Best of the Week
of June, 13, 1999


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of June 13, 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:
Why do women talk so much more than men?
POSTED 5/10/99
Don J., cleburne, TX, United States, <cougar@hpnc.com> , Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Sales, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 5899100748

Responses:
I find it interesting how many people still believe this stereotype. There is an article by linguist Dale Spender ("The Writing or the Sex: Why you don't have to read women's writing to know it's no good") in which she studied the misconception of the talkative woman. This was not the original purpose of her work, but her research showed a large descrepancy of equal talk time in conversations between male and female colleagues of equal position. None of the women spoke for more than 42 percent of the conversation, and in the groups where the women spoke for more than 38 percent, the men felt they had not had a fair share of the conversation. I would hardly say speaking for less than half of a conversation makes a woman "talkative," but then, isn't it all about our perceptions?
POSTED 6/18/99
Nicole, Arlington, TX, United States, <spazdog30@msn.com> , 25, Female, White/Caucasian, Student/substitute teacher, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 5309933814
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Question:
Are there Jews who have converted to other religions?
POSTED 2/18/99
Joe C., Fremont, CA, United States, 32, Male, Asian, Mesg ID 21899115025

Responses:
I'm surprised more people did not respond to this question. Yes, Jewish people do convert to other faiths and belief systems. I chose to believe in Christianity (acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior). To me, Judaism is a dead "faith" and hypocritical, and Christianity offered the only logical answers to my questions. My conversion took place after 28 years of Jewish belief.
POSTED 6/18/99
Al, Ottawa, Ontario, NA, Canada, 49, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Audio engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6189945957
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Question:
I just moved to a city with a large gay/lesbian community. I've noticed that there seems to be a disproportionately large amount of lesbians who are physically "stocky" compared to the female population as a whole. Why is this? Is this seen as a desirable, attractive trait among lesbians?
POSTED 6/17/99
Dan, Denver, CO, United States, Male, Unitarian, Straight, Professional, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 6129913747

Responses:
I found your question odd in that you assume a woman can choose her physical proportions. Some lesbians are stockier, and while some other lesbians find this build attractive, some find femininity attractive and others find androgenous women attractive. My point is that I would bet some of your category of "female populations as a whole" are lesbians, but because they don't fit the stereotype you are aware of, you don't recognize them as being lesbians. I am a lesbian and slightly stocky (I'd describe myself as athletic). I blend in just fine with the "female population" up to formal wear (where I stick out and am obviously not built to wear a formal). I certainly wouldn't choose this form of dress, but as I sometimes have events where this attire is required, I can't change it, either. I have very good dietary and exercise habits that keep me fit, but I am built the way I am built.
POSTED 6/18/99
M.G., Portland, OR, United States, 27, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 6179952721
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Question:
When I told a black friend I hardly ever see any black people hiking, camping or out in the mountains in general, he replied "Black people aren't trained to waste time." What does he mean by this?
POSTED 6/11/99
Phil R., Aurora, CO, United States, <prouse@icxintl.com> , 32, Male, none, White/Caucasian, Straight, Senior Technician (Electronics), Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 679935500

Responses:
First, your friend may have been being sarcastic with you. However, his remark has a kernel of truth in it. If you're poor, you're more interested in keeping a roof over your head than recreational activities. The reason that you may not see many black people participating in these activities is that blacks are a minority group and only a percentage will have the money or inclination to participate in these activities.
POSTED 6/17/99
Rain, Dallas, TX, United States, 44, Female, Methodist, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 61599120346
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Question:
Why do many older women drench themselves in perfume? Does a woman's sense of smell diminish as she grows older, making her compensate by adding more perfume?
POSTED 6/14/99
Mike L., Denver, CO, United States, Male, Mesg ID 689924859

Responses:
I am a recent graduate with a degree in psychology. My focus was on the functions of the brain, including the senses. As we age, cells die. This includes the proteins that we need to perceive odors. (This becomes a safety issue because many older people cannot smell the chemical added to gas for us to be able to detect gas leaks.) Without the proteins, there is less ability to perceive odor. Most older women do not realize how strong their perfume is. They simply put on enough for them to be able to smell it.
POSTED 6/16/99
Leah, Seattle, WA, United States, 27, Female, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 61599100419
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Question:
I have heard several Jehovah's Witnesses state that wearing a cross (necklace) while in their presence offends them. Is this a personal thing, or part of their religion?
POSTED 6/14/99
Amanda, Saratoga, CA, United States, 28, Female, Mesg ID 6119961952

Responses:
They believe that Jesus died on a stake, not a cross; hence the cross on a necklace is seen as a false idol.
POSTED 6/16/99
Mark S., Colchester, CT, United States, 20, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 6159934639
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Question:
I've noticed more and more that discussing whether you are straight or gay/lesbian with others has become an absolutely normal thing, something mainstream. To me, it seems fitting to ask if you're male or female, young or old, in high school or college, Protestant or Catholic, and even your income and social status, which are natural and normal, everyday things. But if it's OK to ask if a person is gay/lesbian in sexual orientation, then you also have to include hermaphrodites and transsexuals in gender, and pedophiles and zoofiliacs in sexual orientation; otherwise it's unfair to those extreme groups. What has led the gay movement to become so powerful and influential and so near the goal of becoming as accepted as male and female, young and old, educated and uneducated, Protestant and Catholic, etc.?
POSTED 6/10/99
Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 29, Male, Catholic, White/Latino, Lawyer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6109922946

Responses:
The way in which homosexuality was declared normal was by a vote of professional psychiatrists in 1972, I believe. Presumably, pederastry could also be declared normative via a vote. Part of the reason this sort of behavior has become accepted lies in the increasing reluctance of more and more Americans to say forthrightly "this is wrong" and "that is right." To do so is to invite charges of intolerance, homophobia, mean-spiritedness, etc.
POSTED 6/14/99
Normand O. L., Alameda, CA, United States, <nlariviere> , 50, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mechanic, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6149913804

They didn't take a simple vote. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declared it was not a mental illness after 35 years of research that found that "Homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability or general social and vocational capabilities." The American Psychological Association agreed in 1975. Recently the American Psychological Association has been accused by Dr. Laura and others for supporting child sexual abuse. The APA came out with an official statement to the contrary. But Dr. Laura continued to broadcast, falsely claiming the APA is considering not classifying child molestation as a mental illness, and obviously, there are a couple of people willing to believe anything they hear. It is a feeble attempt to dehumanize gays and lesbians, and to group them with child molesters. The APA has since taken legal cease-and-desist action for slander against the talk show host. I suggest that if you are going to make the insulting claims that you are, Normand, that you take the time to research what you are being told, and to back it up with fact.
POSTED 6/15/99
Craig, Minneapolis, MN, United States, <cmorris@loft.org> , 35, Male, Gay, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 6159923603

I think that comparing homosexuality with people who abuse or want to abuse children is totally wrong. Being homosexual is perfectly natural and has nothing to do with harming people or animals. It is perfectly normal and proper not to accept pedophiles, as they do get pleasure from causing pain and suffering.
POSTED 6/16/99
B.B., Leith, NA, United Kingdom, 24, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 6169965102

The gay movement didn't become so powerful and influential by itself. Gay people have become open and honest about who they are and have educated more people around them. It's hard to make a powerful statement by yourself. But, we're not by ourselves anymore. We're becoming more accepted because we're coming out and saying who we are. People who didn't know gays before are finding out that they've always known us. We're their family members and friends; and they're finding out that it's no longer a secrete topic. It's as normal as man and woman.
POSTED 6/16/99
Patrick S., Dallas, TX, United States, <PatrickSenkel1@CompuServe.COM> , 24, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Programmer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6109994001

Perhaps you have trouble differentiating between a man and a woman having a loving, sexual relationship, and a man who rapes women, molests little girls, females dogs, a female corpse, etc. Most of the world seems to understand the difference between consenting and non-consenting relationships, though, and have taken the time to find out that heterosexuals and homosexuals aren't all that different.
POSTED 6/16/99
Craig, Minneapolis, MN, United States, <cmorris@loft.org> , 35, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 61599124748
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Question:
I moved to Denver about a year ago. I've noticed that as the weather gets colder and snowier, many people dress like it's still summer. It's as if people are thinking "Hey, it's snowing out - break out the shorts and polar fleece!" I've lived in cities with much colder climates and have never seen anyone wear shorts outside when it's snowing and freezing - however, it's common in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins. Sidewalk cafes in Boulder and Fort Collins are packed when it's only 40 or 45 degrees outside. Is this a fashion trend among the many "outdoorsy" people who live in the Front Range area, sending out a message that apparently says "The cold doesn't bother me"?
POSTED 6/14/99
Dan, Denver, CO, United States, 33, Male, Unitarian, Straight, Professional, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6129914957

Responses:
You may or may not have heard the expression "hardening," which is what you do to yourself, supposedly, by exposure to cold weather; you build up a tolerance. I live on the Western Slope, half a mile higher and a whole lot colder than you, and newcomers here are advised to "harden" ASAP; it's too uncomfortable to spend 8 months of a year in a heavy coat (and 2 more in sweaters and light coats). It does seem to work; those who harden rarely complain about cold after the first year (and I haven't been uncomfortable since my first year here, winter of 94-95). You can push it too far, of course - frostbite is too far. I know one doctor who claims you actually get a faster metabolism and more capillaries close to the skin surface by hardening, but I doubt that. Also, at least here on the Western Slope, thin dry air is a great insulator, and consequently 50 degrees really is shirtsleeve weather if there's no wind.
POSTED 6/15/99
John B., Rural area, CO, United States, 42, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, College professor, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 6159915741

First of all, with the dryer climate in Colorado, you don't feel the temperature as much. It's not as humid, so when it gets cold, you really don't notice for a while. Second, Colorado has this weird habit of snowing and then getting really warm. There can be several inches of snow on the ground but it will be 60 degrees or warmer outside. "Four seasons in a day," as natives like to say.
POSTED 6/16/99
Brian, Highlands Ranch, CO, United States, 20, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, College Student, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6169942747

I live way up in the mountians, in Steamboat Springs, where it is much colder, and when you live in cold areas like Colorado, you get used to the cold. Another plus is that the area is a dry climate, which hardly bothers me when it is cold and not blowing. In fact, I love wearing shorts or tank tops whenever I can, because it can get tiring when I wear pants or long-sleeve shirts and even jackets (any kind) for a long time. So I wear it whenever I can. Like John B. said, wearing layers and layers of clothes can be cumbersome. You really get used to it, and you'll learn how to not mind the cold so much.
POSTED 6/16/99
E. Henry, Steamboat Springs, CO, United States, 18, Female, White/Caucasian, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 61699121413
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Question:
Do parents of children 20 or younger realize how miserably they have failed in their duty to discipline and acculturate their children, and don't they realize they are creating a danger to society?
POSTED 5/3/99
Mark S., Houston, TX, United States, <mseely@wt.net> , 30, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 4289931526

Responses:
There always have been and always will be poor parents. But why now are there seemingly more poor parents than before? Society as a whole and the government are to blame. Of late, people have been pushing that spanking and discipline is bad and harmful to children. However, these are the same people who were spanked when they were younger, and if you ask them they turned out OK. It is a hypocritical stance to take and one that is leading to the absence of discipline in the home. Add to that the push to involve the government in family situations at the slightest hint or even thought of something going wrong, and it only compounds matters. Children are taught that if they are ever spanked or hit in any way (and I am not talking about abuse that would leave marks) to call the police. Parents are literally caught in a Catch-22. They are unable to discipline their children because they fear the potential consequences of the law. Then their children do something wrong and they get lambasted for not being more strict. There is nothing wrong with some good, old-fashioned discipline that includes spanking and the like that many of us were accustomed to when we were growing up. By the way, I am 24 and was disciplined as a child and have grown up respecting the people around me as well as moderating my actions to conform pretty well with established rules and law. Further, I still love my parents and do not resent them for punishing me when I needed to be punished.
POSTED 6/14/99
Patrick H., Colorado Springs, CO, United States, <pah4@hotmail.com> , 24, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Space Systems Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 679925315

While I admit that many parents seem more lax today in the discipline of their children than previous generations, I'm quite wary of saying it is the major cause of problems with today's youth. As with all things, there is more than one cause. It's easy to point fingers at parents (especially if you're not one) or a lack of supervision and rigid discipline. The truth is, there are numerous variables that affect how children turn out. I was spanked very rarely as a child and turned out quite well. When I did something wrong, I was told it was wrong and why. Spanking a kid doesn't tell him/her anything other than "what you did was wrong." It doesn't give a reason, and if they don't know why it's wrong, they're likely to do it again because they don't understand the consequences of their actions, other than they might get spanked (if they get caught). I'll admit, I'm not a parent, so I haven't had first-hand experience, but I would think that talking to children and explaining why they shouldn't do what they're doing would be more effective than spanking them and simply telling them "No!" I think it would also help a child understand how his/her actions affect others and help them make decisions based on that. Spanking only teaches children that there are certain rules that should be obeyed because their parents say so.
POSTED 6/16/99
Brian C., Highlands Ranch, CO, United States, 20, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, College Student, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6169944922
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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

I love it when straight people talk about the gay community as if they were experts. Yes, Mr. Married Straight Man, I'm sure you know all about the gay community. The 700 Club is so educational on such matters. Really, I think the promiscuity thing does come from our not being able to get married. The other side of it, the being-attracted-to-every-person-of your-gender-because-you're-queer thing, I think comes from vanity: "Hey, wow, Kathryn is a lesbian. I'm a woman. Surely she is attracted to me!" But at the heart of both these mindsets is a simpler answer: Ignorance.
POSTED 6/14/99
Kathryn, Roanoke, VA, United States, 21, Female, Transcendental, White/Caucasian, Big Ol' Dyke, Waitstaff, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6149922320
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Question:
I live in a large family. Three of my siblings have come out (one male and two females). All three were married with children and are now divorced and have partners. My husband is getting nervous... Have there been any studies that indicate any genetic link to sexual orientation?
POSTED 6/14/99
Kim C., Minneapolis, MN, United States, 29, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Professional, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 6149924331

Responses:
Despite what partisians on both side of the issue feel, there is, as of today, no known genetic cause for homosexuality. Indications are, in fact, that the early years to a large extent determine this aspect of a person's individuality. In my opinion, an overbearing mother, a receding/uncaring father, a failure for a young boy to transfer his identity from his mother to his father all help to bring about this condition. In addition, in today's culture, there is the added permissiveness to explore.
POSTED 6/15/99
Normand O. L., Alameda, CA, United States, 50, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mechanic, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 61499114425

I used the Excite search engine to look up "Sexual Orientation, Genetic" and came up with a ton of articles. Good place to start. As far as the old canard about the cause being the absent father/overbearing mother: Forget it. There is no "in fact" to support it. If this were truly the cause of homosexuality, then our numbers would far exceed the much bandied about 10 percent. I had a strong father (military pilot) who was at home for the formative years of my life, and yet I'm gay. He wasn't at home as much for my two older brothers, and one of them is gay. Go figure. Yes, the debate is still on as to the origins of homosexuality. Scientific studies have been published that lean toward genetics as the root; psychological studies have been definitive in the dubunking of the "mommy" factor. Time, and continued genetic research, will eventually tell. I hope I'm around to hear the answer that I'm already pretty sure of.
POSTED 6/16/99
Mark B., Dallas, TX, United States, <markmark@airmail.net> , 38, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Financial Analyst, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 6159975529
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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

Responses:
I guess it depends on how you look at it. If you call it an excuse for doing something that would otherwise be illegal, then it could be called a loophole. The other view is that the eruv is a means to specify the division between the permitted and the not permitted. More than 1,000 years ago, the sages carefully evaluated the letter of the law, which can be vague or confusing, and decided what procedures would be used to abide by them. In this case, the Torah (Bible) simply says that one should not work or do labor on Shabbat. The sages came up with several dozen activities that constitute labor or work; one of these (for example) is carrying. But what is carrying? A blanket prohibition would disallow carrying a plate of food from counter to table, or carrying a prayer book from its place to a seat in the Synagogue. So, they said that carrying within your immediate domain is permitted, carrying outside the domain is not. The eruv marks the boundary. The people using it don't see it as a loophole; they see it as a personalized law specifing what they individually can and can't do.
POSTED 6/13/99
Jesse N., Herzliya, NA, Israel, 40, Male, Jewish, Engineer, Mesg ID 6139920603

First, an Eruv does not allow most types of work to be done. It simply allows for carrying outside. This includes carrying a young child and pushing a baby carriage. It isn't a loophole; it's actually part of the law, the specifics of which can be found in the Talmud. The Eruv allows only for carrying things that can be used on the Sabbath in any case. Money still cannot be carried, cars cannot be driven, etc. But small children can be brought outside, books can be carried outside, etc. Because of the complexity of building an Eruv because of getting necessary city permits (as seems to be happening in your community), generally only communities with large observant populations have an Eruv, and the size and scope can vary based on a community. Basically, the law is that you can't carry unless you have an Eruv, so this isn't a loophole.
POSTED 6/13/99
Shevi, Baltimore, MD, United States, 23, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Graduate Student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 6139944723
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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

Responses:
My mother has CFIDS and has gotten the state-approved placard. I have seen people give her dirty looks, and I've seen people be very understanding (CFIDS is rarely visible to observers). My opinion: People are going to react to you according to their own notions of what "disabled" means, but if I see you with it in a "handicapped" parking spot, I'm going to assume you feel it's justified, regardless of my initial reaction.
POSTED 6/11/99
Joel, Boulder, CO, United States, <joel42@concentric.net> , 21, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Software Engineer, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 61199102924

If you feel you need a placard, by all means get one. If I see someone who is not visibly disabled but has a placard, I am not going to question the necessity of their having one. (What I do object to is someone without a placard parking in a handicapped spot.) If you have a legitimate reason for a placard, don't worry about what other people think. If you need one, you need one, and you don't owe anyone an explanation.
POSTED 6/14/99
Laura, Bel Air, MD, United States, 37, Female, White/Caucasian, College professor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6129991332

If I were you, I would be more concerned about what could happen if your medication were to wear off while you were driving. Don't worry about what people think.
POSTED 6/14/99
Jim, Scio, OR, United States, Male, Mesg ID 61399101207
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