Best of the Week
of Feb. 2, 2003
Best of Week
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
The book on Y? is
"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"
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?
Afftene, Bessemer, AL, United States, 12, Female, Christian,
Black/African American, Straight, Student, Middle class, Mesg ID
Does the caste system still exist in India, and if so, how does
one deal with it in a modern society?
Suzy, San Francisco, CA, Saudi Arabia, Female, Mesg ID
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'?
Dan C., Omaha, NE,
United States, Male, Mesg ID 216200271244
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
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.
Kim, Houston, TX,
United States, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 17, Female, Christian,
White/Caucasian, Straight, Secretary, Middle class, Mesg ID
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
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
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...
Piggy, Schaumburg, IL,
United States, <email@example.com>, 19, Female, Straight,
student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID
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
Ms. Molly, Clermont, FL, United States, 34, Female, Christian,
Black/African American, Lesbian, Retail Manager, 4 Years of College,
Middle class, Mesg ID 22200353542
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
Ridley S., Chambersburg, PA, United States, 22, Male,
White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 1020200221231
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.
Dan, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 24, Male, Pentecostal,
Chicano, Student, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID
I am half Asian (Japanese) and would find it offensive if someone
called me a 'Jap,' regardless of race.
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.
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.
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.
Kaori, San Francisco, CA, United States, 26, Female, Asian,
research, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID
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?
Jeanie W., Claremont, CA, United States, 15, Female, Christian,
Asian, Straight, Less than High School Diploma, Mesg ID
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
Tanya, Colorado Springs, CO, United States,
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, 24, Female, Christian, Asian,
Straight, sales, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID
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.
Julia M., Arlington, VA, United States, 30, Female, Asian,
Straight, IT, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID
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.
toddmo, Dallas, TX, United States, 36, Male, Atheist,
White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Programmer, 4 Years of College,
Middle class, Mesg ID 222003104512
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
Danny, San Francisco, CA, United States, 16, Male, Gay, Mesg ID
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Chuck A., Spring Hill,
WV, United States, <PolishBear@aol.com>, 43, Male, Gay, AIDS
Eduator/Radio Announcer, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID
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?
toddmo, Dallas, TX, United States, 36, Male, Atheist,
White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Programmer, 4 Years of College,
Middle class, Mesg ID 222003121430
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?
Kym, Baltimore, MD, United States, 13, Female, Christian,
Black/African American, Straight, student, Less than High School
Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 113200364156
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.
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.
Carrie, Chicago, IL,
United States, 25, Female, shamanism, White/Caucasian, Straight,
Veterinary tech., 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID
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.
Camille, Memphis, TN,
United States, <email@example.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.
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.
David, San Francisco,
CA, United States, 31, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computers, 2
Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 126200345257
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.
Shirl, Tallahassee, FL, United States, Female, Mesg ID
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Abraham, Hollywood, FL, United States, 23, Male, Jewish, Straight,
Teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 22200310150
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?
L. Walker, Bartow, FL, United States, 39, Female, Pentecostal,
White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID
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
AL, United States, 24, Female, Black/African American, Customer
Service, Over 4 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID
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.
Ken, Rochester, NY,
United States, 20, Male, Asian, college student, 4 Years of College,
Mesg ID 119200354659
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