Monday, November 29, 2010

My important ipod

Ashley and I were together over Thanksgiving, which is bad news for the column, since there is no reason to chat online when you are in person! (We are far too lazy to do another podcast.) However, we did talk about columns.

Saturday's Dear Abby concerned a girl whose mother lost her ipod.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 13, and about six months ago my mom confiscated my iPod because I misbehaved. When it was time to get my iPod back, my mom couldn't find it. We have been searching everywhere in the house for it - but it's gone.
My iPod is very important to me because almost every cent I earned went into buying the music and applications. The amount of money I spent is greater than the cost of the iPod itself. I asked my mother to buy me a new one to replace the one she lost, but she said it was my fault that it was taken away, and she could not keep track of where it was.

I think it is unfair that my mom lost something I spent so much on. Who is responsible for buying a new one?
Unsurprisingly, because we are often on the side of kids and because we are always on the side of logic, we believe that the mother should honor the terms of the original punishment, which was the temporary loss of her mp3 player. When the mother chose to take custody of it, she assumed the responsibility of remembering where it was. This was a situation where we weren't sure which way Abby was going to go, but she agreed:
Good parents model responsible behavior for their children; that's how children learn. You misbehaved and you were punished for it. If the agreement was that you would get your iPod back, and your mother lost it, then she should replace it - including the money you invested in loading it. She should be ashamed of herself for trying to weasel out of it.
I will paraphrase our further advice.

Lulu: We (and Abby) can agree with the LW until we are blue in the face, but it won't bring back the iPod, or necessarily convince her mother to get her a new one. She will probably have to buy a new one herself. But her music and content may be saved. I assume from her name-dropping that it's an official Apple iPod, in which case I believe her account is based on email address, and not necessarily tied to her device. She should log into the Apple website and see what she can salvage. If nothing else, she can look up the number for customer support and ask them if her content can be transferred to a new device. In the future, she should remember to back up her content.

Ashley: If she buys a new iPod now, what's to stop this from happening again?

Lulu: It will keep happening again.

Ashley: The mother may know she is wrong, but still be unable to back down from her original position. She may agree to a compromise: the daughter buys a new iPod now, but in the future, the iPod is off limits for punishment. The mother can take away something else.

Lulu: Generally, anything a child bought with her own money should be off limits for deprivation punishments. It just doesn't make sense; the child's own purchases are not the parent's property to take away!

Ashley: Well, the parent probably gave her the money in the first place, for example through an allowance. But if that's the case, stopping future allowances would be a better punishment than taking away past allowances (or the objects bought with them). If we consider an allowance as a reward for good behavior, then bad behavior should result in no more rewards, not the removal of past awards. She already earned the past rewards!

Lulu: If nothing else, for the cost of a new low-end iPod shuffle, she could get at least two no-name generic mp3 players. She'll have to redownload and/or rerip her music to start with, but if she stores it in several places (multiple mp3 players, a computer, maybe some $5 flash drives...), she's unlikely to lose it all ever again. And when her mom takes away her mp3 player, she can just dig out her backup(s).

So, good luck, iPod girl. Nobody can make your mom be reasonable, but at least you have some arguments and compromises you can try. And techie workarounds. Techie workarounds to parental punishments is kind of our speciality.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Fake Out

Lulu: Ooh, I didn't see yesterday's Ask Amy. There is a LONELY BOY. I guess our "join mathletes" advice would still apply.

Ashley: Oh, right. I saw that. I refuse to answer anything that asks how he can "have a personal, intimate relationship with a female."

Lulu: It does sound like he is talking about an animal.

Ashley: Right. It's creepy.

Lulu: "How can I have a personal relationship with a female specimen?"

Ashley: Ewww.

Lulu: "of the family Hesperiidae?"

Ashley: Ewwwwwww.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sister Love

I don't like to keep beating up on the same columnist week after week, but (1) Hey Cherie is right in our wheelhouse, focused on kids and (2) Cherie never answers the freaking question. From today:
I'm a girl in eighth grade and I'm sick of my older sister falling in love.

My sister is in 10th grade. I admit that she is much cuter than I will ever be, but not in a scary way that makes boys not want to approach her. Instead, she is pretty in a way that makes boys want to talk to her. She also has the reputation of being very nice, and I think it is deserved.

She is always very nice to me, and she is even nice when boys ask her out and she is not interested. She says no in a way that does not hurt them. I know this because I have seen her do it.

The problem is, with all these boys around her, my sister is constantly in love. She has had about 12 boyfriends since the start of ninth grade, which works out to a boyfriend every six weeks or so. And my sister in love is not a pretty sight. She goes head over heels in love. The boy is the center of her world. She is always on her cell or on instant message with him. She always says that this boy is special.

They are always gone in a few weeks or a few months. I ask her what happened. She always says, "it just didn't work out."

It is extremely annoying to see your older sister walking around with moon eyes all the time.
Cherie responds:
A steady diet of honey on top of cane sugar on top of Splenda on top of molasses on top of Equal on top of sorghum (look it up!) on top of fructose would be enough to send even the most stable-blooded person to the doctor for treatment of diabetes. However, everyone finds their own path to the L-word: Love.

In your case, it sounds like there has not yet been a boyfriend who blew you away and made the world seem like it rested on a pedestal of him, him, him and him. I think you would have mentioned this guy in your letter if there was, and you would have drawn the stark contrast of how you are in love compared to how your sister is when she's in love.

Perhaps, you would revise your letter to me after your first serious boyfriend. Perhaps not.

Your sister's path to love involves a whole lot of boyfriends. She sounds like a really nice person. I think she's entitled to find her own way, the same way you will be entitled to find her own way. Do understand that if she finds herself sexually involved with boy after boy, that's a whole different story!

Ashley: So... she didn't actually say anything.

Lulu: Except to state that things are different if there's sex involved or if there isn't, but not what to do in each case.

Ashley: I guess... stop hanging out with your sister?

Lulu: I mean, yeah: you can't change someone's annoying behavior, you can only control how much you expose yourself to it or get invested in it.

Ashley: It just seems like the girl spends too much time paying attention to her sister if she's so annoyed by how in love she is. Maybe she needs friends or a hobby!

Lulu: She describes how her sister is better than her in all ways, so it seems like she is looking for something to dislike. I feel like this would also be alleviated with a good hobby. If we take her at her word that she's not as nice or pretty as her sister, maybe it would help to explore some skills which do not require being nice or pretty, such as mathletes or boxing.

Ashley: Yeeees. I wasn't sure what to do with her comments about how her sister was better than her, and neither did Cherie.

Lulu: Yeah. I mean, it seems like there are two components to her particular dislike of her sister's lovesick tendencies: (1) it drives home how much more lovable her sister is than her; (2) it annoys her because she knows how it's going to end and her sister never seems to learn. For (1) I would say that the number of boys you date isn't necessarily a good indicator of your worth. As she notes, her sister has the particular looks and personality to attract a lot of guys, and she seems to enjoy dating so she cultivates that, but, you know--see (2): it brings her an endless cycle of dating and breaking up, and it kind of seems--from the LW's comments--that that is not what she wants for herself.

Ashley: It is possible to be jealous of another person's happiness if you think you'll never be happy, even if their form of happiness is not what you'd choose.

Lulu: Definitely. But the fact that that form of happiness isn't what she would choose could maybe provide some kind of comfort? In any case, it does seem like she has to look for happiness via another path, and try not to be too jealous of the sister; she undoubtedly has her own problems.

Ashley: Yep yep. As for the second letter--
If I have a book report that's assigned on a book of my choice from free reading, and I read a bunch of unassigned books over the summer but don't really feel like reading a book now, is it OK if I do a report on a book I read last summer?

Ashley: Yeah, it's fine.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Work! Work! Work!

Lulu: So, dr wallace tells this girl to go ahead and get a job, which is good, but he implicitly agrees with a condition I disagree with:
DR. WALLACE: I'm 17, in the 12th grade and have very good grades. I've been accepted and will attend Oklahoma University in the fall of 2010. I have an opportunity to work part time (two hours after school and four hours on Saturday) at our city library. I would really like to have this work experience, and the money will be put to good use.

My parents are not sure they want me to take this job. I'm sure you will say take the job, but I should quit if my grades start slipping even a fraction. I just want to see it in writing to show my parents. -- Corina, Oklahoma City

CORINA: I hope your parents will allow you to take the job. The work experience will prove beneficial, and I'm sure the money you earn will be well spent. But I'm also sure they will make you quit if your grades start slipping — even a fraction.
Lulu: She is already accepted to college! What does she need grades for?

Ashley: Plus, fourteen hours a week? It's barely a part time job. I played Everquest for way longer than that, and that was on top of my part time job!

Lulu: Presumably she won't stop playing Everquest, or whatever else she does, but yeah: it's not like she would automatically spend all that time studying. Being busy doesn't make you less likely to complete your original set of tasks; in my experience, it makes you more likely, because you have to set aside specific time to do things instead of procrastinating forever.

But even beyond that, I don't understand this fanatical reverence for grades! They are an artificial measure of how well you complete worklike tasks; is not work experience just better? I guess maybe it's a different mindset when you are trying to get into college, but from here on out, people may care if you passed or failed or graduated or didn't, but they don't care what grade you got. But work experience is always helpful, for getting future jobs, and for having money and a sense of purpose and general job satisfaction right now.

Ashley: Are you at work right now?

Lulu: Shhhh.

Apparently I'm really pro working, because I also approve of Dr. Wallace encouraging the girl in the last letter to become a model.
DR. WALLACE: I'm 17 and all I can think about is being a model. I'm popular, get good grades in school, have a perfect shape, and I'm considered very good-looking. My only flaw is that I'm too short.

I've been told by modeling schools that a model must have a height of at least 5 feet 8 inches, but I'm through growing. Is there anything close to modeling that you can recommend? — Ashley, Portland, Ore.

ASHLEY: This is a popular question. Every week, I receive three or four letters from young ladies asking about requirements for being a model. I can understand why. It's a glamorous job that pays extremely well for those lucky enough to reach the top.

I contacted a model/talent agency and was told that the 5 feet 8 inches height requirement is only for high-fashion models in centers like New York and Los Angeles. If you meet the other requirements (proper weight, poise, appearance, etc.), it's possible to model regionally.

Check on modeling opportunities in the Portland area. Contact department stores (fashion shows and make-up demonstrations), advertising agencies (for TV and newspaper ads), local companies (for showroom demonstrations) and city magazines.
Lulu: Can you think of any careers that are similar to being a model, but for a short person? The only one that springs to mind is "department store santa elf" but that is seasonal at best.

Ashley: There's a lot of promotional stuff. If she wants to hand out fliers,
or work in marketing/PR/outreach. They all require young pretty girls.

Lulu: Ooh, good idea. Much more respectable than the obvious 'exotic dancer' route.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Password protection

Ashley: Did you read Carolyn's chat from Friday? There's an interesting comment that she agrees with:
Only reasons to hack email: You have been kidnapped and the police need leads.

You have expressed that you are likely to commit suicide and he is trying to find you.

You are a strung out crack/meth/heroin user and maybe something found in your email will help convince you to go to rehab.

Other than that - deal breaker.

Flip side - if you are in a long term & committed relationship and your partner has things password protected even from you (for no good reason) I also see that as a dealbreaker. I don't check my husbands email, but I could if I wanted to - he knows this so I have no need to and never have.

Carolyn Hax: Looks good to me, thanks.
Lulu: I don't think it's a dealbreaker if your partner password protects things from you!

Ashley: Precisely!

Lulu: Some things are just private. Personal emails/chats with friends, for example... (Unless you publish them on your blog.)

Ashley: Galahad knows I write [erotic fiction], but I don't want him reading [truly sick and wrong story Lulu is constantly goading Ashley to finish]. It's for his own good!

Lulu: I don't think I would be tempted to read my partner's email, if I had that access--and in fact the times when I've auto-logged-in I've just logged out again--but I can imagine someone for whom it would be a temptation, and it doesn't necessarily mean they are a bad person. Just curious, or impulsive, or a lover of hilarious pranks. Sometimes it's kinder to help a person keep themself out of trouble.

Ashley: Yeah. I know the idea is nice of trusting your partner not to look, but there's just basic protections you take that are not a reflection on the partner. It's just you not being retarded.

Lulu: Although... I know we have discussed passwords before... and I am pretty sure you could just log into my email any time you wanted.

Ashley: Yeah, same here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Loopy Friday Post! (contains digression about a bird)

I used the last letter on today's Tween 12 and 20 as a jumping off point to gauge Ashley's friendship.
I'm 15 and so is my best friend, Amanda. Amanda likes Zachary, and I thought he liked her, too, because they've gone out several times.

But last night, Zachary called me and asked me to go out with him. I was really surprised and kind of flattered because Zachary is very good-looking. When I reminded him that he was dating Amanda, he said he wasn't going steady with her. That's true. Amanda has told me that she would like to go steady with Zachary, but he hadn't asked her yet.

I told Zachary that I'd let him know about going out with him after I talked to Amanda. My question is, how should I present this to her without losing her as a best friend?
Dr. Wallace tells her to tell Amanda she will leave Zachary alone, although I notice he doesn't absolutely, positively tell her to actually leave him alone.
Tell Amanda that Zachary called and asked you out. Tell her your response to him. Then inform Amanda that she's your best friend and that you will tell Zachary thanks, but no thanks.
Lulu: What would you do? Bear in mind that Zachary is very good looking.

Ashley: I'd probably sleep with him and then dump him.

Lulu: Ha ha ha! Really?


Lulu: Weird! Did it bonk itself?

Ashley: Yes. But it didn't fall over. It just bonked into the window, looked confused, and flew off.

Lulu: I wonder why that doesn't happen more often.

Ashley: Maybe it does.

Lulu: I guess windows usually look dark going outside to inside? I bet they would fly at all the windows if you had one in your house.

Ashley: Yes they would.

Lulu: So if there was a guy that I was really super into, but we weren't exclusive, but i wanted to be, and he asked you out, you would sleep with him and then dump him?

Ashley: Well, I would tell you about him first, and presumably you'd stop wanting to be with him, since he's now a douche.

Lulu: Okay, that's what I wanted to know. If you would consult me. I would have no problem with you going for it after that. The question is just whether I would also stop seeing him. We could appear before him in matching outfits and say in creepy voices, "Come play with us Zachary."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Keep 'em separated

Two letters today! And no thematic relationship between them.

First, a teenage girl in Dear Abby writes in about her boyfriend's odd request.
My boyfriend is pressuring me to take his camera cell phone with me into the girls' locker room and take pictures of the other girls with little or nothing on. He says it has always been a "fantasy" of his, and that if I really love him I'll help him fulfill his fantasy.

He promises to keep the pictures secret and says that what the other girls don't know won't hurt them. He offered to do the same for me and take pictures in the boys' locker room, but I'm not interested. I know it would be wrong to do it, and I wouldn't want someone secretly taking pictures of me.

He hinted that if I refuse he will look for another girl who will. I'm scared of losing him because I'm not much to look at, and he's the only boy who has ever shown any interest in me. I know you're not going to tell me to go ahead and do this, so I'm not sure why I'm writing, but I would appreciate any advice you can give me.
At least she acknowledges that she knows what Abby's answer will be. And we already know that we will agree, which is always disappointing to us. We like to be contrary.

Abby says:
I'm glad you wrote. If you do what this boy is pushing you to do, you could be thrown out of school. He will not be able to resist the urge to show the pictures to his friends - and possibly put them on the Internet. It would be a huge invasion of privacy and a breach of trust, and regardless of what he says, it will NOT bring you closer together.

If he truly cared about you, he would never ask you to do something that could get you into serious trouble. You could be accused of creating and distributing pornographic material, and there could be legal liability. The penalty you would pay isn't worth the "interest" he's showing in you. Run!

Lulu: So... I guess I disagree that it would be impossible for him to resist posting the photos on the internet. He's just going to masturbate to them. But it's still not okay to take pictures of girls in states of undress without their consent.

Ashley: Yeah.

Lulu: Also, how exactly is she planning to get away with photographing girls in the locker room? "Oh it's okay... I'm a girl."

Ashley: You pretend to be texting or something. It's hard to tell when a cell phone is pointed to take a picture.

Lulu: Mine makes a CLICK noise.

Ashley: You can turn that off.


Ashley: Not that I know.

Lulu: Okay. Well, even if you don't think you'll get caught, it's pretty immoral and it seems like self-respect demands that you decline, EVEN IF you are ugly and your boyfriend is hot. Opposing viewpoint???

Ashley: Nope, I got nothing.

For the next letter, we advance to grownups in the workplace with today's Love Letters.
I had been dating a guy for about a year and we talked about moving in together when my lease was up this winter. He got scared back in August and decided that he needed to take a step back. Which is fine. We're both 27 and I'd rather him be sure than not sure. Granted, we've talked every day since his decision to take a step back, and we see each other on occasion. Although at times it doesn't seem romantic, I still have a little bit of a flame flickering for him. ...

Friday night he met me for a drink and a movie. The conversation over the drink was great. Things seemed to be going well and I was hopeful that we might be taking a step back in the right direction. I decided not to get my hopes up and talked myself into letting things progress naturally. Why push the subject if there's no subject to push yet, right? The drive home was also great and we talked about when we could see each other again. He was very active in communicating the rest of the weekend, which surprised me a little.

Fast forward to Monday morning. So he IMs me from "ABC Company," where he works, and we chat throughout the day. We made plans for the next week and mentioned an event he thought we would both like to attend in December.

Then, shortly after lunch, he told me he was interested in my company, "XYZ Company," which is ironically down the road from ABC. Needless to say, I felt like I was punched in the stomach. I know how miserable he is at ABC and that he would like it at XYZ. So I told him I would pass on his resume to the HR Director. He said he would put together his resume this week and send it over to me to pass along.

Here's what I'm thinking -- that this is the end of the chances of us getting back together. Do office romances really work in the long run? So what should I do? Do I actually pass along his very qualified resume or do I lie and say we're on a hiring freeze and continue on with our current situation? I know it sounds selfish if I lie but do I consider my feelings or his? What a mess.

Ashley: Here's the thing. You have to separate your work life from your relationship life. The question isn't how she would feel if he were working at XYZ, it's whether XYZ would benefit from having him work for it. There are people i would absolutely recommend to jobs that I would refuse to interact with socially. Is he a good worker? Then recommend him. I guess it's kind of a reverse way of thinking, but i think you're helping the company more than the guy. At least that's how I view recommendations.

Lulu: Out of curiosity, would you refuse to pass along the resume of someone who is kind of a slacker even if you do want to work with them?

Ashley: Absolutely.


Lulu: Not that... that's... relevant.

Ashley: It's actually a simple question. Do you think the company would benefit from that person? Then recommend.

Lulu: Yeah, she's focusing on the wrong parts of the question. The office romance thing is moot. He wants to just be friends and/or coworkers. The relationship is over.

Ashley: Oh, definitely.

Okay, so the official answer: Meredith agrees that she needs to separate work like and love life, but she advocates a different approach.
I wouldn't worry about an office romance at the moment because I'm not quite sure you're in an out-of-office romance. Are you still together? How would you define your relationship, SBAR&MHP?

You have to be selfish. But you also have to be honest. Tell Mr. I'm-taking-a-step-back that you're a bit confused about the status of your relationship and that having him in an office down the hall won't help. He's more than welcome to apply for a job at ABC Company, but he shouldn't be asking you to facilitate. You're doing a lot for him -- stepping back, stepping forward, being a friend, being more than a friend. Let's be honest -- it hurts, right? Can he consider your feelings for a few minutes or more?
Ashley: I do agree that he's using her.

Lulu: For sure. Stepping back was breaking up, and it's awfully suspicious that he got friendly right before he asked for a favor. He does not want to get back together. He wants a job. He has trouble separating work and personal, too.

Ashley: But i don't necessarily think that's a deal breaker for recommending him. He's using her like an acquaintance. She's part of his network! I would also take an acquaintance to dinner and then ask for a favor.

Lulu: But it's unfair if he made it look like he was maybe getting back with her so she would view him more favorably. He probably knows she hopes to get him back.

Ashley: Does he? Maybe she just read into it. Either way, it doesn't affect her recommendation. He can be a good worker even if he's kind of an asshole.

Lulu: Though hopefully she won't have to work with him closely if she is still getting over the breakup.

Ashley: I guess she could always ask him for a referral to ABC in that case.

Lulu: Swapsies!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cell Block J

Ashley: So people wrote in to Dear Abby re: father of girl with cell phone who told her to delete her texts if she doesn’t want him to see them. Unsurprisingly, they did not agree with us.

Lulu: Yeah, all those letters are like, you should totally check your kid’s cell phone. But it seems like they are advocating random checks, unannounced.

Ashley: Not the same as the original problem at all.

Lulu: I also don't believe that crap about how things are more dangerous now so you should value security over personal rights. All:
The world has changed with this technology, and the attention we pay as parents must change with it. I strongly urge the parents at my school to check their children's phones and computers regularly.
Ashley: It’s all so doom and gloom, and I don't like the security mentality at all, especially the police officer who wrote in. Yeah, he sees a lot of the bad stuff, but he's biased because he never knows the proportion of bad stuff to good stuff.
As a crime prevention officer, I regularly encourage parents to check a child's cell phone for bullying and sexting, most of which a child won't share with a parent. Especially if the child is the one who is using the phone to bully others, she certainly won't share her pictures with her parents. Most children are unaware that state laws have not changed, and children who send pornographic pictures of themselves to others can be charged with distributing child pornography and may have to register as a sexual predator for the rest of their lives.
Ashley: Oooh, nevermind, "crime prevention officer," not police officer. Seriously, it's a stupid law that you can be prosecuted for exploiting yourself; it's the law that needs to be changed, not the behavior.
Lulu: Right. Just because technology can be abused doesn't mean you shouldn't use it and I don't understand the mentality where you treat your kids like they're in maximum security prison until they're 18, because then they're just 18 year olds with the maturity of 12 year olds.

Ashley: Well, given the current imprisonment rates, maybe that's not the worst preparation...

Lulu: ha!

Ashley: It’s something like 11% of all men and 32% of black men are expected to spend time in jail, so... But it still doesn't explain policing the girls though. Girls don't go to prison.

Lulu: No, apparently they end up on child porn websites. I guess the idea of keeping their phones from them till they're 18 is that then they will go onto ADULT porn websites.

Ashley: Much better!

Lulu: I mean, the general lesson that you should think before you act is not limited to cell phone use and also impossible to teach.

Ashley: Thinking before I act has never been a strong suit, and I turned out juuuust fine.

Lulu: ...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Effective slacking with Lulu and Ashley

High school nerds are out speciality, and there's one in Dear Abby today.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a junior in high school and taking multiple advanced-placement classes. With all the homework we're assigned, I sometimes need to use lunchtime to finish assignments. My problem is my friends follow me into the school library and talk to me while I'm working. Their constant chatter is distracting and prevents me from concentrating on my assignments.

I don't neglect my friends. I spend hours outside of school with them every week. But I'd rather be left alone when I'm trying to work. My friends don't understand that I'm more focused on academics and long-term goals than my short-term social life.

How can I politely get them to leave me alone when I'm working?
Ashley: Do your homework at home. Problem solved.

Lulu: (a) How long is her lunch break? At my high school it was 20 minutes. How much can you get done in 20 minutes? (b) Isn't it nice to... you know... have a break? in the middle of the day? to... eat lunch? I bet her productivity goes way down in the second half of the day because she is so hungry.

Abby, of course, doesn't tell her to stop doing the extra work, but tells her to be upfront with her friends.
If you haven't told your friends plainly how you feel and clearly drawn a line, you shouldn't blame them for being clueless when they cross it. Tell them you need to concentrate when you're in the library and that they are creating a problem for you. Not only will you be helping yourself, you'll be doing a favor for other students who are trying to study and who are also being distracted.
Lulu: I do agree with Abby that the solution to "My friends don't understand that I'm more focused on academics and long-term goals than my short-term social life" is to, you know, tell them, I guess, but there's no way to say that without essentially say, "You people? I don't like you so much." "You guys, not priority for me."

Ashley: She might do better if she at least made it seem like she slacked off the night before. So she's not blowing them off for work she could do later, she's blowing them off for not working last night!

Lulu: Yeah, I did my fair share of pretending to have slacked more than I did in high school and college.

Ashley: I did not. I always slacked the most possible amount.

Lulu: I still don't see when she eats.

Ashley: During her other classes? But she should do homework during other classes.

Lulu: Right! Multitasking! Maybe she just doesn't like her friends.

Ashley: Maybe! I know I don't. (I don't know that.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Uniform smoothness

Ashley: Think the first letter in Ask Amy today is a fake?
Dear Amy: I am a girl in my junior year of high school, and the volleyball coach won't let me compete until I shave my underarms and legs (our uniforms are sleeveless tops and shorts).

I don't want to be forced into something that I feel is completely unnecessary. Leg and underarm hair is a completely natural part of becoming a woman.

Is this discrimination? Is there anything I can do (besides shave)?

I really want to play volleyball!

— Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Dear Gone: If your coach also insisted that the male volleyball or basketball players must shave their underarms and legs, then perhaps this wouldn't qualify as discrimination.

I'm going to assume that your coach does not make the male players at your school adhere to the same shaving practices.

I shared your letter with Lenore Lapidus, director of the Women's Rights Project for the American Civil Liberties Union, who responded, "This is clearly gender discrimination, based on stereotypes of how girls and women should look." Lapidus would like to remind your coach that Title IX prohibits discrimination in any institution receiving federal funds.

Title IX is the federal statute that pushed open the door for girls to compete in sports on an equal footing with boys.

Lapidus suggests that you start by talking to the coach. "Try to work it out at school. It seems like something they should come around about because this is fairly clear-cut."

If your coach continues to insist on this shaving rule, take your concern to the principal.

I hope you will stand up for your right not to be forced to shave any part of your body that you don't wish to shave.
Lulu: I don't know. Seems plausible. You mean because nobody would be that flagrantly sexist?

Ashley: No, people would. I just think there's not a 16 year old girl who would write "it's a normal part of becoming a woman." That's an adult talking.

Lulu: Oh, I see. Maybe it was true in the past? "I was once a high school junior..."

Ashley: I just don't think that 1) a 16 year old girl would actually care, if she actually wanted to play, and 2) a coach wouldn't give a fuck either. I think it's made up to bring attention to the overshaving of American society.

Lulu: It does seem like a small thing to an athlete, who do tons of stuff in service of their sport. Although this is fairly clearly not actually in service of the sport.

Ashley: Well, in as far as it could be part of the "uniform."

Lulu: The girls' uniform is to be beeeeautiful.

Ashley: Well, I think the point of uniforms is to look uniform.

Lulu: Everybody gets lipo!

Ashley: Sweet! It's all I ever wanted?