5 October, 2009

Can YOU spot the threat to young minds?

Consider the following excerpt:

"Hulya?" she says. "Hi!"

“Yaz!” Hulya says. “Waddup, cuz? Keeping it real?”

Yasaman grins, because Hulya only talks this way when no one else is around. To Yasaman, she’ll say, “Give me some knuckles” or “Yo yo yo,” but to their elderly büyükbaba and büyükanne and their gazillion of halanin and amcanin, it’s yes, ma’am, no sir all the way.

“Um, yeah, I guess I’m keeping it real,” Yasaman says. She grips the phone. “School starts tomorrow.”

“Yah, I know,” Hulya says. “My friend Chrissy? She’s insane. She’s planning this whole sneak attack on Joseph Terrico, who we call Jellico. She is boy crazy with a capital boy, I’m telling ya. She’s the total ditzy blonde—I love her. Only she’s smart under her ditziness, she does have brains, but she’d rather tie a pillow to her tummy and have pretend sumo wrestler fights, ya know?”

Yasaman holds the phone close. She marvels at the way Hulya’s words spill out of her like jelly beans. She also marvels at the image she gets of this Chrissy, blond and manic and pillow-huge, bouncing into people’s stomachs.

“But even when she’s sumo wrestling, she blabbers about boys,” Hulya says, “She says she’s got ‘boy crazy’ in her genes. Her older sister, Angela? She just started college—somewhere in the south, maybe Georgia?—and apparently she’s dating an entire fraternity. Can you believe it?”

Yasaman opens her mouth to reply.

Before she can, Hulya jumps back in. “But not in a slutty way, for reals. I’m friends with Angela on Facebook, and she’s just as adorable as Chrissy and not skanky at all. Oh! But their aunt? She’s a pole dancer, Yaz. Can you believe it?”

Yasaman is slightly breathless just from listening to Hulya’s spew. “Um … you’re Facebook friends with a college girl?”

“Oh, on Facebook you’re friends with everybody,” Hulya says breezily.

This passage is from Lauren Myracle’s new book Luv Ya Bunches.

Last week, it was deemed so “inappropriate” by one school’s principal that he canceled her visit to the school.

He canceled. Her visit. To the school.

So, to recap: We have dozens of famous, influential people signing a petition that a man who raped a 13-year-old should go free, and we have someone who thinks 13-year-olds should not be allowed to meet the woman who wrote the above passage.

Which do you think does more to protect young people: keeping them away from the words “pole dancer,” or pursuing justice for the people who rape them?

(For more, check out Chasing Ray’s take, which ties these two things together more eloquently than I can when I’m too busy banging my head on things at the stupidity of the world.)