Best of the Week
of Jan. 6, 2002

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Jan. 6, 2002, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing Y?'s database using the search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in the Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the database as well). In the Original Archives, as well as in the database, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. You are encouraged to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.

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Question:

Why is the fantasy genre so offensive in the Christian community? Most pious Christians oppose fantasy novels (including the Harry Potter series), video gaming and definitely role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. Despite my Christian background, I enjoy this genre, especially when playing computer games. In my mind, fantasy is just that - fantasy - a world of make-believe. It is a genre that allows for more literary freedom because some of the limitations found in real life can be removed. And as long as the person being entertained by this form knows it is make-believe, what is wrong with it? As far as 'magic,' it is used in children's fairytales such as Cinderella, and most Christians don't ban their children from reading those stories, so what's wrong with the type of fantasy found in Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?

POSTED 1/6/2002

Kristina, Washington, DC, United States, <kfount500@aol.com>, 21, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Transcriber, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 142002121032

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Question:

Why do some American small towns have a disproportionate number of people who are mean, sarcastic, belligerent and even violent? We've all heard stereotypes about 'the next town over,' but I am referring to places that are just 'known' for being especially treacherous. There is one small town, for instance, that is known for taking its high school football VERY seriously, and where it is not uncommon to run afoul of someone and receive the threat 'I'll cut ya' (i.e., with a knife). There is another small town where it seems like everyone is angry at everyone else all the time, and they constantly put one another 'in their place.' I could go on. I'd be interested in knowing whether anyone has studied unique demographics that make some places meaner than others.

POSTED 1/6/2002

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 41, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 14200264847

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Question:

Do all Wicca followers dabble in witchcraft? What do followers who don't dabble in witchcraft do as far as practical doctrines? Do Wiccas acknowledge that where there's witchcraft, there's the spiritual world? And that in the spiritual world there is both extreme good and extreme evil? Aren't Wiccas who practice witchcraft afraid of making themselves vulnerable to possible attacks by evil spirits, which may be inadvertently summoned through aiming to perform white witchcraft? How do they know they are 100 percent safe when performing witchcraft?

POSTED 1/6/2002

Robert S., Poole, NA, United Kingdom, <rms6859@postmaster.co.uk>, 25, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 13200233341

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Question:

Why, despite the fact that many Asian businesses are run in black neighborhoods (beauty supply stores, restaurants, liquor stores, etc.) is there such animosity between Asians (Japanese, Chinese) and blacks? Conversely, East Indians seem to get along better with blacks. In fact, I live in a very well-to-do neighborhood, with 60 percent of the population being black and the other 40 percent a mixture of whites and East Indians. Also, why do many Asians act more racist toward blacks than whites do? It seems acceptable among some of them to show blatant racism toward blacks - racism that the average educated white person would never do, at least on purpose. It appears that they view blacks as beneath them, although many of them find economic opportunities in black neighborhoods. Is the "model minority" complex that is prevalent among the Asian race preventing them from seeing the plight of blacks, a fellow minority?

POSTED 1/6/2002

Kristina, Washington, DC, United States, <kfount500@aol.com>, 21, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Transcriber, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 142002115548

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Question:

Can anyone tell me, once and for all, which religious belief is the one true faith that will guarantee me a place in heaven? And, why should I believe you?

POSTED 1/6/2002

Douglas, Pontiac, MI, United States, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Engineer, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 15200265343

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Question:

What does the term "White Bread" mean?

POSTED 1/6/2002

Brando, Vancouver, British Colombia, WA, United States, Mesg ID 15200275444

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Question:

Why is it that people are nearly always assumed to be straight unless they fit the obvious stereotypes of gay/lesbian? For example, instead of asking a female, 'Do you have a boyfriend?', why can't the question be, 'Do you have a partner?' or if a female says, 'My partner...', do people have to start saying, 'he', when they don't know for sure? I know people don't intend to be offensive, but a bit of extra consideration would be nice. It gets frustrating having to keep correcting people's assumptions, and you don't know whether the other person is going to react in a homophobic way when you make the correction.

POSTED 1/1/2002

Paulette, Sydney, NA, Australia, 25, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 11200211207


Responses:
Not everyone is as aware or sensitive as we would sometimes like. Society has only fairly recently begun to admit that gays and lesbians even exist. I think until the last 20 years or so, most gays were closeted, so people assumed they were very rare. Progress is being made toward the acceptance of homosexuality, so the changes you suggest will one day occur.

POSTED 1/6/2002

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 12200273743


Paulette, you have cut right to the heart of why it's so important for lesbians and gay men to be open and honest about who we are; because if we stay in the closet, and we do not fit outrageous stereotypes about how lesbians or gay men are supposed to talk, act or appear, the unconscious assumption is made that we are straight. For instance, I am a big, stocky guy, tend to favor bluejeans and sweatshirts and certainly do not have a remotely effeminate voice. Yet I am also a proud gay man, politically active and hopelessly devoted to my partner, Greg. I don't want ANYONE to assume I am straight, so it's kind of frustrating when I'm asked if I have a wife or girlfriend. And to any straight person who reads these comments, I ask you: If you found out that an employer or some other acquaintance had made the assumption that you were gay, would you not want to correct that assumption?

POSTED 1/6/2002

Chuck A., Spring Hill, WV, United States, <PolishBear@aol.com>, 42, Male, Gay, AIDS educator/public radio announcer, Mesg ID 12200273912


You have to keep in mind that the mainstream is for people to date individuals of the opposite gender. And unfortunately, people do have their stereotypes. Unless somebody knows that a person is gay, they may ask, 'Do you have a boyfriend or do you have a girlfriend?' Our society at the moment is not 'open' enough to ask, 'Do you have a partner?' It must be frustrating, but the best thing to do is try to not let it bother you and let them know up front.

POSTED 1/6/2002

Kristina, Washington, DC, United States, <kfount500@aol.com>, 21, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Transcriber, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 122002122445


I've been in similar situations, so I had to laugh reading your questions. I feel that questions about someone's relationship are very personal, so if you can't deal with a response regarding an alternative lifestyle, don't ask the questions. Sometimes, if I'm in a mood and want to gauge someone, I'll answer using 'husband.' Other times I'll use the gender-neutral 'partner,' but I always use the gender-specific pronouns (i.e. 'My partner says he doesn't like blue on me'). The most fun I have is with telemarketers. They ask for 'Mrs. ...' and in my deepest basso voice I respond, 'Speaking.' Sometimes I have to explain further that we're a gay couple, but it's a lot of fun to imagine what they're thinking in that dead silence I hear over the phone. As to the whys in your question, I guess the male/female gender couple is still the predominant relationship, and the same-sex couple is in the minority. I would guess that as people grow accustomed to the idea of gay people and gay people in relationships, the questions will become more neutral.

POSTED 1/6/2002

Doug, Phoenix, AZ, United States, 38, Male, New Age/Metaphysical, White/Caucasian, Gay, Administrator, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 13200215249


Of course the question to a woman will be, 'Do you have a boyfriend?' Heterosexuality is the norm, after all, and is much more prevalent than homosexuality (last I read it was 97% to 3%). It may be frustrating in your case, but be realistic: you represent a tiny minority. Society cannot conform to the opposing whims and desires of marginal groups. If society's standards do not apply to you, that is your cross to bear. People are not being intentionally offensive, so you'll just have to deal with it.

POSTED 1/6/2002

C. Beatty, New York, NY, United States, 24, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 13200265804


It's a heterocentric world out there. That is a fact. The majority generally assumes that someone who is not 'obviously' gay or lesbian is therefore straight - not always out of malice but more from just not knowing any different. You might try to imagine asking a straight, Southern Baptist youth minister if he has a partner. I would think he would be offended by the implication that he might have something other than a girlfriend. Once the decision is made to be out about your sexuality, you must expect to run across some homophobic reactions. That has been my experience in my home state of good ol' redneck Texas. The majority of the people I run into don't appear to care one way or the other, but there are the occasional homophobes who cause problems. I have had to learn to just deal with it as it happens. If they are at least polite about it, so am I. If they are rude or inconsiderate, then I go full camp and let 'em have a good ol' Southern queen rendition. I am comfortable in the belief that the problem is theirs, not mine. So, give folks the benefit of the doubt on the first encounter. The real litmus test is how they react in future encounters.

POSTED 1/6/2002

Mark B., Dallas, TX, United States, <civic-si@swbell.net>, 41, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Gay, financial analyst, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 15200215434


It is you who has created the confusion. Society generally operates under the assumption of normalcy. Politically correct or not and despite what you may want to believe, homosexuality is not, in general, considered normal. Why fault others for a situation you brought upon yourself?

POSTED 1/6/2002

Douglas, Pontiac, MI, United States, 40, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Engineer, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 15200253836

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Question:

Are guys interested in girls who are always talking, or in shy girls who don't talk very much?

POSTED 1/1/2002

Alicia, Chicago, IL, United States, 19, Female, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1230200145016


Responses:
I am a shy guy, so the girls I prefer are just the opposite. Furthermore, I am the type of person to feed off other people's energy, so I guess you could say I like a talkative/energetic female. Of course, none of this will matter if the words she says aren't anything nice. Personality is more important than anything else, whether she talks a lot or not.

POSTED 1/3/2002

Jarrett, Chicago, IL, United States, 20, Male, Black/African American, Straight, full-time student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 11200244628


Every guy's different, but someone between the two extremes of talking too much and hardly talking at all would probably be most appealing to most guys. If I had to choose between the two extremes, I would choose the shy woman.

POSTED 1/3/2002

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 12200272631


Neither of the two extremes. Someone in the middle.

POSTED 1/3/2002

Charles, Dallas, TX, United States, 25, Male, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 12200241549


My wife of nine years, Polish by birth, is a quiet, reflective woman whose spare use of words (by American standards, anyway) is sometimes misinterpreted as unfriendliness. To be sure, talkative people exist everywhere, but most Americans combine extreme talkativeness with very poor listening skills. On the other hand, Poles tend to be considerably less talkative and are very good listeners. In a group setting, when one person is talking, everyone else stays quiet and gives that person their undivided attention. The first time an American in Poland is exposed to this, it is very unsettling and feels more like tribal storytelling! I find my wife's reflectiveness to be a refreshing antidote, and now that I've grown used to this, I find it very annoying when others constantly announce what they are thinking and doing at any given moment.

POSTED 1/3/2002

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 41, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 13200253510


Neither in particular. I like a girl because of who they are. If a girl yammers all the time, very little of it contains actual content, so I stop listening. If she never says anything, I can't get to know her. Just be yourself, open up and say what comes naturally. If nothing comes naturally, just respond to what the guy says. If he's shy, talk about what's going on around you or ask questions. But on the talkative/shy issue, err on the side of talkative.

POSTED 1/6/2002

Alex, Beloit, WI, United States, 18, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Student, High School Diploma, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 13200283055

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Question:

Why is it that when interracial couples (black men/white women) are out and about and see a very attractive black woman, they stare at her (as if they want to be acknowledged or seen) or dramatically grab, hug, or kiss each other? If you're dating for true love, why put on the act? I've noticed this a lot lately, as my friends and I are very attractive black women. I don't think white women really understand something: We don't want the man you're with. We are attracted to black men who are attracted to black women - get it?

POSTED 12/30/2001

Nikki T., Washington, DC, United States, 31, Female, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1228200180148


Responses:
I noticed this too, when I went shopping with two friends this weekend in the mall. The couple (black man/white woman) became especially lovey-dovey when we entered the store and began browsing in the shoe area near them. This may not be typical of most interracial couples, but reading Nikki's question triggered that memory in me. I guess my annoyance in dealing with white women who date black men is the fact that they try too hard. I have two cousins who are married to white women, and it seems that the women try to overcompensate for the fact that they aren't black, in particular when we are in a family group setting. One used so much slang that her own mother-in-law (my aunt) had to point out that we (meaning black folks) don't talk like that all the time, and the majority of the people in the room were college-educated. She was, of course, embarrassed. She would be more accepted if she would be herself.

POSTED 1/2/2002

Tiffany, Houston, TX, United States, 28, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 12200294132


My guess is that they are attempting to throw it in the face of their 'detractors,' whom they see as 'all' black women (or white men - it happens to us, too) even though 90 percent of either population couldn't care less.I participated in similar racial taunting as a teenager. I lived in a racially mixed housing project where the lines of race were fractured. If a female of one race went out with a male of another, the males of the female's particular race would write if off to 'money' (though we white guys didn't have any more money than the blacks in the projects) or the 'taboo' factor (though 'Townie White Trash' is looked upon as badly or worse than black folk among many in society.) To combat such blatant racial stereotyping, I'd throw it in the faces of the blacks or Puerto Ricans, to show that my girlfriend was with me for me, not because of my supposed income. It was a slap to the white guys, too. It's expected among some white guys that going with a colored girl is fine, as long as it stays behind doors. It was immature, to say the least, but I've grown out of it. Racial ball-breaking is as old as the hills and won't go away soon, until interracial relationships become 'normal' by American standards.

POSTED 1/3/2002

Seamus, Charlestown, MA, United States, <madskat@home.com>, 23, Male, Carpentry, High School Diploma, Lower class, Mesg ID 122002100229

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Question:

A strange thing came to my notice and I would like people's comments on it: On doing a bit of research on the atrocities of Muslim invaders on Hindus, I became interested in their invasions in other parts of the world. I found that Arabs openly enslaved pagan blacks and Christian Ethiopians long before the Portugese took slaves, and they treated them very badly. Europeans were enslaved extensively by the berber states of North Africa. White Christians had their ears cut off, nails ripped off, etc. Their Muslim masters openly called them white Christian dogs and used to say, 'See how I control my Christian white dogs.' In addition, there were white female slaves, especially slaves in Turkish harems. These harems even had black, East Asian and Hindu slaves. Many Armenian and Serb freedom fighters had their wives enslaved and sold in Turkish markets after being raped by Ottoman generals, and their children were sold as slaves, too. Another piece of information: when Britain decided to ban transatlantic slavery, black tribal chiefs who had grown fat on the slave trade sent diplomats to London and Paris to oppose the move. Any comments are welcome.

POSTED 12/30/2001

Anand M., Ahmednagar, NA, India, 30, Male, Hindu, East Indian, Straight, Educator, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1228200145425


Responses:
Nice information. I've been looking up information on the history of Islam, and this helps a lot. Thanks. Peace and blessings.

POSTED 1/3/2002

Mike, Atlanta, GA, United States, <miguelito_cubano@hotmail.com>, 19, Male, Black/African American, Straight, college student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 12200250024


European merchants were the first involved in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Later on, African chiefs, kings and other leaders joined in. It can be argued that Africa would have been left out of the Trans-Atlantic trade if they (kings, chiefs, etc.) had not given up their subjects as slaves. As a result, there was inter and intra-ethnic wars, as well as the European merchants (moreover, slave raiders) capturing innocent Africans. Surely, the chiefs had no idea of the evils the Europeans were doing with their former subjects/enemies. Foremost, they saw their own benefits: in exchange for Africans, they received, among other things, guns and alcohol. Furthermore, they (leaders in Africa) were a part of the global trade. That said, it is obvious that the Trans-Atlantic trade involved many forms of capitalism, yet at the same time it was the hallmark of inhumanity. If any Trans-Atlantic trader was to know this, it was the Europeans, assuming they had a heart.

POSTED 1/6/2002

Jarrett, Chicago, IL, United States, 20, Male, Black/African American, Straight, full-time student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 11200260234


This is sheer propaganda. Given how Muslims and Hindus currently dislike one another, the person's motive for this disinformation is in question, especially considering that he didn't even ask a question! Given the current religious climate of Islam, it's very easy to characterize most Muslims as committing great atrocities. I have both Muslim and Hindu friends who can attest to atrocities having been committed by both sides in the Pakistani-Indian conflict. A Hindu posting misinformation about Muslim atrocities is no better than a Muslim doing the same about Hindu atrocities. Both sides are pretty screwed up to have let this conflict escalate into a potential nuclear war.

POSTED 1/6/2002

Michael K., New York, NY, United States, 22, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 13200215733


You could equally find lists of atrocities committed by Christians on Muslims, eg. the acts of the Knights Hospitaller and Templar in Palestine during the Crusades, or Christian pogroms against Russian Jews, or the current State of Israel with its U.S.-financed military actions against a largely Muslim population in Palestine. I'm sure you'll find the odd riot in India instigated by Hindus against Muslims. There's not much point looking for a set of atrocities that fit your own perceptions of the world and ignoring those that don't suit you. It's only when we can look beyond the sectarianism and try to understand why we as humans find excuses to do these sorts of things that we'll move forward.

POSTED 1/6/2002

Ben S., London, NA, United Kingdom, <bscaro@yahoo.com>, 33, Male, Rosicrucian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Traveller, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 15200240654

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