Best of the Week
of Jan. 30, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Jan. 30, 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.

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Question:
Why don't people think of teaching as a serious profession? I'm a teacher, and whenever I tell someone who is not a teacher about my occupation, they say something like, "Really" and try to change the subject quickly. Or they will talk and compare it to their job and infer that I am just a glorified babysitter. Is teaching that disrespected?
POSTED 2/3/00
Mrs. Williams, Athens, GA, United States, 28, Black/African American, Straight, Educator, Mesg ID 1302000112235
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Question:
If man is supposed to be a "higher" animal, why do homosexuals engage in an activity, such as homosexual intercourse, that even animals do not practice?
POSTED 2/3/00
Caryn, Denton, TX, United States, 38, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Paralegal, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 21200045453
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Question:
How will white Catholics feel if their next pope is black?
POSTED 2/3/00
E.D., Kansas City, MO, United States, 43, Female, Mesg ID 22200061008
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Question:
Is it normal for a 21-year-old woman to not have had her "first kiss" yet or gone out with a guy? I am such a person. Guys seem to avoid me. I don't consider myself ugly. In fact, I've been told that I'm "pretty." Are there certain types of girls/women that guys stay away from? I'm quite petite, 5-2 and no more than 105 pounds. Do guys consider really petite girls a problem because they're worried we're too delicate for them to handle?
POSTED 2/3/00
Katherine, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 21, Female, Asian, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 21200094343
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Question:
I'm a California boy, born and bred. Both my parents were born here, as well as three of my grandparents (my dad's dad was born in Missouri). I'm mostly Chicano/Latino, so only some of my roots are 'back East.' My question is, why does virtually everyone outside of this state (so it seems) think we're all a bunch of jet-setting, fast-talking, unfriendly, shallo, flakey yuppies? I feel I'm a nice, non-pretentious, easygoing fellow from somewhat of a working-class background.
POSTED 2/1/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, student/dishwasher, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 131200022320

Responses:
I think movies and the media really feed the stereotype. Shows like Entertainment Tonight focus on the Hollywood elite, and these are the jet-setting, fast-talking people you refer to. This is an image many Americans associate with California. Also, any movie featuring a surfer or skateboarder is either set in California, or the character is from California. These are the only images many Americans get of your state. This no excuse to buy into these notions, but it happens. I'm from West Virginia, so facing ridiculous stereotypes is nothing new for me. I'm supposed to be a snaggle-toothed, backward hillbilly who has sex with my cousins. Stereotypes build up over time, and with the media being the force it is today, they are very difficult to break down if they are constantly being reinforced through TV and film.
POSTED 2/2/2000
Marc, Morgantown, WV, United States, 23, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 21200012735
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Question:
Do gay and lesbian members of the service wish to be segregated - i.e. separate showering and sleeping areas - until their value and integrity to the military are recognized and proven?
POSTED 1/31/2000
Louis C., Minden, LA, United States, <Louiscooper@Hotmail.com>, 21, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, engineering, 2 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 831199971322

Responses:
Gay and straight people have always served well together in the military, and there would be no purpose in segregating us at this point. Incidentally, recent statistics have shown that service members who are discharged for revealing they are gay or bi generally are ranked as better soldiers than the average service member. The only question is whether gay people defending our country be able to be honest and open about their families and significant others. Every other nation in the developed world, and many in the Third World, allow openly gay people to serve, with stronger militaries to show for it. What rationale would there be for segregating the military? Perhaps you ask this because blacks and whites and men and women were segregated in the U.S. military in the past. However, that segregation was based merely on ignorance and prejudice, and I doubt many of us want to go back to those days.
POSTED 2/2/2000
Fred, Washington, DC, United States, 29, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Gay, banker/student, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 212000124659
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Question:
I am utterly frustrated. I am a 31-year-old attractive, successful woman who happens to use a wheelchair. Like any human being, I am capable of love and intimacy and want very much to share my life with someone. However, I have found that, in general, men are either afraid of or intimidated by me. Some even give me looks like 'Yeah, right, I don't think so.' It is very hurtful to experience a barrage of rejection on a daily basis. I have many friends and am an actress and singer. Through all of my many exciting experiences, I have yet to meet someone to be with. Why is this a problem for men? Do you guys really think you would be looked at as pathetic if you dated a woman in a wheelchair? Do you honestly think a woman in a wheelchair is unable to have sex?
POSTED 1/31/2000
Maria J. C., Bridgewater, NJ, United States, 31, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, use wheelchair, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 817199925821

Responses:
You have a touching post, but I just want to answer the last question. How does one know if a wheelchair-bound person, male or female, can have sex? I would suppose that depending on the injury or disease, some can and some can't. To most men, while dating, the prospect of sex is important. The ones that say it isn't are lying. It may not be the No.1 priority for simply asking someone out, but I would say that within a date or two the thought has crossed a guy's mind. Short of wearing a sign saying 'I am functional down there,' how can this conversation occur without someone feeling awkward? Sorry for a reply that is more question than answer.
POSTED 1/31/2000
Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1312000125217

Some men look for physically attractive women. Most men look for someone to love, someone who will love them, a woman of good character. A wheelchair will not attract a man, or a woman, for that matter. The character of a person is what will attract others. If you want to find someone who is loving, become a loving person yourself. You'll most likely find Mr. Loving Lovable in places where loving people are liable to frequent.
POSTED 1/31/2000
Ronald V., Edmonton, NA, Canada, Male, Mesg ID 131200025237
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Question:
What do black people really think when white comedians make jokes about them, and when black comedians make jokes about white people?
POSTED 1/31/2000
Robert S., Poole, IL, United Kingdom, Male, Mesg ID 11259993712

Responses:
This is a very touchy topic, and it really p****s me off. Black people can go on stage and for hours make fun of whites. Also, they call themselves 'niggers' over and over again. As soon as a white man goes on stage, if he makes fun of black people or calls them 'niggers,' he'll get some dumbass charge laid against him.
POSTED 2/2/2000
Jack L., The Bronx, NY, United States, 16, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Less than High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 21200093528

I am a 23-year-old Haitian woman. I like to think of myself as an educated, well-focused black woman. To me, any black person who takes offense to stupidity needs to rebuild their level of self-vonfidence, as well as their self-image. I cannot speak on behalf of a white person, but as a black woman, hearing white people joke about me just gives me an extra incentive to make him bite his tongue.
POSTED 2/3/00
Marie M., Gainesville, FL, United States, 23, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Industrial Engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 222000124257
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Question:
For a while I have been questioning my faith. I have studied the ancient religions of Greece, Rome, Japan, Egypt and other countries. Though we classify those ancient beliefs as 'myths,' ancient civilizations lived and breathed their beliefs as much as people do today. Why do I have the right to say those peoples were wrong? How is Christianity right? If Christianity is true, then the billions of non-Christians in the world are wrong and doomed. If Christians are wrong, then the millions of Christians are misguided. I don't accept either. I don't consider myself atheist; maybe agnostic, but I don't like that label, either. I would like to hear some thoughts on this. I can't really talk about it with my family.
POSTED 1/31/2000
Gerald A., Grand Prairie, TX, United States, 24, Male, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, Student, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 71699112442

Responses:
If you're standing on the South Pole, how many different ways are there to get to the North Pole? You could say that there's only one way - north, and that all other ways are wrong. Or you could say there are many different ways and one can get to the North Pole (through different countries, oceans, etc.) and that they each have their good points and bad points, but in the end they all reach the North Pole. Now imagine that you are a person who sails a passenger ship from the South Pole up the Atlantic to the North Pole. You would want everyone to use your services, so you might say that yours was the best. And you might also try to discourage the use of other routes - this would take away from your business, after all - so you might say that no one has ever survived the journey on those 'other' routes. But secretly you know that as long as the person goes north, they'll get there... I don't believe I've ever seen a religion, Christian or otherwise, say that another religion will also work. Religions always want to be the one and only way to achieve heaven/nirvana/immortality /valhalla/etc. And since they do that, by extension they must say that anyone who uses any other religion must be damned. I like to think of it as the 'Ghandi test' - find a non-Hindu religion that says that Ghandi won't be damned. I don't believe that you can - it's just part of religion. However, you can remember that there's more than one way to get to the North Pole.
POSTED 1/31/2000
John W., Cleveland, OH, United States, 33, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 131200043138

I say go for it. The whole point of your faith is that you have faith. (Duh!) You have to believe in the message. If the message doesn't make sense to you, then you should look for a message that does. The ancient Greek and Roman beliefs are not popular today, but if that's what works for you, then do it. My only caveat is to make sure you really understand the whole message before making any decisions.
POSTED 2/1/2000
Jesse N., Herzliya, NA, Israel, 40, Male, Jewish, Engineer, Mesg ID 21200021349

I think there are three main directions you could take. You could, like so many, ignore the logical and intelligent thoughts you are experiencing. You could decide that all religious people are "wrong" and be an athiest, as I am. I believe that humans have evolved a need for some kind of spirituality or purpose to their lives, but that it comes from within their minds and not from outside the universe. Or you could, like my partner, develop your own, perhaps more liberal, view of your own faith. He believes that all religions are all essentailly worshiping the same god or supernatural force, and that none are better than each other, just different. He sees it as natural that people from different cultures will have different forms of worship. Of course, these thoughts don't sit well with all religious beliefs, but in looking at the world as a whole and thinking about our cultures from past times to the present (as I think you are), I think it makes more sense than interpreting every religious text literally.
POSTED 2/1/2000
Maddy, Birmingham, NA, United Kingdom, <maddylogan@hotmail.com>, 25, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 21200070300

I have also struggled with the same types of ideas. To a certain extent you might be able to understand the concept of certain things being referred to as myths. For example, we know that the sun doesn't rise and set because of the sun god riding his chariot across the sky. As far as questions regarding Christianity (or any other religion), I think people always believe that their religion is the one true way of thinking. I was brought up in a completely religion-free household, but over time did my own research. I have found that I identify more with Judaism than any other religion (although I haven't taken the "plunge" and converted). To me, it's a very personal decision, and I think that you don't have to believe another's beliefs but at least respect them.
POSTED 2/1/2000
Danielle, Lakehurst, NJ, United States, 24, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Systems Analyst, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1312000111335

I have struggled with similar questions about religion. I do not believe in the Christian concept that everyone who is not a Christian is automatically going to hell. I do not believe that God would send good people to hell just because they have a non-Christian belief system. I believe that all religions in the world are different ways of worshiping the same god. Religion started because people have a basic need to know why we are on Earth and what comes after death. Because people do not know the answers to these questions, different religions developed to give people the answers they need. There are so many different people in the world that one religion is not sufficient to give everyone what they need. So many religions have developed. Over time, some religions have dominated. Political leaders have used religion to gain power over others, etc. But the basic reason for religion is so that people can have something higher than themselves to believe in and help them through hard times.
POSTED 2/1/2000
Lucy H., San Jose, CA, United States, 25, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1312000121742
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Question:
Whenever I tune into Spanish-language radio stations, the vast majority are playing the same kind of music: tejano, with lots of accordions, guitars, yelping and so on. When I drive through border regions like El Paso-Juarez, Spanish-language radio stations outnumber those that broadcast in English, and with few exceptions, most are playing tejano. To me, this would be as if all English-language radio stations played nothing but country, which is definitely not the case. Do Hispanics universally like tejano music? Why don't we hear other types of music played on Spanish-language radio stations?
POSTED 1/31/2000
Dan, Denver, CO, United States, 33, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 8311999114130

Responses:
It is probably just where you happened to be, because Tejano is most popular in the border areas of both the United States and Mexico. If you go farther into Mexico, you hear a great variety of mostly AMERICAN music on Mexican radio, everything from soul, R&B, motown, metal, country, etc. And naturally Latinos have as diverse a taste in music as there is in their cultural experience. My generation, those of us who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, mostly listen to metal, especially thrash and death metal, Slayer, Mercyful Fate, etc. My mother and aunts grew up on rockabilly. The younger kids now mostly listen to hip-hop. Other Latinos from different national backgrounds listen to every type of music you can think of. By the way, in many parts of the South and the Rocky Mountains, most of the stations DO seem to be playing nothing but country when I travel through.
POSTED 1/31/2000
A.C.C., West Lafayette, IN, United States, 34, Mexican and American Indian, Mesg ID 1312000112443

I don't like Tejano/Ranchero music. You should note that most Hispanics in America don't listen to Spanish-language stations. Those particular stations are more aimed at the immigrant population, who are way more fluent in Spanish than native-born Chicanos. I can't speak or understand Spanish, and most of my friends' Spanish is patchy at best, and they can't listen to Spanish broadcasts because they don't understand the big words. Also, we prefer rock and hip-hop over the 'traditional' stuff that 'real Mexicans' are supposed to listen to. And you should also note that the Latin scene is far more than Tejano and salsa. Bands such as Santana, Cafe Tacuba, Molotov, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Cypress Hill, Los Super 7, Lighter Shade of Brown, King Chango, Aztlan Underground, Los Lobos, etc. range from classic rock to hip-hop to heavy metal.
POSTED 2/1/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, student/dishwasher, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 131200055831

Your question touches on one of the pride and joys of Hispanic culture, which is music and dancing. Do Hispanics universally like tejano music? Heck no! Tejanos like tejano music! You hardly hear tejano music here in Venezuela. I'm very Hispanic, and I like Isao Tomita and Klaus Schultz. Hispanics have the influence of white (European), black (African) and native-Indian (Aztec, Inca, etc.) music; that's why latin music is so varied. I mostly listen to bossanova, new age and pop-rock, but, like most people here, I also enjoy and am great at (dancing) merengue, ska, soca, dream, salsa, paso-doble, cumbia, gaita, trance, vallenato, raggamuffin, joropo, drum n'bass, reggae, flamenco, mambo, guaracha, samba, hip hop and even tambores (an African drum dance brought here by slaves, and very popular). There are more than 500 classified types of rhythms from Latin America, and add that to all the music we enjoy that comes from other parts of the world. I believe Hispanics are the most musically rich ethnicity in the world.
POSTED 2/3/00
Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 30, Male, Catholic, White-Hispanic, Lawyer/Business, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 21200030719
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Question:
I am an overweight, highly intelligent, witty, kind, empathetic high school student who has never been on a date. Will I always be doomed to picking up the remnants, or is there hope for me finding dates, and, way down the road, love? I know that in American culture, appearance is a priority, but does that mean that all men will always look at the skinny girls first?
POSTED 1/31/2000
Jane, San Francisco area, CA, United States, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 817199915521

Responses:
In a strange way you are at an advantage. Of course there are guys out there who are intelligent, witty, don't care about looks, or quite possible like overweight women. High school is definitely tough, but believe me, there are guys out there who will love you for who or whatever you are. When I say that you are at an advantage, look at it this way: I feel that most of the guys out there who are only concerned with looks are usually pretty shallow and generally insecure. If you feel that you maybe aren't exactly Cindy Crawford, at least you know right off the bat that your guy goes for what's on the inside. I firmly believe that there is a match out there for everyone. Be picky, though. Don't take the first thing that comes along just because you feel hopeless. It sounds like you've got a lot going for yourself, and you deserve to wait until you find what's best for you.
POSTED 1/31/2000
Danielle, Lakehurst, NJ, United States, 24, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Systems Analyst, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1312000111943

I think the size of a woman and what a man sees as being acceptable has to do with your culture. White women are pictured as being small/skinny. Ads, newspapers, magazines and billboards of models and actresses all depict them as boney, and thus as the norm of what the perfect woman should look like. On the other hand, I am a woman of color and wear size 18 clothing, but I have no trouble with dating. Men of my culture prefer a 'healthy' woman vs. skin and bones. Also, women of color are not stuck on that stereotype that we have to be small to be validated as women. To sum it up, it's a culture thang!
POSTED 1/31/2000
Lisa, Detroit, MI, United States, 38, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Clerical, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1312000122837

I suspect your biggest problems will be in high school. When you move on to the university level, things will be very different. Yes, we guys - in most cases - prefer ladies not much above "well-covered." Yes, there are men who prefer larger ladies, but most will only admit it in their 20s. If you want more choices, then maybe lots of exercise and losing weight will bring you into contact with good guys.
POSTED 2/1/2000
Kent, Melbourne, NA, Australia, 50s, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Consultant, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 212000122522

Get thee to a college! I, like many people who are not mainstream, had a rotten time in high school. But once I found my way around my college campus, I found my crowd. It is much less clique-ish in higher education. I'm sure there will be plenty of guys who don't value "skinny-minnies" above all else waiting for you.
POSTED 2/1/2000
MamaGeph, Smokey Point, WA, United States, 27, Female, Christian, Straight, Mama, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 212000124038

I, too, am overweight. Let me tell you, you will go on dates and hopefully find the man of your dreams. But getting there is a big challenge. I am outgoing, pretty and successful, yet I haven't had a boyfriend in many years. Men tend to look at what is on the outside instead of the inside. I found high school to be very painful. I grew up in a small town and was always made fun of because of my weight. It seems as though society tells us that overweight people are useless and lazy. Men tend to think this way as well. It takes a very special and caring man to love women like us. Keep your head held high and always remember that some day, you will find the one. You are your own person and you are special no matter what anyone may say about you. Don't be in a rush. The right man is out there for you.
POSTED 2/1/2000
Kassie, Albany, NY, United States, 28, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Sales, Technical School , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1312000105757

First, you are not hopeless. But everybody feels that way sometimes, no matter what they look like, who they are, how many friends they have, etc. Many people feel depression during high school because it is a tough time. Times of transition are always hard, and you are in the middle of the biggest transition of your life - going from being a kid to an adult. But we all make it through, and things get better. I know that is hard to believe when people keep telling you that high school is the best time of your life. Trust me - it's not. As for dating, believe it or not, a lot of kids don't date in high school. For now, concentrate on your friends, because ultimately, they are much more important than any guys you would go out with. Once you get to college, there will be many more guys than in high school, and the guys are more mature. More guys will be interested in you, not just your body. Some men will always look only at what women look like, but who wants a superficial guy like that ,anyway?
POSTED 2/1/2000
Jacqueline C., San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1312000123747

I believe that guys and girls have been mentally conditioned to view 36-24-35 and a "perfect" face to be the standard against which all else is measured. This is entirely a Western thing (with the exception of some minority communities). Yet it's even creeping into Eastern societies. Anorexia does not exist in Nepal ... yet. This emphasis is the reflection of the shallowness of a culture that places the outside above the inside. A guy who sees past all this and desires love, not "arm candy," is waiting for you somewhere in this world.
POSTED 2/1/2000
Dan, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, Student/dishwasher, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 131200061036
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