Best of the Week
of June 25, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of June 25, 2000, 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.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at Y?'s guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

 


Question:
I am a heterosexual Caucasian male, 25, with some college and above-average test scores. In every sense, I fit the description of average. As I read postings throughout the Internet, I wonder what is gained. Postings are poorly worded, badly misspelled and generally full of diatribe and drivel (Director's Note: Except at Y Forum, of course.). Does the person making these postings feel he/she is convincing John Q. Public of the validity of an argument? I don't understand.
POSTED 6/30/00
Chris G., Lansing, MI, United States, 25, Male, Buddhist, White/Caucasian, Straight, bartender, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 6290083046
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why are the British so racist and xenophobic? Why do they stereotype and degrade (as part of their 'humor')? What are British children taught about accepting other cultures? How can they say 'all these people are stupid' with good conscience?
POSTED 6/30/00
Regina, New York City, NY, United States, Female, Mesg ID 6300031518
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
To deaf people: What is it like to not be able to 'hear a pin drop'? What other challenges or difficulties have you overcome, and what do you feel you still need to overcome?
POSTED 6/28/2000
S., Snyder, CA, United States, 19, Female, student, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 6192000104149
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
What do African Americans think about those who might have 'passed' in earlier times, a few generations back, and whose descendants are now 'white' - though they may not even know they are of mixed race?
POSTED 6/28/2000
Michelle A., St. Louis, MO, United States, 44, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6272000123530

Responses:
I'm sort of ambivalent about it. I have no idea what it was like to live in the past, but from what I've been told, it would not have been a difficult decision to make if one were able to get away with it. The contrast in quality of life and opportunity must have been stark. I wonder, however, about the cognitive dissonance such a decision must invite. I recently read a book called The Sweeter The Juice by Shirley Taylor-Haslip that deals with this subject. You might be interested in reading it. It's a very compelling story.
POSTED 6/30/00
Jennifer R., St. Paul, MN, United States, 29, Female, Humanist, Black/African American, Straight, Writer/Student, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6290055415
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why is it that many women seem to drive with their nose in the air and leaning forward (even on the freeway), as though they were expecting something to run out in front of them and under their wheels all the time?
POSTED 6/27/2000
Denis, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 43, Male, ex-Cathollic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Manager, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 624200021257

Responses:
Women drive that way because most cars are designed for male drivers; that is, people whose height is mostly in their torsos, rather than in their legs. I'm 5'5", but like most women, most of my height is in my legs, so when I sit down, I'm about 2 feet tall. Bucket seats are low-slung and tilted backward, and unless I pull my seat up as close as I can to the steering wheel, I can't see over the dashboard. My knees are jammed up against the steering column, but it's either that or drive blind.
POSTED 6/30/00
Laura, Bel Air, MD, United States, 39, Female, White/Caucasian, writer/teacher/editor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6290092957
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why do white people allow their animals to live like human beings in their homes? I've noticed from homes of whites that I have visited that they allow the dogs, cats, etc. to climb on the kitchen counters, sleep in their beds, lick their faces after the dogs have licked filthy things, and the list goes on. I am not trying to be disrespectful, I'm just curious. Also, why do white people eat out in restaurants so much? Do they ever make home-cooked meals?
POSTED 5/30/2000
Carole T., Atlanta, GA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 5302000123913

Responses:
I'm a white guy and live alone with my cat. In the past, I've owned many dogs and cats. Yeah, my cat can do pretty much whatever he wants (though I don't let him get on the counter). My cat sleeps in my bed, and I do allow him to lick me if he chooses to. Cats are clean animals. They keep themselves clean and are not likely to bring germs to the bed. As for dogs, yes, they are a bit more dirty and nasty, but I've allowed certain dogs to sleep in my bed because the relationships I've had with them were almost human. I guess my best answer to your question about why many white people allow pets to do whatever they want is that they are nice to have around and are seen as family members. As for the restaurant thing, most white people I know who are single eat out a lot because it's a drag to cook for one person. Invariably, as a single guy, when I cook for myself, I make far too much of it. And it's not that much fun to make a wonderful meal if you can't share it with someone. I think most white couples without kids also eat out a lot for the same reasons - plus the convenience factor of eating out. I've found, though, that white people with kids start eating at home a lot more often. I think part of it is to lower the cost, and another part of it is that they just don't want to have to deal with screaming kids in a public place.
POSTED 6/28/2000
Andy, Indianapolis, IN, United States, Male, Mesg ID 6272000111536

I'm a white guy who wouldn't have a dog or cat in my bed or on my counter to save it's life. They're animals, not human. I don't dislike pets. In fact, I breed snakes and raise mice to feed them. They're kept in the garage in cages. I wash my hands after every encounter with my pets or anyone else's.
POSTED 6/30/00
Alan R., Houston, TX, United States, 54, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 628200070544
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Recently I met a man in college who claims to be a skinhead. His head is shaven; he wears camoflauge and a flak jackets and steel-toed boots. However, he claims not to be racist. He says skinheads are just 'working-class culture,' whatever that means. Does anyone know what he is talking about, or should I retire to my original idea of jumping him?
POSTED 6/27/2000
Seamus, Charlestown, MA, United States, 21, Male, Lower class, Mesg ID 6242000123132

Responses:
There is a huge misinterpretation of the whole skinhead thing. Skinheads are NOT intrinsically racist. There are certain 'sects' that are. There are also certain sects that are vehemently opposed to rascism. If you've ever heard of 'sharpies,' for example, they are a sect of skinheads who are very much opposed to racism. What characterizes someone as a skinhead has less to do with their feelings on race and more to do with their feelings on society as a whole. Naturally a skinhead has, in general, a certain look. Most all have a bald head, and many wear the 'pork chop' sideburns. They often dress in tight jeans, certain types of shirts (Fred Perrys or Ben Shermans, which are polo-type shirts or button-downs) and combat boots - usually steel-toe Doc Martens. They are, as your friend said, 'working class' folks. They usually have a very strong worth ethic and usually congregate together. They are often characterized by their choice of music, which usually consists of 'Oi' music, Punk, Ska and Reggae (yes, Reggae, believe it or not). More than anything else, being a skinhead is like being part of a fraternal order. Unless your friend is proudly displaying a swastika or listening to bands like 'Skrewdriver,' you have no reason to think he's a racist. In fact, I know some black skinheads who'd be pretty upset if they were lumped into that category.
POSTED 6/28/2000
Anonymous, Southern, NJ, United States, 25, Female, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 6272000103322

He's telling you the truth. I used to know a lot of skinheads; some were racist but lots were not. There's a whole subset of skinheads who consider themselves really progressive/leftist/activist. Sometimes they're vegetarian, or call themselves anarchists - and often, because people assume they're racist, they put lots of energy into working for racial harmony (demonstrating and stuff). The working-class culture argument is true, too - that is where the subculture came from (in England), and that's what's alluded to by the heavy workboots and flight jackets and all. I think the guy you know might be trying to make some kind of statement such as 'not all working-class people are racist.'
POSTED 6/28/2000
Sue, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 33, Female, White/Caucasian, journalist, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 627200053554

Skinhead culture started out as a working class/ music-type movement. I believe it started in England, based on Oi! and Ska music. These skins were not racist. It was all about the social structure and music scene. I'm not really sure how or why, but somehow along the way, the white supremacists somewhow adopted this 'style.' Now, different-colored laces and braces are one of the indicators of whether a skin is racist or not.
POSTED 6/28/2000
Leslie K., New York, NY, United States, 29, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Marketing, High School Diploma , Lower class, Mesg ID 6272000120731

Although the use of the word 'skinhead' has become associated with xenophobic (and frequently neo-Nazi) radicals, not all skinheads are alike. As I understand it, skinheads are a group evolved largely out of the punk rock revolution of the late 1970s, and, to a certain extent, the 'working class culture' that your aquaintance mentioned. However, skinheads do categorize themselves, and it's fair to say that there are both 'good' and 'bad' skinheads. Indeed, there is a well-publicized group of 'straight edge' skinheads who generally believe in abstinence from drug use, excessive alcohol and (for some) casual sex. They also generally are strong advocates of improved race relations, which is also in line with the overlap and free exchange that existed between the punk and reggae/rastafarian cultures in the late 1970s and early 1980s. (Mainstream musical examples of the result of these hybrids include The Police and Blondie. Many hardcore punk groups still regularly cover reggae songs, notably the group Bad Brains.) I don't know if this is still the case, but in the '80s (at least in some geographic areas)skinheads even differentiated themselves by the color of laces they wore in their boots. I should say that I am not and have never been a skinhead. Nor am I saying that your aquaintance is a 'good' skinhead. But skinheads can come in different flavors, and the word 'skinhead' alone does not necessarily mean evil things, at least to other skinheads.
POSTED 6/28/2000
Michael B., New York, NY, United States, Male, Mesg ID 6272000104442
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Do African Americans still tell toasts, such as 'Shine' and 'The Signifying Monkey'? Or is that form of narrative no longer used?
POSTED 6/27/2000
Louis, Phoenix, AZ, United States, Male, Mesg ID 624200083940
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
I often have a problem with a spontaneous erection while I am at work or any place in public. I often wear brief-style underwear to somewhat control the problem of being noticed. Being that I am a man, I really don't want to go see a doctor about this, but I wonder if any other men have this problem, and if so, is there is a medical issue I should be unaware of?
POSTED 1/7/2000
Gary, Los Angeles, CA, United States, <garybobs@yahoo.com>, 37, Male, Jewish, Black/African American, Straight, professional, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 17200041726

I asked my husband something similar one time. I wanted to know why guys get erections while they are sleeping and first thing in the morning. He explained that it has to do with blood flow to the tissue in the member. A non-erect penis does not have a lot of blood flow. Blood flow is required for healthy tissue, so at various times throughout the day and night an erection will occur to increase the blood flow through the penis. This is natural and has nothing to do with sexual arousal.
POSTED 6/27/2000
Julianna C., Santa Clara, CA, United States, 25, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Systems Analyst, 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 17200054242

If you have very long-lasting and painful erections, you might have a condition called 'priapism.' That could be harmful, to say the least. Otherwise, go with it and count yourself lucky. There are hundreds of thousands of men who can't get an erection for one reason or another. I, like you, are one of the lucky ones. I get an erection at the slightest provocation many times a day. I can forget about wearing spandex! I'm not about to complain, though. I'm 58 and am pleased to announce that I'm always 'there' for my loving wife.
POSTED 6/27/2000
Ed H., Airway Heights, WA, United States, 58, Male, Baptist, White/Caucasian, Straight, spinal cord injury, Retired Marine, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 113200075938

Congratulations; you are a normal male. There is no reason for you to go to a doctor. Men have spontaneous erections and it's really no big deal. You should read a book on human sexuality, and I'm sure to your surprise you'd see that all men do this. Maybe you are concerned that someone will notice because your penis could be larger than average, and if so, most men would love that, too.
POSTED 6/27/2000
Anonymous coward, somewhere, TX, United States, administrator, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 130200053449

Thinking about pretty ladies - that's how I get an erection while doing my boring work at Target. No one notices, as the customers only care about getting out of the store in a timely manner. No need to worry - no one notices it.
POSTED 6/27/2000
Christopher D., Arlington, TX, United States, Male, Mesg ID 114200053558

I get erections all the time, and it usually doesn't have to do with sexual arousal. I think I learned in sex education class in junior high that the average male gets an erection every hour or so as the body goes through its normal daily rhythms. I don't know what you mean by 'spontaneous,' whether it's a sudden tiger trying to get free from your pants or what, but I don't think it's a medical condition. If mine gets especially hard, I try to quietly rotate it up so it is pinned down by my belt. I usually wear loose clothes so that it doesn't seem to be bulging too much. But if tighty whiteys work for you, then it's all right.
POSTED 6/27/2000
Jon, Kyoto, NA, Japan, Male, Mesg ID 6262000102737

I have wondered if an erection early in the morning isn't also a subtle, learned response to keep from urinating. You can't do that with an erection, of course. For your problem, however, why not just switch to pleated pants?
POSTED 6/30/00
Jim, Denver, CO, United States, 41, Male, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 628200060107
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
I am 30-year-old Asian Indian of medium brown complexion. I date white women (European and American). The problem is that black women don't seem to like it. Everywhere we are I get rude treatment from black women. Theaters, malls clerks, fastfood joints, even on campus from secretaries, administrators, etc. Even at parties when I hit it off with white women, the black ladies scowl at me. The other women just don't care. What's with it?
POSTED 6/27/2000
Zipeezy, Richmond, VA, United States, <zipeezy@yahoo.com>, 30, Male, Straight, student, Over 4 Years of College,Mesg ID 6262000103524

Responses:
Some black women have a problem with black men dating outside of their race. Because you are dark-complected, they are assuming you are a black man, and that is why they are treating you as they do. I don't apologize for them; I'm just letting you know why they treat you as they do. Ignore them, or better yet, ask them what their problem is. When confronted, they may think twice about it next time.
POSTED 6/28/2000
Senetra, Anderson, IN, United States, 26, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Looking for work, 2 Years of College,Mesg ID 6272000104710

That's weird. You say you are Asian Indian and that you are getting reactions from black women. Part of it may be that they think you are black on first glance. The other part stems from the fact that in this country white women are so glorified above all other women. Whether they are physically attractive or not doesn't matter; the perception of them being 'it' is deeply embedded into the psyches of American men, be they black, white, red, green or Asian Indian. Because of this, many guys go out of their way to choose white women as partners, yet will deny it by stating they 'just happened' to fall for someone who 'happened' to be white. While there are those who are truly in love with the person they are with, the majority of the time this is not the case, though no one will ever admit it. In your post you stated that you dated white women. My interpretation may be wrong, but it sounds as though you are saying that you date white women exclusively. If so, why? Indian women are absolutely gorgeous. If you look back into your own dating history, have the majority of the women you have dated been white? If so, yu need to ask yourself why. I see nothing wrong with dating outside of one's thnicity. If the person treats you right, go for it - true love is so hard to find. But I do have a problem with people who purposely choose to date people of other races. Those who do that have some inner self-hatred issues going on.
POSTED 6/28/2000
Maya, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 33, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 627200055727

You may appear black to them, although you are Indian. A lot of black women are offended by black men dating non-black women. Black women are deemed by society to be inferior, and a lot of black women believe that when a black man chooses a non-black women, he has bought into that belief. Couple that with the fact that in the black community, black men generally treat black women badly, and you have a situation of black women being doubly offended by seeing you with a white woman. However, please don't mistake their attitude with racism or jealousy, because it is not. It is more that they feel put down by a man who they presume is supposed to be there for a black woman.
POSTED 6/28/2000
Tracy, Bronx, NY, United States, 20, Female, Caribbean-American black, student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class,Mesg ID 627200095942
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Do Roman Catholics consider oral sex a sin? Is oral sex considered sex, as in loss of virginity?
POSTED 6/22/2000
J.B., Nappa, ID, United States, 20, 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 6212000100718

Responses:
The Church teaches that sex is sacred and should be saved for a committed relationship, but the average person (including many Catholics) ignores the Church's ideals and just wants to know how far he/she can go without technically breaking any rules. It's this kind of silly thinking that leads many Catholics to think they can engage in ANY sexual activity short of vaginal intercourse and still remain 'virgins,' technically. This is what happens when people worry too much about the letter of the law and not about the ideals behind the law.
POSTED 6/27/2000
Astorian, Austin, TX, United States, <astorian@aol.com>, 39, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Programmer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6262000113212

I would like to ask the first responder a question: Since, as you stated, the Church teaches that sex is sacred and should only occur in a committed relationship, then how about oral sex between spouses? I am Catholic, but my husband is not, and this is an issue for us.
POSTED 6/30/00
A.H., Jeffersonville, PA, United States, 25, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Clinical Research, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 6290061707
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Many gay men are immediately identifiable by the 'gay drawl,' a distinctive, quasi-nasal, adolescent voiceprint. But I've never met a lesbian of any class or race who had a distinctive, corresponding lesbian 'accent.' Does anyone have any thoughts on why this is?
POSTED 6/19/2000
Jeff G., Austin, TX, United States, <byrongato@aol.com>, 32, Male, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Gay, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 6190051708

Responses:
I don't believe there is such as thing as a 'gay drawl,' 'lesbian drawl' or even 'gaydar.' Many gay men and lesbians have no characteristics whatsoever to identify them as homosexual. I've often made assumptions about others' sexual orientations based on their appearance or mannerisms, only to find I was mistaken. Very few people, including other lesbians/gays, suspect I'm a lesbian until I tell them. That's why I fly a rainbow flag from my house and wear a rainbow sticker on my car. I'm proud of who I am and sometimes wish it were more obvious. But alas, I have no lesbian accent or anything else to tip them off.
POSTED 6/27/2000
Stephanie, Cincinnati, OH, United States, 45, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Mesg ID 620200053804

I think the 'gay drawl' among men is the product of a somewhat insular community with a long history, especially in comparison to lesbians. Even pre-Stonewall (the 1969 New York riot that ushered in the modern gay rights movement), there had long been some sort of culture there. This isn't nearly as true for gay women. I think that any group that has strong ties and culture artifacts among its members might adopt a sort of 'accent' over time. I once knew a large group house whose members developed a distinctive tone of voice over the five years they lived together. Come to think of it, when I've associated with very closely knit groups of lesbians, I think I have perceived a similar phenomenon, although it's always specific to the particular group rather than the overall population of gay women. For example, here in Northern Virginia, many lesbians have a sort of rough, jocular way of speaking that almost borders on 'red-neckish.' But I doubt you'd find that in other areas. No answers here, I guess - but a very interesting question.
POSTED 6/27/2000
Rachel G., Arligton, VA, United States, <fenriss@obscure.org>, 29, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 623200085448
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
To Indian women: which side of the nose is traditionally pierced? Is there a specific location deemed most beneficiary?
POSTED 6/19/2000
Sarah N., Fairfield, IA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 6190094953

Responses:
In the olden days, the piercing was done on both sides of the nose. Now, only a few go for both sides. Normally, North Indians pierce on the left side of the nose, while South Indians do it on the right side.
POSTED 6/27/2000
Padmanabhan, Santa Clara, CA, United States, 31, Male, Hindu, Asian, Straight, Software Engineer, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6240075456
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Does anybody know what a congressman's job description is? I know they are supposed to make laws and stuff, but are they supposed to interject personal feelings into the laws they vote for, or is it supposed to be the thoughts and feelings of their constituents?
POSTED 6/19/2000
Paula, Texarkana, AR, United States, 31, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 927199954357

Responses:
I think it's a balance between their own views and the views of their consituents. If their constituents expect something that would be damaging to the country as a whole, in the parliamentarian's view, I think he or she should go against what the constituents expect. Ultimately, they are responsible for their own decisions, and that responsibility cannot be passed to the constituents or the party.
POSTED 6/27/2000
Priscilla, Sydney, NA, Australia, 23, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 6240084630

The 'textbook' duties of a member of Congress are to represent their given district in the Congress of the United States. What this means is a number of things, most importantly remaining in touch with their constituents and voting on and proposing bills (theoretically) based on the needs and desires of the district, and in line with the principles of the U.S. Constitution. Members also serve on a few committees each, which is where bills are drafted and amended. Now, the above is what you would find in a U.S. Government studies textbook. Having a bachelor's degree in political science and working on Capitol Hill for a semester as an intern (hold the jokes please, it was nothing like that!), I can say otherwise. The U.S. Congress, like many other legislatures, is composed of various factions and coalitions, each with their own interests, which may or may not be in line with the welfare of each district. Members of Congress must not only serve the will of their constituents, but also in many cases support their party in legislation and (although the members do not like to emphasize it) serve special interest groups that lobby them and give them donations. Being a Member of Congress is a very hard job and is often a balancing act among conflicting interests. Much of the position also ends up involving public relations - riding in parades, attending ribbon cuttings and the like. Because of the two-year term in Congress, most members are constantly campaigning, which many Congressional analysts believe is a major detriment to the job because they are focusing on being re-elected rather than passing meaningful legislation. If you really want to know what goes on in Congress, visit the office of your representative in Washington. It is be sure to be eye-opening.
POSTED 6/27/2000
Jack, New York, NY, United States, 25, Male, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 622200091652

As Mark Twain said, 'Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress? But I repeat myself.' Assuming you are talking about the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Constitution is quite specific about what they can and can't do. Most of the cans are in Section 8 of Article 1, and most of the can'ts are in Section 9. However, there is no legal requirement for a congressman to vote one way or another on any issue. He or she can vote his or her mind. However, so can the people who elect them, and therefore the check is that if they drift too far from their constituents, they don't get re-elected. Obviously, a congressman also can court public opinion and exert leadership in that way, also.
POSTED 6/27/2000
Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 41, Male, White/Caucasian, Corporate Cubicle Guy, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 622200032930
To respond
BACK TO TOP


    Copyright and disclaimer