Best of the Week
of Sept. 24,2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Sept. 24, 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.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at Y?'s guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

The book on Y? is here!
"Why Do White People Smell Like Wet Dogs
When They Come Out Of The Rain?"

Order it securely via credit card
Delivery in 2-3 days via Priority Mail
Read the Associated Press story on "Wet Dogs"

Order the book on Y? today!

 


Question:
I am not gay or bisexual; I have been attracted to men, but not sexually attracted to them. What does that make me? I never dated. I am a thirty-something virgin. Am I nonsexual or asexual?
POSTED 9/29/00
Sandra L., Atlanta, GA, United States, Female, Black/African American, Straight, Middle class, Mesg ID 818200015127

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Recently I met a man in college who claims to be a skinhead. His head is shaven; he wears camoflauge and a flak jackets and steel-toed boots. However, he claims not to be racist. He says skinheads are just 'working-class culture,' whatever that means. Does anyone know what he is talking about, or should I retire to my original idea of jumping him?
POSTED 6/27/00
Seamus, Charlestown, MA, United States, 21, Male, Lower class, Mesg ID 6242000123132

Responses:
I'm a skinhead, and my parents were skinheads. It has bugger all to do with racism! That's just neo-Nazi bonehead scum. The media always identifies race hate with skinheads, but it's not true - the boneheads stole our culture (but not our style) in the mid-late '70s. Real Skins have a style and culture mixed from the United Kingdom and Jamaica. Check out the music circa '69: Symarip: "Skinhead moonstomp, skinhead jamboree, skinhead girl." The Pioneers: "Reggae Fever," and God knows how many other Reggae skinhead classics - before any bonehead white noise.
POSTED 9/29/00
Jason, Kettering, NA, United Kingdom, 31, Male, Atheist, mixed race, Straight, 4 Years of College , Lower class, Mesg ID 9290033716
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Can anyone tell me about the practice of chewing qat (a mild narcotic) in Yemen? I've heard this is done only in Yemen. Please tell me about the history, cultural signifigance and actual experience of this activity.
POSTED 9/28/00
Dennis B., Bismarck, IL, United States, 45, Male, Native American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Lower class,Mesg ID 9280021304

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
For gay couples, some questions I've often wondered about but haven't been able to ask: Do committed gay couples sharing a household typically spend the night together - same bed, bodies entwined? Does the frequency of sex drop off with time in gay relationships, as it does in heteorosexual relationships and marriages? Would you prefer your straight friends and coworkers sidestep any comments or queries that relate to personal matters - or at least let you make the first move in that direction?
POSTED 9/29/00
J. Williams, Kansas City, MO, United States, 54, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 822000124207

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
It seems like I know a very high percentage of single Catholic girls who are very promiscuous. I'm talking having two to three different partners each week. Maybe I hang with bad company, but does anyone else ever notice this? And if so, why? Especially when Catholicism dictates no premarital sex...
POSTED 9/28/2000
Susan, Thousand Oaks, CA, United States, 35, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 926200061751

Responses:
I had to laugh when I read where the poster was from because I know a wild girl from that area, although I don't think she was as bad as two or three partners a week. The whole Catholic thing is repression. In many cases, instead of being raised with the mindset that sexuality is healthy and normal - though something that is special and should be controlled - there is a great mindset of negativity. It is from this that an unhealthy attitude develops that sometimes manifests itself to the other extreme, where excessive sexual behavior results as a kind of backlash. This often happens when young people leave home for the first time (i.e. college). And yes, I can say all this from experience because I grew up a socially moronic Catholic who had no idea how to have a positive male-female relationship when I got to college. I did not become promiscuous, but I know many people who did because of their negative backlash against their upbringing.
POSTED 9/28/00
Dan, Washington, DC, United States, 25, Male, Catholic, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 9280032854
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
In the last year, I've seen many customer service employees leave their professions because of what they call 'customer rage.' Who came up with the crazy idea that a customer is right no matter how abusive they are? (screaming, profanity, physical abuse) Does this mean the American public is more ill-mannered or that service-industry employees are finally standing up to unwarranted abuse? I've been to Europe and Asia and have not seen the level of irresponsible behavior I see from customers, especially children in the United States. I'd like to hear from professionals who deal with this issue from both sides - the customer and the employee.
POSTED 9/26/00
Alma, Kempner, TX, United States, 47, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Contract employee, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 920200072541

Responses:
My first job when I was 16 trained me that the customer IS always right. No matter what. Make the customer happy - build goodwill. It seems to me like this pride in a job well done has gone by the wayside. I admit, there are customers who get a little hairy, but take a moment and don't take it personally - let them vent. If he's spending his money, and keeping you employed, he deserves your happiest face, utmost respect and understanding. If you can't give it, get out of the service industry.
POSTED 9/29/00
Beth, Buffalo, NY, United States, 33, Female, Jewish, Ashkenazic/Mexican - 3rd generation American, Straight, Advertising Agency manager, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 9280045213

Part of my job includes collecting delinquent bills, and I am currently searching for a new job because of what you've described. I've been cursed, threatened and screamed at while on the job, and frankly, I'm sick of it. A few months ago a 70-plus-year-old man threatened to punch my secretary in the nose because he didn't want to pay the bill. As far as I'm concerned, 'individuals' are fine, but 'people' are stupid. The problem seems to be that the 'public' forgets that we are people, too. We're your moms and dads, kids, cousins and neighbors. I am not an indentured servant. I am not a slave. My parents did not conceive me for the purpose of being yelled at because someone else wants to be a 'squeaky wheel.'
POSTED 9/29/00
Brian, Kokomo, IN, United States, 25, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, management, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 9290045803

The customer is NOT always right. As a former retail manager, I have been in a lot of customer situations, and I think it comes down to something like this: Most customers are 'OK,' meaning that they just want what they came in after, they want good value for their money and they expect the product to be free of defects. So far, so good. Most retail clerks are indifferent, because they make so little money and perceive themselves just as cash register operators. Naturally pleasant people will always have a smile and a nice greeting in this situation, but otherwise, it's just doing a job and delivering the minimal courtesy needed to get by. (If sales commission is involved, some care and some don't.) Product knowledge is next to zero; when I go to buy something, I check it out beforehand, and the actual store visit is just to purchase the item. I don't expect anyone to be able to help me. A small percentage of customers, though, have self-esteem issues and are just itching for some opportunity to prove that 'I have bought something from you, therefore I own you.' Others just have personal problems in general, and bring those to the retail environment. Others are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Still others (especially high-income customers) expect their lives to be perfect, and when something goes wrong with a product they've bought, they go ballistic because they've been slightly inconvenienced. The independent retailer can tell such customers to take their business elsewhere, but someone working for a corporate retailer can't exercise such a prerogative. The only solution seems to be some sort of 'uniform retail code' protecting the rights of both retailers and customers (including the right of retailers to put together some kind of 'difficult customer registry' similar to bad-check registries), and I for one don't want more federal regulation in my life or anyone else's.
POSTED 9/30/00
Gus, Cola, SC, United States, Male, Former Retail Manager, Mesg ID 93000120529
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
I am a social worker and am wondering why Latina mothers sometimes refer to their children as 'Mommy?'
POSTED 9/26/00
Becky, Reading, PA, United States, 22, Female, White/Caucasian, Social Worker, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 921200022525

Responses:
It's to teach girls to identify with and thus respect the role of mothers, and also to teach them that it is what they should want to be. It's also just a term of endearment.
POSTED 9/27/2000
A.C.C., W. Lafayette, IN, United States, Male, Mexican and American Indian, Grad student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 9272000110832
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Are there cultures in which women dominate?
POSTED 9/26/00
Beth, Honey Brook, PA, United States, <Beth964@hotmail.com>, 19, Female, Presbyterian, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 9192000103918
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why do blacks have such huge lips?
POSTED 9/26/00
Jon, Heskew, IL, United States, Male, Mesg ID 919200092511

Responses:
Who sets the standard for lip size? I guess the media does. As a black woman, I could just as easily ask why white people have such thin lips, or in some cases, no lips at all. Because we are a minority, whatever differences we have from other races are perceived as abnormal (lips, hair, etc.).
POSTED 9/27/2000
Elaine, Newport News, VA, United States, 52, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, HR Rep, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 9272000104857

People of African heritage have certain traits that make them unique, e.g. the luscious lips, relatively big booty (female) and big private parts (male). White people also have traits that make them unique, and Asians also have their unique features. Such different traits make us unique. Out of curiosity, do you have a problem with big lips?
POSTED 9/28/2000
Ify, Miami, FL, United States, 23, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, Mesg ID 9272000103355
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
What's the name of the hat made of feathers that Native American chiefs wear?
POSTED 9/26/00
Itay B., Tel-Aviv, NA, Israel, <hargol@myiol.com>, 24, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Web Content, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 924200084649

Responses:
It's not really a 'hat.' That implies it's casual, everyday headgear. It's called a war bonnet, and it is part of the regalia (NOT costume, as that would imply dressing up or pretend) used only for ceremonial occasions. And please don't get the idea that we dress like in the old (and usually inaccurate) movies. As far as everyday wear, we dress pretty much like other people - t-shirts, jeans, flannels, baseball caps. I also should point out that only some Indian nations use it. Many more have traditional headwear made of animal fur, bands of cloth, shells or bones, or combinations of these. Many also use plumes of feathers or individual feathers from birds that have special ritual significance. There are more than 500 Indian nations in North America alone, and each has a different tradition of what they wear.
POSTED 9/28/2000
A.C.C., W. Lafayette, IN, United States, Mexican and American Indian, Grad student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 9272000110425
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why do people in the United States view aspects like drinking and sexuality differently than European countries seem to?
POSTED 9/26/00
D.T., Salem, NH, United States, 18, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 925200021156
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
I am a black woman who is fairly slender and whose derriere is very slim. It seems as if most black men are not attracted to me, while most white men are fine and actually prefer a slimmer woman and definitely a slimmer derriere. Does anyone know why this is so? Is it a cultural difference and why?
POSTED 9/26/00
Juliemangoes, Boston, MA, United States, 38, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Straight, Attorney, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 9260023423

Responses:
Yes, yes, it is a cultural thing. I am an African, and most (not all) of the men appreciate a woman who has some 'meat on her bones.' It seems that black men find the derriere to be very enticing and intriguing. White people, on the other hand, are into the 'Barbie image,' and they prefer women who are slender, with a small booty. I believe it is really a cultural/hereditary thing.
POSTED 9/28/2000
Ify, Miami, FL, United States, 23, Female, Catholic, Black/African American, Mesg ID 9272000104103

On average, white women are slimmer, while black women are more curvy and voluptuous. I believe it's what the men of different cultural groups are used to. This can be seen for generations. In Africa, healthy women are desired; it's a sign of wealth and happiness. Don't forget, Europeans were the people who invented corsets, to keep white women skinny. I, for one, love black women how they are. Slim or curvy, something about the sisters just attracts me.
POSTED 9/30/00
Seamus, Charlestown, MA, United States, <madskat@home.com>, 21, Male, White/Caucasian, Carpenter/Student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 93000122412
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
If a man has married and even fathered children, and then discovers (or admits) he is attracted to men, why does he then call himself gay rather than bisexual? If he was able to be aroused by his wife at some point, why does he suddenly go exclusively the other way? Do people have an aversion to classifying themselves as bisexual?
POSTED 9/21/2000
Andrea K., Farmington, ME, United States, 40, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, teacher/musician, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 9500113403

Responses:
From what I have heard, most gay men who are in relationships with women are not aroused by their wives/girlfriends. They become aroused by fantasizing about being with other men.
POSTED 9/26/00
Rebecca, Anchorage, AK, United States, Female, Mesg ID 9250092832

Many people do identify as bisexual. If a man is bi, he presumably would be as likely to stay with his wife forever. However, the situations that you are referring to involve men who are gay but do not accept it until after they have married a woman. Many men who are not attracted to a woman can have intercourse by closing their eyes and imagining they are with a man or by some other means. Such a man is gay but is playing the role of someone who is heterosexual or bi. He probably loves his wife as a friend but does not love her romantically and is not physically attracted to her.
POSTED 9/26/00
Frank, Washington, DC, United States, 24, Male, Methodist, white Southerner, Gay, statistician, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 9252000115900
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
While reading today, I came across a reference to black people and watermelon (apparently there is a joke or myth that they eat it all the time). I've heard about this several times over the years but don't know its origin. How in the world did this joke/myth come to be? Why watermelon?
POSTED 9/18/2000
S.R., Austin, TX, United States, 22, Female, Humanist, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 9142000102224

Responses:
I am an African-American female. To hear racial slurs and prejudices like that goes to show how there are very ignorant people out there in the world. The thing is this: blacks have been oppressed for many years (and are somewhat still today), and that assumption is only one of the many stereotypes toward blacks in general. Do you know that people of other races have different stereotypes as well? For whites: 'White men can't jump, nor do they have any rhythm.' For Asians: 'They are so smart in math.' So you see, to pick on that stereotype would be ridiculous. There are just too many. So the answer is no, it is not true. Not all blacks like watermelon! Only ignorant people would try to associate that with a whole race.
POSTED 9/26/00
Labrish, Oswego, NY, United States, 21, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, college student, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 921200074338

I'm definitely not an authority on the subject but will take a guess: Watermelons need a long growing season (or at least did before they came up with new types) and were therefore grown mainly in the South. The crop was probably so easy to grow that they used them as cheap food for slaves - or maybe they were so cheap to buy that poor people could afford them. They then became a sign of a 'lower class' of people, and because blacks were the poorest, the association became a slam.
POSTED 9/26/00
Cheryl, Wysox, PA, United States, 51, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Med tech, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 923200082041

Hoo boy, you've stumbled upon a real chestnut in the annals of stereotypes. Black people don't eat any more watermelon than anyone else, actually. Of course we like it, but who doesn't? If there's any truth to the stereotype, it's because watermelons are a hearty plant and produce large fruits (actually, I think watermelons are a vegetable) that can feed a lot of people. Back in the days of slavery, and beyond, anything that was plentiful was a staple, especially when fresh fruit was at a premium. In those days, the more exotic fruits and vegetables were reserved for the Big House. If it didn't grow on the land, it wasn't likely that slaves would be welcome to it unless it had been discarded. Same with chicken. There were usually lots of them, and they were easy to feed, so we ate them rather than beef or other meat. This became a stereotype the same way that a lot of stereotypes develop - people woefully ignorant of the true origins of a behavior, or willfully deciding that a survival tactic or adaptation is some kind of inherent characteristic. Incidentally, ever heard the phrase, 'S)he's eating high on the hog'? This comes from the same place. Pig's feet, maws, chitlins (pig guts), brains and all of that which is discarded from the body of a pig at slaughter are part of soul-food cuisine. We began eating these things because the meat higher up on the pig's body(hams, bacon, etc.) was also reserved for the Big House. Thus, 'eating high on the hog,' meaning (unusually) well.
POSTED 9/26/00
Jennifer R., St. Paul, MN, United States, <DKFLWR@aol.com>, 29, Female, Humanist, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 925200014008
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Is there a difference between races in the rate at which medications/drugs take effect in the body - and the extent of the effects? That is, are there differences in pharmacological metabolism?
POSTED 9/18/2000
Humberto G., Mexico City, n/a, United States, 49, Male, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, director, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 918200062350

Responses:
Studies seem to show a difference between alcohol tolerance and race. For instance, Asians tend to have some difficulty processing alcohol, which can cause a flushing look to their face. On the other hand, the 'White-European drinking gene' is another stereotype that seems to bare some truth. If race can be related to the absorbtion and effects of alcohol, then I would presume that it might effect the absorbtion of other drugs as well, even legal medications.
POSTED 9/26/00
Brian, Kokomo, IN, United States, 25, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, management, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 926200053559
To respond
BACK TO TOP


    Copyright and disclaimer