Best of the Week
of Feb. 17, 2002

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Feb. 17, 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.

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:

At 76, I have struggled for most of my years to free myself of prejudice, but still find nasty vestiges buried deeply inside. Reared in a small Southern town and on a farm that employed black field workers, I accepted strict segregation and all the rest as the 'natural order' of things. As I began to see the wrongness, the internal war was joined. I believe I've made much progress, but now doubt I'll ever get all the way. To black readers: Given the nature of humanity, can eradicating prejudice ever be achieved, and if so, will it bring the utopia so earnestly promised?

POSTED 2/18/2002

Art D., Morganton, NC, United States, 76, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Retired, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 217200242032


Responses:
I've come to realize that people will continue to be prejudiced as long as one person believes he is better than the other in some way. We all have some sort of prejudice. Some of us just express it more. All we can do is pray about it, do what we can and give the rest to God when those situations arise. I believe the only time there will be no prejudice is in Heaven. I commend you for wanting to change something about yourself that you don't like. Many people do realize things like this but feel they are powerless to do anything about it.

POSTED 2/20/2002

J. Hector, Tyler, TX, United States, 19, Female, Methodist, Black/African American, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID 218200264935


I do not feel prejudice can be defeated. Given our human nature, history, psychological profile ... utopia denied. Besides, consider all the things one could be prejudiced about: eye color, hair texture, voice inflections... All of these things one could alter or modify. Skin pigmentation? Besides, it's just too easy to target the color of one's skin. I have hope, however. I know that true change begins in me. It is a constant, daily struggle, and I believe in the power of one.

POSTED 2/20/2002

N.F., Hampton, VA, United States, 47, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 218200294443


The first thing that came to mind when I read your post was, there is no perfect being but Jesus. Granted, that's based on my own beliefs, and they may not work for you, but whenever I find myself sucking my teeth at someone else's foibles, I try to remember that I am subject to the same judgment that I mete out to others. My belief system also tells me that my God is tremendously merciful and doesn't expect perfection from me. He expects me to try. That's all. That said, Art, I don't know whether prejudice can be eradicated, nor am I sure that that's what's most important. That is, as a black person, I don't care as much what any given non-black person thinks of my blackness as I do about how their beliefs cause them to behave. One could posit that it's nearly impossible not to act on judgments we make about people and situations (keep in mind that white people don't have the corner on the market of prejudice - it's a human thing). However, I feel that all that anyone can ask of another human being is that they grapple with these issues. You seem like a person of goodwill. That is tremendously valuable. Maybe you should concentrate on the journey rather than the destination. That is, don't stake the success or failure of your journey to eradicate prejudice within yourself on whether you feel you've achieved it. Try to concentrate on whether you will still try, whether you can ever say you have no prejudice within you at all. If you can say you will try and keep trying, well, you are a better man than many, regardless of ethnicity.

POSTED 2/20/2002

Jennifer, St. Paul, MN, United States, 31, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Non-Profit, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 219200235524


Racism cannot be wiped out because it's too deeply rooted in human nature. The only thing that we can do is try to recognize that we aren't perfect, try our best to rise above our petty prejudices and try to see each other as people. Remember that everyone is an individual and can't be lumped into categories.

POSTED 2/20/2002

Sherman, Richmond, CA, United States, <SJACK916@AOL.COM>, 33, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, contractor, Technical School, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 220200273157

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

For all of the things Jews went through over the past 50 years, why is it that so many of them purchase German products, especially cars - i.e. Mercedes or Audis or BMWs? It just does not make sense to me, and as an aside, when I was in Israel, I could not understand why all the buses were Mercedes until I inquired and found out that it was German reparations for their behavior.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Stephen N., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, Male, Mesg ID 2192002102748


Responses:
Perhaps Jews believe that German products are superior to American (i.e. Europeans being more sophisticated). Millions of Chinese died at the hands of the Japanese during World War II, yet I can guarentee you that many Chinese people own Japanese rice cookers and cars.

POSTED 2/20/2002

C.C., Somewhere in Canada, NA, Canada, 22, Female, Asian, Student, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 220200275150


I remember that my father would never buy a German product. For that matter, he would never buy a Ford product because Henry Ford was a notorious anti-semite. But in my opinion, and obviously in the opinion of the government of Israel, things have changed. The German government has paid reparations to the victims of the Holocaust, and to the State of Israel. It has established a true democracy and seems to uphold democratic ideals. Virtually all of those who could have been considered war criminals have already died, and the few survivors are aged, toothless wrecks. So the question arises: how long do you punish anyone for crimes committed by their parents and grandparents? At some time they have to be re-admitted to the community of decent people. It appears that enough is enough.

POSTED 2/20/2002

Gerald T., Tampa, FL, United States, 68, Male, Jewish, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 220200282706


I think it is wrong to punish someone because of what their parents, or in this case, grandparents and great-grandparents, did. The German government has gone to a great effort to make reparations to Israel and Jews as a whole, contributing a great deal to the Israeli economy and military as well as providing an incredible amount of political support. We will never forget what the Germans did, but that is not what they DO.

POSTED 2/20/2002

Alex, Beloit, WI, United States, 18, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Student, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 2202002123812

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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


That girl who answered is fooling herself and you. Usually that's not the case at all. Truth is, we like the flattery and love the attention. It boosts our ego to know that a guy will jump at the chance to be with us. Lots of times we have other motives, like being let into clubs by bouncers and club owners, getting put on the guest lists by bands, and having male friends who will protect us in club and party situations when we might get too drunk or have led OTHER men on who are not as in control. Plus, let's face it, there are plenty of dumb and desperate guys who will pay a girl's way for food, drinks, parties, sometimes even a place to live, all just for the very slightest outside chance that a girl might change her mind and let you in her pants. I know being a tease has paid off for me very well, and it's paid off for most attractive women I know. It gets me out of traffic tickets, gets my teachers to give me higher grades, and makes my life so much easier than women who don't have my looks. And as long as there are men out there who are dumb and desperate, why change? I'll give you the same advice I gave a very sweet guy who never had a chance with me but kept making a fool of himself for months on end: quit being such a sucker. The moment a girl treats you badly, teases you or leads you on and uses you in any way, walk away and don't look back. Until you do that, we have no reason to respect you until you stand up for yourself and quit being a doormat. Then, believe it or not, you actually WILL have a chance with more of us.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Sheryll, Mobile, AL, United States, 23, Female, Asian, Mesg ID 216200215913

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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:
I find it ironic that on a web site dedicated to developing understanding between the races and sexes that they feature a book with such a title. To respond to the original question, I believe there would be more of an upheaval than what white people are making about this book.

POSTED 2/20/2002

Mark L., St. Louis, MO, United States, Male, Mesg ID 220200211806


Yeah, that title is a racist slur, but who's to say that a black person wrote it? You seem more interested in trying to start some mess rather than ask a question. That's why this is called a forum, a place where you ask questions. I'm sure that whoever the author is didn't intend for that title to offend, although it does. By the way, if you know what wet monkeys smell like, then either you're a zoo keeper or an animal trainer.

POSTED 2/20/2002

Marco, Chicago, IL, United States, 27, Male, Black/African American, Library Assistant, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 220200273010


You are right, that is a racist slur, but why is it surprising to you to find out that black people can be just as racist as white people? Whites do not have a monopoly on hatred or intolerance, but if that offends you, at least you can get a small feeling of the racism that minorities have had to suffer over the years.

POSTED 2/20/2002

Sherman, Richmond, CA, United States, <SJACK916@AOL.COM>, 33, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, contractor, Technical School, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 220200274135

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

If the three firefighters in the famous World Trade Center picture, raising the American flag, had been black and their race was changed for any reason, how do you think African Americans would have reacted? Tell the truth.

POSTED 2/19/2002

William, Cola, SC, United States, 38, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, sales, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2182002100629


Responses:
Why can't the three guys who actually raised it, who just happened to be white, be memorialized truthfully? What's so damned evil about being white? I feel like I'm being erased in the rush to be PC. Is it politically incorrect to just be white? Is that a crime? "Living while being white"?

POSTED 2/20/2002

katfish, Montevallo, AL, United States, Mesg ID 220200285220


If all three firefighters had been black, I very much doubt anyone would have wanted to change it, outside of some hardcore white racists. Remember the flag-raising at Iwo Jima during World War II? When the American public found out one of them was a Pima Indian named Ira Hayes, most whites were fascinated and took this as a hopeful sign of America's inclusion of native people. Hayes was treated like a hero and widely welcomed in speaking tours all across the United States that raised funds for war bonds. If the firefighters had been black, I have no doubt they would have similarly been asked to speak all over the country and help raise funds for worthy causes by both black organizations and those aiding disaster relief. There might have been a few people grumbling, 'Yeah, it's only cuz they're black, how typical,' but they would have been in the minority. What I think has been missing from the discussion is: Why were there only white firefighters raising the flag? New York is not exactly short of non-whites, but apparently their Fire Department is virtually whites-only. It seems like people complaining about the change are mostly whites who are resentful or fearful of non-whites. It also seems to me that some people found the image more heroic precisely because the firefighters were white.

POSTED 2/20/2002

A.C.C., Phoenix, AZ, United States, Male, Mexican and American Indian, Mesg ID 220200210256

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

I never in my life had heard of women of different races dating each other until I encountered a female of another race who admitted her growing attraction for me. Is this taboo?

POSTED 2/18/2002

Shavonne H., New York, NY, United States, <xouniquestar@aol.com>, 34, Female, Baptist, black native american, Straight, financial services, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 2172002115437


Responses:
I think this has more to do with geography than sexual orientation. I live in an area where interracial relationships are common, as are gays and lesbians. As a result, I have seen many interracial lesbian couples. If you live in an area where there aren't a lot of interracial couples or lesbians, it makes sense that there won't be many interracial lesbian couples.

POSTED 2/20/2002

Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 27, Female, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 218200214324

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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


Responses:
Not all men get the urge to rape. For me personally, an unwilling partner is a major turn-off. Men who view a lot of pornography do see women as sex objects, whether they will admit it or not. This is because the sole purpose of pornography is to arouse men. Men who frequently indulge in pornography eventually begin thinking that sexual interest is the sole purpose of not only pornography, but women in general. A man in this condition is not capable of looking at a woman without deciding whether or not she would look good naked. There are men who do not view pornography and have a healthy attitude toward women, and understand that women are valuable individuals. Anyone who tries to defend a rapist by arguing that it's just part of male nature is either misinformed or lying.

POSTED 2/11/2002

Steve, Nashua, NH, United States, 30, Male, Mormon, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 211200260627


I can only speak for myself. I can honestly say that I have never had the urge to rape a woman. I am married and am attracted to my wife as well as other attractive women. My sex drive is most often driven by aesthetically pleasing female forms or sexually-related conversation. That is not to say, however, that I would force a woman to have sexual contact with me. I believe it is a matter of individual impulse control.

POSTED 2/13/2002

John B., Dallas, TX, United States, 27, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Sales and marketing, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 2132002101021


First, not all men get the urge to rape. I abhor the thought of such predation. I'm not a violent person, but I have imagined wanting to do violence to any man who does this to a woman. What most people DO have is a desire for at least a certain degree of control of others. I think rape happens when someone becomes fixated on this control, to the point of becoming neurotic. Personally, I can't sexually function with an unenthusiastic partner, so the thought of rape has no appeal to me (to say the least). With regard to your second question, I think nearly all men see women as sex objects. Certainly, I do this. Now, stay with me here, I DON'T see women ONLY as sex objects. I have many women friends, and don't think much about their sexuality when we're together. I think some about it, but not at the expense of everything else. I can feel affection for a woman without wanting to have sex with her. I have reported to women in the workplace, and find myself more motivated working for a woman than most men I've worked for. I can feel sexually attracted to a woman who does not seem to feel the same about me, and still get along well with her. I have no problem confiding this feeling to her, or just avoiding the subject altogether if I've gathered that she would be uneasy with the subject. Usually, it's the latter. If there's a curse to being a male, it's probably the frustration resulting from the ratio of 'potential' sexual partners to the number of actual sexual partners. With regard to porn, I do watch it and am not sure why. It's probably a misguided attempt to satisfy a desire, maybe similar to overeating. I think it can reinforce the notion that women are only sex objects, but I doubt it creates that notion. I've noticed that my interest in watching it diminishes as I interact more with women professionally. I know porn is highly offensive to most women, and can only repeat that my desire to watch it does not mean that I think of women only as sex objects.

POSTED 2/13/2002

Stuart S., Austin, TX, United States, 47, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, IT Professional, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2132002103736


I have never had the urge to rape anyone. I doubt I am in the minority. Just like women report having cozy 'rape' fantasies, men do to. This is a far cry from acting on them. I don't think men see women merely as sex objects any more than women just see men as 'paycheck' objects. These are stereotypes. Sometimes you want to read a book, sometimes you want to play golf, and some times you want to see a woman doing nasty things. If a live woman is unavailable or unobliging, porn is an acceptable alternative. This does not mean that this is the only thing you value in the opposite sex, it is just one aspect.

POSTED 2/13/2002

Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 45, Male, White/Caucasian, Corporate Cubicle Dweller, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 211200254942


I do not get the urge to rape and don't know any men who do. While I do enjoy energetic sex, the idea of anything sexual with an unwilling partner disgusts me. I do admit I enjoy porn, but it is not because I see women as sex objects. I enjoy porn because I have sexual urges and am currently without a partner, and it is a healthy way to deal with sexual frustration.

POSTED 2/13/2002

Alex, Beloit, WI, United States, 18, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Student, High School Diploma, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 2112002123651


I don't think most men have the natural urge to rape. It is so repulsive, and I would think to some extent demeaning, to a man. Why would he have to force a woman to have sex with him? If he is really hot and manly, the woman should want to have sex with him. Even in porn (at least mainstream American porn), usually rape is not depicted. There may be scenes of 'gang-bangs' when several men at once have their turn with a woman, but usually she is a more than willing participant. I think men do want women to enjoy them sexually. There are probably cases of odd fantasies or what not, but I'm sure there are underlying psychological or emotional reasons that cause those types of desires. But I don't see the sin in acting out a 'rape fantasy' if the woman is a willing participant and no violence is involved; I guess if it's done as a roleplaying situation that's play and not reality, it's OK. To answer the other part of your question: yes, men do see women as sex objects. This is very apparent in every media. It's always the woman who has to be alluring and sensual to the man. But this is a natural expression of a man's psyche; they are more physical than women. I don't think they should really be faulted for feeling that way, just like women shouldn't be faulted for wanting to get married or have children.

POSTED 2/13/2002

Kristina, Washington, DC, United States, <kfount500@aol.com>, 21, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Transcriber, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 211200251000


As a 27-year veteran of the male gender, I'm proud to announce that I've never had the 'urge' to rape anybody, and I'm quite confident I never will. The fact that some men rape women does not mean all men want to. The same holds true for pornography. Yes, it's a huge business, and millions of men view pornographic material regularly (women do this, too), but that doesn't necessarily mean that all men view all women as sex objects. There are good and bad people. Those who rape women (or men, children, animals, etc.) belong in the 'bad' category, but don't lump the rest of us in there, too.

POSTED 2/13/2002

Brian, Spokane, WA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 212200244043


I've never had the urge to rape. I HAVE had the urge to have sex with women I don't know, all of whom would presumably decline my advances. The urge, however, isn't about consent or anything as logical and civilized as that. In me, it seems born of this primal longing to have her, the physical part of her. Hardcore porn is actually boring to me. On the other hand, I can get gripped by a Victoria Secret's catalog for an hour, easy. I'm ashamed of this. I know I'm objectifying a real human being when I eat up their photos with my eyes, and I feel less connected to myself afterward. I know I occasionally objectify women like this, and not only in magazines. Sometimes I catch myself and stop it, other times it gets all confused with the healthy pleasure of looking at someone attractive.

POSTED 2/18/2002

Mike, Portland, ME, United States, 32, Male, Unitarian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 218200285655


I certainly don't get the urge to rape; if anything, most of my fantasies revolve around being seduced. As for porn, there are plenty of women who watch it - I don't think it has anything to do with rape, or even with seeing women as sex objects. My wife has more of an appetite for 'dirty movies' than I do; she likes to watch them with me as a prelude to sex between us.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Jerry S., New Britain, CT, United States, 53, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 215200230508


Your question speaks of much hostility toward men. I hope that you are not a victim of sexual assault, but it is likely that you are. To assume that most or all men rape, which is inherent in your question, is pretty misanthropic. Porn comes in many flavors, and some of it is patently violent and misogonystic. Porn may also be made by and for gays and lesbians, or at least not denigrate women, e.g. Yellow Silk. In a recent New York Times article on the porn industry, it was revealed that the porn industry is absolutely huge. That doesn't make it good, but when you stop and consider that it is bigger than the non-porn film industry, bigger than the NBA, NFL and NHL combined, that's a lot of people. They are not all perverts. Many are women and couples, too. Men and women may both see one another as sexual objects from time to time. Lighten up and take it easy on yourself and the other sex.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Nice guy, Boston, MA, United States, 21, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 215200281855


The vast majority of men don't rape, probably greater than 99 percent. Sex, yes; rape, no. An unwilling partner is a total turnoff for most of us. Rapists are defective mentally, emotionally and perhaps genetically as well. Your second question is entirely different, with an incorrect assumption built in. Porn is simply fun, exciting entertainment for most viewers. Degradation and moral issues aside, which I happen to agree with, porn is no different than watching soap operas, WWF, bad TV sitcoms, teen movies, etc. I's just fun, low-class, predictable entertainment based on a proven formula: voyeurism/insults/violence/embarassing situations.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Ken L., Cupertino, CA, United States, 43, Male, Atheist, Asian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 213200295036


Some men may have rape fantasies, but few act them out. Iit takes a level of frustration and anger that few men possess. The second question is easier. The answer is that men do indeed see women as sex objects, because that's what they are. Women are human beings and as multifaceted as anyone, but whatever else we are, as women or men, we are also sex objects. It's not a good idea to forget that a sex object is also a person, but for all that, women (and men) are sex objects. As for porn, it excites the imagination and stimulates the libido.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Walter, Orlando, FL, United States, 44, Male, Christian, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 213200295311


From the responses so far, by now you know that very few men, on a percentage basis, feel the urge to rape, and I'm another who doesn't. But of course we think of you as sex objects! What are we supposed to think of? Wall sockets? Tangerines? Coffee cups? No, when I think about sex, the object I have in mind is a woman who doesn't object. (Get it? Little play on words, there.) Where many men go wrong is in thinking of them as ONLY sex objects. More highly evolved men recognize that, in addition to their delightful potential as sex partners, women are also capable of all the things men are. As for porn, most men are easily stimulated by the visual, whereas (I hear) most of you women like a good romance novel.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Craig C., Racine, WI, United States, <mjc613@cs.com>, 50, Male, Atheist, High School Diploma, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 214200272435


Because I am male and have not had the urge to rape, no, all men do not get the urge to rape. Porn is fun because sex is fun. I don't see that whether we think of women as sex objects (we all don't) has anything to do with watching porn. There is no cause and effect here.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Bill, Huntsville, AL, United States, 33, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, programmer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 214200291713


You've really got two questions here. The first, about the urge to rape, is one I can't answer. I'm not all men, and I've never had such an urge. Rape isn't really about sex, anyway - it's more about power. Now the porn thing. I used to work in a porn shop, and like any other business, 20 percent of the customers generated 80 percent of the revenue. As for the 80 percent of customers, most guys like porn because it's masturbational fast food, plain and simple. Men consume more porn (and by porn I'm referring to video and print, not books and other more 'sophisticated' media) because they're more visually stimulated than women. I'm generalizing here, but that's my sound bite on it.

POSTED 2/19/2002

K.T., Omaha, NE, United States, 31, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2142002101440


Not all men get the urge to rape. Some may get off on the fantasy of doing it, but that doesn't mean they'd get off on actually doing it. I'm not even sure rape should be viewed from such a sexual standpoint. If sex is defined as a sharing of pleasure, rape certainly doesn't fit this description. It seems to me that rape is much more about having power over someone else. Yes, sometimes men see women as sex objects. Hell, sometimes women see men as sex objects. But that doesn't mean all men see all women as sex objects. Sure, some men might see all women as sex objects - but the world is full of sh**ty people and we shouldn't judge a group based on a few losers. Some women turn themselves into sex objects, like Brittany Spears. At any rate, just because men may watch porn or view some women as sex objects, this does not mean they see all women as sex objects.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Matt, New York, NY, United States, 22, Male, Mesg ID 214200212216


Just as many men find rape repulsive as women do. People watch porn for many reasons, and not every man does. Most humans are willing to admit that watching attractive members of your desired gender engaging in sexual acts is arousing.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Dan, New York, NY, United States, 31, Male, Mesg ID 215200292039


I don't know if I could speak for all men on this for two reasons. One, I am gay. Two, who can generalize anything like that about society at large? But this is my guess: First, I doubt any man actually has the urge to rape - that is, I don't think any man thinks he wants to sexually assault another person and in the process commits a crime. But maybe that's semantics. What I think a lot of men fantasize about is the desire to overpower, and possibly to just 'f**k the hell out of' someone. I think it's fairly common for men to see someone they desire and just get that deep-down-in-your-groin-wanna-have-sex-with-em feeling ... straight or gay. The so-called 'urge to rape' is more of a manifestation of a sociological/pyschological problem: thinking that a woman or man wants to be physically/sexually assaulted beyond their control. That is, the rapist doesn't understand that wanting to overpower someone - in this case, sexually - is not wanted/desired/etc. Or, if they think it isn't wanted, they may think the person being raped deserved it or didn't know they wanted it. That type of urge is rare. And as men's fragile egos work, when we're turned down, we don't want them more or to 'teach them a lesson.' We usually just think they suck really bad. Yet, actually highly desiring to have sex with a stranger (or someone you know, for that matter) is a totally different ball of wax. I know most men feel that at least once, if not numerous times, a day. That's just biology.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Matt, Chicago, IL, United States, 31, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Gay, IT support, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 217200281213

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

I am interested 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


Responses:
I hope this will not be too much of a letdown: I lived in Germany for more than a decade before unification and am living there now, with a German passport (though I am not ethnically German). Unification has not affected my life in the least, other than adding a special subsidy tax to my income, which is supposed to benefit the East German economy to catch up to the West German (though I reckon the money ends up in darker, West German political channels). Other than that, life hasn't changed in the least. The euro has had a far more dramatic impact on daily life.

POSTED 2/19/2002

T., Munich, NA, Germany, 32, Female, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 2152002125218

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

Why do black folks riot when they don't get their way?

POSTED 2/19/2002

Dan C., Omaha, NE, United States, Male, Mesg ID 216200285225

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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


Responses:
Smoking is not only an addiction, it REALLY becomes a habit. I recently quit and after the first three days, which were an out of control nightmare, it's the habit that I have to break. When a smoker first quits, it takes about three full days to purge the nicotine out of the system. That's the withdrawal. Personally, I couldn't control my moods. I screamed, cried, swore: it was a temporary case of extreme manic depression. Small things turned me into a raving maniac. But after that, I no longer craved the cigarette - I wanted the habit. Smoking becomes a part of who you are. Do you crack your nuckles? Bite your fingernails? It becomes part of your daily routine and it's comforting. And leaving the comfortable is not an easy thing to do.

POSTED 2/11/2002

Tracy Z., Aliquippa, PA, United States, 37, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Clerical, financial, High School Diploma, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 2112002122327


I wouldn't say all people who smoke are addicted. I smoke one or two cigarettes at night and when I go out on weekends. I have gone several days and/or weeks without smoking just because I felt like it. I think the addiction is more of a nervous habit for a lot of people, just like biting your fingernails or something like that. I also think some people just have addictive personalities and can't control themselves. I smoke because it gives you about 30 seconds of a light-headed groovy feeling, and then I just go back about my business. It relaxes you just a little bit.

POSTED 2/13/2002

Steve F., Longview, TX, United States, 30, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2132002105155


I smoked for more than 20 years before I quit. When I was a smoker, if I could not get a cigarette, it would make me feel anxious, almost like stage fright, a queasy feeling, not so much in my stomach, but between my stomach and lungs. I quit three years ago, and though I still miss it sometimes, I hope to never smoke again.

POSTED 2/18/2002

Mark, Hartford, MI, United States, 41, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Police Officer, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 217200245013


Smoking feels like more of a habit after a while than it does an addiction. The act of having a lit cigarette is sometimes more appealing than actually smoking it. I've lit cigarettes before that I've taken one or two drags from, but let them burn in my hand until they were done. Sometimes you just need to take a drag.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Holmes B., Austin, TX, United States, 30, Male, Baptist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Game Designer, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2142002115128


I've smoked since I was 15 (I'm now 28) and quit more than a year ago. To answer your first question: for me, not smoking for a period of time made me extremely irritable. I could not concentrate, because the only thing on my mind was how to get the next smoke. Once done, I knew that I had about an hour before the urges started again. Which is why, even when there is limited time to smoke, I would light up and immediately crush it out. When I didn't get to have one for a while, the first thing I noticed was a taste in my mouth that would not go away. I still have that taste today and can only describe it as a 'clean' taste. When I quit, it was difficult but not impossible. The hardest thing was trying not to think about it. I would fidget and pace until the urge went away, but that taste always remained. I learned to live with it. I have not restarted, because now cigarette smoke disgusts me. I get very nauseous, and my chest closes up. It seems like I have become very sensitive to it, and have a hard time going to clubs with friends. Other ex-smokers have relayed the same thing. The most adamant anti-smokers probably smoked at one point in their life and understand.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Ryan M., Dallas, TX, United States, 28, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 214200231231


I smoked for a few years, and though I haven't had a cigarette for about two years, the temptation is always there, even though I know smoking is not good for me. My father had problems with depression, and he was a chain smoker. I think I know why: Cigarettes lifted his depression. They do the same for me. Smoking was a quick and easy 'fix' that was legal and didn't require a prescription. I suspect that to some extent, the same is true for people who are not clinically depressed. Cigarettes give you a lift, and they appeal to a powerful part of the brain that doesn't care whether you're doing something that's ultimately self-destructive.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Elliott, Dallas, TX, United States, 37, Male, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2152002123824


For one thing, cigarettes are physically addictive. But what really makes it difficult is that they are psychologically addictive. They fulfill many functions: They are a timing device (one more cigarette, then I have to hang up or go walk the dog); they give you a social barrier -something to do with your hands in awkward situations; they become wired up with other things - a cup of coffee, a beer, after a meal, getting into a car, etc. So these things come to feel incomplete without the cigarette; they can also become wired up with activities, such as writing or thinking. They function as a bonding device with other smokers. Most important, they take the edge off strong feelings like anger or stress, and going without them puts such feelings into an uncomfortably high focus, which is why even that puff or two can help. Thus, they become woven deeply into the fabric of one's life. I've heard it said many times that quitting heroin is easier. Many also claim the urge never completely goes away. I was once talking with a man who'd quit for 10 years, and in the course of the conversation, he quite unconsciously picked up someone else's cigarette from the ashtray and started smoking it without even being aware of what he was doing. People restart because for many, the urge never completely goes away.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Lynne, Hartford, CT, United States, 60, Female, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2152002125927


I remember wondering the same things before I smoked, and yet it is not easy to answer now that I have. The first time I began to get cravings, I didn't immediately recognize the feelings. I felt somewhat anxious and agitated, but the rush from the first drag would clear that all up. The addiction is primarily a function of nicotine, as most everyone knows, but the reason people will smoke even when they know they can't finish the cigarette is more related to the habit. There is a ritual to smoking - how you open the pack (ever notice how some people pound the pack against their palm to pack the tobacco), how you hold the cigarette, how you light it (matches? Zippo? Bic?), how you inhale/exhale -and after awhile the ritual itself can be as comforting as the drug. I smoked in high school, and when late-afternoon cravings hit during class, I could stave them off by mimicking a smoke with my ballpoint pen. I can't really answer the last questions, beyond saying you get cravings. You know you won't feel comfortable until you smoke one. Over time, this feeling lessens, but you always remember how you felt better after that drag. I 'quit' several times before finally smoking my last butt several years ago. Each time, some trigger (often alcohol) would make me smoke 'just one' and before I knew it I'd be back to the level I had been. In the end, I quit because I felt worse after smoking than before. I don't know if I have an acute sensitivity, or if a mental mechanism kicked in to fool my body into quitting, or what, but I'm not sure I would have been successful quitting without it. At your age, you've made it past when most smokers start, so I probably don't have to tell you this, but don't start. Once you get past the taste and smell, smoking gives you a little drug-induced lift; later, when you are addicted, the lift is less and doesn't last, but you still need the nicotine. It ain't worth it.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Keith B., Austin, TX, United States, 34, Male, Taoist, White/Caucasian, Straight, arborist, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 212200273111

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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


Bones and teeth are the 'hard' materials making up our bodies. They give structure and protection to who we are. Teeth are the 'bones that are visible.' It's very possible that these dreams come when situations in your life feel out of your control (the structure breaking down) or when you fear others being able to see your vulnerability. Have you correlated these dreams with any situations happening in your life at the time?

POSTED 2/19/2002

Nicki K., Shelby Township, MI, United States, 52, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, retired, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 213200294757


I think dreams reflect worries that we carry inside. However, I wouldn't give literal interpretations to them. A book on dream interpretation might be helpful. I dream frequently that I can fly - like Peter Pan - but I don't plan on jumping off a roof to test that ability! I've had the school/not prepared for finals, etc. dream, too. I think that means you're a conscientious person and have a fear of failure. I'm still not sure about the tooth dream. Could it be you are hesitant to speak up about things that are important to you?

POSTED 2/19/2002

Annie D., Atlanta, GA, United States, 50, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, copy editor, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2132002103307


It's interesting that you should be having a dream that puzzled me for quite some time. I also had the same dream, though at times my teeth would actually come out in my hand during the dream. I, too, have excellent teeth and try to take care of them. Here's what I discovered: Every time I had the dream, I was silently grinding my teeth in my sleep. The sensation translated through my subconscious into my dream and would cause me to imagine I had severely chipped teeth or exceptionally loose teeth. I did not realize I had a teeth-grinding problem; most people don't. This is very much like chronic snorers not realizing they snore. Unlike Sigmund Freud, who thought that dreams were a reflection or our subconscious, it is now hypothesized that dreams are your mind's way of processing the huge amount of data that your brain received that day. If this theory is true, then that would mean that our dreams are influenced by things around us as well as things that happen to us. The next time your dream occurs, make a mental note to check if your jaw or gums are sore. This is a good sign that you may be grinding your teeth.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Liam, McDonald, NA, Canada, 35, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 2132002103938


I have had the same recurring dream for years. However, I also seriously grind my teeth in my sleep. When I have such a dream, I assume I was probably grinding my teeth so hard that it was somehow connected to my dream. My teeth are pretty healthy, but I've never been able to stop grinding. I think it's just nervous energy.

POSTED 2/19/2002

R.S.M., Oakland, CA, United States, Mesg ID 214200220221


Every couple of years or so after grade school, I would have dreams of my teeth falling out. Usually I would be in front of a mirror and would notice that my molars were breaking up, like they had rotted away. Of course I'd react with dismay, and the dream would end. I had another one a few months ago. I suspect it has to do with fear of aging, a sense of impending mortality, maybe even guilt for not taking good care of myself.

POSTED 2/19/2002

David R., Lawrence, KS, United States, 42, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Sales, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 211200230600


All through high school and for the first two years of college, I had many different dreams in which my eyes would be unable to open all the way and it would inhibit what I was trying to do. Sometimes when I would wake up, I would expect my eyes to be that way, but they would obviously be fine. The funny thing (and I don't believe it has any real correlation) is that ever since I married a man who will someday be an optometrist, they've stopped.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Carrie J., Provo, UT, United States, 21, Female, White/Caucasian, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 213200233016

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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


Responses:
There's nothing wrong with a hairy guy. For me, if you don't have a hairy chest, beard and mustache, don't bother calling. There's nothing sexier and more masculine than a man with a hairy chest that you can run your fingers through.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Beth, Jacksonville, FL, United States, <b041889@hotmail.com>, 34, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Journalist, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 216200282619


I think it's a matter of personal preference (like some people prefer blondes, some redheads, etc.) Speaking for myself, I don't like a lot of body hair on a man, but I know some women who think the more body hair, the better.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Pam, Springfield, MO, United States, 28, Female, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2132002111504


First, it depends on what you mean by hairy. Do you mean just chest hair, or the kind of hairy where you look like you're wearing a fur coat? As far as the hairy chest, I believe it is just a matter of preference with women. If you're talking about a lot of hair all over, I think it might be because when women meet a guy they are potentially interested in, they start to fantasize about being intimate with him, what his body looks like, what they look like making love, etc. You get sweaty when you make love, and for some women (not all), the thought of a hairy man getting all sweaty all over them is ... ugh. I don't mean to generalize for all women, but this is the reason that all the women I know give for not being with a guy who is hairy. I know it sounds shallow, which it is, because all that should matter is what's on the inside. But there's a lid for every pot, and maybe you just haven't found your lid yet.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Lisa, Tyrone, PA, United States, 31, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 214200255346


I think it is a socialized notion that body hair is somehow unhygienic. Men pictured in magazine ads are always smooth-chested or have minimal hair. I think body hair is nice, so I've always wondered why people were grossed out about it.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Victoria, Knoxville, TN, United States, 30, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, academic, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 214200210109


I think the reason women don't like hairy guys is the same reason men don't like hairy women. Women shave their armpits, legs and bikini area. Hair interferes with the clean lines of the human form, and it can look and be dirty. I personally wish that men would also shave their armpits.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Jen, Philadelphia, PA, United States, 31, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, web developer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 214200232551


I'll begin my answer with another question: What is it that guys have against hairy girls? This does go both ways. To be fair, guys have a lot more surface area for potential hair - chest, back, face, butt - so the standard being held up is not exactly equal. The amount or thickness of hair might be more 'offensive' than the mere presence of it. As a woman who does not have a preference about body hair either way, I can only speculate as to why some women might have extreme reactions against it: 1) it might be a grooming issue - body hair = dirt in someone's mind; 2) it might be tactile - smoothness is more pleasing; 3) it might be idealistic - how many buff male models pose shirtless who are not also hairless? What you have observed might be the flipside to what women experience on a daily basis, which is being held up to an impossible standard that only a few actually can attain.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Sheila, Tampa, FL, United States, 30, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 215200284617


In the United States, I believe, it is for the same reason that men prefer women shave their legs and pits. It's strictly cultural.

POSTED 2/19/2002

V. Andersen, Phoenix, AZ, United States, 53, Female, Buddhist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer analyst, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 2192002100303


It can generally be said that hair is kind of nasty. I know it seems impractical for men who have sparse, unchecked hair all over to shave or wax it all, but male models and actors do it because your average woman finds that more attractive than sparse, patchy thickets of body hair. Any complaints that men might have of the fact that a smooth chest is difficult to upkeep would likely fall upon unsympathetic ears where women are concerned, for whom the practice of shaving legs and pits is considered basic upkeep.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Justin, Chicago, IL, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 28200215553


I don't like excessive amounts of any physical feature - I don't like excessively muscled bodies, or excessively hairy, etc. A moderate amount of hair is fine. I also find that if I get to know a person and like them, I stop noticing how much hair, or muscles, or anything else, they have - even weight sort of fades into invisibility once I know a person.

POSTED 2/19/2002

K., Austin, TX, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 212200294600


When I was a teenager, I thought hairy guys were unnattractive. But now that I'm a little older and the guys my age are the ones that are hairy, I find it more attractive. One thought: maybe because girls spend all their time shaving their legs, waxing their lips, bleaching their tummies, etc., they're trained to not like hair.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Carrie J., Provo, UT, United States, 21, Female, White/Caucasian, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 213200233518

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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


Responses:
Let me preface this by noting that my comments concern a Judeo-Christian background (Catholic). I cannot accept the notion of an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving God that allows terrible things to happen to innocent people. Formally, this is known as the Problem of Evil. However, I did not reject my upbringing on the basis of abstract reasoning; rather, I could not bear the immediate sight of innocent suffering. I realized that I could not feel love or awe for a deity which could prevent suffering, yet did not choose to do so. T.S. Elliot put it much more eloquently than I can: 'If you love someone, you don't want them to suffer. You want to take their sufferings on yourself. If even I feel this way, why doesn't God?'

POSTED 2/18/2002

Paul J. N., Baton Rouge, LA, United States, 23, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Philosophy graduate student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 217200281825


For me it was two factors: having been raised Catholic, I disagreed with may of the Church doctrines and their inflexibility. In addition, with many religions I see both leaders and adherents twisting their scriptures to promote agendas of hate and intolerance. While I no longer consider myself a Christian, I do believe in a higher power, but I just have not found it necessary to give a name to him, her or it.

POSTED 2/18/2002

Dave M., Phoenix, AZ, United States, 26, Male, undecided on religion, White/Caucasian, Straight, sales, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 217200290534


You have used two terms that don't necessarily mean the same thing: 'faith' and 'religion.' Faith is the belief in a power greater than oneself (simply stated). Religion is a whole other kettle of fish. Organized religion is taught; faith is felt. Religion is divided, i.e. Catholic, Jewish, etc. Faith just is. Once you become caught up in the various 'teachings' and 'divisions' of religions, it's no wonder people become disillusioned. Not to mention the atrocities commited against mankind in the name of religions.

POSTED 2/18/2002

Serene, Chandler, AZ, United States, 43, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Business Owner, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2182002104714


I very nearly renounced Christianity after becoming involved with a very controlling, manipulative and sometimes downright abusive church. They did many hurtful things to me claiming it was for my own good, and the way they used the Bible to justify what they did made me wonder if following the Bible really meant following the same evil they did. In the end, I believe what kept me from leaving was the realization that while there are too many people who do evil in the name of God, there are many sincere Christians who focus on compassion and kindness. If it had not been for some examples I had known while growing up, it is quite possible I would have been writing this response from the perspective of someone who is no longer a Christian. So, I think the prime reason for those who leave is a saying some cynic whose name eludes me coined long ago: 'The worst advertisement for religion is its adherents.'

POSTED 2/19/2002

Matt C., Covington, GA, United States, 23, Male, Christian, Mesg ID 216200285406


It's hard to have faith in a God that leaves you in the hands of a sexually abusive mother who rents you out to men. Having been abused as a child is certainly one reason people don't believe.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Jason G., Rockwall, TX, United States, 52, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Post Traumatic Stress, Mgr-Disabled, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 217200252348


It was the 'one size fits all' syndrome that turned me away from religion. It seems that all faiths profess to be the one true faith, most in a very distasteful 'We know better than you what you should think' zealotry. I didn't like being treated like a mental defective who needed detailed instructions from some nebulous source on how to live my life, feel my emotions and think my thoughts. I came to prefer a rational, science-based outlook that makes much more sense to me than some submissive theory of proper behavior. In addition, I find that the more a religion shouts that it is The One, the more I disdain and actively promote its demise. In a rational world, we'd all believe in science and ourselves, not a pack of fairy tales spun to control us.

POSTED 2/19/2002

L., Honolulu, HI, United States, 44, Female, White/Caucasian, clerical, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 2182002122414v

I can only speak from my own experience. My father is Jewish and my mother agreed to raise us in his faith (I don't even know what religion she was before she met my dad). We all attended temple, and not long after my two older brothers were bat mitzvahed, my parents stopped making me go to Saturday school and Hebrew school. Soon, no one was going, so my sister and I never did get bat mitzvahed. It was very important to my father to have his sons bar mitzvahed, because this is what his father would have wanted, had he lived to see the boys turn 13. Basically, the message I got as a child was it wasn't important enough for me to finish, maybe because I was female. So I lost interest in organized religion, and I haven't ever found a religion that answered all my questions satisfactorily.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Sue, Canoga Park, CA, United States, 36, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 27200224625


I'm an atheist. I realize the benefits of religion. It can teach so many good morals to people. But too many people get caught up in thinking that there is one god, and it is theirs. Then they start discriminating against other religions and people in the name of their 'God.' Some people get blinded and start acting in opposition to their religion in their quest to promote their god. Plus, religious people often think that EVERYTHING about their religion is right, even stuff they know in their heart is wrong. So they'll take the good with the bad. I believe in faith, but I don't think I have to believe in a 'God' to have faith. I really don't know if there is a god, and I really don't care. I think it's more important to do what is right than to believe in a god. Those religions like Christianity, which I grew up in, tend to say that if you do right your whole life to other people but don't believe in a God, you're going to hell. That makes no sense to me, and I really doubt there could be a god like that that could be so cruel. When I explain this to people who are religious, they ask me why am I good if I don't have a God to punish me if I'm bad. I respond that the way I act now affects my happiness on this earth. If I treat others mean, I certainly get meanness in return.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Yuna, New York, NY, United States, 18, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 213200214614


Many people just wake up to the fact that the only reason they have a religion in the first place is that it has been taught to them by their parents and other influences - much in the same way racial prejudices are taught. If you are told all your life that other races are inferior, you will most likely believe it, until you start asking real questions. Then you can make up your own mind. A thought: at one time everyone thought the earth was flat. Why? Everyone's parents and teachers told them so.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Gunter V. H., Ottawa, PA, Canada, Mesg ID 213200214137

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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


I don't think the older folks are being nice because they are afraid of you, but possibly because you ARE helping them. If you are used to being ignored or followed around, and someone genuinely wants to help, you do appreciate it. Think about it: if you're getting older, maybe your eyesight isn't what it used to be, or maybe you can't lift as much, etc., so when someone offers help, you take it. As for the younger people, there are many instances in which store employess have unfairly profiled black shoppers as if they may steal something. And they don't have to be young or poor. It happened to Oprah in New York City. If I go into a store and leave without buying something, sometimes I feel like they may think I am stealing.

POSTED 2/10/2002

Senetra, Anderson, IN, United States, 28, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 28200284031


Put the 'old blacks grew up in an oppressive society' and 'young blacks think that a 'hello' is equivalent to 'whacha gonna steal?'' arguments to rest. Old people are nicer in general, and young people are more likely to be rude. It's just a common thing in a lot of countries, not just the United States. If it makes you feel any better, all races of teenagers are treated as potential shoplifters. Simple fact is, most caught shoplifters ARE teenagers and thats a stigma they will all have to bear until they grow up. I had to put up with it and so did many others. Trick is if you don't act like a jerk in a store, be polite and smile often merchants and security won't hassle you. Just one of life's lessons.

POSTED 2/10/2002

Allan M., Halifax, Nova Scotia, NA, Canada, 22, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Student, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 29200220451


I don't understand some of these responses that equate 'politeness' with 'conditioning.' Is it a BAD idea to treat someone with the same kindness and manners they have afforded you? Is it a subordinate response to react with politeness and dignity and regard? I think, in general, older people are more polite, and I am disturbed by the fact that people would construe good manners as some sort of plot by 'the Man.' Grow up.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Chris, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 29, Female, Buddhist, Straight, writer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 215200244655


It's because older black people actually had to deal with real racism, while their younger counterparts merely use perceived racism to justify acting rude or obnoxious. Older black people have perspective on the situation, and realize that things are actually a lot better than they were in the '40s or '50s. Most young blacks have no idea what racism really is. Having store clerks assume you're going to shoplift isn't racism, it's a conditioned response to the fact that most people who shoplift are young. Not black, white, male or female. Just young.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Matt, Boston, MA, United States, 26, Male, Buddhist, Native American/American Indian, Straight, Designer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2142002123548


Most young people are not raised to have the good manners older people have. It's the child worship syndrome in action.

POSTED 2/19/2002

L., Honolulu, HI, United States, 44, Female, White/Caucasian, clerical, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 2182002122606


Race and ethnicity have nothing to do with politeness or rudeness. Neither does age, except that in gerneralities that young people can have a natural bravado. That being said, I remember a Sixty Minutes story a few years back showing an inner city minister doing outreach with some neighborhood youths. Both were Afro-Americans. The young men were complaining about how they felt the fear and distrust among store owners, clerks, etc. The minister looked them straight in the eye and said, 'If you dress like a thug, walk like a thug, act like a thug and talk like a thug, don't start crying because people treat you like you're a thug.'

POSTED 2/19/2002

Dennis, Boston, MA, , Mesg ID 282002124520

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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


It is very common in Latin America to see an age difference such as this. When my aunt married my uncle, she was 14 and he was 26. They have been happily married for 25 years. She was 19 when she had her first child. Two years later, she gave birth to another child, and that was it. They were a very healthy and stable family. In Latin America, Hispanics figure the man should be prepared to support his family and the woman should be fertile and able to give a safe birth. Access to medical aid is very, very low there, so by the time the woman is in her 30s, it gets very dangerous to give birth.

POSTED 2/13/2002

Geneva, Porterville, CA, United States, 19, Female, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 2132002104307


I wish I had the book with me, so I could refer you to the article. It was an anthology of legal and theological essays about American constructions of motherhood and how they play out legally. This essay was by a Latina lawyer, about the case of a 13-year-old Mexican-American girl in Texas who lived with and had a child by a man in his twenties. (Could it be the same case? This one was settled in the mid-90s.) If I'm remembering correctly (I read the article about 2 years ago), he was prosecuted for statutory rape charges; at issue was whether the girl, defined as his common-law wife, should go to school rather than stay home with the baby. The charges were dismissed on the basis of the cultural defense--lawyers argued that in Mexican culture, it was acceptable for such couplings and therefore, he didn't know he was committing statutory rape. The author of the article argued against this defense, characterizing it as a way for American officials to evade their responsibility to protect the girl's well-being--if she had been white, there's no way that defense would have flown. The author also characterized it as a way for people to cloak the sexism encapsulated by the defense in 'cultural sensitivity'--essentially using one political cause to sell out another--which is why the case divided liberals so much. I will look up the author and the article and refer you to it.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Samara, Keene, NH, United States, 24, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Writer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 213200271811


This is never acceptable, and it's not cultural. You don't mention how old the male is, but it still sounds like statutory rape to me. Tell the attorney that he's only making the problem worse by stereotyping and not helping the young girl in this situation.

POSTED 2/19/2002

Rosanna, Oakland, CA, United States, 32, Female, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, fundraising, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2142002122126


I don't think it's necessarily a Hispanic thing. It's probably more socioeconomic. He might be the best thing going for her right now, even if he's a loser. Later on, she might shed him or stay dependent upon him for life. I had a friend who married at 18 (Hispanic) to a guy who seemed to have it all together - American pilot, photographer, older. He was actually a loser who suggested keeping their marriage 'open' after they were married. Eventually they divorced, and she moved on. Did he use her, or did she use him?

POSTED 2/19/2002

Honey, Springboro, OH, United States, 32, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 213200242938

To respond
BACK TO TOP


    Copyright and disclaimer