Best of the Week
of Feb. 7, 1999


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Feb. 7, 1999, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found in their respective archives, which we invite you to browse. There, 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.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at our guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

Question Code Key:

A=Age

GD=General Diversity

RE=Religion

C=Class

G=Geography

SE=Sensitive Matters

D=Disabilities

O=Occupation

SO=Sexual Orientation

GE=Gender

R=Race/Ethnicity

THE QUESTION:
R604: I have dated a few women of Spanish/Latin American descent, and I don't understand why their family or friends always call me "weto." Is this a racist thing or an affectionate running joke?
POSTED FEB. 12, 1999
M. Smith, 24 white male <
skiir2@prodigy.com>, Oceanside, CA
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R600: To our users, from the Director of Y?: What is your reaction to the following post, which we received yesterday?

"Y? Forum sucks! It's nothing more than dumb-ass white people asking stupid questions about other people (mostly blacks). The answers are obvious if these white people would just scratch below the surface and elevate themselves beyond their typical hate-filled heads! Your forum provides an outlet for these morons! You suck!"
POSTED FEB. 9, 1999
F--- you all, Anycity, MA

ANSWER 1:
Wow! I just came on here to ask a "dumb" question to a black person from a white person and read this. I was going to ask why it seems that no matter what white people say, it is always offensive to blacks. I am what I consider a non-racist individual, and am somewhat envious of blacks, who seem to have a wonderful culture that I, as a white, do not feel I could ever fit into.

Instead of my question, I would like to tell the person who wrote this that maybe if blacks could try to meet us halfway, and remember that I was not the one who brought them to this country, then we wouldn't have to ask "dumb" questions. Don't you think that maybe we are making an effort to understand what it is exactly that makes you so mad whenever we utter a word in your direction? Maybe some people don't want racial harmony, and it may not be only white people that feel that way. Maybe blacks do not want it, either. I was not raised to be a bigot or racist. I was raised to believe we are all the same inside, and I believe this. I believe we all come from the same ancestor. whether we are Chinese, Japanese, Indian, African, South American, Russian, German and so on. We are all the same. By the way, I think this forum is the best place on the Internet. Keep it up!
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
J.P., white, NC

FURTHER NOTICE:
Obviously this came from a young coward who doesn't realize that his or her reaction is the reason most people do not scratch beneath the surface. Instead of insulting those who actually may want to learn or build something positive, why don't you come up with a better solution? This is the best forum I've seen so far. My donation is in the mail.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Samm, 34, African-American female, Boston, MA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I feel that Y? Forum provides a unique cross-cultural discussion forum. It allows individuals to ask even possibly insulting questions in a monitored fashion. I read your website at least two to three times a week. It was actually the topic of discussion in our Cross-Cultural psychology class this semester.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Leah, 27, psychology student

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Underneath the venom I think there is a legitimate question. The only answer I can offer is this: By "dumb-ass," I hope our virulent-tongued comrade meant "ignorant." If that is the case, then note that Webster's defines ignorance as "a lack of knowledge." America is arguably the most racist country in the world. I believe the reason this racism, mistrust and hatred continues to mutate and thrive is that we as a nation choose to adorn ourselves in a cloak of ignorance. We refuse to honestly examine, or in some cases even acknowledge, the historical vortex that has brought us to where we are today. The only way we can hope to escape this downward social spiral is to educate ourselves and each other. Sometimes this means uncomfortable questions will have to be asked. No matter how offensive, trivial, ignorant or silly these questions may seem, we must all learn to accept them and answer them as honestly as possible. It's called communication, and just because it isn't always easy doesn't mean we can be excused from making the effort.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Sam, 30, male, brown American <
SamAlex67@aol.com>, Chicago , Il

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
As one of the dumb-ass white people who has recently begun posting questions on this site, I will be the first to admit that my queries may seem stupid to some people. I will also be the first to admit that I need to elevate myself and scratch below the surface to find out more about people who are different from myself. To me, Y? Forum is a great first step toward achieving those goals. I don't ask questions out of hatred; I ask to learn and understand. If this poster gave the forum a chance, and responded to some of the "obvious" questions, he or she could be an instrument in this learning process. Instead, he or she chooses to taunt us about our ignorance. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. And if you don't like the forum, no one's asking you to stay.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Jodi, white female, 25, Houston , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Hmm ... do I sense some latent hostility here? I wonder why, if he or she thinks this forum sucks, the poster was reading it? I'll bet he or she wasn't; it's easier to complain about something one doesn't know about. As to the statements on race, from what I've seen, people of several races post here, not just white people (and most don't sound like dumb-asses). But the thing about not scratching below the surface is interesting. I think there's so much political correctness out there that people are afraid to even bring up a topic that's offensive in public anymore. The other end of this is that when people do bring up the subject, others might just assume it's racism (or whatever other -ism applies).
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Patrick, white male <
mcnamepf@whitman.edu>, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
Being a dumb-ass white person, I can't directly address issues of race, but as a woman, and a sexual and religious minority, I think that Y? fills an important niche by providing people a place to ask questions they know might not be polite but that they still want to know about. After all, if the question is never asked, it's a lot less likely that misconceptions will be cleared up. Yeah, some of the questions seem calculated to offend, but not most, I think.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Catherine H., bisexual white witch <
tylik@eskimo.com>, Woodinville, WA

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
There really isn't much to say about that post, because obviously the writer didn't say much at all (when you are afraid to sign your name, that fear says a lot more than anything you say.) I believe the Y? Forum is a great place to ask questions, some silly and shallow at times, but all still very important. The forum is effective because you can ask those silly questions, even when you know they are silly but just have to know. You can expect some judgmental answers and some sincere answers, much more than you normally get from other factions of your life. Just imagine having a legitimate, possibly offensive question you had to have answered by the writer from "Anycity.'' Not much would be gained by approaching him, but with this forum you can encounter others like him, and still learn a great deal from still others, who are a little more tolerant of honest inquiry.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Issac B., 25, black male, journalist <
ibailey@thesunnews.com.>, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
I found this post offensive when I read it, and I still find the language offensive. After reading the "Best of the Week," however, I basically agree with the person's sentiments. Many of those questions could easily have been answered by simply talking to the person or people to whom they refer. Ask someone why they wear what looks like a knee-high stocking on their head! Don't assume that a person who makes strange noises while he or she works does so because he or she is Asian. Talk to them! If we talked to people who are different from ourselves in the same way in which we talk to people who we identify as being like ourselves, we might begin to understand them. This forum, I think, offers an opportunity to "spy" on other people by gaining information about them without coming face to face with them. That's part of our problem already.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Elaine, 40, Caucasian, Lexington, KY

FURTHER NOTICE 9:
Wow. So much hate in one paragraph. Aside from the obvious conclusion that you need to talk to someone (therapy), you need to realize that education is the answer to most of the hate and misconceptions in the world. Please know that there are actually some people out there who really want to learn. Y? Forum is an outlet and an anonymous way for them to do this. I am thankful for the opportunity to read and respond to these questions and feel that Y? Forum serves a unique service. Your self-hatred is a sign of some pretty deep stuff. I hope you get some help.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Sheila, lesbian, 49, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transexual youth counselor,<
Hopeteens@aol.com>, West Palm Beach , FL

FURTHER NOTICE 10:
Yeah, your site is basically a bunch of fluff. You pretend to be cutting edge, but you censor material that is not sensitive enough for politically correct individuals. Anybody can be passive and post the easy question. I feel Y? Forum should post questions that may be vulgar, obscene or just plain insensitive. Perhaps this will change people's demented attitudes and promote a harmonious society through understanding and compassion for those who give constructive criticism to others. Thanks for the effort - yeah right.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
W.O.W. 30 Caucasian <
testing9897@yahoo.com>, Detroit , MI

FURTHER NOTICE 11:
My reaction is a shrug. This person obviously hasn't read too much on this site. When I'm walking down the street and see someone in a spittle-slinging rant about something they know nothing about, I keep walking. I'd have done that here, too, except you asked me to stop and look.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Andrew, 35, dumb-ass white person <
ziptron@start.com.au>, Huntington , NY

FURTHER NOTICE 12:
It's true that some of the questions have obvious answers if the person were to step outside of their own cultural bias. The problem is that it's hard to step outside of what we have known as "normal" for our entire lives. I hope that by at least asking the questions, and receiving (mostly) civil, patient responses, the questioners will realize that they are operating out of their own perceptions, not out of a "black and white" (excuse the pun) reality.

While I've felt there are a number of questions that have been asked only as an opportunity to air the questioner's prejudice, I feel that the vast majority are asked out of a sincere (if sometimes naive) desire to understand others. Since my belief is that the root of hatred and prejudice is lack of understanding (we hate the things we fear, we fear the things we don't understand), my hope is that by just trying to gain knowledge, people will start to change, and to stop fearing and hating a little bit more each day.

I don't think this forum could end all hatred and prejudice by itself, but it's a start, and a relatively safe place for people to begin the learning process.

Another comment made by the poster was that most questions were from whites asking about blacks. While other countries do access this site, it is American-based. The majority of people in America (and also those with Internet access) are white. The largest U.S. minority, and the one with the most history of visible racial interaction with whites, are blacks. (Obviously, not the only interactions, just the most publicized.) I think it's pretty logical that most questions are from whites about blacks.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Janon, 38, multiethnic <
janon_rogers@cv.hp.com>, Lebanon , OR

FURTHER NOTICE 13:
This person has every right to think that about this site, but I disagree with the sentiments. I feel the only way to break down the walls that separate us is to become educated about one another. Non-white members of this society are required to understand the white culture in order to be successful at work, school, etc. Let's face it, if you watch TV or look at a popular magazine, you will get to know white culture. Unfortunately the same is not true in the reverse. Many whites I know do not care about the cultures, beliefs or attitudes of others. It is imperative that whites begin to learn about diverse cultures. This is the only way things will change for the better. This forum is a place where people can feel free to ask questions and learn about others - which will be a vital step in healing this nation. I hope the person who wrote that can find peace.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Michael , 25, white guy <
mjolson@prodigy.net>, Minneapolis , MN

FURTHER NOTICE 14:
There are a couple of ways one could look at this. For years, white Americans have wondered about certain issues related to black Americans, but have been afraid to ask for fear of being tagged "racist." But I've also seen questions about white folks posted by blacks on Y? Forum, so I'd say this curiosity runs both ways. You don't conquer barriers without asking questions and working through issues. Change requires confrontation, and that means asking and answering simple, complex and sometimes stupid-looking questions.

On the hand, you could say the person posting the remark is deliberately trying to label Y? a black-bashing forum. What do others think?
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Alma, white lesbian <
pridewks@seacove.net>, Kempner , Tx

FURTHER NOTICE 15:
Despite my suspicion that the statement was made by a white boy in the suburbs, I will respond. 1) There are questions about sexual orientation, occupation, geography, religion, etc., on the forum If the race category makes you mad, don't read it. 2) In the race category, you seemed to have overlooked all of the questions directed to whites, Asians, Latinos and Native Americans. 3) Many of the questions are asked by blacks, Asians, Latinos, etc. 4) It is not your job to educate, and yes, some questions sound stupid from your point of view. I can't tell you how many times I have been asked, "When did you choose to become gay?" But biting someone's head off will burn more bridges than build them. It will cause people to stop asking questions, to believe in stereotypes and to maintain intolerance. However, if you use patience, it will help someone understand a little better. 5) Y? is not a solution; it is a springboard for dialogue. I have asked and answered, and a couple people have talked with me via email. They did more than tell me to scratch the surface. They showed me how to - they pointed me in a direction. And after the brief exchange, I was left with another person's insight, a few book titles, a new friend and an overwhelming feeling how we are all the same inside. That is the whole point.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Craig, gay white male, 25 <
cmorris@loft.org>, Minneapolis, MN

FURTHER NOTICE 16:
I find that participating in the Y? Forum by reading the archives and new posts, as well as asking and answering questions (even if it seems like my contributions are rarely posted) is an excellent way to find out about other people's differences. It is not just a white/black thing; there are questions about Asians, women, men, parents, rich people, poor people, teenagers, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, disabled people, etc. The vast majority of the people whose comments I have read do not seem to be motivated by hate. They are motivated by a desire to overcome their ignorance and learn more about people who are in some way different from them. Difference can cause fear, dislike, curiosity, attraction and many other emotions. By taking a closer look at our differences and trying to understand them, we can help dispel prejudice. (My only beef with this forum is that there are not enough contributions from other countries. The world is better than just the United States.) POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
C., 21, female, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE 17:
My gut reaction was "F--- you, too." I grew up in an all-white, all-Catholic, Beaver Cleaver-type neighborhood. I went to college in the same type of neighborhood. Does that make me a "hate-filled moron" with a racist attitude? I don't think so. I know absolutely nothing about other races, religions, sexual orientations, etc., other than my own. The reason for Y? Forum is to acquire knowledge about others so as not to make fools of ourselves out in the world. If someone doesn't like the idea of Y? Forum, get the hell out of the web site! I think this is a fantastic idea and an excellent source of information. It sounds to me like the person who wrote this is the hate-filled moronic racist, especially considering he or she wasn't big enough to leave a name or e-mail address. Keep up the good work, Y? Forum.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Jen, 28, single, white, heterosexual woman, Royal Oak, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 18:
And this person is calling other people "hate-filled?"
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Laura, white female, 37, Baltimore , MD

FURTHER NOTICE 19:
I am a dumb-ass white moron. The writer is also a dumb-ass if he or she only uses Y? instead of getting with people of color to talk and work things out. But the writer disses everybody of every color who might really want to learn more but don't have any way to meet all the people whose ideas are posted here.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Ron, 65, Cajun-American male <
ramelancon@email.com>, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 20:
The post stereotypes white people as having "hate-filled minds," criticizes those who attempt to have a dialogue on diversity, and yet the poster is such a coward that he or she refused to give his or her name. I would have to say that someone is just trying to get attention. I would not have bothered posting those comments, since catering to fools is a pointless exercise, but I have to admit that it displayed a great deal of courage. Keep it up, and lessen the restrictions on the postings. Keep out the obvious personal attacks and posts like that, but put everything else on. If people are willing to put their names to hate speech, so be it. There is more than one way to learn, and rejection of the negative is just as useful as acceptance of the positive.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
John K., 25 <
the-macs@geocities.com>, Cranford , NJ

FURTHER NOTICE 21:
What's wrong with being curious? In kindergarten, we were often told that asking questions was the best way to gain knowledge (or something like that).
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
C.C., Canadian female of Chinese descent, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE 22:
I strongly disagree. Any forum that encourages an open and candid discussion of sensitive issues is positive and useful. I feel we are often embarrassed to ask questions, even when the asking is a step toward ending our own ignorance, or a step to a better understanding of our differences.
POSTED FEB. 12, 1999
Andy B., 38, white, gay, Catholic <
ATB0118@aol.com> Somerville, NJ

FURTHER NOTICE 23:
Yes, it seems quite obvious that some posters ask questions or post answers just to express their negative opinions on other races and cultures. And yes, it does seem that the vast majority of posts are by whites. And too many answers are by whites, even when the question was directed to another race/nationality. But the Y? Forum is a great site. This white male has put it in his "cool" bookmark directory (and not the "fun" directory, mind you). However, I can think of a few ways the Y? Forum could be improved. First, the use of passwords would help screen out silly posts. Second, some collation and statistical analysis of questions and answers would add greatly. For example, it would be useful to know how often any given question has been asked before, and of the anwers given, how often those answers have been given before. I think it would help people to know what the greatest points of contention between their culture and others' cultures are. It would be great to be able to search what are the most common questions from group X about group Y. And what are the most common answers by group Y for those questions. The same information can be gained by reading all of the archives, but that is time-consuming.
POSTED FEB. 12, 1999
Mark S., white male <
mseely@wt.net>, Houston , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 24:
I think Y? is very biased in the questions and anwers it posts. There is obvious manipulation of the views on various subjects because of this "hand-picking." People who have unpopular views are not being heard unless they are angry white men. Also, notice who the posters responding to this submission are. This is another example of the hand-picking that has the original poster so furious. Be honest, Y?: You constantly delete comments by African Americans who are attempting to explain something just because they don't have a "tone" that white people are comfortable with. That's not cutting edge - it's just cut-off.
POSTED FEB. 12, 1999
Tracy, 31, African American female, Cleveland , OH
The Director responds: Y? would be happy to post more submissions from African Americans that have a hostile tone - if it received them. Though our analysis shows that about 30 percent of our users are African American, we do not, quite frankly, receive that many posts from African Americans that could be termed "hostile" (not nearly as many as those that come from non-minorities). Why this is would make for an interesting discussion in itself in the Y? Forum. As far as why some hostile posts from African Americans (or non-minorities) have not been posted, the most likely reason, other than the fact that we do screen for outright hate, is that we simply have not been able to get to them yet. We receive an enormous volume of submissions daily, and as such have a backlog of more than 5,000 posts. We are attempting to secure additional funding and donations to help address this situation, and hope our users will be patient in the meantime.

 

FURTHER NOTICE 25:
Keep in mind that Y? Forum offers a variety of categories and topics for discussion. When you select the "race/ethnicity" link, it is reasonable to expect that the questions and comments will focus on race matters. Your point, though is well-taken - a majority of the questions are posed to minorities, namely blacks. However, if you understand the origins of contemporary race relations in this country, you'd know that all of us have, in some way, been culturally miseducated. Language is one of the most powerful tools we have. We can use words to cut like a sword or to build coalitions and communities. Y?, for me, is a very positive resource. I don't mind the tough questions, emotional issues or the reality that, to some, my blackness is confusing, frustrating or even intriguing. While I agree with your observation, I disagree with the way that you handled the issue. (My check is on the way).
POSTED FEB. 12, 1999
Dee W. black female <
westde@hiram.edu>, Cleveland, OH

FURTHER NOTICE 26:
First of all I'd like to say thanks so much to the people who created Y? and keep it going. What a wonderful idea, particularly because it seems to me that white people and black people have few, if any, opportunities to get to know each other beyond, perhaps, the relatively superficial level of friendship that can be achieved exclusively at work (and often not even that). Although I am a "dumb-ass white person," I work with many black people and frequently have lunch with several of them, although we unfortunately do not socialize after work. Over the years, I have sometimes had the opportunity to hear what they have to say about some of these issues, and I hope that I have grown as a result. But I think the majority of white people probably don't work in such an environment and therefore don't have the opportunity I have had to learn. Keep it up, Y? You are providing a valuable social service.
POSTED FEB. 12, 1999
Nora F., white female, New York City metroarea , NY

FURTHER NOTICE 27:
I agree that some of the questions are a little lame, especially ones that only require digging out the dictionary. But I'm interested in seeing an example of a good question from the original poster, either one of your own design or one from the more than 1,000 questions in the archives. Please post one. Thanks.
POSTED FEB. 12, 1999
B. Hale, conflicted between dumb-ass and smart-ass <
halehart@aol.com>, Hartford, CT

FURTHER NOTICE 28:
Even though the question wasn't phrased too prettily, it did strike a chord with me. I often find myself shaking my head at the questions, but enjoying the answers. As soon as you open a question with "why do whites, or blacks, or Asians, or Hispanics do..." you're on shaky, shaky ground. Ethnic groups don't do things, individuals do things. Many of the responses address this, and that's where I see the value in the forum.
POSTED FEB. 12, 1999
G.H., 50, black <
silent@sssnet.com>, Cleveland , OH
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R601: I lived in Japan for a year and was very interested to find that cross-dressing was popular. The males I encountered were usually straight but could slip easily into a flamboyant female role. Why is cross-dressing so accepted in Japan? Is it a type of rebellion toward the stern, traditional society?
POSTED FEB. 9, 1999
Cassandra, 29, white female, San Diego, CA
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
R599: My Hispanic boyfriend dislikes using a fork to eat his food. Instead, he tears up tortillas and uses them to pinch food from his plate. Today he ate an entire plate of rice with tortillas without bothering to bring a fork to the table. He also smacks his lips and chews with his mouth open. Why does he do this ... and why does it bother me so much?
POSTED FEB. 9, 1999
Young white woman

ANSWER 1:
I don't know too much about Hispanic culture, but could it be part of his background? I know that Chinese people tend to slurp at the table, as my grandfather does this. And it bothers me, too. It bothers me because we were brought up to be quiet while eating and to use cutlery (or chopsticks) when appropriate.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
C.C. Canadian of Chinese descent, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE:
Sounds like a personal problem to me. This seems much more like his own little idiosyncrasy and your personal reaction to it. I think for you to assume he acts this way because of his race is to put too high a premium on his cultural background. There's more to him than his ethnicity - apparently bad table manners are part of his individual personality.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
D.M.M., white, female, 24 <
donikam@hotmail.com>, Charleston , SC

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I don't know if this has anything to do with it, but I've eaten at Ethiopian restaurants and that sounds similar to what they do: Put all the food on a large, flat pancake and tear off bits of the pancake to pick up the food. It seems pretty smart to me; there's nothing left to clean up except the plate.
POSTED FEB. 12, 1999
T.T., white female, New York , NY
To respond
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THE QUESTION:
RE86: Every time I see a woman in traditional Islamic dress, I wonder why female genital circumcision is practiced in some cultures. What purpose could it serve? Do many Muslim sects condone this practice? What do Muslims in America think of it?
POSTED AUG. 6, 1998
Jonathan A. <
jdames@intrex.net>, Raleigh, NC

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
As U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Ethiopia, we found that 13 of the 14 provinces practiced the ritual of clitoridectomy. The only province that did not was Gojam province. When we asked our instructors why, we were told simply that the practice ensured the fidelity of the female. The belief was that the less pleasure felt, the less chance that a woman would seek sex with a man other than her husband. When I later traveled to Kenya, I found that clitoridectomies were no longer practiced there. I was told that this was due to British influence, because their colonists were "appalled" by the practice. As Americans, we seemed to be more in favor of giving orgasmic pleasure and less concerned about fidelity. A favorite saying among the men in our group was, "Let's go jam in Gojam!"
POSTED FEB. 9, 1999
Paine E., male <
starswirler@geocities.com>, Tampa , FL
To respond
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THE QUESTION: 
GE9: I want to know why guys are so turned on by breasts. It is not fair to me that they can so easily check out my chest when I can't do the same to their crotch. How important are breasts to males, and what pleasures do you seek from them? Also, for women, how satisfied are you with your size, and what encounters have you had because of the size of your breasts?
POSTED APRIL 1, 1998
J. Wu <
Chinkgirl6@aol.com>, Lawrenceville, Ga

FURTHER NOTICE 15:
Not all men are breast men. I have never dated or been that particularly turned on by women's breast size. I am a sucker, however, for the tummy area, and most importantly (and probably most unbelievably for you women out there) beautiful eyes and a pretty smile. That, my dears, is what makes me catch my breath.
POSTED FEB. 9, 1999
Hopeless romantic <
bvarvel@wt.net>, Houston, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 16:
I work the Rennaissance Pleasure Faire and find that my uplifted bust (my Cs in a custom-made bodice can support a full tankard when I'm standing) attracts a lot of attention. Only my cleavage, my face (not my hair or hairline) and my hands from below the wrist are exposed. Yet the customer with the woman in only three inches of spandex and stiletto heels will talk to my breasts and take pictures for the entire time they are visiting my booth. It's not a bad feeling; if I did not like the way people were staring, and their inevitable stupid comments ("Are those real?" "Nice breasts we're having today!"), I would make something else to wear. But it's still fascinating.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Aris A, 21, female <
Arissssss@AOL.com>, Alameda, Bay Area, CA
To respond
BACK TO TOP


THE QUESTION:
GE116: To men: When you see women wearing tight-fitting bell bottom jeans, shoes that add a foot to their height and lip liner that doesn't match the lipstick, does that turn you on? Do you like that '70s style? What fashion style gets guys going these days?
POSTED FEB. 8, 1999
Sid <
skillam@funtv.com >, Escondido, CA

ANSWER 1:
The non-matching lip liner has to go, but all the other stuff looks good on females as long as they can do it justice. If a female is truly beautiful, she will look good in everything - but I'm still a huge fan of mini-skirts.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
G. Brady, San Diego, CA

FURTHER NOTICE:
That look does not really do much for me, since the people I know who dress that way are mostly drug addicts, and that really turns me off. Being a native of New Jersey, however, there are certain looks that I find attractive. One is the current New York trend for women's fashion, which tends to be black and gray clothing, as ni a form-fitting black dress jacket over a white dress blouse, a relatively short black (or gray) skirt, black stockings and usually black shoes with a heel (or even better, those half-calf black leather boots that women love to wear up here). It sounds boring, but it looks great. The next best thing is a mixture of Italian and Hispanic fashions. By that I mean hair that is generally more than one color (usually brown, red or black) in a natural mixture, a brownish lip color... The clothes vary depending on the ethnic group. People in New Jersey and New York will know what I mean instantly. I cannot think of a public example offhand. The local term is "guidette," which can be favorable or insulting depending on the attitude of the speaker.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
John K., 25 <
the-macs@geocities.com>, Cranford , NJ
To respond
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THE QUESTION:
R354: I have noticed a number of younger African Americans wearing knee-high pantyhose on their heads. I would like to know why this is done, and where this trend came from.
POSTED JUNE 24, 1998
Jason <
microft@westol.com>, Washington, D
C

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Those aren't knee-highs. They're wave caps. They help keep waves in their hair. Actually, they're supposed to be worn when they sleep. Perhaps they're getting their hair ready so it will look good when they reach their destination (work, party, school?)
POSTED FEB. 9, 1999
B.J. Hunt, black woman, Florissant , MO
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THE QUESTION:
R598: If America is so racist, how does one explain the success of Asians in this country? Why can't other groups follow their examples?
POSTED FEB. 5, 1999
J. Chin, Asian male <
sdboy@aol.com>, San Diego, Ca

ANSWER 1:
Although America is home to many racists, Americans do not live in a "racist society." I have lived most of my life in America, plus several years each in an Asian society and a non-U.S. western society. All my experience teaches me that the Asian societies that I know directly steadfastly maintain standards of excellence and proper behavior that have been cultivated over centuries. These high standards, supported not only by the family structure, but by society at large, invariably lead to achievement and elevated status wherever they are honored by individuals. By contrast, for reasons I'll leave to others to explore, other racial minorities have not been so determined to maintain traditionally high standards of conduct and achievement, leading to comparatively lesser degrees of social achievement here in America. I submit that we could really find out just how racist America is if everyone practiced the dogged determination to honor traditional standards to the degree that so many Asian immigrants do.
POSTED FEB. 8, 1999
Parker <
sparker@neptune.net>, Orange County, CA

FURTHER NOTICE:
I think the assumptions made in your question may be at least open to dispute or at worst totally flawed. Much depends on how one defines success. Contrary to the stereotype, many Asian Americans live in poverty, belong to criminal gangs and share the same problems other minorites in America suffer. In addition, it has been the frequent lament of many Asians who have posted to this forum that they are treated in many ways like foreigners in their own country. To my way of thinking, the Asian experience does not constitute a story of success, but merely another sad chapter in America's racist treatment of non- whites.
POSTED FEB. 8, 1999
S.F. black, male <
sfinley@wans.net>, Naperville , IL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
There are so many iassumptions in your question that it is difficult to respond without addressing them. First, you assume that all, or at least an overwhelming majority of Asians, are as prosperous as you evidently are. Doubtful. Second, by tracing the history of each "group," you will find that each has followed a different path to reach its current state in the socioeconomic quilt of America. In other words, you are ethnically and racially comparing apples to oranges. For example, few African Americans have any cultural ties to the Africa from which the bulk of their ancestry was kidnapped. Legal immigration for Africans was forbidden by federal law until the mid 1960s, and much of the original slaves' culture was "reeducated" away from successive generations. This cultural isolation created a minority group left totally at the social and political whim of the dominant culture.

Read up on slavery and Jim Crow (and his unnamed Northern cousin), and hopefully you'll begin to see the bigger picture. Quite different, I'm sure, from the history of most Asian immigrants. In spite of our respective histories of facing racism and bigotry in the United States, however, members of any particular group still can point to many success stories from among their ranks. Those are the examples that we all must find ways to follow.
POSTED FEB. 8, 1999
Sam, 30, male, brown American <
SamAlex67@aol.com>, Chicago, Il

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Because some Asians have become successful does not imply the non-existence of racism. Another valid perspective is that they have prospered in the face of racism. Consider the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese American internment, etc., and tell me that Asians haven't confronted racism in the starkest terms. Also, telling other minorities to "follow the Asian example" is comparing apples with oranges. Blacks and Hispanics have different backgrounds and historical legacies. For one thing, the typical Asian immigrant today is not the same as the average Latin American immigrant. Lastly, implying that all Asians are successful is off the mark - many Asian communities are struggling.
POSTED FEB. 8, 1999
Ray, 24, Asian American male <
yangban@erols.com>, Washington, DC

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
What do you mean by success? And what kinds of Asians are you talking about? Many people have the stereotype that all Asians are doing well and "successful" in this country, but that is not the case. Many Asian Americans do well in school, but that is not the only indicator of success, since they are underrepresented in many leadership and corporate positions. Also, many Southeast Asian or recent immigrant Asian groups have encountered much racism and discrimination. It is a much more complex question than you have presented when you really look at the issues and how our society defines "success."
POSTED FEB. 8, 1999
Corinne, 30, Japanese American female <
ckodama@deans.umd.edu>, College Park, MD

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I agree with several other posters that not all Asians in the United States have enjoyed racism-free experiences. The Twin Cities are home to a large Hmong immigrant community that has suffered a good deal of racism. A controversy erupted recently when a local radio morning show joked about a 13-year-old Hmong rape victim who killed her newborn baby. The DJs mocked Hmong customs, and in response to the girl's mother's comment that assimilation had been difficult for the family, one of the DJs said, "Assimilate or hit the goddamn road." A protest group was formed and demanded an apology by the station, which finally did apologize after major advertisers pulled their sponsorships. Happily, many non-Hmong Minnesotans shared the Hmong group's outrage about the comments, but others accused the Hmong of having thin skin, or expressed approval of the racist sentiments.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Rhiannon, 28, white female <
rock0048@tc.umn.edu>, Minneapolis , MN

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
A person's place in society is largely dependent on where that person wants it to be. I hear all of these complaints about how racist America is. If that were true, then no one from the "oppressed groups" could ever get ahead. In this society, we see members of all groups that are successful. We live in a very competitive society. Society does not wait around for you to feel sorry for yourself; it goes on without you. Too many people are looking for an easy way, and there has never been a substitute for hard work and education. Very few people outwork the Asians in this country that I have known. This is a credit to them and their culture.
POSTED FEB. 12, 1999
Jas, white, straight male, Norcross, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
As an African American whose ancestors have been here for generations and have been systematically kept out of the American dream, I find your question, however well-meaning, somewhat insulting. While it may be true that some segment of the Asian population is doing well, I doubt very much that the entire Asian population should be held up as the model for the rest of us to follow. The black experience in America is different from that of other ethnic minorities. We are still recovering from the many devastating aspects of slavery. Meanwhile, discrimation is still rampant in this society, and I doubt many would disagree that black folks are still the hardest hit. While you may have come to the land of milk and honey to prosper, some of us are still trying to recover from 400 years of slavery.
POSTED FEB. 12, 1999
Gerry, African America, Boston, MA
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THE QUESTION:
C11: What does it mean when someone ties their shoes together by the laces and then throws them over a power line? I've seen shoes dangling on power lines in movies and around town, generally in low-income neighborhoods.
POSTED FEB. 5, 1999
Jodi, 25, white female, Houston, TX

ANSWER 1:
I have seen the same thing, with one exception. I have seen multiple pairs of shoes tied together and thrown in a tree. It is quite noticeable this time of year in Michigan. One theory I heard is that it is a marker for gang territory. I'd also like to hear more from anyone who is more educated on the subject.
POSTED FEB. 8, 1999
Patrick, 27, white male <
hawkstu@juno.com>, Wixom , MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
This is a classic nasty prank pulled by bullies in upscale suburbs as well as lower-income neighborhoods. The bully humiliates the victim by taking the sneakers and flinging them where they are irretrievable and stand out as a monument to the bully's dominance.
POSTED FEB. 8, 1999
B. Hale, <
halehart@aol.com>, Hartford , CT

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
The tying of tennis shoes together in my community is done to memorialize a dead youth. The shoes are then thrown over a power line in the youth's "Hood."
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
African American <
drena7@yahoo.com>, Baltimore , MD

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I heard a rumor about the sneakers being a sign of gang territory and drug deals. In my city, I see it more often near the beach than anywhere else. Whatever the case, it certainly is an eyesore.
POSTED FEB. 10, 1999
Cassandra 29, white female, San Diego, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
As a person who lives in a city with a huge drug problem, I can say quite confidently that the tied shoes or sneakers on power lines, trees, etc. mean that this is a place to get drugs.
POSTED FEB. 12, 1999
Kevin H., male, 42 <
kevin@javanet.com>, Holyoke , Ma
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THE QUESTION:
R597: I work with an Asian man who makes slurping and other noises while working. It has become very disruptive to me, but how do I tell him to stop when I can't even describe what's bothering me? Would it be very offensive to ask him to stop making all these strange noises?

POSTED FEB. 5, 1999
29, Caucasian, New York, NY

ANSWER 1:
A lot of men from Asia seem to make slurping noises, etc., when they eat - my immigrant father does. I've tried telling him to stop, but it's totally a cultural difference that is hard to bridge. He's just too used to doing it. I suppose he thinks I'm too quiet when I eat. If it bothers you, either politely talk to him about it or leave the room.
POSTED FEB. 8, 1999
Ray, 24, Asian American <
yangban@erols.com>, Washington, DC

FURTHER NOTICE:
I think the noisemaking comes from a certain personality type that likes the vibrating sensation, rather than for cultural reasons. I'm Chinese, and I've known both whites and Chinese who have made all kinds of distracting noises at work, from Three Stooges noises to humming. Let him know that his outbursts break your train of thought. You may need to ask him to restrain himself more than once. Don't get upset if you do ask him.
POSTED FEB. 8, 1999
Mike, Chinese male <
leungm@ix.netcom.com>, Minneapolis, MN

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I would not assume that your friend will be offended if you explain to him the etiquette of the society he lives in. I lived in Asia, and I became a "slurper," learning a new way to enjoy some excellent food. When I'm in the company of my Japanese friends, I ravenously inhale my soup. But with fellow Americans, I restrain that impulse. Your friend, if he has basic decency, will probably begin to do the same. Also know that I was actually happy to be corrected when my Western behavior clashed with local expectations, because it gave me the chance to consider making an adaptation. Sometimes these cultural habits are so subtle that we don't notice them on our own. But as your annoyance with the slurping sound indicates, they can mean a lot to some people. Your friend may be grateful to be taught that slurping is considered ill-mannered in this society.
POSTED FEB. 8, 1999
Parker, 36, white male <
sparker@neptune.net>, Orange County, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I don't think he will take offense if you ask him nicely. By the way, what kind of work are you engaged in? Asians do not always make noices when working, except perhaps grunting in manual labor.
POSTED FEB. 8, 1999
Echo, 14 <
brightex@hotmail.com>, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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