Best of the Week
of Jan. 9, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Jan. 9, 2000, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing our new database using our search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in our Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the new database as well). In the Original Archives and the new database, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. We encourage you 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.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at our guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.


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Question:
To people born with a disability: Do you feel you were treated badly by your parents because of your disability? And do you ever hate yourself, your parents or G-d for your situation?
POSTED 11/22/1999
Y. Levin, Baltimore, MD, United States, Mesg ID 11211999112306

Responses:
I was born with absent radius syndrome, which basically means my right arm is missing a bone. I have a lot of other related deformities that make me look very different. When I was growing up, I had no friends and was in so much emotional pain that I basically had to turn my emotions off for 12 years. I learned to hate. I hate God and my parents and society and doctors. I am learning not to hate. It is hard work.
POSTED 1/13/2000
P.L.G., Portales, NM, United States, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 113200023623
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Question:
The phrase "nice guys finish last" must be true. It seems like women are only interested in jerks, morons and deadbeats. They say they want a nice guy, but they end up with just the opposite. As a former "nice guy," I've been getting the attention of women by treating them like I don't care about them. That seems to get a response. I need to know what the real deal is ladies. I think I'm better off treating whores like ladies, and ladies like whores. If you think I'm wrong, let me know.
POSTED 1/13/2000
Lamar, Detroit, MI, United States, 29, Male, Black/African American, Straight, Technical School, Middle class,Mesg ID 1132000121042
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Question:
I am a middle-class Jewish guy with strong Progressive/Liberal political ideas. I admit that I lead a pretty sheltered life. I was wondering if minorities see people like myself, with ideas like mine, as pompous?
POSTED 1/12/2000
Adam N., Encino, CA, United States, 36, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Technician, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1122000122638
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Question:
Why do Asian people persist in using chopsticks (especially in the United States) when knives, forks and spoons are available and so much easier and more efficient to use?
POSTED 1/10/2000
David H., Mission Viejo, CA, United States, 31, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 12221999125900

Responses:
I beg to differ that knives and forks are easier to use. I grew up using chopsticks, and I think they are elegant and very intelligent utensils. Instead of stabbing your food with a fork, we pick up the food delicately between two chopsticks. Most Asian foods are delicately put together and do not lend themselves to be mauled apart by knives and forks. For example, how would you eat sushi with a knife and fork? I guess you can, but you would destroy the whole point of sushi - it should be eaten whole in one bite. Almost all our foods are prepared so that they are already bite-sized when served on the table, so there's no need to cut. All that is done in the preparation stage, in the kitchen. In that sense, I think knives and forks are less efficient and cumbersome. I have a similar question for you: Why do Westerners insist on using knives and forks when they travel to Asian countries, even though chopsticks are available and are so much easier and more efficient to use? You are looking at things from only one viewpoint - very dangerous.
POSTED 1/11/2000
Cindy, New York, NY, United States, <cindy@alum.mit.edu>, 25, Female, Asian, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 110200053033

I use chopsticks when dining Asian. When I started, I found them no harder to master than using a spoon (which if you look at a two-year-old at dinner can be quite messy). It's perfectly fine from an etiquette perspective to use either in the United States - just like using the correct Spanish pronunciation of 'Viejo' (or do you say vai-ee-joe?)
POSTED 1/11/2000
Michael, Houston, UT, United States, 38, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Gay, Intranet Manager, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 110200024357
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Question:
To older people or those who work with them: Is the quality of life for elderly people who have no children worse than for those who do have kids? I'm childless and don't plan on having children, and I always hear "you'll be sorry when you're old and alone." Is this true?
POSTED 1/10/2000
Crystal, Oakland, CA, United States, 30's, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Office Manager, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 172000125101

Responses:
I have worked in a nursing home for four years. I can count the number of clients who had their children visit them on one hand. As far as I can see, except for retirement home workers, older people living in care see very few people, regardless of how big their family is.
POSTED 1/11/2000
Rebecca, Portland, OR, United States, Female, Mesg ID 110200031802

Although children can be a problem, they also create interest. I think that if you have any meaningful relationship with your children, you gain from it. And all grandchildren are perfect. Just ask. If you don't want to have children, then form some friendships with people who are the age your children would be. It's part of the experience of life.
POSTED 1/11/2000
Porky, Austin, TX, United States, 60+, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Technical, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 110200043240
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Question:
How did Samoans get so big? I am built like a blacksmith, yet the average Samoan guy makes me look like a runt! I am most impressed. Is there a traditional folkloric explanation within Samoan culture as to how they got bigger than everyone else? Is there a genetic explanation? Any insight is much appreciated.
POSTED 1/10/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, student/dishwasher,Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1229975943
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Question:
Here in Austin, the Church of Scientology seems to recruit more heavily than most other churches. I often find fliers from them on my car, and members have approached me when I pass their building to invite me to come inside and take a 'free personality test' or watch a movie about their religion. Why is this?
POSTED 4/20/1999
S.R., Austin, TX, United States, 21, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 4209935504

Responses:
I may have put something on your car. I am a church staff member in Austin. I do this because I want to give other people a chance to gain the same knowledge I have gained in Scientology. Scientology is very new, and can be practiced without giving it up other religions.
POSTED 1/9/2000
Gary C., Austin, TX, United States, Male, Scientologist, White/Caucasian, Church staff member, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 182000113547
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Question:
I just recently moved into South Boston, or Southie as some call it, and I want to know about their attitudes. Why do they, and other working-class whites, seemso racist? I've lived here two months, and I've already heard many comments, and other prejudicial actions have been taken against me. I'm not moving anytime soon because the neighborhood's surprisingly cheap and safe. One thing that might help - Southie is mostly Irish and Irish-American; maybe they have a history of being this way?
POSTED 1/3/2000
Kawaida, South Boston, MA, United States, 17, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, College Student, Lower class, Mesg ID 12200082745

Responses:
Kawaida: Southie has always been a racist neighborhood. You need to read the history of Boston of the 1970s to get started on this subject and then read the history of the immigrants' arrival in Boston. Each succeeding nationality hated the next one because of economics and fear of differences. The Irish are not the only group who hate. You will find out more as you read and live your life. Thanks for the question, though. It is thought-provoking and ought to bring more than a few responses. I grew up in the Dorchester, Fields Corner area, and during the '50s we were as bad as Southie. I left Boston behind for many years because I hated all the hate that was evident there. Things are better today, I believe, but not much in some ways.
POSTED 1/10/2000
George G., Boothbay, ME, United States, 60, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, boatbuilder, 4 Years of College , Lower class, Mesg ID 17200043706

There are three reasons, all related: Economics, education and culture. Economically, working-class whites have the most to lose and are the most threatened by unskilled labor. Since people of color have historically been a large part of the underclass, they pose a threat to working-class whites (who often complain that X minority group is taking all of their jobs). This is also related to education - working-class whites don't have the same access to higher education and hence a higher standard of living. Culturally, it's more socially acceptable among working-class whites to be racist. Among middle-class whites, racism is a social stigma. This doesn't mean middle-class whites aren't racist, it just means they hide it better because they know it's improper. Alone with each other, middle-class whites often say incredibly racist things if they feel comfortable doing so.
POSTED 1/10/2000
Dziga, Minneapolis, MN, United States, 29, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class,Mesg ID 16200023110

I think most whites would be concerned that blacks moving into the area would tend to increase the number of crimes and gangs.
POSTED 1/10/2000
Buddy, Dallas, TX, United States, Mesg ID 15200052017

Most Irish and Irish-Americans are far more tolerant, having only recently been under oppression by the English in their own homeland. However, there are some areas where the working-poor Irish-Americans tend to develop these racist attitudes. Typically, the areas are in the larger East Coast cities where the immigrants would have settled during the mid/late 1800s. During that time, the Irish immigrants were treated very poorly, forced to live in ghettos and similar poor conditions. When slavery was abolished, the Irish found themselves in competition with the newly freed slaves. They were treated very much the same at first. It was not until some Irish-Americans gained political power and were able to influence change that the circumstances were better for the Irish. But some of the Irish and Irish-Americans who still experience poverty consider any other minority group a threat, and act accordingly to protect their resources and jobs. You will find that this attitude is fairly widespread among Eastern cities, where ethnic groups have 'control' of certain areas of the city and resist outsiders (Italians, Russians, Polish, Haitians, etc.).
POSTED 1/10/2000
John K., Cranford, NJ, United States, <jkeegan3@home.com>, 26, Male, Chemical Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 14200085605
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Question:
Why is it that a lot of females in their teens or twenties walk down the street with their arms folded? This happens on warm days, too, so it's not just because they might be cold. Is it an insecure thing, or is it done so they are ready to respond to a possible attack?
POSTED 1/2/2000
Robert S., Poole, NA, United Kingdom, 23, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 12221999105026

Responses:
There could be several reasons. One that you mentioned is insecurity. This is probably more prevalent in younger teen girls whose bodies developed earlier than their peers. You might cross your arms subconsciously to 'hide' yourself. Once you pick up this habit, it becomes difficult to shake. Another possibility is that little girls are encouraged to walk, stand and sit with 'ladylike' poise and dignity; in other words, to keep body movements small and close to the body, whereas it is more accepted for boys to be more active, to take up more physical space. Finally, it may be a simple practical matter. I carry a purse, a briefcase with a shoulder strap and a lunchbox to work. Sometimes I have to cross my arms just to keep everything from falling off my shoulders!
POSTED 1/4/2000
Stacee, Houston, TX, United States, 31, Female, Mesg ID 14200094042

I haven't seen that in the States, at least not in New York. I tried to walk around like that for a few minutes and it doesn't even feel natural. I think you're exaggerating when you say 'a lot' of females do that.
POSTED 1/10/2000
Cindy, New York, NY, United States, <cindy@alum.mit.edu>, 25, Female, Mesg ID 1102000124425

I'm a male, and I don't know, so this is an observation-based guess - and I'd be happy to be corrected. My hunch is that it has to do with women's self-consciousness about their breasts; about the way their breasts move about as they walk, and whether they think men are watching them and their breasts. And that the women feel uncomfortable about this. I've noticed that even when they are in a hurry (when moving quickly it would surely be a lot easier if they swung their arms) some women also clasp their arms around themselves as if to reduce the movement of their breasts, to such an extent that they really move very awkwardly. It must be so hard to keep your balance like this that I have to conclude that their self-consciousness is the cause.
POSTED 1/10/2000
Steve H., Leeds, NA, United Kingdom, <steve.hill@stevehil.globalnet.co.uk>, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Publisher's rep, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 19200050641

When I was around 12-16 I used to do this all the time in order to hide my breasts. I felt very self-conscious about my developing body and wanted to hide it.
POSTED 1/10/2000
C.P., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 22, Female, Mesg ID 152000120828
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