Best of the Week
of Feb. 20, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Feb. 20, 2000, 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 new 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 new database as well). In the Original Archives and the new 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.


Question:
For commuting reasons, my partner and I are moving from the city to an upper middle-class suburb (Eden Prairie, MN). My head is filled with nasty stereotypes about suburbia. I fear conformity, materialism, unfriendliness, racism and homophobia. What can we really expect?
POSTED 7/21/1999
Rhiannon, Minneapolis, MN, United States, <rock0048@tc.umn.edu>, 29, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Professor, Middle class, Mesg ID 7149995452

Responses:
About 13 years ago, my father, a successful Hispanic businessman, was planning to move into our present house. The neighborhood was affluent upper-middle class, and because he worked late into the night, he found himself moving a carload of things into the house in the evening. A party was going on, and the guests had parked in our driveway, so my dad got out to ask a hired security guard to get someone to move them. He scoffed at my father, as did others who were just leaving, not believing my father could live there. My father showed he lived there by producing the control to the garage door, and the party-goers then rushed to get out of his way. Today, I don't know a single one of my neighbors, except for my uncle, who lives across the street, but I believe this is because of apathy on all parts. I'm not saying all neighborhoods are like that, but that's what ours is like.
POSTED 2/23/2000
John C., San Antonio, TX, United States, 17, Male, Hispanic/Latino, Host, High School Diploma , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 7251999104157
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Question:
How can women justify spending thousands of dollars on fertility treatments to have their own babies, when thousands of unwanted children are in orphanages? I'd prefer a response from a family that has gone through or is considering fertility treatments, or professionals who deal with such issues.
POSTED 2/23/2000
Alex, Elkins Park, PA, United States, <first_wizard@hotmail.com>, 16, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, High school student, Less than High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 2222000110013
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Question:
Why do older people seem to not like teens nowadays? Why is it that they have a bad opinion about them at all times? It seems that teens and older people never get along.
POSTED 2/22/2000
Carlos, Porterville, CA, United States, <coseguera@ocsnet.net>, 20, Male, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 2212000114139
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Question:
Is it true that Europeans are less dependent on the car than North Americans, and if so, what are the reasons for this difference?
POSTED 2/22/2000
C.P., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 22, Female, Mesg ID 2222000102549
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Question:
I recently overheard a conversation between two black women at the store. They were talking about a man they both met, to which one of them was attracted. One said, 'Girl, what you wanna go out wit him for? He got ashy knees.' What are ashy knees, and why would this be so bad that one wouldn't want to go out with a man with them?
POSTED 2/18/2000
TreeSprite, n/a, IL, United States, 31, Female, White/Caucasian, Homemaker, Over 4 Years of College , Lower class, Mesg ID 218200032503

Responses:
Ashiness on dark skin means that the skin is dry and flaky, so it looks 'ashy.' It is in very bad taste to leave the house with an ashy face, or ashy knees and elbows ... it just speaks to whether or not you have any personal pride in your appearance. It means you are unkempt - although it's nothing a little lotion can't fix!
POSTED 2/22/2000
Wildflower, Long Beach, CA, United States, 30, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Assistant Academic Coordinator, Mesg ID 222200051325

First, I think you need to be chastised for your use of incorrect spelling and grammar to record what you thought was being said. Most people in America - black, white, Asian or Hispanic - do not properly ennuciate in spoken dialogue. However, had the women been of your own race, I doubt you would have made such a effort to 'exhibit realism.' As for your question, 'ashy' refers to dry skin. When people's skin gets very dry, it turns sort of flaky and looks kind of like a thin layer of ash on the skin (there's a demonstration with a magnifier on a Curel lotion commercial). In the same way that dandruff is more noticeable in darker-haired people than in lighter-haired people, dry, flaky, 'ashy' skin is more noticeable on darker-skinned people than on lighter-skinned people. No, that does not mean only black people get ashy, and yes, black people do use lotion.) Whether someone's dry skin keeps you from wanting to go out with them is a personal choice, just like any other aesthetic quality. POSTED 2/22/2000
Amanda, Boston, MA, United States, 19, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, student, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 2202000103522

'Ashy' is a term black folks use to describe dry skin, especially on elbows or knees. Among us, ashiness is practically a mortal sin (especially since Vaseline is cheap and plentiful). A man who allows himself to be ashy is perceived as not caring about his personal appearance. Thus, the women's rejection of him.
POSTED 2/22/2000
E.D., Kansas City, MO, United States, 43, Female, Black/African American, Middle class, Mesg ID 218200094849

When people of color have dry skin it becomes ashy. This is because the thin layers of skin being sloughed off turn whitish and are visible against darker skin, giving an ashy look to it. White people have the same dry skin, but it doesn't show because their skin is light. Most people can take care of their ashy skin by scrubbing the area well to get rid of the dead skin and then applying extra lotion.
POSTED 2/22/2000
Lucy H., San Jose, CA, United States, 25, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 218200060218
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Question:
Why is it like joining a sorority when a female wants to play tennis?
POSTED 2/21/2000
D. Davidson, NorthHampton, NH, United States, Mesg ID 1229199985118
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Question:
Why do some homosexuals refuse to entertain extending to other minorities the same civil rights that they themselves demand? For instance, polygamy and homosexuality are types of behavior that are not inborn, yet some homosexuals disdain polygamists. Is this a double standard?
POSTED 2/21/2000
Normand O.L., Alameda, CA, United States, 50, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mechanic, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6179915345

Responses:
Your premise is wrong: People do not choose to become homosexual. People are born homosexual or heterosexual or bisexual. People choose how to express their sexuality; they can choose to bond with one person or with more than one. (Or with none.) Minorities thus come in two types: Those created by birth/conception (like skin color or sexual orientation) and those created by choice (like religion). One can choose to be a Catholic. But one does not choose to be male. Now, of course, that difference raises questions: Should choices be honored and even protected? Many cultures believe that such choices should not; witness the many wars of religion. At its strongest, the American system at least in theory respects these differences. But this system wars against the human tendency to see difference as bad. Thus the ongoing attacks on people of the 'wrong' faith or skin color or sexual orientation.
POSTED 2/22/2000
Thom, Washington, DC, United States, 57, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 221200095039

Many scientific studies have shown homosexuality is ingrained at birth - it's not a 'choice.' Equating a trait a person has no control over with a behavior a person consciously chooses makes no sense.
POSTED 2/22/2000
Andrew, Huntington, NY, United States, <ziptron@start.com.au>, 36, Male, Jewish, Straight, Reporter, 4 Years of College,Mesg ID 221200053428

1) Most research points to a large portion of homosexual orientation being genetic (inborn). 2) Polygamy (and polygamists) refers to a type of marriage - which in some non-Western cultures is still the normative behavior. 3) The disdain you may be perceiving over 'polygamists' vs. gays is probably backlash for the hypocrisy shown by the Mormon church - which winks and nods at polygamy in its own ranks and history, yet spends millions of dollars backing anti-same-sex marriage initiatives (Hawaii, California, etc.). 4) Not to make too fine a point about 'inborn' behaviors, but religion is a chosen behavior, not a genetic trait. It is, however, a behavior that benefits from many 'special rights' granted in law. Unfortunately, that special status has led many to believe that these special rights also include discrimination of gays and lesbians with impunity, or worse, the right to harass, beat and even kill as an extension of their 'god's will.'
POSTED 2/22/2000
Michael, Houston, TX, United States, 38, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Gay, Intranet Manager, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 221200020439

It's not a double standard, because your analogy is false. Polygamy is a cultural practice. We do not extend legal recognition to polygamous arrangments for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that it's widely considered to be prone to instability and inherently exploitative as a social structure (witness the situation of women in many Islamic countries). You liken being gay to polygamy by claiming that homosexuality is a 'type of behavior' which is 'not inborn.' How do you know that it isn't? Are you a geneticist? What's your evidence? Even if homosexuality is the result of environmental factors and not genetics, it is not experienced as chosen (your own church acknowledges this, by the way). Homosexuality is not a cultural practice or �behavior.� It is an orientation, which may or may not manifest itself in behavior. A celibate gay priest, a 15-year-old virgin, a closeted man married to a woman, a promiscuous party-boy and a man in a long-term monogamous gay relationship are all equally gay, even though their behaviors are radically different. And unlike polygamy (at least as our culture views it), gay relationships are not inherently unstable or exploitative. Now here's a question for you: Why do some Christians refuse to entertain extending to other minorities the same civil rights that they themselves already enjoy? Religion is a type of behavior that is not inborn, yet some Christians claim that homosexuality is a 'chosen behavior' and disdain gays for it. Is this a double standard?
POSTED 2/22/2000
Rob, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 32, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Filmmaker, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 2212000115549
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Question:
Are women wary of hugging a non-boyfriend guy friend so that their chest is squeezed against his? I can get away with avoiding this issue because I'm a bit taller than most women, and I have to bend slightly to hug them. I guess I'm wondering how fuzzy the line of showing affection is with women. Do you generally not hug a guy closely if you don't know him very well, and then more closely once you do?
POSTED 2/21/2000
Allan, Marquette, MI, United States, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Student, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 220200042500

Responses:
It doesn't really matter who I am hugging - I like hugs to be close and tight. When someone gives me one of those only-shoulders-touching with the quick pat-on-the-back hug, it makes me feel like I have cooties.
POSTED 2/22/2000
S.R., Austin, TX, United States, 22, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, student, Mesg ID 2212000102027

I am a young woman who is a Christian and can tell you that my views on this subject have changed since I became a Christian. 'Full body' hugging is off-limits (for me) with anyone other than my husband or family. I think that to hug a man like that, it naturally creates desire for him. Men are more easily aroused than women, and women should be conscious of this fact.
POSTED 2/22/2000
J.B., Tallahassee, FL, United States, 24, Female, Baptist, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 221200010007

I don't get offended by a close hug. I think it depends on the woman. But I have also noticed something that has to do with culture or upbringing: In every picture of my Caucasian friend with her arm around a guy, her arm is around him, but the rest of her body is sticking out, not touching his at all. I tease her and call it, 'The White Girl hug.' I don't think it's all Caucasians, though, just the way you were raised. In my culture, when you greet someone, you kiss them on the cheek and give them a hug. It's just like a hand shake and doesn't mean anything else. I was taught that closeness was a way of being polite, and I've always done it without thinking.
POSTED 2/23/2000
Pilar, Miami, FL, United States, <pilarsita@hotmail.com>, 23, Female, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, Student, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 222200010207

I'm a 22-year-old university student with a lot of male friends. I find that platonic affection is just as 'huggy' as in any other relationship. Of course, hugging closely will mean your chest is pressed against his, but because both's feelings are platonic, I see no reason we shouldn't demonstrate our mutual and platonic affection. If your best friend is male, as mine is, and you share a bond, what better way to demonstrate that than through a genuine, warm and affectionate hug?
POSTED 2/23/2000
Annique-Elise, n/a, NA, Canada, 22, Female, White/Caucasian, Deaf, student, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 2222000114157
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Question:
I often hear conservative Christians talking about 'namby-pamby' religion when refering to tolerance. Rush Limbaugh, for example, prides himself on being Christian, yet mocks President Carter for starting a program for housing the homeless, calling him 'The Carpenter President.' Another conservative host quoted Martin Luther King: 'Love is the strongest weapon,' and added, 'Well, isn't that huggy-kissy sentiment.' Christ said to feed the poor, help those in need, love your enemies, etc. This sounds like the same 'huggy-kissy tree-hugging' ideation that is bemoaned, so I am confused. Can a conservative explain this to me?
POSTED 2/21/2000
Craig, Minneapolis, MN, United States, <cmorris@loft.org>, 35, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 62299105717

Responses:
You may just be out baiting conservatives, but your question is unfair. Somewhat like asking why all gay people are like RuPaul, or worse yet Jeffrey Dahmer. There are no Christian police to decide who speaks for God and who doesn't. Rush Limbaugh is on the radio to make money, not to promote religion. As long as he says things that entertain his listeners, they'll be there. He's a fat Howard Stern, no more, no less. The radio broadcasters presenting themselves as representative of conservatism are like the TV ministers, just not as successful. And as long as they pander to bigotry, distrust and the other base inclinations of men, they'll be successful.
POSTED 2/22/2000
Porky, Austin, TX, United States, 60+, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Software, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 221200025645

Many politically conservative Christians have their politics and religion 'all rolled up together', so to speak, and lean towards the doctrines that favor their general worldview. I can only speak first-hand from the Catholic perspective. For instance, a conservative Catholic will usually tell you that poor people should just work harder and if people suffer, they must have done something to bring it on themselves. Sometimes not a lot of thinking goes on in conservative circles, just knee-jerk, pre-programmed answers. But in all fairness, not a whole lot of 'thinking outside the box' goes on in either conservative or liberal camps, neither on political issues nor religious ones. Everybody remembers the 'eye for an eye' and 'judge not lest ye be judged' Bible verses, because these conform to human nature anyway; there are other verses (the 'hard sayings'), some of which challenge conservatives and some of which challenge liberals, and they conveniently ignore these. Any Christian needs to read the Bible front to back, word for word. I did.
POSTED 2/22/2000
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 39, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 2212000102420
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