Best of the Week
of June 24, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of June 24, 2001, 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 new 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 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. 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.

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Question:

I think Jewish men who always dress in black, wear black-brimmed hats, always have beards and have those curls dangling from the sides of their heads look silly. Am I being racist and/or anti-Semitic?

POSTED 6/24/2001

Jebediah, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 32, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computers, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 623200180233


Responses:
I don't think you're being racist or anti-Semitic, you're just projecting your idea of what looks 'silly' onto someone else. Many orthodox Jewish men dress this way. The beards and curls ('payess') are in obedience to Old Testament law; the black hats and coats are at least in part based in history (Hasidic Jews in Eastern Europe). By the way, I wear two small squares of cloth, connected by chains or cords, around my shoulders (under my shirt); this is called a 'scapular' and is worn by many traditionalist Catholics. Many people would regard this as 'silly' too.

POSTED 6/28/2001

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 40, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 625200134709


I'd say you are being ignorant. You are mocking what you don't understand. It would be like someone thinking the Pope looks silly because he wears a funny hat. These people are adhering to customs that may not be the norm in today's society, but it is something they believe in strongly. We can see this in many groups of people: the Amish (not utilizing much of today's technology), Jehovah's Witnesses (not celebrating birthdays), Orthodox Jews and Muslims (dietary restrictions), etc. These things may not be the norm in the world, but they are important to these people.

POSTED 6/28/2001

Me, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States, 27, Male, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 6252001101047


I don't think we can help what we find silly. However, if you judge their character to be silly because of how they look, or if you shout at them to tell them they look silly, then yes, you would be being racist.

POSTED 6/28/2001

B.B., Edinburgh, NA, United Kingdom, 26, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, PhD student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 627200123738


It depends on whether you think these men ARE silly or just look silly. (Do you respect their choice of dress?) On the surface, it sounds conformist - but not necessarily anti-Semitic - to say that people who dress very differently from the typical clothing for their sex and current fashion look silly. How do you feel about other outfits that stand out - Catholic nuns' habits, Greek Orthodox priests' black robes and hats, Buddhist monks in saffron robes, Muslim women who wear head coverings...

POSTED 6/28/2001

Laura, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 40, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 6272001114226


Silliness is in the eye of the beholder. I live in a neighborhood with a large Jewish population. First, you're not being racist because 'Jewish' is not a race (there are even black Jews). To explain myself: What would you call a Venezuelan, Spanish-speaking, salsa-dancing, white-skinned, blond and blue-eyed Jew? Jewish, white or Hispanic? Get what I mean? Second, you're not being anti-Semitic because only a group of men within the Jewish community dresses that way (you have nothing against Steven Spielberg, do you?). Now about the silliness part: Even within the Jewish community I've heard jokes about the 'penguins' (of course coming from non-orthodox Jews). I for one don't consider silly anything pertaining to a religion, culture or tradition, so I respect the way the Ashkenazic-orthodox Jews dress, just as I respect the fashion style of the stereotypical nerdy computer geek who can't dance. You know, live and let live. About the black-dressed orthodox Jews, I have wondered if they don't get hot in there, at least down here in the tropics, but that's about it. Now if they seem silly to you, fine, no harm done. Just like you may seem silly to a large part of the world's population. The question is: Do you care? Well, neither do the orthodox Jews.

POSTED 6/28/2001

Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 32, Male, Catholic, White, but very Hispanic/Latino, Lawyer/Business, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 626200111642

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Question:

Is breast size really that important to men? Are small breasts a turnoff?

POSTED 6/21/2001

Nicole, Milwaukee, WI, United States, 24, Female, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, student, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 6202001101647


Responses:
It's all relative, I think. While the advertising industry would shame all women who aren't 6'2" with breasts that make them look like they will topple over, I find women whose breasts are proportionate to their bodies the most attractive. I can't imagine what importance breast size could have, except for men with pathetic egos who need some sort of trophy girlfriend, and while there are plenty of those men, I think there are many more normal folks who don't view a woman's breasts as separate from the rest of her body.

POSTED 6/28/2001

Carter, Chicago, IL, United States, 29, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 6212001102230


Breast size is not that important to men. Most straight men just love breasts of any size or shape, and that's the truth. There are even x-rated web sites that exclusively feature small-breasted women. Anyway, it's more about overall body proportion than breast size.

POSTED 6/28/2001

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 621200115326


Nicole, as a bisexual, you must have a view on this: do you find small breasts a turnoff? (rhetorical question)

POSTED 6/28/2001

Carleen, Sydney, NA, Australia, 24, Female, Bisexual, Mesg ID 625200144312


Have you ever had anyone throw you a surprise birthday party where the food, friends and presents are great, and when it is almost over someone brings out one more last, perfect present? Well, that is how I feel about large breasts. Everything else about a woman is more important, more real, more profound, but the large breasts are just a nice, final detail.

POSTED 6/28/2001

Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 45, Male, White/Caucasian, Corporate Slug, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 6262001111038


Just the mention of brests sends men into a hazy, dreamlike state. What am I writing about again? Oh, right. I remember now. I believe men like breasts. Just as simple as that. Small, large or in between, they're just GOOD! What's so good about them? I'll try and address that without offending anyone's sensibilities, though that my not be possible. The texture of breasts is one of the best things about them. There's nothing that soft and smooth on a man's body. That tactile sensation is like a journey to an otherworldly realm. The look of breasts is good, also. There're not something that men in general see every day. You could relate it to being bumped and jostled on crowded downtown streets. Something tells you to look up, and right there is a giant, red helium balloon floating by. After it's gone, that same balloon will never pass by there again. It gives you the feeling that however fleeting, there is something good out there. I think the attraction to breasts is in the difference. The fact that men and women are different. I very much appreciate the differences. The contours and textures of the female body are just incredible. Men's bodies, for the most part, are just straight up and down. Nothing hidden, nothing to wonder about. I'm glad that I'm a man, and I'm glad that there are women. About breast size. I've given breast size a lot of thought, and I have a theory about the attention some breast sizes receive. When a young man becomes aware of sexuality, it's a new and fascinating thing. He wants to see it all, and know everything about it. He wants to scoop up all he can with both hands. Large breasts represent that newfound sexuality. As he matures, although some men never get past that stage, he begins to develop an attraction to other sizes and shapes.

POSTED 6/28/2001

Carter, Seattle, WA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 627200172026

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Question:

Why are Southern people so racist? Not all, just most I've met. I'm Hispanic, so most treat me like I don't know English (talking to me in short words divided into syllables, or using sign language) and then start talking about us behind our backs like we can't understand. I've also realized that some not-so-diverse Southern states are more racist. Some people in Tennessee were staring at me - they obviously don't get out much.

POSTED 6/21/2001

DeKa, Atlanta, GA, United States, <final_answer39@hotmail.com>, 14, Female, Agnostic, Hispanic/Latino, Less than High School Diploma, Mesg ID 6192001113429


Responses:
When people stare, it makes us feel uncomfortable, but it is not a crime. It is human to be curious about people different from yourself. Make friends with the people who stare. Do these Southerners pique your curiosity? Stare at them! Be childishly curious! You never know: they may want to be your friend. If you get to know each other, they may turn out to be some of your closest allies in fighting racism. My point is that we don't know what other people think, and we must not make presumptions, or we will be guilty of stereotyping e.g. 'all Southerners who stare at me are racist.' Children don't make assumptions about the world; they approach everything with a clean slate. We must approach each other with a clean slate and assume that our kindness will be returned with kindness. If it is not, we have not lost anything in the process. A professor once said to me that he did not believe racism exists, only ignorance. This is arguable. To me, ignorance is not understanding another culture, but racism is the resistance to understanding other cultures. Racism is an unfortunate human trait, like jealousy or malice. But life is about overcoming these things, and developing goodness, kindness, generosity and forgiveness.

POSTED 6/28/2001

Adoumri, Jersey City, NY, United States, 26, Female, Asian, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 6262001103523


You are 100 percent right. I am brown and have lived in the South for 10 years, and believe me, 'Southern Hospitality' is one big, laughable myth. Even if it exists, it is reserved for whites. I've even lived close to Atlanta, and frankly, I found it to be a dump, just like other Southern cities. There's nothing in the South: no culture, no economy, no sophistication, no great institutions of learning, no cool cities, no progress and no good weather. And it's blessed with blissful ignorance, high crime, poor education, poverty, funny accents, idiotic drivers and historical embarrassment. Ultimately, you are dealing with a group of people among whom the mindset of 'White Superiority' and the 'benefits' of segregation are very strong and have been passed down from one generation to the next since the Civil War. Add to that generous amounts of good, kind-hearted 'we love all' Christian values practiced by the xenophobic Southern Baptists, and you see what I mean... And not only was the loss of the Civil War a blow to Southern pride, but to add insult to injury, there was desegregation in the mid-'60s. Therefore, the 'Northerners' not only freed the blacks, but they have also ensured that the white Southerner will have to live and work alongside blacks. And look what's happening: given equal opportunity, blacks have shown they are not as 'incompetent' as the white Southerner's ancestors always made them out to be. So the notion of 'white superiority' goes out the window. Now, white Southerners are faced with direct competition, and their beliefs have been proven absolutely wrong. And when this happens, you have insecurity, fear and hate setting in. And therefore the sight of another black or brown face simply causes more fear and resentment. At that moment the Southerner thinks 'Man, because of you my ancestors got screwed, and so am I. How come you move so freely in front of me? Go back to where you belong!' Believe me, the best place to live in the United States is the Midwest or Rocky Mountain States, where people have warmth, genuine respect and courtesy for others. Sure, there are problems there, too, but rest assured you will be far away from 'Southern Hostility.'

POSTED 6/28/2001

Rodf, Charlotte, NC, United States, 30, Male, Brown, Student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 626200175711

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Question:

Why do many white people have shaky hands and jerky body movements? Compared to most Asian, black and Latino people, white people seem to have more abrupt, harder, stiffer and less fluid body movements.

POSTED 6/19/2001

J.L., Jersey City, NJ, United States, 26, Female, Asian, Student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 6192001124322


Responses:
Because that's how they were brought up. Do you want to see white people with suave, cool movements and who also dance like pros? Then go to Miami, where 90 percent of those who are white are Latino. We (I'm also a white Latino) have smooth movements because we were brought up that way; it has nothing to do with race. White Latinos (Cameron Diaz) move just as cool as brown Latinos (Jennifer Lopez) or black Latinos (Sammy Sosa). So there you have it: the jerky, stiff moves are just passed from parents to kids and so on.

POSTED 6/21/2001

Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 32, Male, White/Caucasian, Lawyer/business, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 620200193339


Considering that in the United States, the vast majority of ballet dancers, gymnasts, mimes, professional billiard players, divers, swimmers and surgeons are white, your question seems to have no basis in reality.

POSTED 6/26/2001

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 621200121007


I think it is genetic. I have noticed some Caucasian friends whose hands shake a lot and have less manual dexterity than myself (I am mixed Irish/Cherokee, Chinese). I think Asians do have fine manual dexterity. This would suit them for precision work like dentistry. Also, women tend to have finer manual dexterity than men (an argument for female surgeons). My current dentist is a petite woman whose hands are very precise.

POSTED 6/26/2001

Ike, San Francisco, CA, United States, 30, Male, Irish/Cherokee, Chinese, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 626200125040

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Question:

I have been an avid reader of Y? Forum for a few years, and my question comes after having read of the anger, frustration and/or desolation black people feel over their situation in the United States. To those of you who perceive yourself to be a member of this group, do you believe white people in this country have it that much better than you? Do you feel they are more emotionally centered and happier, or could they suffer from the same aspects of life that you do? Do you believe white people are ever discriminated against?

POSTED 6/15/2001

Matthew, New York, NY, United States, 43, Male, Mesg ID 615200155908


Responses:
Of course white people are discriminated against. It's called Affirmative Action.

POSTED 6/21/2001

Leory J., Los Angeles, CA, United States, Black/African American, Mesg ID 620200165558


It's not that white people have it better. It's that a white person will have a better chance of acquiring or getting help compared to a black person in the same situation. I know some blacks will complain about everything, but the majority just want a fair chance and treated fairly. I believe whites can be discriminated against, but most discrimination involves power, which whites have more of. I know we will never live in utopia, but as a melting pot we must learn to mingle with other cultures. Only through this can we root out some the stereotypes that groups have about each other.

POSTED 6/24/2001

Jerry, Cleveland, OH, United States, 33, Male, Black/African American, engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 621200193248


White people seem to own everything in this country: The upscale Fifth Avenue shops, the computer corporations and nice restaurants, etc. And they receive academic tenure more often than ethnic minorities. White people share a Euro-American culture that Asians, blacks and Latinos do not. At work, because your boss is most likely to be white, it really helps if you are white in getting him/her to feel comfortable with you, take you under their wing and offer you opportunities that you might not receive if you're not white. The 'good old boys network' is also the 'white people's network.' Though it seems to be a biological tendency for human beings to associate with people who are most like themselves, this makes it difficult for minority groups to succeed. We cannot get a foothold in the 'network,' we distrust and experience distrust from white people (and from each other too, for example Koreans vs. blacks in the Los Angeles riots). For minorities, it seems that every ethnic group (black, Asian, Latino, Native American) is alone and fighting for itself.

POSTED 6/24/2001

Jane, Jersey City, NJ, United States, 26, Female, Asian, student, Mesg ID 6232001110230


I see white people, espcially those 30 and older, as 95 percent ignorant. They think if they see a rich black that he's a drug dealer. A black man in a suit is automatically a thief. But the young whites are just as bad. They think they invented rap, and they try to be black, when in actuality black culture is the complete opposite of white culture, so they can never be 'down.'

Overall, I have a lot of white friends, and I've dated a couple of them, but I prefer other minorities because that's who I indentify with.

POSTED 6/24/2001

Mike, New Bern, NC, United States, Male, Mesg ID 623200152201

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Question:

I have a gay friend (Ray) who is 35 and was married before he decided to live the gay lifestyle about six years ago. His first gay affair was a disaster because the guy was just looking for someone to support him. He has been with his second for five years, even though he obviously doesn't even like to be around the guy. He is very uncomfortable admitting he is gay, but you can tell his boyfriend is gay just by looking at him. The boyfriend is lazy, depressed, hates everything and everybody that Ray likes, and does very little other than watch TV and sleep. The only thing they seem to have in common is sex and a checkbook. Ray is not happy but doesn't want to hurt this lazy bum. He knows the guy is using him, but he is so uncomfortable admitting to anyone he is gay that he stays with him just to keep from having to find someone else. My problem is how to deal with Ray about his boyfriend. I'm tired of watching him taken advantage of, but it's none of my business, except that he constantly bitches about it, and I'm tired of hearing it. How do I make him see that there are lots of quality men out there who would be thrilled to be with him and also carry their own weight? Hell, I know hundreds of women who would kill for a guy like him. He deserves better than this bum, how do I open his eyes?

POSTED 6/18/2001

Vista, Dallas, TX, United States, 39, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Self-employed, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 617200192629


Responses:
It's commendable that you want to help your friend realize there are healthy ways of being gay. He needs to find this out on his own. Encourage him to contact the local gay community center. You may want to get some of their reading materials for him. I'm sure they have many programs and activities that would allow Ray to not only see that being gay is a healthy alternative to the life he's been living, but he may also realize there are a lot of other 'fish in the ocean' and he doesn't have to put up with an unhealthy relationship. You seem to be a very good friend to Ray, and you can help by continuing to be supportive, but Ray has to 'do the work.' He'll be happy he did. Best of luck. E-mail if you'd like.

POSTED 6/26/2001

Roger, New York, NY, United States, <rdapiran@erols.com>, 48, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Self Employed, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 6252001124644

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Question:

Are there any differences in how Japanese people view sex vs. how Americans view sex? Are there different ways to please Japanese women?

POSTED 6/15/2001

Johnny B., Columbus, OH, United States, <blindrefjd@hotmail.com>, 20, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 6142001112247


Responses:
The best thing to do is to ask yourself, 'What does my girlfriend/love interest want?' and stop asking questions like, 'How do I please Japanese women?' The first thing you can do is recognize that there is no way you can please 'Japanese women.' You must learn what your girlfriend wants, not what 'Japanese women' want. Your question indicates that you view Japanese women as somehow interchangeable. You cannot plug in some universal formula and think you'll get a surefire result later. I'm tired of men doing that, because they consistently and irreparably fail when they refuse to see an individual rather than just a woman, or worse, just a Japanese woman.

POSTED 6/24/2001

J. Liu, Flushing, NY, United States, 26, Female, Asian, Mesg ID 623200194814

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Question:

What exactly are Mormon beliefs? Do the followers believe there's a planet Klobb?

POSTED 6/15/2001

Richard H., Porterville, CA, United States, <brassman@ocsnet.net>, 19, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Network Specialist, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 613200185536


Responses:
I am not Mormon and do not have the answer to your question. I just wanted to congratulate you for asking it. When I was your age I was being brainwashed by my Presbyterian church that Mormons, and Mormonism, were Satanic and horrible. Certainly they hold some beliefs that are probably very different from your own - but don't blindly accept the propaganda that comes from the traditional Christian right. If you are curious (and you clearly are), ask questions, meet some Mormons, do some independent reading and thinking, and make up your own mind. Good for you!

POSTED 6/21/2001

Todd B., Newport Beach, CA, United States, 35, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Manager, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 6202001111755

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