failed relationship or some other struggle — rather, she faces her past head-on and questions what went wrong. Instead of questioning in order to recreate the old scene, she sings about learning from past mistakes, accepting them and moving on.

“Hello” starts out apologetic with a slow, wistful verse: “Hello, it’s me / I was wondering if after all these years / You’d like to meet, to go over everything.” Yet, this song isn’t about resignation. Resignation would be too easy and would not allow for any personal growth. This is a song about acceptance and learning. It’s about re-visiting the past to learn from previous mistakes by considering both sides.

After the first couple of regretful verses, there is a gradual crescendo into an empowering chorus that makes listeners realize that it is possible to move on from a terrible situation and be okay with it: “Hello from the other side / At least I can say that I’ve tried to tell you / I’m sorry, for breaking your heart.” These lyrics are an indication of reconciliation with a partner or past problem as well as with oneself. Adele teaches us an important lesson with “Hello”: it is enough to try. Once you come to terms with a problem, internal or external, you are free to move on to the next stage in your life. That is when you can make up with both your present and past selves.

Does this track’s popularity stem from the fact that Adele is the one singing it? Absolutely. I don’t think anyone can dispute her powerful, warm voice. However, the lessons this song teaches are unique to the music we hear daily. We often hear of the messed up, unapologetic protagonist that moves on without looking back. This can be falsely empowering, while “Hello” reflects people’s realities by saying that ghosts from our past can haunt us, but that we do have the power to look them in the eye and reach some sort of resolution. Adele tells listeners that it’s okay not to say goodbye to your past because it is truly a big part of who you are. It’s better to say “hello” to your present and future and use the lessons you’ve learned along the way to become a better person and make the present worthwhile.

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Miranda Babbitt
Assistant LifeStyle Editor

Having a panic attack on Valentine’s Day? First up, breathe. Second, peruse through the following suggestions to some common problemos.

I’m the only one alone!!!
Even though you’re not someone’s “one”, you’re not “the only one” single. 40% of the population won’t be going home to a cuddle-mate. Unless you count your furry friends in the feline and canine world, in which case 56% of us are going home to a glorious night of adorable cuddles. Bonus, they’re not expecting chocolate anytime soon (as in they die from it, yes).

My movie life is bombarded by rom-coms.
Teary eyes on Valentine’s Day are only okay if they’re from ROFLing (but I get if that’s too much physical activity - LMAO is cool too). So ditch the “rom” and stick to the “com”, with the near-classic, Bridesmaids. Or get in touch with your inner cooties-believer and watch “Frozen”, which graced the Oscars so it’s worthy for our adult, cultured eyes.

People think I have no plans.
Well, here is the riskiest but perhaps the easiest: lie. Nothing too grandiose, like saying you’ve been asked by three tall, dark, and handsome men if you would accompany them to Hawaii, but a small, “A fella from my stats class asked if he could make me dinner. Can’t give up a cooked meal on V Day.” Then go on about how you both love food, because I think that’s a universal similarity between all humans on Valentine’s Day. Or, stay moral, and say you’re planning on rounding up a bunch of gals and hitting the clubs (clubs, as in a sleepover for twenty-somethings who love the Notebook).

General anxiety issues.
Let me hear you say, namasteeee! Throw yo hands up in the air! But only if you’re doing a sun salutation, because we want you in that addictive meditative state all yogis strive to achieve. Yoga has the ability to reduce stress and decrease physiological arousal (in terms of symptoms related to stress… yoga doesn’t harm your sex life), so you can walk away super calm and super cool.

I just want someone to buy me a drank.
Turn on some Beyonce and and get your hands dirty! A blood orange margarita promises that Valentine’s Day festivity without the potentially sleazy offer of that guy lurking on you from down the bar. Invite a friend or two over and you’re night is now flawless.

Miranda Babbitt
Assistant LifeStyle Editor

Having a panic attack on Valentine’s Day? First up, breathe. Second, peruse through the following suggestions to some common problemos.

I’m the only one alone!!!
Even though you’re not someone’s “one”, you’re not “the only one” single. 40% of the population won’t be going home to a cuddle-mate. Unless you count your furry friends in the feline and canine world, in which case 56% of us are going home to a glorious night of adorable cuddles. Bonus, they’re not expecting chocolate anytime soon (as in they die from it, yes).

My movie life is bombarded by rom-coms.
Teary eyes on Valentine’s Day are only okay if they’re from ROFLing (but I get if that’s too much physical activity - LMAO is cool too). So ditch the “rom” and stick to the “com”, with the near-classic, Bridesmaids. Or get in touch with your inner cooties-believer and watch “Frozen”, which graced the Oscars so it’s worthy for our adult, cultured eyes.

People think I have no plans.
Well, here is the riskiest but perhaps the easiest: lie. Nothing too grandiose, like saying you’ve been asked by three tall, dark, and handsome men if you would accompany them to Hawaii, but a small, “A fella from my stats class asked if he could make me dinner. Can’t give up a cooked meal on V Day.” Then go on about how you both love food, because I think that’s a universal similarity between all humans on Valentine’s Day. Or, stay moral, and say you’re planning on rounding up a bunch of gals and hitting the clubs (clubs, as in a sleepover for twenty-somethings who love the Notebook).

General anxiety issues.
Let me hear you say, namasteeee! Throw yo hands up in the air! But only if you’re doing a sun salutation, because we want you in that addictive meditative state all yogis strive to achieve. Yoga has the ability to reduce stress and decrease physiological arousal (in terms of symptoms related to stress… yoga doesn’t harm your sex life), so you can walk away super calm and super cool.

I just want someone to buy me a drank.
Turn on some Beyonce and and get your hands dirty! A blood orange margarita promises that Valentine’s Day festivity without the potentially sleazy offer of that guy lurking on you from down the bar. Invite a friend or two over and you’re night is now flawless.

Jason Woo
The Silhouette

Valentine’s Day has the distinct honour of being a divisive holiday that inspires happiness and depression in seemingly equal numbers. A quick scroll through Buzzfeed will reveal a number of simultaneously hilarious and sad gif-filled articles about Single Awareness Day. As you roam the halls of the university, you start overhearing conversations about how Valentine’s Day is a holiday based solely on consumerism, how both participants in the conversation are independent and proud of it, and that they don’t need no lover.

But, as a single pringle, I would kindly like to ask these Sad Larrys to respectfully keep it down. If you’re sad that you’re single, go ask that cute upper year in your tutorial on a date. If you don’t care for the holiday, go have your own fun rumpus. Midterms and the winter blues have already put a cloudy damper on many university students; the last thing we need is more negativity.

In these seemingly dark times, I see Valentine’s Day as a hopeful beacon of the now oft missing sunlight. It’s a day where the power of love is celebrated, where I can see the unadulterated happiness and bliss that love is capable of inspiring. When a friend tells me about her Valentine’s Day plans, it just fills me with overwhelming bubbly happiness. If that catchy Pharrell song, “Happy,” has taught me anything, it’s that happiness is contagious – if only you will let it envelop you.

Valentine’s Day is also a time to celebrate any love you have in your life. It doesn’t have to be pigeonholed into the archetypical romantic couple. Take a moment to appreciate the love you have for your family. I know that I don’t tell my family I love them nearly as much as I should. Like many other holidays, the fundamental purpose is to use it as a means to recognize and celebrate something good in your life.

Take the day to celebrate with your friends. This year I’m sending my best friend out of province a Valentine’s Day gift. We’re not as close anymore, but times like these remind me of the bond that we have. She’s sending me something too – and I’ll be as happy as any couple in love when I open my own box of chocolate dipped strawberries. Alternatively, you can get together with you best friend to crack a bottle of wine and watch a bunch of rom-coms. Valentine’s Day can be fun and wonderful for anyone as long as you approach it with the right mindset.

Love and cotton candy is in the air. Why let such inherently sweet things bog you down if you can let it lift you out of the winter doldrums instead?

 

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