So it seems I have a problem this week.
Usually what I do in this space, after searching The Daily for things to criticize, is complain about them for 500 words. The trouble is, I actually thought The Daily did a really good job with last Monday [January 28]’s sex issue. So now I’m stuck in the awkward position of having to either find some trumped-up flaw to kvetch about, or actually try to write something, dare I say it, positive (an area in which, frankly, I lack expertise).
Well, here goes.
For starters, I found the tone of this issue to be incredibly compelling. One of my recurring complaints about The Daily is the fact that articles are frequently written in a way that preaches at the readers, telling them what they should, or should not, do, say or think. As I mentioned in a previous piece “Engaging the Other Side” (Commentary, November 19, page 7), this style of writing generally fails to connect with readers, as it rarely explains why they should come around to the author’s way of thinking.
I’m relatively pleased to say that the sex issue managed to avoid this common pitfall. Take, for instance, Edna Chan’s piece “My Love is Not a Battlefield” (Sex issue, January 28, page 3). The author does not bombard the readers with jargon while commanding them to accept polyamoury; rather, they describe the process by which they came to terms with their own polyamoury. By discussing their own doubts about the idea and how they came to understand it, the author successfully compels the readers to do likewise.
In this same vein, the centrefold discussing sexual kinks did an excellent job of presenting the sometimes-taboo topic as a unique expression of one’s sexuality, divorcing the various practices from the idea that it represents abnormality or perversion. The combination of graphs, statistics, and quotes documenting personal experiences with sexuality demonstrates to readers who might have reservations about this subject just how ubiquitous, and, ultimately healthy, sexual kinks can be.
One way I had predicted this issue might fall short was ignoring the fact that some people are not yet fully comfortable with sexuality, or may be asexual. Admittedly, asexuality was not touched upon, but Megan Masterson’s “The 22-year-old Virgin” (Sex issue, January 28, page 8) addresses the idea that not everyone is, or needs to be, at the same place in terms of personal sexuality.
And there you have it, an issue of The Daily about which I have nothing to complain. Well, strictly speaking, that isn’t entirely true – the article “Out of Africa” (Commentary, January 28, page 8) essentially smugly informs its readers that they are racist because they are less informed about South Africa than the author, while doing nothing to better inform them. But the issue as a whole was easily one of the best this year. By letting authors address their readers with personal experiences rather than jargon, by bringing an often ignored topic into the mainstream in a user-friendly manner, and by showcasing the fact that not everyone needs to feel exactly the same way about this topic, The Daily was able to effectively communicate with its readers on the subject of sexuality. That said, let’s endeavour to make sure that this issue is not a fortuitous one-off. As we proceed through the rest of the semester, let’s try to apply the effective aspects of these pieces to the paper as a whole, rather than settling back into the old cycle of controversial mediocrity.
Readers’ Advocate is a twice-monthly column written by Austin Lloyd addressing the performance, relevance, and quality of The Daily. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.