Best of the Week
of July 18, 1999


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of July 18, 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:
How do non-stutterers see stutterers? Do you pity them? Do you see them as regular people you could get to know? Do you regard them as less-intelligent? Is stuttering funny?
POSTED 7/23/99
Jeff, Andover, MA, United States, <jeffrey_rose@eri.eisai.com> , 38, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Stutterer, Biologist, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 7219943518
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Question:
Do most people think leaders of the religions of today are doing a good job helping others understand and open their hearts to other religions and people? Or are they mainly trying to show us, by all means, that there is no other truth but their own? What will happen to the world if all religions stay stuck in their own world and don't want to open up to other religions? Should they, or should they not? Will there be more ethnic cleansing, or will there be a single religion to replace all others to show the path of the soul and spirit?
POSTED 7/23/99
Sultan O., Geneva, NA, Switzerland, <sogva@iprolink.ch>, Mesg ID 7189953958
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Question:
I have noticed some lesbians are very overt about their sexual orientation in a way that I have trouble describing. It's sort of angry, sort of in-your-face. I am not talking about holding hands or kissing in public. For example, there is a lesbian couple at work who got into some very graphic dancing at a work party (like mimicing their sex positions). I guess I don't understand why some lesbians feel the need to act like, "I'm a lesbian!", when I never see straight people acting like, "I'm straight!" Can anyone help me understand this?
POSTED 6/28/99
Edna, Yonkers, NY, United States, 31, Female, Straight, Teacher, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 62699100156

Responses:
While some of us in the gay community have a rather "in-your-face" mentality, I don't really know that this is a case of that. You claim that "I never see straight people acting like, 'I'm straight'". I beg to differ. Every time I watch a movie, I see 'I'm straight!', Every time I see photos on co-workers' desks, I see 'I'm straight!', Every time I go to the beach or pool, I see 'I'm straight!', Every time I go to community events, I see - yep... 'I'm straight!'. I think some people are overly sensitive to homosexuals and us being "ourselves." While I know some of us can be a bit militant - and I am not suggesting that this is not a case like that - I ask that we are afforded the same respect as others. A perfect example of this: You haven't seen - yet - a gay couple in bed or kiss on primetime TV.
POSTED 7/23/99
Stephen H., Lafayette, LA, United States, 29, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Human Resources Consultant, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 72199101432
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Question:
A teacher/colleague told me that we shouldn't expect black students to sit still in class and not speak out because their culture conditions them to be aggressive and active in classroom situations. Is this true?
POSTED 7/23/99
Julie E., Lincoln, NE, United States, 31, Female, Presbyterian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Educator/Musician, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 72399123618
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Question:
I continually debate wilth myself on whether this is a valid question, but it's been bugging me for years: Do people in the richest 1 percent of the U.S. population feel any guilt about controlling 40 percent of the wealth, while the working class and poor control less than 10 percent of it (if I remember the correct figures)?
POSTED 7/21/99
Dan, L.A. County, CA, United States, <aztec_fly@hotmail.com> , 20, Male, Born-again Pentecostal, Chicano, Pub and restaurant worker, High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 7209930933

Responses:
Unfortunately, I do not belong to the richest 1 percent or even close to it. But I do not understand why the "rich" should feel guilty. Most certainly some people inherit their richness so that it cannot be said that they "earned" the money. A lot of people make their money. Why should either feel guilty? I always have the feeling that the people who believe that the rich should feel guilty are just jealous, or are looking for an excuse. I will never be rich, but then again, I am too lazy to put in the effort required.
POSTED 7/22/99
Turk, N/A, NA, Turkey, 57, Male, none, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 72199115009

Although I am far from that category, I'd have to wonder why they would feel guilty about their wealth. If the wealth were inherited, then it was totally out of their control. If they earned it (honestly), why should there be guilt associated with it? Analogously, should people who are able to access Y? Forum experience guilt because there is a segment of the population which has no access to computers or the internet? If there is guilt associated with wealth, I'd think it would stem from what is done (or not done) with it.
POSTED 7/22/99
D.N., Seattle, WA, United States, 35, Male, Agnostic, Black/African American, Gay, Project Manager, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7219921235

Do they? Who knows - some people feel guilty about anything. Should they? Not on your life! There is no denying that Capitalism is the most successful wealth-generating economic system in history. It is inherent in Capitalism that some will make out better than others. Indeed, Capitalism depends on people wanting to do better enough to work hard and be creative and take chances, thereby generating more wealth for everybody. This is the system we all work in, the objective we all share and the game we all play. Expecting those who come out on top to feel guilty is like expecting the Denver Broncos to feel guilty that none of the other fine AFC teams got to go to the Super Bowl. Also, a great many of these rich people, Bill Gates being the ultimate example, have, in the process of amassing their wealth, created jobs for thousands or (perhaps indirectly) even millions of others. You may be smarter and nicer and more honorable and in every way that matters a better person than Bill Gates, but only on the basis of what he has contributed to the national and global economy, his billions are well-earned. Now, if they got filthy, stinking rich by breaking the law, that would be something to feel guilty about. But that's another matter entirely. PS Please don't send me any 'I hate Bill' letters. I hate the little egotistical tyrant too - but there is no denying what Microsoft has done to facilitate the exponential growth of the computer industry. PPS Does anybody else recognize how tragic it is that the majority of Americans feel their only opportunity to achieve economic success comes from buying state run lottery tickets?
POSTED 7/22/99
James, Oak Hill, VA, United States, <jbrase@csi.stel.com> , 32, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 7219963313

I doubt if most of them feel guilty, but I believe they should. I think I would if I were in their shoes. As for all that nonsense about them having earned their millions/billions honestly and through hard work, I say "so what?" Much of what they do is not even socially useful. (For example, stock market, advertising, violent entertainment, sugary processed snack food, useless luxury items, sports stars, etc.) Anyway, the money they do make is made off the backs of other people. I always find it interesting to compare the income of the CEO of a company with the salary of the lowest-paid employee of that company: There's food for thought! It's not about hard work: There are many poor people who work extremely hard for what amounts to peanuts. But just to put this in perspective, everyone in North America, even those on welfare, is incredibly wealthy when compared with the people of the Third World. We should all realize that we are in a position of affluence, which we were born into and did not earn, and we therefore have a responsibility to try to "even things out" as best we can.
POSTED 7/23/99
C.P., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 21, Female, University student, Mesg ID 7229992641

Whether someone should feel guilty about their wealth is debatable, but it is a fallacy to say that our system of Capitalism is a meritocracy, one that rewards those who work hardest or are most skilled or intelligent. Of course, some people who are wealthy have worked hard to earn it, but there are countless others who have the ability but not the opportunity. A very large proportion of wealthy people have inherited it down several generations and have lived in environments more conducive to succeeding, and those who start from scratch at the bottom can't possibly compete with them. Furthermore, I really don't see how anyone can believe in Capitalism without believing in some sort of absurd racial bell-curve; how else can you explain the stark socioeconomic disparity between white people and people of color without realizing that exploitation is inherent in the system? The fact is the the Founding Fathers succeeded in establishing a legacy of white supremacy through Capitalism, which so many people trust blindly.
POSTED 7/23/99
Priya, Berkeley, CA, United States, <priya_grewal@yahoo.com> , 19, Female, Student, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7229983930
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Question:
For commuting reasons, my partner and I are moving from the city to an upper middle-class suburb (Eden Prairie, MN). My head is filled with nasty stereotypes about suburbia. I fear conformity, materialism, unfriendliness, racism and homophobia. What can we really expect?
POSTED 7/21/99
Rhiannon, Minneapolis, MN, United States, <rock0048@tc.umn.edu> , 29, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Professor, Middle class, Mesg ID 7149995452

Responses:
I moved to a middle-class suburb of Milwaukee when I was sorta young, and I'd just like to tell you that the stereotypes aren't 100 percent true. Oh, sure, there are those perfect, straight-laced people. There are old women who will gawk and gasp about every little thing. That's not a lie. But they aren't all like that. My family is really extremely loose about quite a lot, and it's not like there's June Cleaver/Carol Brady android-types coming over and attacking us. There are decent people here, but there are a couple wackos, too. But isn't that true everywhere?
POSTED 7/22/99
Ne1, Greendale, WI, United States, 15, Female, Mesg ID 7219963114

I live in Sugar Land, a small community on the outskirts of Houston, Texas. My neighborhood is highly culturally diverse. We have a large population of Asian Indians, and their presence is wonderful. I see so many lovely Indian families, including the grandparents, taking walks in the evenings. When I work out at our community center gym, it is very unusual to see a group of teens who are all the same ethnicity. As far as homophobia, I don't know about my neighborhood, but my parents live in another of Houston's burbs. They have a same-sex couple on the same street, and it's really no big deal. As far as conformity, if you live in a "master planned community" your deed restictions will result in some uniformity in the neighborhood, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It sets some minimum standards for housekeeping. Finally, in some burbs, people don't interact much on the sidewalks of the neighborhood. Many people have long commutes and two-income households and just want to crash when they get home. But these neighborhoods often have community centers and social and service organizations that act as a means for people to get to know one another. I hope you enjoy your new home. My hubby and I love ours!
POSTED 7/21/99
Stacee, Sugar Land, TX, United States, 30, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, TV director, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 7219990730
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Question:
At what age do most people who cross-dress begin to do it?
POSTED 6/24/99
J.B., West Palm Beach, FL, United States, Mesg ID 6249974231

Responses:
A usually very reserved guy friend of mine indicated an interest in trying cross-dressing on his 18th birthday - no alcohol involved. Up until then, he'd seemed to be asexual, and quietly tolerated us (the girls) raving about Tim Curry. To my knowledge, he hasn't done anything yet, though we're happy to help if he wants it, which, strange as it may sound, seems very natural.
POSTED 7/21/99
Auth, London, NA, Canada, 17, Female, Straight, Mesg ID 7209933556

My partner first started to cross dress when he was 20 (about five years ago). He had wanted to try it since his late teens. I think this may have been why he moved so far away from home - because he felt somehow different to other people around him. He was also worried/confused for a long time about whether he was gay (not that he is homophobic). He has spent the last few years really discovering himself and has come to the conclusion he is not gay. I'm not sure why he does it, but it is a compulsive behavior that makes him very stressed (almost ill) if he can't or tries not to do it. I think it may be that he has trouble expressing the "feminine" side of his character in his role as a man - he is a very masculine kind of male. And cross-dressing gives him a way to vent this other side of his personality. In terms of the age thing - he wasn't interested in dressing up as a female when he was a child.
POSTED 7/22/99
L.B., Glasgow, NA, Scotland, 23, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 72199101048
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Question:
How many people are afflicted with pre-Apocalypse/Millennium hype? Do you feel the world is about to end? If so, who do you think is going to push the button, and why? And what are you doing about it?
POSTED 7/18/99
Kurt, Boulder, CO, United States, Male, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Senior Market Research Analyst, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 679984726

Responses:
Your perceptions are basically correct: Many people around the world are in a fear state regarding the impending millennium and the supposition that the "world will end." Sadly, many Christian believers are responsible for this nonsensical mindset. I do not claim to have any future knowledge, but I do know this: If one is a Bible believer, the clearly given set of "marching orders" from God is to Love thy neigbor, Tell them about God's love and Share with others what good Jesus had done for you. Even non-believers will be unoffended if spoken to with genuine brotherly love, rather than dire warnings and threats of God's wrath. To be sure, if God is really there, and He really is going to judge people, then those who choose (of their own will) to deny Him will go to their destiny, anyway. The Scriptures do portray a fearful "last few years" before the Second Coming of the Lord. Better to point folks toward reading for themselves and making up their own minds.
POSTED 7/21/99
Allan, Ottawa, Ontario, NA, Canada, 49, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Audio engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7199932451
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Question:
What do people think of women who do not shave their legs and/or armpits? I have heard only extreme views (either from those who really support it or really do not support it) and want to hear some views that offer an attempt at a logical reason for holding the view. I find logic often does not play a role in these things, but would like to hear people's reasoning behind their views, anyway.
POSTED 7/18/99
Kay, Tampa, FL, United States, 20, Female, Agnostic, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 6309992356

Response:
I realize a lot of my opinions on this are nothing more than cultural conditioning, but I'm turned off by hair on women's legs. I have less of a problem with armpit hair. I think it comes from wanting the females I'm with to be smooth and somewhat soft. A great deal of the attraction men have toward women is that they are different from us. I view men as hairy, smelly and for the most part kind of gross - qualities I don't want to have anything to do with. I think if men had breasts, we wouldn't have the obsession with them that many of us do. By the way, I prefer that the women I date be tougher than hell. I hate "girly girls," but I don't want their toughness to come from looking like the typical testosterone-charged male. I understand that many women are trying to break out of the roles that are expected of them, and I support that. It won't change my preferences, though.
POSTED 7/21/99
Brian, Minneapolis, MN, United States, 33, Male, Straight, Temp, 4 Years of College , Lower class, Mesg ID 71999101436

I can only speak for myself and say that I prefer a shorn woman. If I were to break it down further, I could say that I don't mind hair under the arms as long as it's completely grown out and soft, and am very much against leg hair. The only reasoning I can find for this is as a cultural extension of evolution. Men are able to grow a beard so they can be distinguished from women, even at a distance. Men have grown to appreciate the hairless quality of a woman's face, and now their bodies. (Of course there's also a large contingent that finds a woman's shorn pubic hair attractive.) Obviously these are cultural issues and differ region to region. But perhaps these views grew as clothing became more revealing. As men could see women's legs, they wanted them to adopt feminine qualities.
POSTED 7/21/99
Jeff C., New York, NY, United States, 30, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Actor, Mesg ID 7199953307

Shaving my legs and my underarms has been optional for me since my late 20s. At that time I recognized the unfair contradiction that women (at least in the United States) are nearly always considered unclean if they are unshaven but, that men are not. (I recognize that some businesses require a clean-shaven male face. However, this requirement is not the same as the societal expectation - or should I say demand - that women must always appear hairless under their arms and on their legs.) Furthermore, shaving daily under my arms is painful, and I am simply not interested in engaging in behavior that is painful just to meet other people's standards of beauty. Shaving my legs is simply time-consuming. So now, because I like the way smooth legs feel, I shave my legs once or twice a week during the summer; in the winter when I wear pants or tights, I shave my legs far less frequently. As for my underarms, I shave maybe once or twice a year - whenever I feel the clean-shaven look is better with my sense of style of the moment. Such a decision is similar to one regarding my choice of earrings or shoes. In other words, my shaving behavior is as much a choice as that made by many men. In closing, I would like to mention that my significant other doesn't care either way; when we first met, he was attracted by my sense of independence and lack of attention to certain societal expectations, and his attitude hasn't changed. (In fact, when I get in the mood to shave my underarms, he is always a little startled because it's such a contrast.) Even though we often have to interact with his business associates, my chosen hirsuteness has not caused him concern.
POSTED 7/21/99
Kim S., Tempe, AZ, United States, <gibbon@asu.edu> , 34, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Graduate student, physical anthropology, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 7199985912

Since I tend to value non-conformity for its own sake, I rather admire women who don't shave. I don't see any logical reason to shave. It is time-consuming, and it just grows back tomorrow. In my experience, shaving any part of a body (female or male) is more of a cultural norm related to a society's or individual's esthetic sense of beauty, gender role conformity and/or sexual attraction. Whatever a woman chooses to do is fine with me.
POSTED 7/21/99
DykeOnByke, Southfield, MI, United States, <DykeOnByke@aol.com> , 49, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7199991551
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Question:
Do parents of children 20 or younger realize how miserably they have failed in their duty to discipline and acculturate their children, and don't they realize they are creating a danger to society?
POSTED 5/3/99
Mark S., Houston, TX, United States, <mseely@wt.net> , 30, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 4289931526

Responses:
Spanking/hitting/abuse - whatever fancy name you want to call it, never taught anyone anything - except to do it their own children and continue a vicious cycle. I never liked getting hit, and I still don't like it. But narrow-minded people such as my parents and so many others in society always say "They do it 'cause they love you." Why don't these people stop lying to themselves and their children? And here's the Catch-22: You get hit at home, but as soon Johnny at school picks a fight with you and you beat him up, your parents start yelling that you can't hit people because it's not right and it's not fair. Then they hit you for hitting Johnny! Why don't they take a look in the mirror? Children deal with bad situations the same way their parents deal with them, yet they are told they are wrong, and therefore need even more "discipline." If my boyfriend were to hit me, everyone would tell me to get away from him and call the police. But if my parents hit me, it's "discipline." This so-called discipline that I am supposed to get because I'm a kid never made me respect my parents or other people more. Actually, I have lost all respect for my parents, and I'm afraid to ever go to them again (and believe me, I won't). Instead, I turn to what many kids consider a first home, not a second home: School. At least there I have found a few people who understand that one should never lay an angry hand on a child. Whether you call it spanking, discipline, hitting or whatever, it all falls under one category: A-b-u-s-e. Maybe it's time everyone heard this message from someone who is still a kid, because it seems that once everyone gets over 21, they forget what it's like to be one.
POSTED 7/18/99
Natalie, Chicago, IL, United States, 17, Female, Agnostic, Straight, High School Student, Less than High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 7161394015

I was raised in a home with two loving parents who never laid a hand on me. They did teach me to love, to be happy, to care about friends and family, right and wrong, etc. Sure I was bad once in a while and got punished accordingly, but I don't consider myself a menace to society now. My parents have never failed me, and I think it is unfair to blame the problems of society on the relatively small percentage of problem children.
POSTED 7/23/99
Wendy, Fort Worth, TX, United States, 23, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Distribution manager, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7219950036
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Question:
What special foods do Mexicans eat during the religious holiday of Semana Santa (Easter)?
POSTED 4/19/99
A.B., Mesg ID 4199944846

Responses:
In Mexico, during "Semana Santa" (Easter), an old tradition is to prepare "Capirotada," a delicious mix of bread, cheese, honey, cinnamon, raisins, onions, tomato, coconut, nuts, peanuts, tortilla, corn syrup ... I can't even start to remember all of the ingredients. It is very difficult to prepare, and unfortunately, not many people know how to prepare it right. Fish and cooked vegetables are also common: "Nopalitos" (cactus leaves) and that kind of stuff.
POSTED 7/18/99
Fede, Monterrey, NA, Mexico, <radiofutura@netscape.net> , 31, Male, Christian, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, Software Engineer, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 5299984521
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Question:
Why is it that such a seemingly large percentage of black people can dance very well?
POSTED 4/19/99
Kenneth, San Diego, CA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 4199925247

Responses:
As a teacher, I have been asked this question by many brave (white) children. My thought is that music and dancing are an important part of black (as well as Latino) culture.

Often, when a child is old enough to stand up, parents will take them by the hands and bounce them up and down to the music - "dancing" with them. When I was a young girl, many girls spent countless hours creating slap-pap rhymes, jump-rope rhythms and original dances in groups. It is accepted and encouraged in black society. Growing up, we all watched and danced along with Soul Train, cranked up the music while washing the car and even danced with the hose. Boys are encouraged to dance with girls from a young age as well. There isn't the stigma of "growing up too fast" when dancing in public, and some dances between boys and girls ages 10-13 can be downright "grown up." I have not seen the emphasis on music and dancing in white society. There seem to be more cultural inhibitions related to dancing. Thus, kids in white families typically get less practice. Since practice is what makes perfect, it only makes sense that the kids who practice the most and in the most varied of settings would end up looking like the best dancers. I always recommend that, to improve dancing, kids go into their rooms alone with a radio, and dance with themselves in the mirror. Keep what looks cool, ditch the odd-looking moves. And watch Soul Train!
POSTED 7/18/99
Stacey, NY, NY, United States, 32, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Publishing, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 5299921414
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Question:
Recently the Makah Indians participated in a traditional hunt of the gray whale. There was a great deal of protest during the hunt, and also a great deal of criticism after the fact. Do you think the Makah had the right to hunt the whale? Or do you think the criticism was valid?
POSTED 5/24/99
John K., Cranford, NJ, United States, <the-macs@geocities.com> , 25, Male, Chemical Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 5219984021

Responses:
Though I understand the Makahs stopped hunting whales years ago, I still support their action. Like most Native Americans, their culture is endangered. Because of a myriad of factors, sustaining traditional culture in modern times is a difficult thing to do. Getting funding to renew cultural interests is difficult, and young tribal members are often not inclined to learn a language and system of beliefs that isn't widely admired by the United States. Symbolic acts can often regenerate interest in preserving culture and can unite many people. I believe the whale hunting is a symbolic act for the Makah and not just a result of their "rights."
POSTED 7/18/99
Jaimie W., Wenatchee, WA, United States, Female, Multiethnic, Mesg ID 5289980344
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