Best of the Week
of April 15, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of April 15, 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:

Is it true that Hassidic Jews must have a sheet between them (with a hole cut in it) while having sexual intercourse? If so, why?

POSTED 4/17/2001

SingleWF, New York, NY, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 417200121836

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Question:

I have noticed that African Americans in general are much noisier than whites, for example in libraries or cafes, and when whites ask them to make less noise because they cant work or talk themselves, the African Americans often react very negatively. Why?

POSTED 4/10/2001

Tony L., New York, NY, United States, Mesg ID 410200120420


Responses:
Often, groups of black people - especially youths - feel unfairly singled out when white people 'hush' them, and sometimes this feeling is justified. Many times when I'm using public transportation, I've seen people get irritated by the loud banter of black kids, but then ignore or even smile at a group of white kids carrying on in a similar fashion. Black kids are more likely to be harassed by security at a mall, for instance, while white kids will go undetected. Instances like these - whether truly experienced or merely heard about - make groups of black kids suspicious of attempts to quiet them. That said, exhuberant expression - sometimes loud - is a cultural thing.

POSTED 4/12/2001

T.R., Newark, NJ, United States, Female, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 412200161027


I think that maybe it's just a cultural thing as far as African Americans being louder than whites in public places. It's probably just a difference in how people express themselves. Another reason may be a conscious or subconscious challenge of the standard that society imposes on people in general. After all, the norms for our society were established by and large by white people. It may be a mild protest against these established norms. And if a white person tells a black person to keep it down, then that plays right into the idea that whites are constantly telling blacks what behavior is and isn't acceptable. Even though this may not have anything to do with the situation at hand - one person in a library asking another to be quieter so the person can study - these are the dynamics that have developed in our society, and whether consciously or subconsciously, people react to these dynamics.

POSTED 4/12/2001

Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 4112001105006


A lot of whites forget that most American blacks are still in the lower/underclass bracket. That said, many don't know what is 'proper' behavior. It is also cultural, too: my mother worked in a hotel in Jamaica and said one that thing about African Americans was that they talked very loud. So the reasons for African Americans talking loud are both class and culturally related.

POSTED 4/15/2001

Alea, New York, NY, United States, 21, Female, Caribbean-American black, Straight, student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 412200154841

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Question:

With all the trials and tribulations blind people must contend with in daily life, I wonder how, well, 'lust' is handled. What I mean is that a sighted person can look upon a beautiful woman or handsome man and feel the pleasure that merely looking at the good-looking can bring. Is the blind person, therefore, reduced to feelings of extreme frustration that only actual lovemaking can relieve, or is fantasy, imagination and masturbation able to lessen the annoying itch of horniness that nearly all of us - blind and sighted - experience daily?

POSTED 4/15/2001

John A., Boston, MA, United States, 41, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 4132001124412

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Question:

There's a suburb of Orlando, Winter Garden, where I've noticed a disproportionately large number of Dale Earnhardt memorials - big number 3s painted on garage doors and inside windows, displays across the back windows of cars and trucks, and memorial t-shirts and caps as a local uniform of sorts. Why the extreme reverence to Earnhardt? Are there other towns in the United States where it seems like all the residents have joined the 'Church of Dale Earnhardt of Latter Day Saints' en masse?

POSTED 4/15/2001

Dan, Orlando, FL, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 414200120338

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Question:

I am 38 and done with child-bearing, and my issue is my weight. I have never been a large-framed woman, but have been uncomfortable for years with my size and weight. To me I have a boyish frame and am small (125 lbs. and 5'7'). To some this is ideal, but to me it is depressing, so much so that I have stopped going to clubs, social functions and even some of my children's activities. Are there any suggestions on what I can do to keep or gain some weight? It is so bad that I have ended a four-year relationship (a good one) because of my insecurities. Don't get me wrong; while out and about, men are always eyeing me or speaking to me, but to me the Twiggy thing just is not working. I have workout equipment in my home office, and I do use it, but I need to build some bulk or something so I don't wither away. Any suggestions?

POSTED 4/16/2001

T-C, Seattle, WA, United States, 38, Female, African Methodist Episcopalian, Black/African American, Straight, Beauty industry, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 270125720

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Question:

I've often heard the same comment from white men who find African-American women sexually attractive: "Black women are less inhibited and more passionate in the bedroom." How do they think we are different from any other women?

POSTED 4/16/2001

Fuschia, Jacksonville, FL, United States, <angel32210@yahoo.com>, 34, Female, Black/African American, Straight, health care, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 2801101256


Responses:
Do you mean in what ways specifically you're different re: in the bedroom? I couldn't say, nor, I would venture, could any man say. All of that kind of talk is just race-based fantasies of men who know not whereof (nor whom of) they speak. It's weird, but every majority race or ethnicity in every country throughout history has had the same sort of fantasy image regarding minority races or ethnicities and their sexual habits. For example, in Merry Olde England, circa 18th century, English men feared the loss of their daughter's purity to the Irish lads and their 'Wild Shamrock Manners.' I'm sure there are other examples of this. Gypsies (Roma) come to mind, as do Italians, Hispanics, etc. However, it's important to keep in mind that this type of fantasy is not just the production of the white male mind; it's from every male (and every female). It's more or less universal among the ignorant.

POSTED 4/18/2001

A White Guy, Chicago, IL, United States, 30, Male, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 417200122639

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Question:

I find that a lot of the time, people who take special education classes because of learning disabilities don't actually need them. All the 'special classes' do is bring individuals further down in thinking that because they have this problem, they can't do things other people do. What do others think?

POSTED 2/2/2001

Darrel H., Sauk Prairie, WI, United States, <cyberdancer8@yahoo.com>, Male, Mesg ID 210135754


Responses:
As a former teacher and sibling of someone with significnat learning disabilities, I've had the opportunity to see these issues from all sides. As a teacher, most of the students I encountered who had learning disabilities were the most hard-working kids in the school. They were frequently the only ones who bothered to fully complete their homework or study for tests. I think the 'special classes' these students were in taught them not only that they needed to work hard, but how to use their strengths and weaknesses to best get the job done. These classes did not label them as dumb or lazy, but instead empowered the students to take control of their lives and work to achieve as best they can. One of my learning disabled students later graduated as valedictorian of her class, so doing your best, no matter what your weaknesses are, can yield pretty spectacular results. On the other hand, I have seen people outside of the school environment, usually parents and relatives of learning disabled students, who assume the child has significant limitations that cannot be overcome. Consequently, they do not encourage the child to work hard and be successful at all, when instead they should be encouraging the child to be successful to his or her ability.

POSTED 4/16/2001

Shelly, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 25, Female, former teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 2601105749

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Question:

I have several male friends who come from cultures where homosexuality was frowned upon. To satisfy their families, they did the traditional thing: they got married and had children. Then they decided they could no longer live a lie and came out of the closet to their families. This devastated their spouses. Does anyone have any information about homosexuals who want to please their families by doing the traditional thing but then come out of the closet?

POSTED 4/16/2001

Sylvia, Honolulu, HI, United States, 39, Female, Jehovahs Witness, Hawaiian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 3242001115448

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Question:

Why do some blacks have a problem with guilty white liberals? Aren't they better than racist white conservaties?

POSTED 4/15/2001

Justin, Chicago, IL, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 412200170641

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Question:

Why do some people who have children feel that couples who choose to be child-free are 'selfish' and ought to reproduce?

POSTED 4/15/2001

E. Spenser, Durango, CO, United States, 40, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Educator, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 4132001102834


Responses:
Maybe it's a case of misery loves company. Why is it that as soon as someone gets married they try to get every single person they know married? I don't have any kids, and I have been told I am selfish for not giving my parents grandchildren and that it is my duty to have children. Selfish is when people have kids and then don't spend the time to actually raise them.

POSTED 4/16/2001

Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 416200194654

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Question:

The way I see it, Rap, Hip-Hop and R&B have been viewed as traditionally 'black' styles of music, but Heavy Metal, for example, has been seen as a traditionally 'white' style of music. Why is it that there are many white people who like Rap/Hip-Hop/R&B, but seemingly fewer black people who like Heavy Metal?

POSTED 4/15/2001

Michael, Sydney, NA, Australia, 20, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 414200151829

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Question:

When I was in high school in the '70s, many girls had beautiful, hairy arms, and no one thought anything of it. Now hair of any kind on a woman is the enemy. Damn. Body hair on a woman is sensual and sexy, especially on the arms and lower back, like the patterns on lots of wonderful Latina girls. I will never understand how hair got to be such a horrible attribute. How did this happen?

POSTED 4/10/2001

Larry, Fort Worth, TX, United States, 48, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, professional, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 45200192330


Responses:
Bless you for stating your opinion that body hair is sensual and sexy. These days any hair at all is seen as horrible. Women spend untold amounts of money and time, and subject themselves to painful procedures, to combat body hair. I don't know how it happened that body hair became the enemy, but I wish there were an antidote that would reverse the process.

POSTED 4/18/2001

Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 410200142427

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Question:

Why do men have an innate compulsion to put women down?

POSTED 4/10/2001

Paula J., Wichita Falls, TX, United States, 76, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Retired, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 49200114329


Responses:
Maybe you're hanging around the wrong men. People who belittle others generally tend to focus on those they perceive as weakest in order to (in their minds) mark their social status as higher in rank. To the men you're speaking of, women are the lower social order - unless you throw in blacks or us queers. Maya Angelou, speaking at a Human Rights Campaign dinner in Houston, said it best (and I'm paraphasing): 'I am too old to suffer such foolishness. I walk away, but not before letting the fool know why. If you don't let them know why you're leaving, they won't be able to associate their foolishness with any consequences. Worse! They might actually think you agree with them. Do not suffer - and do not be silent.'

POSTED 4/18/2001

Michael, Houston, TX, United States, 40, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Gay, Intranet Manager, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 4162001115523

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