Best of the Week
of Aug. 19, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Aug. 19, 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 group.

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Question:

I was recently sitting in a crowded subway car. At the next station, a young woman entered the car, stood in front of me and started to talk to another young woman standing next to me in a voice loud enough to be easily heard (and I assume directed at me). She talked about chivalry being dead, how she rarely encounters men giving up their seat for her on a subway car and how women's lib has spoiled everything. This has happened twice in the past two weeks. I'm happy to give my seat up for an elderly man or woman, a disabled person or an obviously pregnant woman. I don't understand why women still expect men to accommodate them simply because of their gender. How do others feel about this?

POSTED 8/23/2001

Roger D., New York, NY, United Kingdom, <rdapiran@erols.com>, 48, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Self-employed, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 8212001114344

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Question:

Are there people who wear diapers from infancy to their teens and into adulthood?

POSTED 12/27/1999

Angie, Charleston, SC, United States, <Wynonna@aol.com>, 24, Female, Baptist, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 1112199995035


Responses:
Yes, I wear diapers just because I love the feeling of it. They are a great invention, and I wear one all the time. I am not that big of a person, so I just wear something like Huggies and duct-tape the sides to make the diaper a bit bigger. Soon I will have to get adult-size diapers, but they don't have designs on them, and I feel more like a baby in Huggies or Pampers.

POSTED 8/21/2001

Rather not say, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, Mesg ID 817200182331

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Question:

I often read the posts here on Y? Forum, look at the news and read other news-related materials. I often come across 'white' America's view on the state of 'blacks' in America. I am confused about how, why and where 'white' Americans come up with their assumptions. There was a recent study cross-matching 'white' assumptions with actual statistics of 'black' America. Needless to say, the results were so far apart that the data points could not be charted. If 'white' America is making these assumptions from the one or two 'blacks' they come across in the workplace or neighborhood, how can they transfer that to a whole population? I guess it comes across in reverse - that they see ghetto images and think that also applies to all. I just want to know: what are people thinking?

POSTED 8/21/2001

R.J., Washington, DC, United States, 26, Female, Presbyterian, Black/African American, Straight, doctor, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 8162001111134


Responses:
Most whites I know get their viewpoint on race relations the same way anyone else does: personal experience, media, innate bias. And if you want the truth, most whites I know don't even really want to think about it because the market on this discussion has been dominated by blacks. No matter what opinion a white person could share on blacks in America, it would be immediately pounced upon as racist, ignorant and hopelessly generalized. I will state my opinion: In the last 20 years, an increasing section of the black population has moved comfortably into the middle class, carrying with them economic, educational and political power. However, it has not carried an equivalent level of comfort in dealing with whites. The poorer black population is worse off than 20 years ago because they are marginalized against whites and middle class blacks. Whites today are far less likely to make overt racist comments, but this is because of fear rather than enlightenment. Institutional racism is beginning to be understood by a larger portion of the white population. Blacks have regressed in having public leaders who clearly identify with the racial causes. Current black cause leaders are viewed as buffoons by whites, whereas 20 years ago, whites viewed black leaders with fear. Today white leaders overtly play the race card from both sides and are not even subtle about it. There is a large generation gap with whites in regard to interracial sexual relations. Whites under 30 seem far more comfortable having black partners than those over 30. No one but no one, white or black, can make a good argument for Affirmative Action, but no one has a better idea, either. I could go on ... how do I match up against your survey?

POSTED 8/23/2001

Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 45, Male, White/Caucasian, Corporate Cubicle Kind of Guy, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 8212001105118


I gather my opinions from what I see, read and hear. I see quite a few blacks, have read quite a bit of black literature (fiction/non-fiction) and hear your culture through the contributions of your artists. What more do I need to perceive? Is there anything? I think you are a group of citizens who are as diverse as whites, but not as large. Money and education make a difference in this country, and both seem to be lacking in the black community. Some nice people, some mean. Some happy, some sad, etc.

POSTED 8/23/2001

Matthew, New York City, NY, United States, 43, Male, Middle class, Mesg ID 822200145656


I have grown up watching Good Times and Fat Albert, where the families lived in the projects. My dad would drive us into Chicago, and we would go through poor, black neighborhoods with littered streets. I would hear on the news of gang members shooting each other. As I got older, I saw movies like 'Colors,' 'Do the Right Thing,' 'Jungle Fever,' 'Boyz in The Hood' - movies that all took place in the ghetto. I would drive home through poor neighborhoods with littered streets, and the majority of the residents were black and openly selling drugs. I would hear rapper after rapper talk about how they came from 'the streets,' and rap about gang affiliation, often glamorizing violence. When someone would talk about 'inner-city youth,' it usually meant black kids, and they would talk about the threat of drugs, gangs and violence in their lives. I'm unsure what assumptions whites made, but these are the dominant images, and when a black person says of these images, 'This is how it is - I'm just keeping it real' - what can one expect?

POSTED 8/23/2001

Craig, Minneapolis, MN, United States, 38, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Less than High School Diploma, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 8222001122845


I grew up in a lily white community, raised by parents without any racial bigotry. I had no assumptions about blacks when I entered college and found myself living in a co-ed dorm with the entire OSU football team, mostly African Americans. These guys were funny, macho and none too studious, and I suppose that informed my early opinions. I have since worked in the music and film industries with some incredibly educated, talented and accomplished black men and women. As I live in a relatively cosmopolitan city, I see blacks of all types, from rappers to physicians, politicians to street people. I think I have a well-rounded view of African Americans, but I know that a lot of whites, especially those living in smaller cities and towns, might not have had the benefit of my experience. They form their views of black America from what they see on TV, which is skewed by the media's concentration on youth culture and the major networks' inability to adequately diversify their programming. Too many non-black Americans fail to support good African American shows like the late, lamented City Of Angels or the current cable offering Soul Food. In short, people don't want to be challenged or to think too much. I hope things are getting better, but gauging from the NAACP's recent reports on blacks in fiction programming, I fear they are not.

POSTED 8/23/2001

Emma, Los Angeles, CA, , Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 8222001125341

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Question:

What is the difference between a stripper and a fashion model who is almost naked on stage? And why is the person who makes those clothes usually a short, old, fat man?

POSTED 8/21/2001

Maria, Paris, NY, France, 18, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 817200170756


Responses:
What is the difference between a fashion model and a stripper? About 10 grand a day. Actually, there is a difference: A fashion model walking down the catwalk in the latest Gucci, Betsy Johnson or whatever is selling the idea of high-end glamor. That is the idea of wealth and power through the use of clothes, which is probably why you will always have celebrities and the very well-to-do at these shows rather than the usual crowd you see at a strip bar. When the high-end audience sees a model walking down the catwalk, the focus is more on her clothes and how she carries them rather than her body. If it was more for the sexual nature of the body, then a curvier model would be the norm rather than the sleek, almost non-curved model. (Compare a Playboy Bunny to the latest model find and you will see the difference.) On the other hand, a stripper is portraying a different and single idea: sex. She isn't selling the idea of 'You too can be as glamorous as me if you have these clothes and carry them the way I do.' Rather, a stripper is doing her catwalk dance for the sexual pleasure of her audience. And that's it. While there is a sexiness to a fashion show, that isn't the direct idea, and it isn't the only idea - unlike stripping.

POSTED 8/23/2001

Nicole, Virginia Beach, VA, United States, 24, Female, Catholic, Irish/Puerto Rican, Straight, Mesg ID 8222001113655

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Question:

Why do people assume all Asian people just 'got right off the boat?' My family has been here five generations. I've been told 'you speak very good English for a foreigner.' Give me a break, I don't speak any other language. When people ask me where I'm from and I say Baltimore, they'll say 'No, where are you really from? I even had one guy who had just met me chastise me and say, 'Young lady, you know you weren't born here.'

POSTED 8/20/2001

K. Miller, Baltimore, MD, United States, 36, Female, Asian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 820200115631


Responses:
Giving kids nicknames as legal first names (such as Sally and Peggy), not encouraging them to 'be American/Canadian,' living in an area dominated by your home culture and not encouraging them to go to summer camps and other North American activities does not help. Seriously, this sort of behavior only adds to non-Asians perceiving Asians as 'outsiders.'

POSTED 8/21/2001

C.C., Somewhere, NA, Canada, 22, Female, Asian, University Student, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 821200180630

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Question:

Why do black people, particularly in London (African and Carribean), suck their teeth with their tongue or pucker up their lips?

POSTED 8/20/2001

Gemma F., London, NA, United Kingdom, 31, Female, New Age/Metaphysical, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 817200120406


Responses:
You shouldn't study 'black people' in the sense of watching or staring to see how they behave. Accept that I am a person no different than yourself. I could take a sample of people you consider white and exaggerate that white people are watching me.

POSTED 8/21/2001

Corwin J., Baton Rouge, LA, United States, <corwinjohnson@hotmail.com>, 26, Male, Muslim, Black/African American, Straight, information services, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 8212001122011


But that's precisely what Y? Forum is about: asking those questions about people's differences that a repressive society usually makes us too embarrassed to ask. 'Staring' is just a form of mankind's natural curiosity. This site takes the stand that curiosity and asking questions are OK. Please don't make us embarrassed to ask the questions here, too, because, as can be seen, there are many people who want to ask, and just as many who want to answer. It's said that the truth shall set you free, and I'm sure you don't want to block the free flow of information.

POSTED 8/23/2001

Joel S., Helsinki, NA, Finland, <jjesam@saunalahti.fi>, 18, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Middle class, Mesg ID 823200115118

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Question:

To girls: How do you react when you hear guys talking about sex?

POSTED 8/20/2001

Shey, cavite, LA, Phillipines, <loislane_162001>, 19, Female, Christian, Asian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 817200164617

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Question:

Why don't most lesbians wear make-up?

POSTED 8/10/2001

Miisa, Helsinki, NA, Finland, <>, 22, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Mesg ID 8102001101644


Responses:
Many lesbians wear makeup. I, a moderately feminine lesbian, never wear makeup. I hate it! Mascara runs, lipstick smears, foundation makes me sweat. Some lesbians I know wear makeup daily and won't leave the house without it. We are pretty much like most women in the world.

POSTED 8/15/2001

Melissa, Cincinnati, OH, United States, <lesparent@aol.com>, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, health educator, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 814200123302

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Question:

Why is it that whenever a tragedy befalls a black person, such as a death or a murder of a family member, the victim's family members are immediately on the evening news, sometimes a half hour later, talking about it? I would be so grief-stricken I would not want to talk to anyone.

POSTED 8/20/2001

Ted, Wayne, MI, United States, Male, Mesg ID 819200151357

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Question:

I'm a 17-year-old girl who has never had a boyfriend and has never even kissed a guy, whereas many girls my age have had numerous boyfriends (and you can bet they do a lot more then kissing). I don't think I'm ugly, because when I'm out guys will come up to me all the time and tell me I'm beautiful. But that's where it stops. Strangers compliment me all the time, but nobody has ever tried to get to know me and ask me out. People tell me I have a model's figure, too. Somebody once told me that perhaps it's because guys view me as unapproachable. For the guys out there (or girls if you think you could provide an answer): what makes a girl unapproachable?

POSTED 8/13/2001

Madeline, New York, NY, United States, 17, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, theater, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 812200190556


Responses:
I saw a poll about how people know the opposite sex is attracted to them. I think women said it's when a guy keeps looking at them, but men said it was when a woman kept talking to them. So the next time someone comes up and says you're beautiful, you might keep talking and see it that works.

POSTED 8/20/2001

Beth, Indianpolis, IN, United States, Female, Mesg ID 8192001115720


It could be: Your body language - If you're sitting or standing in a manner that says 'Get away' or 'Don't come near me,' people will stay away and not come near you. Or if your body language suggests the opposite - many guys steer clear of women who seem too inviting or desperate. Or maybe you just seem (unintentionally) uninterested or busy. Many guys tell me their first impression of me was that of aloofness or arrogance (both couldn't be further from the truth), but I can see how someone else could say/see that because I'm in my own world most of the time. It could be: That they're intimidated by your appearance. Many men feel insecure in the presence of an attractive woman. On the other hand, some men view perfectly attractive women as brainless Buffy's only concerned with their hair and clothes. It could be a number of things, but don't beat yourself over it. Just try to feel comfortable with yourself and hopefully others will feel at ease with you, also. And lastly, don't think about it. You never find things when you're looking for them or waiting for them to happen.

POSTED 8/20/2001

Lisa, Gaithersburg, MD, United States, Female, Black/African American, Straight, Mesg ID 8202001121004


I think if someone shows their self-confidence to society, he or she will be approachable, definitely. You say you look good, and that's great. But, and I speak for myself, a male needs to see the inner side of a female and love it before the outside. That's the path for good acceptance.

POSTED 8/20/2001

Yariv, rishon, IL, Israel, <yarivdavid@yahoo.com>, 25, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, student of nursing, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 816200162500


There may be many reasons you are not approached. I am not a beauty queen, but I ran into much the same problem when I was younger. With me, it seemed as if my shyness was interpreted as 'being snobby' when it wasn't the case at all. So I learned to be more friendly. If an interesting guy approaches you and compliments you, it helps if you respond to him in one of two ways: friendly ('Why thank you, that was a very sweet thing to say' - with a big smile) or with a sense of humor (Thanks... You're not so bad yourself! - another big smile) It's your willingness to BE approached which makes you more approachable. I am considered attractive by many men. However, I have found that I am most often approached by men who I respond to first. I compliment them on their clothing, or I respond to a comment they made, or I just smile at them in passing. Perhaps you need to give a little in order to get a lot.

POSTED 8/20/2001

Susan, Jacksonville, FL, United States, 41, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Realtor, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 818200133733


Beauty can make a girl unapproachable. Most regular young guys don't have the confidence to go after a really beautiful female. And getting shot down by one won't help the old confidence level, either. But you may also give off body language signals that tell people to keep away, such as not making eye contact with anyone. That's all I can think of for your situation.

POSTED 8/20/2001

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 814200191915


Assuming for a moment that you are better looking than most girls, it is safe to assume that most guys will think you are 'unapproachable.' Most guys honestly don't think they have a chance with you and are afraid of getting 'shot down' in front of everyone. People have the preconceived notion that a beautiful person can 'have anyone they want'; therefore, why risk the embarrassment of getting shot down? So it is up to you: if you see a guy you are really interested in, but think he will never ask you out, then you have to make the first move. Start slowly, don't thrust yourself into his world. Let him get to know you first, and when he feels comfortable around you, ask him out. I can't tell you the number of times I was afraid to ask someone out because of getting shot down. In fact, I went to my senior prom stag because I was affraid of getting rejected. Later, after the fact, at least three girls (very pretty girls) told me they wished they went out with me because their dates turned out to be jerks because they only saw their female companions as 'trophies.'

POSTED 8/20/2001

Murray C., Halifax, Nova Scotia, NA, Canada, 33, Male, Straight, Draftsman, Technical School, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 816200145355


From a guy's point of view, the fact is that most heterosexual men are reluctant to get involved with a bisexual woman. They generally expect gender fidelity. You might fare better if you seek out bisexual men (and they are fewer in number). Then both parties know which team(s) they are batting for, and how to score a home run!

POSTED 8/20/2001

David C., Brisbane, NA, Australia, Male, Mesg ID 816200151429


There are several things that make a girl look unapproachable. First, if she is with another guy, especially (in your age bracket) a 'big man' (football captain, etc.). Second, if she is always in a group of girlfriends: when a guy approaches, does she step forward to talk, or do the girls close ranks around her? Third, if she is not outgoing, guys will assume she is not interested; I imagine that beautiful-but-shy girls are perceived as stand-offish. I don't know, because I always assumed they didn't want to have anything to do with me and never found out if they were just shy.

I guess I could sum it up by asking if a guy you didn't like asked you out, would you accept? Would you turn him down kindly? Or would you and your friends start giggling at his audacity?

POSTED 8/20/2001

Jerry S., New Britain, CT, United States, 53, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 816200114731


The most significant aspect of being unapproachable is attitude. Are you being shy? Standoffish? Probably, and without meaning to be. You probably lack the experience to respond 'correctly' to attention paid to you, which may put people off-balance. Try being more outgoing. This is the 21st century; you can ask guys out. I also note that at 17 you have two years of college. That probably intimidates guys your age, and your age puts your fellow students on edge.

POSTED 8/21/2001

Alex J., Beloit, WI, United States, <first_wizard@hotmail.com>, 18, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Student, High School Diploma, Upper class, Mesg ID 8202001115708

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