Best of the Week
of Jan. 28, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Jan. 28, 2001, 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 new 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 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. 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:

I am taking anti-depressants and getting counseling for anxiety and depression. Do you think there is a "depressed look" or demeanor about such people? I have been making the greatest effort of my life to communicate with more people, but sometimes I feel like people can see my illness and are put off by it.

POSTED 1/30/01

Mary C., Cleveland, OH, United States, 38, Female, Unity School of Christianity, Native American/American Indian, Lesbian, Manager, 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1300115357

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Question:

Why is it that when someone does a common bodily function (belches, passes wind, spits), we are totally grossed out and offended, but when we do it ourselves, it's no problem? Also, why are we usually embarrassed when we do it, even though everyone does it, too? It's not like it's anything unusual.

POSTED 1/26/01

Jay, Pensacola, FL, United States, Male

Mesg ID 12601121148


Responses:
Sharing the joy of someone else�s bodily functions in not something I can get into. When someone near me farts, burps, clears their throat (an affectation, not a function) or spits (same category), it usually goes unnoticed, unless their �function� stinks, leaves residue or makes a noise loud enough to obliterate whatever mellifluous sound or thought I am currently enjoying. If someone nearby is unable or unwilling to discreetly alleviate their affliction, their performance usually leaves me wondering if, in fact, wolves raised them. Why? It (the offending sound or residual scent or fluid) pretty much tells me the perpetrator is more focused on his or her own discomfort and its relief than on the comfort and health of those around them. Who wants to tiptoe through spit on the sidewalk, hoping they don�t have to clean a �loogie� off their shoe later? Who wants to listen to the sound of someone�s throat-clearing overtake the soft voice of a stage performer? And why would I want to sniff someone�s fart while endeavoring to enjoy a fragrant and appetizing meal? That�s why I think it�s unpleasant to be around a person who freely belches, farts and snorts. It�s also why I refrain from letting fly when in the company of other humans. In the company of my poor, dear dog, on the other hand...

POSTED 1/30/01

Cheryl, New Haven, CT, United States, Female

Mesg ID 1300123307

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Question:

Why did African-American women forget the whole black pride issue from the '60s about wearing afros? When did they start to straighten their hair again? Was it media influence or what?

POSTED 1/26/01

Yuna, New York, NY, United States, 17, Female, Black/African American, Straight, student

Mesg ID 12601121202


Responses:
I think the relatively recent popularity of the chemical relaxer had a profound effect on how black women began to style their hair in the post-'60s era. Previously, in order to get Afro-textured hair straightened, most people used hot combs or other head-based devices, which did not permanently alter the texture of the hair. So if they wanted to, they could wear an Afro just by wetting their hair and 'letting it go back.' In other words, Afros were easier to come by simply because the hair wasn't permanently altered. Nowadays, most black women with straight hair have had it chemically processed to be this way. The permanency of perms will not allow easy Afro formation, and therefore those with perms cannot have Afros, even if they wanted them. So in a way they are 'stuck' with straight hair. Attitudes toward black hair are also different from what they were. Many people harbor a self-hate for their natural hair, and I think it comes more from places close to home than from the media.

POSTED 1/29/01

K.R., Atlanta, GA, United States, Female, Black/African American

Mesg ID 12701103503


Maybe African-American women of today realized that the 1960's 'afros' were too extreme. I have yet to see an immigrant woman from Africa with hair like that.

POSTED 1/27/01

C.C., Somewhere, NA, Canada, 21, Female

Mesg ID 1270150915


I've had my hair relaxed since I was about 8. I have always had thick, long hair, and I was 'tender-headed' as a child. Relaxing my hair made life a lot easier for me and my mother. I have toyed with the idea of letting my hair 'go natural' for some time, but frankly, I like the versatility I have with my relaxed hair. I can wear it in up-styles, down, curly, straight, braided or with twists. Given the thickness of my hair, if I went natural I would have to cut it shorter for ease of management, which would reduce my styling options. While there are plenty of ways in which I reflect pride in my African-American heritage, my choice of hairstyle is not meant to be a cultural statement.

POSTED 1/30/01

Alicia, Pensacola, FL, United States, 32, Female, Black/African American, attorney, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class

Mesg ID 1300121128

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Question:

I am a culturally Jewish (but not religious) woman, and I am marrying a man who grew up in a religious Christian household. He's now an agnostic. We are having a secular, unusual wedding that includes some Jewish traditions (a chupah, breaking the glass), but Jesus is not invited. My fiance has a big family. Most of them are right-wing Christians from small towns. I want to make them feel comfortable and included at our wedding ceremony. They have been very nice to me and my fiance. Does anyone have any religion-free suggestions for making them more comfortable? For those of you who are religious Christians, how do you feel at secular or Jewish weddings?

POSTED 1/26/01

Rhiannon, Eden Prairie, MN, United States, <hyena@visi.com>, 30, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1260180204


Responses:
I am a deeply religious Lutheran Christian who would not feel uncomfortable at your wedding during its secular portions. What would trouble me is the religious traditions being observed, knowing that the bride and groom don't take these seriously. To include religious traditions would strike me as being only for show, and that isn't the point of any wedding.

POSTED 1/29/01

Roberta, Woodbridge, VA, United States, 39, Female, Homemaker, 2 Years of College

Mesg ID 1290125552

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Question:

I'm looking for information from individuals rather than from the Colonic clinics. I have read what they have to offer and was interested in knowing if these benefits actually work. The benefits as stated from a web site: Colon cleansing can provide relief from maladies such as colds and flu, constipation, diarrhea, breath and body odors, fatigue, headaches, sinusitis, allergies, hemorrhoids, weight problems, digestive difficulties, back and muscle aches, knee pain, poor eyesight, poor memory, stress, and the list goes on and on. If any of the above actually helped you, how long did it take to notice the change?

POSTED 8/2/99

Jerry, Albuquerque, NM, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Retired, 2 Years of College

Mesg ID 821999121751


Responses:
I am not a colon hydrotherapist, but I have been getting colonics for more than 12 years. Despite what medical professionals claim, the colon does build up waste material, and in my experience these treatments are phenomenally beneficial for detox purposes. After my first treatment I watched my diet for a week, increasing fiber intake. A week later I had my second colonic, and within that week's time lost 12 pounds -- simply from waste material. I did not fast or starve myself. I do not know that my eyesight has improved, or any of that sort of thing. But I can assure you that it has given me relief from bouts of constipation and given me increased energy and an overall sense of wellness. The cleansing process normally takes 45 minutes, and right afterward I replace the good bacteria by taking acidophilus tablets and other minerals, including potassium. It is a perfectly safe procedure, and one I recommend highly.

POSTED 1/29/01

Aly, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 39, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 15200025600

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Question:

What's the deal with black men holding their penises when they walk? Are they pleasuring themselves or just holding their baggy pants up?

POSTED 1/27/01

Exxon, Warsaw, NA, Poland, Catholic, Asian, Bisexual, Over 4 Years of College

Mesg ID 1270162522


Responses:
I have been to Warsaw several times and the few black men I have seen there were not doing what you describe. I would be interested in knowing where in Warsaw you have seen this.

POSTED 1/29/01

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 12701111520

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Question:

My question is how to cope with the recent knowledge that my father is a priest. He is not the person who raised me and with whom I identifed as my father all my life. Help. I am still in shock mode, aka denial.

POSTED 8/2/99

Henry B., Los Angeles, CA, United States, mid-30s, Male, Catholic, Professional, 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 730199944320


Responses:
As someone who grew up Catholic, I can understand the feeling that priests are somehow more advanced than we 'mere mortals.' Don't fool yourself into buying into this myth. Priests are human beings, period. No more, no less. Your birth father is probably not a bad person; he's human and makes mistakes and has moments of weakness, like all of us. Try to sympathize with him. Also try to look at it in a positive way: It's evidence that you were truly meant to be born and were put on earth for a reason. This doesn't have to be a horrible circumstance of your life. Be positive.

POSTED 1/29/01

Elizabeth, Boston, MA, United States, 30, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Journalist, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class

Mesg ID 129200021114

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Question:

Why do Asians, especially those older than 35, have names like 'Johnny,' 'Danny' or 'Peggy,' rather than John, Dan(iel) or Margaret?

POSTED 1/24/01

C.C., Somewhere, NA, Canada, 21, Female

Mesg ID 12401115006


Responses:
I believe it is probably due to language. My friends in Japan have mentioned that American words like 'Root' and 'Beer' will be altered into 'Root-ou' and 'Beer-ou' to make them easier for Japanese speakers to pronounce. The tendency is to 'round out' any words ending in hard syllables. This would be the equivalent of an American not properly rolling his R's when speaking French, because that sound doesn't really occur in English very much, and is therefore hard to pronounce. Any names chosen by a first-generation immigrant would therefore tend to end in a vowel instead of a consonant (i.e. 'Danny' instead of 'Dan') because it would be easier for that person and his friends/family to speak their 'American-ized' name. I'm not Asian, so I may be way off base in my theory about this. I'd love to hear from someone who could debunk or confirm this idea.

POSTED 1/30/01

Phil, Atlanta, GA, United States, 27, Male, Taoist, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1290150631

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Question:

As a big woman, I feel as though I am often regarded as unattractive or even gender-less by men. I understand that the media displays thin women as the norm and a standard of beauty, but are men so easily led by those images that they neglect a large (no pun intended) population of women in the United States who are attractive, brilliant, sexy and potentially a good lifemate simply because she is overweight? Guys, let me know what's going on here.

POSTED 1/29/01

Kari, Warren, MI, United States, 25, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Management, 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 11302000125839


Responses:
I wouldn't say men are easily led by media images. Remember that these images have been presented every day of every week of every year for decades. Generations of kids are growing up with the impression that fat is bad and slim is good. There's a certain amount of peer pressure that lasts well into adulthood, creating the belief that having a girlfriend or wife who is of above-average weight is somehow inferior and therefore a failure on your part to find someone slim/better. It's bad, but that's the way it is. I'm dating a woman who is overweight, and I admit that I wouldn't normally have considered dating her for the above reasons if I hadn't got to know her as a friend first. She's a wonderful, caring and beautiful person, and we plan to marry in about a year. It's also nice to have some meat on them bones for a good hug!

POSTED 1/30/01

James, NE, NA, United Kingdom, 27, Male, Software Engineer, Middle class

Mesg ID 1300110653


I think men are less affected by the media than women are. Women always think they're overweight when often a man would not agree. An interesting cross-cultural study a couple of years ago showed that men all over the world prefer women with bodies of a certain proportion (I forget what the exact proportions are), which may indicate that men's preferences in this area are 'hard-wired' in the genes rather than culturally imposed. A similar example is women's overriding preference for tall males over short ones, regardless of fitness level.

POSTED 1/30/01

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College

Mesg ID 1300145233

 

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Question:

A Hindu co-worker and I were discussing the fear of death many Americans seem to have. She said Hindus and Buddhists generally don't fear death because of the belief that in life you either reach enlightenment or come back in another life to fulfill unresolved desires. I said I thought the fear of death many Americans express is a result of America's Judeo-Christian heritage, in which people have grown up being told that if you sin you will burn in hell (barring absolution of those sins). If you have a fear of death, is it because of your religion? If you don't fear death, why do you think this is?

POSTED 1/29/01

Shelly, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, Female, Quaker, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class

Mesg ID 1250141415


Responses:
It seems to me that fear of death is natural, a part of our survival instinct. Perhaps it could be overcome, but why? Western culture isolates death from everyday life. We are only rarely exposed to it. This may not be true in other cultures.

POSTED 1/30/01

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College

Mesg ID 1300145535

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Question:

This past summer I went on a family vacation to Maui, Hawaii, and encountered Polynesian people. From an anthropological standpoint, I always believed that black people were the tallest and strongest people. Yet when I saw these Polynesian people (specifically the men) in Maui, they were humongous; just as tall and even bigger. I'm curious: Do Polynesians have any black descent in them? I am clueless on their ancesteral history, but seemingly, they share some black features.

POSTED 1/29/01

Jarrett, Oxford, OH, United States, 19, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, full-time student, 2 Years of College , Upper middle class

Mesg ID 1270110255


Responses:
If you visited only Hawaii, the odds are that you ran into very few full-blooded Polynesians (Kanaka Maoli - blooded native.) Some estimates put less than 5 percent of the population of Hawaii as full-blooded native. And some of these people are limited to one small island that is protected. The original Polynesians come from the South Pacific and, some say, New Zealand. Hawaii itself has lots of American and Asian influence and bloodlines. Surely there is African heritage present, but I don't think it is dominant in the mix. Of more interest to me is your perception that Africans are the tallest and strongest people on Earth. Have you ever been to Sweden? And how come it is always Slavic countries that win all the weightlifting contests in the Olympics?

POSTED 1/30/01

Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 44, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Corporate Cubicle Kind of Guy, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class

Mesg ID 1300124113


I think your idea that black people are the tallest and strongest is mistaken. The records for height and weightlifting in the Guinness Book of Records are held by non-blacks. Besides, race is socially, not biologically, defined. All of us trace our ancestry to Africa.

POSTED 1/30/01

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College

Mesg ID 1300150414

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Question:

Has black males' masculinity/ego been dented by slavery? Is this why they have to be promiscuous and father children all over the place - i.e. to prove they are real men? Have they lost their true identity?

POSTED 1/29/01

Alanap, Glasgow, NA, United Kingdom, 25, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, banker, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1280192335

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Question:

I work in an ethnically diverse workplace, and in the parking lot I have observed the parking habits of the people here. Why is it that black drivers consistently back into parking places?

POSTED 1/24/01

Todd M., Jacksonville, FL, United States, 30, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Sales, 4 Years of College

Mesg ID 1240190648


Responses:
Some cities and possibly states/provinces have laws saying you are not allowed to back out of a parking lot or driveway onto a street (although such laws are seldom enforced), which makes sense when you think about it. Perhaps these blacks in question are just driving more sensibly, because it is much easier to drive out of a space (facing forward) than to 'back' out.

POSTED 1/30/01

Sebastian, Montreal, NA, Canada, <raakone@hotmail.com>, 21, Male, White/Caucasian, Student, 4 Years of College

Mesg ID 1260175024


There are many reasons why SOME African Americans choose to back into parking spaces, but here are a couple: 1) Unfortunately, many black folks have expired tags and things of the sort. There may also be a requirement to have a special bumper sticker, as in for parking or ID. Backing in is a way that only the very desperate will search for the proper protocol - it avoids all of the hassels that goes along with not having what you need; 2) After coming from a long, hard day's work, the first thing on my mind is getting as far away as I can - backing in is the perfect answer to this because you can just leave without too much maneuvering.

POSTED 1/26/01

Angie, Nashville, TN, United States, 21, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, student, Middle class

Mesg ID 12501105514


I've noticed this, too. I asked around, and I have come to the conclusion that it's a regional instead of ethnic thing. Backing into the parking space makes it easier and safer to get out, which can become more important when snow and ice are a factor. There's been a big migration of African Americans from Northern urban areas to Southern cities. They bring their driving and parking habits with them. You tend to notice it because this is not typical behavior in the South, and even more so because of the race of the person who is doing it.

POSTED 1/26/01

Carlton, Atlanta, GA, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1250133806


I often back into parking spaces at my workplace, because I just bought a new car and the spaces are small. I pick spaces where I am between two cars and the passenger-side door of each car is on either side of me (one car is backed in and the other is facing forward). That way, the driver of either car can enter his car without hitting his door into mine. If there is a passenger, usually the driver will back out so that the passenger can get in. Also, when I am ready to go, I can jump in and go!

POSTED 1/26/01

Samm, Boston, MA, United States, 36, Female, New Age/Metaphysical, Black/African American, Straight, Office Manager, 2 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1260195224


Some cities and possibly states/provinces have laws saying you are not allowed to back out of a parking lot or driveway onto a street (although such laws are seldom enforced), which makes sense when you think about it. Perhaps these blacks in question are just driving more sensibly, because it is much easier to drive out of a space (facing forward) than to 'back' out.

POSTED 1/30/01

Sebastian, Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, <raakone@hotmail.com>, 21, Male, White/Caucasian, Student, 4 Years of College

Mesg ID 1260175024

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Question:

While in a Sushi bar, why are you served pieces that are too big to put in your mouth all at once, and that will fall apart if you try to bite them in half? Also why is there no way to cut them (chopsticks don't do it)? And why is there no place for all the food to fall when you try to divide it?

POSTED 1/24/01

Gari-son, West Los Angeles, CA, United States

Mesg ID 124200121241


Responses:
As a total sushi-nut and somewhat of a sushi-snob, I am guessing that the falling apart in mid-bite is a result of one of two things: It could be poorly made sushi, probably by someone who has not had the seven years of education (afik) needed to become a sushi chef. It could also be bad 'sushi-eating-skills.' Most people I have seen eating sushi do so in the most bizarre manner (to my sushi-love-slave way of thinking). Usually I see people either pull off the topping with their chopsticks and eat that first, and then attack the poor bed of rice, or (sin of all sins) dip them upside down! By upside down I mean dipping the rice side of the sushi in the soy sauce. Only the topping should be dipped, if you must dip. It is very bad etiquette to let the soy contaminate the rice, which is considered holy in Japan. I have even seen people lift up their sushi bit and place it carefully in the bowl of soy, letting it sit there and soak for a while before trying to eat it! As for why it can't be cut in two pieces, if that were necessary, it would be served in two pieces. As it is, they are perfectly proportioned to grab one bite to satisfy the craving, then pop the last half in and savour slowly. To answer your question about why there is nothing to catch the bits you drop, the answer is don't drop! Properly made and eaten, sushi should be easily managed and have a sufficiantly sticky consistency that not a grain of rice escapes. Worth bearing in mind is that sushi is perfectly acceptable 'finger food.' It is just as allowed to eat it with your fingers as, for example, fried chicken in the states. Place thumb and middle finger on either side, and a supportive index finger accross the top, turn your palm face up and dip the topping, yum! Sorry about this post, but I am living in a small, sushi-less town at the moment and haven't had access to sushi in months. Abstinence is a cruel thing.

POSTED 1/30/01

Iteki, Stockholm, via Dublin, NA, Sweden, <iteki@valheru.com>, 24, Female, Recovering Catholic, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Student, High School Diploma , Lower middle class

Mesg ID 1300141859

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