Best of the Week
of June 6, 1999


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of June 6, 1999, as selected by Y? These
postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing our new database using our search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in our 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. We encourage you 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 our guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.


Question:
Where I live, the local Jewish community is trying to get permission to construct an Eruv on city property. They say it will be a series of poles embedded in the ground, with twine running from pole to pole. According to them, this acts as a symbolic wall and an extension of the home, thus allowing Jewish people to go places on the Sabbath and to work on the Sabbath, as they will technically still be in their home. Is it not blatantly and inherently wrong for followers of a religion to look for loopholes in the rules and commandments given to them by their God? They are basically saying, "My God said I could not do this, yet I found a way I could figure out how to get around that rule." It's not really any different than, say, figuring out a way around stealing, murdering or any other commandement. If you're going to choose to be a follower of a religion or deity, shouldn't you do so without trying to circumvent the rules?
POSTED 6/11/99
Dondi M., San Francisco, CA, United States, 27, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, System Administrator, Technical School , Middle class, Mesg ID 689934832
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Question:
I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease two years ago and sometimes have trouble walking because of it. However, when my medication is working well, there is almost no sign of the disease. Still, the medication can wear off in the space of a few minutes. I am considering getting a handicapped placard for my car, but am slightly concerned I will get dirty looks and questions if I am in one of my "on" periods and use the placard. If the medication wasn't so volatile and didn't wear off so quickly, I could use the placard only during my "off" periods. But I do not feel it would be wise to do so, since my "off" periods can come suddenly. Is this something I should worry about? Do people consider that a disabled person may not be visibly disabled, or that it may not be a full-time disability?
POSTED 6/11/99
Larry, New York, NY, United States, <mancub@gay.net> , 36, Male, Presbyterian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Parkinson's Disease, Network Administrator, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 689972456
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Question:
I am an atheist. My girlfriend is a Christian. She honestly believes that I am bound for her Christian hell when death comes knocking because I haven't accepted Christ. If pressed, will most Christians subscribe to this strict interpretation of the Bible?
POSTED 6/10/99
Brian H., Denver, CO, United States, 25, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Programmer/analyst, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 699911418

Responses:
You will get mixed answers from other Christians. Why they do not agree on this is a much longer subject than I would prefer to go into. I also believe that you are bound for Hell if you die without repenting. You may get a mixed spectrum of answers, all from people who do not have the power to condemn you to Hell. If you want an answer from Jesus Himself, have your girlfriend show you passages in the Bible like Matthew 25:31-46.
POSTED 6/11/99
Michael F., Denver, CO, United States, <michaelf@bwn.net> , 29, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computers, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 61099112500

I believe that most will say so (as I do). I have known many Christians - particularly through college, attending several churches and also through my extended family. The vast majority hold to a strict interpretation of the Bible and will agree that you are "bound for Christian hell," as you would not meet the requirement of accepting the authority and sacrifice Christ made for you.
POSTED 6/11/99
Peter, South, IN, United States, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6109963153
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Question:
What do deaf people think when you try to communicate with them in sign language? I learned the fingerspelling alphabet when I was younger and a few assorted signs, but I'm very slow. Do you appreciate the effort, or feel frustrated at the difficulty in communication? A deaf woman is a regular at one of my jobs, and I'd like her to feel comfortable.
POSTED 1/13/99
Isabelle, N/A, MI, United States, Female, Mesg ID 1139914158

Responses:
I find it a relief, because I am terrible at lip-reading. I am willing to wait with patience while a person tries to get his/her question across with their sign language capabilities. However, if a person does not take it seriously, such as giggling with their friends while they try to communicate, then I can get annoyed. Otherwise, please do take the time and effort to communicate. If all else fails, there is the reliable paper and pen.
POSTED 6/8/99
E. Henry, Steamboat Springs, CO, United States, 18, Female, White/Caucasian, Deaf, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 6899125926
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Question:
I generally dress somewhat preppie style, or rather, dress neatly. I have interacted with others who have different styles of dress, but I've never had the courage to ask this: Why do (what's the proper word?) Goth people dress in dark clothes, have many earrings and do what's termed as "outrageous" things?? Why that style of dress? Also to another group: Why all those baggy clothes? I keep thinking that your pants are going to fall off at any moment...
POSTED 6/8/99
E. Henry, Steamboat Springs, CO, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Deaf, Student, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 6899123402

Responses:
I got to know my boyfriend's sister - a self-described Goth - when she was my housemate for nine months. She dressed in black almost all the time, mostly because she liked it, but mainly because she'd prescribed to a certain image/lifestyle. Dressing in black is just part of being Goth. She'd mostly been influenced by Goth friends and Goth music early in high school, and I guess she decided she liked it. My boyfriend tells me she's always had self-esteem problems and a feeling of not belonging. I'm not speaking on behalf of Goths, or even her, but I think she chose the Goth lifestyle to feel like she was socially a part of something. She doesn't have any piercings - not even her ears are pierced - and from what I know, doesn't do many outrageous things. I think the weirdest thing she and her friends told me was that they drink merlot wine because of its blood-like color and thickness (Goths like to emulate vampires, but I don't know any who would drink real blood). Baggy clothes? Just a really comfortable trend, I think. I don't know where it originated. I've always worn my pants a little saggy and baggy just because it's so comfortable. Some male friends have told me they think properly-fitting pants look too uptight and preppy.
POSTED 6/8/99
S.R., Austin, TX, United States, 21, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Student, Mesg ID 689995522
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Question:
Upon returning from a trip to Georgia and brushing up on history there, noting the English influence, I am wondering why and how the "Southern accent" came to be in the South.
POSTED 5/10/99
Elizabeth B., Minneapolis, MN, United States, <ebartz@pclink.com> , 40+, Female, White/Caucasian, Elementary school teacher, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 589955554

Responses:
As a born and bred Southerner, I've never considered where the accent comes from, really. My own unscientific hypothesis is that it is simply too damn hot here nine months of the year to move, so we just slur an soffen evreh wurd we can, deah. It's evuh so much easiuh to not move ya mouth too much, see? Honestly, why not? Everything else slows down in August; why wouldn't your mouth do the same?
POSTED 6/6/99
Kathryne, Birmingham, AL, United States, 28, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Consultant, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5139913008

I grew up in the South, so I've always found this to be a very interesting question. A former English teacher, I studied language arts while in college, and this was a much-discussed topic in one of my classes. The Southern accent, by the way, has nothing to do with educational levels, as many think. According to my studies, there are two primary influences on the language of the South. First, a large portion of the South - particularly Appalachia - was settled by Scots, who contributed enormously to the language. The second influence is quite interesting; it is thought that boys and girls in the South who were raised on plantations often spent a lot more time with their slave "nannies" and so forth than their parents and picked up a lot of sounds this way. It is just a theory, of course.
POSTED 6/8/99
J.A. Crumpton, Phoenix, AZ, United States, <tc@explorearizona.com> , 31, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Web developer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6899103341

I'm also a Southerner. I think I lot of speech depends on how you hold your mouth when you talk. My husband (from Ohio) can give a pretty good Southern accent if he follows my admonition to "smile when you talk." This isn't just true for Southern accents. You have to purse your lips to get a French accent. If I speak French without thinking about doing that I'm told I have a French Canadian accent. The Appalachian accent is definitely influenced by Elizabethan English, which is the time period when many of those settlers immigrated to America. One theory is that they were so isolated the speech didn't evolve as quickly.
POSTED 6/10/99
Kelcoleman, Boulder, CO, United States, 39, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 689970816

While not an authentic Southerner myself, my theory is that since the accent sounds much more British than those found in other parts of the United States, the Southern drawl simply came from Englishmen in the South who were cut off from the folks up north.
POSTED 6/10/99
Hallie, Frankfort, KY, United States, Mesg ID 689974225
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Question:
Why do so many straight people think gays and lesbians are promiscuous and will sleep with anyone breathing?
POSTED 6/5/99
Sex-less, Fort Worth, TX, United States, 45, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 6499114834

Responses:
Part of the reason may be that it's true for male homosexuals. Male promiscuity figures prominently in AIDS studies. It is impossible to look at the subject of AIDS and not admit that male homosexuals are very promiscuous.
POSTED 6/8/99
Normand, Alameda, CA, United States, 50, Male, Christian, Straight, Blue-collar worker, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 679925320

Most likely it was a trait conjured up by those who condemn gays and lesbians. Like most urban legends that peg a particular group of people as the "evil," these statements are meant to demonize a people. By attributing negative traits to a group, someone can "justify" the outing of that group. It's a sad world.
POSTED 6/8/99
Me, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States, 25, Male, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 679925335

I don't know about lesbians but homosexual men are extremely promiscuous as a group. The use of dozens of partners per year was an important factor in the spread of HIV. This is not to say that all gay men are like this. But as a group they certainly have many more one night stands than do heterosexuals.
POSTED 6/8/99
Joe, Chicago, IL, United States, 47, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Finance, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 689944442

My parents were afraid I would be promiscuous and catch AIDS when they found out I was gay. But, as they found out, I don't sleep around; and I'm very happy with my partner. They got their views from the news networks here, which go to the most open/concentrated gay areas to get their shocking news bites. The most openly gay and news-taped areas do seem to be more promiscuous. But there are actually more gay people in the non-openly-gay/non-news-taped neighborhoods than just in the gay-ghettos; and they aren't the '6 O'clock news-bite stories' type. They've got houses, play the organ at the Catholic church, work together around the house, volunteer at school and mow the yard with their partner. My mother now knows this. The news just didn't cover the other homosexuals.
POSTED 6/8/99
Patrick S., Dallas, TX, United States, <PatrickSenkel1@CompuServe.COM> , 24, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Programmer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 689950208

Since we live with our partners without being able to marry them, our relationships are not always given the respect that a married couple will receive. So, non-gays might see us as more promiscuous because we are never married. To Normand: Studies show men in general are more promiscuous than women. So, men having relationships with men have more freedom to have other partners if they wish. A man having a relationship with a woman has to deal with the woman's desire to be monogamous. Please be aware that any generalization will not hold true all the time, including the ones I have made.
POSTED 6/8/99
N. Smith, Butler, PA, United States, <ranebow@iname.com> , 44, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 689911421

I am a gay male and had many straight male friends in college and the Navy. It is my experience that men in general are more promiscuous than women, especially men in their late teens and early 20s. But as these men, both straight and gay, grow older and develop friendships and relationships (unfortunately marriage isn't an option for gay men) achieving that next orgasm isn't as important as it once was. If the government hadn't been so prude in the '80s and ha alerted people to the horrors of AIDS, the disease wouldn't have spread throughout the country as it has. All of you straight men who read this posting who were in college or the military in the '80s, just think about the sexual life of that time. It wasn't a gay or straight thing, it was a youth and sexual freedom thing. Period.
POSTED 6/8/99
Tony, San Francisco, CA, United States, 37, Male, Agnostic, Black/African American, Gay, New Media, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 689963736

I think it came about to promote and/or reinforce the "other-ness" of homosexuality. It increases the separate and different feeling of homosexuality and (to the scared? straights) makes it less attractive to young people. Personally, I think (the promiscuity rumor) is false and mean.
POSTED 6/9/99
Roberta, Trenton, NJ, United States, 37, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, RN, 4 Years of College , Middle class Mesg ID 699913358

If you think about it, the condemnation rarely makes sense: 1. In the United States, many gays and lesbians are asking to be able to wed legally, and I have heard many who oppose it say that gays are promiscuous. They oppose both promiscuity, and monogamous gays. If all gays were promiscuous, though, would we even be discussing gay marriages? 2. Cheers was in the Nielson top 10 for nine years. The main character, Sam, slept with hundreds of women. Watchers thought of it as cute and funny. Wilt Chamberlain claims to have slept with 10,000 women. Rather than question his morals, the public mostly questioned whether he was lying. Many guys join bands to "get women." Girls are told that "teenage boys only have one thing on their mind." We have words for men who have many female sex partners - player, stud, stallion, ladies' man, Romeo, Casanova, etc. All are words that elevate men's status. When a man does this, we say, "Boys will be boys." Why is this behavior OK for heterosexuals? 3. While AIDS mostly affected gays, heterosexuals' sexually transmitted diseases are even more common. So does that mean all heterosexuals are promiscuous?
POSTED 6/8/99
Craig, Minneapolis, MN, United States, <cmorris@loft.org> , 35, Male, Gay, 4 Years of College Mesg ID 689941823
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Question:
I am the daughter of an African-American/Japanese man and German/Irish woman. Through school and a lot of travel, I've gotten to live in and around many different races and cultures, but when it comes to boyfriends, 90 percent have been white. Though I am mixed myself, and though I see attractive African Americans and Asians, I can't imagine ever dating or sleeping with one. This makes me feel icky, like I have some kind of racial and/or sexual hang-up. Or is it just because I don't want to date my dad? Anyone have any theories?
POSTED 6/7/99
Jaimie W., Wenatchee, WA, United States, 24, Female, Agnostic, Black/White/German/Irish/Japanese, Straight, Journalist, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 639980249

Responses:
I feel your feelings are embedded in resentment, and if you truly want to overcome them, you have to go out of your way to meet and socialize with more minorities - a sort of reverse racism. You apparently grew up resenting your Asian and African heritage and wishing quietly that you were 100 percent Caucasian/Anglo. You aren't. And although you sound like a particularly lovely girl, it will help you tremendously to come to grips with your feelings.
POSTED 6/8/99
Walt L., Littleton, CO, United States, 55, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Business owner, Less than High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 6799101929

It would appear to me that you are avoiding men who are like your father for a couple of reasons. They remind you of him and you are unable to date any man who could take the place of your father, or you are harboring resentment because your father passed on genes to you that you would rather not have. I would lean toward the first, simply because you do describe some of these men as attractive. Be cool about it. Get to know them and don't look at their shells; look at them. You could be missing some wonderful times.
POSTED 6/8/99
Jeni B., Boston, MA, United States, <jeniB@vjMail.com> , 33, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6799124212

I think it has more to do with your past dating experiences, your degree of attraction to various men and the degree to which African-American or Asian men approach you that determines who you end up having relationships with. I come from a mixed ethnic background as well, and find that I can be attracted to almost any nationality or ethnicity of man, but my experience has led me to be approached by a majority of black men vs. white or Asian or "other." Consequently, I've had more relationships with black men because I assume (and perhaps I shouldn't) that I am not considered attractive to white and Asian and "other" men. Everyone has his or her personal preferences in terms of what they consider attractive. Maybe your preference just happens to be Caucasian. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar - I don't think you have to necessarily analyze your dating choices as a subconscious indication of any Oedipal/Electra complexes you have about your father.
POSTED 6/8/99
Taneia, Toronto, NA, Canada, <taneia@accglobal.net> , 25, Female, Jewish, Polish/Russian/Hawaiian/Fijian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 679940011

I don't have a scholarly theory but rather a few off-the-cuff remarks. First, most people are, to some degree, of mixed heritage. So it's considerably unlikely that your ethnic/genetic makeup has much, if anything, to do with whom you choose to date. There's nothing twisted or freaky about making choices that meet your personal preferences. To admit that you prefer white men almost exclusively as partners is fine (sometimes we forget that white men are beautiful and worthy beings, too!). Unfortunately, many people who are biracial by physical appearance feel pressured to organize their lives in ways that capture every angle of their bloodline. As impressive as this is, it's an almost impossible task. It does no one any real harm if you opt not to date, sleep with, or are even repulsed by the thought of intimacy with black or Asian men (trust me, there are plenty of people who feel the complete opposite). I hope you find love that allows you to be who you are both inside and out. By the way, we all have preferences (short, tall, thin, large, wealthy, educated, outgoing, shy, etc.). Personally, some of these characteristics appeal to me, others don't.
POSTED 6/8/99
Dee W., Cleveland, OH, United States, <westde@hiram.edu> , 34, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Educator/Author, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 689912704
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Question:
How does mainstream Japanese culture view homosexuals?
POSTED 6/7/99
Pete S., Boulder, CO, United States, 21, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Student, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6699113256
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Question:
To Arab-Americans and Arabic peoples of all countries: What did you think of The Siege? Was it anti-Arab and anti-Islam? for anyone who is not Arab or Moslem, what is your opinion as well?
POSTED 6/7/99
A.C.C., San Antonio, TX, United States, Mexican and American Indian, Grad student, Mesg ID 669972423

Responses:
I thought The Siege was just a movie - a story wherein the bad guy just happened to be Arabic. Nothing more. In all movies like this where there is a villian, it has to be somebody. If the villian had been white, would you have asked, "Do you think this movie was anti-white, or anti-Christian?"
POSTED 6/8/99
Michell, Panama City, FL, United States, 32, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 679992240
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