Best of the Week
of May 21, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of May 21, 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:
Why are there so few black contestants on the TV show 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire'? I can't see how the program is in the slightest bit racist - you either know the information or you don't. Incidentally, I would have no problem with one of every eight questions (the approximate percentage of the population that is African American) pertaining to black-oriented subject matter. If anything, it would make the show more interesting!
POSTED 5/24/2000
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 39, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5202000102928

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Question:
As a customer service representative, I talk to people from all over the United States. I have noticed that people from the South tend to talk at a higher speed than folks from other parts. Why is this?
POSTED 5/25/2000
John P., Tampa Bay, FL, United States, 28, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 5252000105543

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Question:
What is it about a shaved or trimmed pubic area that some men find erotic or attractive or a turn-on? What's preferred ... shaved or trimmed? And doesn't shaved get prickly FAST?
POSTED 4/23/2000
Catherine G., Miami, FL, United States, 43, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Registered Nurse, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 4152000120949

Responses:
Yikes! Why do some guys find this so erotic? Maybe it's going back to childhood. Then again, the smoothness. I know that some women are like gorillas in their private parts. Ever try on a two-piece bathing suit and look like you could reforest a barren plain? If your lover finds it erotic and you are not offended, what the heck? Although this can be itchy if you don't use a hair remover, shaving can be a bear, so to speak. Frankly, your own body hair is pretty darn fine. But if your partner is really serious about you getting rid of this hair and it's OK with you, have a fine dinner with some good wine, make sure you smell like the end of the world (something yummy that brings out the animal in you) and allow HIM to shave you. But remember: this is your body, and if you want to do it, that's cool. But any uneasiness on your part should be respected. Whatever happens, please remember your body is your own, and let no one disrespect it.
POSTED 5/26/2000
Lindsay, San Antonio, TX, United States, <lindsay_horton@hotmail.com>, 49, Female, Straight, self-employed,Mesg ID 526200024541
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Question:
For people in their 70s or 80s: Does sex happen much, if at all, in your lives? I'm asking because I have got to be that age one day. Is impotence the only thing that stops you from doing it as much as you used to?
POSTED 5/25/2000
Robert S., Poole, NA, United Kingdom, <Rms6859@postmaster.co.uk>, 24, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 525200081942

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Question:
Why is there a need to believe in a God? Is not the God concept outdated? What's wrong with dependence on oneself?
POSTED 5/24/2000
Romas, Berkeley, CA, United States, 70, Male, Black/African American, Straight, wholistic consultant, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 523200032631

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Question:
I've heard that women prefer the circumcised penis in general, but I'd like to know if this is the case for those countries where circumcision is not as common as it is in the United States or Australia. I have a friend from France who assures me that she and almost all her friends have a preference for the circumcised penis, even if they're a bit more difficult to find over there. This surprised me a little, as I would have thought preference would have been mainly a cultural thing. I'd be interested to hear from anyone, especially those people who may live outside the United States.
POSTED 5/24/2000
Bob, Sydney, NA, Australia, 31, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, counselor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5202000102655

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Question:
Why do people from New York City tend to be ruder and more assertive and in-your-face about things? I notice this as a customer service representative. Could someone explain why?
POSTED 5/25/2000
John P., Tampa Bay, FL, United States, 28, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 5252000105841

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Question:
I'm newly involved with a man who couldn't be any closer to my 'ideal' if I'd conjured him up myself (and he says the same about me). There's an almost magical quality to our relationship; the happiness and healing of our talking, laughter and touch can't be described in the word limit here. I'm only troubled that his past experiences ('baggage') are keeping us from fulfilling the obvious promise of our relationship. Does anyone have any thoughts on soothing a soul scarred by previous betrayals and devastating disappointments in love? The time we spend together is fantastic for both of us, but I want more, and he wants safety. I'm empathetic to his caution and am trying to be patient, but given the situation, it doesn't come easy for me. Any ideas?
POSTED 5/23/2000
Sara, Jacksonville, FL, United States, <hetaira@fdn.com>, 38, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Scientist, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 520200091300

Responses:
Let me offer you some advice. I doubt you will like it, because I didn't like it when I first heard it, and I am trying to put it in place for subsequent relationships. The advice is: Don't have any expectations. The Buddhists say that expectation is the source of pain. Try to just enjoy the time you have in the moment. If you go too far from the moment, you will find that between your baggage and his, there will be no one to porter them for you, and your relationship will not be so grand. So please, enjoy your relationship while you have it. By staying in this moment, if you are strong enough, you can turn this moment into forever.
POSTED 5/24/2000
Matthew, New York, NY, United States, 42, Male, I take from the best religions, White/Caucasian, Gay, actor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 523200074857
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Question:
Is homosexuality a choice, or is it something people are born with?
POSTED 5/23/2000
Yvonne, West Windsor, NJ, United States, 17, Female, Straight, Student, Less than High School Diploma, Mesg ID 521200085247

Responses:
I never had a choice; it was just who I was. Thank you for asking - so many heterosexuals assume the answer is 'chosen.'
POSTED 5/24/2000
Matthew, New York City, NY, United States, 42, Male, combine the best of all religions, White/Caucasian, Gay, actor, Mesg ID 523200075634

Let's turn your question around. When did you choose to be heterosexual? What day? How did you weigh the options? When you discussed the choice with your friends and family, what did they say? What kind of research did you do in the library to make your final choice? What finally pushed you into being heterosexual? Do you rethink your choice each day, keeping open the option to become homosexual? Has anyone tried to explain to you that sex with a good woman will cure you of having made the wrong choice? My guess is that you find my questions foolish, perhaps even absurd, probably insulting. Such questions presume that the speaker's way is the only way to be. Now try another question: Why would anyone choose to be gay? Remember the cost: losing your job, having people refuse to rent to you, being beaten, tortured, even murdered. Having the most sacred relationships in your life mocked and derided. There's only one reason that in such a world anyone would choose to be gay: Because God made them that way and to live any other way is to live a lie. And truth is better than a lie any day. So, to answer your question, no one in this world has ever chosen to be gay. Here's what the mother of a gay son has to say: http://www.andrewtobias.com/bkoldcolumns/000504.html.
POSTED 5/24/2000

Thom, Washington, DC, United States, 57, Male, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 523200085934

Yvonne, this is an excellant question. If I had had a choice, being a lesbian is the last thing I would have chosen in this society. I've been denied jobs, cussed at, physically assaulted; and I mean literally beaten and left for dead, interrogated like a prisoner of war (our great Army), laughed at, denied a place to live, stalked and in general, treated like a piece of dirt by many 'Americans' because I am gay. Would any rational person 'choose' a life such as this? Also, ask yourself this: Did you 'choose' to be a heterosexual? Would you 'choose' to be gay? Most straights automically go 'ick' when they even consider this question. I go 'ick' when I even consider having sex with a man. It's an automatic reaction that I know I can only love a woman. Having been out of the closet for 10 years, I can now say that I'm damn proud to be a Gay American. But, for many like me, the process has left many scars. Again, thank you for asking this question. Many people still hold this ridiculous notion that sexual orientation is 'chosen.' Sexual orientation and sexual behavior are two different things. Behavior is chosen, orientation is an innate part of our psyche.
POSTED 5/24/2000
Alma, Kempner, TX, United States, 46, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, unemployed, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 523200092824

Given the problems it brings, who would choose it?
POSTED 5/24/2000
Jerry S., New Britain, CT, United States, Male, Mesg ID 523200024909

In my case, I know I was born homosexual. Have I acted straight, been married to a woman, etc.? Yes, but it wasn't the real me. I chose to allow myself to be who I was born to be when I came out. That was the only choice in the matter.
POSTED 5/24/2000
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 523200034301

There is a lot of debate on this. I believe people are born straight or gay, and that gay people can no more decide to be straight than straight people can decide to be gay. Why would anyone choose to be homosexual when our society is so biased toward heterosexuality? There are people who sincerely believe gays and lesbians are an abomination against God, etc. Why would someone go through the process of 'coming out' and risking alienation from their family and community if they had a choice to be straight?
POSTED 5/24/2000
Jacqueline C., San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 523200091338

For me, homosexuality was not chosen. I'm not sure if I was born with it, or whether it developed due to the way I was nurtured. It always just seemed more natural. If you try to ask yourself whether you 'chose' heterosexuality, you'll see how problematic these things are to work out. But I don't really waste much time worrying; I'm happy with the way I am, and feel no more need to question my orientation than a heterosexual person would.
POSTED 5/24/2000
Ben S., Sydney, NA, Australia, <bscaro@hotmail.com>, 31, Male, Buddhist, White/Caucasian, Gay, Internet Investigator, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 5232000111230
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Question:
While working in Detroit, I've noticed black kids - and white kids - who've pulled one pant leg almost up to their knee. Is this some symbol?
POSTED 5/23/2000
Scott M, Macomb, MI, United States, <Scal8r@netzero.net>, 41, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 521200090545

Responses:
You're talking about an urban fad (and a pretty long-standing one, too) established by the rapper/actor L.L Cool J. There is no 'why' behind it, I don't think, even though it is usually the right pants leg that is rolled up, and all bike riders know that this is the leg that often gets caught up in the gears.
POSTED 5/24/2000
Tish, Newark, NJ, United States, 22, Female, Black/African American, Ph. D Student, Mesg ID 523200045643
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Question:
Is it a common (and somewhat tolerated) practice for Hispanic males to keep a mistress as long as they are discreet and fulfill their responsibilities to their families?
POSTED 5/23/2000
Annette M., Virginia Beach, VA, United States, 42, Female, Christian, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, Social Worker, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 520200083211
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Question:
Is it true that Asians believe that a man should have sex only once every three weeks or so? I'm in a relationship with a Vietnamese gentleman who believes he loses his 'essence' when having an orgasm. He also believes that too much sex makes a man age. Is this true of the whole Vietnamese culture? How about other Asians?
POSTED 5/22/2000
Laurie S., Orange, CA, United States, 48, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Have MS and RSD, Spiritual Director, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 5222000125657

Responses:
No way. I'm Asian-American (Chinese), and although I cannot speak for him, I can tell you that that certainly is not true for me. Is he a Vietnamese national or a person born and raised in the States?
POSTED 5/24/2000
David L., Chicago, IL, United States, 27, Male, Asian-American, Straight, Law Clerk, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5232000104435

I am an Asian female, and I have never heard of this. You may want to ask him what makes him feel that way - it could be a belief peculiar to him alone.
POSTED 5/24/2000
Chibi, Austin, TX, United States, Female, Asian, Mesg ID 524200030435
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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

Responses:
I know there are wealthy individuals who do so much to try to equalize the impact of capitalistic greed and create a fair market for all. But to address your question: I believe in the universal law of 'What goes around comes around.' We may never be able to see the result of 'corporate decisions' that are not based on a global vision. But I believe each action of any entity (an individual or corporation) has an equal and opposite reaction. Observe nature and you see this law over and over again. No escape. Time is patient. And in the 'in-between time' there are so many other 'entities' making a positive difference. Search for them and they will welcome your vision and comittment.
POSTED 5/23/2000
Annette, Virginia Beach, VA, United States, 42, Female, Christian, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, Social Worker, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 5202000103651

I agree with you that people are often completely devoted to their jobs and sometimes become so engrossed in the financial world that they forget about social problems - and even their own families. But I think it's foolish to wish some sort of revenge by having the stocks go down. Even though these people may be self-centered or have a narrow vision, a healthy economy is good for the whole country, including the poor, and a stock market crash would affect the lower class much more adversely than it would affect those stock brokers. There are much more productive ways to raise your socioeconomic class than to spend your time wishing evils on the rich.
POSTED 5/23/2000
Courtney, Bothell, WA, United States, <slykitty@hotmail.com>, 19, Female, Student, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 520200015141

I agree and disagree with you. There are a lot of problems we face as a society, but they are, fundamentally, no different from the problems we have always faced. There have and always will be homeless people, poor people, people from all walks of life who need more of the things they feel they are due. By the same token, look at how our society has been dismantled by years of socialism at the hands of the government. More people refuse to take responsibility for themselves or their actions. More people look to the government to decide for them what they should decide for themselves. Families have been dismantled to the extent that we think it's OK not to have family meal times, family activities or just plain old family discussions. Family values, in fact, are virtually non-existent. There is no obligation on the part of an entreprenuer or succesful individual to help others less fortunate. The fact that it occurs to a greater extent than you realize is the fault of the media, which doesn't want to report it. It makes better news if they report that the 'wealthy' just don't care about those less fortunate. So, that kind of information doesn't fit into their agenda. Does our society have problems? You betcha - just like every society for centuries before us. The difference now is that we have seen hundreds of billions of government dollars invested every way possible to 'cure' the conditions of poverty, illness, education, etc., and all we have to show for it is a situation that is worse than it was. We must take responsibility for ourselves. When we do, those things will get better and society will begin to return to the values you seek. But it won't be overnight.
POSTED 5/23/2000
Pete, Orlando, FL, United States, 51, Male, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 519200042617

The 'mad chase for quick wealth' is nothing new; even in Biblical times, there were always people who found it more attractive to raid their neighbor's flocks than to husband their own. Not many people are poor by choice, and most people would jump at the chance to become rich. The poor have always been with us, and so have the rich. On the other hand, there have also always been social institutions working to even things out: religions, primarily, and in some cases governments or political factions. There seems to be a natural rhythm to these things. In the late 1800s in the United States, the robber barons amassed enormous wealth and didn't hesitate to exploit those whom they could; but they, and to a greater extent their children, became some of the greatest philanthropists ever.
POSTED 5/23/2000
Jerry S., New Britain, CT, United States, Mesg ID 519200030337

I am not sure this is going to provide you with any better impression of our society, but from what I can tell, most people are not all that concerned about stocks or IPOs. The reason that you see all of these commercials is simple: the brokers (including the people running the online trading sites) make more money when they lure more people into using their services. So they spend a lot of money on advertising, and pay to get that advertising everywhere. But the important thing to recognize is that these ads reflect a very small (and annoying) slice of American society. I live right outside New York City, and most of the people I know really do not care about the stock market. If they do invest, it is incidental to them. Basically, don't use those ads as a marker for our society. They are no more realistic than the ad for some credit card where the father could care less about his child's first steps because he just made an online purchase. Would you really assume from that ad that Americans are like that? Oh, and I have to say, I had a really fun time watching all the poor little investors panic for a few days when the market took a dive about a month ago...
POSTED 5/23/2000
John K., Cranford, NJ, United States, <jkeegan3@home.com>, 26, Male, Chemical Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5192000120925

I agree that society has definitely taken a turn for the worse. Many people are gaining wealth that they never dreamed possible, but they are losing out on what is really important. In their quest for the almighty dollarr, people are ignoring their spouses, children, friends and themselves. Why do you think so many children are in trouble? It's because their parents aren't there for them. How can you be there for your kids when you're working 80 hours a week? And forget about getting to know your neighbors and the people in your community. I'm an engineer in Silicon Valley, and sometimes I find myself hopeing that something will change ... and it will. The market can't go on this way forever. Contrary to popular belief, we aren't all dot-com millionaires. I get so frustrated with these people who overbid when buying houses, driving the already inflated housing market even higher. I make a good salary and so does my husband, and we can't even touch a house in this area.
POSTED 5/23/2000
Lucy H., San Jose, CA, United States, 25, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5192000110939

At one point in my life I agreed with you. I went to a private school on scholarship and was teased for not wearing whatever brand was 'in' at the time. When I switched to public school I harbored a resentment due to my earlier treatment and believed that being rich equaled being snooty and selfish. Then it was time to pay for college and I managed to do so via lots of community scholarships funded mainly by the wealthy individuals of my community. That really opened my eyes and made me realize that wealth does not equal greed. While there are a few wealthy individuals who care only about dollar signs, many more feel that money is a tool by which to improve not only their lives but the lives of others in society. Money allows them to donate to worthy causes like social service organizations that often fill the gaps of need (like the need for food, shelter, affordable health care, etc.). In many cases, having a comfortable nest egg also allows them to devote their time and energy to these causes as well. Although I am of modest means through gainful employment, I try to invest on my own because I believe it is unlikely that social security will be around when I retire, or at least if it is, that I would not wish to be dependent upon if for survival in my later years. I also invest because there are causes I believe in and wish to support via donations. For investors with a social conscience there are many 'earth-friendly' or 'socially repsonsible' investment options, among others, mutual funds that carefully screen for companies that do not pollute, pay a living wage and do not produce socially destructive goods like guns and tobacco. In making investment decisions, I try to support companies that give something back to the communities in which they are located; that way when I benefit from price increases in the stocks I own, I know that society is benefitting as well.
POSTED 5/23/2000
OccassionalTrader, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 25, Female, White/Caucasian, research, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5192000102658

Although I still have my doubts, it is good to know there are some who still give a rat's tail about those who have the least - which, by definition, does not equate to socialism. The 1980s seemed to have really warped the minds of a lot of people, when public attempts to help those who can't afford the basic necessities of life are derided as 'socialist,' 'communist' or any other red-baiting perjorative. I believe this all started with Reagan's turning the 'War on Poverty' into a war on the poor. The publishing of conservative/libertarian propaganda aided in this campaign by shifting the blame onto the lower class, charging that they are deficient in moral character and/or work ethic, among other accusations. Where there once were job centers, there are now only police officers who act like the German Gestapo (especially in NY, LA and here in Chicago) in keeping the poor contained. In any case, it is refreshing to hear that there are wealthy people who are concerned with our society and not only with their portfolios.
POSTED 5/24/2000
Vincent B., Chicago, IL, United States, <ariesflame73@il.freei.net>, 27, Male, Black/African American, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 523200023036
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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've marveled at the same thing when I've visited my brother, who lives in Israel, and watched Israelis locally (a good number of Israeli immigrants live around here). I think it's a reaction to being under constant attack as a nation, and it's also the result of a culture that prizes macho aggression. I love Israel and generally find Israelis charming, but after a while their in-your-face nature makes me want to have a powerful drink in a quiet room.
POSTED 5/23/2000
Andrew, Huntington, NY, United States, <ziptron@start.com.au>, 36, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Reporter, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 519200054105
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