Best of the Week
of March 26, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of March 26, 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 recently found some Playboy pictures in my 12-year-old son's drawer. I didn't make a big deal about it, just took them away and told him why I didn't like them. Any suggestions on how to handle this?
POSTED 3/30/2000
Lucille L., Kansas City, MO, United States, 42, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Research, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 3302000120534
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Question:
I have a 14-year-old who likes a boy at school. I feel it's all right for her to have a friend who is a boy, but her father does not like the idea. He doesn't even want boys to call her. Does anyone have some advice on this type of problem?
POSTED 3/29/2000
Rhonda K., Porterville, CA, United States, <rkruger@pc.cc.ca.us>, 35, Female, Mormon, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, 2 Years of College , Lower class, Mesg ID 325200024118

Responses:
Most of my closest friends have been male. Although I found these boys attractive, it never led to a sexual relationship. As a matter of fact, I waited until I was married (at 23) to have a physical relationship. That said, I can understand the father's hesitation. All fathers want to protect their girls. Perhaps the father is remembering his own raging hormones at that age. And some males who have been unable to have platonic friendships in the past may project their psychology on all males. I think you both have a great opportunity to teach your daughter valuable lessons for the future. Talk (or continue to talk) to her about boys, her own changing body and feelings, your values concerning relationships with men. I would allow her to be friends with this boy openly, in supervised situations. She will interact with men all her life, in the workplace and in society in general. What better time to learn to be friends with males than now, when she has you two to guide her?
POSTED 3/29/2000
Stacee, Houston, TX, United States, 31, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, TV director, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 3292000103230

In my experience, making rules that seem ridiculous or senseless to teenagers causes them to decide you are arbitrary. She doesn't have enough life experience to fully realize that you, her parents, are just two people; exactly like her, but older. Instead, she sees you as a totally different species. And if what you say makes no sense to her, instead of being able to figure out that you have 'buttons' about certain issues, she will probably think that a.) you have no idea what you are talking about, or b.) you are trying to make her miserable on purpose. Add to that the implication that she cannot be trusted, and you are asking for trouble. And it really is unreasonable to expect her to have no association with boys. She is with them all day in school, after all! What you may want to do is tell her that she cannot date until she is a certain age (say 16). That leaves her free to make friendships, but lets her know there are limits.
POSTED 3/30/2000
Robin W., Westland, MI, United States, 46, Female, White/Caucasian, author/illustrator, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 330200011742

She's on the brink of rebellion if she hasn't hit it already. For God's sake, give her some love and freedom. Fourteen year-old boys may have raging hormones now, but they're just going to be raging more when they're 18, and your daughter won't necessarily be following your rules by then. I think the girl deserves to have normal social interaction. Besides, all the 14-year-old boys I knew at that age were more interested in each other than any of the girls in the class.
POSTED 3/30/2000
S.R., Austin, TX, United States, 22, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 330200020513

It's hard for a 14-year-old to accept anything a parent says. Remember, in her mind, she is mature enough to handle 'hanging out' with all types of people. I agree with limit-setting, though. I was very much into boys at 14, but was not allowed to 'date' until I was 16. Any people were always welcome at my house, and I even had a 'boyfriend,' but without the freedom to go out by ourselves, it was nothing more than a friend I thought was cute. That experience, plus all the others I had, made me who I am today: A 23-year-old woman ready to settle down in life. Support and guide her.
POSTED 3/30/2000
Kathy, Mt. Clemons, MI, United States, 23, Female, Caucasian/Asian, Straight, Comunications Specialist, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 330200030854
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Question:
I recently mentioned that my parents were hippies, and all three of my black co-workers started laughing hysterically. I'm white, and I didn't wait around for an explanation. Is there one?
POSTED 3/29/2000
Corrie, Washington, DC, United States, Mesg ID 325200085619
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Question:
I am a 16-year-old Catholic, and recently I have found myself doubting the only religion I have ever known. Perhaps it is because it is all I've ever known that I no longer accept every aspect of this faith. My confirmation is coming up in a few months. I do not want to go through with it for obvious reasons. Is it normal to have such tremendous doubts at my age? Could this just be a phase? I sometimes find myself doubting the very existence of God. Would it be safe to call myself agnostic until I figure out my thoughts?
POSTED 3/29/2000
J. Lara, San Diego, CA, United States, <mellowyellowSD@yahoo.com>, 16, Female, Unsure about religion, Chicana, Straight, Mesg ID 328200013640

Responses:
It's normal to have doubts. Look at Moses when he asked for proof before he would follow God. He received a burning bush. Noah sent out a crow and a dove, just to make sure there was land out there even though God said He would take care of him. Thomas had to feel Christ's wounds. I, myself, have had doubts. In fact, it was around your age, too. And while I call myself a Catholic, I don't agree with everything the Church says. And for many people this is the same way. That is why the Church keeps on changing. Is it a phase? Maybe. But don't write it off as one. The way I removed my doubts was by surrounding myself in other religions. And the more I explored other religions, the more I found myself being pulled back to the Catholic Church. However, this may not be the case for you. If this is so, don't fight it. It's not wrong. It's who you are. Should you go through with your Confirmation? Only if you want to. But talk it over with your parents. Don't let them be in the dark. Should you call yourself an agnostic? Again, if you want to. It would lead to less conflict if someone were to ask what religion you are.
POSTED 3/30/2000
Mekki, Virginia Beach, VA, United States, 23, Female, Catholic, Irish/Puerto Rican, Mesg ID 330200041743

I'd say it's normal to have doubts. I certainly did around 16 or 17. Take some time to think about it all. If you don't believe everything, why go through a process designed to say you do? You can always be confirmed later, if you decide to do so. In my opinion, they push this confirmation thing too early. I was confirmed at 14 and hadn't given much thought to my religious beliefs. It turned out that I eventually stopped believing. For lack of a better word, I'd call myself an atheist, but the labels 'atheist' and 'agnostic' seem to have a negative connotation. Just tell people you want some time to figure out your thoughts.
POSTED 3/30/2000
Patrick, n/a, CA, United States, 21, Male, Atheist, Straight, student, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 329200035139
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Question:
This thought popped into my head and I've been hoping to get it answered. I understand that among certain cultures/religions, it is taboo to eat with your left hand, as it is the hand you use to wash yourself and is therefore considered unclean. What happens if someone in that culture breaks his/her right arm? Or doesn't have one? How do they circumvent this taboo? I know this sounds like a strange question, but I had to ask.
POSTED 3/29/2000
Annique-Elise G., Vancouver, British Columbia, NA, Canada, 22, Female, White/Caucasian, Deaf, University student, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 3242000121157
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Question:
Where exactly (and how) do men get their penises pierced?
POSTED 3/29/2000
Sarah U., Forest, Canada, 33, Female, Presbyterian, White/Caucasian, Straight, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 3282000121305
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Question:
To Christians: You insist that everyone must follow the rules given to you by your God. Why? You can be obedient to Him if you want; you chose that religion. But why force me to obey him through legal manipulation (blue laws, laws against same-sex marriage, anti-gay laws, laws forbidding assisted suicide, etc.?) According to your views, I'm going to Hell anyway because I'm not a Christian, so what difference does it make?
POSTED 3/29/2000
Robin W., Westland, MI, United States, 46, Female, Wiccan, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, author/illustrator, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 328200053410
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Question:
How do I keep myself safe without offending people? One Oprah show tells me to guard myself from strangers, another tells me how offended black males are when people ignore or avoid them. I'm not assuming all black males are dangerous - if I'm someplace unfamiliar I'd avoid any strangers - but to a black male it might appear as though it were a race issue.
POSTED 3/27/2000
Tracy M., Madison Heights, MI, United States, 44, Female, Presbyterian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Dispatch Planner, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 3252000120329

Responses:
Your safety is a priority; others' feelings aren't. I know exactly which 'Oprah' show you are speaking of, and the advice came from Gavin de Becker, who wrote The Gift of Fear. If you feel there is reason for you to be cautious of someone, it is so much more important to keep yourself safe at the expense of someone else's feelings. You could possibly be wrong, but what if you're not? It's stupid to put yourself at risk because of the way someone might feel. You don't owe anyone any explanation for your actions. And if you trust yourself and your intuition, you'll probably be right. I would definitely recommend reading The Gift of Fear. I worried about the same problem constantly until I put myself in the position of the person I might be offending, and I can say I would prefer to be offended than to have someone place themselves in a potentially dangerous situation.
POSTED 3/29/2000
Julia, Arlington, VA, United States, 20, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Secretary, High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 3282000125011

You have no control over how other people perceive your actions. No matter what you do or say, at some point someone will misunderstand you. They will color your actions with their own experiences or prejudices about you. You can't live your life trying to make sure this never happens, because it will. If you treat everyone equally regardless of their skin color, and someone perceives something you do as being racially motivated - like locking your car door when a black man approaches - then I guess that person thinks you think black men are criminals. What can you do?
POSTED 3/29/2000
Lucy H., San Jose, CA, United States, 25, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 327200044650
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Question:
My wife and I maintain separate checking accounts. We collaborate on the expenses (bills, groceries, etc.) that we incur together, and we spend and save the remainder of our respective paychecks at our own discretion. (We have no children.) My wife and I each had complete, fulfilling lives before we got married, and each of us continue to have our own hobbies, interests and ways of spending our own money. Yet other people have reacted to this with shock and indignation. How do other married couples manage their checkbooks and expenses?
POSTED 2/24/2000
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 39, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 220200081655

Responses:
My wife and I have been married five years, the second marriage for both. She has two daughters (one now in college, the other, 16, at home). I have three children, a 21-year-old son on his own, a 17-year-old son at home, and a 15-year-old daughter who lives with her mother. We agreed at the onset that we would maintain separate finances and split household expenses based on our W-2 income contribution to the household. As I bring home 44 percent of the bacon, I pay 44 percent of the bills. We use Quicken and a Lotus 123 spreadsheet at the end of the month to settle the monthly budget. (I am an accountant, and we are both quite computer literate, so the bookkeeping is not a problem). We never have fights over finances because we each control our money and discuss and agree ahead of time on major purchases. We have separate checking and savings accounts, separate investments and separate credit card accounts, and we borrow jointly for major purchases (again, payments at 56%/44%). We had a pre-nuptual agreement, not because either of us had any significant assets, but because we both had been through a divorce and wanted things spelled out, just in case. Our arrangement might not work for everyone, but it works very well for us.
POSTED 3/27/2000
Bill, Burlington, VT, United States, <billinvt@yahoo.com>, 42, Male, White/Caucasian, Accountant, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 3262000104325

My husband and I have seperate checking accounts also. This prevents a lot of flights over who took money from the ATM and forgot to tell the other. In addition to our own accounts, we have a joint household checking account, as well as joint savings, investments, etc. This arrangement creates more bookkeeping than a single account would, but it works for us. The important thing is for couples to decide on an arrangement that works for their situation.
POSTED 3/27/2000
Julianna C., Santa Clara, CA, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 225200043301

I believe that to maintain an element of separation is good, as long as there is disclosure and mutual understanding. The premise that "what is his/hers is mine" is outdated, legally and sometimes emotionally. It inhibits growth and trust. As individuals, what has attracted two mates is often the diversity and commonality that they can share. As long as one does not abuse this spectrum of the relationship, tell others to butt out.
POSTED 3/27/2000
Neelie, Detroit, MI, United States, Mesg ID 31200094514

My wife and I also have separate checking accounts. That is just the way we feel we can manage our money best. I pay the bills with my checkbook, and she buys the groceries and other household necessities with hers. Like you, I have also experienced shock from other married people that we do our finances this way; but hey, we just feel comfortable doing that. I cannot understand why they would care, but apparently, they do.
POSTED 3/27/2000
Stephen S., San Antonio, TX, United States, 32, Male, Mesg ID 332000112831

My wife and I have a joint checking account, which is used mostly (but not exclusively) for bills, and a joint savings account. But we have separate credit cards, and neither of us pays much attention to how the other uses the cards. Every couple manages money their own way, and if it works for you, I don't see anything to worry about - for you or anyone else.
POSTED 3/27/2000
Andrew, Huntington, NY, United States, <ziptron@start.com.au>, 36, Male, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 36200083746
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Question:
Why is it that black men have such hostility toward black women? As an African-American woman, age 38, I have encountered this very extreme hostility (or extreme coldness) from my African-American brothers. It is displayed in many ways, from making disparaging remarks about my body to sitting next to me on the subway or bus with a leg pressed against mine. It is for this reason that I no longer attempt to have friendships/relationships with African-American men. This is especially important because I have a son, age 6. If black men are openly hostile to me, how would they treat my son?
POSTED 3/21/2000
Rhonda O., New York, NY, United States, <Rhonda_Outlaw@ars.aon.com>, 38, Female, Lutheran, Black/African American, Straight, Account Representative, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 321200034726

Responses:
It seems it goes both ways. It seems that black women hate black men, too. Black men tend to dislike black women because they feel that the black woman disrespects black men, and in turn, the black female feels the same way.
POSTED 3/27/2000
Robert R., St. Louis, MO, United States, 17, Male, Agnostic, Black/African American, Straight, student/game developer, Less than High School Diploma , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 3272000124346

I am a white male, so my opinion on this probably isn't what you had in mind. I have no idea why, but I also know it isn't all black men who have issues with black women. I date interracially often, and many of my partners are black women who can't find a decent black man. They (men) seem to think that a woman is something to be tolerated instead of cherished. Much of 'black culture' consists of music and behavior that glorifies the degradation of women and promotes an anti-achievement attitude. Should it surprise anyone when some people take these messages to heart?
POSTED 3/29/2000
Dave, Atlanta, GA, United States, 31, Male, White/Caucasian, Middle class, Mesg ID 325200055027

I wish I could say I don't believe what you're saying, Rhonda, but I've seen it, also. From the hip-hop denigration to everyday conversation and interaction, it seems that far too many black men have a deep loathing, or at least a disrespect, for black women. Not all, though. You have to remember that the wounds of slavery and Jim Crow have yet to heal. We, as black people, have been instilled at the cultural level with a severe self-hatred. This includes black men's all-too-common lack of regard for black women, and vice-versa. If you happen upon black men who are aware of this condition, and who have taken steps to deal with this cultural illness in their lives, I believe you will find a much warmer reception. Also, perhaps, there may be some instances in which your expectations of such treatment are causing you to respond in kind before the black man has a chance to offend you. I hope your son can find a way to learn that a black man can love black women, as well as himself. I (and many other black men, to be sure) am living proof that it can, and does, happen.
POSTED 3/29/2000
Sam, Chicago, IL, United States, <SamAlex67@aol.com>, 32, Male, Black/African American, Straight, Firefighter, High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 329200014147

To Sam of Chicago: The 'wounds of slavery and Jim Crow' are no excuse for the dismal treatment that many of my friends and I have received from black men - we don't deserve it. We have always loved and supported black men through the best and worst of times. I am a good woman, conservative in manner and dress, who is respectful and thoughtful of others, and I instill these and other good values in my six-year-old son, who is my world and No. 1 priority. Here is a sample of the hostility I receive from black men: Degrading comments about my body (I dress conservatively - some friends say too conservatively), offers to 'stop and talk,' and when I don't respond the way they feel I should, they become insulting, invading my personal space by pressing their leg against mine on public transportation, etc. It's bad enough these things happen to me, but I become extremely resentful when it's done in front of my little boy; he certainly doesn't deserve this. I have not attempted friendships and, especially, 'relationships,' with black men since my son was born. I believe the hostility black men display toward black women is extremely dangerous to my son, and to me. As his mom, it is my responsibility to protect him from anything and anyone who could cause him harm. I realize my decision is extreme, but I feel that me and my little boy are better off.
POSTED 3/29/2000
Rhonda O., New York, NY, United States, <Rhonda_Outlaw@ars.aon.com>, 38, Female, Lutheran, Black/African American, Straight, Account Representative, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 3292000112722

Rhonda O.: Believe me, we hear you. And without 'beating a dead horse,' I must reiterate what Sam in Chicago wrote - there are some HUGE issues we as African Americans (especially the brothers) have to deal with from slavery and Jim Crow. You can't reverse all of that self-hatred over night. No, it is not an excuse, but merely a possible explanation. I know there's not enough of us out here, but there are brothers who treat the sisters with the respect they deserve. All I can say is 'each one, teach one' and eventually the bad apples will be weeded out. I'll do my part.
POSTED 3/30/2000
A.W., Atlanta, GA, United States, <alwill22@yahoo.com>, 29, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 330200020801
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Question:
I would like to know if women are afraid to go out with men who are confined to wheelchairs and can do some things physically but not others.
POSTED 1/11/1999
Reaper, Warren, MI, United States, Mesg ID 1119974117

Responses:
Wheelchairs do 'scare' some women. Perhaps they feel intimidated that dating someone in a wheelchair would be too much of a burden. My boyfriend is paraplegic, and even though I consider myself an open-minded person, it took me a while to see past that. In general, though, I think women are much more compassionate than you give them credit for.
POSTED 3/27/2000
N. Lindsay, Boston, MA, United States, 22, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 326200091637

My boyfriend uses a wheelchair because he has no legs - he lost them to an infection when he was 2. I didn't talk to him when we first met, scared by his chair and lack of legs. But later, out with friends together, I saw him jump from his wheelchair into a lounge, walk across the floor on his arms and jump on his arms onto the kitchen bench to make dinner. I realized he was a real man and did everything everyone else does, just in different ways. We live together now and have great times at home and around the city. He doesn't care who sees him, and I'm starting to feel like that, too.
POSTED 3/29/2000
Christine, Brisbane, NA, Australia, 23, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, systems analyst, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 329200083607
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Question:
I am currently in a lesbian relationship and have a very close, loving friendship with another female who is straight. We are demonstrative with each other but not sexual. Others (including our significant others) seem to think I can 'convert' her to being a lesbian and have expressed concerns and jealousy over our friendship. Why do others seem to be threatened by our friendship and seem to view it as unacceptable to be openly affectionate with friends?
POSTED 10/15/1999
L.H., Denver, CO, United States, 36, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 9121999113302

Responses:
People in our society don't seem to understand that sexual interest is only one part of a gay relationship, the same as it's not the only part of a straight relationship. I don't know why they are so blind. I am a lesbian, formerly straight. My best friend of 37 years needs a hug and someone to hold her when she cries now and again - she's going through a nasty divorce - and my comforting is in no way sexual. We're the same Rock of Gibraltar to each other we have always been. But few would understand this. You sound like a mature human being and a good friend. Note: I have never met a lesbian who was 'converted.' We don't recruit - who in good conscience would try to seduce someone into a lifestyle that is so difficult? Trust me on this one, folks - if it's just life, we're everywhere because we're part of society. If you want us for just sex, you won't find us. We don't like being used to satisfy prurient curiosity.
POSTED 3/27/2000
Marilyn, Sierra Vista, AZ, United States, 49, Female, Native American, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, customer service, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 3262000103135

It sounds like your significant others are picking up uncomfortable vibes from you two. Are you and your friend as physically affectionate with your significant others as you are with each other? Do you share private jokes that go over their heads? Do you spend more quality alone-time (coffee, movies, shopping trips) with your friend than with your significant other? If so, you've got some work to do. It seems to me that among lesbians and gay men, the best friend/lover boundary can be difficult to draw. Maybe you and your friend should tone down the physicality of your relationship - at least for a while. If you have regular times that you spend with each other, try to set up similar alone-time with your significant other so that she sees you putting time and energy into her. Finally, ask yourself if your significant others are right. Should they be worried?
POSTED 3/27/2000
Megan L., Boston, MA, United States, 31, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 111200030324

Whether you are lesbian or straight, when the significant other sees you having a good time with another, that person gets jealous. I think there is a self-esteem issue with the jealous parties. Maybe there just needs to be an affirmation of everyone's love for each other - and to keep reiterating that playfulness is just that.
POSTED 3/29/2000
Jacob, Annapolis, MD, United States, Male, Mesg ID 329200012541

I would have to know more about exactly what forms of demonstating your affection for your friend take. I am a straight female and have a close lesbian friend, and we too are affectionate toward each other, which has caused her lover concern, as well as my boyfriend. I see the situation as basically being analogous to a male friend of mine also being affectionate toward me, and tend to treat it similarly. In other words, if your significant other is jealous, you may want to cut back on some actions that may evoke a jealous response. Perhaps those who are threatened may believe that certain boundaries are being crossed, and your affection is looked upon as being flirtatious. If it's going beyond a hug hello, and a quick kiss on the cheek goodbye, I would opt to agree with those who are concerned. If not, perhaps they are a little paranoid of the situation.
POSTED 3/30/2000
Liz, Chicago, IL, United States, 30, Female, Unitarian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Fashion Designer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 3302000121219
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