Best of the Week
of Oct. 17, 1999

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Oct. 17, 1999, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing our new database using our search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in our 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. We encourage you 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 our guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.


Question:
I'm a heterosexual woman serving as best man at a same-sex (male) wedding. Should I throw a bachelor party, and if so, how should I go about it?
POSTED 10/21/1999
Anna R., Aberdeen, SD, United States, 26, Female, Taoist, White/Caucasian, Straight, bipolar disorder, Writer, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 10211999124300
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Question:
Why do Asians from the Far East have slanted eyes? There seems to be no reason for this.
POSTED 10/21/1999
Niklas, Glasgow, Scotland, NA, United Kingdom, 25, Male, Evangelical Church of Scotland, Asian, Straight, High School Diploma , Lower class, Mesg ID 1021199933959
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Question:
Does it not seem that in countries such as France, the level of intellectual/academic standards seems to be of a higher and better quality than in countries such as the United States and Great Britain?
POSTED 10/21/1999
Marilyn H., Boulogne, NA, France, <marilynhubert@goplay.com>, 29, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Student, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1021199991552
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Question:
I'm doing research on rock and rap music. Do you think these are negative or positive forces in society? I would appreciate a response. Please state whether you want your name used. Thanks.
POSTED 10/21/1999
Diviana, Huntsville, AL, United States, 19, Female, Black/African American, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 10201999105335
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Question:
Is it true that gay people can tell when someone else is gay?
POSTED 10/17/1999
Liz, Cincinnati, OH, United States, 32, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Office manager, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 71299113713

Responses:
Not really. Some people give off signals, either by wearing certain clothes or haircuts, but it's all still guesswork. Many 'straight-looking, straight-acting' people are gay but just don't dress or act like it. If you're interested in finding out whether someone identifies as gay, you might bring up 'gay-ness' in general to get a feel for their attitudes. Mention a movie or the local Pride march. Your bringing it up may help someone feel comfortable coming out to you.
POSTED 10/21/1999
Megan L., Boston, MA, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Mesg ID 1021199910659

As you might imagine, when something matters to people, they learn to find it. And one thing that matters lots to gay people is finding other gay people. So, yes, gay people are much better at identifying other gay people than straight people are. We learn which clues to look for. (But we're not perfect; there are no visible traits that all gay people share, and gay people in different cultures behave in different ways.) Strait people rarely develop this skill, because they assume that everyone is just like them - straight. (Even rabid homophobes like Jerry Falwell can't identify the gay people amid their employees.) Which is why discovering someone they know is gay can be such a big shock, so big that parents cut themselves off from their gay children. So, if sameness is what matters to you, then you find sameness ... unless, of course, someone destroys that illusion.
POSTED 10/22/1999
ThomL, Washington, DC, United States, 56, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Educator, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1021199941459

There is some truth to the 'gaydar' myth. Generally speaking, though, this 'gift' simply comes from associating with gay people on a regular basis. Gay people have their own culture, complete with mannerisms, styles, slang, etc. that others might not pick up on. Often, I can pick up on one of these mannerisms and know right away that the person is either gay or gay-friendly; but just as often, it's just wishful thinking (sigh). The easiest way to tell someone's sexuality is to observe them. If a guy turns his head everytime he sees cleavage, he's probably straight. If he's gawking at the delivery guy, he just might be gay. (But, if he's checking out Sharon Stone, he's probably just confused...) If you're curious if a friend or co-worker is gay, and you aren't asking out of meanness, I would suggest you simply ask them.
POSTED 10/22/1999
Shawn, Fort Worth, TX, United States, <pharaun@aol.com>, 24, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Gay, aviation/military police, Technical School , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1020199975138
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Question:
Why is it that the police never stop homeless people and ask them about those shopping carts they always seem to be pushing around? They probably didn't buy them, so they're most likely stolen property. Shouldn't they be ticketed and have them confiscated?
POSTED 10/17/1999
J. Miller, Lansing, MI, United States, 26, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Network Administrator, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1015199993027

Responses:
The homeless have a tough life and so little to begin with. You say you are upper middle class, so you probably have a comfortable life and don't have to worry about getting your basic needs met. Other people aren't as fortunate as you. If you aren't going to do something to help those less fortunate than you, at least have some compassion for them.
POSTED 10/18/1999
Jacqueline C., San Jose, CA, United States, 25, Female, White/Caucasian, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 101899123845

A police officer has no way of knowing the shopping cart was stolen by the person. It could have easily been picked up from an alley. The officer can confiscate the cart, but it would take a whole day to get that cart back to the owner and wait for a van driver to get the cart off-site. Then the police officer has to file the paper work and attempt to contact the owner. If no owner shows up, the cart sits in storage at taxpayers' expense.
POSTED 10/18/1999
Christopher D., Arlington, TX, United States, 23, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 101899120853

In many cities, even supposedly liberal San Francisco, police have a policy of taking away carts from homeless people. But they rarely charge homeless people for 'stealing' the carts. For one thing, a few days in jail with meals and a bed is what many homeless people would prefer to the way they live, especially when it is cold in winter. For another, many working-class people who can't afford to drive a car take those shopping carts also and use them to push their groceries home. But arresting or ticketing people who work would cause a major hassle. It's interesting that this last group would say they are just borrowing the cart. Finally, cops have better things to do, or they should. I have to ask why you would feel concerned about shopping carts, unless you own a store yourself. These are not major criminals we're talking about, but people with nothing. Police hassling the homeless accomplishes nothing and is downright mean-spirited toward the very poor.
POSTED 10/18/1999
A.C.C., W. Lafayette, IN, United States, Mesg ID 10189911723

Your question highlights the problem with the issue of homelessness in this country - that it is perceived as a choice and is therefore the fault of the homeless person. Even if the homeless person 'stole' the shopping cart, which is questionable, why do you feel compelled to take away the only earthly possession of a person who has nothing else, not even a place to sleep or go to the bathroom? The line between you and homelessness is more narrow than you think. How many business setbacks, downsizings or injuries/illnesses that prevent you from working would it take before you were in financial difficulties? Think about that as you sit in your 'upper-middle class' living room, watching your big screen TV.
POSTED 10/21/1999
Laura, Bel Air, MD, United States, 38, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, College professor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1021199982838

Legally, a police officer needs 'probable cause' to detain someone or make an arrest; that is, an officer cannot walk up to someone and 'assume' their property is stolen. There must be a complainant for the officer to make the arrest. If a merchant observed one of his or her shopping carts in someone else's possession and filed a complaint, the officer could take action.
POSTED 10/21/1999
Shawn, Fort Worth, TX, United States, 24, Male, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Gay, aviation/reserve military police, Technical School , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1020199963541

Nobody seems to have really answered my question. Who cares if they're poor, who cares if they're 'down and out'? It's not their legal property! Those carts can cost upwards of $750 each. A little history on my background: I grew up in the heart of Flint, MI (not exactly the richest place on earth). My mom worked three jobs just to keep a roof over our heads. But she made darn sure we kids knew that no matter what the circumstances, you never broke the law. I swore to God after seeing her work 20 hours a day sometimes that I'd make something of myself and give her a comfortable retirement, and I was able to. I know that for some, homelessness is not a choice, and I feel empathy for those people and donate time and resources to charities that help. But turning a blind eye to a 'minor' crime doesn't help anything. Last I checked, possession of stolen property was still a crime. It's not theirs!
POSTED 10/22/1999
J. Miller, Lansing, MI, United States, 26, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Network Analyst, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 10211999101004
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Question:
I have a black friend who used to mock women who locked their car doors as he walked by. Recently, I was walking home and was approached by a black man, who, after being ignored, said, "You're not ignoring me because I'm black, are you?" So I talked to him, and five minutes later he put a gun to my neck and robbed me. By giving him the benefit of the doubt, I put myself at risk. Another time, a black man asked to use the phone, and then came in with three friends and wouldn't leave until the police were called. I have only had problems with black men. My questions are: 1) Doesn't it then make sense for a woman to lock her car (better safe than sorry)? When should you not be trusting? 2) Is it fair to blame solely white thinking for racism when some of it is also based on some black behavior - especially if the person cries racism in an attempt to take advantage of you? Isn't that betraying your own race?
POSTED 10/15/1999
Craig, Minneapolis, MN, United States, <cmorris@loft.org>, 36, Male, White/Caucasian, Computer support, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 101499115130

Responses:
Race has nothing to do with it. As a female living in a big city, I always lock my car door, especially if I am driving through a high crime area. I also would never engage in a conversation with anyone on the streets unless I knew them. And I would not allow any stranger in my home to use my phone. I live in an area that is increasingly inhabited by lower-income blacks. With them moving in, the crime rates have skyrocketed and the property values have plummeted. Groups of young black kids roam the streets on foot and bike, with apparently nothing to do except play loud music and sell narcotics. And yes, I have a healthy fear of them. Most properties are now rentals with absentee landlords or uncaring landlords. Many of my neighbors have moved, and I will be joining them within the next few months. This may sound racist, but I tried to work with my community to help get the crime rate down and make it a better place to live. We found few blacks willing to help in the effort. They saw us as whites trying to 'oppress' them. We were 'racist' for wanting to get the criminal elements off of the streets. I just got tired of pounding my head against the wall.
POSTED 10/15/1999
M. Kemper, Temple Terrace, FL, United States, Mesg ID 1015199934926

To use your 'logic,' everyone not white should watch out for all white males because of what happened in Jasper and the hundreds of thousands of other hate crimes in history. Should all white women judge all white males by Ted Bundy or the other almost exclusively white male serial killers? What you're doing makes about as much sense. I and many other non-white males have experienced many times when rednecks threaten us, curse us or pick a fight when they are drunk or just feeling mean. I just have to keep reminding myself about the better Anglos I know who I grew up with or had as Army buddies. Why can't you and all the other fearful whites see that your fear is based on prejudice?
POSTED 10/18/1999
A.C.C., W. Lafayette, IN, United States, <bigi__@yahoo.com>, Male, Mexican and American Indian, Grad student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 101899125500

Your friend should lock her doors whenever she feels unsafe or unsure of her surroundings. Damned be those who take offense. Race should not necessarily figure into the equation. If you have been victimized in the past by certain members of a particular race, it is perfectly natural to be wary when in the presence of other members of said race - after all, you may have no way of knowing anything about these new 'other' people. This 'cautious' response has been conditioned by past experiences and may or may not have anything to do with pure racial hatred or bias. Just as if you had been bitten by a Doberman, you may be uneasy around other Dobermans, regardless of how friendly they may be. I wouldn't call that a 'hatred' of Dobermans. For the record, I have been broken into or robbed three times in my life - every time by white people. Should I make any extrapolations about the integrity of the entire white race based on these experiences? Am I more wary of white people? In some cases, but it has nothing to do with any inbred hatred or bias toward whites.
POSTED 10/18/1999
David, Columbia, SC, United States, <dash@netside.com>, 30, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 10169931540

First, I'm not sure what 'betraying your own race' refers to, but then I consider my race to be 'human'. I lock my car door any time someone is walking close to my car, after having somebody reach through my window and grab me while I was stopped at a red light. The person who sees me lock it may make any kind of assumption they want about why I'm doing it. I don't care what they think. I think it would be foolish to take safety precautions only when a particular race of person is around - there is plenty of crime being committed by all kinds of people. Why only keep yourself safe from 12 percent of the population? I don't want to be blamed or singled out because of the behavior of people of my skin color, or of people who drive a car like mine or wear my style of clothes or any superficial characteristic. You've had some bad experiences, but believe me, some people have had worse experiences with white people. We are all responsible for our actions and nobody else's. If you want to classify people by race or whatever, that's your responsibility, not the responsibility of some criminal who happened to be of a particular race you don't like.
POSTED 10/18/1999
Ann, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 39, Female, Mesg ID 10159953817

It is a sad fact that we live in a dangerous world, and it has nothing to do with the color of someone's skin. Bad people do bad things, and bad people come in all shapes, sizes and colors. As a woman, I am extremely safety conscious. I avoid groups of men and lock my doors whenever anyone approaches my car, male or female, black or white. Never put yourself at risk just to avoid hurting someone's feelings, and never, ever let anyone into your house if you don't feel comfortable. A person can get over hurt feelings. You might not get over what a criminal would do to you if you gave him/her the opportunity.
POSTED 10/18/1999
Laura, Bel Air, MD, United States, 38, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, College professor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1018199995259

I would like to thank everyone for the responses to my question. Having a gun pointed at you is a traumatic experience, but I have also had to face some prejudices that I wasn't even aware I had, which is equally difficult. It has really made me think. Thank you for that.
POSTED 10/21/1999
Craig, Minneapolis, MN, United States, <cmorris@loft.org>, 36, Male, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 10201999121404
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Question:
I am a 24-year-old male and have a moderately hairy chest and legs. I also have a little hair on my lower back right above my waist, as well as on my buttocks. Is this a huge turnoff to women? How common is it in men?
POSTED 10/15/99
Will, Charlotte, NC, United States, 24, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Middle class, Mesg ID 10139911201

Responses:
Elements of attraction vary from woman to woman. Some women are turned off by body hair, but probably an equal number find it a turn-on. I would think that unless it is extremely thick, it really isn't an issue. When I first met my husband, I thought he was nice looking, but not my usual 'type.' As I got to know him, he became more attractive to me because of who he was. His sexiness is based more on the way he treats me and less on the way he looks.
POSTED 10/15/1999
Stacee, Houston, TX, United States, 31, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1015199945034

Hair on men is sexy. Men with no hair (especially white guys) look like worms. My husband is hairy and he's got issues with it, mostly because his hairless friends made fun of him. I think he looks great - and very sexy.
POSTED 10/15/1999
I've got a hairy husband and love it!, Boston, MA, United States, 31, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Computer Analyst, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 101599112732

You are very young and living in a strange era, when women and men try to hide themselves in a unisex-everything world. A true man should not be afraid of his individuality. It is beautiful to have a real man with hair all over (though a man without hair on his head is beautiful and attractive, too). My husband had hair all over, and I loved it, and women found it very attractive.
POSTED 10/18/1999
Coquette, Houston, TX, United States, Mesg ID 10189925101
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