Best of the Week
of May 14, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of May 14, 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:
Lately I've been hearing commercials on the radio and seeing ads on TV that make me think the United States is heading in the wrong direction socially. On one of the ads, a husband forgets his and his wife's anniversary, instead remembering that it's the anniversary of a major day-trading corporation. I tried to laugh initially, but can't shake the feeling that, as a society, our priorities are seriously out of order. With schools still underfunded, the homeless still in need of shelter and children (not to mention adults) in serious need of health insurance, I feel this obsession with stocks, IPOs, and the like shows a disdain for community the likes of which I've never seen. Sometimes I find myself hoping the markets take a jarring hit, if only to bring these hot-shot, nouveau-riche wannabes back to earth and force them to look at the lives of those left behind in the past decade. It seems like it would be the only way to quell this mad chase for quick wealth, which has seemingly warped our abilities to care for others who are less fortunate. What do others think of all this?
POSTED 5/19/2000
Vincent B., Chicago, IL, United States, <ariesflame73@il.freei.net>, 27, Male, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 5182000125057
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Question:
I visited Israel recently, and I loved it. However, I was surprised at how aggressive Israelis were compared to Americans. By American standards, people are downright rude to each other: they don't stand in lines, they yell at each other in 'customer service' situations, and they are very abrupt. Why is this?
POSTED 5/17/2000
Rhiannon, Eden Prairie, MN, United States, <hyena@visi.com>, 29, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Professor, Middle class, Mesg ID 5172000111748

Responses:
I'm an American residing in Israel (I've lived in Israel, on and off, for five years). Yes, everything you note is typical Israeli behavior, and you are not the first to notice it. Here are two theories on why this is so: First, history has taught Israel to be tough and aggressive. The country owes its continued existence to toughness and aggressiveness, and so individuals learn from this. True, this lesson is less true today than it was 20 years ago, but attitudes change very slowly. The other theory is that local attitudes teach individuals, as children, to not be suckers. Thus, everyone always pushes everyone to ensure that no one will take the slightest advantage.
POSTED 5/18/2000
Jesse N., Herzliya, NA, Israel, 41, Male, Jewish, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 518200081301
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Question:
I have always wondered how a girl arrives at the point of displaying her private parts to strangers for money, and what the circumstances are. Little girls aspire to be doctors, actresses and lawyers, but surely not nude dancers, so how do they become dancers? Yet I find most nude dancers at strip clubs fascinating. Most I've talked to come from white, middle-class backgrounds and are bright and educated. One girl I got a lap dance from was born and raised in Beverly Hills and attends a reputable four-year university. Not quite a teenage runaway from a troubled home life. So how do these girls become nude dancers? Were they abused sexually in childhood, thus the 'different' view of sexuality? At what point does money become more important than maintaining one's sexual privacy?
POSTED 5/15/2000
Noah, Los Angeles, CA, United States, Male, Straight, engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 14200093007

Responses:
I started stripping a month after I graduated high school. (This was topless dancing, not nude.) I wanted to move out of my parents' house and needed money, and when I started college I wanted to work weekends only but still live comfortably. I couldn't think of another job in which I could make nearly as much money. I was also a little bored with my life, and when I graduated high school I wanted to turn everything familiar upside down and go wild ... and I was so curious to see rich men and (what I thought would be) glamorous naked women and smoke and hundred-dollar bills... I kept the job for nine months, the longest I've kept any job. I'd begun to have sexual issues with it. I wasn't sexually abused as a child, but the sex-filled environment of strip clubs wore me down. I think it can be very damaging to attach a price to sexual favors. It messed my head up, and my sex drive had crashed by age 19, which I easily recognized as pathetic. So I quit. As for backgrounds, all the dancers I knew had a different story. Many had babies or lazy husbands; others were just like me (from a solid home in suburbia). And we were all pretty damn materialistic. The cliche about dancers is that they all have either incredibly high or low self-esteem. I was definitely at the low end and thought that making lots of money based on my looks would help me feel better. And it did, for a while.One more point: I was always interested in the psyche of my male customers and thought their reasons for coming to the club were infinitely more interesting than the dancers. So I'd like to throw the question back to you, a man: Why do you patronize strip clubs?
POSTED 5/17/2000
S.R., Austin, TX, United States, 22, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, student, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 517200033421

I manage a team of software testers for one of these startup 'dot-com' companies everyone complains about. I (and my partner) own a house in San Francisco, which is no mean feat with today's real estate prices. In my spare time (mostly weekends), I'm also a male escort specializing in a particular scene. I wasn't abused or molested as a child - I was raised Catholic. I hold two bachelor's degrees in scientific/engineering fields. Why do I do it? I like sex as much as anyone else (probably more). I put a price tag on it to keep it manageable - I stay within the bounds of my 'hobby,' and my relationship at home is still sound. I'm not likely to fall in love with someone, because I maintain a business relationship with them, and they understand that. I don't do heavy drugs because I have to drive to my see my clients, and I never know when they're going to call. I always have the kind of sex I like (which I don't always get at home - he's not into that), because that's what I advertise, and that's what they call me for. When they call me back, I feel better because they like me enough to pay me for a second visit. In the bar scene, you never know what you're going to get until you get home. The money isn't important to me - I make enough at my day job to afford to live here. 'Sexual privacy' doesn't necessarily have to have value - only to those who desire it. I have no need for it. (By the way, I've always wanted to do this. Surely there are women who want to be exotic dancers as well.)
POSTED 5/17/2000
Rusty, San Francisco, CA, United States, 32, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Gay, Software Testing Manager, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 516200032815

I agree with you completely, Rusty. I have been a dancer in some shape or form all my life, and after spending a few years with a dance-theatre company, the idea of stripping has appealed to me even more. I get to dance AND get the starring role - my solo onstage (which usually went to the friend of the director or something). And I'm not going to strip because I have no other option or have been forced into it; it's because I like nice things, I love my sexuality and am shamelessly egotistical (although never snobby). I think narcissism is the healthiest thing that can happen to a person. The worst thing a girl can endure is to feel undesirable and worthless.
POSTED 5/19/2000
Sylph, Toronto,, Ontario, NA, Canada, 19, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, student, High School Diploma , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 518200050441

I read that 70 percent of all women in the sex industry (porn films, strippers, prostitutes, etc.) were abused as children, sexual or otherwise. Unfortunately, Hollywood glamorizes these occupations. They give little girls the impression they'll be desired by men.
POSTED 5/19/2000
Elena, Los Angeles, CA, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Secretary, Mesg ID 519200053119
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Question:
What do people who have been blind from birth dream about?
POSTED 5/15/2000
Michael S., Toronto, Ontario, n/, Canada, 27, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 510200050026
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Question:
As a virgin, I have been wondering (especially since I have been in high school) what is so big about sex. I am a very sexual/erotic person but yet do not care to have sex. I have discussed this with my friends but still do not totally see what's the big deal.
POSTED 5/15/2000
M.B., Kansas City, MO, United States, 18, Female, Mesg ID 515200062605

Responses:
Oh, you will, buddy, you will.
POSTED 5/17/2000
Gary, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 38, Male, Black/African American, Straight, professional, Mesg ID 515200091053

Sex is often more hype than anything else. As a young person, particularly a virgin, there tends to be a lot of pressure to 'do it,' get it over with and find out what sex is all about. Despite all of the romantic novels, porn movies and sex scenes in books, the actual act doesn't take that long for most couples. Usually, the most amount of time is spent in foreplay ... and afterward in critiquing one anothers' performance. Perhaps, for you, your sexual desires are satisfied by heavy petting or just kissing and touching. Often, when someone isn't ready to 'go all the way', they ask questions such as yours. There's nothing wrong with that, we all decide when we are ready to have sex at our own time and shouldn't allow ourselves to be pressured into doing something before it's right for us. There's no rush to have sex. Having sex just to have sex is pretty unfulfilling. Having sex with someone you truly and deeply love transcends the physical experience to become something more magical. Unfortunately, words don't adequately describe the feeling. When you're ready and the time and the other person are right, your sexual experience will be one that you treasure.
POSTED 5/17/2000
Pete, Orlando, FL, United States, 51, Male, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 5172000123342
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Question:
Do people from poorer neighborhoods feel uncomfortable when visiting more affluent neighborhoods?
POSTED 5/15/2000
Candice, Toronto, Ontario, NA, United States, 18, Female, Asian, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 515200063537

Responses:
When I go to rich areas of Montreal (like Westmount), even if I'm just walking in the street or looking around in a store, I feel out of place. I feel as if everyone must know that I don't belong there. I feel self-conscious about my clothes and manners. Looking at those huge, gorgeous old houses with ivy all over them makes me feel poor and insignificant. I just don't feel at ease among people who hire nannies for their kids, don't do their own cooking and cleaning and spend more money on one outfit than I spend on a month's rent.
POSTED 5/15/2000
C.P., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 22, Female, student, Mesg ID 515200054609

I never grew up in the inner city or a 'barrio' suburb, but I didn't grow up in a posh neighborhood, either. My neighborhood sort of straddles the line between working and middle class, and by middle class I mean an electrician or low-end office worker and not a lawyer or doctor. There are more 'peckerwood' types than gangbangers. And all the drugs and illicit stuff mostly stays within people's homes and not on the streets. All-in-all, pretty decent. But across town on the western side, things are really posh. Four- or five-star restaurants, fancy hotels, $600,000+ houses, etc. I don't really go over there too much except to go to school. It does feel kind of weird traversing around there clad in cutoff Dickies and battered work boots, with a hard-edged demeanor about me. Sometimes people seem to assume I'm entirely out of place, and others do their darndest to pretend I'm nothing out of the ordinary. I don't think I'd want to live there, because I'd lose my identity, and I'd rather be surrounded by construction workers than high-society types. As for my friends from the barrios, they're always darting their eyes around making sure the cops aren't on their tail.
POSTED 5/18/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, Student, Lower middle class,Mesg ID 516200030655
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Question:
I have noticed a number of younger African Americans wearing knee-high pantyhose on their heads. I would like to know why this is done, and where this trend came from.
POSTED 3/3/1999
Jason, Washington, DC, United States, Male, Mesg ID 3399111616

Responses:
Those aren't knee-his. They're wave caps. They help keep waves in their hair. Actually, they're supposed to be worn when they sleep. Perhaps they're getting their hair ready so it will look good when they reach their destination (work, party, school).
POSTED 5/15/2000
B.J. Hunt, Florissant, MO, United States, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 515200061832

It's called a stocking cap or wave cap. With African-American hair being naturally curly, we can style it so that the hair becomes 'wavy,' henceforth 'wave cap.' Traditionally it was worn to bed and taken off in the morning. But, with younger generations, it's become a trend to wear them everywhere. In the past it was worn by men only, because our hair was generally shorter than our female counterparts. Then women began wearing their hair shorter, allowing them to wear the same hair style. As always, younger generations have a more relaxed sense of style than the previous. Once, wave caps were worn in the house only. Then, it became socially allowable to wear them outside. Now, young people have decided that wave caps are fashionable attire. My generation would never have worn them as a hat (and I'm not that old), which shows how quickly trends and social atmospheres change.
POSTED 5/18/2000
J. Allen, Charlotte, NC, United States, <bigsicky@hotmail.com>, 29, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Office Asst, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 516200023251
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Question:
Do white people believe that all of the discussions about race make people of color feel bad about living in the United States?
POSTED 3/3/1999
Mafusa, Rocklin, CA, United States, Black/African American, Mesg ID 339915535

Responses:
What a good question. It makes me think about what it is that makes me feel so nervous about the race issue. I'm a white female. I have been trying to understand how it must feel to have been part of an oppressed group for generations, and how this treatment must color the way one sees the world, and especially how one feels toward the oppressor. I think I'm profoundly embarrassed by the way white people have treated minorities. I'm also very ashamed. I have a guilty conscience, and I'll probably be involved in equity issues for the rest of my life trying to make amends for my ancestors' intolerance.
POSTED 5/15/2000
Barbara S., Las Vegas, NV, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 515200063247
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Question:
Why would an airplane window seat (in coach) have a black shroud around it on all three sides? I saw this on a flight from Germany a few years ago. Visualize a shroud hanging from the ceiling and making a 90-degree angle at each corner of the seat, something like a very small shower curtain extending all the way to the floor. There was no way to tell whether anyone was behind the curtain or not. Could someone have died in flight? Or could it have been a criminal being transported in shackles? I swear I'm not making this up, and I didn't have the nerve to ask a stewardess what was going on. Has anyone else ever seen this?
POSTED 5/15/2000
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 39, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 511200084204
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Question:
Why is it that when I'm in a mall or store I always seem to see white kids telling their parents what they should and shouldn't do? Don't the parents know how to control them?
POSTED 5/15/2000
Baby T., Elgin, IL, United States, Mesg ID 512200071359

Responses:
The simple answer is that from the time these children were infants, they were in charge and they knew it. Every time they cried, mommy or daddy came running to see what was wrong. As infants, the children learned that they had control over the adults by using certain behaviors. As the children grow older, the parents might try to re-assert their authority over the kids, but the kids would find new behaviors to stay in charge. By the age of three, most children's behavior patterns are set for life. My wife and I are often amazed at the interaction we observe between controlling children and their docile parents. The fact is that Dr. Spock was wrong (and admitted it before his death), as are so many pop psychologists. A swift swat on the butt of a misbehaving kid establishes control and who holds the authority in the family. Parents who let their kids walk over them LET their kids walk over them.
POSTED 5/17/2000
Pete, Orlando, FL, United States, 51, Male, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 5172000124451

I think my generational peers - white and black - who are in the 'baby boomer' generation tend to resist growing up. They want to be 'kids' forever. Being a kid and being a parent are incompatible, so they let their kids 'run them.' I'm an exception - I think you'd consider me a 'controlling' parent.
POSTED 5/18/2000
Jorge M., Jacksonville, FL, United States, 43, Male, Episcopalian, White/Hispanic, Straight, Human Resource Professional, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5172000115919
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Question:
Is the idea of 'testing the other guy' to see how he will react an outdated concept? I have in mind two instances I've seen of this, one a post-70 man who worked for me, the other a co-worker who, while young (28), comes from a very traditional ethnic background. In both instances I detected a desire on their part to 'push me,' i.e., to make subtle challenges to me to see if I would react in a 'manly' fashion or 'wimp out.' I 'wimped out' to the older man in deference to his age and never gained his respect; I stood up to the younger man and, I suppose, proved to him that I was somehow 'worthy.' In either case, I think it was ridiculous. I regard my manhood as a 'given' and have no need or desire to prove mine or challenge anyone else's. Isn't this behavior that was more typical of 'rough-and-tough' men, say, 50 years ago? And wouldn't it be more typical today of poorly educated, 'low-brow' types?
POSTED 5/15/2000
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 39, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5132000124049

Responses:
I think some men 'test' other men as a sort of confidence pacifier. Possibly, they can walk a little taller knowing that they 'out-willed' the next guy. It doesn't make sense. It seems to be some outdated right of passage. The sad thing is that as outdated as this concept might be, we still have to participate in it. There's no way around it. When I'm confronted like that, as a rule, I attempt to appeal to their sensibilities in a joking manner: 'Oh, you've intimidated me, you're so big and bad, do as you will' (in a very bland tone of voice). I haven't confronted any 'tough guys' who don't feel stupid after hearing me say that. It makes them realize how childish the whole testosterone-induced aggression thing really is.
POSTED 5/17/2000
J. Allen, Charlotte, NC, United States, 29, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Office Asst., Over 4 Years of College , Lower class, Mesg ID 516200035127
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Question:
I used to administer a rather sophisticated management training program in which those who couldn't make it were fired. When I state the fact that affirmative action destroyed the integrity of the program, I am attacked, even though I am just the carrier of the bad news. How come?
POSTED 5/8/2000
J. Whitelaw, Palm Coast, FL, United States, 65, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, retired, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 57200035447

Responses:
There is more ground to be leveled before anything will be fair or equal in America. What is the history of Caucasian education? Well, in the recent past, it was illegal to teach blacks to read. It is still considered in some places appropriate to place minority children in classrooms where no educational curriculum is used. Would you consider educating minorities polluting the school system? The same difference exists in the work world. Children grow to adults. If they are not taught (allowed to learn) as children, then they don't become adults who are able to compete academically/intellectually. However, the extremely intelligent minorities who are usually passed over because of the 'old boy network' (which still exists) are not in that pool of affirmative action recruits because they would have to be the supervisor/boss (given fair assessment of credentials). So I don't believe you're just the messenger. You're the product of a racist society, which happens to reap the benefits.
POSTED 5/15/2000
D. Rashid, Fairfax, VA, United States, Female, Christian, African-Native American, Straight, Information Specialist, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 59200033603
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Question:
Why are American-born and/or raised Asian children taller than non-American born Asians? I was born in Vietnam and raised in America since I was 7, and I am four inches taller than my parents. My youngest brother, born in Wisconsin, will likely be six inches taller than mom and pop. My Asian friends are the same - they're taller than their parents by several inches, some by seven or more. My theory is that it is caused by the richer diet in Western countries. Are there any other factors?
POSTED 5/9/2000
Binh, San Diego, CA, United States, <just4bui@hotmail.com>, 25, Male, Agnostic, Asian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 58200054514

Responses:
I do not think there is one easy answer to this. I am of Anglo decent and am about eight inches taller than my father, yet he was born here in America, as was I. I believe the answer lies in the realm of evolution because I have noticed that all children to some degree seem to be getting taller than their parents. If there is another answer out there I would like to know it.
POSTED 5/15/2000
Rick F., Ypsilanti, MI, United States, <papasito1999@hotmail.com>, 42, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student College, 4 Years of College , Lower class, Mesg ID 514200052321

I've heard that Asians in general are getting taller, not just Asians in the United States, and this is because of the introduction of milk into their diets. I don't have any evidence to back it up. My family came from North Dakota, and of my mom's siblings, all of the ones born in California are taller than the ones born in North Dakota. But then I am shorter than both my parents (not even 5' tall, even though my dad is almost 6'), and I have lived my entire life in California. So who knows.
POSTED 5/17/2000
Jacqueline C., San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 515200071539

I think you are quite right about diet being the most important factor. Your height is achieved by a combination of nature (genetics) and nurture (environment). Current knowledge on evolution would say that we can't genetically evolve into a population of taller people in just a few generations (unless we suddenly prevented all short people from breeding). So the most likely explanation for us towering over our parents is that we have had different diets (and probably different exercise levels). Having more nutrients during childhood than our ancestors did has allowed us to get closer to reaching our 'optimum' genetically determined, height. It will be interesting to see how pollution, anorexia and highly processed foods affect our nations' heights in the future.
POSTED 5/17/2000
Beth, Edinburgh, NA, United Kingdom, 25, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, PhD, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 515200045321

I am a biology student, and I would definitely say nutrition is a huge factor. People are eating better, healthier foods today than they were even 20 years ago. We're also exercising more and smoking less - I would say that on the whole, our culture has become much more conscious of the need to take care of ourselves. I, too, am taller than my mother and most of my aunts, and I am catching up on my father. My mom agrees that I ate much better than she did as a child, partly for financial reasons and partly because her generation of parents had more knowledge about the healthiest foods for their children than the previous generation.
POSTED 5/17/2000
Nicole, Toronto, NA, Canada, 19, Female, Mesg ID 5162000124510

I think you hit the nail on the head. Diet has been linked to height and strength in Asian cultures. Here, we eat more protein/calcium-rich foods than our parents did growing up. Simply put, children here get more nutrients that stimulate growth.
POSTED 5/17/2000
Jaina, New York, NY, United States, 23, Female, Asian Indian, Gay, Writer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 515200043118
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