Best of the Week
of March 18, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of March 18, 2001, 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.

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Question:

Do women fart? If they do, you'd never know it from hanging around with them. Me and countless other guys have always wondered if they do. When a woman is with her close gal pals and nobody is around, do they just let fly? Or when a woman is walking through the woods or something all alone, does she let it slide? I mean, I can't imagine anyone holding it in for their entire friggin' lives! Every gal I've ever tried to ask either denies that they do, or they think me a pig for asking. This looks like a place where I could get an answer for once.

POSTED 3/15/2001

Ernie, Santa Rosa, CA, United States, 28, Male, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, Electrician, Technical School, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 315200110304


Responses:
Of course women fart. It's a natural body function. The main difference between men and women that I've noticed is that usually women hold them until they are away from other people. We can't figure out why men can't seem to do the same thing. Many women would be mortified to fart within the smelling distance of another person - even a stranger. There is a similar thing with spitting - I see men 'hawk a loogie' on the street all the time, and then it sits there on the sidewalk to gross out everybody who passes by. Why do men do that? Women have phlegm, too, yet we manage to keep it to ourselves.

POSTED 3/19/2001

Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 315200142253


I fart, and think it's funny almost as much as men do. But I wouldn't let THEM know that. I fart when I'm by myself, in front of my boyfriend (of three years) or in front of my family. I don't when sitting around with the gals. Apart from the people mentioned above, I don't fart in front of anybody, or talk about my bowel movements.

POSTED 3/19/2001

Lauren, Washington, DC, United States, 21, Female, student, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 315200143535


Everyone passes a certain amount of gas each day. It is vulgar to do so loudly in front of others. Males and females who are mature have learned to pass gas silently and gradually so as not to cause offense. It's not a topic for polite discussion; that's why you've encountered uneasiness in others when you brought it up.

POSTED 3/19/2001

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 316200161857


Me, fart? Never. Of course we fart! I had a female friend several years ago who farted around me, and when I finally accidentally let one slide in her presence, she laughed at my apology and announced to a friend of ours: 'S. finally farted in front of me! She was so embarrassed, it was so cute!' For some reason, it is difficult for some women to admit to normal human functioning; we are unspokenly taught to hide things like farting and masturbation. By the way, I saw a comedy routine in which a male comic imitated the urgent way his wife rushed him out of the house to work in the morning, hurriedly kissing him goodbye with a slightly pained expression on her face. The punchline was that she could not ah, do No. 2 in the restroom until he'd left the house, because it would mar her femininity if he somehow knew that she excreted just like a man.

POSTED 3/19/2001

S.R., San Antonio, TX, United States, 23, Female, Humanist, White/Caucasian, Straight, unemployed, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 3162001120347


Have you been living under a rock the last 28 years? Bodily functions don't differ that much between males and females, although females tend not to do it in public.

POSTED 3/19/2001

LaShaquanda, St. Louis, MO, United States, Female, Mesg ID 316200111920


Yes, women fart. I just ate tuna salad with lots of onions, and I've been farting all afternoon. I let out some pretty rancid ones sometimes. We also burp, hiccup, pick various body parts and scratch ourselves. No, we don't do these things in front of other women very often, except maybe our sisters and moms and closest friends. We're taught that these normal body fuctions are unacceptable. My father is a fairly flatulent man, and I didn't realize until I was in elementary school that it wasn't acceptable to fart in public, especially for a girl. There are all kinds of ways that women are taught to hate their normal bodies. We diet incessantly, layer our faces with makeup, pimple cream and wrinkle cream, color our gray hairs ... and hold in our farts. The only man I feel comfortable farting in front of is my fiance, which is no doubt a sign of true love and trust.

POSTED 3/19/2001

Rhiannon, Eden Prairie, MN, United States, <hyena@visi.com>, 30, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 3172001113450

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Question:

To people with a disability: Does it (or do you let it) keep you from doing something you really want to do?

POSTED 3/21/2001

Becky C., Bernhards Bay, NY, United States, 15, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 3212001122951

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Question:

Why are many elderly people afraid of teenagers? Do most of them think that just because some teens are bad that every teenager is a drug addict who doesn't care about anyone but themselves?

POSTED 3/23/2001

Azrael, Central Square, NY, United States, 16, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 321200115919

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Question:

I have noticed a very curious thing about the personals ads appearing in my local weekly papers. While the 'women seeking men' category has ads from women of all ethnic backgrounds - white, Asian, Latina and African Americans being represented in about equal numbers - I'd say about 85 to 90 percent of the 'men seeking women' ads are placed by white men. There is a smattering of African-American men seeking women, but hardly any Asian or Latino men. This is particularly discouraging for women like me, who find Asian and Latino men attractive. Why, then, is it mostly white men who place the ads? Is there some cultural barrier against non-white men posting personals ads? By the way, I live in the San Francisco Bay area - where, if anything, whites are in the minority - so it has nothing to do with the general population here being mostly white.

POSTED 3/23/2001

Crystal, Oakland, CA, United States, 30s, Female, Pagan, Straight, Office manager/writer, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 321200171604

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Question:

I have always wondered: Do African Americans get suntans?

POSTED 3/19/2001

Cassie, Syracuse, NY, United States, 16, Female, White/Caucasian, Less than High School Diploma, Mesg ID 3172001115328


Responses:
Yes, blacks tan just as whites and others tan. However, many of us do not purposely sit and tan, as others do. I've always wondered why people lie out in the sun to get darker skin. I just don't understand it.

POSTED 3/21/2001

Mike, Detroit, MI, United States, 20, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 319200175334


I don't agree with the first response. I know many black people who purposely tan. My mother, who is a light-skinned black, is one of them. Also, whites are not the only ones who tan. Most light-skinned people do - just as many dark-skinned people want their skin to be lighter. I believe it's just 'something to do' and/or a change. As far as the initial question, I think it was directed to 'dark-skinned' people, and yes, we do 'tan,' or get darker. I'm brown-skinned, and in the summer I get a shade darker. I know also that people from hot countries, including the islands, get lighter when they come to the United States to live. Another thing, though: I've never noticed a darker-skinned person 'shedding' or peeling after getting a tan. I don't understand why.

POSTED 3/23/2001

Alea, Bronx, NY, United States, 21, Female, Christian, Caribbean black, Straight, student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 322200120625


I have found that I get a suntan a lot quicker than most white people I know. I am brown-skinned, and if I sit or walk outside in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes, I get a noticeable tan that lasts for a few weeks.

POSTED 3/23/2001

Johnna, Ann Arbor, MI, United States, 25, Female, Black/African American, Straight, Librarian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 322200112328

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Question:

Why do people call someone with a disability a retard?

POSTED 3/21/2001

Jessica, West Monroe, NY, United States, Female, Mesg ID 3202001123333

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Question:

Why do some people have a hard time accepting the idea of a loving God who created all things?

POSTED 3/21/2001

Debbie P., Anadarko, OK, United States, <dkpdoll@hotmail.com>, 38, Female, Jehovahs Witness, Straight, housewife (social worker/activity director), Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 320200195705


Responses:
First, there is no real evidence of the existence of some omniscient creator. In fact, if you made a list of criteria for something to qualify for non-existence, God would meet all the criteria. Do you believe in the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy? The same arguments against their existence would apply to God. 'Loving God?' Why does He allow innocent babies to suffer all over the world? Religion is just made-up stories people tell their children in order to explain things they themselves don't understand. With my knowledge of human nature, I am able to see that religion is just wishful thinking. People want to believe there is some justice in the universe and that death is not the end of existence. In this regard, religion tells people what they want to hear. But the more knowledge you have of logic and science, the less likely you will be to buy into such supersition.

POSTED 3/23/2001

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 3222001123404

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Question:

I've never had a girlfriend. I feel frustrated. Maybe it's because I'm shy, too much of a regular guy or don't go out at night too often. Are all of my 'disadvantages' strong enough to scare women away?

POSTED 3/21/2001

Carlos M., Miami, FL, United States, 22, Male, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, student, High School Diploma, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 321200192640

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Question:

Why does it seem that many members of the Jewish community have a lot of money, power and smarts? From Einstein to Streisand, and Hollywood to diamond dealing, where does it come from?

POSTED 3/19/2001

G. Chan, Monréal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 18, Male, Agnostic, Asian, Gay, student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 316200111512

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Question:

To Latinos: Is it true that 'gringo' isn't a racial slur? Also, if you speak Spanish and English, do you like or dislike someone trying to speak Spanish with you? Also, I would like to hear comments from people who are Chicano but do not speak Spanish. A white friend of mine went to Salsa night, where the majority of the people were native Spanish speakers, but when he would say, 'Hola, como estas?', he would get, 'I don't speak Spanish. Why would you assume that?'

POSTED 3/19/2001

Craig, Minneapolis, MN, United States, 37, Male, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 316200161202


Responses:
Gringo is from griego, meaning a Greek or someone you can't understand. It's like saying Yankee. It just means where you are from, a land where fewer people speak Spanish. I've never heard it except in Mexico or in old movies. The reaction to talking in Spanish would vary from person to person. A recent Latin immigrant would appreciate it, but hardly anyone else. My own Spanish is weak and loaded with slang, so even in Mexico, I'd tell Americans who assumed I was from there, 'Let's stick to English.' Most of my friends are in the same boat. I know some people get offended by Anglos trying to talk in Spanish to them because that implies, 'Oh, Mexicans, they don't know English. They just got here.' In other words, speaking Spanish to them unless you were asked to first is almost like calling them illegals.

POSTED 3/21/2001

A.C.C., W. Lafayette, IL, United States, Mexican and American Indian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 319200133300


Gringo is the Latin American equivalent of 'Yankee.' However, the word 'gabacho' is racist, at least in Mexican Spanish. I think a 'gabacho' is a white fruit that grows somewhere in Mexico. And I gotta tell you, you really struck a chord when asking about Chicanos who don't speak Spanish. I cannot speak Spanish at all. Neither can my parents. I probably know more than my mom just from cuss words I learned in junior high. My grandparents speak it rather poorly. However, I do not know how many times someone has approached me speaking Spanish and I've had to respond with 'no habla Espanol.' I'm almost apprehensive to go to friends' parties and weddings because I know their relatives are going to think I'm either a gringado (whitewashed) or a complete oddity. However, I haven't had a white person pull that on me yet, though I have had plenty ask if I speak Spanish. They're often suprised to find I can't speak a lick of it. You see, most Latinos who are brought up in the United States either speak very poor, basic or broken Spanish, and there is a growing segment that can't speak it at all (like me). I've known very few U.S.-born Latinos who can speak perfect Spanish. In fact, most people I know who are from Mexico can't speak Spanish as well as they could when they were little. For instance, a friend came here when she was 10, and her Spanish never progressed beyond that point. Also, with my friends who are bilingual, someone trying to speak Spanish who isn't Latino is many times taken as being patronizing. Either that or the Spanish the person learned in high school is totally out of whack with the Spanish they were raised with.

POSTED 3/24/2001

Dan, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 22, Male, Pentecostal, Hispanic/Latino, Student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 321200115333

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Question:

I have a straight-acting male friend who I strongly suspect is gay, but he flirts with me. I am attracted to him, and he obviously knows it. When his gay friend is around, he is very careful not to flirt. Should I just ask him if he is gay?

POSTED 3/12/2001

Beth, Fort Worth, TX, United States, 40, Female, Straight, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 311200195723


Responses:
Ask him, but only if you have no problem with him being gay. If so, you need to make this clear before asking him, or he may say 'no' just to be safe. Perhaps you can ease into a relaxed conversation about homosexuality and give examples to him about how open-minded you are. He may volunteer that he is gay before you get to asking him.

POSTED 3/19/2001

Steve, Atlanta, GA, United States, 38, Male, Spiritual, White/Caucasian, Gay, Activist, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 317200154635

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Question:

I was talking to a male friend about whether women really fantasize about being raped. It's supposed to be one of the most popular fantasies, but I have my doubts. I think women fantasize about being seduced and it gets lumped into this category. My friend says he's actually been with a couple women who wanted to be 'rag dolls' - slapped, talked to nasty, etc., and that it made him uncomfortable. Now I'm wondering if he was just sending weird vibes or if many woman are into this. I'd also like to know if anyone has had sex that ended up with the woman having bruises on her thighs. You always see this defense in rape trials, but all the woman I've talked to about it don't buy it. What do the rest of you think?

POSTED 3/12/2001

Li, Brownsburg, IN, United States, Female, Mesg ID 38200192829


Responses:
I think Li is on the money: the 'rape fantasy' is not a fantasy about rape at all, but rather one based on internalized concepts of masculine and feminine sexual roles. Taking into consideration how one defines rape is important. Rape meaning sexual intercourse perpetrated against a person's will implies that one has a complete and absolute will. Most of us can admit that the thoughts and feelings that lie behind our will are usually mixed ones. I can be excited by the idea of being powerless in a sexual experience, but my fear of and disgust about having this actually happen as rape are stronger and take precedence. Therefore, my will can be defined as against being raped. That doesn't mean I can't fantasize about being aggressively seduced. If a woman wants to be 'seduced' (in whatever way that is defined for her), then the rape fantasy is not one of rape, but of a forceful male 'taking' her - but in the context of her CHOICE and desire to be taken as a more passive and weaker female. Her will in this case is not violated.

POSTED 3/15/2001

April, Honolulu, HI, United States, Female, Mesg ID 3142001113024

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Question:

I am working on a series of paintings that involve the use of negative stereotypes of all ethnicities. Being white, I am having a hard time finding many derogatory slurs for white people. For instance, I had never heard that whites smell like wet dogs when they come out of the rain until I found this site today. I have heard some mild ones, but I am in need of more intense imagery. My plan is to use the stereotypes for tearing down racial barriers. My art is currently using satirical humor to aid the message's staying power with the viewer. Please help!

POSTED 3/12/2001

C. Kohrman, Reading, PA, United States, 23, Male, Mormon, White/Caucasian, Straight, fine artist/illustrator, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 392001100915


Responses:
Here are some: craker, casper, white bread, abercrombie boy, yuppie, wonder bread... Most of the time, whites are portrayed as police officers who repeatedly beat down minorities and use excessive force when it is not needed.

POSTED 3/21/2001

Jay, Oxford, OH, United States, <homerj920@atcco.com>, 19, Male, student, Mesg ID 320200160408


I have heard non-white groups say the following: bunnies (something having to do with pink toes and other pink body parts), crackers (whip cracker), the man, the beast, ice people (cold and ruthless; Caucasions developed this from living in cold climes in Europe and thus developed a cold, inhumane system of thought, that is, according to some Black Nationalist ideologies), ofay and monkeys (due to their straight hair, bright eyes and thin lips). I have heard many whites say hillbilly, sh**-kicking hick, WT (white trash) and trailor park trash. Stereotype-wise, it has been said that whites do not wipe after using the bathroom, are horrible dancers, have no culture, are heavy drinkers (especially college students), look down on poor people of any race, are ethnocentric, have high voices and no rhythm and are unathletic, uncool and copy cats/imitators. Also, that white women are promiscuous, are born with knee-pads (oral sex), that many like men of color, and that the men have small penises and are minute-men in bed. Of course, this is just what I have heard.

POSTED 3/21/2001

Jarrett, Oxford, OH, United States, 19, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 3202001102848


White folks can't dance, have no sense of rhythm and prefer bland music, food, humor, etc. They are all bigoted, country, rednecks. They are unathletic and unhip.

POSTED 3/15/2001

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 315200194211

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Question:

After speaking with friends who live in Chicago and Maryland, it's become obvious to me that incomes range from place to place, sometimes depending greatly on the cost of living. For instance, $40,000 a year in Chicago does not seem to be middle class, yet it is in north-central Indiana. The same home one might buy here for $60,000 would cost at least $150,000 in Chicago, and according to an article in USA Today, possibly $600,000 in some parts of California. For people across America, what do you consider lower-class, middle-class and upper-class? For example, I would define an individual making less than $25,000 to be in the lower bracket, between $30,000 and $65,000 to be middle and anything greater than $100,000 to be wealthy. There's obviously some leeway because of the age of the individual and number of dependents. I'm curious to see how that might change depending on the region.

POSTED 3/12/2001

Brian, Peru, IN, United States, 25, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, journalist, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 38200190431


Responses:
I think one's class is tied into both income and the type of work they do. As a graduate student living on a very meager fellowship, I make the same as a full-time fast-food employee, and yet I wouldn't say we were in the same class. The difference between us hinges on the fact that our type of labor is different: mine is more cerebral and independent, and my responsibilities are greater than the fast-food worker's. But our disposable income is the same, so I guess, technically, we're in the same class. Where I live, I would consider a single person living on $15,000 or less low income.

POSTED 3/19/2001

T.R., Newark, NJ, United States, 23, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 317200180041


One of my favorite books - an excellent and hilarious (if not sometimes painful if you are class-sensitive) take on this subject - is Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, by Paul Fussell. As an American, I know very well how touchy this subject is. I believe Fussell is correct when he explains that one's class is revealed by everything we do, say and own, and that one's class is not entirely dependent on how much money one earns. For example, every time you open your mouth and speak, you unwillingly proclaim the class to which you belong. Also, such distinguishing traits as the type of dwelling you live in, your car, your job, how your front yard appears and is maintained, what you eat, what you drink, your leisure activities, weight, how many televisions you own and how much you watch them, what you wear, what you read, where you travel, your posture, how much you worry about what others think of you, your education, attitudes and beliefs, even where you live in the United States, etc. - these all clue others into where you fit in the complicated American class system. So it's not entirely a matter of how much money you make, and you cannot simply earn yourself up or down into another class, because class is mainly a system of learned behaviors, speech and thoughts that are not easily shed. Attempting to move into another class is especially difficult because the classes do not mix well and often seem as though they are from different planets. Many people (especially the middle class, which is very afraid of slipping down from its tightly held perch but secretly yearns to climb higher) are upset by the notion of class in America because the United States is supposed to be a 'free country' open to the advancement (social climbing?) of all, but let's face it, the class distinctions and barriers are there, whether we like it or not. And there is not just a lower, middle and upper class - there is a complex spectrum of class levels ranging from bottom-out-of-sight to top-out-of-sight, with many intervals in between. Fussell does offer a suggestion for relief from the anxiety of social classes, however: to join the alternative 'X Class' way out - a class for anyone who has the intelligence and courage to learn to think for himself or herself.

POSTED 3/23/2001

Patricia, Antalya, NA, Turkey, 27, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, tour operator, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 322200140645

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