Best of the Week
of June 8, 2002

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of June 8, 2002, as selected by Y? Thesepostings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing Y?'s 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 database as well). In the Original Archives, as well as in the 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.

The book on Y? is here!
"Why Do White People Smell Like Wet Dogs
When They Come Out Of The Rain?"

Order it here!
Read the Associated Press story on "Wet Dogs"

Order the book on Y? today!


Question:

What are some things African Americans think white people could be doing to improve racial equality in the United States?
POSTED 6/12/2002
Bonnie F., South Florida, FL, United States, Female, Protestant, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 612200222225

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Question:

Does anyone know where the statement 'White people smell like bologna' originated? I know it is similar to the title of the book Why Do White People Smell Like Wet Dogs When They Come Out of The Rain, but why bologna? A recent beer commercial makes reference to it.
POSTED 6/13/2002
S. May, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 38, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 523200211134

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Question:

I have a friend whom I've known for more than three years. Recently, a mutual friend, who met her in drama and has known her for about six months, mentioned in a casual conversation that our friend is a lesbian. She has apparently had several girlfriends and is part of a gay-straight club at our school. I don't think I'm homophobic, but I am wondering why she would keep this from me and tell so many others (apparently everyone in drama)? And should I say anything to her?

POSTED 6/13/2002
Nicole, Northville, MI, United States, 15, Female, Straight, Mesg ID 523200243527

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Question:

Why are Muslims supposed to like bean pies? I'm a Muslim and have never even seen a one and don't know what it is. No one else I know has ever heard of them, but I've gotten teased about bean pies often in college and high school.
POSTED 6/13/2002
Vilas, Islamabad, NA, Pakistan, <muslim1400@hotmail.com>, 21, Female, Muslim, Pakistani/Irish, Straight, Writer, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 5292002103655

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Question:

Do all Jewish men have to wear those small hats that sit on the top back part of the head? If yes, what if the person didn't have a lot of hair? The hats attach to the head by hair clips, so how would you attach the hats to your head in that case? Or would you not be required to wear them then?
POSTED 6/13/2002
Robert S., Poole, NA, United Kingdom, <rms6859@yahoo.com>, 26, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 529200222057

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Question:

What does it mean when an American calls someone a 'French whore'? How is that different from an American whore?
POSTED 6/13/2002
Julie, Nashville, TN, United States, 22, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 613200230601

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Question:

I am a young, attractive multiracial woman, with a light complexion and ethnic features. I'm thicker than your average white girl (I have bigger breasts and behind) and get attention from black and Latin men, but not from white men. Why don't white men talk to non-white women? Is it that they are intimidated by ethnic women, or are they just not attracted to us?
POSTED 6/13/2002
Chrissy, Oakland, CA, United States, 23, Female, Catholic, Creole/Mexican, Straight, health care, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 69200250751

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Question:

I am a white woman and have never had a black friend. There is a black woman at work with whom I would like to become better acquainted, yet I know she has too much going on at home and at work right now to find time for me. I wrote her an e-mail in which I mentioned that I would contact her later on this summer to see if she'd like to get together. Besides trying to understand what my white privilege will bring into the dynamics of this relationship I'm hoping to form, is there anything else of which I should be aware?
POSTED 6/13/2002
Lori, Saco, ME, United States, <monami@loa.com>, 43, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 69200292343

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Question:

Why is it that when two male friends are on the train or subway, they sit apart and talk to each other across the train even when there are available seats that would allow them to sit together?
POSTED 6/5/2002
Jay, New York, NY, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 65200263523


Responses:
I am assuming you are implying that a man won't sit next to another man on the train because they don't want to give the other man the impression they are gay (or give other people the impression they are both gay). As a straight man, I can tell you it is mostly for comfort sake. When two men (whether they know each other or not) sit next to each other on those tiny seats, it gets kinda cramped. By sitting apart, there is a little more leg room. My best friend and I are over six feet tall, and sitting next to each other on the bus can be uncomfortable. The same goes for when going to the movies. We will keep one seat between the two of us, but if the theater is filling up, we will sit next to each other.
POSTED 6/7/2002
Murray C., Halifax, Nova Scotia, NA, Canada, 34, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Draftsman, Technical School, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 67200292006

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Question:

Is feminism dead? Why? How? Because it sure seems that way to me.
POSTED 4/2/2002
Nathan H., St. Louis, MO, United States, <jester8835N@Netscape.net>, 16, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Student, Middle class, Mesg ID 327200294459



Responses:

It depends on how you define feminism, and who you are looking at. Do we define feminism as the struggle for women to get paid as well as men for the same job? That's still ongoing. Do we include the struggle to get taken as seriously as men, by both men and women? That's still ongoing. I suspect that people still in high school don't see a lot of the day-to-day stuff of feminism because there aren't active demonstrations and struggles in the daily news or on TV. That's because it's reached the point of everyday life now, instead of being news. Let me tell you a little about high school when I was your age: all the girls had to take Home Ec, and all the boys had to take shop. The only girls' sports teams were softball and field hockey. Very few girls took chemistry or physics, and the teachers for those classes never called on the few girls in the class. Counselors gave very different advice to boys applying for college than they did for girls. In phys ed classes, boys got to wear shorts and t-shirts, but girls had to wear special romper-style uniforms. Aptitude tests had, I kid you not, pink-colored answer sheets for girls and blue-colored ones for boys.

Is your high school like that? If not, then feminism is still alive. If your girls' basketball team is playing in tournaments, your health sciences prep classes have equal numbers of girls and boys and the part-time jobs at fast food places that you hold after school pay equal minimum wages to guys and gals, then feminism is alive.
POSTED 4/4/2002
Kelly, Austin, TX, United States, <bunrab@aol.com>, 48, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Professional, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 432002113650

It's not dead, exactly, but dying, because the mainstream feminist movement focuses on the wrong problem. The real problem facing women today isn't that they don't have enough 'rights,' it's that they don't have enough 'worth,' and no amount of government-issued rights is going to fix that. In ancient times, women had intrinsic worth as the bearers of children - without an incredibly high birth rate, the high death rate threatened to wipe out the population. In the last 1,000 years or so - and explosively in the last couple of generations - the death rate fell and so did the minimum required birth rate. Now, women are not as necessary, as women, for the survival of society and the species. Most industrialized nations need just more than two children per couple to sustain the population. Women's unique biological gifts are, unfortunately, needed on a much smaller scale than in the past, and we have no choice but to seek our worth in other areas. The old patriarchal system may seem wrong to us, but it was right and required for survival centuries ago. Our modern challenge is to adapt society to technological reality. Feminism is at the point where it has done all it reasonably can on the policy level, and to keep yelling at Congress is unproductive. The only legitimate options are to either compete with men - on their terms without special benefits, and prove our worth - or else find what women CAN contribute to society that defines us as separate.
POSTED 6/12/2002
Nicole, New York, NY, United States, 22, Female, Agnostic, mixed race, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 512002100254

I hope feminism is dead, or at least on its way out. If there was ever one thing that can be identified as the cause of the decline in the moral fiber of this country, it is feminism. Broken families, whacked-out kids, you name it. Harsh, isn't it? More than a little truth to it, too. I'm sure sociologists have definitive answers to the problems faced in the United States throughout the 20th Century, and I would like to hear from them. Until then, women: don't have babies unless you and your husband or wife can support them financially. Have one parent be a stay-at-home mom or dad (whoever has the most economic earning power should work) to raise the child. Forget the third VCR, vacation home, seond vehicle, etc. and raise your kid yourself. Your kid needs a supportive network more than you need to buy all the newest gadgets and vacations requiring a two-income household. Forget competing with the Jones'.
POSTED 6/12/2002
Bill, Burlington, VT, United States, 43, Male, Middle class, Mesg ID 612200251748


I believe that more and more girls want to be more traditional, as they're extremely sick of the radical feminist ideas that are impounded upon them. I for instance, would LOVE to be able to train all young girls to act like 1950s debutantes, and boys as their escorts. I prefer to use the term 'Miss' (as opposed to the dreadful 'Ms.') and want to be married. I am appalled at girls who do not want to do that. I am appalled at girls who don't spend time 'looking pretty' for boys and who go to university so they can take over a man's job. Yes, I'd like to have some money, but I'd like to be well taken care of as well. Why can't girls be taught that?
POSTED 6/12/2002
Cynthia, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 22, Female, Catholic, Asian, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 414200213828

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Question:

I'd like to get opinions on the ignorance of the average American tourist, plus any stories, personal or otherwise, that people might have of this phenomenon. This may seem like stereotyping Americans, but please no Americans posting unless they have a good story. We know you mean well.

I can start a few:
1) Ignorance of time and space: It's common in Canada to find Americans in the summertime who bring winter clothes and winter sport equipment with them on vacation when it's blazing fire outside. Also, they don't seem to know that Canada is the second-largest country in the world by land mass and the first if you consider the water masses in their borders. On at least one occasion, a couple wanted to walk across Nova Scotia (a province several hundred miles long) in a few hours and make it to another Canadian city that was a couple thousand miles away by dinnertime. Ignorance of geography both native and foreign is a well-known American trademark, but that's just goofy.
2) Americans who sew (this is legendary in Canada) Canadian flags onto their backpacks when they go to Europe so they can pass off as Canadian and get less flack from Europeans. Almost never works. You can always tell who is an American once they begin talking.
POSTED 2/10/2002
Allan, Halifax, Nova Scotia, NA, Canada, 22, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Student, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 29200234049



Responses:

You didn't want an American response, but you're getting one. It doesn't 'seem' like you are stereotyping Americans, you ARE stereotyping us. We are not all ignorant of geography/cultures, but at the same time I don't feel it necessary to earn a degree in Canadian culture before visiting there. I've met numerous people visiting the United States (from Japan, France, Germany, Mexico) and they seem to lack certain 'basic' knowledge about America. I've even heard a story similar to yours about Germans who wanted to drive to Colorado for the weekend, not realizing it was a two-day drive from Indiana one way. Should I assume that everyone from (pick a country) is mind-blowingly ignorant? Your message demonstrates a high degree of prejudice against Americans. I wonder if you even know any. P.S. I would never sew a Canadian flag onto anything. I like being an American, and if someone doesn't like it, that's their problem.
POSTED 6/12/2002
Eric, Indianapolis, IN, United States, 33, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer/Sculptor, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 6112002112041

In Venice last summer, two Americans were outside St. Mark's Cathedral. No. 1: 'Say, what's that big building?' (like no one had heard of it or seen it in paintings by Canoletto, or even a Venice guidebook). No 2: 'It's a church' (No way!). No. 1: 'But what's it for?' No. 2: 'I think it's like a museum, and it might have some other stories.' In London, on the main Marylebone Ring Road, opposite St. Marylebone Parish Church, a perfectly respectable and attractive Victorian church with a very small dome. An American tourist said to me, 'Say buddy, is that St. Paul's Cathedral?' Like, yep, in our weather the dome just shrunk in the rain...
POSTED 6/12/2002
Dominic, London, NA, United Kingdom, 26, Male, confused semi-Roman Catholic, Anglo-Saxon-Celtic, Straight, Publishing, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 31200225036

1) On one of my first trips to Amsterdam, the restaurant we were in was hosting a Bingo Night. The first 'winner' was American and couldn't receive his prize until he answered the question 'Tell us something you love and something you hate.' His answer: 'I love sunsets (awwwwww) and I hate Dutch inefficiency.' This was met with lots of booing and hissing; I was ashamed to be from the same country (which at times seems far less efficient than most of the Dutch services I encountered -- what was he thinking?).
2) On a later trip to London, my traveling companion wanted to visit the museum with the Egyptian and Greek artifacts, but he couldn't remember which museum this was (British Museum). We happened to be passing the V&A at the time, so we stopped in to ask where we should go: 'Excuse me, is this the museum with the treasures you stole from the Greeks and Egyptians?' Sheer embarrassment - I haven't been back to London, nor do I travel anywhere with this guy anymore.
POSTED 6/12/2002
Jeff, San Francisco, CA, United States, 34, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Gay, Software Tester, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 31200250811

Although you don't want Americans to respond, your baiting comments suggest otherwise. First, in regard to weather, you live in the Great White North. Quite often we get the same 'cold weather' perception in Minnesota...or Michigan...or Maine. Deal with it. You know better. The United States isn't as big as Canada in area, but you have to realize there are 282 million people in this country; confusion and ignorance will rear its head. But most level-headed Americans are well aware of the geography of the United States if you'd bother asking them rather than formulating such an opinion based on 'at least one occasion.' Secondly, the 'phenomenon' of Americans sewing Canadian flags onto their backpacks I think is merely advice that foreigners give to Americans. I know many Americans who have traveled to Europe, myself included, who heard that advice, smiled and ignored it. Why does one have to sew anything onto the backpack? But I guess it's like wearing a Yankees cap to other major league ballparks. You'll get a lot of grief because the Yankees are constantly in the spotlight (i.e. the United States). I can name more Yankees than I can Expos.
POSTED 6/12/2002
J.T., Minneapolis, MN, United States, 31, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 322002115317

As a Canadian, we all have stories about Americans asking silly questions while up here. True, they are relatively ignorant while in a foreign country, but who isn't? That's part of being a tourist. Canadians are just as reliant as Americans on maps and asking locals stupid questions. Canadians have this chip on our shoulders about Americans, especially when it comes to geography. I say we all just give them a break. If it weren't for them, tourism wouldn't be as easy and affordable to the average person around the world as it currently is.
POSTED 6/12/2002
Marcel C., Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 30, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 211200282013

When I traveled to the States with my family in the late 1960s, we never went farther south than Minneapolis, which is pretty close to Canada. One guy in a parking lot looked at our car license plate and said 'Saskatchewan, now what state is that in?'
POSTED 6/12/2002
Susan, Oakville, NA, Canada, 50, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, lab tech, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 220200243532

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Question:

Why do some people object to there being no main black characters in Friends or Seinfeld? I watch Martin, Living Single, etc. and don't care that there are no white people.
POSTED 6/5/2002
Jay, New York, NY, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 65200263118


Responses:
I understand what you mean. I'm black and love Seinfeld, Friends and some other shows that happen to not have black characters. I don't see anything wrong with this, but I know some other black people complain. I think some shows should be able to stay 'all-white' because they mirror real life. I can see people complaining that a black face has NEVER showed up on the show, but I don't see anything wrong with all the lead characters of certain shows being of one race.
POSTED 6/7/2002
Alea, New York, NY, United States, 22, Female, Christian, Straight, student, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 652002105645

Being an African American, I see it as a problem. It is discouraging to see all these hit shows and no one who looks like me on any of them. People think we've reached 'equality' just because black shows have been created to combat their absence on TV. But that's not true. I don't think the shows are true to reality. The shows starring African Americans were created because of the lack of dominant roles for African-American actors and actressess. If there were black people on shows like Seinfeld and Friends, then there would not be as much of a need for Martin and Moesha as there is now.
POSTED 6/7/2002
Christine, Houston, TX, United States, 19, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 662002112344

Well, Jay, you wouldn't care that those sitcoms you named don't have any white people - because white people are plastered all over the TV as it is. Perhaps we should just sit back and be glad we were 'given' The Cosby Show. And to correct you, in the early days of Martin, his engineer was white.
POSTED 6/13/2002
Shawn, Chicago, IL, United States, 31, Female, Black/African American, Straight, Mesg ID 67200272900

Above all things, these shows take place in New York, where there is a high minority population. However, in Martin and Living Single, most of the show takes place in their homes. In Friends, a lot of the show takes place in a cafe, where you would expect to see a higher frequency of minorities coming in and out (as opposed to coming into their homes as guests.) Every color I know drinks coffee.
POSTED 6/13/2002
Jarrett, Oxford, OH, United States, 20, Male, Black/African American, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 69200215716

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