Best of the Week
of Jan. 17, 1999


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Jan. 17, 1999, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found in their respective archives, which we invite you to browse. There, 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.

Question Code Key:

A=Age

GD=General Diversity

RE=Religion

C=Class

G=Geography

SE=Sensitive Matters

D=Disabilities

O=Occupation

SO=Sexual Orientation

GE=Gender

R=Race/Ethnicity

THE QUESTION:
R382: Why is it that many Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics speak so loudly when in groups?
POSTED JULY 26, 1998
Sage <
mcsage@bigfoot.com,>, Brooklyn, NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
It's an absolutely true cultural thing. There are many kinds of Hispanics, and the social and educational level has to do with their conduct, but in general, we tend to be louder and more visible than many other discreet and serious people. I don't really want to say it in everyone's face, but the reason we act like we do is that we don't care about who or what's around us when it comes to having a good time and enjoying life with our friends (or having an argument). Our sense of privacy is not so strict, so if you hear our conversation or what we're joking about, fine, laugh with us and join the fun. Being happy, dancing, messing around and laughing out loud is sort of in our blood. We are a mixed breed of native indigenous, white European and black; we picked up this particular trait somewhere in the mix.
POSTED JAN. 22, 1999
Nelson A., 29, white, Hispanic <
nelsoneas@hotmail.com>, Caracas, Venezuela
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
SO119: Is there any way to make up for having taken part in gay bashing many years ago, short of turning myself in?
POSTED JAN. 20, 1999
Anonymous

ANSWER 1:
Many people gay-bash out of fear, lack of understanding and often to cover their deep-seated fears that they too have these leanings (the desire to be with the same sex.) Often those with the most desire to gay-bash are latent homosexuals in denial of their own desires, sexually. They bash as if to say, "I am different and I don't like you." But it's usually out of fear of their own sexuality that they don't want to face. Therefore, homosexuals are really bashing their own. It's time to either face and look at your own sexual desires and deal with this question, or vow no longer to hurt others, by words or physical actions. If you feel that you are not hiding from looking at your own homosexual tendencies, then you can do something else to handle the problem of past gay-bashing: Work to end the oppression. Join an organization that works toward ending the oppression of the gay/lesbian person, and be a "Straight but not narrow" person who helps end oppression. And certainly don't engage in further gay-bashing, and stay away from those who do. Changing you is changing society and being a positive person. Even asking the question shows you care about how you act toward others and want to change the behavior. Good for you.
POSTED JAN. 21, 1999
Diane P., female, Northern California

FURTHER NOTICE:
If you know who the person was, or if the crime was reported to the police, you might first try making direct reparations to your victim for their financial losses (medical bills, lost work, counseling, etc.) This could be done anonymously with a letter asking their forgiveness, and could go a long way to helping your victim in their own recovery. The financial hardship to you will be nothing compared to the physical, emotional and financial pain your victim went through.

Besides donating time and money to numerous worthy gay and lesbian causes that I'm sure many others will mention, you might try the following: A) Volunteer to work with a Victims' Reparation program, particularly in regard to gay-bashing incidents or other hate crimes. This will give you a much stronger appreciation for what your victim went through. B) Lobby for inclusion of "sexual orientation" in hate crime bills and civil rights protections in your state, town, company, etc. Write your state senator and representative. Testify before the legislature. Write an editorial for your local newspapers, both mainstream and gay. Let your voice be heard. Become an active ally. C) If this was a group attack, contact those who participated with you and let them know your change of heart. Ask if they would be willing to help in your recovery process or begin one of their own by making voluntary reprarations for past crimes.

While nothing will completely mend shattered lives, I commend your efforts to try to rectify past wrongs.
POSTED JAN. 21, 1999
DykeOnByke, 48, lesbian <
DykeOnByke@aol.com>, Southfield , MI

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I suppose it depends on whether you know who you bashed - you could make amends to them personally . If you don't, you might consider helping out if you see a gay person being harassed. These are both more positive responses than turning yourself in, which probably won't help anyone - obviously you are suffering for your wrongdoing already.
POSTED JAN. 21, 1999
Ben S., queer Caucasian male <
bscaro@hotmail.com>, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Volunteer in one of the neighborhood watch groups that exist in most cities that patrol gay neighborhoods to prevent bashings. If none exist, volunteer for community service in one of the gay/lesbian organizations in your area. Above all, challenge others around you to stop if you see them slipping toward hate - in word or deed.
POSTED JAN. 21, 1999
Michael, 37, gay white male <
txmichael@worldnet.att.net>, Houston , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Check your local phone business directory for the local chapter of Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Call them and tell them you would like to make a donation. If you want to do more, you could offer to attend a meeting and tell about your experience and why you now feel it was wrong. You don't need to give any incriminating details. PFLAG people are among the most loving and friendly on the planet. You need fear no harm. Good luck and God bless you for your change of heart (perhaps she already has!)
POSTED JAN. 21, 1999
Lewis T., 52 <
lthom3@aol.com>, Grosse Pointe, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
No. I suggest you take personal responsibility for your actions. You cannot assuage your guilt by making a monetary donation to a cause. Face up to what you did, apologize sincerely and accept the consequences of your actions.
POSTED JAN. 21, 1999
Dan H., 35 <
dnh6n@virginia.edu>, Charlottesville, VA

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
The primary point is that you recognize what you did wrong. As to any action you take now, that's something neither I nor anyone else can truly answer for you. Personally, if I were in your shoes, I'd think about what I would say to my child if they came to me with this question. It depends on the severity of the action. Is it something you can remedy today with action? Or would the action just bring up old wounds and not bring closure to you or the other person? I have a friend who volunteers weekly with an AIDS support group. During a lunch discussion, she shared with me her reason for doing the work. She kept her sister's best friend from getting a job he wanted because he was gay. She felt he had no business working with kids. In later years, she discovered how irrational her actions were. But he had moved, had a good job and she hadn't spoken to him in years. This is her way of acquiring the closure she needs for her actions. It's really up to you. But, I think you'v matured by just asking this question.
POSTED JAN. 21, 1999
Alma,white lesbian <
pridewks@seacove.net>, Kempner , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
Be an activist. Support your local community center. Speak out against homophobia and heterosexism. Offer to speak to young gay groups, etc. And stop beating yourself up. It is quite typical, although wrong, to gay-bash to protect yourself from society's hatred of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer people. Please, get into therapy, with a reputable therapist, so you can go on. It's OK.
POSTED JAN. 21, 1999
Sheila, 49, lesbian, g/l/b/t/q youth director <
Hopeteens@aol.com>, W. Palm Beach , FL

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
The most productive act of contrition would be to make your change of heart work for a better environment for all of us, free from hate of any kind. Specifically, be supportive of gays' and lesbians' right to live free of hate and prejudice. Join a local chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). But most importantly, take every opportunity to share your change of heart. A lot of people need to hear a voice of reason that begins with "I used to feel that way, but then...." Hate and prejudice are born of fear and survive only in ignorance.
POSTED JAN. 21, 1999
Harry <
Ustreet@aol.com>, Washington , DC
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
GE40: What is the overall opinion of people sleeping together on the first date or the initial encounter? As a man, I would surely sleep with a woman given the chance, but I would have a real problem forming any kind of solid relationship with her.
POSTED JUNE 15, 1998
Pasquale, 30, male <
Pasquale@homedics.com>, Dearborn, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
If a woman or a man wants to have a sexual encounter on the first date, there is nothing wrong with it. Having sex on a first date is not a commitment to anything other than having a good time on a first date. I think in our culture, we place too much emphasis on sex. Sex is to be enjoyed for the pure physical pleasure of it. Why does there have to be a commitment or an emotional attachment to it? If, having sexual encounters with a partner, a relationship forms, this is a bonus. However, to have sex for the pure enjoyment of sex is a go in my book as long as it is safe sex and the partners protect themselves from an unwanted pregnancy.
POSTED JAN. 21, 1999
Sher S., female, 52 <
sherri.shepherd@reichhold.com>, Raleigh, NC
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
G68: A while back I moved from a Miami suburb to the Boston area for college. People here seem less inclined to greet one another on the street and less courteous in general. Does anyone have an explanation for this, which many others have noted as well?
POSTED JAN. 20, 1999
Alex, 18, white male <
purdy@fas.harvard.edu>, Cambridge, MA
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
GD58: What is the justification for increased penalties for "hate crimes"? Why should an assault motivated by greed incur a lesser sentence than one motivated by the victim's race or religion? To me, the only mitigating factor that should be reasonably recognized is premeditation; eg. accidental vehicular homocide vs. a planned murder. The idea of "hate crime" smacks awefully close to Orwell's concept of "thought crime" in my book.
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
Jeff E., 37, male, Redondo Beach, CA

ANSWER 1:
You say the only legitimate aggravating factor in dealing with crime is premeditation. What could be more premeditated than a bias crime? Targeting someone as a victim just because of the way that person looks, loves or thinks is about as premeditated as you can get, I would think, and strikes right at the heart of an orderly, respectful society. That's why bias crimes are treated more forcefully (or should be).
POSTED JAN. 20, 1999
Andrew, 35, Jewish <
ziptron@start.com.au>, Huntington , NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
What is the justification for increasing penalties for cop-killings, multiple killings, killings during robbery, killing children or drug-related killings? Some crimes are so heinous and offensive that we say they should be treated more harshly. The criteria is not always consistent. Cross-burning is protected speech now. Cosby's kid's killer was not charged with a hate crime, even though race played the main part in his choice of a victim, because robbery was his main motive. The bigger danger of focusing on hate crimes is that it allows people to falsely think "I'm not racist because I don't use violence against X group." One civil rights leader said he didn't worry much about Klansmen in sheets, he worried about the ones in business suits.
POSTED JAN. 20, 1999
ACC, Mexican and American Indian, San Antonio , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
If the target of a crime was targeted because of their difference (race, color, religion, national origin, physical or mental challanges, sexual orientation, gender) then a level of pre-meditation has occurred. For example, in many jurisdictions, robbing a store is a crime, as is murder. But if you kill someone while you are in the process of committing a felony, then the statute argues for a more severe penalty. In the military (specifically, the Air Force), if a fight breaks out, and during the fight someone uses a racial epithet, it may not be classified as an Equal Opportunitty Treatment Incident (EOTI). However, if the epithet were used before the attack, the likelihood of it being classified as an EOTI is dramatically increased.
POSTED JAN. 20, 1999
Frank G., White Anglo-Hispanic Pagan, 31 <
gonzalez1@hauns.com>, Alamogordo , NM

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
You get mugged, hey, you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. You get victimized in a hate crime and you are terrorized by the idea that the assault may be the first of several. It's random vs. personal.
POSTED JAN. 20, 1999
B. Hale, white <
halehart@aol.com>, Hartford , CT

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
If a group of women who feel that all men are pigs decide to get together every Friday night and lure the first man they meet into a car and then beat the hell out of him, do you think the distinction as to why the crime was committed would be a minor factor? Particularly since that action will be repeated if focus is not drawn to why it occurred in the first place?
POSTED JAN. 20, 1999
Alma, white lesbian <
pridewks@seacove.net>, Kempner , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
In America, everyone has the right to hate. In fact, the Constitution affords each of us the right to live as inclusively or exclusively as we choose. However, while hate itself is an individual choice. Hateful "deeds" are different in that they are actions against others that are punishable by law. The federal government has a moral and ethical obligation to intervene in behaviors that are deemed unusually viscious, inhumane, mean-spirited, unnatural, etc. People organize their lives around their identities and beliefs, so attacks on either become matters of common good and civil wrongs. Annually, our country spends millions on crime prevention education, and there is proof that most strategies, when implemented properly, do work. For instance, we can be warned about the dangers of traveling alone or flashing large amounts of money, etc, .but there is no sane or reasonable way to prepare one for situations when skin or beliefs alone present an imminent danger. It would be like telling black people "don't be black there, but it's safe to be black over here." The bottom line is that when hate crimes do occur, the government has a duty to shield and protect those of us who are willing to deal with our differences and "isms" in more civil and humane ways. Hate crimes do receive more public scrutiny and media attention, but keep in mind that the perpetrator is being punished not for the hate itself but rather for the socially unacceptable and viscious "deeds" committed - crimes often viewed as distinguishing man from beast.
POSTED JAN. 21, 1999
Dee W. black female <
Westde@hiram.edu>, Cleveland , Oh
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
RE82: Occasionally I experience anti-Catholic bias from some Protestant Christians. I understand that since the Reformation there was a general feeling of distrust directed toward Roman Catholics by the sects that broke away, but why do some people still hold on to that distrust? What is it about Catholics that scares certain fellow Christians?
POSTED JULY 27, 1998
Stephen S., 31, Catholic, San Antonio, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I've been both, and the real reason is that the heart of Protestant theology is protest against religious authority. Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church and the authority of Rome by declaring that the Bible alone was the sole basis of the Christian faith. When asked to define a cult, for instance, the Protestant will declare "anyone who claims you need another source to correctly interpret the Bible." This includes Catholics. The further the group's theology and Biblical interpretation is from Catholicism, typically the more fearful and antagonistic they are toward Catholics. Some denominations go as far as embracing Catholic heresies in their theologies ("Name it and claim it" churches have a strong dose of gnosticism in their teachings, for instance) and will almost kick you out the door for being Catholic. I've been there. I know.
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
Peter P., Roman Catholic, Redford, MI
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
C5: Do people who live in expensive houses on hills that overlook a city feel superior to those who live below? I often wonder when I look up at these houses whether people buy them because they like the view or because they feel superior to everyone else, or a combination of the two. Or are there other reasons?
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
Tom, Fremont, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
Did it ever occur to people that a pretty view is preferred over a less-pretty view? Most views from a hilltop are better than those from a flat area. Having nice things is universally desirable. Why do people who like nice things always have to be considered to have alternative reasons? The desire for nice things is what keeps some of us productive.
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
65-year-old white male <
flyanavajo@aol.com >, Centerville, OH
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
D17: I would like to know why being fat has such a negative connotation in our society. It seems to bring out a "wounded bird in the flock" reaction in some people. "Fat slob" or "lazy, fat slob"; these words almost go together automatically. Do we ever say "skinny slob" or "lazy, tall slob"? Being skinny, tall, short, bald, long-haired, etc. doesn't carry the same insult. Being fat is almost synonymous with being disgusting. I've struggled for years to improve and maintain my self-worth in a world that says I'm defective and disgusting. What's up?
POSTED JUNE 24, 1998
38-year-old mom, fat, married and loved, Overeaters Anonymous member, Long Beach, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 13:
The last bastion of permissible discrimination in the United States is against obesity. It seems that it's all right to denigrate, demean, ridicule and otherwise ostracize people who have some sort of problem with their weight. Just try getting a job in any number of disciplines in this country if you're overweight. This society seems to think that all overweight people have a problem with "will power." "Just quit eating," "Stop feeding your face," "Go on a diet" are all cliches that have no meaning for most overweight people, but for those who have never fought this extremely emotional battle, fat equals inferior, weak.

It is not just a word - no more than "nigger" is just a word. It is hurtful and painful. I was born with genetics that left me somewhat overweight, even immediately following Marine Corps boot camp. I was in good shape, but I was still overweight. I'd like to see some of the people who think it's just an eating problem try that as a weight control measure. On top of all that, if you're overweight, just try getting a date in today's society. People look at you like you're nuts. Why would they ever want to date a "fat" person? Who wants to go to the beach, a pool or anywhere else where some state of undress is de riguer when you feel like you want to crawl under a rock? It hurts all the time. But society says "Fat is Bad," so we all think we should look like some anorexic aberration. And then we offer "professional help" for anorexics, bulimics and the like. But if you're obese, it's all your fault. No professional help for you. Just insipid programs that serve mostly to make their organizers wealthy. It all comes down to the incredibly superficial society that exists in this nation today.

To all you folks out there who think that because I'm fat, I have a problem, I urge you to examine your own personal values and standards. It's you who has the worse problem
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
Middle-aged white male, West Caldwell, NJ
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
RE134: As an educated, rational and tolerant Jew, I have an irrational fear and hate of Christians (especially evangelists). Any talk of Christianity always provokes an abusive and violent reaction from me. Does any older Jew or Christian understand this?
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
Nicholet, 15, Jewish female, Wheaton, IL

ANSWER 1:
I understand your anger. When the same thing happens to me, I get angry, too. I believe your anger is a natural response to some stranger whose opinion you don't really value questioning your entire religious belief system and telling you it is invalid. The real problem is that your response is non-functional. In fact, it reinforces the evangelist's belief that he or she is right and you are wrong. The next time this happens, you might try the following approach: Simply tell the person that you find his or her comments insulting. That he or she is telling you that your beliefs are of no value, and that you resent it. Then tell that person that he is behaving in an un-Christian manner, in that he lacks charity. At the very least, you will confuse the person.. At best, he or she might change his conduct.
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
Jerry, 65, Jewish male, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
Thank you for your honesty. As a Christian and former missionary, let me begin by saying I share your revulsion for many of the Christian televangelists out there. I have hurried to change the channel on them more times than I can count. Sadly, it seems the majority of Christian televangelists are motivated by ego and/or greed. There are some exceptions; Billy Graham comes to mind, but very few. And even among the rank and file "Christians," there's a lot of hypocrisy and hate. I remember in grade school hearing a girl say that Christians should hate Jews because the Jews killed Jesus. Well, duh., Jesus was a Jew! So was every single writer of the Old and New Testaments.

I think this kind of "Christian" wears the label without knowing what it stands for. Being born into a Christian family doesn't make someone a Christian anymore than being born in a garage would make them a car. Trouble is, they don't realize that.

The world would be a much better place if people who called themselves Christians would follow the example of the one from whom they got their name: Christ; a Jew who changed the course of history not by starring in a TV or radio show or publishing books and magazines or spending and raising lots of money, but by His love. Look for Christians like these. God bless.
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
Tess, female <
lilyae@hotmail.com>, CO

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I am older (42), but I am an atheist. However, I share your overreaction to Christians - especially extremists. Maybe the overreaction is to the fact that they are so convinced that anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. While philosophically I try to practice live and let live, it becomes harder to let those alone who believe my existence is harmful in some way and who want to make my children be like them.
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
Mark, 42, atheist <
mweaver@remcen.ehhs.cmich.edu>, Mt. Pleasant, Mi

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
It doesn't sound like you are that rational or tolerant if you hold this anger. I am also an educated Jew but have never encountered this type of reaction. Perhaps you should try talking to someone (a rabbi or therapist, perhaps) about it. That may help you get to the root of your anger.
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
White Jew, San Francisco Bay Area, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I do understand it, Nicholet. Having been raised Roman Catholic, I can tell you there are a few Catholics who have the same irrational fear and hatred of evangelists. It comes from certain denominations that lambaste the Church structure, accuse us of being a cult and assert that the Pope is the anti-Christ (among many other things). And we get this from fellow Christians! I ignore such misinformed assumptions and accusations, but some Catholics cannot. The important thing to keep in mind is that not all Christians are the same. There are many different denominations, and while some may exhibit the behavior that obviously turns you off to Christians, many others have different theological viewpoints that may mesh with your own. Don't let your emotions get the better of you. Listen to a few more Christians, and you just may find one or two who will surprise you.
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
Stephen S., 31, Catholic/Episcopalian, San Antonio, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Perhaps it would be wise for you to examine your prejudices and fears about Christiantiy and evangelism; that way, you might better understand where this anger is coming from. From my own biased perspective, the proselytizing aspect of evangelical Christianity annoys me to some extent. I don't like the idea of someone trying to "sell me" on their religion. I already have my own religion, faith and set of spiritual standards by which I was raised. My tolerance and respect for other religions comes only from learning more about them through people who practice them. I am culturally (not religiously) Jewish, and my brother practices born-again Christianity. His and my beliefs sometimes intersect, since we still believe in the same God and share basic beliefs about spirituality and faith, but there are many times I find myself unable to accept his beliefs as part of my own. That's fine. You can respect someone without agreeing with him/her.
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
Taneia, 25, mixed female (culturally Jewish) <
taneia@sprint.ca>, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
I can understand you perfectly. I was a very religious Christian until I became aware of some of the more intolerant aspects of the current sects of Christianity and the far from holy history of Christianity as a whole. Since then I have been very negative toward those Christians who feel the need to pressure me toward either returning to my old denomination or adopting their own.
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
John K., 25 <
the-macs@geocities.com>, Cranford, NJ

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I have a problem with most of the people responding before me grouping all Christians together as one. No two people are alike. I can't say I've ever been around another Christian who has said anything negative about Jewish people. I have Jewish friends I love very much ,and I don't try to force my beliefs on them. We all serve the same God, and He teaches love. I have friends from all religions (Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, Episcopalian, Muslims, Buddhists, Jewish, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.) and I respect their religions. As I said before, we all serve the same God, so what does it matter what religion? Also, I have a few atheist friends, and I respect their right to having no religion. Each person is different, and not all Christians try to force their beliefs on someone else.
POSTED JAN. 20, 1999
Timora D., 18, Baptist, female, etroit , MI

To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R522: To people of all races: Which race in the United States do you think practices racism most?

POSTED NOV. 17, 1998
D. Price <
abqteachr@netscape.net>, Albuquerque, NM

ANSWER 1:
As much as I love my friends who are of Indian (from India) descent, I would probably have to say people directly from India who have moved here. Because of that whole caste structure thing of the lower class (the "dirty untouchables" who were often dark-skinned Indians), middle class and upper class richies, when upper-class Indians come here, sometimes they are disdainful of those who are dark-skinned.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
Blackgrrl,18, CA
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
A36: Why do so many senior citizens buy such large automobiles? With having a reduced family size, wouldn't it make more sense for them to drive smaller, more economical cars? I've also observed many an older adult struggling to maneuver these large cars. Are senior citizens just showing off their disposable income? It seems to me that on many levels, smaller cars would make more sense for their driving needs.
POSTED JAN. 8, 1999
R.J., 36, male, Cincinnati, OH

FURTHER NOTICE 9:
Old people only appear to drive large cars. There are several phenomena at work: First, old people drive very slowly and, as hypothesized by Einstein and proved by Doppler in his seminal work Aunt Tillie's Studebaker and the Reverse Doppler Effect, slow-moving objects appear longer than fast-moving objects. For example, orbiting Space Shuttle astronauts reported difficulty distinguishing between the Great Wall of China and John Glenn's wife driving her Honda Civic. In addition, old people shrink, making the car look larger. Beyond simple vertebrae compression, there is the plastic surgery scandal comprehensively explored on a recent episode of Leeza. When senior citizens get a facelift, the sagging jowls actually remain in the same absolute space, while the rest of the face and skull is scrunched down, inadvertently resulting in a shorter person. The effect is compounded by the metal detector syndrome discovered during the trial bar's research into electromagnetic fields. It seems that metal detectors emit magnetic radiation that pulls downward on spare pocket change, jewelry, belt buckles and other metal adornments, accumulating so that the equivalent of triple G force is pressing down on the scalp. It's not psychology. It's simple science.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
B. Hale, 43 <
halehart@aol.com>, Hartford, CT

FURTHER NOTICE 10:
Kudos to B. Hale. Is there any other way to see it?
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
Mike, 32, white, Southfield , MI
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
GE108: To women: What are your opinions on the distinctions between (amorous or otherwise) "submission" and "surrender"?
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
Alonzo C., African-American male, Jacksonville, FL
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
SO114: What do you think is the origin of homosexuality?
POSTED DEC. 30, 1998
Yael B. 14, (heterosexual) <
xyz_il@yahoo.com>, Beer-Seva, Israel

FURTHER NOTICE:
I feel strongly that humans have brought only destruction to our planet, and that nature (or God, or whomever) has begun to make more people homosexual to try to introduce a slow end to reproduction, thus bringing extinction. I am fully aware that homosexuals have existed since before Christ. I can counter that only by saying that 3,000 years is not a very long time for a species to exist (I believe history can only travel that far and still find homosexuals). Over time, according to my theory, more people will find themselves gay. Whether we will continue to reproduce beyond that I can't decide.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
Emily, 13, lesbian female <
fauxscully@aol.com>, New Haven, CT
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R582: Until recently, I lived in Sydney, Australia, a city with a large Asian population, including people from China and all parts of Southeast Asia. There was one behavior that annoyed me - pretty trifling, but what the hey: When traveling on buses, many of the Chinese, men in suits particularly, put their briefcases beside them on the seat, and you'd have to ask them to move the case if you wanted to sit down. Why is this done? Fear of theft? Maybe it was me, but then I'm reasonably hygienic for a dirty white boy!
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
Ben, 30, white Australian male <
bscaro@hotmail.com>, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

ANSWER 1:
I've never come across this, and Toronto has a huge Asian population with two distinct Chinatowns. I've noticed the opposite: That the subway and streetcar behavior at the Asian epicentres of our city operate much like the transit system in Hong Kong - people pushing and shoving each other (not aggressively, mind you ... they all seemed to agree with the idea of being crammed into a small space) to get in the trains, overcrowding in the trains and buses, and general scurrying and milling about.

At first, I was irritated when I had to take the subway on a regular basis from these stops and had to deal with being pushed and squished against a wall of people. Being only 5'2" it's not fun being crammed into a crowded streetcar or subway train - you tend to feel like a sardine. I worked as a tour guide at the CN Tower in Toronto for quite some time, and noticed the same crowding and pushing behavior in the elevators (which are only supposed to carry 20 guests at a time). I'd have 30 to 40 Asian tourists shove their way into a jammed elevator, where there was barely enough room for me to operate the switchboard. Upon querying the tourists each year I worked there, I was told this phenomenon of pushing and cramming oneself into trains, buses, etc., is reminiscent of the transit systems in various Asian metropolitan areas, where the ratio of people to trains/buses is high. I guess it's a matter of efficiency, because I'd personally prefer to wait an extra 5 to 10 minutes for a less-crowded train than to be so close to my fellow commuters as to know what shampoo they used that morning.
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
Taneia, mixed female, 25 <
taneia@sprint.ca>, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
GE106: Why is it that modern feminists, although preaching equality, seem to be stuck in the '60s? To me, they seem to discriminate against women with more conservative views.
POSTED JAN. 14, 1999
C.C., 19, female, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

ANSWER 1:
I imagine you've come across a few "more leftist than thou" feminists, who annoy me. But the notion that most feminists are closed-minded or dogmatic is a stereotype - just like the stereotype that feminists are unattractive. Talk to some feminists, and you'll find that we have different definitions of the term and understand that feminism means different things to different people. To me, feminism is an awareness that women's everyday struggles in relationships, with their body images, with trying to make a living and support families, with fighting against detrimental sex roles, are not just personal struggles but political struggles that affect many women. It's about recognizing that there is a patriarchal power structuRe and doing what we can to change it. In other words, to quote the classic feminist motto, the personal is political. But I understand and respect that other women will make different choices than me as they negotiate the political with their own personal situations.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
Rhiannon, 28, white heterosexual feminist <
rock0048@tc.umn.edu>, Minneapolis, MN
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
G66: Do people living in the South have more racist attitudes than people living in the North?
POSTED JAN. 14, 1999
Nicole, 21, white female <
ngebhart@hotmail.com>, NJ

ANSWER 1:
As a white female raised by well-educated parents who are both native to Birmingham, I never heard a racial slur in my house while growing up. I never had reason to fear or hate black people, though there were neighbors who took exception to my brother's best friend being black. Now, still living in Birmingham, my roommate (white, from Wisconsin) is dating a great guy who's from here who is black. Although I am not inclined to date black men myself, I love Reggie as a dear friend and enjoy spending time with him. In all the time they've dated (well over a year) they've encountered no hostility and precious few awkward glances from strangers. Sure, I know people with prejudices, but they live all over the country. I do find my rural friends are more inclined to react badly to black people, but I think that is a function of their lack of exposure to them. So I guess my answer, from my own narrow exposure, is that although we are often portrayed as fearful, narrow, Bible-thumping conservative teetotalers, I would not buy into that stereotype if I were you.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
KR., Southern born and bred, single white female, 28 <
kathryner@ehsmed.com>, Birmingham, AL

FURTHER NOTICE:
I doubt if people in the South are more racist than people in the North. Those Southerners who are racist just happen to be more open about it. I believe I experienced a lot more racism in Boston than in all the places I have been to in America. Maybe that's because I know where not to hang out in the South.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
Donna, black female, originally from South Carolina <
djg73@hotmail.com>, Los Angeles , CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I don't know that there is a blanket answer for that question. I am a white Southern male. I grew up around some rather racist people. I also grew up around people who thought everyone should be treated with respect and dignity. When I was in the military I was around some non-Southern white people who were more bigoted than anyone I ever knew when I was a child. I also knew liberal non-Southern whites who assumed because I was a white Southerner I had to be a member of the Klan. Talk about pre-judging someone. There is no definitive answer.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
Jas, white Southern male, Norcross, Ga

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
We are a mixed race couple who moved five years ago from Berkeley, Calif., to Florida's "Redneck Riviera." My husband, who is African American, says racists are simply less subtle in the South. He says employment and police discrimination are less here than in California. And I have to admit the LAPD hassled him much more than any Southern sheriff ever has. But as a white person,I hear a lot more blatantly racist conversation than I did "up North," which he doesn't hear. Part of it seems to be things they consider "Southern" that I consider racist, like Confederate flags and Civil War reenactments. They don't seem to want to take responsibility for the way their symbols are interpreted by people of color. My husband, who has more experience with Southern white folks, says they are more used to being around blacks than Northerners and that although they have stereotypes, they don't have that Northern liberal paranoia. I, on the other hand, find the South vaguely discomfiting, and I have yet to meet any white person born and bred here who has not, when push comes to shove,made it clear that white is right.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
Lori, 39, white female, Fort Myers, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I would have to say that they do. I have lived most of my life in the North, but I lived in southwest Virginia for six years. Even though that area of the country is not very far into the South, there were quite a lot of white people in the area who were violently racist. They were also very unfriendly toward white people who did not share their views. In general, people in the South were very hospitable when in your presence, but they would do anything possible to undermine you when you were not looking. This attitude eventually led me to move back to the North, where people may be more up front with their prejudices, but at least they are not hiding anything.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
John K., 25, male <
the-macs@geocities.com>, Cranford, NJ

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I feel qualified to offer some insight here because I was born and raised in Astoria (Queens), New York (that's "Archie Bunker's" neighborhood), and have lived in Texas for more than 10 years. I will not pretend that either the North or the South is a paradise for blacks, or that race relations are ideal in either region. However, the nature and scope of racism differs from place to place. In my opinion, if racism is measured by how often racial slurs and epithets are used, I would say that blue-collar New Yorkers are far more prejudiced and bigoted than anyone I have encountered in Texas. If racism is measured by how much intermingling of the races one sees, again, I would say there is far more interracial mingling and socializing in Texas than in the North. On the other hand, where hiring and school admissions are concerned, I think blacks get a fairer deal in the North. This may be an oversimplification, but my feeling is that people are less racist in the South, while laws and institutions are less racist in the North.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
Astorian, white male, 37 <
Astorian@aol.com>, Austin, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
My answer, having lived in both places, would be no. However, I think Southerners are quite a bit more open about expressing whatever racist views they have. Northerners are just as bigoted, I think, but are more careful about how they express it. In any case, actions speak louder than words - do you think minorities are in a substantially better position in the North? I don't. Just as in the South, Northern minorities are more likely than whites to be murdered, not hired for jobs, live in depressed neighborhoods, etc.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
Andrew, 35, white, former Louisiana resident <
ziptron@start.com.au>, Huntington , NY

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I was born and raised in the North, and lived in the South as an adult for more than seven years, and my experience with Southerners during this time showed them to be much more open-minded and honest than the Northerners I grew up with. In the South, if someone has a racist attitude, they have the backbone to state that, and why, thereby giving one a clear point of reference to work from. In the North, racists will smile in your face, and spit after you as you walk away, wipe their hand after you shake it (after they offered it to you), etc. They try to present themselves as being open-minded, but their actions give them away. Many times in the South, I worked with people who stated they did not particularly care to work with, or be around black people, and knowing their true thoughts made it easier to work with them. In the North, however, people will smile in your face, act pleasantly and then undermine you the minute they get a chance - instead of being up front with how they really feel, so that you can deal with them accordingly. It's worth noting that a few of the Southerners who stated they did not care to be around blacks made sincere attempts to try to find out why they felt this way; I can't imagine any of the racist Northerners I know to have enough gumption to do this. If it weren't for the fact that I have older parents who need me here, I would move back South in a heartbeat.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
G. Long, 37, black female <
gelong@usa.net>, Chicago, IL

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
Northerners tend to feel superior to Southerners in terms of not being racist. However, it's not justified. I see an analogy to family life where there has been some divisive development. The South has had some ugly "family arguments" since 1960, but much of the air was cleared and people are more open to discussing the matter. Northerners are smug because they didn't have the arguments (soldiers in school doors, etc.), but it just means there are a lot of unspoken grudges under the surface. For example, Massachusetts is a very liberal state (Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank), but go to Fenway Park in Boston and see if you can find one black in a crowd of 30,000. It is a highly segregated city.
POSTED JAN. 19, 1999
B. Hale, Northerner <
halehart@aol.com>, Hartford, CT
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
SO116: Do gay men really perceive themselves as being either "bottoms" or "tops"? If so, what's the criteria?
POSTED JAN. 14, 1999
Cliff R., 33, straight male, Tallahassee, FL

ANSWER 1:
"Top" and "bottom" - the latter being the receptive role in sex - are also occasionally referred to as "Greek active" and "Greek passive," respectively. Similar delineations apply to oral sex: If a man identifies himself as "French active," it means he enjoys performing oral sex, whereas a man who enjoys receiving oral sex would be called "French passive." If a man identifies himself as being "versatile," it means he enjoys any or all of these various roles. Exactly what causes men, or for that matter women, to enjoy any one sexual position or role over another is anyone's guess. I doubt if it has anything to do with masculinity or one's desire to dominate another person. It's probably as complicated as one's own aesthetic sense. It is part of what makes all of us uniquely human. As for myself, I would say simply that I enjoy pleasuring and being pleasured, and I think there is something joyful and powerful about good old-fashioned mansex.
POSTED JAN. 18, 1999
Chuck A., male <
PolishBear@aol.com>, Spring Hill, WV

FURTHER NOTICE:
Some gay men do perceive themselves as being a total "top" or "bottom." Most don't, in my experience. Some who do will quickly change that view after experience with a more "versatile" partner. It is also interesting that many of us like to commodify themselves by so describing ourselves.
POSTED JAN. 20, 1999
Ben S., gay male <
bscaro@hotmail.com>, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
To respond
BACK TO TOP


 Copyright and disclaimer