Best of the Week
of Sept. 29, 2002

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Sept. 29, 2002, 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 database as well). In the Original Archives, as well as in the 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 have found over the years that when I go to the cinema on a date or with female friends, I often have to explain the plot of movies. Do women find it more difficult to follow movie storylines? Have other men had this problem, or am I just picking dumb gals?

POSTED 10/3/2002

David, London, NA, United Kingdom, 32, Male, Christian, African Caribbean, Straight, Electrician, Technical School, Mesg ID 103200253026

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Question:

There has been some controversy over the movie 'Barber Shop' starring Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer. The controversy stems from some comments made by Cedric's character about those we commonly think of as African-American role models, such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson. To other African Americans who have seen this movie: Do you believe these people should be off limits for this type of ridicule, or are some of us being too sensitive, and is all the commotion 'much ado about nothing'?

POSTED 9/29/2002

J.R., Franklin, VA, United States, 32, Male, Black/African American, Straight, Systems Analyst, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 926200222910


Responses:
I think more than the subjects being off limits, it shows us that in the barber shop (black or white) any subject, no matter how sacred, can be talked about. I go to my barber every week, not just for the haircut, but to hear what is being talked about. I think that scene in the movie was saying more than anything that no subject is off limits here, you can talk about whatever and have your say on anything if you want. But in my barber shop, you better be able to back it up or they will talk you out of there!

POSTED 10/2/2002

Aaron, Palo Alto, CA, United States, 31, Male, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Customer Service Rep, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 930200210536


I'm not sure. On one hand I think that we should be grateful for what they have done, but also I think we should have some sense of humor. I am leaning more toward the first, though.

POSTED 10/2/2002

D. Finney, St. Louis, MO, United States, 27, Female, Black/African American, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 101200250547


I think people are being just a little too sensitive. What was being shown in that scene was the kind of discussion that goes on in a barber shop. I have heard a few people (African Americans) say that about Rosa Parks before, but not about Martin. But if you remember, in the movie everyone else in the shop was condemning him for saying those things. Another reason I think there has been too much negative attention is that this is one of the most succesful black films in a while. I think on issues about black people, we like to point to one negative aspect and miss the greatness of the larger picture. It opened at No. 1. Not a lot of mainstream movies can say that.

POSTED 10/2/2002

K.C.L., Berea, KY, United States, 20, Female, Black/African American, Student, Mesg ID 102200255703

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Question:

In Europe, breast implants are still largely weird, a thing porn actresses do for the money. There are various gory stories circulating about side-effects (ranging from vague discomfort to sudden death), as well as jokes about the 'stupid bimbos' in fashion and media doing such things to themselves. And I have heard males complain about the yucky feeling of 'hard-as-tennis balls' breasts. At the same time, everyone here knows that breast implants have become very common in the United States. What are male and female views on that from Americans? Do you consider silicone ordinary by now (like dentures in old people) or is it still something odd?

POSTED 9/29/2002

T., Munich, NA, Germany, 33, Female, Atheist, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 9282002123350


Responses:
I wouldn't even classify breast implants as weird; I think they're unsafe and, for the most part, unattractive. I'm a nudist, so I've seen many women with them, and usually they're easy to spot: High, firm breasts that never move or sag. I've seen some that look terrible, like huge basketballs, and some that don't look bad at all. But I think that primarily, it's an unsafe practice, putting a foreign object in a woman's body for aesthetic reasons. I don't know if they are hard as tennis balls because I've never felt any.

POSTED 10/3/2002

Annie, Lawrenceville, GA, United States, 51, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, copy editor, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1032002103332

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Question:

My husband and I went to visit a good friend who is gay. He was friendly, but the other gay men in the house seemed hostile toward me (I do not think homosexuality is wrong). I thought I was imagining things until I read in an article that there are two types of gay men: those who love women (though not physically) and those who dislike them. Is this true?

POSTED 9/29/2002

Martha, Enid, OK, United States, 40's, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 926200293457


Responses:
I'm a gay man, 46 years old. Never in my life have I encountered a gay man who did not like women. It just has never happened to me. In fact, many gay men identify better with women than men - but I would not generalize and say that applies to all gay men. So Martha (beautiful name by the way), WE LOVE YOU!

POSTED 10/3/2002

Glen H., Ottawa, Ontario, NA, Canada, 46, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Government, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 103200212641

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Question:

Why do some men think it's cool to brag about how much they can eat? I know guys who act like bottomless pits in a restaurant, yet they have no clue why their wives refuse to cook for them. What's up with this behavior?

POSTED 10/3/2002

Alma J., Kempner, TX, United States, 49, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, government employee, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1032002111026

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Question:

I know this question might sound offensive, but I live in an area of Melbourne, Australia, with a fairly large Orthodox Jewish population, and I notice that a fair few of their cars have the word 'Courier' written on the side. They're just regular cars and passenger vans, and they don't look like couriers in any way. I was wondering, are they actually couriers for the community, or do they just put that word on the side of the car for tax purposes, i.e. to claim the running of a commercial vehicle? I've always wanted to ask this question in a friendly, curious way, but I just know I'd seem weird or racist or stupid, or a combination of all three.

POSTED 8/21/2002

A.J.B., Melbourne, NA, Australia, <abligh@iprimus.com.au>, 37, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Tech Support, Middle class, Mesg ID 8212002120818


Responses:
I think you have to ask yourself some questions. If it was a Christian community, would you question their motives for the courier sign? Or even notice what you percieve to be an abundancy of the sign? Would you intially assume that the Christian community was using the signs to avoid taxes and not because they really were couriers? Would you assume that all the drivers of these cars were Christians and not people of a different religion who live in the community as well? Maybe so, maybe not. But whenever I hear someone attributing behavior in a way that reflects old religious stereotypes (i.e. that Jews are cheap), I have to wonder. Religion has nothing to do with it. There are some generous Jews, some cheap ones, and some in between. Just like there are some generous Christians, some cheap ones and some in between. There is nothing in Jewish doctrine that promotes thrift, though there is much that praises generosity. Same goes with Christianity. My guess is that they are using the signs because they really are couriers. Until you have any proof to the contrary (other than the stereotypes), I can't see how you can conclude differently. Most of all, I encourage you to ask them. Word the question so it doesn't sound accusatory. Ask why there are so many cars with courier signs in 'OUR' (including yourself as part) community and not 'YOUR' community (separating yourself from them). I hope this helps. You seem truly interested in understanding between religions. My hat goes off to you.

POSTED 10/3/2002

Matt, Boston, MA, United States, 21, Male, Jewish, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 924200233021


If what you're seeing isn't just coincidence (i.e. there's a lot of courier cars, and a lot of Jews, and it just so happens that some of them are together) then it is something to do with only that particular community in Melbourne.

POSTED 10/3/2002

T., L.os Angeles, CA, United States, 37, Jewish, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1032002103213

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Question:

It's apparent that many people in society are insensitive to the needs of people who are physically challenged. The Federal Government created laws to correct this issue. So why is it that the laws are not implemented?

POSTED 5/14/2002

R. Fristrom, Fairview, TN, United States, 46, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 514200271509


Responses:
As with other laws, sometimes people will not follow them unless forced to do so. As a disability rights activist and someone with a disability, I have seen at times that the Americans with Disabilities Act is not followed until a person makes it an issue. Example: You need a place to stay, and for whatever reason the motel does not provide access for someone with a disability, and they cannot enter or exit safely. So you explain the law to the ower, and they still do not fix the problem - until you talk about getting the legal system involved. Things are improving because buildings are being made with the ADA in mind.

POSTED 10/2/2002

D. Walter, Sullivan, ME, United States, 47, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Social Worker, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 102200255717

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Question:

Why do many all-night Rave attendees suck on pacifiers?

POSTED 9/29/2002

Demi, Elk Grove, CA, United States, 42, Female, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 9272002103915

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Question:

I work at a Mexican restaurant where employees sing if there is a birthday, and if we don't know the name of the person we're singing the 'Happy Birthday song' to, we use the name Pancho. A couple of white people, however, have taken offense to this. Since Pancho just means something like Frank (help me out if I'm wrong) why were they upset? Or could they have been racists who used the term as an expletive?

POSTED 9/29/2002

J.C., San Antonio, TX, United States, 21, Male, Hispanic/Latino (may be any race), Upper middle class, Mesg ID 9272002104259


Responses:
I'm surprised you haven't heard of these names being used as epithets before. Maybe epithets is a bit of a strong way of saying it, but white racists routinely use these names as generic indicators for Mexicans. Remember Pat Buchanan baiting Latinos with his speeches saying 'Jose, we're not letting you in [the United States] anymore!' Chances are, these whites had heard the names used that way by fellow whites who were racists, and assumed you were using them the same way. I don't think they were racists themselves, though, or they wouldn't have objected. If they were racists, they would have cheered or laughed.

POSTED 10/2/2002

A.C.C., Phoenix, AZ, United States, Male, Mexican and American Indian, Mesg ID 101200251512

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Question:

Why do Jehovah's Witnesses churches have no windows? I have lived in five different states, and none of the churches I have seen have them.

POSTED 9/18/2002

Jimmy, Edinburg, TX, United States, 32, Male, Catholic, Student, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 917200282217


Responses:
It's funny you ask, because a friend of mine asked me that once. I didn't know what she was talking about because the Kingdom Hall (church) I attend has windows. However, depending on the area, it may be safer to do without windows. I grew up in Chicago, and in the dangerous neighborhoods, the halls were either windowless or barred. So it's not all kingdom halls. Probably just a coincidence that the ones you've passed haven't had them.

POSTED 9/29/2002

Lina, Bradenton, FL, United States, <feiz_t_1@yahoo.com>, 20, Female, Jehovahs Witness, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 923200233053


I was raised a Jehovah's Witness, and while there's probably no official reason for the lack of windows, my best guess is that it saves time and money. Witnesses rely on voluntary donations to raise money to build Kingdom Halls, so the building designs are kept fairly simple. Also, many of the Kingdom Halls that have been built in the last 20 years or so have been constructed in just a few days, so there isn't time to put in a lot of extras.

POSTED 9/29/2002

Johnna, Montgomery, AL, United States, 27, Female, Black/African American, Librarian, Mesg ID 925200210257


Most of my family are Jehovah's Witnesses, and that is actually a pretty common question. I think the biggest reason is to avoid vandalism. Rocks through the window can be a pretty expensive replacement, and Jehovah's Witnesses are an enitirely volunteer-based religion. They do accept donations, but don't ask for them, so it'd have to come out of the elders' (head ministers of the congregation's) income, which they put food on the table with. I think it's just more from problems they've had in the past, and working to try to avoid them. If you've ever been to one of their places of worship, though, you'll notice that there usually are two windows right next to the door, but not always.

POSTED 9/29/2002

Jim, Grafton, WV, United States, <Synapticfire@hotmail.com>, 18, Male, White/Caucasian, Sales, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 926200283639

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Question:

Why do you never see black pedophiles in the news?

POSTED 9/18/2002

Igor M., London, NA, United Kingdom, 18, Male, Christian, black Portuguese, Straight, student, Mesg ID 918200263847


Responses:
Read a New York City newspaper.

POSTED 9/20/2002

Matthew, New York, NY, United States, 43, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 919200265521

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Question:

Do Muslims smoke cigarettes?

POSTED 9/16/2002

Abby, State College, PA, United States, Mesg ID 916200213844


Responses:
The answer is yes, many Muslims smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes and waterpipes. The religious opinion on tobacco is hazy at best; although most scholars can give very good reasons for considering smoking a sin, others can prove it is a hated act but not sinful. Because there is no clear reference in the Koran or tradition on smoking (as there is, for example, on alcohol) the matter is highly debatable.

POSTED 9/20/2002

Karim, Cairo, NA, Egypt, 22, Male, Muslim, Arab, Straight, University T.A., Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 919200283427


Some Muslims do smoke cigarettes, although the religion says you should not. In fact, that's how I got started smoking during college. I hung around Middle Eastern students who would sit outside the cafeteria talking politics and smoking cigarettes. Most of the students were Muslims (Sunni and Shiite), some were Christian, Druze, etc. After college, I lived with a host family in Jordan. When visiting, often, the host/hostess would offer a basket filled with different brands of cigarettes. Culturally, it is frowned upon for women to smoke, but every now and then, once my host dad left for the mosque (he would usually be gone most of the day), my host mom would throw money down to one of the kids in the street to buy us cigarettes and the women would sit and talk and smoke (we would then have to get rid of the evidence before my host dad came home). None of this has anything to do with religion, though. I just think smoking is very popular in the Middle East, particularly for men.

POSTED 9/29/2002

Michelle, Las Vegas, NV, United States, 36, Female, White/Caucasian, Analyst, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 920200231042


I am an American living in Turkey, and although I don't know the habits of Muslims in other countries, I can tell you that Turks do smoke cigarettes. Almost all the men do, and many city women; it's a sociable thing, and Turks are extremely sociable. Turkey is also one of the top tobacco-producing countries in the world. As for adherence to the rules of Islam, Turkey is a country I have heard described as 'Muslim Lite.' Most Turks (though mostly men) don't shun alcohol, either - especially a strong aniseed drink called raki, except in a few cities known to be especially religious.

POSTED 9/29/2002

Patricia, Antalya, NA, Turkey, 29, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, travel, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 921200243627


I'm really not an expert on Islam, but as far as I know, smoking is forbidden during the month of Ramadan. As for the rest of the year, I don't know exactly. I just came back from Tunisia. There we met two young Tunisians, and I tell you, I've never seen anybody smoke so much. Asking them whether smoking was allowed in Islam, they each had different opinions. But they also told us they didn't really follow Islamic law (praying five times a day, not drinking alcohol, etc.) yet they considered themselves Muslims. So I guess it very much depends on what 'kind' of Muslim you are. As with Christians, there are some more liberal and some very strict followers. But it might even be that smoking is not forbidden, not even for the most devout Muslims.

POSTED 9/29/2002

Lisa, Zurich, NA, Switzerland, 19, Female, student, Mesg ID 923200223838


I used to live in Geneva, Switzerland, which has a large population of Muslims. While some go to bars, they don't drink. They are allowed to smoke, and I saw a lot of them doing that. I don't believe there is any restriction to smoking in Islam.

POSTED 9/29/2002

John, Boston, MA, United States, Male, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 924200262051

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Question:

I'm an Italian American who grew up in New York City. My whole life I've heard people use the derogatory term 'guinea' when speaking about Italians. What is the origin of this word?

POSTED 9/12/2002

Ariane M., Ft. Myers, FL, United States, <TropicalToots@aol.com>, 31, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Estetician, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 911200265033


Responses:
When Italians first immigrated to the New World, they were considered 'black.' Most of the early immigrants were Southern Italians primarily from Sicily and Naples, and most had dark complexions. They started using the name Guinea to refer to Italians because of their dark complexions (Guinea was an African Colony). At least that's the story I heard.

POSTED 9/29/2002

C. Clear, New York, NY, United States, Mesg ID 9232002112425

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