Best of the Week
of July 11, 1999


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of July 11, 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 is it taboo to talk about God in most kinds of social interaction? Why are people more comfortable talking about sex, their income, their health, etc. than about God? The only people who talk about God nowadays are those who want to push you into accepting their religious ideology.
POSTED 7/15/99
C.P., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 21, Female, University student, Mesg ID 62899103148

Responses:
A lot of major religions teach that their religion has specific "rules" or things you must believe, i.e. Jesus is the Son of God, etc., and believing in these things requires acceptance of these rules. As a Unitarian Universalist, I find that trying to explain that I believe in a higher power and in behaving properly, etc., but do not believe Jesus was the son of God usually provokes an argument in which people who do believe this tell me I am "wrong" rather than accepting a difference of opinion. The difference between discussing health and salary vs. religion is this I think: To a degree, we cannot choose our salary (we can't just get a raise anytime we want), and while we can take care of ourselves, we don't have total control over whether we get sick. In contrast, choosing a religion is a personal choice. Questioning one's choice usually leads to conversations like the type described above, in which people end up defending their religious choices rather than discussing them.
POSTED 7/16/99
Kris, Boston, MA, United States, 31, Female, Unitarian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Accounts Receivable Clerk, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7159924031

Whether a person's religious beliefs are arrived at through a conscious leap of faith or through blanket acceptance of what is handed down from one's family or culture, a high degree of emotional investment is involved. To challenge someone's beliefs is to find fault with that person's spiritual process or to make his or her teachers wrong. It's probably advisable to avoid being drawn into religious debates with people who feel mandated to win others over to their viewpoint. It can be quite stimulating to compare beliefs in a live-and-let-live atmosphere, with people capable of acknowledging the baseline assumptions they are making. Otherwise, as you suggest, it is simply tedious.
POSTED 7/16/99
J. I., Atlanta, GA, United States, 56, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class,Mesg ID 7159913718

I feel uncomfortable discussing religion primarily because my beliefs are (I believe) unique, and I wouldn't want to unintentionally offend someone by expressing them in conversation. While I identify as a Christian, I find that most self-proclaimed Christians are very ignorant about the religion, its doctrines and the theology in general; therefore, even if the subject of religion is brought up, it is difficult to have an intelligent conversation. The conversations more often tend to focus on personal beliefs and politics.
POSTED 7/16/99
Shawn, Fort Worth, TX, United States, <pharaun@aol.com> , 24, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Aviation / Student, High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 7151381533
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Question:
From my observations, it seems that many Italian youth who would be steroetypically classified as being "ginos" or "ginas" put a tremendous importance on surface appearance and material values, almost to the point of looking "plastic" in those efforts to appear attractive. Not only that, but when this degree of observed "plasticity" appears high, there also seems to be a corresponding lack of depth, complexity and intellectual substance in the person displaying these traits. Where can this possibly originate from, when considering the fact that Italy has such a cultivated artistic and intellectual history?
POSTED 7/14/99
G. Chan, Caledon East, NA, Canada, 23, Male, Agnostic, Asian, Gay, Student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 71399125352
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Question:
What are the opinions of people who do not ride motorcycles of the people who do ride them (i.e. Harleys or sports bikes, Ninja style, etc.)? Is there a stereotype or preconceived notion of what these people are like, and of the different types of riders, such as Harley riders vs. Ninja-style riders?
POSTED 4/18/99
Deb, Pelzer, SC, United States, <debrag@clemson.edu> , 39, Female, White/Caucasian, Married with Children,Mesg ID 41899105033

Responses:
I knew a kid from Calgary who was a couple years younger than me. His mother had died when he was 10, and he didn't know where his dad was. Out of the kindness of his heart, his mother's ex-husband took him in, moved him from Calgary to where he was in the Middle East and paid for his private school education. And he used to ride a Harley. I would say don't stereotype Harley riders; it takes all sorts.
POSTED 7/14/99
Mike K., Montreal, NA, Canada, almost 19, Male, Agnostic, Asian, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College , Upper middle class,Mesg ID 719980055
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Question:
You speak like you think, and you think like you speak; therefore, if Ebonics is a language or dialect that developed during slavery, doesn't it contain and transmit the psychology of the slave? And if so, isn't this "language" in reality a pathology that is keeping a large percentage of black Americans from achieving any level of (black or white) societal achievement? Doesn't it keep too many black Americans thinking like slaves? If you think like a slave, is it possible to be any kind of a success anywhere on this planet? So shouldn't the eradication of Ebonics be a primary goal? Can black Americans achieve true equaliy while so many are speaking and thinking, in my opinion, like slaves?
POSTED 7/14/99
Richard M., Kalamazoo, MI, United States, 40+, Male, Gnostic, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College , Lower class,Mesg ID 7139945920

Ebonics originated the same way most languages develop - out of necessity to communicate. I don't think most of us black people in the United States see this language as an embodiment of a "slave pathology." That is a very subjective call, because you have to look at who is in power within the "power structure," i.e. who is calling all the shots, who is deeming that this language is "less-than"? When Ebonics is spoken as the primary language, the speaker should understand that people who use this as a primary language are not making the power decisions in this society. Therefore, as with any speaker of a foreign language, those who use Ebonics should learn standard (white) English so that they can switch back and forth using the language that serves them best in a given situation. The slave mentality that you elude to has mostly to do with believing that one is inferior, worthless, has inferior intelligence, etc., i.e. the basic belief system employed when one race of people is in need of conquering another. You do what you have to do to break down a people in order to "possess" them. I find that embracing even a smidgen of any of the beliefs employed by the oppressor is far more damaging to blacks in the United States than anything else. And it is believing the lie of inferiority that keeps so many people from leading successful lives. Not just blacks folks, either; there are a lot of white people who feel the same way and are stuck. But then I have to ask the question: What is success? And whose measure of success is it?
POSTED 7/15/99
Kim H., Minneapolis, MN, United States, <KCHines22@msn.com> , 43, Female, Humanist, Black/African American, Performing Artist (theater), Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7149994928
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Question:
On July 15, 1993, researchers at the National Institutes of Health found a linkage between DNA markers on the X chromosome and male sexual orientation. This discovery brings the researchers closer toward mapping and isolating a genetic locus which may influence sexual orientation within a certain subset of male homosexuals. When they find a way to "alter" the X chromosome, would any male homosexual go to the clinic to alter his X chromosome to become a "straight male"? I feel someday there will be a cure for homosexuals. The next question is: Will homosexuals welcome it?
POSTED 7/12/99
David, Westland, MI, United States, <williad2@yahoo.com> , 30, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Network Administrator, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 729933827

Responses:
Why would I want to alter how I was created? What purpose would it serve? I may have a slightly more difficult time advancing in my career, or run a slightly higher risk of getting assaulted because of my sexual identity, but what would I gain by changing how I was created? I'm satisfied with who I am. As for "a cure for homosexuality," you work under the assumption that homosexuality is a disease, when in fact no major accredited medical organization currently suggests that. It is not a disease, and it is not a flaw. It is a trait that makes me no different from you - I have the capacity to love another human being who just happens to share the same gender as myself.
POSTED 7/14/99
Tom, Prescott, AZ, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 7149941431

I'm sure there are also chromosomes that indicate why women, black, Asian and Indigenous American communities are the way they are. Do you think people dissimilar from you, if given the possibility, would prefer to become white heterosexual males like you, if given the chance? From history's observations, the vast majority of gay people throughout humanity have been and are highly intelligent, well-adjusted, happy, creative, intelligent, cultured, well-rounded, dynamic, fun and sometimes as equally boring as the average heterosexual. I'm positive that in the process of discovering the roots of homosexuality, the causes for heterosexuality will be scrutinized as well. A "cure"? Perhaps it is not gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals that need to be "cured", but the view you take of them.
POSTED 7/14/99
Xavier I., Toronto, NA, Canada, 16, Male, Humanist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Cultural Change Agent, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 7139930802

Even though it was tough for me to come out of the closet, and I had thoughts of "if I could only change" before I came out to everyone, I still like the fact that I'm me. One of my greatest fears as a child was that I would be just like all the other people around me. I enjoy the fact that I'm different and that I have the unique gift to girl-talk with total strangers, the gift to be comfortable with my emotional side, and gift to feel other people's emotions (kind of like Diana Troy on Star Trek). You state that "someday there will be a cure for homosexuals." I do not believe homosexuality is a disease. I believe God made homosexuals for a reason. Straight men seem to be good at building buildings. Gay men, like Michelangelo and de Vinci, were good at designing and decorating buildings. Homosexuals seem to have gifts to offer the world. Changing that would be changing God's will.
POSTED 7/15/99
Patrick S., Dallas, TX, United States, <PatrickSenkel1@CompuServe.COM> , 24, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Programmer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7139963745

I view sexual orientation in the same light as other differences such as hair color, skin color or height. It is my expectation that many preferences are wired in to us. As an example intended not to trivialize the situation but instead draw on a lowest-common denominator, I prefer chocolate rather than vanilla. Vanilla is what the vast majority of people prefer. No matter how much I exhibit vanilla-consuming behavior, it does not change my preference for chocolate. Ultimately, what difference does it make whether a person finds people of the same gender or another more sexually attractive?
POSTED 7/15/99
Thomas, Lyman, ME, United States, 45, Male, Christian, Asian/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Programmer, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 71499101817
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Question:
Has anyone else noticed a double standard in describing the appearance of different-race women who wear promiscuous clothing? When women of color wear tight/short clothes, they are often called "hoochies" or something of the sort, while white women in similar clothes are at worst called "skanks" (if not "hot.") Could part of the reason be that women of color tend to have more voluminous bodies and so look more provocative in the clothing?
POSTED 6/28/99
Priya, Berkeley, CA, United States, <priya_grewal@yahoo.com> , 19, Female, Mesg ID 6279951922

Responses:
Isn't 'skank' as equally offensive as 'hoochie'? I don't believe either word is worse than the other.
POSTED 7/14/99
Kate, Columbus, OH, United States, 28, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Mesg ID 63099122829

I have never seen a difference in the perception of provocatively dressed women racially. I believe the only true issue is one of subjectivity. That issue is taste.
POSTED 7/14/99
Sean H., Billerica, MA, United States, <WinstonSmithhg@hotmail.com> , 23, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Photographer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7139951043
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Question:
To male college freshman or sophomores in intercollegiate team sports (football, basketball, baseball, soccer, etc.) who are dealing with or have dealt with coming-out to family, coaches and teammates: How was your coming out accepted by your family, coach and teammates? Are you still on the college team? Did you know from "the beginning" that you were gay? What type of impact did this have on your participation in sports? Any additional information about your experiences as a college athlete and being gay would be greatly appreciated.
POSTED 6/28/99
Scott, Bowling Green, OH, United States, 31, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Gradute Student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 62499122653
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