Best of the Week
of Sept. 10, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Sept. 10, 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.

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Question:
This question is particularly for Vermonters or other New Englanders: Based on its recent and colonial history, Vermont seems to have a much greater respect for common decency, civil liberties and basic equality than any other state. Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery (in 1777 before it was even admitted as the 14th state) and the first to grant legal equality to same-sex and different-sex marriages (civil unions law went into effect July 2000). Notwithstanding the recent surge in bigotry by anti-marriage groups, Vermont is years ahead of most of the rest of the country. Can anyone explain A) what is so special about Vermont, and B) how the rest of the country can learn these values? How can a largely rural state with virtually no racial minorities (no major racial or ethnic minority makes up even 1 percent of the state's population) be so advanced?
POSTED 9/14/2000
Frank, Washington, DC, United States, 24, Male, Methodist, white Southerner, Gay, statistician, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 914200020235

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Question:
My wife is Asian and I'm white. We returned to our car in a large parking lot recently and found a note on our windshield calling my wife some names and saying we shouldn't be married. We both felt there was an implicit idea that she, being Asian, is 'below' me. It's suddenly more noticeable that the suburbs outside Boston are so white. We are rethinking our choice of where to live. Does anyone know of Asian-friendly and/or intermarriage-friendly communities?
POSTED 9/13/2000
Tye, Cambridge, MA, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 911200031421

Responses:
I live in California and come from a very racially mixed family - mostly Mexicans and Caucasians with a few Filipinos and Asians - and we have never had problems with racism. Of course, there are always a few ignorant people around, but they are easy to ignore. I also have family members throughout the Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado) and they haven't had any problems, either. I think the key is to find areas with significant percentages of people of color where people do not choose to segregate themselves from other ethnic groups.
POSTED 9/14/2000
Lucy H., San Jose, CA, United States, 25, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 9132000113510

I live in Boston and work in Cambridge, and I found this to be disturbing. My boyfriend is white and I am an African-American female. This sounds like some simpleton making trouble. There are lots of 'friendly' communities in our area. But, there are always troublemakers. Try to ignore it, but if things get tough, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester-Milton, Randolph and Newton are my suggestions.
POSTED 9/14/2000
Samm, Boston, MA, United States, 35, Female, Black/African American, Administrative Asst., 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 9132000120344

I'm very surprised this happened to you in Cambridge, a mecca of diversity. I don't think you should move because of one incident if you are happy where you live, though. Quincy (south of Boston) has a high Asian population if you're looking at such things, however.
POSTED 9/14/2000
Roxanne, Boston, MA, United States, 32, Female, Catholic, European-American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 9132000125353

I live in Corvallis, Ore. I have a friend who is Asian who is married to a white man. She has lived here many years and has told me she has never experienced racism or discrimination here. I am friendly with several other Asian people who are very happy living here. There is a sizable Asian population here and in the larger cities in Oregon - Portland, Eugene and Salem. Unfortunately, I can't report the same news for black people. Blacks in Corvallis have reported numerous cases of discrimination.
POSTED 9/14/2000
Caren, Corvallis, OR, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 913200034859
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Question:
To girls/women who wear short skirts or revealing dresses: Why do you do this? To attract men's interest? As a natural way to feel good about yourself? Because you enjoy arousing men? Because you believe it's your duty to please men? Also, if a man pretends not to notice, are you hurt?
POSTED 9/13/2000
Philip, Kuala Lumpur, NA, Malaysia, Male, Asian, Straight, Mesg ID 912200015405

Responses:
Maybe it's just hot. Sometimes I wear a short skirt. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I do this with the idea of attracting male attention - maybe I'm going to a party, or on a date, or out with friends. Sometimes I do it just for comfort. You seem to have an implicit idea that a woman's body is nothing more and nothing less than a sexual object, and that to wear a short skirt is an automatic sexual invitation, while covering up is the only way to avoid having men see one that way. Do you think if a man wears tight pants it's because he believes it's his duty to please women?
POSTED 9/14/2000
Colleen, New York, NY, United States, 21, Female, Mesg ID 913200030228
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Question:
As a gay man, I've noticed I can spot another gay man by the way we look at each other. It's a longer, fixed gaze that implies intimacy in a way straight men wouldn't show. Is there any research/validation on this concept? Does anyone agree with me?
POSTED 8/21/2000
Stephen B., Atlanta, GA, United States, 27, Male, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Gay, advertising agency, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 8212000105140

Responses:
I agree 100 percent. One of the first things I learned after coming out was to hold eye contact instead of looking away. Most straight men don't keep eye contact - I didn't before I acknowledged my true self. I've learned that eye contact can be a means of identification/acknowledgement, but not always a signal of desire.
POSTED 9/10/2000
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 992000121109

I don't know about research, but in my experience a shared lengthy gaze is a combination of the tacit joke that 'no one else knows we're gay' and the excitement of seeing someone attractive looking back. Lesbians do it, too. It sure makes the commute more exciting...
POSTED 9/15/2000
Megan L., Boston, MA, United States, 32, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class Mesg ID 822200010042
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Question:
The Bible seems to suggest that Adam and Eve were together when the snake tempted Eve. It's hard to understand why Adam would follow suit and disobey God. Was he so spellbound by Eve that he would disobey God?? It sounds somewhat unbelievable and unrealistic.
POSTED 9/13/2000
Charles D., Chicago, IL, United States, <mrcharley@hotbot.com>, 39, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Programmer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 911200024429

Responses:
The creation story is a wonderful myth that helps us understand who we are - fallible beings. As you imply, it makes no sense literally, but like the Greek myths, it is a tale of unawareness and then great loss, and the beginning of a journey of discovery.
POSTED 9/15/2000
Kent, Melbourne, NA, Australia, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 913200031213

The Bible doesn't state for sure that Adam and Eve were near one another when she ate the forbidden fruit. It just says she did eat and gave to her husband, who did also eat. The Bible also doesn't say why Adam followed his wife. Many times I've heard people ask what if he had not partaken after she did. Would the world still have been plunged into sin? Only God knows. God knew that when He created Adam and Eve they were going to disobey Him because He gave them the will to choose. In knowing that, God also provided a way of escape, which is why He sent His Son Jesus Christ. Just because it sounds unbelievable doesn't mean it didn't happen.
POSTED 9/15/2000
Redeemed1, Newport News, VA, United States, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Human Resources Admin, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 913200084216
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Question:
In sixth grade, I started having anxiety attacks when asked to read out loud or do oral presentations. This has made my life very hard, and now that I'm in college, it's difficult to do well in classes that require oral presentations. What can I do to overcome the anxiety attacks that cause my heart to beat rapidly and make me feel like fainting?
POSTED 9/13/2000
Anxious, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 20, Female, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, behavioral aid, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 98200015312

Responses:
I used to have a similar problem. For me, it was mostly anticipation before actually doing it. What helps me is to try to prepare and be confident in the material in what I am trying to present or say. Another tactic I use is to guess what questions I will be asked and have the answers ready. I always say a little prayer before I get up. It tends to help, too. Then there's looking over the people's head and concentrating on the back wall, if you're allowed to. I hope this helps somehow. God bless.
POSTED 9/14/2000
J., Sutter Creek, CA, United States, 19, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, College Student, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 914200022340

I have a degree in communications and have had to give many oral presentations in front of peers. It gets easier with experience, but I still can get sweaty and flushed before I get up there. First, recognize that others in your classes are feeling the same things about presenting. Do you judge them harshly when they are in front of you? Probably not. They understand the anxiety you are going through and will not think you're stupid if you mess up or fumble your words. I think the most important thing to tell yourself is that the situation is not as monumental as you are making it seem to be. I did college radio, and the first time I got on the air, I felt like everyone was listening and I was the center of the universe. After a few times out I realized I was on a small station with a limited number of people listening, and it loosened me up. Try to put the situation in persepective. It's just a class at a college, and most of the other people in there with you are in your same position. It's all in how you look at it.
POSTED 9/14/2000
Marc, Morgantown, WV, United States, 24, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Grad Student, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 9132000113538

Breathe is the first rule of order. What you experience is very common, so don't think it is only your problem. What is occurring is that you are flooding your system with adrenalin; hence the heightened sense of body. It is all related to the fight or flight instinct. But more importantly for you is your ability to turn all of this anxiety into your desire to perform. Look at all this newfound energy as your talent wanting to come forth. View it as a friend, not an enemy. Harness this feeling as fuel for your performance to verbally and physically articulate your message. In addition to this, put yourself in more opportunities to experience this sensation. I know this sounds scary, but the more you experience it, the more comfortable you will become in these situations. Just be careful. This type of sensation can become addictive, and the next thing you know, you'll want to become an actor/politician/preacher.
POSTED 9/14/2000
Matthew, New York, NY, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Actor, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 913200083023

It's normal for people to get nervous when they speak in public, but 'rapid heartbeat' and 'fainting' are not. I'm a certified public announcer (besides other things), and the first time I had to speak to large groups, I was very nervous. But in time, nervousness fades, if you work on it. You're young, you've got a big chance. I started at 19. First, you need professional help. You're in college, so have you taken any oratory classes? Have you taken any 'speak in public' lessons? Well, do it. They do wonders not only for technique but psychologicaly as well (the most important aspect). They give you a million tips like 1) practice presentations first with close friends 2) don't look people in the eye (until you've mastered the art), look above their heads all the time 3) record your speeches and listen to yourself, etc. Do an internet search on 'speaking in public' or 'talking to an audience,' or get books on the subject. They do help. Most important, work on your attitude, be positive, be happy, feel good, it will show when you talk to an audience. Suerte hermana!
POSTED 9/14/2000
Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 31, Male, Catholic, race=white, culture=hispanic/latino, lawyer/business, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 9142000113341

I can empathize with you whole-heartedly. I used to have a terrible stammer, and hated having to stand up and talk. I trained myself not to stammer by reciting passages from plays and poems (can't stammer if you have to keep a rhythm). If it's just the thought of having people staring at you that makes you go to pieces, try picking out one or two of your friends in the audience, and just talk to them. Ignore the people around them. This genuinely works, because after a while, the other faces tend to melt into one blurry mass, and all you see are your friends. I hope you come to grips with your challenge; it is awful to have that sicky feeling inside you that roots you to the ground. Just focus on those friendly faces.
POSTED 9/14/2000
Sara, London, NA, United Kingdom, 27, Female, Methodist, Straight, Analyst, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 9142000100113
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Question:
Are there any elderly women going back to college to take undergraduate courses? If so, why? Is it to fill a hole in your life by the loss of a loved one? Is it just for the heck of it?
POSTED 9/8/2000
Jim, Bowling Green, OH, United States, 22, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Graduate Student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 97200075139

Responses:
I am not elderly by any means, but I am considered middle-aged. I am taking evening classes to pursue my undergraduate degree. There are many reasons women enter college later in life. In my case, I waited until my children were in high school and no longer dependent on me to be home all the time. Other older women attend college to advance in the workforce or simply because we enjoy the challenge and intellectual stimulation. All of my college instructors will agree that the more 'mature' students generally perform better in class.
POSTED 9/13/2000
Cindy, Lansdale, PA, United States, 41, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, factory assembler, High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 913200060035

I went back to college at 50 when my husband and I moved to a different city and I couldn't find work that paid anything. I had a B.A. already; I took the required education courses to become a teacher. Some of us go back to school for practical reasons.
POSTED 9/15/2000
Linda, Corpus Christi, TX, United States, 57, Female, White/Caucasian, High school teacher, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 913200084959
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Question:
What do men think of women with full, 'pouty' lips? I inherited this and as an adolescent was teased and questioned about my ethnicity, but now guys tell me it's attractive. Do men think this is a flaw or strength?
POSTED 2/9/1999
Julie H., N/A, MO, United States, 19, Female, Mesg ID 299914229

Responses:
Lips are a very important part of a female appearance. I just do not have any idea who could say that thin lips look more attractive than lush ones. And besides, it is said that a woman with thin lips is avaricious, in feelings and in money.
POSTED 9/10/2000
Alex, Kyiv, NA, Ukraine, <elrancho@mail.ru>, 24, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 99200063257
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