Best of the Week
of July 8, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of July 8, 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:

To white men: What do you think of white women who date black men? As you may well know, generally speaking, black women will not hesitate to answer this question, but there seems to be little or no feedback from white men. From the days of slavery, the white man has placed the white woman on a pedestal for the world to see and said, 'You may look, but don't you DARE touch, OR ELSE!' He has deemed her as the 'so-called' standard of beauty. How then do white men - the societal 'top of the totem pole' - feel knowing that growing numbers of white women are dating black men?

POSTED 7/11/2001

K.C. Tate, Jacksonville, FL, United States, Female, Black/African American, Paralegal, Mesg ID 711200175838

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Question:

The adults in all three Asian-American families in my neighborhood seem very anti-social. Their very-Americanized kids seem 'normal,' but the parents won't even make eye contact. Is there some social rule I'm not aware of?

Original Code R361. Click here to see responses from the original archives. Click "to respond" below to reply.

POSTED 3/3/1999

S. B., Richmond, CA, United States, 38, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 3399113927


Responses:
This is a cultural difference. Many Asian societies find direct eye contact very disrepectful. It's especially evident when dealing with authority. For example, recently immigrated Asian students of mine never look me directly in the eye because I am in a higher position as the teacher. It's something I've had to adjust to because I grew up more Americanized, and I always thought of direct eye contact as a sign of honesty, straightforwardness and respect.

POSTED 7/11/2001

K.S.P., Atlanta, GA, United States, 27, Female, Asian, Teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 710200130507

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Question:

I'm gonna get an earful for this one, but isn't there sometimes truth to stereotypes? Southern racists? Young, black baggy-pants-wearing jerks? Stingy Jews? Studious Asians? Hard-working Mexicans? Sure, some are outdated or totally fabricated, but some, amazingly enough, seem to have some truth to them, on all sides. Are we evil people for generalizing like this, or is it human?

POSTED 7/9/2001

Ric M., New York, NY, United States, 28, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, various occupations, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 72200184351


Responses:
I find that usually stereotypes are started to put some organization to things. To categorize, or worse, to label. The negativity happens when we see that a stereotype is present and believe that it's a part of the individual, or who the individual is. We never dig deeper to find out why the individual seems to portray a 'sterotype' (i.e. Why is the white man sexist? Why is the black man angry? Why do black people find it difficult to tip white folks? Why are many Native American's quiet?) The question can be asked about every stereotype there is. The more we ask, the more we'll understand.

POSTED 7/11/2001

Dot, Peru, ME, United States, <ms-dsh@yahoo.com>, 33, Female, Humanist, Native American/Caucasian, Bisexual, Social Worker/Student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 710200141423


I think when you get to know individuals of a group that is stereotyped, you will discover that those stereotypes are generally false. Yes, there are some cultural differences between groups, but individuals make up groups, and every individual is differrent. The 'truth' to the stereotypes you mentioned are the truths of individuals, and you could attach the generalization to a person from any group. There are stingy African Americans and studious Mexicans, and young, white baggy-pants-wearing people. Furthermore, most stereotypes were promulgated by European white people during and after colonization as a way of rationalizing their atrocities and de-humanizing the groups they were physically and culturally attacking. Indeed, it is telling that in your post you mention many racial groups except white people (Southern people are not necessarily white). In sum, generalizations about racial and ethnic groups have little truth to them and are basically useless.

POSTED 7/11/2001

R.H., Syracuse, NY, United States, 27, Male, Agnostic, Black/African American, Straight, law student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 711200153424


So are you really tiny 'down there'? I'm not trying to insult you, I'm trying to make a point. No matter how much 'truth' you or others may believe there is to stereotypes, they do harm people. I always bring up the one about small penises for white men whenever I hear them trying to defend the indefensible or make excuses for various bigotries. But to come straight to the point of your questions, no, a big no that we should all shout from the rooftops. Usually stereotypes are not based on any alleged 'truth,' but on falsehoods and misunderstandings and plain old ignorance. Stingy Jews? Actually they had to hoard at times in order to survive, but Jews have one of the best records of any ethnic group when it comes to giving to charities. Young blacks wearing baggy clothes? Actually, they were just imitating us (Mexicans), who have been doing it since the 1920s. Southern racists? Yes, it can be pretty bad, but Dr. King said the worst racism he ever saw was in Chicago. Studious Asians? Not if you've ever seen Asian street gangs. Hard-working Mexicans? Because some are here illegally, they are forced to work long hours for almost nothing. But it's always amazing how many racists can have two contradictory stereotypes at once, both 'hard-working Mexicans' and 'lazy Mexicans.' Does it make you evil to believe in these stereotypes? Not necessarily, but it does show you're not really thinking things through. These stereotypes don't just magically appear as part of human nature. They always have a deliberate purpose, to dehumanize and foster hostility, to divide and conquer. Stereotypes about 'oversexed' blacks were used to justify the lynchings of black males and the widespread rapes of black females, for instance.

POSTED 7/11/2001

A.C.C., San Antonio, TX, United States, Male, Mexican and American Indian, Mesg ID 7102001123949

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Question:

Why is that most erotic/porn pictures show women with nipples that point upward and not nipples that point downward (i.e. 'pointy')? White women sometimes do have 'pointy' breasts, but it seems like there is a negative attitude about showing them or thinking of them as attractive.

POSTED 7/9/2001

H.C., Jerusalem, NA, Israel, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 79200161403

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Question:

Do transgendered people prefer to be called by their biological gender or their emotional gender?

POSTED 7/6/2001

Charles G., Chicago, IL, United States, 23, Male, Jewish, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 76200111321

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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


Responses:
My mom also had a large freckled area from a burn that covered one side of her neck up to her jawbone. It happened when she was a young child, but it wasn't until I was in my 20s that she said it had made her self-conscious when she was younger. I had never really noticed it; it was just part of her features, like the color of her eyes or hair. I don't find a birthmark like yours repellent at all. If you are a vibrant, happy person, people will be attracted to you regardless of what unusual features you possess.

POSTED 7/9/2001

Kelly F., Jacksonville, FL, United States, 41, Female, New Age/Metaphysical, White/Caucasian, Straight, Retired military, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 782001100855

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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


Responses:
As with the body and hair, ankles are considered to be sexually attractive to men, and such overtly sexual features are seen as being provocative to them. Thus, strictly speaking, Muslim women are not technically allowed to show their bare feet or even hands unless they are undecorated, i.e. unpainted nails, etc.

POSTED 7/9/2001

S.J, Leicester, NA, United Kingdom, 27, Female, Muslim, Asian, Straight, PhD student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 77200111146

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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


Responses:
Only you would know the answer to that. It depends on the nature of the kiss, what you felt at the time, what you felt afterward, and what gender you previously had been attracted to. If you've been attracted to men up until this point, it may be that you're bisexual. If not, maybe you're gay. Again, it depends on the impulses you feel.

POSTED 7/6/2001

Hallie, Frankfort, KY, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Clerk, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 76200145652


If you have always felt an attraction toward women and it culminated in this kiss, perhaps you are. But only you know how strong your feelings toward other women really are, and whether they're stronger than your feelings toward men. So the answer is that there is no definite yes or no.

POSTED 7/9/2001

Susan, New York, NY, United States, 48, Female, Presbyterian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Programmer, Technical School, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 78200194649


You're the only one who can decide if you're gay or not. If you kissed another woman, I'd say you were at least curious, but that only you know if you're a lesbian or bisexual or what. Perhaps it was only a phase, or maybe you are gay. Though if you are, I promise you it will not be the end of the world.

POSTED 7/9/2001

Jessica B., Jackson, MS, United States, 16, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Less than High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 77200121904

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Question:

In Jewish dietary laws, I understand meat and milk-based products cannot be mixed. Can fish and milk be mixed, i.e. cod in cheese sauce?

POSTED 7/6/2001

Paul W., Liverpool, NA, United Kingdom, <pwildman@classicfm.net>, 46, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Gay, Analyst/Programmer, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 76200115728

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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


Responses:
The kind of African-Caribbean bottom you're talking about is generally a lot perter than the average white big bum, which, sadly, can be on the flat side. White men certainly don't prefer non-existent bums - I don't know where you got that idea. My bum is not skinny, and I've certainly had no complaints. However, I've got the impression that, in terms of body shape at least, African-Caribbean men tend to prefer a more natural, womanly shape - good for them. A lot of white men unfortunately make themselves feel better (about their small bums?) by putting down women who are not rakes.

POSTED 7/9/2001

Lily, London, NA, United Kingdom, 32, Female, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 762001123312


It's not a white thing, because I'm white and I like 'em curvy. It's because of the society you're brought up in. I'm white-Hispanic, but I grew up as as a pure-blooded white American in Kansas City (school, neighborhood, camps, friends, etc.). The girls we 'white boys' liked had 'tight' butts and nice, big tah-tahs. In my early twenties, I moved to my family's homeland (Venezuela), and I first found the girls down here to be a bit fat. Later, in time, that appreciation turned to round and curvy. Well, now those chicks I used to adore as a white American seem to me like anorexic, flat and buttless cuties. My taste changed because of the influence from my surroundings. Now I like them with nice round butts (not huge, though), like most Hispanics. Although the lower you go in the social scale, the bigger they like 'em. Same thing happens with white Americans and hooters. So it's not that small, non-existent backsides are attractive to white Americans (or Englishmen), it's that they don't pay much attention to them because their eyes are glued to the jugs up front.

POSTED 7/9/2001

Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 32, Male, White/Caucasian, Lawyer/Business, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 76200183408


Most people are attracted to what they commonly see in their community. Whites tend to hang around other whites, who are built with flatter butts, and so find this attractive. As you mentioned, Africans (and African Americans) like bigger, fuller butts, since this is the normal body shape in our community.

POSTED 7/9/2001

Cassandra, Chicago, IL, United States, 37, Female, Black/African American, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 78200194100

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