Best of the Week
of June 7, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of June 7, 1998, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found in their respective archives, which we invite you to browse. There, 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.

 

THE QUESTION:
D6: I am curious about what people who have been blind from birth "see" in their dreams. Could a respondent with a blind family member or friend ask them about this for me? Thanks.
POSTED APRIL 9, 1998
David L., 13, Portland, OR

ANSWER 1:
I found the answer to this question when I taught at a state school for the blind. People who have never had sight dream in the context of the senses they do have. They remember, think about and dream based on sound, feel, smell and taste. Their perception of their experiences is non-visual, so their thoughts and dreams are also non-visual.
POSTED JUNE 13, 1998
Lisa S., schmitz@prismnet.com, Austin, TX
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THE QUESTION:
O9: Why do managers often think that union people are basically lazy and need constant supervision?
POSTED JUNE 11, 1998
Knight, 40, Riverside, CA
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THE QUESTION:
A3: I work in a place that is host for a lot of seniors. A lot of them have many struggles in getting around. Most have poor vision and hearing. I am in my early twenties and am instructed to help them as much as possible. My question: Why do these same people, who need and ask for so much help, are getting behind the wheel of a car each day. Why won't they ask for help with this?
POSTED MARCH 19, 1998
Mark, Detroit, MI

ANSWER 1:
Given an alternative, most seniors with impairments I've encountered prefer not to drive. Unfortunately, public transportation is often poor or non-existent. Additionally, families of these seniors frequently live out of the area, are working or don't care. Most people like to be independent - regardless of age or physical limitation. Offering to drive them makes it easier on them than their having to ask or beg. If they're driving, there's usually a reason other than "wanting to."
POSTED MARCH 31, 1998
H.J., FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
I believe older people don't want to face the fact that they have to be helped so much.To them, it must seem like yesterday that they ran around the yard with their kids and drove them to school and tied their shoes, and I'm sure it must be a little humiliating to have to be driven around and have somebody help you all the time. It's like giving all of your freedom up.
POSTED JUNE 11, 1998
L.C., 15, white male, lord_chaos_1@hotmail.com, VT
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THE QUESTION:
R321: Why is it that some white people feel it necessary to tell black people from time to time that they have a black friend?
POSTED JUNE 11, 1998
M. Grant, 25, black, Charleston, S.C.
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THE QUESTION:
R309: Many Mexican males I see over the age of 13 wear mustaches. Is there some significance to this?
POSTED JUNE 7, 1998
Tony H., thamm@computoredge.com, Chgula Vista, CA
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THE QUESTION:
SO37: How do homosexuals meet, other than in "gay" bars? Is there a certain look or something? Or do they just go up to a person and flirt?
POSTED MAY 26, 1998
C.B., 22, heterosexual female, Memphis, TN

ANSWER 1:
Flirting with strangers is a risky venture - one is apt to get hurt. But flirting with strangers in a gay bar will improve the odds that one's advances will be appreciated, though there's no guarantee. However, gay people do more than just party at bars. We meet at pride events, volunteer and service organizations, professional associations and hobby clubs, through friends and acquaintances, at work and school, even at the grocery and hardware stores. Sometimes it is obvious when one is in the company of other gay people, but more often the encounters are more subtle. Just like heterosexuals, not everybody you meet is a potential partner. But when two people possess a mutual interest in one another, they will find a way to express it. Body language, the things that are said, the plans that are made, a special sacrifice, a response in kind: All of these can communicate the message. Having the shared experience of being gay makes it easier to interpret the signals.
POSTED MAY 27, 1998
Rex T., 34, gay white male <
rex_tremende@hotmail.com>, Cincinnati, OH

FURTHER NOTICE:
In the simplest terms, homosexuals meet other homosexuals in the same social environments as most heterosexuals do: Bars, parties, work, school, gyms, church, restaurants, discos, etc. However, where possible, gays and lesbians may choose to gather in venues that cater to them. In many cities and towns, there are places described above that cater exclusively to gays and lesbians, allowing them to meet in a more comfortable atmosphere without fear of rejection, ridicule or harassment. Unfortunately, in some locales where these venues do not exist and as a result of societal repression, some homosexuals resort to less desirable public venues to meet such as parks, restrooms, etc. This is a minority of homosexuals. The most important concept for anyone to grasp and understand is that homosexuals (like heterosexuals) are not homogenous. They do not all look alike, behave alike, dress alike, socialize together, remain single, have similar sexual desires, work in similar professions, etc.
POSTED MAY 27, 1998
Robbie, 30, gay male, Miami Beach, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
There are several way homosexuals meet, the most common is by introduction of other homosexual friends. In addition there are numerous chat rooms, on line services, phone services and classifieds, on line, traditional newspapers, and gay papers.
POSTED MAY 29, 1998
Tim, florida99@hotmail.com, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I think a homosexual person flirts in much the same way a heterosexual person flirts. If I find someone attractive, I may strike up a conversation or pay more attention than usual to that person in a "subtle" way - just like someone who is straight. Maybe they will turn out to be gay and maybe not (I certainly don't "jump on them" to find out). Incidentally, just because you are straight and meet someone of the opposite sex somewhere other than in a gay bar doesn't mean you can assume anything, either.
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
D.M., 35, lesbian, Tallahassee, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Going up to someone and just flirting is something usually associated with flamboyant people. But that also depends on the person, or where you are. I met my partner at his house through mutual friends. There was no flirting involved. There were no strange looks or unusual glares. We became the best of friends over a long period of time. Most homosexuals have what most people call "gaydar," which is the ability to recognize another of the same preference. But sometimes you can't always tell by just a look. It may be through conversation or social events that something may be said or done to imply certain preferences. My partner had no idea if I was gay or straight until we were introduced to each other as being gay. I don't think we would have met in a bar, but I am thankful we met the way we did. We have been happy together for eight years.
POSTED JUNE 3, 1998
C. Campbell; 28, black, Blaster7@hotmail.com, Dallas, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I am a 20-year-old lesbian, and I met my girlfriend through a friend. We meet people the same way heterosexuals do. If a homosexual is open and honest with themselves, they will encounter other gay people and become friends. As a result, they will meet people at parties, at work, at school and at clubs and bars. It is just as easy to find a gay lover as it is to find a heterosexual lover.
POSTED JUNE 5, 1998
Marci, 20, Wichita, KS

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
It might sound silly, but we have something we call "gaydar." It's probably unconscious, but gay people have a way of letting others know they are gay. Straight people who hang around gay people for a very long time pick up on it, too. I was in a rock band with all straight guys who, after we'd known each other for a while, could "pick 'em" out faster than I could. So, you don't have to be gay to have gaydar, you just have to be aware and cool.
POSTED JUNE 8, 1998
Steve S., 44, gay, steve@bonusround.com, Los Angeles, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
Part of my decision to accept a job offer in the Detroit area was knowing it has a large, organized gay-lesbian-bi-transgender community. I had no intention of living anywhere I would need to be closeted. In the Detroit area, there is a gay-lesbian-bi-transgender community center, lesbian and gay bookstores, monthly Detroit Women's Coffeehouse, monthly Women Together potlucks, lesbian softball teams and golf league, gay-lesbian-bi-transgender bowling leagues, swim teams, bike riding, runners, lesbian dances, gay and lesbian employee groups, homeowner associations, film festivals, yearly PrideFest, etc. And of course, proximity to the Michigan Women's Music Festival, the largest yearly lesbian festival in the world, as well as lesbian campgrounds, the yearly Lansing Pride March, etc.
POSTED JUNE 8, 1998
DykeOnByke, single lesbian, DykeOnByke@aol.com, Southfield, MI
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THE QUESTION:
GD14: Why is it that many people with children seem oblivious to the rights of the rest of us - from not quieting their kids on planes and in movie theaters to demanding censorship in the media?
POSTED JUNE 8, 1998
Emma, Los Angeles, CA

ANSWER 1:
As a parent who avidly opposes ratings and doesn't take her children to movie theaters, I'm probably not in your category. However, I'll take my kids on a plane, and while I actively try to keep them occupied and "pleasant," I expect them to be, well, children. I expect babies to cry and kindergarteners to be loud. Why don't people, in general, respect children as if they were real people?
POSTED JUNE 9, 1998
Donna, Austin, TX

FURTHER NOTICE:
The inability to keep children quiet in certain places, in my experience, stems from either insanity or incompetence. Insanity, in that I erred in bringing kids to a place where their short attention spans would result in social disaster, or incompetence, in that in some situations I simply wasn't able to provide what they needed. I can't speak for parents who demand censorship; I'm not one of those. I guess I'm not sure there's a "right"' to quiet plane flights or a "right" to a noisy-child-free environment, but to the extent that you desire one, I'd encourage you to speak - with as much understanding of the situation as possible - to the parent of the kids bothering you. Sometimes, parents can use the desires of others to regain control of a situation. I guess I'd also encourage people to think of children less as nuisances and more as fellow human beings, who are smarter and more perceptive than you might think.
POSTED JUNE 9, 1998
Andrew S., 34, parent of two kids, ages 3 and 1 <
ziptron@hotmail.com>, Huntington, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
It wasn't until I had kids that I really noticed how insensitive our society is to the whole idea of common courtesy. My wife and I try to raise our kids to be respectful and polite, and by all accounts, we do a pretty good job. We don't take our kids where they don't belong because it's a tremendous stress on them, and we expect that in certain places, kids will be exposed to things we don't want them to be exposed to yet. You haven't lived until you sit down in a family restaurant only to hear some jerk three tables over loudly describe last night's sexual conquest in terms that would make a longshoreman blush, or suddenly hear a rap song on the P.A. that's so blue you want to crawl under the table. And to top it off, it seems it's everybody's "right" to be offensive. Everyone also seems to believe that kids are little robots with switches to turn off bad behavior. My kids, as wonderful as they are, have their moments. And no matter how hard we try, they just can't help but create a mess. Sorry. Everyone claims they want our future generations to grow up healthy and well-adjusted, but society makes it very difficult to do. Sorry your rights are violated, but we're doing the best we can.
POSTED JUNE 10, 1998
Peter P., two kids, 3 and 8 <
PPROUT20@aol.com>, Redford, MI
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THE QUESTION:
R291: Why does it seem that many younger blacks have little respect for whites, when older blacks, who lived through segregation, are completely different in this regard?
POSTED MAY 26, 1998
Herb C., 69, Lehigh Acres, FL

ANSWER 1:
Younger blacks have no memory of legislated oppression. Logically speaking, they have no reason to fear or admire whites, so therefore, no cause to pay any respect.
POSTED JUNE 10, 1998
Elliott, 44, black, franrod@wavenet.com, Los Angeles, CA

FURTHER NOTICE:
I think it's safe to say that some younger blacks, just as younger people of almost any ethnic group, tend to have little respect for anyone, including themselves. Just look at their videos or listen to their music. They are who and what we adults have created.
POSTED JUNE 10, 1998
V.B., 41, black female, Miami, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Older black people have lived throught segregation and racism, younger black people are just getting a taste of it and don't like it, but who does? They have the right to be angry with white people, but by being angry with all white people, they are no better than the people who picked on them because of their race.
POSTED JUNE 11, 1998
L.C., 15, white male, lord_chaos_1@hotmail.com, VT

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THE QUESTION:
D9: My mother is para/quadriplegic, and recently we have been trying to plan a trip to New York. Isn't it discrimination that it will cost her more to take a tour than someone who can walk?
POSTED MAY 11, 1998
Kara, Japan

ANSWER 1:
Is it discrimination that my wheelchair cost nearly 100 times what someone's shoes might cost? You have to understand that the other tour-takers would have to make up the difference for bus lifts or special assistance for the occasional disabled user. Is that fair? The Americans With Disabilities Act speaks of modification "within reason," and the best way to lose a right is to assume right over reason.
POSTED MAY 26, 1998
JerryEl <
jerry@lords.com>, Chipley, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
As a disability rights advocate, I would suggest questioning the tour company to determine exactly why your mother's tour would cost more. While their reason may be legitimate, there may, indeed, be reason to suspect discrimination. If she is being charged a small amount more, I would wonder what difference that amount would make. If she is being charged appreciably more, is she being expected to cover the full charge for some equipment or service that, under terms of the "reasonable accommodation" clause of the Americans With Disabilities Act, should be provided by the tour company? Either of these situations might be termed discriminatory. Often, there are legitimate extra expenses associated with having a disability, and I always advise people to research their concerns and use common sense in dealing with disability rights issues. Check the Internet for tour companies in the United States that cater specifically to people with disabilities.
POSTED JUNE 8, 1998
J. Friedman, 49, jwfriedman@aol.com, Charleston, SC

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
If you don't like that the travel agency is not charging the same for both people, search until you find one that does. That is what free enterprise is all about. If they wanted to charge me $50,000 to go because I have brown hair, and charge my friend $1,000 because he has black hair, I would simply look around until I found one that I wanted to do business with.
POSTED JUNE 10, 1998
Mike H., mhannigan@earthlink.net, Virginia Beach, VA
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THE QUESTION:
R201: Growing up in Queens, N.Y., it was a "requirement" that you knew how to play chess. I wonder : Do white people believe blacks don't play chess, since the media only shows blacks in physical activities?
POSTED APRIL 21, 1998
Jas, black <
themoas@aol.com>
Pensacola, FL

ANSWER 1:
I would have to say I'd never thought about it. In fact, I never really think about chess at all - but if someone had asked me to close my eyes and picture a chess player, my automatic mental image probably wouldn't have been a black. Thanks for raising my consciousness a little.
POSTED MAY 2, 1998
A. Morgan, 33, white, Houston

FURTHER NOTICE:
When I walk by the park, almost all the people playing chess are black. So I have not held the notion that all chess players are from the former Soviet Union for a long time. By the way, the chess board is a great metaphor: Black and white facing off against each other. But without the differences in color and pieces, there would be no game.
POSTED JUNE 8, 1998
thsmith, 28, white, Los Angeles, CA
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THE QUESTION: 
GE28: How do women feel about uncircumcised men? I know performance is not affected either way but would like to know if women view it as a turn-on or turn-off, or whether it makes no difference.
POSTED MAY 14, 1998
Stuart, Australia

ANSWER 1:
I don't how I'd feel if I were going to have sex with a man and he told me he was uncircumcised. I'd be wary because I've heard that bacteria that builds up under the foreskin causes cervical cancer.
POSTED MAY 21, 1998
Melissa, female, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
Until my current boyfriend, I'd never seen an uncircumcised man. It's true they can have more bacteria build-up, but if they bathe regularly, it shouldn't be a problem. All things considered, it's a turn-on for me: More stuff to do things to, you know.
POSTED MAY 27, 1998
L.M., white female, Clearwater, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I have been with both types of men. Both kept their genitalia very clean, and I was not turned off in the least. When they are aroused, there is absolutely no difference in the overall look. I have also heard that these types of men have more feeling in their penis. So, my response is no, we are not turned off. It is a little different at first, but once you get to know it, you will love it.
POSTED JUNE 8, 1998
Dionna F., 27, Kansas City, MO

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THE QUESTION:
RE59: I'm an atheist and very much in love with a Muslim girl. She doesn't think we should be together because of our different cultural (she's from Morocco) and religious backgrounds. Her father does not approve of our relationship. I know there would be difficulties if we were to stay together, but I hope we would succeed. Should I persist, or do people think it wouldn't work, anyway? Does anyone have experience with this?
POSTED JUNE 8, 1998
Thijs, 19, t.j.vinken@kub.nl, Tilburg, The Netherlands

ANSWER 1:
I believe if you plan to marry and have children, both people should be of the same religious beliefs. This does not mean two people from different religions should not marry. It means that one of you should convert, in my opinion. My understanding of religion is that it is a manifest of how one interacts with life. The problem I see is that you're both entering into a relationship with radically different values for which there is no compromise. How can you compromise on religious faith?
POSTED JUNE 10, 1998
D. Nichols, 34, agnostic, Seattle, WA
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