Best of the Week
of Aug. 15, 1999

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Aug. 15, 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:
I want to know why Y? Forum allows asinine and degrading questions about blacks or any other race's physical features to even be posted. For example, I've read posts questioning why blacks have big lips, why blacks' palms and soles are white in color, etc. To post questions of this type implies that the physical features of whites are the standard, and that anything else is abnormal or deviant. Nothing positive or informative can be obtained from questions of this nature, so why are they even entertained on this forum? As an Afro-American, I find them offensive, and an error in judgment on the part of the webmaster of this site.
POSTED 8/20/99
Shawn, Baltimore, MD, United States, <mrmoore15@hotmail.com> , 30, Male, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, MIS Professional, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 8161999110700
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Question:
I am a 41-year-old man who has worked for a large international corporation for 18 years. The company recently decided to change its pension plan which, in effect, reduces my pension by about 40 percent. The plan primarily affects mid-career employees such as myself. Those near retirement age (25 or more years of service) are allowed to choose between the old and new plan. Our state representatives in Washington are looking into the legality of this and call it age discrimination. How do people in the business sector view this? Discriminatory or not?
POSTED 8/19/99
Bill, Burlington, VT, United States, 41, Male, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 81999102850
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Question:
Can a man wear women's pantyhose or clothing and still be truly heterosexual? Or does this mean he has homosexual feelings he is not expressing?
POSTED 2/22/1999
Female, N/A, IL, United States, 25, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 2229960221

Responses:
As a 38-year-old man who occasionally wears pantyhose, and as often as not wears panties, I am not homosexual in any way. I enjoy the feel of the fabrics, and find the women's styles of undergarments much more attractive than the men's styles. I have no desire to be with a man, and though currently not in a relationship, I have had many long-term relationships with women. Some of these women have been understanding of my choice, but the usual case is, if they find out, they are immediately put off. Of course, I can't speak for all men who partake of this underwear selection, but for me there is no hidden homosexual tendency.
POSTED 8/18/1999
Maxwell, Denver, CO, United States, 38, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Database administrator, High School Diploma , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 817199943046
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Question:
In my family it is believed but not proven that we are of mixed race, specifically Native American, but some of us also suspect Afro-American (that part of the family has been in the United States more than 200 years). I would be proud to be either, but many people would not. I am very fair - red hair, hazel eyes - and if it were proven, would you still consider me white? My cousin married a Puerto Rican; their son is fair-skinned. On school forms that ask race, what should they put: White, Hispanic or other?
POSTED 8/17/1999
Kelly, Brooklyn, NY, United States, 30, Female, Lutheran, Unsure of race, Straight, Overnight stocking, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 816199914101

Responses:
I think it's a shame that so many forms require you to "be" one particular race. I would like to think that we'd gotten past this, but we haven't. I would be tempted to specify None of Your Business or None of the Above or Humanoid or some other such vague answer to the question.
POSTED 8/18/1999
Jesse N., Herzliya, NA, Israel, 40, Male, Jewish, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 818199934822

Our society seems obsessed with labeling and categorizing people. Many people are of mixed ethnicity and don't fit into the prescribed categories. The choice is really up to you; you decide how you would like to identify. And, if you don't like the choices, you can always choose "other." That's really where most of us belong anyway.
POSTED 8/20/99
Lucy H., San Jose, CA, United States, 24, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 817199951801

My sister in Kansas City encounters the same problem on government forms. The government has it all wrong. They put Latin/Hispanic as a race when it's not. My family is white/Caucasian and we are Venezuelans since six generations ago (ethnically Latin/Hispanics), like 30 percent percent of the population here. My six-year-old niece looks like Snow White, is perfectly bilingual (English/Spanish) and dances Latin rythms like crazy. So what does my sister (her mother) put on government forms? She puts what they ask for, race, in our case white/Caucasian. But when the school district people (for example) hear them speaking in Spanish they ask them to correct that and put Latin/Hispanic. Talk about ignorance! Racial tensions in the United States will decrease when the government stops asking about things like race, or when schools stop teaching racial highlights like so and so was the first "African American" to do such and such, as if they were a separate species. My advice to all Americans and the U.S. Government: Just be that, Americans. It's easier than being White-American, Afro-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American and all that bull.
POSTED 8/20/99
Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 30, Male, Catholic, Salsa dancing White/Caucasian, Lawyer/Business, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 8199934248
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Question:
Why does everybody worship Jesus when God has said not to worship graven images or any other before him?
POSTED 8/17/1999
James L., Weston, WV, United States, 25, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Truck Driver, High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 816199982937

Responses:
As a Christian, I believe that Jesus was at the same time both fully human and fully divine. The Holy Trinity is God is made up of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Therefore, I worship God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Spirit. To me, worshipping Jesus is the same as worshipping God. They cannot be separated.
POSTED 8/17/1999
Heather, Richmond, IN, United States, 25, Female, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Administration, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 817199994204

It is a common Christian belief that God assumed human form in the person of Jesus and that if you worship Jesus you are worshipping God. The idea is that they are so closely linked as to be one and the same. Not all Christian denominations or individuals agree with this, and some do not worship Jesus, but I can't give you a list of those who don't.
POSTED 8/18/1999
Jim C., Rochester, NY, United States, 42, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Medical Technology, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 8171999100001
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Question:
I've noticed over the past few months that many products I buy have both English and French on them. I would almost expect to find Spanish on a label, but French? Does anyone know why this is?
POSTED 5/17/1999
Nancy, Fargo, SD, United States, 29, Female, Mesg ID 5169965550

Responses:
I know this will anger some, but with my experience with the French, they do not want to read, speak, see or hear English, and certainly want nothing to do with America. This even means refusing to buy products with English words on them.
POSTED 8/17/1999
Rick, Amsterdam, , The Netherlands, 23, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Technical School , Middle class, Mesg ID 8171999110652
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Question:
What is the appropriate word to use for small people; i.e. those who in the past were referred to as midgets or dwarfs?
POSTED 1/13/1999
Jackie J., Houston, TX, United Kingdom, Mesg ID 11399125505

Responses:
There are several terms to use. First, you should understand that just because a person is not of average height, he or she does not automatically fit into a category such as "dwarf, midget," etc. For example, I have Brittle Bone Disease. It is not life-threatening, and I am very physically and mentally healthy and live a very active social life. Though this condition has caused small stature, it does not fit into code words, if you get my meaning. However, I recently met a gentlemen who is 82 years old. He is under the average height chart and considers himself a midget. Though I cringed at just hearing the word, he used it happily. Why? Because when he was younger that term was acceptable. Today most people want to be called human before they are labeled. I would suggest that if you know of someone who is small, ask them how they refer to themselves. Watch out, though. The answer may just be their given name.
POSTED 8/17/1999
Maria J. C., Bridgewater, NJ, United States, 31, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Osteo Genesis Imperfecta, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 817199921222
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Question:
Why, when I have a girlfriend, do so many more women (mainly those I know/work with ) flirt heavily with me because they know I have a girlfriend, but less so when I don't? When my girlfriend's not there, say if I'm in a pub or club, I also have a better success rate in chatting up women (flirting on my part). Is it to do with confidence, i.e. do people exude a different type of confidence when involved with someone than when they are single? Am I the only one experiencing this phenomenon?
POSTED 8/17/1999
Billoo, London, NA, United Kingdom, 34, Male, Sikh, Asian, Straight, Computer contractor, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 817199914330

Responses:
Women do tend to flirt more with men who are "taken" for two reasons: 1) Men who are in relationships tend to exude a relaxed confidence, rather than neediness and/or desperation. Confidence is so much more attractive; desperation can be a real turn-off. 2) Because you are attached, you are "safe." A woman can flirt with you and assume that nothing will come of it, so rather than a means to an end, the flirtation is a little harmless "spicing up" of her boring day.
POSTED 8/19/99
Crystal, Oakland, CA, United States, 30's, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Office Manager, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 8189925706

The key is that the more you have your own thing going, the more confident you are. Then, women will be drawn to you, no matter what you look like. I would take computer courses, as I'm about to, to improve your salary; then your options become greater, because you can do more with more money. Before, when I obsessed over women, things just didn't work out, and now that I'm getting educated, I've calmed down. It's simple: Just play it cool. They will find you through the signals of the game.
POSTED 8/20/99
Reich B., Atlanta, GA, United States, <rbenasutti@yahoo.com> , 42, Male, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Customer service, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 817199952713

I recently took a European vacation with another man and four women. I noticed that I received much more attention from women while I was sitting with the women I traveled with as opposed to sitting by myself. I don't have an answer for you, but I can relate. Even at the bar in my hometown, I notice women are more forward with me while I'm wearing my ring.
POSTED 8/20/99
Joseph, Detroit, MI, United States, <dickvarney@aol.com> , 25, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Plumber, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 817199973138
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Question:
How come black people have white palms, and the bottom of their feet are white as well?
POSTED 8/15/1999
Sam, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, Male, Mesg ID 8131999104148

Responses:
The palms and soles of the feet of black people are white because they don't have as much melanin in this area. Melanin gives people their pigmentation. The more you've got, the darker you are. It is unnecessary to have melanin in the feet and palms because they are not easily exposed to the sun. Black skin evolved from living in very hot climates.
POSTED 8/17/1999
Julia, London, NA, United Kingdom, 29, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Admininstrator, Technical School, Mesg ID 817199964951

The most obvious answer, I would think, is this: Lack of exposure to the sun. Walking on your feet prevents the sun from tanning them. The theory exists for hands. Working with them prevents exposure. After all, generations and generations of sun exposure is what caused people to be black-skinned in the first place.
POSTED 8/17/1999
Chris, Warren, MI, United States, 33, Male, Catholic, Arab, Straight, Computer Programmer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 816199995829
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Question:
How do partially or totally paralyzed people confined to wheelchairs handle their body functions?
POSTED 8/15/1999
Nancy, Tucson, AZ, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Word Processor, Technical School, Mesg ID 814199981957

Responses:
My friend John is paralyzed from the shoulders down (he has limited use of his hands and arms). He has to wear a catheter to catch his urine, which must be analyzed often to check for infection. No, he can't feel it. Each morning he must also have an enema because he has no control of his bowels. This saves much embarrassment on his part. From what I understand, anyone like him has to have much the same things done to them. Every morning and evening, his caretaker checks his entire body for sores and signs of illness, and takes a rectal temperature. Why? If John is in a hot environment, his body temperature must be monitored. He doesn't sweat from the shoulders down - severed nerves in his neck cause this - so his oral and rectal temperature can be very different. If it's cool and he has a high rectal temperature, this strongly suggests he is ill. Remember, he can't feel anything from the shoulders down, so something like appendicitis could kill him easily and quickly. By the way, he works full time and is able to drive a specially equipped van!
POSTED 8/19/99
Jeni B., Boston, MA, United States, <JeniB@vjmail.com>, 33, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Software Specialist, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 8199914635
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Question:
My grandmother made a comment about women of my age, saying, "Those young women do not know how to attract men anymore." Thinking back on my experience with women, I tend to think what she said is true. What do you think of this?
POSTED 8/15/1999
Christopher D., Arlington, TX, United States, <ngc1977@hotmail.com> , 23, Male, Christian, Straight, High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 815199955237

Responses:
I don't think it is a matter of attracting men. I think there has been a sort of culture change since your grandmother was younger. Women today are much more career-oriented. They are not only allowed to have families, but work and be a part of the working world as well. I think your grandmother is just seeing that change in attitude. She's seeing more women caring less about "finding themselves a man" and caring more about their careers. Maybe I'm wrong, but that seems to be what I see as different.
POSTED 8/17/1999
Stacia, Madison, WI, United States, Female, White/Caucasian

You are correct in your assumptions that Southern women tend to be more "male centered" than the rest of the country. I think this is a throw-back to the days of the steel magnolias. The women appear so helpless and in need of a man to take care of them, when in fact, they usually end up running the man and the marriage. In fact, many of them begin to call themselves by their husband's name. For example: Mrs. John Doe, as opposed to Mrs. Jane Doe. That surprised me more than anything when I first came to the South. Perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect husband, perfect children, perfect house ... the only thing is, it's really stressful being this perfect, and it really wears on them. Most of the older ones are tired and grumpy and very unforgiving of anyone not as perfect as they feel they are.
POSTED 8/17/1999
Cheryl, Atlanta, GA, United States, 51, Female, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, QA Analyst, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 816199933839
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Question:
Why don't gay women smile at each other? I'm pretty friendly, and smile at strangers all the time - holding or going through doors, riding in elevators, walking through the mall, everywhere. Most people seem just as friendly, or at least polite - except lesbians! As an out lesbian (albeit femme), I think it's ironic that the one group of people I'd most appreciate returning the greeting just look away or seem to ignore me. Does anyone else notice this issue? Am I hallucinating?
POSTED 8/13/1999
M.H., Boston, MA, United States, 30, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Urban professional, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 6109950757

Responses:
Most lesbians I know smile at each other even more than they do at the general population, so I'd say your situation sounds unusual. A few possibilities come to mind as to why a lesbian might not smile at another lesbian: 1) She is in the closet and doesn't want to be seen being friendly with a known lesbian for fear of being suspected of being a lesbian, too. 2) A stranger might not recognize you as a lesbian and doesn't want to encourage someone she considers a straight woman. 3) She has a partner and wants to discourage what she interprets as flirting. 4) She has heard some negative gossip about you, disapproves of you for some reason, is dating your ex, or otherwise wants to discourage friendship. 5) She likes you a lot but looks away because of shyness or nervousness. I'm not familiar with Boston, but what is considered the "proper" level of overt friendliness toward strangers varies in different communities. It could simply be that the community in which you now live has different social customs than those to which you are accustomed. However, if you are not new to the area or your current circle of friends and find that quite a few lesbians seem to be actively avoiding you (as opposed to simply being busy), you might ask one if something is wrong - that you've tried being friendly, but feel that other lesbians are avoiding you for some unknown reason, and would she have any idea why that might be? If what you say is true, some rumor about you might be circulating that needs to be cleared. Even then, I give little credence to unsubstantiated rumors.
POSTED 8/14/1999
DykeOnByke, Southfiled, MI, United States, <DykeOnByke@aol.com>, 49, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 8141999125442
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