Best of the Week
of Sept. 16, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Sept. 16, 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:

After a specific attack, does a terrorist recognize a victory? What does a terrorist look for as an indication he/she/they have won? Death? Short-term chaos? An unpopular return strike that diminishes the responding country's reputation? Or, does it involve confrontation between attacked groups? Perhaps between American Caucasion citizens and American Arabs, for example?

POSTED 9/17/2001

Martin, Detroit, MI, United States, 28, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Scientist, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 916200181535

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Question:

Why is it that black men have such hostility toward black women? As an African-American woman, age 38, I have encountered this very extreme hostility (or extreme coldness) from my African-American brothers. It is displayed in many ways, from making disparaging remarks about my body to sitting next to me on the subway or bus with a leg pressed against mine. It is for this reason that I no longer attempt to have friendships/relationships with African-American men. This is especially important because I have a son, age 6. If black men are openly hostile to me, how would they treat my son?

POSTED 3/21/2000

Rhonda O., New York, NY, United States, <Rhonda_Outlaw@ars.aon.com>, 38, Female, Lutheran, Black/African American, Straight, Account Representative, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 321200034726


Responses:
I can't speak for all black men, but I think many of them feel black women are (and have been since slavery) co-conspirators with white men in a genocidal war waged on black men. Personally, I've found that white women are more understanding of black men, maybe because we share the same oppressor. Black women don't face the same pressures and pitfalls that many black men face all of their lives. White men aren't afraid of black women. And further, they have always been sexually (if not romantically) attracted to them. Many office environments today look like plantation big-houses of the antebellum South, with a massa-manager and his harem of fawning young black clerical types - and not a black male in site. So, if black men do hate black women, it's because they clearly see in the words and actions of black women that they hate black men.

POSTED 9/17/2001

Paul S., Oak Park, MI, United States, <detroit4interracial@starmail.com>, 32, Male, Atheist, Black/African American, Straight, software engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 916200153032

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Question:

With regard to the recent terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, it seems that while war is still quite unlikely, it is much more possible than before. Perhaps it is time to review the drafting policies in place. Can anyone tell me why we should only continue to draft males? I find the male-only drafting policy quite sexist. There are already plenty of effective females in the military, and don't forget a few years back when females were practically begging to be let into certain military academies (like the Citadel).

POSTED 9/13/2001

Eric, Chicago, IL, United States, 19, Male, Independent, Straight, Student, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 912200112614

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Question:

With the possibility of going to war becoming much more plausible in light of the World Trade Center attack, perhaps it's time the government reviews its policy on gays in the military. Right now it's the whole 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy, and if you do tell (or they somehow find out you're gay), you get thrown out. With the possibility of war, the military might find it can no longer be so picky. In the old days, to avoid the draft you needed to run away to Canada. But with the current policies in place, all you have to do is be gay? If that is true and I ever get drafted, I suppose I'll have to pretend to be gay just to get out of it!

POSTED 9/13/2001

Eric, Chicago, IL, United States, 19, Male, Independent, Straight, Student, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 912200112740


Responses:
Not the same issue but along similar lines, I once had a boss who opined that gays were 'sick.' I asked him if I could take a few sick days off work, as I was homosexual. As I recall, he didn't seem to think it was that funny... Seriously, the 'Don't ask, Don't tell' policy is a bit of a lame compromise and open to abuse in the way you suggest. Of course, it's well known that men with homosexual proclivities make terrible soldiers. Like Alexander the Great. Or Lord Kitchener. In the Australian defense forces, there isn't any legal prohibition any more, and once the prohibition was dropped, the issue just died - the culture hasn't changed overnight, and there's inevitably victimization, but not, I think, on a great scale. It also made me feel a bit more comfortable about the idea of volunteering when it seemed that Australia might go to war with Indonesia over the East Timor issue.

POSTED 9/17/2001

Ben S., London, NA, United Kingdom, <bscaro@yahoo.com>, 33, Male, Rosicrucian, White/Caucasian, Gay, traveler, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 917200185013


If that's your attitude about serving your country in time of war, you don't deserve to be here in the first place. I work for the Department of Defense, and although I'm not fighting on the 'front lines,' I'm risking my life every day I walk into my building, especially now when these kinds of buildings are nothing more than targets to terrorists. Thank God we have plenty of MEN willing to fight for us.

POSTED 9/17/2001

Danielle, Southern, NJ, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Scientist, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 915200124600

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Question:

Why do Western people, children and adults alike, show such little respect for their parents? Don't some appreciate the time and effort their parents have given them? I see children and teenagers publicly yelling and swearing at their parents, and calling them stupid in front of their peers. As for the adults, some consider their parents a burden they must be rid of, removed from the family home or put in a nursing home. Where is the thank-you for the nine months of labor, and the dedication and commitment in raising someone from a baby to a walking, talking, thinking adult?

POSTED 9/17/2001

Kate D., Melbourne, NA, Australia, 22, Female, Catholic, Asian, Straight, nursing student, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 9162001105610

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Question:

My neighbor from Syria is likely to lose his father very soon. The family are Muslims. Can someone give me some do's or don'ts as far as expressing sympathy and supporting the family in the event of the death of a loved one?

POSTED 9/17/2001

Tom B., High Point, NC, United States, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 916200144739

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Question:

I am going to start work in an office next week. Most of the women in the office are extremely overweight and wear dresses that are very old-fashioned and are these neon colors. I'm by no means a model, but I have a nice figure and like to look my best and feel good about how I look. How do I dress businesslike and feel good without feeling like I'm upstaging these other women? I don't want to be labeled 'the skinny girl in the office,' but I don't want to hide behind a tent dress just to fit in.

POSTED 9/5/2001

Missy, Somewhere, PA, United States, 34, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 95200115047


Responses:
Why not just wear what is businesslike and appropriate and looks good on you. Let the overweight women do their thing. If they're catty at all, you're going to be the 'skinny girl' to them no matter how you dress. If you wear a big muumuu to look like them, they might think you're making fun of them. Would you lisp when speaking to someone who lisps just so they wouldn't think of you as the 'person who doesn't lisp'?

POSTED 9/10/2001

Stephanie V., na, Canada, 23, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Website developer, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 98200195505


I think you should wear what makes you feel comfortable while maintaining a professional office look. If the other women in your offfice are upset, that is something they will have to work out.

POSTED 9/10/2001

Jon, Windsor, Ontario, NA, Canada, Male, Mesg ID 99200153759


I think you either A) have an insecurity about your looks, possibly because you were teased about them in the past, or B) feel your looks are your only asset, so you are preoccupied with them. Honestly, most women, whether supermodels or not, don't automatically hate another women because she is 'prettier' than they are. I admit that some people do, but usually this is because they have their own issues. People who have a life, which includes most people, have more important things to worry about, and if the new pretty girl in the office has a nice personality, they will eat with her at lunch. So dress as you wish.

POSTED 9/13/2001

Joan, Baltimore, MD, United States, 36, Female, Mesg ID 912200144353


When I started out, I was told by a woman I highly regarded, 'Dress for the position to which you aspire.' Although I made probably a fifth what she made, I understood her logic. I bought high-quality items and didn't worry about quantity. You should dress as appropriate to your position in the company, your body type and your age. You didn't indicate whether your office is conservative or trendy, so judge your selections based on that knowledge. You might want to speak with your immediate supervisor regarding dress codes or expectations. Don't worry about the way others dress. If your are neat and businesslike, you will stand out not as the skinny girl but as the professional-appearing employee.

POSTED 9/17/2001

Kathy, Springfield, IL, United States, 49, Female, White/Caucasian, Medical, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 9152001123518

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Question:

Many older people (i.e. those who reached adulthood in the first half of the 20th century or soon thereafter) seem to have an unexplained, free-floating bitterness, anger and in general sour disposition. I have to wonder: How much of this is due to repressed childhood and young-adult sexual trauma? After all, in that era, these things were not spoken of in public, and this generation was trained practically to worship its elders, so that a 'molester uncle,' for instance, could get by with pretty much anything and the child would not have been believed, anyway. Likewise, those with homosexual attractions simply went ahead, got married and essentially lived a lie. There seem to be so many irritable, grouchy people among this generation, and I can't believe it's all due to old age and illness. They seem to be acting out something they can't go back and erase.

POSTED 9/5/2001

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 95200141608


Responses:
I find it interesting that you picked two topics of a sexual nature to explain crankiness in older people. I suppose there might be some truth to what you say, but people are different and as such might have myriad reasons for why they are irritable. For instance: severe personal set-backs, loss of important loved ones, a general feeling that life has not been easy, the perception that life has passed them by. The reasons for their attitude will be as different as the people you notice. What I have found is that cranky at birth, cranky in old age; happy in youth, happy in old age. The human personality is a complex structure yet has general traits that last throughout its existence. Try to soothe cranky old people; it is filled with good karma. And who among us doesn't need that?

POSTED 9/7/2001

Matthew, New York, NY, United States, 43, Male, Mesg ID 97200151542


I think some people in this age group are simply viewing the world through a prejudice-laden paradigm that was instilled in them. They have been inculturated with racism, sexism, 'white is right' and many other 'hates.' They see the world and know that 'the world as they know it' is dying. Can you imagine the fear they have when they view all the multiculturalism that exists today? They see this as a Doomsday-type phenomena. They are 'shocked and shaken' at what we now accept in sociey. I don't believe it has anything to do with sexual repression. After all, these people did create the number of children associated with 'baby boomers'. I agree this anger is not just a manifestation of age-related problems. I would like to think that some of these people are upset by their own reality of exposure to truth. Hate is a common response to something you don't want to accept. It would also be hard to admit that your way of doing or thinking was wrong. It is again common to simply 'get mad' over it. College has taught me there is a 'white' reality that has nothing to do with the truth. I am sure you have had exposure to the truth as well. These people are just seeing the results without benefit of knowledge concerning multicultural people. My dad was 76 when he died, and he died with the idea that whites were superior biologically to blacks. It was his culture, and he was mad all the way to the grave about any arguments about it.

POSTED 9/13/2001

Rhonda, Connersville, IN, United States, 41, Female, Baptist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Social Worker, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 98200195815


I know, I know, don't ever mention it ... but I really do think the reason for the bitterness of this generation that I, too, have noticed, may also be found in the fact that they spent their childhood during World War II. From my mother I know that even this year she spent a night sleepless on our holidays in the Middle East, because the planes flying overhead at 2 a.m. had the same engines as those German bombers she remembers when she was 4. She was drenched in the morning. Add to this experiences of famine, death, rape, loss of home, suddenly missing adults or getting lost themselves, and you have a generation of children in Europe that grew up traumatized. In the United States I think the situation is only slightly comparable, because though families worried about older brothers/ fathers dead overseas, the immediate trauma, the closeness of war, wasn't so great. Then again, the Cold War paranoia (building shelters in the back yard, etc.) was greater. Still, I was pleased to find the majority of 'oldies' in the United States comparably cheerful, kind and open when I went overseas.

POSTED 9/18/2001

T., Munich, NA, Germany, 32, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 9102001123445

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