Best of the Week
of Sept. 5, 1999

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Sept. 5, 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:
To gays, lesbians and bisexuals: How did you know you were gay? I'm not sure whether I am or not. I am definitely attracted to girls, but sometimes I start thinking about guys I see and guys I know.
POSTED 9/7/1999
Matt, Arlington, MA, United States, 15, Male, White/Caucasian, Unsure of sexual orientation, High School Student, Less than High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 96199960337

Responses:
For me, it was an intense feeling, both mental and physical, of wanting to be close to certain people, and those people were of the same sex. I found females attractive and appreciated the friendships we had, but the attraction toward guys was such a unique feeling that I realized I also wanted to be with them physically. I wish you the best as you grow through your understanding of yourself. Always be true to yourself and you will find your way.
POSTED 9/8/1999
Matthew, New York, NY, United States, 40, Male, Spiritualist, White/Caucasian, Gay, Artist, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 97199985644

That's an interesting question you pose. Usually it comes from a disappointed family member who's trying to convince you that maybe you're not really gay if you haven't had a same-sex relationship. I always thought men were attractive, and I still do, but the distinction for me is that I have no interest in having a sexual relationship with them. I still get the angry guys telling me I would be straight if I had a night with them or that I just need the right man, but I've already found the right woman. "Attraction" is a tricky thing. You can be attracted to a lot of different people, but what you do about it is a tough question. I know many gays who, when they first came to terms with their sexuality, thought they were bisexual, just like I did, but then I realized more and more that I was far more attracted to women, and that outweighed any feeling I had toward men. I love men, I just don't "love" men! You are still young. Don't panic about needing to know exactly who you are right now. I was 16 when I had my first girlfriend. It was a total secret, and she even continued to see guys because she was afraid of what people would think. Even after all that, it still took me six years after my relationship ended to admit to myself that I was gay. Things will start to come into perspective little by little. Hang in there!
POSTED 9/8/1999
Jen, Orlando, FL, United States, 25, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 97199995558
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Question:
When will we in this country stop this in-fighting among ourselves? This great country of ours is made up of millions of people from different cultures and backgrounds. Instead of embracing all of them, we want to separate ourselves from them. Why? Because they are different?
POSTED 9/7/1999
Tony C., Vista, CA, United States, Male, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, Student/teacher's aide, 2 Years of College,Mesg ID 971999123014
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Question:
To artists and non-artists: What is art? I ask this after trawling through some of the web-based art galleries. One particular piece was of an old plastic bag full of newspapers. What can be counted as a piece of art?
POSTED 5/6/1999
Graham, London, NA, United Kingdom, <gstreet@gstreet.demon.co.uk>, Male, Mesg ID 569961523

Responses:
I originally went to school for Fine Arts in New York, where we would all sit around in groups and discuss the definition of art and its value. First, art is communication in expressive forms. If something communicates to you through one of your five senses, it is art. Even when you don't like it. Now, whether the art created has any validity is another issue. That is what you go to school to study. Anyone can grab a brush and start to paint a canvas. But it is the talents of a person that make the canvas become art. When you see a trash bag full of newspapers, you see a trash bag in the corner. To someone else, the trash bag can have sculptural qualities, or the newspapers crumpled in the bag can have symbolic meaning. Consider the time period which the artistic item occupies, and then focus on the art in relation to its history. Art has constantly been created as a reaction to the life and time of that historical period. If you want to validate the trash bag as art, you can do it using these means. Or you can just call the trash bag a trash bag.
POSTED 9/7/1999
James, Denver, CO, United States, <jhames@yahoo.com>, 24, Male, Buddhist, White/Caucasian, Gay, Web Developer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 7149913659

"Art is whatever the artist can get away with" - Carlos Castaneda
POSTED 9/8/1999
Jason, Boulder, CO, United States, 29, Male, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Graphic designer, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 97199913306

Art is tangible means for intangible ends.
POSTED 9/8/1999
Alex, Elkins Park, PA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 971999104925
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Question:
A friend of mine works for an Internet Service Provider that hosts a personal ad service and says that men account for 97 percent of all email traffic. Women, why do you post personal ads but fail to respond to letters?
POSTED 8/31/1999
Christopher D., Arlington, TX, United States, 23, Male, Christian, Straight, High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 827199971307

Responses:
I think women post more ads than respond to them in part because of the huge response rate. Because women know there are gobs of men for every woman in the personals, they know they can post their own ads, be specific about what they ask for, and get tons of responses. Another reason, I think, is that so many men are uncreative and sexist in their ad-writing. Many ads sound exactly the same, focus strongly on physical "requirements" and say so little about what the guy is really like that women are not inspired to answer them. There are more men than women in general in the ads because women are taught that men are supposed to flock to us, and that we're not supposed to do any active things to find a companion, such as place an ad. Plus, in the case of Internet ads, there are more men than women on the Internet, so the pool of women is smaller to start with. When I was single, I placed a few ads (not on the net), and got piles of responses and met a few boyfriends that way. I was very specific, using "weed-out" words like "feminist" and "scholarly," and still got many good responses. I think more women should try it, as it is definitely a "buyer's market" for wome n- just be careful.
POSTED 9/7/1999
Rhiannon, Eden Prairie, MN, United States, 29, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 951999115806

Within the impersonal society that many Americans find themselves in, it is not surprising that both men and women use the resource of the Internet to meet possible mates. A possible explanation for women not pursuing anything beyond an initial posting could be apprehension. As the primary receivers of sexual predators' advances (as well as the numerous horror stories about Internet romances gone bad), it may not be surprising that a woman's primary feeling of being lonely may be overcome by a second-guess for the sake of safety.
POSTED 9/8/1999
Beverly B., Corvallis, OR, United States, Female, Mesg ID 921999114557

I'm a bright, well-written woman with no interest in finding a one-night stand, married man, horny couple or fetishist. However, although I've posted ads before that I thought were literate, witty and interesting, and made all of the above clear as a bell, I still get responses including penile measurements, references to the need for absolute discretion, and an immediate interest in becoming sexually intimate. I do not respond. I won't dignify the e-mail with my time, period. So, I think that may be your answer. My experience with personal ads hasn't been good. Lots of guys (and girls) are better on the keyboard than they are in real life, and there's something about it that makes poeple lie, overstate and embellish things they never would, or could, in person. I'll keep trying, because I'm dumb and don't learn quickly, but I'm not expecting to find Mr. Not Insane.
POSTED 9/8/1999
Patty, Birmingham, AL, United States, 29, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Trainer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 92199951038

Rhiannon mentioned that women don't respond to peronal ads because men center their ads more toward sexist or physical themes rather than discussing more personnal or inner traits. I am a male and have an ad placed on the Internet. I mentioned that I am physically fit in my ad so that those who are concerned about that are told. I don't go into a bunch of poetry because anyone can just type, erase, type, erase, until they have that perfect, flowing ad. The way to get to know someone is to respond to their ad, get a little feeling as to who they are and talk to them on a phone (pay phone if you are concerned about your safety and privacy). But don't just simply not reply becasue they didn't include enough poetry about themselves.
POSTED 9/8/1999
Jeff R., Murrieta, CA, United States, <zbadboy64@hotmail.com>, 36, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Management, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 97199923820
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Question:
What are the religious differences between Protestant Christians and Roman Catholics? Also, what does the making of the sign of the cross signify? My guess is for protection, or giving thanks?
POSTED 9/3/1999
A.P., N/A, N/, United States, 17, Mesg ID 93199962121

Responses:
Five hundred years ago, a Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed his '95 Theses' on the door of a Catholic church in Germany. Back then, among other things, the priests were selling slips of paper to people that declared the forgiveness of all their sins. Those people would then go out and do whatever they pleased, because they had this "ticket" into Heaven. Martin Luther did not think this was right. He felt that you could not buy your way into God's Kingdom. You only need to have faith in God. Luther did not want to start a new denomination of Christianity, but wanted instead to change the Catholic Church. He felt that people needed to live by the rules in the Bible, not what was made up by people, like those "tickets." The Catholic Church didn't like this much, and Luther got into a bunch of trouble. I won't go into that, but that's how Protestant denominations started, including, of course, Lutheran!
POSTED 9/7/1999
Shari, Canton, MI, United States, 28, Female, Lutheran, White/Caucasian, Straight, Teacher, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 93199980347

From what I know, the reason Martin Luther was kind of kicked out of the Roman Catholic Church was that he believed in "sola scriptura" - that means, scripture only. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Pope can hand down doctrine (ex cathedra) that is equal to the Bible in its accuracy and import. Martin Luther believed that we should only look to the Bible, since it is unchanging and men are fallible. Also, I think Roman Catholics also believe that you can get to heaven from doing good works, while Luther and the other men of the Reformation thought that we are saved by grace alone.
POSTED 9/7/1999
Sara, Oakland, CA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 96199983840
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Question:
Is it true that people in Mexico do not like Hispanic Americans?
POSTED 9/3/1999
D. Price, Albuquerque, NM, United States, <abqteachr@netscape.net>, Mesg ID 93199964353

Responses:
Many people in Mexico have very close relatives, cousins, aunts, uncles, children, siblings, etc., who are Americans. And they do not hate their family members just because they are Americans. I would venture to say that most Mexicans who don't have close ties to the United States don't hate Hispanic Americans, either. Sometimes Hispanic Americans are called "Pocho" - which basically means "pretend Mexican." But this is because we are Americanized. Of course we are Americanized - we were born in the United States and are just as American as anybody else. I'm sure there are some people in Mexico who resent Americans, but that is probably true everywhere.
POSTED 9/7/1999
Lucy H., San Jose, CA, United States, 24, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 931999122032

During the many times I've been to Mexico I never felt any hateful prejudice against me, but sometimes an amused belief that I wasn't "really" Mexican because I'm much taller than your average Mexican, I dress "American" (though in America I'm seen as dressing "cholo"), my Spanish has a lot of slang, and so on. But I do see some hatred in the United States between Latinos who were born here and those who are immigrants, "pochos" vs. "mojados." Some of the first group shares a lot of the prejudiced attitudes toward immigrants as some Anglos. I suspect it's because they feel the need to prove they're "more American" by taking part in this prejudice. Some of the immigrants accuse the native born of wanting to be white or forgetting their heritage, charges that are sometimes true, in my view. Ironically, the last round of immigrant bashing by politicians helped bring both sides closer. Many of us recognized that, to a white racist, "somos illegales," we're all seen as wetbacks, and we have to overcome that together.
POSTED 9/7/1999
A.C.C., W Lafayette, IN, United States, <bigi__@yahoo.com> , Mexican and American Indian, Grad student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 93199922018
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Question:
Why do some whites attempt to use aspects of Native American tribal religions, often through paying money for something? And when they do, why do they insist it's an attempt to 'honor' or 'join' us, when for the most part they don't live in or work for the benefit of our communities?
POSTED 9/3/1999
Angela P., Minneapolis, MN, United States, 22, Female, Mandan/Hidatsa/Cree, Mesg ID 93199964632

Responses:
As white people, we have been repeatedly told to embrace multiculturism and diversity. Your question reinforces the axiom of "you're damned if you do and damned if you don't." By that I mean that society demands that we explore and accept Native American and other cultures, but then when we try to do just that, we are criticized for doing it because we don't live in the community. I suspect Native Americans and other groups don't like or appreciate what they see as "white do-gooders" in their community anyway, and many whites realize this. So maybe that's why many whites are just content to let their tax dollars and charitable contributions work for the benefit of the communities. Also, most people don't realize the extremely high percentage of whites (as well as blacks) who have Native American in their ancestry. I heard recently that 97 percent of whites whose families have been in America more than 150 years descend from Native Americans on at least one branch of their family tree. The same source said 90 percent of whites whose families have been here more than 150 years descend from at least one black person in their lineage. So wanting to honor or join you may not be as far-fetched as you seem to think.
POSTED 9/5/1999
Steve J., Warrensburg, MO, United States, 42, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 94199992743

I am very interested in your question, but could you expand upon it some more, as I am not really sure what you are asking? Are you referring to things like people buying "dream catchers" and other First Nations items? Even though I do not have any First Nations background, I do have a very deep interest, respect and admiration for your people. Many of your culture's ideas, religion and respect for the earth and fellow beings are aspects I identify with and want to learn more about and if possible become a part of. In addition, I find your culture very interesting, beautiful and peaceful, as well as in harmony with animals and nature, which makes up an important part of my paganistic theology.
POSTED 9/7/1999
D. Meerkat, Vancouver, NA, Canada, 27, Male, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Mesg ID 93199941207

It's because they don't really understand or respect our beliefs, so they think spirituality can be bought, sold and used up like tampons or a used car. These people don't see that the money completely corrupts what they claim they are trying to do, or they just don't care. And going to someone selling a pretty, idealized myth is also much easier than having to deal with the consequences of living on land taken from another people. It allows them to erase the ugliness in their own ancestors' past. Much of this does come from a genuine spiritual hunger. It's just sad that many, like Carlos Castaneda and Heheyosts Storm, have exploited this for their own greed and ego. To any whites who want to learn about us, why don't you try talking to us and not these snake oil salesmen? Come to a powwow or read God Is Red, one of the best books out there on native spirituality.
POSTED 9/7/1999
A.C.C., W Lafayette, IN, United States, <bigi__@yahoo.com> , Mexican and American Indian, Grad student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 93199923723
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Question:
I grew up in Detroit and have had many friends of all races. One thing I have noticed: African Americans seem to be very loud and boisterous, even in everyday situations. My neighbors will shout across the street instead of walking or calling. I have not noticed this in other races. Are there any explanations?
POSTED 9/3/1999
Tracy P., Redford, MI, United States, <POP4443@aol.com> , 26, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 93199963213

Responses:
Blacks are not louder. If you want to talk about loud, just be around Asian people speaking in Chinese or Cantonese or Hindu, Hispanics speaking Spanish, white women when things don't go their way or white men when people don't look up to them . Blacks are not naturally loud. Your group of friends are individuals. I am sure if they are around their friends or around other people besides yourself, they would be loud.
POSTED 9/7/1999
Unknown, Detroit, MI, United States, 24, Female, Atheist, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 931999114813

Wow! You've used really loaded (negative) words to describe the African Americans you observed. It tells me that you have already passed a certain type of judgment on their behavior. Could you be comparing them to your own culture? Is your culture the only culture that others should aspire to be like? These are just questions you might think about when you observe people different from yourself and the language (words) that you use to describe what you see. I like to think that we are a passionate people, that we love life and like the bigness in living life in a much fuller way than many other people. I like to think that we are colorful people in our manner of style, dress, dance, music and language. I like to think that these are the things that we embrace rather than the labels of loud and boisterous. In light of your question, I find it funny that America's dominant culture is constantly embracing (co-opting) many aspects of the African-American culture and practically claiming them as their own. As a side note, you might want to hang around Jews, Italians, Latins (just to name a few) and find them exhibiting the same "love of life" behavior as African Americans.
POSTED 9/7/1999
Kim H., Minneapolis, MN, United States, <KCHines22@msn.com> , 43, Female, Humanist, Black/African American, Actress, Playwright & Director, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 95199940636
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