Best of the Week
of April 16, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of April 16, 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:
What are the consequences, if any, if a Jehovah's Witness dates someone of another religion? I have broken up with a young man who was kicked out of the group for not following the rule to not have sex before marriage. He is now trying to get back in and do the right thing. He and I have had sex, so he was advised to discontinue dating me and cut off all communacations.
POSTED 4/21/2000
Denise C., Detroit, MI, United States, 22, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 915199940417
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Question:
I live an area with a large population of people from India, and I find they will speak to whites and Asians and people from their own background, but will avoid black people, especially black men. Some of these people are twice as dark as I am, and they don't see themselves as black. I don't understand it. Is there a history of dislike for other people of color, Africans, black Americans, etc., among people from India? I am nice to everyone, and I speak to all.
POSTED 4/21/2000
Tony, Cincinnati, OH, United States, <ubcool@excite.com>, 44, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Senior executive, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 71499101841
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Question:
In general, and from the people who write in Y? Forum, certain races seem to match with certain religions. A lot of black people are Baptist, while a lot of Hispanic people are Catholic. This might be understandable historically and culturally, but I want to know if those of you who violate the cultural-religious stereotypes, for example the Italian Hindu, Saudi/black Jew, etc., are the objects of prejudice from others. Are you even out there?
POSTED 4/19/2000
Mr. Dickerson, Tucson, AZ, United States, 31, Male, Non-Religious, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 418200063857
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Question:
What part does religion play in Irish medicine? Do you have any types of home remedies you use?
POSTED 4/18/2000
Donna S., Chipley, FL, United States, <Dignupbnz@aol.com>, Female, Mesg ID 4152000110520
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Question:
I have suffered through the slings and arrows of my various friends as they've attempted to find dates through Internet matching services. The reports I'm getting would indicate that virtually all men, no matter how heavy or balding, have described themselves as good-looking. My male friends have had the opposite experience, wherein the women they meet in person have really underplayed their looks online, generally referring to a 'few extra pounds' or 'just average,' when in fact they're very attractive. Why do women feel so negatively about the way they look while men seem able to say 'I'm hot' with a straight face?
POSTED 4/18/2000
Emma, Los Angeles, CA, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 4152000115739

Responses:
It is much easier for women to entice men than for men to entice women. It has been my experience that women, no matter how great they look, have a problem with some physical feature they have. Their boobs are either too big or too small, hair too curly or too straight, body too fat or too thin, etc. These things are issues that seem to plague women regardless of how nice they may look. Men on the other hand feel that they need to embellish their looks for women because they still don't understand clearly that women are not as visually stimulated as men are. Looks count alot for men and 'us men' assume that looks count as much for women. Thus, when you have internet ads, or ads in a paper where people give physical descriptions of themselves, you are very likely to find the disparities that you have so accutely pointed out.
POSTED 4/19/2000
Gary, Los Angeles, CA, United States, <garybobs@yahoo.com>, 37, Male, Jewish, Black/African American, Straight, Professional, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 4192000120032

Women are pressured by the fashion industry to be skinny and anorexic, so they think that's what men want. As any male will tell you, they would rather have a full-bodied woman who tells them they are attractive. If a man says he isn't attractive, he lessens his chance of pairing with an attractive woman. Would a man take that chance?
POSTED 4/19/2000
Andrew, Livingston, NA, United Kingdom, <arcmedia@technologist.com>, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Multimedia, Mesg ID 418200081352

Every day we are bombarded with images of how women are supposed to look. Most women do not look like this narrow standard of beauty, but we are told that we should. This leads to tremendous disatisfaction with our bodies. All the women on TV are thin. Most are rather tall, and many have had cosmetic surgery. The women in every advertisement and magazine look like this, too. And don't forget the women in the clothing catalogs. And most of the clothes are designed with a model body in mind. The women in the plus-sized catalogs are not even heavy. This is why so many women diet or have eating disorders. Practically from birth we are told that we must live up to a certain standard to be beautiful. The thing that many women do not realize is that this standard of beauty that we measure ourselves against isn't the same one that men measure us against. So we end up striving for something that we can't achieve and is meaningless anyway.
POSTED 4/19/2000
Jacqueline C., San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 418200062549

To Gary and Andrew: Why would an unattractive man feel he deserves an attractive woman? Most of us work very hard to stay fit, and we do expect a certain visual appeal from our partners, be they male or female. Also, why lie on the net, as the truth will be revealed once the correspondents meet in person? Is it that these guys feel their charm will outweigh their physical shortcomings?
POSTED 4/21/2000
Emma, Los Angeles, CA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 4192000100017

The responses about women being subtly told they need model's physiques are probably true and kind of sad. But to be honest, what women hold as the 'super male' is just as hard for the rest of us shmoes to deal with as well. I am not at all sure what women consider attractive in men, but Bill Clinton has women dropping trow on him left and right. But put him in the office cubicles with the rest of us, and how many women are going to be showing him their underwear across the office desk the first time they meet? Would an Internet ad saying 'I am not all that good-looking but have lots of money and power' be more honest? I would suggest that either gender holds its ideals (super models vs. super powerful) at a level unattainable by most of us. And the effect of this - and media focus on it - is just as devastating to either sex.
POSTED 4/21/2000
Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 41, Male, White/Caucasian, Corporate Guy, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class,Mesg ID 420200085031
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Question:
I was at lunch with friends the other day and ordered beans, collard greens and cornbread. Although I know my black co-worker loves this food, she didn't order it. When I asked her later why, she said she didn't want her friends to consider her to be too 'country.' She also said she heard I wasn't selected for a job I applied for because the supervisor considered me too 'country.' I'm only hearing this from black Americans, specifically black women. Whats up with this? I may be from the mountains, but my manners are not in the ditch. What in the hell is wrong with being from the country? As I recall, Abe Lincoln was raised in a log cabin.
POSTED 4/18/2000
Alma, Kempner, TX, United States, 46, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, federal employee, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 4162000122351

Responses:
I think the prevailing idea is that 'country' doesn't go over too well with the masses. Country people have the stigma of being uneducated hicks with no idea how to act civilized. I don't know why this is the prevailing stereotype when so many people -including myself - find country comforting. My dad's family is from the country (South Carolina), and they are the most wonderful people; they are the epitome of Southern gentleness and hospitality. I would much rather spend time with them than my mom's somewhat abrasive city-folk New England family. I think the stereotypical country bumpkin is a product of the media based on exploitation of character -i.e. the slower-paced life equals 'dumb'; the lilting accent is portrayed as a twang; the colloquialisms are exaggerated into ridiculous massacres of Standard American English. Be proud of your country roots. And by the way, I've always lived in big cities but think beans, collard greens and cornbread sounds like a great meal.
POSTED 4/21/2000
S.R., Austin, TX, United States, 22, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, student, Mesg ID 419200021850
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Question:
I am a male turning 20 and am curious about why a man would be attracted to an extremely obese woman. I have many 'larger' friends, and they are some of the best people I know, but I feel no attraction to them. My ideal woman does not have a model's body, but to me, too much weight is debilitating and unattractive.
POSTED 4/18/2000
Chris P., Windsor, Ontario, NA, Canada, <lumbergb@hotmail.com>, 19, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, High School Diploma , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 418200021637

Responses:
Different men are attracted to different women. This holds true for women as well. You may not like larger women, but a lot of men do. I am an overweight female. I have been told by many people that I am very pretty. I have no problem getting dates. Fat people have feelings, too. Most of us are not lazy, messy slobs. I am a well-educated, successful, sassy Big Beautiful Woman and proud of it. To each their own.
POSTED 4/21/2000
Kassie, Albany, NY, United States, 28, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Sales, 2 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 420200093622
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Question:
In my hometown, it was a commonly held stereotype that Italian-Americans had a preference for what most consider to be gaudy possessions. I found this stereotype to be true. Not all Italians have 'poor taste' when judged from a middle-American standard, but I knew a disproportionately large amount of Italian-American families with houses filled with rococo furniture, clear vinyl-covered carpets and furniture, loud wallpaper, yards covered in statuary and fountains, initials on the garage door, large Cadillacs with aftermarket vinyl roofs in the driveway, ornate wrought-iron fences surrounding the property, elaborate shrines to the Virgin Mary, and so on. Many Italian-American families also paved or bricked over much of the front lawn. Why are these tastes so prevalent among Italian-Americans?
POSTED 4/13/2000
Dave, Denver, CO, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 46200053028

Responses:
Most Italian immigrants came from poor backgrounds in southern Italy, where home ownership was not possible, and a fifth-grade education was the only legal education requirement. They worked hard in the United States and wanted to visibly express the joy of home ownership and its related possessions. Many had a flamboyant nature, and their homes expressed this trait. Thus their homes had fountains, brick walks, grottos, etc. as a way of imitating the estates of the wealthy landowners in their towns. They went through the flashy cars and clothes phase to show off; it was their way of keeping up with their compadres. Their homes were their sanctuary, generally very clean (the plastic covers to keep the furniture clean), where they welcomed family and friends. I'm second-generation, college grad, executive type, live in a beautiful house on a two-acre wooded setting, and have never owned a Caddy. I owe it all to a hardworking father with a fifth-grade education and a devoted mother who insisted I go to college. We descendants of those immigrants also joke about those gaudy things you mentioned. And now we watch others, newly arrived in this country, do similar things. It's part of this beautiful thing we have called America. By the way, you forgot to mention gold chains with horns and diamond pinky rings!
POSTED 4/18/2000
Dave E., Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 47, Male, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 417200090634

Maybe the gaudiness comes from the American part of Italian/American. After all, the Italian side can boast of Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Bernini, Pierandello, etc. I'm Italian-American, and my taste runs to Post-Impressionism and Art Deco. Go figure.
POSTED 4/18/2000
Laura O., Bel Air, MD, United States, 38, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, teacher/editor/writer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 414200042723
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Question:
Why is it that sometimes people who help disabled people make them do the most inappropriate activities in relation to their disability? For example, I have seen people make blind people jump off a diving board. Do you think that these disabled people are really missing out on this activity, or do you see it as them getting over their disability?
POSTED 4/13/2000
R. Sterken, Ontario, NA, Canada, 19, Female, Muslim, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Upper middle class,Mesg ID 412200071538

Responses:
I used to teach visually challenged kids many years ago. They longed to be able to do the things they read about but never had the chance to try, such as jumping off a diving board. It's the kind of stuff you can't really understand until you experience it. So yes, the person involved feels that they are missing something, and wants to try it. No one is making them; they want to. And as long as basic safety issues have been addressed, why shouldn't they? I don't see this kind of thing as inappropriate. Performing surgery, now that would be inappropriate. But not taking part in sports. (And you can't 'get over' something like being blind by jumping off a diving board; if you could, there would be LONG lines.
POSTED 4/18/2000
Robin W., Westland, MI, United States, 46, Female, White/Caucasian, Author/Illustrator, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 417200064244

I think if the person is free to say whether they want to jump off a diving board, then that's fine. It's their right to chose how they live their lives and how much they let their disability rule over that life. But if a person were unable to answer, and an abled person forced them to do something like that, that's not fair.
POSTED 4/18/2000
J. Jones, Auckland, NA, New Zealand, 16, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Student, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 416200093631
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Question:
As a black male who has dated white and black girls, I want to know why black girls are so difficult. I have found that most white girls are polite and considerate of their partner's feelings, whereas most black girls tend to be downright rude most of the time. They seem to want everything to go their way while giving very little in return. Is this common, or is this just my perception?
POSTED 4/13/2000
Jon, Windsor, Ontario, NA, Canada, <jon_harder@hotmail.com>, 20, Male, Black/African American, Straight, Upper class, Mesg ID 472000110524

Responses:
Maybe you experience these differences between black and white women because you approach/treat them differently. I've seen black males approach black women rudely, in a 'You should be glad I'm speaking to you' manner, and then turn around and treat white women with the utmost of respect. I've dated both black and white males, and the white males treated me considerably better than the black ones. When talking with the white guys, I had an opinion, and they actually listened to it; when I had a bad day, they listened and offered support. When talking with black guys, I'm there only to listen to them talk - a two-way conversation isn't in the cards. And if I dare complain about having a bad day to a black male, more often than not I'm told in a surly tone, 'You make more than I do - what do YOU have to complain about?' Essentially, you get back what you give out. Take a look at how you deal with black women, and that will probably answer your question.
POSTED 4/18/2000
G.E. Long, Chicago, IL, United States, <gelong@usa.net>, 38, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, IT Management, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 414200013311

I would have to classify this as a 'new' age-old question. The perception of black women being difficult and hard to please is rampant and without merit. It is very possible you are treating these two groups of women differently and getting the appropriate reaction. I am fortunate in that I don't feel I've ever been mistreated by a man with whom I've chosen to have a relationship - all of whom have been black. If someone insists on taking the relationship to a gutter level, it is your responsibility to stop it. Ultimately, your perception is your reality, and that is the question you should be asking yourself - What is my role in this?
POSTED 4/18/2000
Latoya, Hamilton, NA, Bermuda, 25, Female, Black/African American, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 414200034155

All people can be difficult, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. All white women aren't nice, polite and considerate, and all black women aren't rude and difficult. It isn't fair to generalize based on race. Since you are a black male, I'm sure there are black women in your family, right? Would you consider them rude and difficult? I feel it is better to look at the individual and not make judgments of a particular race or gender based on your limited experiences with them. Doesn't it upset you when women say 'All men are dogs'? I have dated men of different races and backgrounds, and although there are some unsavory characters out there, I choose not to fault men as a whole for my bad choices. Don't let your misconceptions and bad experiences hinder you from meeting a nice woman. I've found that when forming relationships, it' better to start off with an open mind and clean slate and grow from there. It's only fair to you and the other person.
POSTED 4/18/2000
Thai, Annapolis, MD, United States, <chulanegra@aol.com>, 24, Female, African/Latina, Straight, Upper middle class. Mesg ID 4142000100710

Many people perceive black women to have attitudes and wanting to roll their necks and have their hands on their hips, when this is not the case. It is probably just the females you are coming into contact with. However, I do see some of my white female acquaintances being much more submissive with their men, whereas black women tend to hold their partners accountable the majority of the time. Still, your perception is a generalization.
POSTED 4/18/2000
Toni, Largo, MD, United States, 28, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, desktop publishing, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 4172000104415

Maybe black girls and women are difficult because of black men's: 1) Lack of care, respect and concern for our physical, mental and emotional well-being (physical, verbal and sexual abuse). 2) Lack of consideration for our communities, urinating in hallways, disposing of empty 40-ounce bottles of beer on the street, loitering and being a general nuisance to the rest of the neighbors. 3) Lack of concern for the lives of black children, fathering children and abandoning them, selling drugs to our children, allowing others to come into our neighborhoods and sell alcohol and cigarettes to our children. 4) Lack of appreciation for our strive for excellence - black men respond with jealousy and envy when we become educated and dramatically increase our salaries. 5) Lack of appreciation for our physical beauty, though this is nothing new - black men have always preferred white women over us. 6) Lack of appreciation for the way we've loved and defended black men, fought every struggle with you, from slavery to the present, and took up the slack financially. We didn't have the luxury of staying at home with our children; we were busy taking care of white folks' children so we could earn a living and keep food on the table.
POSTED 4/18/2000
Rhonda P. 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 4172000104434

I am a black man who has noticed the same phenomenon, and I must say that the responses to your question have done nothing but prove your point. Most of the black women who responded, especially Rhonda, instead of actually answering the question, were quick to get defensive, turning the question around and blaming you for your misfortunes with rude black women. This is typical of the black and Hispanic women I have dated. White and Asian women seem to not have their defense mechanisms and paranoia meters set quite as high. I believe black women who go on preconceptions of how black men are going to treat them become rude and lash out at all men, even the innocent ones. Further, historically, black women have endured double the prejudice in being both black and female, and therefore seem to have twice the anger. They express their anger irrationally and maintain a rude facade in a collateral 'affirmative action'-style effort to regain control for the past.
POSTED 4/21/2000
Winston J., Pasadena, CA, United States, Male, Humanist, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 420200043836
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Question:
I recently admitted to myself and several close friends that I am bisexual. Now I am looking for a relationship with another man, but how do you tell if another guy is interested without offending a straight guy by mistake? Note: because I am still in high school, I do not want anyone who is not gay/bi to know about my orientation. Although I come from a tolerant upper middle class school, I have seen it hurt others.
POSTED 4/13/2000
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 4122000111409

Responses:
The first thing I would recommend is to move slowly. Is there a gay/lesbian community center in your town? If so, they probably have a youth group. Or, maybe a Metropolitan Community Church? These are fairly safe options for meeting other guys in your age group in a controlled environment. You can also hit the gay.com 'youth' chat rooms and talk to guys in the same situation. Check www.planetout.com and go to the youth sections to chat with other guys there. The thing you must be careful of is, and I'm sure you are probably aware of this, that older guys will be in the youth rooms to see what they can find, also. Watch your step, and don't give out details about yourself. If and when you agree to meet someone in person, make sure it's in a very public place so that you have security. Bottom line: Be careful. There are good people out there, but there are also some stinkers. Learning the difference is tough, and sometimes dangerous.
POSTED 4/18/2000
Mark B., Dallas, TX, United States, <civic-si@swbell.net>, 39, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Financial Analyst, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 414200083939
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Question:
I find the supermarket tabloids (National Enquirer, The Globe, etc.) abominable. They even sling mud at little kids like JonBenet Ramsey and Kathie Lee's kid. Even though their only target seems to be celebreties (willing or unwilling, such as Monica Lewinsky), I still cringe at the thought of these tabloids ever digging up largely fabricated dirt about me if I ever became famous. How can anyone stomach such yellow journalism? If you buy them, why do you? Obviously they sell like hotcakes, because they're featured prominently at every checkout stand I've ever stood in.
POSTED 4/12/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, student, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 4112000112643

Responses:
I used to read them back in the day when they did stories on Bat Boy and paper bag collectors. I thought they were so ridiculous that they were funny.
POSTED 4/18/2000
S.J., San Diego, CA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 414200042516

I have tried really hard most of my life to figure people out. A very large portion of my 'heroes' - Jules Verne, for example, became very disenchanted with humanity in later life. Everything I can find suggests that people are motivated by two basic Freudian urges, Eros and Thanatos. Like Lions, we wish to rule the pride and will eagerly eat the children of our rivals. Look at what sells: Fashion and violence. At some level, our 'achievement' delights at the 'failures' of others. Sociobiologists suggest that even altruism is calculated to give advantage for our offspring. When one encounters true compassion, it should be cherished, for it is rare!
POSTED 4/21/2000
Dan M., Mesquite, NV, United States, 50, Male, counselor, Mesg ID 418200083228
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