Best of the Week
of July 1, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of July 1, 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:

If I have kissed a woman, does that make me gay?

POSTED 7/5/2001

Jolie, Temple, TX, United States, 23, Female, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 752001120046

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Question:

Recently in the news I have heard of several parents killing their own kids. Most of these parents are white. Do mostly white women suffer from post-partum depression? Am I correct in my observation that most of the parents are white in these news stories? Is there something in the white value system/culture that makes this more prevalent?

POSTED 7/2/2001

P.P., Porterville, CA, United States, 53, Female, Sikh, Asian, Straight, nurse, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 722001102338


Responses:
This is far from only a white problem, as parents, especially mothers, of all races have killed their babies/children in recent years. There is, however, a separate though related issue with urban, mostly black or Hispanic mothers abandoning their children in Dumpsters, alleys, etc. that is economically related for the most part. Some of these children are not found in time and do not survive. If you are talking about post-partum psychotic infanticide, there are definitely verifiable cases that do not discriminate by race (mother in Texas was white, Hispanic mother in Paterson, N.J., threw young child in the Passaic River, black woman in New York threw baby out the window, etc). This is a major psychiatric problem that requires treatment and possibly prosecution, depending on whether the act was committed in a psychotic state or just diminished capacity, which mitigates charges and sentences, though the person is still legally responsible for his or her actions.

POSTED 7/6/2001

Pete, New York, NY, United States, 30, Male, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 75200171017

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Question:

Why are Muslim women not supposed to show their ankles?

POSTED 7/5/2001

B.M., Bristol, NA, United Kingdom, 33, Female, Hindu, Asian, Straight, Administrative Assistant, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 74200144015

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Question:

Why do white men and women find small, non-existent backsides attractive? Every African-Caribbean person I know (and this is without exception) believes a woman with a round, full bottom is attractive and sexy. I am not saying that every African-Caribbean woman has this body shape, but the majority do, and if she does not, it is something on her 'wish list.'

POSTED 7/5/2001

Anne, London, NA, United Kingdom, 30, Female, African-Caribbean, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 752001113653

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Question:

I have a fair-sized red birthmark on my face, near my nose, and have always wanted to know how others really feel about it. Do you think they are ugly? Do you pity people with them? Do you worry about touching them?

POSTED 7/5/2001

Kate, Bloemfontein, NA, South Africa, 24, Female, Middle class, Mesg ID 75200143523

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Question:

How can I respond to U.S. colleagues who, because I come from Northern Ireland, assume that I sympathize with Republicanism/IRA? They talk of 'the cause' and refer jokingly to pro-IRA songs. This is upsetting, as the IRA almost killed me when I was three.

POSTED 7/2/2001

Mandy, Reading, NA, United Kingdom, 31, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Technical Writer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 72200155819


Responses:
There's no way for them to know if it is hurting you unless you tell them. Just talk to them about it, possibly including your encounter with them that you mentioned above. If this is a serious issue to you, don't let them see it as a laughing matter.

POSTED 7/5/2001

Pat, Somewhere, CA, , 22, Atheist, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 74200150422


There's no easy answer to your question. Fundamentally, it's the old 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom-fighter' problem. It's very easy to turn around and point out the Oklahoma bombing, one of the few domestic U.S. acts of terrorism that is on the same scale, but it does seem to play on sympathies and is also unrelated. My suggestion would be to try and subtly enter into conversation about The Troubles. If the person shows no knowledge of the history and background, then you can either try to set them right or tell them in no uncertain terms that they don't know what they're talking about. If they do know the background, then, hey, you'll have to respect it and agree to differ.

POSTED 7/5/2001

Geoff R, Edinburgh, NA, United Kingdom, 24, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Bartender, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 74200151531


As I'm sure you are aware, if this sort of thing happened back home, it would be called 'harrassment,' and the perpetrators would expect a good ticking off from the boss (or the law). If it happened in England (and I have seen it on a number of occasions), it seems the best thing to do is spread a little education. Explain to the bigots the difference between the IRA, the UDF, etc., and the vast majority of Northern Ireland Citizens. I'm sure most of the people saying this would never dare think of walking up to an African American and saying, 'Don't throw bloody spears at me' (for anyone who doesn't know - apocrophal reference to expression reportedly used by Michael Caine during making of the film Zulu). (I'm English by the way).

POSTED 7/6/2001

Dan, London, NA, United Kingdom, Male, Mesg ID 742001113416


You can respond by letting the jackasses know exactly what you went through and how their comments make you feel. Frankly, I can't see how an adult could be so presumptuous or behave so callously about such a serious matter. Most Americans haven't had direct experience with war and may not know how to respond to it, but that's a reason, not an excuse.

POSTED 7/6/2001

Hallie, Frankfort, KY, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Clerk, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 75200184356


Being from Dublin, I find the same issues are relevant. They assume that coming from the Republic, I am a hardline republican. The only advice I can offer is to do the same as one does when offended by any other comments: explain that it offends, and educate on why. Chances are they know nothing of the situation in Northern Ireland and how it came about. Explain to them that it is very insulting to you that they assume that you are a person who would support violence as a means to an end. Tell them it reflects badly on them that they would joke about something they know nothing about. Make the comparison (cheap shot, but it might get the point across) of how entertaining they would find pro-McVeigh jokes about the Oklahoma bombing. You could also try giving them a brief history of the situation, and explaining who the various players are. I identify, as I said, with your issues because while my feelings are that Ireland should never have been divided, and that Ireland is the whole of the island, no belief is strong enough, and no piece of land important enough, to kill for. This might be an extra-difficult premise for Americans to grasp, considering their own highly combatent national history. Come to think of it, they can sing all the pro-IRA songs they like, they are still living in a country that they took with violence from the people who lived there first...

POSTED 7/6/2001

Iteki, Stockholm (via Dublin), NA, Sweden, <iteki@valheru.com>, 25, Female, Recovering Catholic, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 76200110458

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Question:

Would most young, 20-something men find it shocking if a woman told them she was still a virgin at, let's say, 22 years old? Do guys prefer girls who are more 'experienced,' or are virgins OK?

POSTED 7/2/2001

Charlotte, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 22, Female, Asian, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 71200155517


Responses:
I'd definitely have no problem with it. In fact, I think it would be a lot worse for a guy in his early 20s to be a virgin, because society expects men to be good lovers, no matter what. As a case in point, women often complain about men who don't (or can't) use their 'equipment' properly. On one hand, 'experience' can make things easier, but on the other, teaching/learning with a virgin can be a lot of fun, and part of a deep and meaningful emotional and sexual relationship.

POSTED 7/6/2001

Michael, Sydney, NA, Australia, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 722001102136


From my experience while in my early 20s, I might have shied away from virgins for two reasons: First, I was mostly interested in having sex. Second, I always felt that if a woman was a virgin at 22, it was probably very important to her to 'save' it for someone with long-term potential (whether that was true, I don't know). I never viewed myself as the settling-down type in my early 20s, and would have felt a lot of guilt over possibly taking something important from a nice woman and then dropping the relationship in pursuit of other sexual partners. Now, at 29, I would view your virginity as a very attractive quality. People shouldn't be shocked about it because there are many virgins in their 20s. Most young men might prefer more experienced girls for casual sex. But not too many of my friends suggest that they are looking for a partner who's 'been around.'

POSTED 7/6/2001

Tim, Milwaukee, WI, United States, 29, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 732001115638


If a 22-year-old girl told me she was a virgin, I might wonder why. I would be concerned about the reasons behind this. I don't think the 'lack of experience' is really an issue, because in most rewarding sexual relationships, people have to grow together and learn about each other, meaning that prior experience isn't necessarily of great value.

POSTED 7/6/2001

Phil, London, NA, United Kingdom, 27, Male, Wiccan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 742001123856


What exactly do you mean by 'are virgins OK'? It's a bit ambiguous. If you mean 'will a man go out with me and agree not to have sex,' this will almost certainly depend on their and your religious backgrounds. If, on the opposite end of the spectrum of possibility, you are asking if a man will agree to sleep with you 'even though' you are a virgin, I think you will find in most cases the answer to be, 'Yes please!' If you are in a relationship with a man and give him your virginity (hey, I'm assuming this is your case you're bringing up;; if not, sorry!) at 22, IF he's got any brain, he will be greatly flattered and touched and realize he means a lot to you.

POSTED 7/6/2001

Matthew, London, NA, United Kingdom, 29, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 72200140210

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Question:

How do Christian Scientists really view homosexuality? Is it completely incompatible with being a member of the religion?

POSTED 7/2/2001

Anna P., London, NA, , 22, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Writer, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 722001104444

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Question:

Why is it that they say that people with red hair have a temper?

POSTED 7/2/2001

Marksam, Rhyl, NA, United Kingdom, <markheyward@talk21.com>, 40, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Counselor, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 722001113059


Responses:
I doubt anyone really knows why this myth started, but I do wonder if it has something to do with red-headed Vikings. I guess it is possible that there is genetic linkage between red hair and a bad temper, but I have a feeling it's more of a self-fulfilling prophecy. My grandmother still gets away with temper tantrums by blaming it on her 'coloring' - even though it now comes out of a bottle!

POSTED 7/6/2001

B.B., Edinburgh, NA, United Kingdom, 26, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, PhD Student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 73200143721

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Question:

Some African tribes wear plates on their lower lips. Does it hurt, and how do they eat and drink?

POSTED 7/2/2001

Francis, Frankfurt, NA, Germany, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 722001125353

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Question:

In the middle of a discussion with a gay friend, I said something like, 'That'll be something to tell your children about' and then immediately wondered whether I should have said it. Most of my straight friends (students in their early 20s) have a fairly clear idea about whether they want children. I assume that gay men and women have the same desire to be parents as straight people, but do they worry about the difficulties they might encounter? I guess what I'm asking is whether mentioning parenthood in the context of gay relationships is a 'touchy' subject or not.

POSTED 7/2/2001

Jessica N., Berkshire, NA, United Kingdom, 21, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, University student, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 72200185927


Responses:
I don't think it's ever a problem to bring up something that a person would have thought about, and most people who are gay and out would have no problem with being asked about that, as long as it were asked sensibly. The questioner should be aware that loads of gay people do have grandchildren! 'Do you have kids?' is sensible enough to ask, but obviously if a person is in the closet, it would be best not to embarrass them by asking anything about families at all.

POSTED 7/5/2001

Tony, London, NA, United Kingdom, <Granada65@aol.com>, 56, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Gay, diversity manager, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 732001101303


What I would have initially thought is that this person doesn't really know me that well. After some time, I would have found it a harmless cliche used to denote some psychologically defining moment in someone's life. Some gay people want children, a lot don't. We come with a different set of operating instructions for life. We have a choice, whereas I don't think straight people get much of a choice. And more importantly, they don't think much of the sacrifice to their self-development that raising children infers. I wouldn't read too much into your use of the cliche, but you might be commenting on your own thoughts on children and what they mean to you.

POSTED 7/6/2001

Matthew, New York, NY, United States, 43, Male, Gay, Mesg ID 73200151640


You shouldn't assume that anyone, heterosexual or gay, is going to have children. However, because many gay couples have kids, there is no harm in mentioning having children to gay single people or couples. Use the same standards for everyone.

POSTED 7/6/2001

Frank, Washington, DC, , 25, Male, Methodist, white Southerner, Gay, statistician, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 732001102941


If I were the one you had said it to, my reactions would be mixed. I would be pleased and think you were cool that you had not automatically assumed that children were not part of my plans and hopes. I would also be glad you didn't 'think before you spoke,' if you know what I mean. I'd rather someone say something slightly questionable with the right intentions than go through a conversation constantly ensuring their own political correctness. But I would also have been a little sad inside, because I know there are a bunch of people out there who are making decisions that affect whether I can have children and raise them in the security a little person needs. But I would still receive the comment very favorably.

POSTED 7/6/2001

Iteki, Stockholm (Via Dublin), NA, Sweden, <iteki@valheru.com>, 25, Female, Recovering Catholic, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 762001125130

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Question:

As an African-American female, I am curious to know what men of other ethnic groups think of us. Would you date us? Why or why not?

POSTED 6/29/2001

Kiea, Montgomery, AL, United States, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, secretary, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 628200125737


Responses:
I can talk to you as a white Caucasian (racially) and Hispanic/Latino (ethnically). First, I imagine that by 'us' you mean 'black,' right? Well, I have dated Venezuelan women of all races (from white-bred redheads to black). White Hispanics differ from white Americans, though; down here, if a girl is hot, she's hot, no matter what color. There's really not much racism down here, except in some specific cases. Now, if I were to MARRY a black woman, then maybe my family and friends would try to subtly dissuade me, but you asked only about dating. So the answer from this Hispanic-Latino is a resounding YES! By the way, I believe I can also speak for the brown Hispanics and black Hispanics. Oh, and they WILL marry without any second thoughts.

POSTED 7/2/2001

Nelson. A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 32, Male, White/Caucasian, Lawyer/Business, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 629200180826


I can't speak for anyone else, but if I think you're fine and we have enough in common, I would date an African-American female. Actually, I think brown skin is pretty sexy, but I don't like real dark women. I have asked a couple I have worked with in the past, with no good luck. P.S. If you're in the Detroit area, let me know.

POSTED 7/2/2001

Doug, Detroit, MI, United States, <phillips_d82@hotmail.com>, 38, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 630200170456

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