Best of the Week
of Feb. 3, 2002

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Feb. 3, 2002, 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.

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Question:

Do all men get the urge to rape? And if you don't really see women as sex objects, why do you watch so much porn?

POSTED 2/6/2002

Melanie, Tacoma, WA, United States, 17, Female, Mesg ID 242002113832

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Question:

I am interesed to hear views from Germans on how reunification has affected their lives and how they view their country today. I also would like to hear from others on their views on Germany. Do you see it as a 'European super-state' or a bridge between East and West?

POSTED 2/7/2002

Eleanor T., Birmingham, NA, United Kingdom, 22, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 27200245935

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Question:

What is it really like to be addicted to smoking? How do you feel when you haven't had one for a while? Why do people bother to light up for a short period of time - like when they won't even have enough time to smoke a full cigarette? And what makes it so difficult to quit? Or to not restart? Thanks for your answers - I've never started so I've never had to stop.

POSTED 2/6/2002

Maggie, Cologne, NA, Germany, 25, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 25200253547

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Question:

Are there certain types of recurring dreams that are common to people? I ask this because ever since I could remember I would have weird dreams about having shattered or severely chipped teeth. The emotions felt during the dream were an intense fear and a feeling that I would be perceived as unattractive and weird to the world. I asked others if they had dreams such as this, and to my amazement they said yes, especially my father. I have no explanation of why I (and maybe a few others) have this type of recurring dream. And I don't think it has to do with my dental health, because my teeth are pretty healthy - in fact, I've never had a cavity. The dream seems to release some innate fear I have, and I just don't know what it is. If anybody else has had this type of situation, or if maybe there is a psychiatrist cycling through here, any comments would be greatly appreciated.

POSTED 1/15/2002

Kristina, Washington, DC, United States, <kfount500@aol.com>, 21, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Transcriber, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 112200253507


Responses:
I have to admit that on occasion I do have worrisome dreams about losing or chipping my teeth. But at least in my case, I've always been really anal and careful about my teeth. I'm one of the few people I know who actually loves going to the dentist! But ever since, say, elementary school, I've always been worried about losing my teeth. I don't know. It's just that once you lose your permanent teeth, you'll never get them back. So I occasionally worry about getting hit in the face with a door, or accidentally biting down hard on a metal utensil, and of course I dreaded cavities. The last thing I want to happen is to be wearing dentures by the time I'm 30 (no offense to anyone who does have them, of course). But I guess some of my fears are a bit anachronistic. I recently did have a cavity (a small one, I still have my tooth!). I always really worried because I still kinda remember the days when they used mercury fillings and you got stuck with a mouth full of metal for the rest of your life! But it turns out that now they have really good fillings that are pretty much undetectable, so that was a relief. So I'm not sure if I've exactly answered your question, but rest assured that there are other people who care about and worry about their teeth! =)

POSTED 2/6/2002

Eric, Chicago, IL, United States, 20, Male, Religiously independent, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 115200273614


For years I have had a recurring dream, from time to time, with the same general theme: it is near the end of a semester in college, and I either have a term paper due the next day that I haven't started writing yet, there is a class I'm enrolled in but have never attended (and am therefore going to flunk), or some such thing. I finally figured out that this dream is the result of subconscious guilt over not having taken college seriously enough. By most standards I was an excellent student, but there were books I was supposed to read that I didn't (I took really detailed notes in class), and I could have written outstanding term papers over a semester rather than whipping out 'three-day wonders' at the end of the term. (By the way, I never cheated, not even once.) My advice to students: no matter how smart you think you are, don't take the high road, follow both the letter and the spirit of what the class requires, and work with your professor throughout the semester to make sure you're getting the most you can out of the class. Thankfully, learning is a lifelong process, and you can always make up for slacking off in college by later reading and study (as I have done), but why invest all that time and money if you're not going to maximize what the experience has to offer? And if you don't want to be there, take a break, get some life experience and make room for someone who does want to be there.

POSTED 2/6/2002

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 41, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 122200251219


I think your dream means there is pain and fragility in your life. You are suffering from inner doubt about whatever ... I don't know, but you must find out what is bugging you right now and sort it out.

POSTED 2/6/2002

Andy G., Berlin, NA, Germany, Male, Mesg ID 25200230705

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Question:

What is it that girls have against hairy guys? I can't figure out what is so disgusting that they would have a total fit about it. I know not all girls are like this, and I don't mean to generalize, but I'm just really curious about what the big deal is.

POSTED 2/5/2002

Ed, Des Moines, IA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 22200280958

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Question:

What causes people to abandon their faith - other than "switching" for a spouse? Are there certain aspects of religion that cause some followers to become disillusioned and adopt another faith or even become atheist or agnostic?

POSTED 2/5/2002

Jay, New York, NY, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 25200294756

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Question:

I'm a 24-year-old white male who works in a store that deals with a large number of people on a daily basis. I've noticed that when I help a black customer who's middle aged or elderly, they're often very friendly and appreciative, often much moreso than their white counterparts. However, when I attempt to help a younger black customer, especially a young man, they're almost always dismissive or even rude for no apparent reason. Is there an easy answer for the discrepency?

POSTED 1/31/2002

Ben, Morgantown, WV, United States, 24, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Salesman / Customer Service, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 129200234122


Responses:
Maybe it's because of the almost daily humiliating experience we go through of being suspected shoplifters and followed around in most retail outlets. 'Can I help you?' has by now become a trite term for 'What are you planning to take?' The older African Americans probably have a history of being bullied so much that they have come to accept it; this is why they're polite, out of conditioning.

POSTED 2/5/2002

Black person, Gotham, CT, , Black/African American, Mesg ID 22200283806


They probably think you are challenging their intelligence by offering to 'help' them, or they think you are suspicious of them trying to steal. I see quite a bit of arrogance in some younger black customers where I work that stems from a mistaken idea that they are perceived as inferior by all whites, and they think of themselves as inferior. A lot of young black (and white) males take on a macho pose, too. Most of the time, if you act normal and respond honestly and with respect, that 'hostility' will dissipate. Older people in general are more established and confident about themselves. There are of course some regional and cultural nuances that have to be delt with depending on the situation. Also, age might be a drawback in your case.

POSTED 2/5/2002

Bob, Laurel, MD, United States, 56, Male, White/Caucasian, customer service, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 22200243256


There is no clear-cut answer for what you have experienced from the younger black (particularly male) customers. In my retail experience, I have dealt with quite a few young white, Asian, black, and Middle Eastern (male and female) customers who were quite rude and dismissive, even though I was very courteous and attentive to them. Bad manners are present in all races, and I'm sure that many people in the retail industry can attest to that. It's unfortunate that you had to deal with a few bad apples that happened to be black, but please do not think that almost all young black men are rude to people who assist them.

POSTED 2/5/2002

Liz, Washington, DC, United States, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 22200243800


Older black customers are especially nice to you because they were conditioned to be that way by the racist society in which they were brought up. White men had the power to make their lives miserable, destroy their families and even murder them without recourse. Untold numbers of blacks were murdered for such offenses as not being polite enough to a white person. Younger blacks are less likely to be polite to you because they know they don't have to be. Generations of their ancestors were forced to submit to whites. Who can blame them for not wanting any part of it?

POSTED 2/5/2002

Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 27, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Enginneer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 25200220125

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Question:

During a legal proceeding (that is why I will not provide name or city), a case was presented in which a Hispanic male was co-habitating with a minor Hispanic female. The female was 15 years old and pregnant by the male. I believe this male is a sexual predator and guilty of sexual assault on a minor. An attorney present stated it was 'a cultural thing,' and thus OK. Is an adult male having sex and impregnating a minor culturally acceptable in Hispanic cultures? If so, why? If not, please let me know so I can confront the attorney.

POSTED 1/29/2002

G.T.R., Amarillo, TX, United States, 40, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, law enforcement, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 129200272554


Responses:
My father was 22 when he married my mother, who was 15. They had their first child about seven months later, though they both believe they would have eventually gotten married later. My maternal grandparents were initially opposed to the marriage, but changed their minds because they knew my father was a good man and it would be better for the child to be raised by both parents. This was back in the 1950s, and it was very common back then for an older man to marry or live with a teenage girl, though less common among Anglos than Mexican-Americans, especially middle-class Anglos. And ironically, my grandparents never married and only had common law status forced on them by a judge. That was also pretty common back then, because many people were too poor to afford weddings. Again, it was far more common among Mexican-Americans than Anglos. My own wife was 17 when we married and I was 31, and no one in our families thought any less of us for that. It's a tough call for this case, though, because so much is left out of your question. Is this man closer in age to 19 or 59? How long have they been living together, and how old was she when they started seeing each other? Are they in love or not? The answers make quite a difference in whether he's not much more than a confused kid himself, a man who fell in love with her in spite of her age, or just a creep out to take advantage of a naive girl. My own take is that this lawyer is desperately seeking some kind of a defense and is thus exaggerating, almost stereotyping. Yes, at least until recently, there is less of a stigma for couples with lots of difference in age than there is among Anglos. But that shouldn't make any difference if this is someone out to use a girl for sex rather than a man taking responsibility who actually cares about her and takes care of her and their child. If it is the former, I hope you do confront this lawyer. But if it is the latter, I hope you overcome your own preconceptions and let this be.

POSTED 1/31/2002

A.C.C., Phoenix, AZ, United States, 36, Male, Mexican and American Indian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 130200213007


The world does not think like Americans; other cultures may have different perceptions of when a person is an adult. In some countries, a 13-year-old girl could be considered a grown woman - or at least grown enough to marry and have kids. In these kinds of societies, adulthood is determined by biology, whether a person can produce offspring or not. In some ways I wish American culture was like this, becuase teen girls who have sex (such as the example you gave) are not being taught responsibility for their own doings. A 15-year-old girl or even a 13-year-old girl knows what they are doing when they are having sex. Of course there are situations of statutory rape, but many situations are not like that, even if the guy was older. Most men, even older ones, are not rapists, and always assuming it's the guy's fault when a young girl gives away her virginity continually releases the responsibility from her own hands.

POSTED 2/5/2002

Kristina, Washington, DC, United States, <kfount500@aol.com>, 21, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Transcriber, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 21200284728

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Question:

Why do girls let a guy think they like them if they don't?

POSTED 2/5/2002

Eliezer, Middletown, CT, United States, <goldinboy3@hotmail.com>, 17, Male, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 25200281217


Responses:
In my experience, guys almost always misconstrue friendliness for interest. So it has not been that I have ever intentionally 'let guys think that (I) like them if (I) don't,' but moreso them thinking that I like them and being weird when they find out I have no interest in them other than friendship. Any female intentionally attempting to make a guy think she likes him is probably insecure and looking for attention or validation. Has this happened to you? What were the circumstances?

POSTED 2/7/2002

Jay, New York, NY, United States, , Female, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 26200253405

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Question:

Why is it a big deal for some people to make fun of someone with disablities?

POSTED 1/28/2002

Melissa, Middletown, CT, United States, 19, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 128200275818


Responses:
For the same reason somebody won't yell 'hooray' at your funeral: it's insensitive and dishonorable behavior. People with disabilities do not have life very easy. Many of us complain about bad hair days, acne, cold sores, broken nails or chipped teeth, but imagine if you had spina bifida or multiple sclerosis to deal with every day until a cure was found. These are some extraordinary people who must be very tough mentally to put up with their daily struggles and difficulties.

POSTED 1/31/2002

Michael F., Chicago, IL, United States, <mfleury@ccc.edu>, 24, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Educational Administrator, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1312002123054


How would you like to be made fun of because you're a female? Or because you're white? Or because you're middle class and not rich? You wouldn't like it at all, and a disabled person doesn't like to be made fun of, either. It is wrong and insensitive to make fun of differences that people cannot help. And anyone who would do such a thing is showing cowardly behavior, because they know the disabled person is weak and unable to verbally or physically fight back. My brother (who has mental retardation and cerebral palsy) has had to deal with bullies like that; people who would pick fights with him or push him down on the floor because he's disabled. When we go out, people are always staring - some may even comment, calling him 'dumb' or whatever. And what did my brother do to them? Absolutely nothing. The bottom line is a person should treat another person with respect. A person with disabilities should have the same opportunities as a person without, and they shouldn't have to undergo harrassment because nature made them different. Doing anything otherwise would be barbaric and uncivilized.

POSTED 2/5/2002

Kristina, Washington, DC, United States, <kfount500@aol.com>, 21, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Transcriber, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 131200250219


I think I interpreted your question differently from the first person who responded. The way I read it, you're asking why some people seem to feel the need to make fun of people who have disabilities. My response would be that for whatever reason, some people seem to feel better about themselves if they can put other people down. It's a hierarchy in which people make fun of those 'below' (or sometimes 'above') them in a given area, whether it be ability or socioeconomic class or whatever. The mentality is something to the effect of: 'Wow, look at them. What if that was me? It's a good thing I'm not like them. I hope everybody realizes I'm not like them. I know - I'll show everybody how far I am from being like that person.' And then come the taunts and rude remarks. It sounds harsh and illogical, but it's a way to deal with insecurities, and it happens time and time again.

POSTED 2/5/2002

Stacey, Durham, NH, United States, 21, Female, college student, Mesg ID 242002112631

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