Best of the Week
of Aug. 13, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Aug. 13, 2000, 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.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at Y?'s guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

 


Question:
My boyfriend is in his mid-thirties and does not like for me to look at his penis. After we have sex, he covers his penis up. When he showers or needs to get dressed, he will change in another room. He even gets offended if I sneak a peek at it. He said he does this because he is shy. We've been together a little more than a year and he still doesn't feel comfortable being naked in front of me. Is this normal, especially for a man in his mid-thirties? I don't think it is, and wonder if perhaps he was abused as a child or something. I've always thought that men were proud of their tools. It seems like he's ashamed of it or something. I don't think he's ashamed of the size, either.
POSTED 8/17/2000
J.W., Newark, NJ, United States, 25, Female, Methodist, Black/African American, Straight, Customer Support Administrator, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 815200044428

Responses:
His parents were probably just a bit overzealous in teaching him to cover up in public. If it wasn't his parents, then maybe he had a bad experience at school. I think it is unlikely to be abuse, as that usually has the opposite effect. Either way, I'm sure it would help if he were to track down the event in his past that has caused his shyness.
POSTED 8/18/2000
anonymous, London, NA, United Kingdom, 26, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Psychologist, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 818200054652
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Question:
I live in a neighborhood with a significant black population. I'm always curious as to why many blacks here insist on owning pitbulls. I've noticed this at many other neighborhoods, also. Why is it that a relatively large section of blacks own a serious-ferocious dog vs. owning a more fun-loving and likable breed, i.e. retriever, collie, beagle? Is there a message here? Does one need an animal to instill fear and earn respect from the public? Is is sending a 'DONT MESS WITH ME' attitude?
POSTED 8/17/2000
portchatter, Birmingham, AL, United States, 25, Male, Asian, Student, Mesg ID 815200064338

Responses:
A lot of oppressed people, or people who have trouble finding work, look for a way to make a quick buck. A very easy way to do this is dog fighting, and pit bulls are the dog of choice for this. People train their dogs to be ferocious because a pit bull who wins a dog fight can bring in thousands of dollars.
POSTED 8/18/2000
Danielle, Forked River, NJ, United States, 25, Female, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 8172000124649

Sometimes if you live in a high crime area and can't afford a home alarm system, a big, mean dog can mean the difference between peace of mind and a ransacked house or assaulted family members. Also, in such areas the pitbull has proliferated, so it would be much easier and cheaper to acquire a pitbull puppy as a pet than to go to a fancy breeder and get a purebred labrador, and that's generally because the guy on the other side of the alley breeds pits for a living and can cut you a deal. Also, such a dog can be a status symbol. Its fierce and muscular appearance and bad reputation can enhance someone's machismo and self-assurance just like a monster truck or an assault rifle. I don't it's a race thing because certain Latinos and whites own such dogs in equal frequencies. It seems to be more of a class and environmental thing.
POSTED 8/18/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal, Hispanic/Latino, Student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 817200093622
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Question:
All my life I have been searching (more or less actively) for what I believe in and a form of religion that felt right to me. My family is Catholic, but I always had great doubts about many of the Church's teachings and practices. My mom has been fairly open-minded, but for my father, openly questioning my faith was never an option. His parents are also very strict Catholics, more active in practice than my father, so I have never raised any questions with them because I fear it would break their hearts. Over the past few months, I have been attending a Quaker meeting, and for the first time I feel really comfortable in a religious setting and very much in concordance with their beliefs and practices. I believe I have found my niche. I have told my mom and she is happy for me and has offered to speak with my father about it for me. I am scared about telling my father; the other night I dreamed he found out that I had chosen another religion and was enraged and upset. Does anyone have suggestions on how to tell my father and grandparents, or has anyone faced similar circumstances before with their family?
POSTED 8/17/2000
Shelly, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 25, Female, Quaker, White/Caucasian, research, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 8162000101125

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Question:
I am a straight male, but I've seen many men write about how they were untrue to themselves and married a woman. I don't understand how this is possible: I would understand how 'faking it' would be easy for a woman, but if a gay man isn't attracted to women, how does he get aroused enough to have sex (ejaculate, etc.) and 'pretend' to be straight?
POSTED 8/17/2000
Thomas H., White Falls, CO, United States, 38, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Architect, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 816200062925

Responses:
Basically it boils down to one simple fact: Men like sex, no matter how it gets done. In my case, I got married at 22 and was able to have sex regularly (not overly passionate, but sex). How? Lights off, visualize other things (guys), etc. Could I still fake it? Not with a woman only, but if the opportunity to do a three-way with a hot couple came up, I'd be in the middle of it. For me, the primary issue became the ability to be committed and work at the relationship. I failed there, because I knew I was living a lie. That was the part that was hard to fake.
POSTED 8/18/2000
Mark B., Dallas, TX, United States, <civic-si@swbell.net>, 39, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Financial Analyst, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 817200060507
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Question:
As a teen I am curious why a parent would be so quick to blame types of media - music, video games, television and in some cases teachers and supposed role-models - for their kids' behavior, rather than take a look at their own parenting skills to see if anything is lacking. Or, they lay the blame on their own child. Is it fear for yourself? Your child? My parents weren't perfect, but if I screwed up, I was at fault - not Eminem or Marilyn Manson.
POSTED 8/17/2000
Chris P., k-w, NA, Canada, <pipesp@hotmail.com>, 19, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 817200011004

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Question:
Why do young men of all races wear clothes that are two sizes too large, and pants so low that their underwear shows?
POSTED 8/13/2000
Joseph F., Brandon, FL, United States, Male, Follower of Christ, Black/African American, Straight, Employment Rep, 4 Years of College,Mesg ID 723200013527

Responses:
Someone told me once that this was a jail thing. When you go to jail, you get prison-issued clothes that often don't fit, plus they take away your belt (and shoelaces). So I heard it started as kind of an homage to kids' older brothers and dads who had gone to jail, and obviously spread beyond that. I don't know if this is true, but it sounds plausible. I have also wondered, though, if it bears some relationship to the little-kid cutesy aspect of rave culture - the idea being that a person who wears baggy clothes looks littler and younger and kind of sweet. So maybe it has something to do with that fetishization of childhood as well?
POSTED 8/16/2000
Sue, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 33, Female, White/Caucasian, Middle class, Mesg ID 815200023414

Some do it to fit in. Others do it to rebel. I do it for comfort. Usually I behave and wear pants that fit, but I like my cheap Kmart shorts to be nice and big. Room to move, room to breathe, etc. A nice big pair of shorts can be as freeing as a kilt. And I like my shirts to be loose-fitting so I can swing my arms around like a monkey without getting skidmarks on my armpits or having it bunched up into a halter-top. And it helps in the summer because the breeze goes right up my clothes, and my sweat won't make them cling to me. But I don't like to sag. I like to keep my rear-end covered, and I don't like the sensation of my pants falling down.
POSTED 8/16/2000
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal, Hispanic/Latino, Student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 816200045448

The young people are very simply being new and up-to-date. I would like to see more traditional dressing, but so much is new and changing in the world. I think we are much less bound to respect authority of our elders.
POSTED 8/16/2000
Em, Allentown, PA, United States, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Less than High School Diploma, Mesg ID 815200045443
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Question:
If he becomes vice president, is Joseph Lieberman's religion going to be a hindrance or a help? Or is religion even an issue here?
POSTED 8/13/2000
Natasha, Capitol Heights, MD, United States, 28, Female, Christian, Afro-Caribbean, Straight, receptionist, Technical School, Mesg ID 87200053558

Responses:
His religion will probably be a factor as he campaigns for the vice presidency, but I doubt it will affect anything if he actually becomes vice president. Assuming he and Cheney debate, a question along this line could be raised - how he replies will surely sway some voters one way or the other. Personally, it's not an issue with me.
POSTED 8/14/2000
Paul, San Antonio, TX, United States, 53, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 8142000114424

I think Joe Lieberman will not be able to say anything in Israel's defense without the charge (I believe false) of 'dual loyalty.' Further, religion is an issue because the only way that Joe Lieberman retains his political worth for the next election is if he maintains his 'religious' views and supports school vouchers and reduction of 'filth in Hollywood.' He could get away with saying that he supports a 'woman's right to choose' but that he personally would discourage women from getting abortions. If he retains those three positions and drops his position on Tort Reform (against the trial lawyers), he might still retain his sobriquet of 'conscience of the Senate' (or I guess he then becomes 'conscience of the White House') and thus his political worth to overcome the 'taint' of Clinton. As far as getting elected goes, it would seem that he gains some Republican votes (Born-agains) and loses some Democratic base (secular extremists - boy, they sure make a lot of noise on the radio talk shows) to Nader on the same issue.
POSTED 8/16/2000
Burt B., Los Angeles, CA, United States, 39, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 815200053437

I don't think Lieberman's religion will matter all that much. The right-wing anti-Semites would not have voted Democratic anyway, and from what I know of the 'left-wing' anti-Semites (the followers of Sharpton, etc.) they are unlikely to be voters at all. A Jewish vice president is far more likely to be accepted by the 'mainstream' than, say, a pagan or 'out' atheist. Certainly it does not matter to me. Church and state are supposed to be separate.
POSTED 8/16/2000
Crystal, Oakland, CA, United States, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Office Manager, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 815200011352
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Question:
Why are most white women so sensitive, subjective and emotional compared with minority women?
POSTED 8/13/2000
TMC, St.Louis, MO, United States, 19, Christian, Straight, Student, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 8112000121008

Responses:
At first I was a little annoyed by the assumption in your question. It's perjorative and against the rules of this page, but anyway ... As for whining, maybe you're right in that white women whine more than black women (I know you didn't specify black, but I'm making assumptions, too). Possibly this is because in white culture, it's less acceptable for women to be loud, argumentative or aggressive, so they resort to whining as the lesser of the two evils. Although I don't think white women are more sensitive than any other racial group, I think it's possible that, at times, they could appear so, again because of somewhat different ideas on social interactions. It's my impression that black social interaction allows for a lot more teasing and putdowns than do white interactions. So it's possible that whites do take more offense at what blacks consider harmless banter. But I also find black women to be extremely sensitive and prone to overinterpret the comments or behaviors of whites as racist. I don't know what you mean about white women being more subjective. How so? As for being more emotional, I'd really have to disagree. I think black people, in general, tend to display more emotions than whites. I think it's kind of a white thing to be more cool and distant emotionally.
POSTED 8/16/2000
n/a, Philadelphia, PA, United States, <n148@aol.com>, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 814200074839

I don't consider myself sensitive, subjective and emotional. But what the heck: I would say you might find your answer in Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs. According to Maslow, first off, people try to meet their physiological needs; once those are met, they address their need for safety; then love, then esteem, then self-actualization. You wouldn't, for example, care about not having a boyfriend if you had nowhere to live. So ... minority women are, not always but often, poorer than white women. Thus, they're probably likelier to get stuck at the physiological-needs level (trying to find daycare or pay the rent), whereas a white woman might have the luxury of being able to indulge her sensitive, subjective and emotional side. So it wouldn't be that minority women are less sensitive, etc., just that their situations, in some cases, might force them to behave more pragmatically.
POSTED 8/16/2000
Sue, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 33, Female, White/Caucasian, Middle class, Mesg ID 815200024712
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Question:
How do Muslims feel when they hear about another terrorist attack orchestrated by Muslim fundamentalists, e.g., as is going on now in the Philippines? Do they cringe, do they secretly believe that sort of activity is sanctioned by their religion, or do they oppose it? If they oppose it, would the opposition be in conformance with Islam, or against it?
POSTED 8/13/2000
I. Singh, San Francisco, CA, United States, Female, Buddhist, Indo-European, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 811200091307
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Question:
I was watching Big Brother on TV with a friend. I said I thought Eddie was really great. My friend said, 'How can you look at a man with one leg gone?' It doesn't matter to me - he's strong, funny, open and handsome. Why would girls not want to go out with Eddie?
POSTED 8/11/2000
Jayne, New York, NY, United States, 24, Female, Catholic, Asian, Straight, media planner, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7142000100446

Responses:
It was interesting on the show that Eddie told Cassandra he had previously only dated older women, since younger women wouldn't date a guy with one leg, but older women didn't seem to mind. I guess compared to Eddie I'm an older woman, but it wouldn't have made any difference to me when I was younger, either. He is sensitive, funny, very masculine and extremely sexy! I do believe that I would need some time to get used to whatever his stump looked like, and I don't know that it would be easy, but that would absolutely not stop me from dating him. I guess I didn't answer your question, but I wanted to let you know that I think your friend is nuts, too.
POSTED 8/16/2000
Julie, San Francisco, CA, United States, 30, Female, Methodist, Black/African American, Straight, Mid-level manager, 2 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 8142000102324
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Question:
Why have almost all the contestants on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire been white and male? Is this a problem?
POSTED 8/13/2000
Rhiannon, Eden Prairie, MN, United States, <hyena@visi.com>, 30, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 812200032446

Responses:
Considering the fact that contestants on the show initiate their participation with a phone call during which they answer practice questions, I cannot for an instant believe there is any discrimination going on here. The show producers cannot determine from the phone call what ethnicity the caller is, only whether they have the knowledge to answer the type of questions asked on the program. I know a man from my town who was one of the 10 at the beginning of each round, and he said that no questions were asked during the screening process about the race of the potential contestants.
POSTED 8/17/2000
Kathy, Springfield, IL, United States, 48, Female, White/Caucasian, administrative assistant, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 816200085914
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Question:
Which restroom do transsexuals use? I mean, a man who tries to be a woman? Please excuse my ignorance, but I am trying to open myself to the world. Also, does transsexualism have anything to do with homosexuality?
POSTED 8/10/00
Robert, Phoenix, AZ, United States, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Less than High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 890085908

Responses:
As a single Christian woman, I attempt to live as chaste a life as I can. This means that until marriage, I will remain celibate. This is not just a random decision ... it is a way of life. I object strenuously to men being in the same bathroom with me. Is the need of a sexually confused person to be 'reassured' more important than my right to privacy?
POSTED 8/13/2000
Amanda K., Jacksonville, FL, United States, <POSITIVEVIBES@iwon.com>, 44, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Self-Employed, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 811200014511
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Question:
Do male coaches of female athletes freely walk in and out of the locker room? If not, where do they go during half time? Do they stand outside the locker room while the women/girls are changing and then walk in when everyone's decent? That seems very inefficient, especially when a lot of half-time adjustments are in order. Also, don't male coaches have to be sensitive to female problems as well? How do they deal with them?
POSTED 8/9/00
David, Orange, CA, United States, 34, Male, Straight, engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 880013517

Responses:
When I was on my high school diving team, we had a male coach, and he was not allowed in the locker room at all. When he wasn't out on the pool deck, he went into the men's locker room.
POSTED 8/13/2000
Trudy, San Jose, CA, United States, 18, Female, Straight, student, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 8132000122839
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