Best of the Week
of Sept. 30, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Sept. 30, 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:

What do people from other countries think of Americans? Is there a "stereotypical American"? Do they envy Americans or hate them?

POSTED 10/3/2001

Ryan, Iowa City, IA, United States, 19, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, student, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 103200171852

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Question:

I have always wanted to know if having a full sex change from male to female affects the impact of achieving a fullfilling sex life. Do people who have done this experience the same sensation that was experienced before?

POSTED 9/24/2001

Meggy S., Melbourne, AK, Australia, <blueflash@ozemail.com.au.>, 28, Female, New Thought Movement, White/Caucasian, Straight, nurse, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 9202001113717


Responses:
I haven't had this experience because I was born female and now sort of live as a male. However, from friends and information I've picked up over the years, I'd say it varies. Not the sort of clear answer you wanted, I suppose. I do know that you have to sign a form when you go for 'the surgey' stating that you understand that you may lose sensation partially or totally. Having said that, techniques have improved over time, and I think more operations are 'successful' than before. On a more positive note, a lot of women are very happy with their new genitals and say they can experience orgasm from penetration alone. This is because the penis is inverted to make the vagina and so is actually more sensitive than a genetic female's. Conversely, some transwomen report orgasm from clitoral simulation, but I think the constructed clitoris is not as sensitive as a genetic female's because the nerve endings are not all concentrated there - they are spread throughout the surface of the previous penis and obviously near the top of the vagina where the glans tissue is situated. Most people have a fulfilling sex life in whatever form they choose. They also report having more 'internal' orgasms than previously, more long-lasting and intense. I guess if you always believed yourself to be female, finally having a vagina would improve your sex life, general well-being and self-esteem.

POSTED 10/3/2001

Harry, London, NA, United Kingdom, Mesg ID 103200183746

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Question:

To people of various backgrounds: Are there any types of music, practices or lifestyle activities that you would like to do or be a part of but feel you can't because of your culture?

POSTED 10/3/2001

Natalie W., Sale, NA, Australia, <natnat50@hotmail.com>, Female, Mesg ID 102200122403

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Question:

Are there any white, non-Middle Eastern Americans who have converted to Islam, not because of having a Muslim spouse, but simply because they became convinced it was the one true religion? And are there any native-born, white, non-Middle Eastern American Muslim families? I realize that many American blacks (and some Hispanics) have converted to Islam, and some American whites convert to Islam influenced by a Muslim spouse, but otherwise? Many Americans have converted to traditional Roman Catholicism (myself included) and Eastern Orthodoxy - both rather exotic faiths when taken literally and not adapted to the times - for reasons unrelated to ethnicity or marriage, and I am curious about whether any have done similarly with Islam.

POSTED 10/3/2001

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 41, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 102200123843

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Question:

The terrorist bombing in New York has caused great ripples in the American spiritual consciousness. There has been a great call for prayer to God for encouragement. I think that is a good thing. But if we were to pursue this one more step, and ask the question, 'What would Jesus do?', how would non-Christians react to the idea of dropping food on Afghanistan rather than bombs? (1) Giving food and shelter to those in Afghanistan would be according to Jesus' teaching of turning the other cheek. (2) Afghanistan is a poor country and has been struggling many years. Many will starve this winter. (3) The people and government of Afghanistan were not responsible for the bombing. (4) In the war on terrorism (like fighting a ghost), the people of America will gain allies in Afghanistan by meeting their needs. The bombing was a terrible event, but an eye for an eye will not bring back anyone and will only cause further escalation. How would Christian and non-Christian people feel about responding in love, rather than reacting in hatred?

POSTED 9/25/2001

Ronald V., Edmonton, Alberta, NA, Canada, Male, Christian, Mesg ID 9252001115039


Responses:
I'd like to clarify that we're not 'dropping bombs on Afghanistan,' we're targeting Al Queda and other terrorist organizations, and if the Taliban decide they want to be their army, we'll fight them, too. Having said that, we do have an important responsibility to the people and governments of the region. Right now there are thousands of Afghan refugees camped at the border of Pakistan because they're afraid of what's coming next. We have to stop turning our noses up at U.N. humanitarian efforts and give them the money to feed, clothe and vaccinate these people. When we're done with this mission, we should be invested in helping this region out. So if by 'dropping bombs' you mean excising terrorist organizations from afghanistan, I think we should do both.

POSTED 9/26/2001

J. Fleming, Chicago, IL, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 9262001120300


This would be an excellent idea, and I would agree. I recently read an article by Kent Madin titled, 'Bomb Them With Butter' that spoke of some of the same things you mentioned in your posting. Madin states, 'A military response, particulary an attack on Afghanistan, is exactly what the terrorists want. It will strengthen and swell their small-but-fanatical ranks.' The sad thing is war is inevitable. You also mentioned prayer. Well, I find it interesting that the same people who voted prayer out of the schools were the same people asking everyone to stop doing what it was they were doing at noon a few weeks ago and pray. Everyone was saying 'God Bless America.' Strange how He wasn't an issue until tragedy struck. Hmmm. 'War is not the answer, only love can conquer hate' - Marvin Gaye

POSTED 9/28/2001

Lisa, Detroit, MI, United States, 39, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 9272001120432


I believe you will see a huge division in what one popular prophet said and how closely his modern devotees adhere to his teachings. If you can, assume this perspective: The Christ figure was, for his day, an anarchist. He drew attention to the 'God-lessness' of the religious power structure at that time. You will witness the same dynamics now as then. Those who have the 'hand-up' on God's thoughts will define the situation to keep themselves and their lifestyles the way they are - not necessarily they way they should be. Drop bread, not bombs: too spiritual a thought for the current earth plane. This does not mean your answer is not a higher choice. Maybe your voice should reach more ears. And don�t forget that this is just my humble response to your question.

POSTED 9/30/2001

Matthew, New York City, NY, United States, 43, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 927200160502


What if one or more of your loved ones died on Sept. 11 as a result of the attack? What if they were one of the several who leapt to their deaths from the Twin Towers? What if they were still lying under all that rubble? What if their remains will never be found? Would your opinion be the same? I think not. Retaliation is not hate, it's justice. Read your Bible; the Old Testament is full of God's wrath on heathen countries. There are times when war is necessary.

POSTED 9/30/2001

Redeemed One, Newport News, VA, United States, 53, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, HR Field Rep, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 928200153710


I am really getting tired of everyone saying 'America is hated,' 'We should solve this with love,' blah blah blah. That is like telling a rape victim she deserved it because she flaunted herself. Basically, whether we give food or not to Afghanistan, they are still going to hate us and think our motives are suspect. The idea that we can 'love them into alliance' is beyond belief to me. Why don't some of these people who think we can do this head over there and announce that they are Americans and we are there to 'help them' - well, the Afghans would stone them to death. The Taliban has allowed bin Laden to be in that country for years, and they have been warned that if he did anything, they would be held responsible. It's not like this is a surprise to them. I just want to feel safe in my own country again, and if it takes military action, so be it. By the way, the United States does give millions of dollars in aid every year to countries all over the world. Some of that is tax money that I work for, Ronald, so if I want some of mine to be used to keep me safe, I don't think Canadians have anything to say about it. THEY started this, and WE are going to finish it, one way or the other. P.S. Jesus wasn't exactly a wimp. Did he turn the other cheek when the temple was being used for trade? No, he broke the place up.

POSTED 9/30/2001

Annie, Omaha, NE, United States, Female, Mesg ID 928200181123


An interesting question with some interesting replies. A Christian is someone who believes Jesus Christ was the Son of God and follows His teachings. So the Christian response would be based on the Sermon on the Mount, which contradicts and supersedes much of the Old Testament. For a Christian to selectively quote from the Bible to justify actions while ignoring the spirit of the teachings of Christ is in my opinion hypocritical. However, I�m not a Christian, although I was raised as one (and I�m glad I was).

POSTED 10/1/2001

Oisin, London, NA, United Kingdom, Agnostic, Mesg ID 1012001100725


The world is a brutal back alley and does not solve its differences by 'force of logic.' If it did, the planes wouldn't have been turned into guided missiles and people would be alive today whose only crime was to get to work on time Sept. 11. Name me one case, just one, in which any country has fed someone into being their friend! Do not kid yourself. The statutory authority in Afghanistan is the Taliban, they have sheltered an enemy of our way of life, and they have reacted consistent with the belief that they knew this attack was going to happen in advance. U.S. history is replete with regimes that have misunderstood American resolve. All I can say is that the United States' former enemies (Japan, Germany) became some of the most successful countries on Earth after we whipped them and built them up.

POSTED 10/1/2001

Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 45, Male, White/Caucasian, Still On the Top Floor of a Skyscraper, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 1012001114057

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Question:

In one word, what was it like the first time you had sex? One of the best answers I have gotten is "overwhelming," but I thought I would ask a larger crowd. More than one word is fine, but a single word would be best.

POSTED 9/28/2001

Genny, Jacksonville, FL, United States, <genny_braynt@hotmail.com>, Female, Methodist, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Student, Less than High School Diploma, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 927200142330


Responses:
Awkward.

POSTED 10/3/2001

Alex, Beloit, WI, United States, Mesg ID 101200111029

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Question:

Why do Afghanistan women have to cover their faces?

POSTED 9/30/2001

Penny M., Melbourne, NA, Australia, Female, Mesg ID 928200164803

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Question:

Why do people self-mutilate? Is it attention seeking? Cultural? A mental disability?

POSTED 9/30/2001

Kellie, Melbourne, NA, Australia, 21, Female, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 929200170428


Responses:
I don't belief self-mutilation is any of those things. When I was 17 and 18, I used to cut my forearms, upper arms and breasts very often. I would say that I was so severely depressed that the pain of the cutting was the only thing that made me feel something but numb. I used to think of the Nine Inch Nails song that went, 'I hurt myself today to see if I still feel; I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real.' It sounds melodramatic, but when you can't even bring yourself to get out of bed or take a shower, it makes a lot of sense. I used to cut myself mostly when I was very angry or completely despairing. The cuts weren't very deep, though I did know people who cut (or burned) themselves more severely than I did. I was not seeking attention; in fact, I went to great pains to hide my cutting. I was not mentally disabled, unless you count severe depression. You might call it cultural; there are certain groups of young people who struggle with mental illness who seem more prone to self-injuring. I had one friend who even told me which kind of knives were best. In the end, a nurse at my college's health clinic saw my cuts and sent me to a psychiatrist. I haven't done it in years, though for a long time after, the urge would come back whenever I was very, very upset or hurt. I can say that, eight years or so later, it has completely stopped.

POSTED 10/1/2001

Sanvean, Lansing, MI, United States, <sanvean@bigfoot.com>, 25, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 101200195935


I've known many who 'cut.' What I've observed thus far is that their self-esteem is rock-bottom (self-hatred, you could say), they're very dissatisfied with their lives and they want a break in the monotony. Cutting provides a cheap thrill (the kind you get from breaking windows or giving yourself a do-it-yourself tattoo with a knitting needle), and possibly has something to do with momentarily boosting serotonin levels (the neurochemical that Prozac increases). It's also an expression of self-hatred, and is sort of a catharsis taken out on one's self, sort of like how an abusive father who has a lousy day at work comes home and beats his kids. I've found that some also do it to make a statement to those around them, doing it on their hands and forearms so people will notice. This statement can either be 'I don't give a f***,' 'look at me, I'm terrible' or 'help me.' I don't recall the protocol for responding to cutting, but hopefully another poster will know it (a list was once published on what and what not to do).

POSTED 10/3/2001

Dan, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 22, Male, Pentecostal, Hispanic/Latino, Student, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 102200170113

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Question:

Which European country believes women who have not shaved their armpits or legs are considered sexy by men? What is the essence that make these women more appealing? Is hygiene an issue?

POSTED 9/28/2001

Djoanna, Melbourne, Victoria, NA, Australia, Female, Catholic, Asian, Straight, student, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 9272001112549


Responses:
I've traveled in Ireland, England, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany (obviously), Denmark, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland. I have encountered 'hairy' women in German-speaking countries and former Eastern Block countries - where they are considered to be completely 'natural' - but the majority of women now shave their legs and armpits in all the above listed countries. I would not say they are considered 'more appealing.' I must confess I do not understand the part of your question about hygiene, because to me shaving the armpits is a matter of aesthetics and not hygiene. I am, however, also aware of the feminist position according to which hairlessness is part of a pre-pubescent body in Western culture and thus a shaved (artificially hairless) beauty ideal propagates an image of women as sexually (and by implication mentally) immature, and adolescent. But personally, I think the 'unnaturalness' of shaving body hair is part of a great many 'unnatural' things termed 'culture' and 'beauty.'

POSTED 10/1/2001

T., Munich, NA, Germany, 32, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 9302001105112


If hygiene were an issue, men would shave their armpits, too.

POSTED 10/1/2001

Jerry, Tampa, FL, United States, 68, Male, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 101200195025

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Question:

Concerning the scarring I see on African faces, which are primarily to a pattern or form, are they a tribal requirement for class, gender or warrior status? If the intention is to create a lifelong mark, how is it performed?

POSTED 9/26/2001

Roger, Melbourne, NA, Australia, <rogerh@net-tech.com.au>, 43, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Health, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 9252001111333


Responses:
Having lived in Africa for two years, I know that Africans distinguish one tribe from another by facial scars. It is not a class distinction primarily, but secondarily, in that one tribe may look up or down at another tribe. This is done for both boys and girls. At a very young age, the children are literally 'brandedI hope this helps.

POSTED 10/1/2001

Ronald V., Edmonton, Alberta, NA, Canada, Male, Christian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1012001114301

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Question:

Will African Americans treat whites better than we treated them, when they outnumber whites 2 to 1 and rule the United States?

POSTED 9/26/2001

Luther H. R., Long Beach, MS, United States, Male, Mesg ID 925200112035


Responses:
By 2050 it's estimated blacks will be 13.2 percent (including black Hispanics), Asians 13.2 percent, Hispanics 24.3 percent (the 'brown' ones), and white (including white Hispanics)52.8 percent. So I really don't know where you get your figures from (I got them from the U.S. Censue Bureau), but at least till 2050 it's estimated that whites will still be the racial majority, while Hispanics will be the ethnic majority (white, brown and black Hispanics put together). Anyhow, the day a race is the majority in The Ivy League Colleges and Universities, that day it will rule.

POSTED 9/30/2001

Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 32, Male, White (ethnicity: Hispanic/Latino), Lawyer/Business, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 926200153228


I doubt it.

POSTED 9/30/2001

Matthew, New York City, NY, United States, 43, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 927200154450


If black people ever attained the economic and social power over whites that we have historically had over them, I expect some ill-gotten revenge will be enacted. Black rage, slavery reperations, race riots ... a bulk of the black race is not over history yet and would like to enact their own 'equality' for a few years. I can understand the anger. I can even agree on some levels. But I will also be on the front lines when these battles are played out in the future. They are certainly entitled to take what I have because of how my ancestors have taken from them, but I won't give it up without a fight.

POSTED 9/30/2001

Seamus, Charlestown, MA, United States, 22, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, landscape company, 2 Years of College, Lower class, Mesg ID 928200135005


I'd expect not, but that's a hypothetical notion, anyway. At present, blacks account for 11 percent of the population and whites account for a little more than half. Unless you're one of those racists who like to portray blacks as 'breeders,' I don't see how, failing a mass migration to the United States, that blacks or any ethnic group would somehow pull ahead of the pack in their rate of population growth. I hope the future of the United States can be the melting pot we've often heard about but never seen, with our distinct society shared-in equally and not dismissed as the product of Eurocentric indoctrination as some demagogues would characterize it, but as the lineage of man's pursuit of civilization that began in Egypt and continues through into the future. It's just growing pains, man, just growing pains.

POSTED 9/30/2001

Justin, Chicago, IL, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 928200142415

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