Best of the Week
of Feb. 2, 2003

Best of Week ArchivesArchives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Feb. 2, 2003, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing Y?'s database using the search form , or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in the Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the database as well). In the Original Archives, as well as in the database, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. You are encouraged to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.  

 First-time users should first make a quick stop at Y?'s guidelines pages for asking and answering questions. 

 The book on Y? is here! 

"Why Do White People Smell Like Wet Dogs
When They Come Out Of The Rain?"


Order it here! 

Read the Associated Press story on "Wet Dogs" 

 Order the book on Y? today! 

 


Question:

I'm 12 but act and look very mature for my age. Some people even say I look 14 to 18. I'm an honor student and am quite popular. Some students say I act 'white' because I tend to use a proper voice. But I also have my 'ebonic' voice because I live in the South and am around mostly black people. I don't know where I got my proper voice from. Also, some students say I have 'white girl' hair. It used to be nappy with the best of them, but I trained it and now it's very straight, and I can swing it like the women on television. Am I a sellout, or am I'm just different?

POSTED 2/2/2003

Afftene, Bessemer, AL, United States, 12, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Student, Middle class, Mesg ID 21200320616

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Question:

Does the caste system still exist in India, and if so, how does one deal with it in a modern society?

POSTED 2/2/2003

Suzy, San Francisco, CA, Saudi Arabia, Female, Mesg ID 22200352152

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Question:

The book titled 'Why do white people smell like wet dogs' is a racist slur! How would the author like it if I wrote a book titled, 'Black people smell like wet monkeys when they come out of the rain'?

POSTED 2/19/2002

Dan C., Omaha, NE, United States, Male, Mesg ID 216200271244


Responses:
You are only judging the book by its cover. It is not a racist slur in the least. It merely means that once you have learned to think outside of the box and understand how to challenge your initial perceptions, you will have awakened a whole new world you never knew existed. Unfortunately, I don't think you will ever find this unless you are able to look deeper than what lies on the surface

POSTED 2/2/2003

Gordon, Anderson, IN, United States, 27, Male, Do not belong to any organized relitgious group, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student/Engineer, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 622200242117


I saw the guy who wrote the book on a talk show. He's white.

POSTED 2/2/2003

Kim, Houston, TX, United States, <kim@kimmish.com>, 17, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Secretary, Middle class, Mesg ID 71200295753


Perhaps you should read more. If you don't like the book, don't read it. If I were to get offended by everything I saw and read, I'd be in a hell of a bind.

POSTED 2/2/2003

Alexa, Houston, TX, United States, 19, Female, Mesg ID 1130200274714


See how it feels? Blacks have been called primitive, savage and monkeys, but when something is brought up about whites, everyone is up in arms. The fact that you even use the word monkey in your defensive attack says that you are well aware of racial slurs. A racial slur against whites or whatever is not foreign to you - you just wanted to make a racist comment.

POSTED 2/2/2003

J., Los Angeles, CA, United States, Mesg ID 21200324056


The title does raise an eyebrow to some people (like me), but I'm sure the author really wouldn't have a problem if you wrote a book called 'Why do African Americans smell like blah blah' because he's not African American, he's white. He's the guy who started this web site idea, and he found this question to be interesting, so he gave the book that title. I get a chuckle out of the book, and I even stopped by Y? Forum to check out some questions...

POSTED 2/2/2003

Piggy, Schaumburg, IL, United States, <batgirl613@hotmail.com>, 19, Female, Straight, student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 3252002115022

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Question:

Why is it that when white people are grouped together, such as during spring break, bike fests and so forth, they have no shame in performing sexual acts out in the open? It is as if they have lost all sense of pride. You would never see black people doing such things. Do they not realize their family will eventually see this?

POSTED 2/2/2003

Ms. Molly, Clermont, FL, United States, 34, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Lesbian, Retail Manager, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 22200353542

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Question:

I have always thought the term "Jap" offensive due to the 'Slap a Jap' World War II propaganda, etc. However, I have noticed 'Jap' or 'Japs' used quite frequently on news shows when referring to Japan or its people. I'd like thoughts from Japanese and other Asians on this.

POSTED 10/20/2002

Ridley S., Chambersburg, PA, United States, 22, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 1020200221231


Responses:
I go to school on a traditionally Leftist and heavily ethnically mixed campus here in Los Angeles. I have heard the term 'Jap Pride' used many times. Perhaps it is beginning to become another case of demystifying a slur.

POSTED 2/2/2003

Dan, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 24, Male, Pentecostal, Chicano, Student, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 11162002120532


I am half Asian (Japanese) and would find it offensive if someone called me a 'Jap,' regardless of race.

POSTED 2/2/2003

Becky, Enfield, CT, United States, Female, Asian, White, Middle class, Mesg ID 11272002101313


The word Jap is said to mean Jewish American Princess, but it can also mean someone from Japan. I have many 'Jap' friends. They don't seem find it offensive.

POSTED 2/2/2003

Diamond, Sacramento, CA, United States, 18, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1127200222213


I'm not Japanese but am Asian American. I do believe most Japanese folks I know - especially ones who were born in the United States and understand the history that the Japanese have had with the United States - would be pretty offended if a non-Asian approached them by calling them a 'Jap.' Maybe things are different in Indiana, but here in the Bay Area/San Francisco, we Asian folks don't go around calling each other 'Jap,' 'Chink', or 'Gook' -- I personally go by 'Karen.' If another Asian person did call me something derogatory, I would seriously wonder why they would want to call someone of the same race a name like that and thus perpetuate a stereotype.

POSTED 2/2/2003

Karen F, San Francisco, CA, United States, 23, Female, Agnostic, Asian, Straight, College student, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 123200274150


It probably is offensive, but most younger Japanese (read: Japanese Americans) are not offended by it, and we use it among ourselves, despite its derogatory origins. After all, it's only a shortened form of the word itself.

POSTED 2/2/2003

Kaori, San Francisco, CA, United States, 26, Female, Asian, research, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1213200280922


My friends and I (even those who are non-Asian) call each other racial slurs all the time because we know we're cool with each other. But generally the Asian community is silent, so the media makes it seem as though degrading Asian-Americans with those terms is OK, when it's not. I haven't noticed many news shows using those terms, but I'll take your word for it.

Think of it this way: would those same news shows say nigger, beaner, or cracker to other races and get away with it?

POSTED 2/2/2003

Jeanie W., Claremont, CA, United States, 15, Female, Christian, Asian, Straight, Less than High School Diploma, Mesg ID 1224200251121


Although I am not Japanese, I find the word Jap very offensive. World War II propaganda was used to degrade and humiliate Japanese people, and shortening Japanese to 'Jap' was part of that process. A name is a source of pride for most people. It is who you are. Racist movements have long altered or shortened the name of a race to promote their agendas. For example, going from Jewish to 'Jew' or using 'Injin' for Native Americans. It is difficult to understand for a lot of people, unless your own race has been attacked in a similiar way.

POSTED 2/2/2003

Tanya, Colorado Springs, CO, United States, <sprintcess@hotmail.com>, 24, Female, Christian, Asian, Straight, sales, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1224200263827


It is a very offensive word toward Japanese people who are in Japan and/or from Japan. Please do not use that word if you're smart enough to understand this issue.

POSTED 2/2/2003

Julia M., Arlington, VA, United States, 30, Female, Asian, Straight, IT, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1227200230535


I can't answer your question directly, but Brits don't mind being called Brits. I can see how Wop or Frog would be offensive, but not Brit or Jap, because it's simply a shortening of the nation name, not a term based on a derogatory image. Nonetheless, always err on the side of caution in mixed company.

POSTED 2/2/2003

toddmo, Dallas, TX, United States, 36, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Programmer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 222003104512

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Question:

I am a 16-year-old homosexual male dating a man who is 25. I haven't told anyone, but it has come to my attention that this could be viewed as illegal. Is there any rule preventing me from being with him?

POSTED 1/14/2003

Danny, San Francisco, CA, United States, 16, Male, Gay, Mesg ID 1142003100922


Responses:
If you are having any type of sex, then it is highly illegal. It would be considered having sex with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, if he is supplying you with alcohol and/or drugs. If you are just seeing him casually with no bodily contact of a sexual nature (I'm not talking a casual hug or a peck on the cheek), then it would not be considered illegal, although it would be possibly considered immoral by some.

POSTED 1/15/2003

Mike B., Santa Cruz, CA, United States, 42, Male, Humanist, White/Caucasian, Gay, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 114200355511


You are considered a minor and as such, your friend could be convicted of statutory rape. Think about it.

POSTED 1/15/2003

Matthew, New York, NY, United States, 43, Male, Mesg ID 115200385811v

Have you told him you're only 16? If not, you need to. As for it coming to your attention 'that this could be viewed as illegal,' not only could it be viewed as illegal, it most definitely is illegal, if you guys have 'fooled around.' And regardless of who started the relationship, he would be the one to suffer the consequences, because the law looks at it as child molestation or rape whether he knows your age or not.

POSTED 1/15/2003

Johnny, Washington, DC, United States, Male, Mesg ID 1152003113717


I believe that according to statutory rape laws, your circumstance could be considered illegal because you are under the age of 18 and your partner is over 18. Depending on who you tell, they could have your partner arrested. I suggest you go with someone near your own age.

POSTED 1/20/2003

Jason, San Francisco, CA, United States, 21, Male, Gay, student, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 118200381247


Danny, when you say, 'could be viewed as illegal,' and ask if there is 'any 'rule' preventing you from being with him,' the answer is a resounding YES. Regardless of sexual orientation, an older individual having relations with an underage individual is not 'viewed' as illegal. It is blatantly illegal. The consequences for the underage partner are usually some version of 'naughty, naughty,' while the consequences for the older partner can destroy his or her life and career if the relationship comes to light -- even years in the future. Strong emotional drives can overwhelm anyone. Whether the current laws are right or wrong is not the issue. Your responsibiliy is to recognize that they exist and think seriously about the potential damage to an older partner, even when she or he is willing to take that risk. Older people can be as idiotically irresponsible when it comes to love as anyone else, and sometimes make disastrous choices. If you seriously care about an older partner, please have the guts to make the extremely difficult decisions, even when the older partner won't.

POSTED 1/22/2003

Michael, Portland, OR, United States, 58, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 122200341829


If your 'dating' involves sex with this gentleman, you may wish to maintain some discretion. Under California law, the age of consent for sexual relations is 18, and until you reach that age, your 25-year-old boyfriend could technically be charged with child molestation. Then again, the law would treat him the same if he were 19 and you were 17, which illustrates how inherently problematic 'age of consent' laws are. What if you were both 16? Consensual sexual activity between people your age is pretty common. What would they do, throw you both in jail? Emotional maturity and the ability to handle sexual activity occurs in different people at different ages; unfortunately, the law must be applied equally. So basically if you can't refrain from sex with your boyfriend until you are 18, you ought to be as discreet as possible. Also, if you wish to avoid HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, you may want to discuss medical screening for such things for both of you. And if you are both in the clear, monogamy and trust will help you avoid such things in the future.

POSTED 1/22/2003

Chuck A., Spring Hill, WV, United States, <PolishBear@aol.com>, 43, Male, Gay, AIDS Eduator/Radio Announcer, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1222003103712

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Question:

In nine years I've worked with about 100 computer programmers, 120 technical support staff and 50 system administrator-type positions. Only one support engineer was African American. This lack of diversity bothers me, because I know that computer programming is so fun and cool. I'm tired of the lack of diversity in my field. I want to help this part of the economy be diverse as well, just like in the Microsoft commercial. But first I need to know why this is. What is keeping any person who is smart and drawn to computers from entering the market?

POSTED 2/2/2003

toddmo, Dallas, TX, United States, 36, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Programmer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 222003121430

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Question:

Why are white girls always dancing with other white girls and huggin' them and kissin' them on the lips and stuff? Also, why are so many white girls lesbians?

POSTED 1/13/2003

Kym, Baltimore, MD, United States, 13, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 113200364156


Responses:
I've noticed that a lot, too. I have been on numerous college visits, and there is always a party that the tour person will tell you about or take you to. White girls are very affectionate toward each other and don't mind kissing each other and sharing saliva. I find that to be trifling and also dangerous. All the females kissing each other, then kissing some guy, then kissing each other all over again. You may as well have everyone stand on over you and let them spit in your mouth. They get drunk and dance around on each other and lick each other like it's cute and fun. And It's not only in my eyes and yours, because there wouldn't be footage like 'Girls Gone Wild' and shows on MTV showing them doing this so freely. They have turned lesbianism into a 'cool' thing (which I still disagree with). I have no problem with this issue because I just laugh and do my own thang, but really ,white girls...what's up with that? Maybe since saliva from another person's mouth has been proven to help rid one of plaque, they do it for dental hygiene purposes.

POSTED 1/26/2003

Noneofyabusiness, St. Louis, MO, United States, <SeMOsFiNeSt@collegeclub.com>, 19, Female, Black/African American, Straight, college student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 116200344034


I have been wondering the same thing and see it all the time. I think it is about all the attention they get from men for doing it; half the time I don't even think they are lesbians. Guys seem to love it. If you look around, every guy's eyes are on them. A female friend and I decided to test this theory once. I am married, and we just wanted to see the reaction. Well, we got offered money to grab each other's breasts, free drinks and a lot of attention - probably anything else we could have wanted, too. I think it's fine if you are a lesbian to do this - even natural - but if not, then I think these women have some self-esteem issues. And I agree it is mostly white woman who do this. I don't think I have ever seen any black women doing it.

POSTED 1/26/2003

Carrie, Chicago, IL, United States, 25, Female, shamanism, White/Caucasian, Straight, Veterinary tech., 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1162003115531


It's not that so many white girls are lesbian, it's just that those who are tend to be more open about their sexuality, because it is, to a degree, more acceptable in the white community. In the black community, homosexuality is not as widely accepted, and therefore those feelings tend to be more repressed.

POSTED 1/26/2003

Camille, Memphis, TN, United States, <gamr456@excite.com>, 17, Female, Agnostic, Black/African American, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 1172003125747


Being lesbian isn't limited to just white girls, I have friends from a whole bunch of ethnicities (Asian, white, black, Hispanic) who are lesbian/gay. But, in my experience, my white friends seem much more comfortable talking about it out in the open than my Hispanic/black friends; my Asian friends (those who are from East Asia and have lived there) don't seem to really care: they won't deny it, but they don't flaunt it, and they're not ashamed of it. They just think that someone's sex life should be their own personal thing. So it does run through many different ethnicities and cultures. It's just that there tends to be a change in how each one deals with it.

POSTED 1/26/2003

America, Goose Creek, SC, United States, 15, Female, Agnostic, white and black, Straight, Blind, high school student, Less than High School Diploma, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1262003125806


It's because in the nineties there were several mainstream movies that glamorized lesbianism. The premise is that heteroseuxual men find lesbians attractive, which according to mainstream heterosexual porn is true. So for the most part, in my opinion, it is heterosexual girls using the illusion of lesbianism to attract guys. That said, it is also much more acceptable now than it used to be for one to experiment with homosexuality - even more so for women, because guys will still be attracted to you if you have fooled around with women. However, there's still more of a risk of becoming stigmatized as a heterosexual man who has experimented with homosexuality, especially because it is through so-called gay sex that AIDS is transmitted.

POSTED 1/26/2003

David, San Francisco, CA, United States, 31, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computers, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 126200345257

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Question:

Why do people of the Jewish faith identify themselves primarily as Jewish? For example, I am of the Baptist faith but identify myself as an American of Italian descent.
POSTED 1/12/2003
Shirl, Tallahassee, FL, United States, Female, Mesg ID 1102003113236


Responses:
At the risk of sounding simplistic, perhaps it is because that's how others perceive us. Jews for generations have had difficulty convincing the religious majority of whatever country we've lived in that we, too, are as patriotic as they. Recall the proud veterans of World War I who were astonished to learn that Hitler's government did not consider them German because they were Jewish as well. Also recall the Dreyfus Affair, in which religion was perceived to have trumped national origin and ethnicity. A notable exception is Denmark, where Danes have been known to dismiss praise for their conduct aiding Jews during World War II, noting that what they did was done for fellow Danes.

POSTED 1/13/2003

C., Austin, TX, United States, 30ish, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, attorney, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 113200313458


There are several reasons for this. One is that Judaism is not just a religion, but also a culture, with its own traditions, foods, etc. Another reason I remember being given in religious school is that, throughout history, Jews have often not been considered to be true members of the society in which they lived. For example, a Jewish person who lived in Russia years ago but was the recipient of constant prejudice by the government would be more likely to choose to identify himself as Jewish than as Russian. However, there are also Jewish people who object to Judaism being referred to as a culture and identify themselves primarily as Russian, German, etc.

POSTED 1/13/2003

Stacey, Durham, NH, United States, 22, Female, Jewish, student, Mesg ID 113200360852


In my view, there are a few related reasons. First, most Jews in the United States are descended from people who bounced around from one country to another in Europe, so we did not necessarily stay in one country long enough to identify with a particular nationality. Second, anti-Semitism was and is very pervasive in the world (especially Europe), so why would we identify with a country that treated our ancestors so horribly that we fled to the United States in such great numbers? Related to the above, in my case, all four of my granparents' families lived in four different countries before coming to the United States. How many hyphens should one have in his identity? I'd say at most one. Therefore, I am very proud to call myself an American, as I live in a country that has the unusual trait of providing opportunity to people of all backgrounds.

POSTED 1/15/2003

Josh, Atlanta, GA, United States, 35, Male, Jewish, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 115200351514


Jewish people take great pride in their heritage, which goes back 5000+ years. I can only think of the Chinese as another ethnic group that can claim to have a heritage that goes back several millenia.(There may be others, but they are few and far between.) That is why people identify themselves first of all as Jewish.

POSTED 1/22/2003

A. Urbonas, Edmonton, Alberta, NA, Canada, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 121200331214


Maybe because being Jewish is more than religion. It's also ancestry. DNA studies show Ashkenazi Jews, in spite of thousands of years of separation from Jews in the Middle East, are still more related to their Jewish brethren than Europeans. While Ashkenazi do have European admixture, they are genetically still a Middle Eastern people and the direct descendants of the ancient Hebrews. Jews identify as Jewish because that is our race as well as our religion.

POSTED 2/2/2003

Abraham, Hollywood, FL, United States, 23, Male, Jewish, Straight, Teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 22200310150

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Question:

Why do black people talk so loud? Here in Florida they are very loud in talking to each other or in any situation. I have heard some drive by my office, and I can hear their conversation from their car. Is it just here, or is this true everywhere?
POSTED 1/12/2003
L. Walker, Bartow, FL, United States, 39, Female, Pentecostal, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 112200382224


Responses:
Maybe we black people are so loud because we don't want you nosey-ass white people to have to strain so hard to get in our conversations. White people are some nosey people, and I feel that it is true that most black people are loud. But, I also seem to think that white people notice it more because they are always looking for something to criticize black people about.

POSTED 1/13/2003

MarronBella, Anniston, AL, United States, 24, Female, Black/African American, Customer Service, Over 4 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID 1132003121258


It's not an issue unique to Florida; I used to live in a dorm freshman year, and at the end of the hall, we had a black student move in halfway through the year. She was a lot of fun and an amazing person when we hung out during the day, but no matter how many times we asked her to keep it down at night, we could still hear her through two closed doors. I think the school got enough complaints to have her moved to a single room at the end of another hall.

POSTED 1/19/2003

Ken, Rochester, NY, United States, 20, Male, Asian, college student, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 119200354659

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