Best of the Week
of March 5, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of March 5, 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:

I have noticed some lesbians are very overt about their sexual orientation in a way that I have trouble describing. It's sort of angry, sort of in-your-face. I am not talking about holding hands or kissing in public. For example, there is a lesbian couple at work who got into some very graphic dancing at a work party (like mimicing their sex positions). I guess I don't understand why some lesbians feel the need to act like, "I'm a lesbian!", when I never see straight people acting like, "I'm straight!" Can anyone help me understand this?
POSTED 6/28/1999
Edna, Yonkers, NY, United States, 31, Female, Straight, Teacher, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class,Mesg ID 62699100156

Responses:
Did it bother you that it was two women, or that it was people you knew dancing provocatively? Would you have reacted the same way to a straight couple from your place of work 'mimicing their sex positions' on the dance floor? Perhaps you're just not used to seeing it when it's two women or men. You're fooling yourself when you say "I never see straight people acting like, 'I'm straight!'" Any expression of a man and a woman being together - from simply holding hands or kissing to dancing the Lambada - is their way of saying just that. Think back how people reacted 30 years ago when they would see an interracial couple displaying any kind of affection. A lesbian or gay couple dancing closely - perhaps quite provacatively - is no different than a straight couple doing the same thing, and certainly is still much less visible in mainstream society. It's not necessarily meant to make any statement other than 'we're enjoying ourselves and being ourselves.' It's a question of society realizing that there is no difference. The fact that they felt comfortable enough to be themselves amongst co-workers - especially if you are in the education profession - says a lot about the environment you all work in. In most places, that would not be the case. I'm looking forward to the time when the whole of society could allow gays and lesbians to feel comfortable about being themselves to the extent that they allow straight couples to.
POSTED 3/10/2000
Janet, New York, NY, United States, 35, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Educator, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6309911820
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Question:
When people make fun of mentally retarded people, I wonder if they (the mentally retarded person) are aware of it? How does this make them feel?
POSTED 3/8/2000
Katie, Central Square, NY, United States, 15, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Less than High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 372000111200

Responses
Mentally disabled people are often very aware that others are making fun of them. And just like anyone else, it hurts. Unless you were so severely disabled that you could not relate to others (and would therefore not be out in public or attending even private affairs), you'd be quite aware that others think of you as 'damaged,' and many, many mentally disabled people suffer devastating damage to their self-esteem. If people had any idea of what life is like for the mentally disabled, they would behave with far more respect and compassion than they do. When I witness a person 'making fun' of the mentally disabled, it is clear in my mind who has the true mental disability.
POSTED 3/10/2000
Sandra, Rosedale, WA, United States, 44, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class,Mesg ID 39200034827

I have a mentally retarded brother, and he is far more sensitive to people's emotions and attitudes than most 'normal' people I know. He definitely knows when someone doesn't like him; he responds to people just like anyone else would. He just responds differently. He isn't capable of speaking up for himself and 'poking fun' right back at his attacker. He gets angry and hurt just like anyone else. Retarded people aren't stupid, you know. Also, why didn't you say 'Making fun' instead of 'poking fun'? That's what it is. Is it only 'poking fun' because they're retarded? Making fun of retarded people is a horrible thing to do. They can't help the way they are, any more than you can help the color of your eyes or skin. And while I'm at it, to people who say 'that's retarded' or 'you're retarded' - cut it out. You're ignorant.
POSTED 3/10/2000
Anonymous Female, Boston, MA, United States, 32, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, computer analyst, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 39200094150
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Question:
Why doesn't the Bible mention dinosaurs? I have been told, "Well, they didn't know about them back then." Isn't the Bible supposed to be the word of God? If it is indeed the words of the Judeo/Christian God, then dinosaurs should be mentioned. Doesn't this prove that the Bible is a book of parables written by men, who said it was the word of their god to make people follow it? Also, if the human race was wiped out by the flood, except for Noah and his family, where do we get all the different races and the facial characteristics of the black and Asian races? I don't understand how a religion that contradicts itself so much, and has so many glaring mistakes could become so popular.
POSTED 3/9/2000
Sue, Fort Worth, TX, United States, 45, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 39200054328

Responses:
The Bible does not mention every animal that God created by name. However, in Genesis 1:24, it states that 'God made the beast of the earth after his kind.' The Bible also states in Genesis 2:20 that Adam named all cattle, birds and beasts. The word 'beast' includes several types of large animals. Because of man's sin, God confounded the languages and scattered the people throughout the earth, hence the different races. It sounds as if you have been listening to and believing all sorts of stories about the Bible from people who obviously don't know what they're talking about. I've heard many people say there are contradictions in the Bible, but none of them can name or show me one. Just so you know, there are none, and this is from someone who has read God's Word through several times ,from Genesis to Revelations (beginning to end).
POSTED 3/10/2000
Redeemed One, Newport News, VA, United States, 51, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Administrative Coordinator, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 39200010431

I agree with the point you're making. I think the Christian religion has been used as a tool of social control for centuries. I was brought up as a Christian but rejected it at a young age.
POSTED 3/10/2000
Priscilla, Sydney, NA, Australia, 23, Female, Humanist, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Accountant, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 310200062900

I'd say there are no dinosaurs in the Bible probably because there are no archaeologists in the Bible. Dinosaurs were long gone by the time the Bible was supposedly written. If no one was there to dig them up, then no one could write a parable about them. And if glaring mistakes and self-contradiction were truly an impediment to popularity, we would never even get through our presidential elections, much less anything else.
POSTED 3/10/2000
Anna, Austin, TX, United States, 28, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 39200044134

The Bible is a book of faith, not a book of science. It is intended to be a spiritual guide. Fundamentalists believe the Bible is literal, but many other Christians look for the message behind the stories. There probably was not a flood that wiped out all of existence. However, perhaps the message of the story is that some people are saved, while others are not. Also, there is no reason God should have included the existence of dinosaurs in a book about how to live life well. That would be like adding a chapter on geology to a book about the French Revolution. It is just not relevant.
POSTED 3/10/2000
Laura J., Colorado Springs, CO, United States, 20, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 39200045013
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Question:
Why do white women think they have the right to tell any black person they encounter what to do? In every job I have had (including the military), white women always had the gall to try and tell me how to do my job - particularly when their skillset was unrelated to what I do, or considerably less than mine (15 years' experience). It is even worse for the few black males in my department. They can't even respond to these women that they want to be left alone to do their jobs, or the women will run whining to the department head, stating they were 'Spoken to in a threatening manner and feel uncomfortable' - thereby causing even more problems. Why can't they mind their own business, and let people do the jobs they were trained and hired to do?
POSTED 3/6/2000
G.E. Long, Chicago, IL, United States, <gelong@usa.net>, 37, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, IT Management, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 7291999115545

Responses:
I've had managers and bosses that gave bad, unsolicited advice. I've been micromanaged by idiots in the past. I've had meddling, irksome co-workers. And I'm white. Perhaps your previous white female co-workers were arrogant, covertly racist or simply bad managers. I don't think there is any cultural predisposition for bossiness or arrogance in white women. Some are; some aren't. Bad managers exist everywhere across all the borders of race, class, etc.
POSTED 3/8/2000
Lisa, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 24, Female, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Comedien, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 37200035336

I've never heard of white women being more bossy, if you will, than other women, but I mind my own business and don't usually like to tell people anything, much less how to do their job. I'm sorry that you feel this way, but I hope that you won't let those negative experiences color your view of people, especially white women, in the future. I have had many bad experiences with many different kinds of people, but I try to restrain from making blanket statements about what kind of people create the entire group.
POSTED 3/8/2000
Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, United States, 31, Female, Presbyterian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Data Management, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 372000103123
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Question:
To people who have been both poor and rich: I read a study that surprised me: The richest people rated themselves as only slightly happier than the poorest people. Does that finding hold true for you?
POSTED 2/29/2000
Gerry, Fort Worth, TX, United States, 34, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Tech Support, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 2252000101338

Responses:
Yes. yes. yes. There is something comforting about coming home to a neighborhood with paved streets and sidewalks where folks aren't hanging out on the corner. There is something that makes me happy to open the refrigerator or the pantry and see food in plenty of supply. There is something that makes me happy to realize that when my shoes have holes I can pay to have the shoemaker repair them and not just stick something water-resistant inside. There is something comforting about being able to have and run an air-conditioner in the summer and not worry that if I leave my windows open because of the horrible heat that someone will come in and harm me. Money has made all the difference in my world. Money buys safety, and that is a basic human need.
POSTED 3/7/2000
Anne, North, FL, United States, 39, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Health Administrator, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 35200093416

I won't say this for everyone, but yeah I'd rate happiness as constant with personality rather than class. I live in a town outside of Boston filled with housing projects and all of the despair of a typical American ghetto, but the people I live with are about as happy as the middle-class kids I go to college with. I think being poor conditions you to accepting the horrors of life because they happen to you early and often. We become immune. Of course, you should allow for the fact that we really don't know what is going inside anyone's head. I know that I always try and act happy, because it's not a good idea to alienate people in Charlestown. I will allow that this just might be a social condition that poor kids in violent neighborhoods who need 'protection' develop.
POSTED 3/7/2000
Seamus M., Charlestown, MA, United States, 20, Male, Student, Lower class, Mesg ID 34200062957

Poorest I've been: two years when I made about an eighth of the federal poverty level for a family of four (I was single for the first year of it). Richest: about the bottom of the top eighth of the population. Many spots in between before settling into a regular job with a paycheck plus a steady business. Now I'm comfortable. I'm a lot more content now. And the high-income years were fun! Life with money isn't life without worry, but it's life with less worry, and that's a lot. So in that sense I'm happier. But in the sense of how much of a pleasure each day or week is, that's unchanged. You can enjoy your life or not. Some lives are easier to enjoy, or harder, but finally you either find things to like or find ways to suffer. And I have never seen any correlation between how much people choose to enjoy life and how much they have to enjoy. If you can't taste the miracle of hot tomato soup after a February day working as a mover's helper in the rain, you probably can't taste the miracle of a perfect rack of lamb in a four-star Paris restaurant. I've enjoyed both. So yeah, rich beats the heck out of poor as an experience - but not because it makes you happier.
POSTED 3/7/2000
John B., rural area, CO, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, college professor, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 2292000114754

Happiness comes from within, not material possessions. When I was growing up, my family didn't have very much money, and we went through some very lean times. I used to think that if only we had more money, everything would be better. Then I became friends with a girl at school who came from a fairly well-off family. As I got to know her family, I realized that they were all very unhappy and quite dysfunctional. I began to appreciate my family. We didn't have much money, but I always knew I could count on them and that they loved me no matter what.
POSTED 3/8/2000
Jacqueline C., San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class,Mesg ID 372000125327
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Question:
I'm curious about what girls my age want, and what attracts them to guys. I've spent half my life as a criminal and just recently went straight and got my GED. I'm going to community college in the suburbs, and I've found I have no idea how to talk to the ladies out there. It's kind of funny, a former bad-ass like myself getting tongue-tied when I talk to relatively sheltered women, but it happens. I'm reasonably attractive with a jolly Irish way about my face, but girls are really standoffish when I approach, much more so than with other guys. Any insight would be much appreciated.
POSTED 2/28/2000
Seamus M., Charlestown, MA, United States, <madskat@home.com>, 20, Male, Straight, Student, High School diploma , Lower class, Mesg ID 2272000103359

Responses:
Girls want to be treated like people. How would you befriend a guy in your class? Maybe by talking about how tough an assignment was, or whether you like the class, or what other classes you're taking, or the weather, or sports, or politics or whatever! So pretend the girl is another guy, and with the exception of eliminating the obvious guy-to-guy stuff like how hot the prof is, talk to her on that level. It took me a long time to figure out how to talk to guys, so I know how you feel. Don't think about whether they'll become interested in you or whatever, just concentrate on making friends. The other stuff will come with that.
POSTED 3/7/2000
Stephanie, Waterloo, Ontario, NA, Canada, 19, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, University Student,. Mesg ID 35200050237

I'm pleased to meet you, because I'm in the same boat. In my high school years I had an unusually bad reputation (my situation was different from that of the common thug), and my notoriety got to the point where there were rumors floating around that I had a closet full of bodies. For some reason, in certain circles, noteriety equals prestige. Nobody messed with me, and everyone wanted me on their side. But the good Lord straightened me out, and now I'm as upstanding as the next young man. However, when it comes to 'sheltered girls' ... I think I scare them. I'm still rather imposing (the way I talk, the way I stare, etc.), and my experiences are strikingly different from that of the average college kid, let alone a girl who grew up in an upper-middle class suburb and was a cheerleader. I don't want to date an addict or 'thuggette,' which was all that was available back in the day, yet my chances seem pretty slim with 'daddy's little girl.' But I'll tell you something: consider it advantageous, as in, a 'filtration system.' Only a girl who is special enough to see past my past and through my demeanor will be the one for me.
POSTED 3/7/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, <aztec_fly@hotmail.com>, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, student, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 31200015842
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Question:
I seem to notice that a lot of black people have buck teeth, gap teeth or both. Why is that? Also, I am curious why a lot of black people seem fascinated with gold teeth.
POSTED 2/28/2000
Lee, St. Louis, MO, United States, Straight, Student, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 2272000113418

Responses:
I can't say for sure, but I would guess that the answer is more economic than racial. Orthodontic work is very expensive and usually not covered by insurance. White parents may be better able to afford braces for their children, while black parents are not. So, it would seem reasonable that you would see more blacks with buck teeth or gaps than whites, because they weren't able to afford to have those problems corrected.
POSTED 3/7/2000
Sara, Lansing, MI, United States, 37, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Manager, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 31200043222

I urge you to examine white people's teeth as hard as you do 'black folks.' You will see those same imperfections, as well as others. Also, you may have only observed black people who have no interest in paying for expensive dental work and see their 'gaps' as signs of character (like the model Laura Hutton and Madonna do). The gold tooth thing is just a cultural thing, usually among lower-class black people. There is no explanation for it, other than they think gold teeth are cool (just like some people think pierced tongues are cool). And gold looks particularly attractive against darker skin.
POSTED 3/7/2000
Tish, Newark, NJ, United States, Black/African American, Graduate Student, Mesg ID 32200083955
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