Best of the Week
of June 13, 2004

Best of Week ArchivesArchives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of June 13, 2004, 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 database using the search form , or, in the case of 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.

 


Question:

Is Latino culture more sexist? I can't walk through the mainly Latino neighborhood near my house without getting harrassed by men who seem to think it's perfectly acceptable to make sexual comments or catcalls. I understand the rationale behind street harassment (to control women and keep them sexualized and uncomfortable) but why is it mainly Latino men who do this to me? Is this a class thing (they're not extremely wealthy, or they wouldn't be hanging out in front of the supermarket in the middle of the day) or a cultural thing?
POSTED 3/26/2004
Katie, Washington, DC, United States, <seitzk@georgetown.edu>, 23, Female, Atheist, mixed Korean & White, Bisexual, retail, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 3232004101709


Responses
I don't think that's the case, because black men tend to do the same thing in the streets. I mainly did this when I was bored or maybe needed some attention. I really don't think this is a racist remark.
POSTED 5/19/2004
Dee, Atlanta, GA, United States, <Daz15_trapcity@hotmail.com>, 22, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 5162004100452


I am Hispanic but was born and raised here. I, too, have been puzzled by this, but I can find no answer, other than that the culture is one of the basest and most perverted. I despise the language with which they seek to address me ... or any living thing of the female gender, for that matter. These guys are desperate.
POSTED 4/11/2004
Jane, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 20, Female, Atheist, Hispanic/Latino (may be any race), Straight, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 422004123341

Before someone brings up the ignorant stereotype of 'machismo' into this discussion, let me try to nip that in the bud. No, Latino culture(s) are not more sexist. 'Machismo' is a racist stereotype foisted on us by outsiders and was invented by an Anglo anthropologist in the 1940s to justify racism against Mexicans. Anyone doubting that should read The Meaning of Macho by Matt Guttman. First, in Latin cultures, women traditionally have a much more independent role than in Anglo ones. You have 'la calle y la casa', the street and the home. Women are absolutely in charge in the home. Husbands hand over their paychecks and get an allowance from their wives. And in the street, men are allowed to "pretend" to be in charge, in order to save face. Second, how does this play out into comments in the street? Men give out 'piropos' (literally 'little gems'), compliments to get a woman's attention that are supposed to be poetic, sometimes ludicrously so by Anglo standards. 'Tienes ojos como la alba' was what I would say when I was single. ('You have eyes like the dawn.') It has zero to do with the so-called 'control' you seem to be inventing. Third, Latin women (at least in Latin America) generally don't find comments or male attention uncomfortable or threatening. They are taught to be conscious of their bodies at an early age, and the warmer climate, less clothing and more intense chaperoning by their relatives all aid in that. They don't fall apart at the slightest little perception of 'harassment' like some Anglo women (and perhaps you) do. They are not coddled and sheltered or assumed to be so weak that someone simply whistling at them should make them cringe in fear. I think it's a far healthier attitude, one that enourages women to be strong and own their own sexuality, and I plan to pass that along to my daughters.

To Jane: I've never seen such self-hatred as yours. Really appalling. Maybe if you actually knew a bit more about your own heritage, you wouldn't despise it so?
POSTED 4/11/2004 and 6/15/2004
ACC, Phoenix, AZ, United States, Male, Mexican and American Indian, Teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg IDs 412200415332 and 327200420032


A.C.C starts off by implying that he hates stereotypes and that these anti-Latin stereotypes of Hispanic men being macho were created by ignorant outsiders (i.e. white Anglos) who don't understand his Latin culture. He writes: 'in Latin cultures, women traditionally have a much more independent role than in Anglo ones.' But where does A.C.C get this information? While he believes it's totally unacceptable for Anglo whites to stereotype Latin men as being controlling macho men, where does A.C.C get the idea that Anglo women are less independent than Latin women? Where does he get the idea that Anglo women are more likely to be controlled by their men? And if he's implying that Anglo women have less power in the household and that white women aren't 'in charge' of their homes, then this is clearly not what I saw in my home growing up, and it's not what I see in the other white families I have contact with. In fact, I believe that in most modern famillies, the woman is in charge of the home. Now, If A.C.C believes this to be untrue, if he believes that Anglo culture is somehow a more male chauvinist culture and that this is why white women have less power in their homes than Latin women, then let's see some evidence to support this. If A.C.C believes Anglo women are more fragile than Latin women and that Latinas 'don't fall apart at the slightest little perception of 'harassment' like some Anglo women do', then let's see some evidence to support that, too. Let's see some evidence to support all of A.C.C's anti-Anglo and anti-white stereotypes. If it's unacceptable to stereotype or suggest that Latinos are more macho than Anglos, why is acceptable to suggest that Anglo women are frail little pushovers compared to Latin women?
POSTED 6/13/2004
Don, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 25, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 4132004100313

Even if your argument about street harassment in Latin cultures being complimentary were true, A.C.C., that wouldn't excuse the behavior of men who shout comments much more graphic than your 'eyes of dawn' gem. I guarantee you, by the way, that not all Latina women feel as you claim they do about these interactions. Being comfortable with my body and my sexuality doesn't make me welcome attention that comes whether I wear a tank top or a trench coat. Many women of my acquaintance go down the street I referred to in my original posting with eyes straight ahead, bodies tensed in resentment and expectation of walking the gauntlet, once again. Take a tip: women don't like it. And when your daughters start fending off street harassment at 11, 12, 13 and 14 years old, your advice to 'be more comfortable with your body' might not be good enough for them.
POSTED 6/13/2004
Katie, Washington, DC, United States, 23, Female, Atheist, mixed Korean and White, Bisexual, retail, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 414200491442


To A.C.C.: You said: 'They don't fall apart at the slightest little perception of 'harassment' like some Anglo women (and perhaps you) do. They are not coddled and sheltered or assumed to be so weak that someone simply whistling at them should make them cringe in fear.' You gotta be kiddin', bro! I'm a white female, and not wanting vulgar remarks made about my body yelled out loud for everyone to hear doesn't make me 'so weak.' I'm often out late at night and travel home alone, and I fear no one, but the guys who make comments are often the same ones who follow you home pestering you - and it's plain stupid not to be cautious of such things. You said 'I think it's a far healthier attitude, one that enourages women to be strong and own their own sexuality' What the hell does objecting to cat-calling have to do with being 'strong and own(ing) their own sexuality'? You make no sense. The two are mutually exclusive. You said, 'No, Latino culture(s) are not more sexist. First, in Latin cultures, women traditionally have a much more independent role than in Anglo ones.' You can't possibly be serious. Latin America is a beacon of sexual equality? Tell that to any women's rights organizations and they will laugh in your face. You said 'Men give out 'piropos' (literally 'little gems'), compliments to get a woman's attention that are supposed to be poetic, sometimes ludicrously so by Anglo standards'. Ha. So when was the last time you were a girl walking down the street getting harrassed by a guy? What you quoted sounds much different from the usual 'gems' from guys in the street; about how big your ass is, how big your boobs are, how fine you are, what sex acts they want to perform on you, etc. And if you dare tell them to quit being so rude, you'll be accused of being uppity, a bitch, a lesbian ... and this is all if you're lucky enough not to be followed and physically harrassed. So, teach your daughters that it's OK to be objectified by strange men in the street. That's a really positive message to give to young girls.
POSTED 6/13/2004
Jay, New York, NY, United States, Female, Mesg ID 414200474255


It's a mix of culture and class. The 'piropo,' as A.C.C. says, was something my Dad did back in the '50s, and they were nice. But I, who am fully Hispànic, only did that when I was a teenager hanging out with friends. Just for fun, not with the intention of actually getting the girl. We would say sweet things to the ugly ones, who loved it, by the way. When I entered college, I totally stopped doing that. Believe me, you won't find a young Hispanic lawyer or college professor siting in front of a supermarket saying anything to you. Anyhow, A.C.C is generalizing a bit and referring to a culture long gone (Latin women bring home the bacon too nowadays). I do agree with A.C.C. that the term 'harrassment' is not even present in the Latin female mind, which is a great thing. That's why we are warmer and more friendly than most other cultures.
POSTED 6/13/2004
Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 34, Male, Hispanic/Latino (may be any race), educator/lawyer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 610200455825

Let a white girl (OK, an Asian/white girl) spout one racist lie after another, and that's OK with people. But let a righteous Latino brother give them the truth, and one racist Anglo after another drops a load in their pants. Sorry, I call 'em like I see 'em. Katie and Jay, you claim you're not being weak, and then you whine away endlessly and talk about being tensed up just because some idiot said something about your breast? Get over it! Ever think the way you tense up is something they can sense? They can smell your fear. You are weak, and they know it. That's part of why they target you, like the way a wolf or shark smells blood from someone wounded. That doesn't make it right, but it does say that your way is not working. I don't know any Mexican girls who get harassed, except by whites and blacks. You insult every brown person on the planet by your racism. You have the gall to claim being whistled at equals the pain of being brown in this country? Don't make me laugh. Good going, ACC. Glad to see someone stand up and challenge these lies.
POSTED 6/15/2004
Marisol, Nogales, AZ, United States, 23, Female, Hispanic/Latino (may be any race), Daycare, 4 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID 614200444533

I can't believe how the discussion got away from the original post. Katie posted a question with a blatantly racist premise, that Latinos were 'more sexist'. Than what? Obviously than the white culture Katie seems to worship and considers oh-so-more-enlightened than any other, including her own Asian heritage. ACC takes her on for her racist garbage, and one Anglo after another spouts the same line of 'It-can't-be, no-way, it's-just-gotta-be true, whites really are more enlightened than those piggish brown people!' I really loved ACC's answer. I get so tired of constantly seeing Latin males depicted as sexist. No one I know is anything like that, not my father, uncles, brothers or friends. And face facts, white girls, many of you are doormats. Not all, but way too many. I've heard my share of black, white and Latin males say they can get away with things with a white girl that a black or Latin woman would leave them for. And don't you think this is something the catcallers know? There really is something built into your culture that makes you more submissive, and yet all you can do is turn around and bash Latinos and delude yourself into thinking you're superior. You're not. Katie, Jay and Don, you're just one more set of deluded racists. And I hope the site owner posts this support of a Latin brother with as much fanfare as he posted one white racist after another tearing him down. I realize he says he occasionally posts messages that are outside the guidelines, but four in a row? And all on the same thread, attacking one person? That's not right.
POSTED 6/15/2004
Rosalinda, Tempe, AZ, United States, 20, Female, Hispanic/Latino (may be any race), Student, 2 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID 615200485937

Perhaps Latin men should stick to sending their ' piropos' to Latin women since they won't fall apart. White women do not usually appreciate this kind of attention and would never want their daughters to, either. By the way, is it necessary to grab your crotch when complimenting a woman on her eyes?
POSTED 6/15/2004
William, na, SC, United States, Male, Mesg ID 5212004112958


I am extremely gratified that the one person who agreed with me was a fellow Latino. And I'm not the slightest bit surprised that so many Anglos cherish these stereotypes so much - they do fall apart at a challenge to them.

Don: I already gave evidence to back up what I said. But you chose to ignore the words in front of you. Once again, the book's name is The Meaning of Macho, and it was written by an Anglo male anthropologist. Go tell HIM these ridiculous claims of yours that he is 'anti Anglo'.

Katie: Nowhere in my post did I defend harassment. And I have cousins and nieces who are teens and younger, and you know what? They don't fall apart at harassment. If you had the same self-confidence that my 11-year-old niece and teenaged cousins do, you wouldn't get as much sh*t from those fools.

Jay: You truly must be kidding if you think I will buy your utterly racist view of Latin America. Just because you might know of a few women's rights groups that buy into those racist lies doesn't mean squat. The feminist movement has never gotten very far among either Latinas or in Latin American precisely because of smug, superior and downright racist sterotypes like you fall for.

For the record, most of Latin America's congresses have a higher percentage of women than the United States. Cuban women had right to vote and won universal healthcare in the 1900s. Cuban women do not take their husbands' names at marriage. Argentina had a woman president. Mexico's leading potential opposition candidate for president is a woman. If you tried telling Latin American women that American-style feminism was something they should want or need, they would laugh in your face! They're doing better than American women in the fight for equality.

To anyone still doubting what I say, please read my friend Lynn Stoner's work on Latin American women.
POSTED 6/15/2004
ACC, Phoenix, AZ, United States, Male, Mesg ID 6152004105548

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Question:

I am in love with a gay man who says he turned straight after falling in love with me. Can a gay become straight? If yes, what are the chances he'll turn gay again?
POSTED 6/13/2004
Naina A., Ahmedabad, na, India, 25, Female, Hindu, Asian, Straight, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 5162004125652

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Question:

To Christians: Do you believe women ought to be subservient to men? If so, what does 'subservient' mean to you? I'm curious because I've talked to a few religious Christian women about this and they all seem to have different opinions.
POSTED 6/13/2004
Rachel, Denver, CO, United States, 33, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 610200484407

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Question:

I have been many places in the world. An observation I have made puzzles me: On several occasions, Japanese people have asked me to snap a picture of them with their cameras. Be it at the Grand Canyon, Pompeii, Niagra Falls or Tulum, I am handed a camera and take a picture of them standing in front of the attraction. I always politely comply with the request and always am politely thanked. I often browse online photo albums. The albums posted by Japanese very often seem to focus on the individuals rather than what I would consider to be the focal point. Browsing some of the folders of photographs, the same group of Japanese are simply standing in front of world-class attractions smiling, present in every photograph. What is this obsession with self?
POSTED 9/23/2003
John, Cincinnati, OH, United States, 48, Male, Middle class, Mesg ID 9202003110350


Responses:

Nobody in my family is Japanese, but they're quite the same way when it comes to pictures. The way I see it, it's easy to buy postcards (and sometimes cheaper, too) if you want a picture that just shows where you have visited. So we give our photographs personal significance. Putting oneself or one's family in the picture, showing people enjoying the sights, is one way to make them more personal.
POSTED 6/13/2004
Matt C., Oxford, GA, United States, 25, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 925200394414



They are tourists with that 'We were here, hooray!' mentality. I used to get the same request from American tourists who visited London or Hong Kong. It's a group of people, having fun, visiting different places and wanting to remember that yeah, they were all there. Then again, there's a slightly more complex answer involving the isolationist nature of Japan, the supposed freedom of being able to leave an island where 60-hour workweeks are the norm, and the desire to keep memories of their 'escape' as handy as possible, but I think the professor who taught me that is full of it. Seriously, I can't think of a set of vacation photographs I've seen where the vast majority of the photos weren't of my friends (Asian or otherwise) in front of various locales. If I want pretty scenic pictures, I'll buy a postcard. Sometimes, a rose is a rose, yeah?
POSTED 6/13/2004
Juno, Richmond, VA, United States, 21, Male, Asian, Student, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 29200433543


I have studied Japanese culture, and when I first read your question I knew there was an answer. So I thought about it, and it's quite simple. The Japanese are strictly taught to act as a group; those who stand out are frowned upon. They are to sacrifice individuality to please others, and live in an everlasting reciprocation. Every person tries to maintain individuality by any way possible, whether it be dressing outlandishly trendy after school, or by having photos of THEMSELVES taken. If you think about it, if you have a picture of yourself, it reminds you that you are your own person. The whole photo fascination is just a way to be themselves.
POSTED 6/13/2004
Julie, Lombard, IL, United States, <elroythespaceboy@hotmail.com>, 16, Female, Mesg ID 2212004102102


I can't speak for Japanese people, but I am Asian and our family takes photos just like that, as well as almost every other Asian family that I know. It's basically to prove that you've been there at the particular attraction. First, you want a picture of the attraction, because you may never see it again, and might want to know what it looks like later. Second, you want a picture of yourself with the attraction, because if you only get a picture of the attraction, you could've just bought a postcard from anywhere, and can't prove that you were really there. The whole point being so that many years down the road, you can look at a picture of yourself standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, say 'See, I've been there!' and check it off your list of things to do in life.
POSTED 6/13/2004
Ed, Milpitas, CA, United States, <ninjaed@sonic.net>, 26, Male, Christian, Asian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 6102004122555

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Question:

I have a neighbor who is on disability leave because he is too overweight to perform his duties as a cop. Currently, he is getting paid for this. I am very confused about why overweight people who did not choose to take care of their body in the first place get paid for it. Shouldn't we be working toward a healthier society that exercises and eats healthy rather than rewarding people for being over weight??
POSTED 6/13/2004
Kana, Sacramento, CA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 524200484653

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Question:

Why do a lot of these big companies hire people to answer their phones and you can barely understand what they are saying? I hate that!
POSTED 6/13/2004
Sherre, Kanas City, MO, United States, 30, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Interviewer, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 527200470036

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Question:

I am 51. Back about 1970, a friend recommended a product to me to get rid of facial acne. I used this creme and found that it burnt my skin. I have no wrinkles, but due to skin discoloration from this creme, I wear a perfect finish creme foundation. I do not wish to use this any longer. Wearing the makeup, people found me at least 20 years younger. Is there some form of medical treatment African Americans can have done to reduce or get rid of skin discoloration (other than bleaching cremes)?
POSTED 6/13/2004
Jaysee, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 51, Female, Black/African American, self employed, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 610200434947

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Question:

I want to date and marry an Indian but it is not allowed in his country. He has to move to the United States just so we can be together. If I try to go and see him, we can't be together because it would cause a whole lot of trouble. Why isn't interracial dating and marriage allowed in india?
POSTED 6/13/2004
Chekeia, Sherwood, AR, United States, <Queenkekee20@yahoo.com>, 20, Female, Black/African American, Straight, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 6112004115855

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Question:

I am an elementary education major. I am also gay. How would parents feel about a gay/lesbian person teaching their kids in elementary school? I would also like to hear from gay/lesbian elementary teachers about how they deal with parents. Is it better to teach in a large city?
POSTED 6/13/2004
Bill, Ft Dodge, IA, United States, Male, Gay, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 612004121915

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Question:

I am part of an interracial couple. I am African American and my boyfriend is Italian American. We are considering moving to Charleston, S.C., or Wilmington, N.C. We visited there a few times and received a few stares and negative reactions from people. I want to know what others feel about interracial couples in the South. Do you think, from your experience, it would be a bad choice to move there?
POSTED 6/13/2004
Tatum, Manasquan, NJ, United States, <aurora_rise@yahoo.com>, Female, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 610200493304

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Question:


Why is it that I always see so many black guys who pimp up an old 'granny car'? I mean big, old, worn-out cars with spinner rims, etc. Is that just in Oklahoma, or does anyone else know what I'm talking about?
POSTED 5/10/2004
K., Tulsa, OK, United States, 20, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 57200495248


Responses:

Black guys pimp up their rides because it's all within the hip hop culture, where the big thing is to pimp up an oldies car and make them better than the modern ones. It's happening all over the world, and not only are the black guys doin' it - all other races, male and female, are pimpin' their rides.
POSTED 6/14/2004
Tampathyckness, Tampa, FL, United States, 19, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, student, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 530200473352

For the same reason whites, Latinos and Asians buy beat-up Hondas and put rims, spoilers and mufflers on them. You take what you can get and try to make the best of it.
POSTED 6/14/2004
DaShawn, Longwood, FL, US, 17, Male, black/white, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 531200464717

What you're describing is pretty common. Many times, these kinds of cars are hand-me-downs, personal projects, or are used simply because they still run - especially if the people getting them reside in large cities or ghettos. This is because buying new cars or even relatively recent used cars isn't an option for many of the people you see doing this. For others (like recent fans of rap and hop hop) it's part of the 'pimping' image. These cars were made in the style the original 'pimps' of the '70s were familliar with. Pimping rides is part of the fun of making these cars 'ownable' and 'cool' again. They're pretty easy to customize yourself due to their construction. I remember people making these cutomizations even when I was very little. They pimped these same cars in the '70s. They're also easy to repair, according to my grandfather. Besides, many of these guys probably have fond memories of growing up riding around in cars simillar to them. I can't think of many other African-American families even up to the '80s and even early '90s who didn't have a car like that at one time or another either belonging to their parents or some member of thier extended family. To many blacks, in my experience, these types of cars have been the quintessential rides.
POSTED 6/14/2004
Rhonda, San Diego, CA, United States, 23, Female, Black/African American, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 61200482604

Trying to make an old, worn-out car into a cruiser or hot rod doesn't seem to be something that just one race does. I'm white, but I happen to have a Dodge Dart parked in my carport with large polished aluminum wheels and a lowered stance. Sometimes race does seem to influence particular tastes, such as specific models or particular features, but the same can be said for clothing and other fashions. 20-inch 'spinner' wheels and General Motors G-bodies have become associated with hip-hop culture, for example. And somebody who wants to go racing is more likely to put on Center Line drag wheels or Kosei K1's than Dayton wire wheels that are so large the car has to be lifted to fit them.
POSTED 6/14/2004
Matt C., Oxford, GA, United States, 26, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 66200454237

I'm not sure that ONLY black guys pimp out granny cars. I know that in the D.C. metro area this isn't the case. It is a matter of what is affordable - to young people especially. Some kids have mommy and daddy to buy them cars when mommy and daddy have the money. But when the funds aren't there. it's up to the kid in need to find an affordable vehicle. So in Oklahoma maybe it is the division of classes you are seeing, not limited to but not excluding race.
POSTED 6/14/2004
Jamie, Springfield, VA, United States, 21, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student/Insurance Agent, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 67200470543
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