Marilyn’s Email Box

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    Mark Newman

    Some of you may have noticed that Marilyn Knewsome invited questions to her email account about how to deal with the Changes. Well, the letters to Marilyn have started to come in. If any of you have questions for her, you can post them here or send them to her email address: [email protected]


    Mark Newman

    To: Marilyn Knewsome ([email protected])

    From: Carol McKenzie <CMac>

    Dear Marilyn:

    I usually don’t like to talk in class but when you said we could email you with questions, well, I have one. It was too embarrassing to talk about in class.

    My boyfriend is a senior. We’ve been going out together for three months. Now that the changes happened, well, everything has changed between us. He used to be very aggressive with me. Sometimes too aggressive, you know, but I didn’t really mind. He never went TOO far and he’s a very good kisser. But now he never makes the first move, and when I try to do something he acts like I’m oversexed, or being too pushy. What should I do? Do you think this is the way ALL boys are going to be from now on?

    To: CMac

    From: Marilyn Knewsome ([email protected])

    Dear Carol:

    No I don’t think that’s the way boys are going to be from now on. But I do think that it will take awhile for boys to adjust to being the smaller ones and to learn how to be sexually aggressive in a new way.

    Before the changes, boys did not have to differentiate between being aggressive in a sexual way and being aggressive physically. In each case, they saw themselves as imposing themselves on others, usually someone weaker than they are. (Think about it: how often do you see a weaker boy initiate a fight with a stronger one?) I’m not saying that taking the sexual initiative is a form of bullying. But making the first move does have risks. Think about it from the boy’s side. What if his move is unwanted? It’s a lot safer to try it with someone smaller and weaker than someone who can knock you out with one punch.

    Before the changes, it took a while for adolescent boys to mature and learn how to initiate things with a girl sexually in a way that was appropriate to a girl’s feelings and didn’t intimidate her. Now girls will have to learn the same kinds of skills, while boys will have to develop the confidence that they can approach a girl in a subtle way that doesn’t offend her (or endanger him).

    I’m sorry that you didn’t feel able to talk in class, but I’m glad you took advantage of my offer. Best of luck!


    Mark Newman

    To: Marilyn Knewsome ([email protected])

    From: Arnold Baum

    Dear Marilyn:

    It was really nice of you to offer to answer questions we have. This whole time is very confusing.

    What Harold said in class really captured my feelings too. I HATE my body now. I hate looking at it. My sport is tennis and I used to have so much fun playing. Now my game really stinks, and none of my friends seem to want to play anymore. It’s weird, but exercise just doesn’t feel good now. What am I supposed to do? Just watch TV or play video games? The truth is, seeing the way guys USED to look just makes me even more depressed, because I feel I’ll never have muscles again.

    TO: Arnold

    From: Marilyn Knewsome ([email protected])

    Dear Arnold:

    I completely understand your feelings. It’s not your fault. Research has already shown that there is a chemical reason why you and other boys are not enjoying athletics as much now, even apart from your relative lack of prowess. It seems that male bodies are producing a lot less of the endorphins than they used to. This means that the biological basis for the "feel good" factor boys and girls would get from exercise has been substantially reduced for boys. Paradoxically, female bodies are producing much higher levels of endorphins, giving them an even greater incentive to exercise their bodies. I know this seems unfair, but this is a fact.

    What you do with this fact is up to you. Exercise is STILL healthy for boys, and even if you do not get the same physical satisfaction out of it, intellectually you should know that your body will still benefit from keeping in shape. And even though your muscles are smaller now, and you can’t hit a tennis ball as hard or as fast as you used to, the game still brings a lot of challenges to it, both physical AND mental. You will have to get used to playing differently, but once you do you will still find the game enjoyable. And given the fact and more and more girls are playing sports, you will find it a good way to stay active socially.

    The issues you raise about body image are difficult. We all have mental pictures of ideal body images. These are unrealistic in the best of times. For boys now, who may hold on to the images of the way they SHOULD look based on the "pre-change" male body, they are impossible. There is no easy solution to this. Time will help. But you must recognize that these ideals were almost never achievable anyway. All I can say is you must be realistic. For some boys this may be a serious problem. Some boys will feel they are so small, so "unmasculine", that they will withdraw completely from social intercourse. These boys will need real psychological help to get themselves over the transition. Hopefully you are not one of them, or if you are, that you will seek help. But remember, a masculine body is a body that boys have, and now, there is nothing unmasculine about being smaller and weaker. It is an unpleasant thought for you I know. But there is nothing unmanly about your body.

    Best of luck!



    To: Marilyn Knewsome ([email protected])

    From: Jimmy Templeton

    Dear Ms. Newsome:

    Hi, I’m a new transfer student myself. I was sitting on the outskirts of the class. Sorry I didn’t get to put in my two cents worth, but time ran out. And I think better in print anyway.

    I’m very scared for a friend of mine. He’s very smart, pretty nice, and a big political history buff. He’s a great essay writer, and he’ll probably be elected to a high office one day. But he’s a bit of a spaz sometimes, and he got picked on and bullied a lot early on in grade and middle school because of that.

    Before all these big changes started, he’d like to pal around with the girls instead of the guys. The jocks liked to call him a queer, and kept giving him swirlies in the boy’s room toilet and pinching his nipples. That made him hide in the girls’ corner all the more. A few girls tease him because he’s shy, mega-sensitive, and I think a bit of a prude, but he’d try to laugh it off.

    Now that our muscle’s shrunk away, and the girls are bigger, his former female friends are starting to pick on him more. They’ve gotten a lot unkinder. I think they might have heard that some of the other girls in our session bullied Harold and his buds, and felt like they should too. Peer pressure? I don’t know.

    Yesterday, my friend accidentally spilled his Dr Pepper on one girl, Tenny, and before he could even say sorry, she picked him up, dumped him in the recycling trashcan, and rolled him down the hill. The other girls laughed just as hard as she did.

    Well, he’s never cut a class in his life. But he didn’t stick around for the rest of the afternoon.

    When I went to his house and tried to cheer him up with a pep talk and some of my Dr. Demento CDs, he didn’t want to listen to any of it. He didn’t say anything for a very long time.

    The only thing he said, quietly, was "I don’t belong anywhere now."

    Well, this morning, just before Spanish class, I saw him with an army surplus duffel bag. And a few other guys from the "outcasts, freaks and geeks" clique (of which I am proud to be a member ;-P) gathered around. He seemed to be whispering some kind of speech. He said he didn’t like how our principal got run ragged by Ms. Dooda, and told everyone that if the school or authorities couldn’t (or wouldn’t, more likely) look after protecting us, we’d better take things in our own hands. He was passing out pepper spray canisters to them and other stuff, and photocopied manuals of something called, "The Poor Man’s James Bond."

    When I got alone with him, he said that he appreciated me coming over, and said he’d saved up the best for last.

    And he offered me a .38 handgun.

    I turned him down. He said, okay, but if Tenny broke my legs or neck, don’t come running to him for sympathy.

    Then the bell rang, and he muttered, "Remember Malcom X: By Any Means Necessary." And he left for Chemistry.

    I liked your talk today. But it was really demoralizing. I could count the number of non-bully girls in class on one finger. And while Harold and the jocks had acted like… uh… cranial-rectal inverts before, the girls sure weren’t doing any better.

    And when that actress girl gave her smarmy little "wishing a pair of deuces into four aces" speech, he’d passed me a note: "Remember what beats four aces. S&W."

    I don’t want to slam your gender at all, Ms. Knewsome. But whoever said that women were generally nicer obviously never showed up to a party wearing the same dress as someone else.

    I don’t want to get my friend in trouble. But I’m wondering whether or not he’s right.

    What I’m scared is that the girls are gonna form a gang, and the bullying’s gonna get worse. Then the next thing we know, someone’s gonna say the wrong thing, and this school is gonna make Columbine look like a pillow fight.

    What I’m terrified of, though, is if a lot of girls (and guys) don’t start showing a lot more kindness and a lot less meanness… FAST… that this is gonna happen in schools all over the country.

    I want to do the right thing. But I want to stay alive and in one piece! Help!


    Mark Newman

    To: Jimmy Templeton

    From: Marilyn Knewsome ([email protected])

    First, I want to urge you and your "friend" to keep your cool. Guns are not a solution to ANY problem. You may think you finish things off in a blaze of glory. You won’t. But you will be finished.

    Second, while I do not have any administrative position or authority in your school, I am sure there are programs to deal with bullying. They may not be completely effective, but they do exist. In my experience, victims of bullying are reluctant to use these programs, thinking it makes them look weak or that they are betraying their classmates in some way. It is amazing, isn’t it, how the victims want to protect their oppressors. Obviously, the decision is up to you (or your "friend"), but I strongly urge you to take advantage of any opportunity to get whatever help you need from people in charge — including Mrs. Dooda. She is a strong advocate for what she believes is right, and that includes helping ANY victim of bullying.

    Third, I hope I’m not the first to tell you that no, girls aren’t any nicer than boys. They do smile more. They do talk in softer voices. But they fight just as much and they use words as weapons much more effectively than boys do.

    No one knows exactly how girls’ behavior will develop now that they are the muscular sex. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that the level of physical violence will be, on the whole, less than it was, simply because girls have a broader range of weapons to use. But that doesn’t mean individual girls will not use their muscles to bully others, girls and boys. Be realistic. Boys will have to be more careful now, just as girls always were, not to put themselves into situations of risk. That means using the buddy system, not walking through dangerous neighborhoods, especially at night, and being aware of who is around you. And sometimes it will mean saying and doing things to appease a potential threat.

    Where you can’t protect yourself with your fists, you have to find other means. Some boys think guns are the answer. If you are asking me — and I THINK you are asking me — I will tell you that brains are the answer. Your muscles may have shrunk, but your brains haven’t. Use them.

    Best of luck!


    Mark Newman

    To: Marilyn Knewsome ([email protected])

    From: Melanie Brooks

    Hey! A friend of mine told me about your email thing. I think its really funny. Like you could really help people by writing to them! You must think your pretty special. Haha!

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that this "changes" thing is the greatest. This girl told me today about how girls can really grow their muscles even more than they are already. I tried it tonite working out and its really true. Me and my gang are gonna be so strong and so tuff and no one can do anything about it to stop us.

    So, you may wanta help us, but we don’t need your help on anything. Were gonna help ourselfs to what we want! Haha!

    To: Melanie

    From: Marilyn Knewsome ([email protected])

    Since you didn’t ask me a question you may wonder why you’re getting an answer.

    You clearly think being stronger has made you invulnerable. Of course you’re not. If you intimidate other students, they will fight back. Some will contact the authorities. Some will band together with their friends. Some may take matters into their own hands and arm themselves with weapons. I hope that does not happen. I hope it does not, but it might.

    Yes, being strong gives you advantages. If you use your strength to hurt others, if you cut yourself off from society by becoming a criminal, then you will turn that strength into weakness and limit what you can achieve.

    Perhaps by writing me you have some second thoughts about what you’re doing to others. In that case, I hope my letter reinforces those thoughts. If not, then maybe I’ve wasted my time. But I’m willing to risk that, both for your sake and for theirs.

    Think about it.


    Mark Newman

    To: Marilyn Knewsome ([email protected])

    From: Esmeralda Martinez

    Hello Marilyn

    Writting to you is very embarassing for me, but you maybe one of the few authorities women I know that haven’t got crazy about this muscle change in the society.

    I have a personal question for you since I don’t find at other person to ask about it. I’m a latin girl whom parents recently migrate to this country and since the change, it seems that my mother adquired the ‘macho’ actitude of my father.

    Don’t get me wrong, but my father is a great dad, but sometimes he didn’t pay to much attention to my mom since he likes to knew other ‘mamacitas’. Now their roles are reversal and my father stays in home while my mother goes out to look from some ‘debiles papacitos’ to have fun with.

    I’m embarrased to tell you this things, but it was to ilustrated why I can ask an advice at my mother. My real problem is the following one.

    I was a very thin pettite girl with all the curves you may expect in a latin girl. I wasn’t in the voluptous side, but I was over the average. Two weeks ago before the change started, I was dating a nice guy of the school. We went to the movies and all that stuff.

    The day Peter asked me to be his girlfriend should mean for me great hapiness, unfortunately, that day the changes started.

    As the day passed, I watched at my boyfriend shrinking in size as his manly body was swoly deteriorating. In the meantime, Peter was forced to watch me getting bigger and buffer than him. When the changes stopped, he ended smaller than I was, while I got bigger than he was. In all the aspects that you must be think now (height and muscles).

    Today, when I was walking to see at Peter, I watched how a girl several grades lower than us was bullying him around. She was as tall as him, but her muscles were as bigger as the ones he had before the change. Besides watching how Peter futile tried to broke the hold of the girl who held him in the air against the wall, I also realized that the boys around kept their distance. They want to help, but they knew they didn’t have a change. What really pissed me off was that a group of girls were also nearby and they were giggling and smiling at how easily this little girl dominate a male teenager.

    I ran at the side of the girl and pushed her aside grabbing at Peter before he fell on the ground. The girl looked at my with anger in her eyes, but I shouted "BACK OFF!!" and she ran scared. Then looking at the other girls I yelled them "Why you didn’t help him? The guys couldn’t do anything, but you were stronger than her".

    "Relax girl. She was having fun with your man" said one of the girls.

    "Yeah, men are weaker now and they must know their place" said other of the girls.

    "How could you talk so cold. Imagine that instead of him, that little girl will be strangling at your fathers or brothers? Will you like that? Will you like that when you get home, the men you care of are in the hospital because no women want to help him from the abuse of another one. I really hope you don’t get in situations like that" I said to them.

    The girls looked down ashamed and apologized to Peter for not helping him.

    When I held Peter, I barely realized that I was carring him like a baby. He was so scared and coughing that I felt inside me something I never felt before. I sense that it was my responsability to take care of him. I can’t explain it but I want so much to love him in the way a woman and a man do. I talked to him about the possibility of being together tonight and he didn’t give me the kind of response I would expected.

    I don’t know if he looks at me with fear, or maybe he doens’t like how I look now. But I can definelty say that he doens’t act the same way he acted 3 weeks ago.

    I want to show him that I’m with him and for him. I want to love you with all my body, but I don’t know if by doing it, I could injure him.

    So, the embarrasing problem I want to ask you if is you know a safe way to have sex with a man? You can’t imagine how red my face is now, but talking from woman to woman, you must understand my feelings.

    Also, I need an advice of how to act before him. How can I know if he likes my new body or not? How we can talk about it? I don’t want to embarrased him.

    Thanks for you help and my apologizes for the length of my later


    Mark Newman


    To: Marilyn Knewsome ([email protected])

    From: Peter Watson

    Dear Ms. Watson.

    My name is Peter Watson, and there is an issue I need to talk to you about. You see, I have being dating a nice girl called Esmeralda for 3 weeks now. Just as we were becoming a couple, the Changes played a bad joke with our bodies.

    Before the Changes, everyone would have said she was a very pretty girl, but now she has turned into a kind of woman I could never have expected her to be. She has become in my ideal woman.

    I know this could sound silly, but I think she looks even sexier than before. She is so much taller and stronger now, and I have developed a deep crush on her. The only thing I regret is that she had to grow while I got shorter. I would have preferred if she has been the only one to change, but nobody controls nature, right?

    Anyway, at the beginning, I hated the changes happening to us, but I must admit that having at Esmeralda at my side really has helped me a lot. Watching at her growing day by day, getting stronger before my eyes was the most marvelous experience of my life. It almost made losing my strength and height was worthwhile.

    My problem is: I have being acting a bit shy around Esmeralda because I don’t know how to tell her what I’m feeling for her. I don’t her to look at me as a kind of pervert. Maybe she hates what had happened to her body and if I say to her that I love those changes, she will ended dumping me. Also, to be honest, I have such a big crush on her now I don’t really know what to say. I just get all quiet and nervous around her

    But the other thing that’s bothering me is that being alone now for a boy is really freightening. Today, a young girl that a week ago I had thought was a nice girl, grabbed me from my neck, lifted me from the floor and slammed me against the wall.

    I did my best to get free but it was useless. I cried for help, but seeing the fear in the other boyss faces and the way the other girls just seemd to laugh about my situation made me ashamed of doing it, so I just shut up and prepared to be hurt. Suddenly, Esmeralda appeared and saved me from that monster. She held me in her strong arms near her ample bust. I was so grateful. I never felt so safe in my life.

    The reason of my letter Ms. Knewsome is that Esmeralda has asked me to be with her tonight. I did my best to retain my happiness because I was afraid of showing her how much she meant to me. I think I did it too well. She had a sad expression when she left me and maybe I hurt her feelings.

    What I can do to make her feel good again? Do you think it would be wise to let her know my feelings about how she has changed? I’m afraid she can turn her love into hate and really beat me up with the muscles I’m entranced with. Or maybe just never talk to me again. I couldn’t stand that.

    Any help will be very appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Peter Watson

    Mark Newman

    Isn’t it funny to get two letters like that in one day? Of course I replied to them separately. I’m just a counselor and don’t want to play God.

    Dear Esmerelda:

    Of course it’s absolutely safe to have sex with a man, even if he’s weaker than you. Men have been having sex with women for thousands of years. Yes we have needed them to be a bit gentler sometimes than they’ve wanted to be, but that is easy to learn, especially if you are already aware of the disparity in the strengths of your bodies. (But let me take this opportunity to remind you to use birth control!).

    As for how to know whether he still likes you and whether he likes your new body? Well, there are some ways that are very easy to find out. I think you know what I mean by that. But even apart from a boy’s obvious physical reactions, my guess is that if he liked you before, he will still like you now. Remember, you are bigger and stronger, but you are still the same girl and he is the same boy. But here are a few things you can do to give yourself confidence. Dress with clothes that compliment your shape. Stand close to him. Watch his eyes. Boys his age (and many men of greater age!) may react nervously and shyly when they are attracted to a woman, but the first thing you want to know and confirm to yourself is just that fact. How you put him at ease is the next step. Take the lead gently. Touch him from time to time. Look into his eyes. Make easy conversation. Listen to his words. Laugh at his jokes. Believe me, if he is interested in you at all in the beginning, he will show you soon enough. Just give him time to reciprocate

    And don’t forget your birth control!

    Let me know how it goes. Good luck.


    Mark Newman

    Dear Peter:

    I am so sorry you had to experience that kind of bullying. It is absolutely wrong. Please don’t believe that it was your fault in any way. Girls who use their new strength to hurt boys should be severely punished. And they WILL be, if enough people have to courage to speak up! I hope you will.

    But that experience should not make you afraid of all girls, especially girls you know well already and like and trust. Having muscles does not make a girl mean. It is very understandable that you should feel shy around her, particularly if you have strong feelings for her. But don’t let fear get in your way.

    You ask whether you should let her know that having muscles has made her even more attractive to you. This is a bit tricky but I think you can manage it. Girls often do not like it when a boy focuses only on her body parts and not on her as a person. But girls DO like knowing that a boy finds her attractive. And most girls now DO feel more than a bit self-conscious and insecure about the changes in their bodies. Telling her that you find her attractive, even more attractive than before, is almost certain to get the reaction you want. BUT, telling her that the changes in her body fulfill your fantasies about muscular women is much less likely to work. Why? Because the second statement reduces her to an object in your own mind. It makes her play a role in your fantasies, whereas the first statement treats her as a person. Believe me, once she knows you find her attractive as a girl, she will be more than happy to let you adore any and all parts of her body. It’s just a matter of getting first things first.

    I hope I’ve helped you. Please let me know how it goes. And, if things progress between the two of you, don’t forget to use birth control. It’s the boy’s responsibility as much as the girl’s.


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