Best of the Week
of Aug. 5, 2001
Best of Week
Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges
either begun or advanced during the week of Aug. 5, 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
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
First-time users should first make a quick stop at Y?'s
guidelines pages for asking and
on Y? is here!
"Why Do White People Smell Like Wet
When They Come Out Of The Rain?"
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Delivery in 2-3 days via Priority Mail
Associated Press story on "Wet Dogs"
Why does it seem that most men prefer long-haired women to
Ulla, Helsinki, NA, Finland, 17, Female, Lutheran,
White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle
class, Mesg ID 86200142059
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Why do people stereotype Asian women as sexually active,
exotic, overly feminine and eager to please?
Sue, Dallas, TX, United States, <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Female, Mesg ID 86200151327
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Do many blacks listen to white rap music? Not to say there are
many white rappers out there. And why do many black people seem to
always be mumbling rap music to themselves? Also, why do some blacks
say, 'You know what I'm saying' so much? Is that their gang talk or
John, Evansville, IN, United States, 21, Male, Christian,
White/Caucasian, Straight, youth counselor, 4 Years of College,
Middle class, Mesg ID 81200182226
To answer your first question, we listen to whoever sounds cool.
I didn't like Eminem at first, but he has flow in his rhymes. As you
pointed out, there aren't many white rappers around, but the few who
have come around, my friends and I have liked, like 3rd Bass, House
Of Pain, MC Serch - I even like Eminem. The only white rapper I've
never liked, and will never like, is Vanilla Ice. We don't mumble rap
music to ourselves, that's not a statement that represents everyone
who listens to rap. If I'll do anything while listening, I'll nod to
the beat if it's good. I don't see many people here mumbling rap
music to themselves. 'You know what I'm saying' is not gang talk,
that's merely street slang; it's like saying 'you know what I mean?'
That's not necessarily gang talk, although I'm sure that people in
gangs may talk like that.
Marco, Chicago, IL, United States, Male, Black/African American,
Mesg ID 82200133538
'You know what I'm saying' is not gang talk. It's just a speech
pattern that some people have, like some who use the word 'umm' when
aaa, Columbus, OH, United States, Female, Christian, Black/African
American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 82200134146
Not that all blacks think alike. but... We listen to what sounds
good. It doesn't matter if the 'rapper' is black or white. Those who
listen to rap may recite the lyrics to themselves the same way a
'white person' may sing the latest Aerosmith tune to themselves while
walking down the street. 'You know what I'm sayin' is not gang talk.
It is just a phrase used by people - lots of them, not only blacks
... you know what I'm sayin'!
JShawn, Brooklyn, NY, United States, 31, Female, Catholic,
Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID
Why do you differentiate between 'white' and 'black' rap music? Do
you really think there is a difference? When white people say 'like,'
is that their 'gang talk'?
Larry, Bethesda, MD, United States, Male, Mesg ID 86200194232
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Here in Finland, we work five days a week, have a one-month
summer vacation and two weeks winter vacation. A work day is always 8
hours (unless you agree to longer days - for a substantially more
money). Almost everyone is in a union that looks after our rights.
When we retire, we get our retirement wages from the government (we
pay a certain percentage from our wages every month toward retiring).
Even if you never had a job, you'll get a retirement salary - not
much, but enough to get by on. I've heard it is normal to have a
two-week vacation in the United States - no more - and that sometimes
you get fired before retiring so that your company won't have to pay
any retirement wages. And if you've never worked, you get nothing. Is
this true? And if so, are you so motivated by your jobs that you
actually enjoy this work-filled life?
Anders, Helsinki, NA, Finland, Mesg ID 87200142833
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For a long time I've wondered why some gay men act 'camp.' I
would be interested to hear people's views about why some gay guys
display traits such as a lisp, floppy wrists and a very expressive
personality. I don't know any straight guys who behave like this,
though there probably are some. I thought gay men might do it to show
that they are gay or to set themselves apart from straight men. Can
someone enlighten me?
David W., Uper Hutt, NA, New Zealand, 31, Male,
White/Caucasian, Straight, Government adviser, Over 4 Years of
College, Middle class, Mesg ID 731200113123
One reason I come up with is that the lisping, the limp wrists
and all are exaggerated signs borrowed from the female discourse. It
doesn't necessarily mean anyone portraying these signs wants to be a
woman, but rather shows a preference to deal with issues in that
discourse. Choice of discourse may restrict your freedom of speech;
in baseball talk you only talk about baseball, hmmm? The signs you
mentioned, but especially an effeminate voice, can help you become
friends with women easier. Somehow it seems that even by faking it
you can bypass the 'a-hole-rejection system' built in to some (most?)
women. The reason a gay man acts camp is probably that they don't
feel any of the common male discourses give them anything worthwhile.
Then you either borrow or invent your own discourse (subconsciously).
Naturally it is easier to borrow, especially if some other
discourses, like many of the female ones, have something to offer
you. However, simple choice of discourse is by far not enough to
explain this all. One needs also the cultural aspect here. Because
gay men are not, by their own choice and by the rejection of other
men, part of the common male cultures and also not for the same
reasons part of the female culutures, they need their own. A culture
portrays its own common signs by which the subjects can identify
themselves and others being a part of that culture. You can't say the
gay culture is between male and female cultures, but rather that it
is its own culture that borrows what it needs from other cultures and
then puts it to use in their own way, inventing a lot of their own
material along the way.
Jarmo J., Tampere, NA, Finland, 24, Male, Agnostic,
White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle
class, Mesg ID 85200193112
There's no single reason men act that way. Some gay men are
definitely more effeminate than others and identify with women and
their mannerisms - you might even recognize them when they are still
children, acting more like little girls than little boys. I don't
believe they make a conscious choice to do this - they just feel more
comfortable adopting the mannerisms of the women around them than
they do with those of the men. Some gay men who act effeminately are
trying to prove a point. That point may be 'I am different' or 'I
have my own culture and don't need yours' or something like that. It
may be defiant, or it may be just for fun, but they can turn it on or
off at will, and it's not their 'natural' state. Others act that way
just to fit in with the gay people around them. It can be a common
bond among gays, because it is an affection that no straight man
would normally adopt. Especially in gay 'ghettos,' you'll find
ordinary (gay) men acting like that even when no one else is around
just because they do it all day long. I think it is important for
straight people to understand what gay people often eventually
realize: there is nothing shameful in acting effeminately. In the
straight world, men are supposed to act like men, and it is often a
disgrace for a man to cry or show any womanly traits. Because of the
coming out process, overcoming the internal shame of being a
homosexual, many gays finally realize it is not shameful for a man to
act like a woman - we're all just people and can act any way we want
as long as we don't hurt anyone else. Maybe for some, acting
effeminately is a manifestation of this realization - it's no big
James D., Summit, NJ, United Kingdom, 44, Male, Atheist,
White/Caucasian, Gay, Entrepenuer, 4 Years of College, Upper middle
class, Mesg ID 86200173135
I think the answer to your question is actually in the body of
your question itself: 'expressive personality.' And yes, straight men
exhibit the same tendency; we just call it 'macho.' As far as the
'camp' goes, I would dare to venture that most gay men do not 'camp'
it up on a daily basis. Usually such expressions are reserved for
times when we can relax and not be on the defensive side of life.
Also, for the most part, 'camp' is usually a way of laughing at
ourselves and/or laughing at the stereotypes that straight folks
attribute to us - which I might add are usually a bit far-fetched.
'Camp' may also serve as a defense mechanism; if we can get you (as a
straight community) to laugh WITH us, then it is harder for you to
Steve C., Dallas, TX, United States, 43, Male, Christian, mixed
race, Gay, student (again), Over 4 Years of College, Middle class,
Mesg ID 86200181632
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What images do people of various backgrounds have of Finland?
What do they know about my country?
Leila K., Rauma, n/, Finland, 18, Female, Lutheran,
White/Caucasian, Straight, student, High School Diploma, Middle
class, Mesg ID 824200040513
I have several Finnish friends here in London, and the impression
I get from them is that either Finland is full of R'n'R-loving,
lovely, gorgeous, enormously-fun-to-be-with people (but my God, do
they drink and pop pills!), or anybody like that has to leave Finland
for some reason and come to London. Finland is getting quite a bit of
media coverage in Europe these days because of the success of Nokia
(which many people think is a Japanese company because of the sound
of it), so it could well soon become as trendy as Iceland (yes,
Iceland is trendy in England. Don't ask.)
Matthew, London, NA, United Kingdom, 29, Male, Atheist, French and
English, Straight, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 72200112300
I think Finns are sort of 'on/off' people: funny and great
company, or gloomy and depressed; totally drunk, or absolutely sober.
The nature of a Finn is a cocktail of Nordic and Russian elements;
does thiks then make us so popular nowadays?
Marko P., Helsinki, NA, Finland, <email@example.com>, Male,
Mesg ID 83200182754
Incidentally, Britain is by far the most popular destination for
Finnish students heading abroad, including myself, which is why
there's quite a strong presence of us in blighty. But the reason
we're being covered in the media is largely due to misconceptions.
Statistics and Nokia's success inspire magazines like Newsweek to
write articles on the alleged technological revolution in Finland,
and now some people think we operate vending machines through our
mobile phones. The rest of the world is interested only in the
curiosities of our country, like sauna bathing and the wife-carrying
competition (which is a yahoo event even by our standards). The image
is doubtless a tad distorted. Apart from peculiarities, however,
there seems to be an interest in the slightly alternative European
nations these days. This, I guess, is why Iceland and Finland are
suddenly popular. Both have been cut off for a long time purely out
of geographical reasons, and the mentality of both societies and its
individuals have been kept relatively intact. 'You're really weird'
is what a 13-year-old lassie from Yorkshire once told me. 'Weird' or
'different' spells 'interesting.' And yes, we like our booze, but I
don't know where you got the pill-popping from. Maybe your Finnish
friends are people who desperately need to boogie out metropolitan
Kris, Helsinki, NA, Finland, 21, Male, White/Caucasian, Student, 2
Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 85200173538
Of course we are! And everyone is blond, surly and drinking vodka
while constantly fending off attacks by polar bears ... Seriously,
your friends do seem be pretty normal young Finns. Probably a bit
more social than usual, because not everybody here feels confident
enough to try to make their living in huge, foreign metropolises. The
pill-popping (Ecstacy?) seems to be a more of a London thing. If
trendy means a few namechecks by Damon Albarn, a minor hit for Op'l
Bastards and generally bad articles about Finnish drinking habits...
Matti, Espoo, NA, Finland, 25, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight,
Middle class, Mesg ID 86200144849
While not typical of Americans, my view of Finland is this: Much
like Canada, in regard to standard of living, Westernized country,
without American BS. Cold winters and hot summers. Fauna mostly trees
(I think of evergreens). Probably mixed central-European and Russian
Alex, Elkins Park, PA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 9400102557
I'm a Finn and was surprised how much was known about Finland. But
there were a few corrections I'd like to make. It is true that most
Finns don't enjoy it when it's hot outside (maybe because our summer
is so short), but you can't say we don't like heat; the sauna has a
temperature around 80-120 Celcius. I think the thing about suicide
rates is quite true, mainly in North Finland. During the winters it's
dark almost always, which leads to depression, and that causes the
high suicide rates. The population of Finland is only 5 million, even
though we are the fifth- or sixth-biggest country by size. The
standard of living is high, and I'd say the Gross Domestic Product is
a bit bigger than in the States, but I'm not sure about that. We are
one of the five most-expensive countries in Europe. In 1990 we were
the most-expensive country in the world. Helsinki is quite an
international city. Reindeers are found only in North Finland, near
the Arctic Circle. Finland is more than 1,000 kilometers long. It is
true that Finland is much like Canada. Finland is best known in
sports because of hockey; during the last 10 years we have won the
world championship, Olympic silver (twice?). Finland is a country of
equality: we have a female president and were the second country in
the world to let women vote. Finland is a country of technology, but
also paper, ship building (almost all Caribbean cruise ships are
built in Finland. All Finns (many other European and Asian countries,
also) believe Santa Claus is from Finland (which is more possible
than him coming from the North Pole). It is true that almost every
Finn has a mobile phone, and we have the most Internet connections
per capita in the world.
Lauri, Helsinki, NA, Finland, Female, Mesg ID 83200154842
I know very little about Finland. The images that come to mind
are: cold, reindeer, saunas, Lapps.
C.P., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 22, Female, Mesg ID
I have always associated Finns with the outdoors, music and
design. I knew Finns who loved camping, no matter what time of year.
I know that in Finland, people have summer cottages they love to go
to on weekends. Finland has some very famous choirs and conductors,
and, of course, Finlandia records. I have Swedish friends and family
who think Finns drink too much, but that opinion is not shared by
Canadians. There is a great short story by Canadian author Jack
Hodgins in which the main character, an adolescent male, wants to be
Kim, Vancouver, British Columbia, NA, Canada, 40, Female,
White/Caucasian, Telecommunications, 2 Years of College, Middle
class, Mesg ID 830200021135
Finland, to most people here in Venezuela (and I'm sure in Latin
America) means Mika Hakkinnen, your flag (thanks to the Formula 1
fans), a lot of snow and a vodka called 'Finlandia' (Finland in
Spanish). Most people, though, make the mistake of thinking you are
Viking-type Norsemen (along with the people of Sweden, Denmark, etc).
I recently heard you are not the same people and that your ethnic mix
extends very far back to the slavs, far-wandering Mongols and others
(I haven't checked that yet, though).
Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 31, Male, White/Caucasian,
lawyer/business, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID
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