Best of the Week
of Oct. 18, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Oct. 18, 1998, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found in their respective archives, which we invite you to browse. There, 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.

THE QUESTION:
R395: Why is it that everything from European culture (i.e. folklore, history, literature, language) seems to be considered fair game for any American who wants to create their own version of it, while Americans insist that cultures of other groups be protected and kept exclusive? I'm talking about things like the recent movies The Three Musketeers, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Man in the Iron Mask, all made with no regard for the original literature, true history or original culture; Doctor Doolittle made with Eddie Murphy; and versions of European folk stories and legends filmed or illustrated with multi-cultural characters, etc.
POSTED AUG. 5, 1998
Colette <
inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI

ANSWER 1:
Just an inquiry: Were you aware that The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask were both written by Alexander Dumas, a black man?
POSTED SEPT. 4, 1998
Black female, Los Angles, CA

FURTHER NOTICE:
I had no idea Dumas was black. Thanks for the info ... but he was still part of European culture in any case (African-French?), and his work is considered French literature. I am surprised to learn he's black, though, since I read his book Adventures with my Animals, in which he included his black servants along with the cats and dogs. Anyway, this wasn't meant to be a question about race (it's probably safe to say these movies and books are made mainly by whites), but about culture, and why some seem protected while others are regularly ripped-off. For example, would anyone publish a book of Native American legends and feel they had to illustrate it with Europeans and Africans included? Why is that idea any more ridiculous than the idea of giving Robin Hood a multicultural band?
POSTED SEPT. 9, 1998
Colette <
inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
To Black female: Where did you get the idea that Alexandre Dumas was black? I'm French and have studied French literature, and my mother is a French professor. I can guarantee you that Alexandre Dumas was not black. Besides, it does not answer Colette's question. I think that Americans do this because as America is still a new country by European standards, it has not had time to produce enough cultural material of its own, so it tries to make some by importing raw material and adapting it to U.S. standards to satisfy the needs of its inhabitants. Thus the transformation of bad endings to happy endings and inserting multicultural differences to be politically correct and not hurt any feelings. I must point out that we Europeans smile at the attempts made by Americans to remake original European cultural creations. We feel Americans try to simplify everything and make everything seem shallow and commercial, and that in America, everything has a price tag on it - even culture.
POSTED OCT. 24, 1998
Zobe La Mouche, 25, Paris, France
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THE QUESTION:
R499: In a recent Philadelphia case, a white woman was sentenced to five years in jail for "alerting" her white neighbors that a black family was moving in. She did not participate in vandalism or violence against them, yet she received a more severe sentence than some of those who did. Do you agree with the judge? Why or why not?
POSTED OCT. 23, 1998
Linda F., 47, white female, Bristol PA
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THE QUESTION:
A31: What do you do if you're a kid and have no money?
POSTED OCT. 23, 1998
Josh, 11, Gainesville, MO
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THE QUESTION:
GD41: Does anyone think this site is yet another symptom of the breakdown in society's connection? By that I mean the way we all sit alone in our cars, get home, shut the door and feel like we've been real sociable if we nodded at the guy next door washing his car?
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Stephen H., white European male <
baronkgc@bigfoot.com>, Pflugerville, TX

ANSWER 1:
I don't feel it is. If people keep in mind the original goal of the forum, it can be a useful resource for healthy and much-needed communication. True diversity means that freedom of expression thrives and individual opinions, experiences and perspectives are respected. I tend to try to be as non-judgmental as possible here because I have a genuine desire to engage with those who can challenge me. I value continual growth and development in my life, and the Y Forum is an additional way to gain insight on issues that all of us, on a day-to-day basis, face. Your question made me think!
POSTED OCT. 23, 1998
Dee, black female <
westde@hiram.edu>, Cleveland, OH

FURTHER NOTICE:
I think this forum allows us to understand one another a little better, with a degree of anonymity. The editors keep the material from being offensive and reword it in a more "factual" way. Societal breakdown is not a phenomenon that is happening out there, but is the decision of millions of people who decide not to communicate with others. While some see this occurring, others see and do what they can to communicate with others and forestall societal breakdown.
POSTED OCT. 23, 1998
A. Urban, 45 <
draugas@mailcity.com>, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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THE QUESTION:
R354: I have noticed a number of younger African Americans wearing knee-high pantyhose on their heads. I would like to know why this is done, and where this trend came from.
POSTED JUNE 24, 1998
Jason <
microft@westol.com>, Washington, D
C

ANSWER 1:
I'm not exactly sure where this latest trend came from for young black men, especially when you consider all the fashion designers who have their signature models of these caps. However, black women have used them for ages. They come in really handy for keeping hair neat and in place while you're sleeping. I used them when I was a kid. We'd take a pair of new pantyhose, cut off most of the legs, tie what was left of the legs into a knot and stretch the seat area over our heads. We called them "stocking caps."
Denise, 27, black, Bronx, NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
This trend dates back to the days of pirates, when men wore "scullies" to protect their hair from the enviroment (wind, rain, saltwater). Also, it was a way of controlling their hair without a lot of grooming. This later evolved into the wave cap and "do rag," where black men would put hair-processing ingredients to condition, put waves or straighten their hair at a time in history when this was the trend. Now it's more for putting waves or a fashion statement of the black male.
POSTED OCT. 23, 1998
E. White, 43, Afro American, Fairless Hills, PA
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THE QUESTION:
D11: When I think to myself, I "hear" myself "talking" within my mind (for illustration, also when I'm reading). Obviously, people who were born deaf think, but do they "hear" themselves in some way in their own minds? What is the form of their "thinking"? What, if anything, substitutes for phonetics in their reading? I suppose a similar question could be asked of people who are blind from birth: How do they "see" the images of what they touch?
POSTED MAY 12, 1998
Art K., Washington, D.C.

ANSWER 1:
As someone profoundly hearing-impaired since age two, I can tell you that the "thinking" depends on whether the person signs, lip-reads or can hear a little. For signing people, the thoughts are formed as signing hands. I can't presume to speak for others, but I find that as a lip-reader and speaker, my thoughts are a combination of vocalization and visualization of objects and concepts. I'm guessing that to one who "sees" silent lip-reading as a form of communication, the thought would emerge as a face or lips moving.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
A .Goode, 20, white deaf female <
jgoode@ns.pic-internet.or.jp>, Osaka, Japan
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THE QUESTION:
SO87: I am a white, gay, professional 35-year-old male currently living in Philadelphia (Center City). My partner (a physician) and I wish to move to a modestly affluent suburb. I am feeling very vulnerable about leaving the city. How do "straight" people feel when they realize their new neighbors are gay? Do people really care that much? It would help to know.
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
Joe D., 35, gay male, Philadelphia, PA

ANSWER 1:
Some will hate you with a passion that defies comprehension, some will consider your orientation irrelevant, some will not know what to think. My gay acquaintances tell me that there are well-established networks in the gay/lesbian communities. Check out your neighborhoods before you make a down payment.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Al,straight, 59 <
alarose@ncwc.edu>, Rocky Mount, NC

FURTHER NOTICE:
Your neighbors will probably gossip about you initially, but they probably won't try to run you out of the neighborhood.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Straight white female, 31, Panama City, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I could care less if my neighbors are gay or straight. It would be naive, however, to expect everyone to think that way. One way to get a good read on things is to go house-hunting as a couple. See how the real estate agent, home sellers, etc., react. For what it's worth, although it's true suburbs tend to be more conservative than cities, most suburbs are more sophisticated and tolerant than one suspects - particularly in a suburb of a larger city. My own suburb, for example, has an annual gay pride parade.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Andrew, 34, straight suburb dweller <
ziptron@xoommail.com>, Huntington, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
We live in a somewhat "redneck" suburb south of Indianapolis, Ind. (Dan Quayle's home state), are very "out" and have had very few problems in our 13 years here. We've made a point to be polite and friendly to all our neighbors, nodding or waving when we see one another taking out trash or whatever. When we see someone doing yardwork we offer to lend a tool that might help them, and when we've gotten kid books at a book conference we offer them to the parents of the neighbor kids (not to the kids themselves - call it paranoia if you like). When the kids become teenagers and are standing around in groups, we make a point to make eye contact with the ones we know and nod politely. We hug and kiss goodbye in the morning and hello in the evening, hold hands on our neighborhood walks,and don't hesitate to show we love each other, and have never even been called ugly names. It's all in behaving as though you have a right to live on the planet, no more or less than your neighbors, we think.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Becky, 55 <
bthacker@iupui.edu>, Indianapolis, IN

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
It's all going to depend on your neighbors. Not all straights are the same, just like not all homosexuals talk with a lisp or vote Democrat. I am a straight, very conservative white male, but some of my best friends are gay, black and/or liberal. The biggest thing your neighbors will care about is how your moving into town will effect their property values. If they think having gay neighbors will lower their values, they'll treat you the same way they treat other minorities in the same situation. The majority of them will probably realize your sexuality will have no effect on them, and they'll be cool. Unfortunately, they will probably be wary of letting their children play near your home. The stereotype of the homosexual pedophile is disgustingly prevalent in suburban America. But I'm sure you've had to deal with worse. Good luck.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
B., 23, straight white male, Kokomo, IN

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I live in a rural town in Connecticut that has a few established homosexual households. These people are surprisingly well-accepted. I have even heard old-timers say things like "He is as queer as a three-dollar bill, but he pays on time, so I'll keep working for him." Moral of the story: You may be grist for the rumor mill, especially at first, but living in Pennsylvania or New England, I think you'll still be OK leaving the city. Just beware of pockets of religious fanaticism.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Lynda, 28, straight female, CT

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
Joe, Since you and your partner are moving to an "affluent" neighborhood, you shouldn't encounter too many woes. Being that your new neighbors would be mostly successful and medium-well educated (which usually falls in line with being more open-minded), you guys will probably be accepted very well. My partner and I were the first gay couple on our block in a middle-class neighborhood in Houston, where we have been for six years. All of our neighbors absolutely love us, and each of them have told us this personally (in so many words.) There was a period when we were thinking of moving, and some of our neighbors practically begged us not to go. This is probably because they see we are not a "threat" to them, their children or their way of life. As long as you don't walk down the street with a lisp, I bet everything will be fine. Good Luck!
OCT. 22, 1998
Aaron D., gay male, Houston, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I'm a 25-year-old Japanese woman. I would be very interested if my new neighbor were gay. I would think that I'd love to be their friend, and my life would be more interesting. There is no negative feeling about having a gay neighbor.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Kanako, Tokyo, Japan

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
Feeling the squeeze of growth in our old neighborhood - made up predominantly of white, Catholic, youthful and highly fertile couples and their families with modest incomes - my partner and I put our suburban house up for sale. When our next-door neighbor pressed us for details about the new homeowners, we informed her they were a black couple. With a look of anxious surprise, she responded: "Ah! More controversial neighbors!" While we were quite friendly with our immediate neighbors (and largely ignored by the rest), this was the first that we had heard that we were controversial.

We have since moved to a more rural setting, expecting more privacy but getting actually far less. It's regrettable that we've experienced more vandalism at the hands of strangers, but where we expected to find bigotry in the folks who live nearby we have found acceptance instead. We have shown ourselves to be good neighbors who work hard to improve the property, and this, we are told, is appreciated by all.
POSTED OCT. 23, 1998
Rex T. 35, "Bachelor Farmer" <
rex_tremende@hotmail.com>, Somewhere near Cincinnati , OH
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THE QUESTION:
R201: Growing up in Queens, N.Y., it was a "requirement" that you knew how to play chess. I wonder: Do white people believe blacks don't play chess, since the media only shows blacks in physical activities?
POSTED APRIL 21, 1998
Jas, black <
themoas@aol.com>, Pensacola, FL

ANSWER 1:
I would have to say I'd never thought about it. In fact, I never really think about chess at all - but if someone had asked me to close my eyes and picture a chess player, my automatic mental image probably wouldn't have been a black. Thanks for raising my consciousness a little.
POSTED MAY 2, 1998
A. Morgan, 33, white, Houston

FURTHER NOTICE:
When I walk by the park, almost all the people playing chess are black. So I have not held the notion that all chess players are from the former Soviet Union for a long time. By the way, the chess board is a great metaphor: Black and white facing off against each other. But without the differences in color and pieces, there would be no game.
POSTED JUNE 8, 1998
thsmith, 28, white, Los Angeles, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
FYI, in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, Lawrence Fishburne, who is black, plays the part of a champion park chess player.
POSTED JUNE 25, 1998
Jeffrey D., KY

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
One of my fond childhood memories is my 12th year, when every day after school I had a standing chess game with the only Chinese boy in the neighborhood. He always won (I wasn't a great chess player) but I liked that, because it was a challenge. We played on the front steps of his house, and I was never invited inside; being the only "ethnic" family in the neighborhood, I think they felt isolated and rejected by the whites. My very first friends in this world were the two sons of the black couple next door (a different, but also all-white and racist neighborhood), who were my heroes - one was a born scientist and taught me cool science stuff, and the other was an incredible athlete. They were the ones who taught me all the childhood games ("Hands Down" was a favorite), and I remember watching them play chess, but I was too young to learn it then. To me, they wore an air of wisdom and strategic mystery as they played, which of course both frustrated me with the desire to join in and inspired in me a love for the game. Ever since, I think of playing chess as something very mature, sophisticated and mysterious. I'm still bad at chess, as I don't possess much of those three qualities!
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
The Well, 37, Caucasian (British mix) <
the_well@pacbell.net>, San Diego, CA
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THE QUESTION:
R484: Many of my Asian clients who are Taiwanese nationals have peculiar first names like Grover, Winston, Kenneth, Eve, Judith, Lincoln, etc. These sound more like Eastern U.S., Anglo-aristocratic first names that I rarely hear used anymore. Where do they dig up these chestnuts, and why do they use them?
POSTED OCT. 13, 1998
R.R., U.S.A.

ANSWER 1:
I am American living in Taiwan and have been here more than four years. The Western names you hear Taiwanese nationals being called are nicknames they picked to be able to associate with Westerners; these are not their legal or actual names. It is popular in Taiwan to pick a Western nickname, and also Westerners have a difficult time pronouncing Chinese names.
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
Dave, white male <
Gilstrap@ms13.hinet.net>, Taipei, Taiwan
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THE QUESTION:
G37: While growing up in the South I've often noticed that when two males attend a movie together, they often leave a seat open between them. Is this a regional practice or is it seen throughout the United States? What is the reason? I don't remember seeing females do the same.
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
Merriman, white Southern female <
idnod@hotmail.com>, MS

ANSWER 1:
I've grown up in the Chicago area and now live in California, and I've seen the same in both areas. As an adult male, I usually leave a seat between any person unless it's very crowded or I'm sitting next to my wife. Two of the reasons are I would be bumping shoulders, arms and legs if they were in the next seat, and there would be competition for the armrest. Of course, if it is an attractive woman, those would be the very same reasons I would sit next to her.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Rob, white male, 35, San Jose, CA

FURTHER NOTICE:
I grew up in Nebraska and have seen many men leave a seat between them at a movie. It has been explained to me that this is so both will have full access to armrests. No need to share. I've only done this once in my life and did find that it was nice to have the armrests to myself. Whether or not it is also an issue of intimacy is a question probably best left to the larger group.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Patrick K., 26, white male <
pkinner@upo.com>, Miami, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I live in the mid-Atlantic area (Northern Virginia) and I do the same thing when seeing a movie with a male friend. Why? We both want more space.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Racerx, 37 <
spectre_rx@yahoo.com>, Fairfax, VA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
A lot of people would kiddingly call this the "heterosexual" seat. That is, a signal that the two men are not "together." My roommates and I used to go see a lot of movies, and if possible we would leave a seat between us. However, we did it mostly because we were stocky and needed the space. Also, movie theater chairs are usually cramped, and I like my own armrest. In retrospect, it could have been partially because of subconscious discomfort with being so close to another male.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Taran6, 26, straight male <
Taran6@juno.com>, San Diego, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I think it has to do with the fear of someone thinking the guys are gay. My friends and I never leave a seat between us in a movie. I was raised in the North and currently live in the South. No seat splitting here.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Brian <
dutting@hotmail.com>, Jacksonville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
This practice is not unique to the South. When I was growing up in New York, guys who went to the movies together always kept an empty seat between them if they could. They'd put their popcorn and drinks on it, but that's not the reason for the seat. Guys laughingly called it "the fag seat" or the "I'm not a fag" seat. Insecure blue-collar New Yorkers that we were, we thought it was somehow unmasculine to sit next to a male friend. Girls sit next to their female friends without thinking twice, but young males are often terrified of doing anything that might make them appear gay.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Astorian, straight male, Austin, TX

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THE QUESTION:
SO82: I was watching the news today about the young gay man who was murdered in Wyoming. At his funeral a group of anti-gay Christians were gathered holding signs and such in protest of homosexuality. I was raised Christian and for 17 years have had all the morals and beliefs of these God-loving people surround me. But why do Christians sometimes feel as though they have the right to go back on all the values and teachings of their faith (i.e. judge not)? For example, they hate gays because they think being gay is anti-God, but hate itself is anti-God.
POSTED OCT. 17, 1998
Wondering why <
ds799@webtv.net>, Jacksonville, FL

ANSWER 1:
I too was very upset by the brutal killing in this case. I am a Christian and have been for several years. I do not like homosexuality nor do I see it as a valid lifestyle. This point is both a personal feeling and a spiritual one. However, my belief does not make me want to kill someone. The Holy Word does not teach hate; it teaches love. I have always felt that the homosexual was looking for something that they could not find. In this case, the taking of a human life was the worst thing that could have happened. People in America, both Christians and non-Christians, had better take a good look at this case and make a choice. The lack of respect for human life is widespread and seems to be getting worse.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Stacey M., 28, white male <
sfmmac@juno.com>, Booneville, AR

FURTHER NOTICE:
The people picketing the funeral were from the Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka, Kansas. They actually have a very offensive website that might be worth a visit if you're curious about seeing how low people can get: http://www.godhatesfags.com. My hunch is that these people probably hate just about everyone who doesn't think exactly like they do. I'd like to know how they feel about blacks, Hispanics, Jewish people, Asians, Catholics, Mormons, etc. I'd be willing to bet that they would say that all of these people are going to burn in hell also. Sometimes the most vocal anti-homosexual people are people who are trying to deny their own attractions to people of the same sex.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Jim L., atheist, 36, Phoenix , AZ

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
As a lesbian, I can affirm that some of our staunchest foes are pseudo-Christian. I was born Catholic and don't remember ever reading that Jesus said, "Love your neighbors, unless they are gay." My belief is that intolerance stems from ignorance, and a lot of ignorance is the result of lack of exposure to diversity. In other words, if you only hang with people like yourself, you don't learn as much as someone who experiences other cultures and ways of life. Plus, your clique grows to think it's the best and only way to be.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Ranebow <
ranebow@iname.com>, Butler, PA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
You are looking for a rational explanation for irrational behavior. Religious fanatics exist in all religions, not just Christianity. Just because someone calls themselves Christian does not mean they live their lives according to Jesus' example as recorded in the Bible. The Biblical Christ refused to condemn a woman for adultery, even though considering it a sin. He devoted his life to praising God, teaching and helping others. Those arrogant enough to judge and condemn another's transgressions were told to remove the log in their own eye before trying to remove the splinter in their neighbor's eye.

Irrational behavior can be caused by physical/chemical causes or by irrational fears and beliefs. The latter are often instilled by childhood events, sometimes not even consciously remembered. While a person's religious beliefs may include believing that homosexual behavior is a sin, to dedicate your life and that of your adult family to proactively protesting the lives of gay people and their families in the most obnoxious, intrusive ways possible is obsessive/compulsive, homophobic behavior. Such people may also be addicted to the notoriety of media attention that their actions generate.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
DykeOnByke, spiritual non-Christian lesbian <
DykeOnByke@aol.com>, Southfield, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
Great point. If they were protesting anything, it should of been that he was killed for no reason. Remember "Thou shalt not kill"? I never heard anything saying "Thou shalt not be who you are."
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Chris, 23, Bartlesville, OK

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
God and religion are creations of man. When man created God and religion, they were created to accomplish something for society. Rules and guidelines were established to govern conduct. Rules were made up to suit those who controlled the game. All was written in the Bible, Koran, etc. subject to everyone's interpretation. Today it is the same way. Each group makes up its own rules. "God" save the Constitution, the Courts and the Police. At least these rules are changed by majority vote. Most hate groups hide behind some religious shield. No real God would accept this behavior.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Les H. <
lphfla@aol.com>, Plantation, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
I think some Christians hate gay people because they are taught to from the very beginning. Growing up in a Christian home, I experienced that teaching personally. I think it also has to do with fear - i.e. "They don't do things the way we do, so they must be sinners and we should hate them." Yeah right. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Matthew 7:1.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Tiffany <
celticcutie@hotmail.com>, Asheville, NC

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I applaud your question. I am a Church of Christ-raised, God-fearing Christian, and I think I can give you an accurate answer: Groups like that are self-righteous hypocrites. Those people believe their hate is justified. They are the plague of Christianity led by a minister of hatred. I do not condone homosexuality. It is a sin. But I certainly do not hate gay people, nor do I look down on them, judge their souls, etc. Those people who protested at that kid's funeral were clearly doing the devil's work with Bibles in their hands.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
R.B., <
romieb@datachan.com>, Amarillo, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
I have firsthand knowledge of the Topeka, Kansas, minister who has made a career of gay-bashing. I'm a lifelong Kansan, and my lover of 14 years went to high school with this minister's kids and even dated his daughter for a while. The stories about life in this minister's house are shocking. A few years back every major church in Topeka held a public denunciation of this man that was carried on local television. He is a sick individual seeking to build a political career out of selling hatred. He's been around for years, out waving signs in traffic, and has followers who like to beat people up.
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
Daniel J., Topeka, KS

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THE QUESTION:
R480: Until just a couple of years ago, I never realized "Jap" was a derogatory term. Frankly, I can't ever think of a time I used it, but I had put it in the same category as "Brit," "Aussie," "Yank" or "Canuck." I'm sure there are other examples. Why is "Jap" different? Or are these other short terms for a person's country also derogatory?
POSTED OCT. 8, 1998
Pete S., 38, white male, Jacksonville, FL

ANSWER 1:
That's an extremely interesting question. I can only guess that it stems from World War II. The sheer hatred that erupted after Pearl Harbor caused perfectly innocent American-born people of Asian descent to be locked up in internment camps, and anyone who showed any kind of sympathy toward a person of Asian descent was ostracized and viewed with suspicion themselves. Rarely in history has a group been so vilified.
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
Robert J., Erie, PA

FURTHER NOTICE:
I think Brit and Aussie are more akin to shortened nicknames, but "Jap" is more akin to a distorted pronunciation that became a racial slur, much like negro became "nigger," Mexican became "Meskin," aborigine became "abo" or Indian became "Injun."
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
A.C.C., Mexican and American Indian, San Antonio, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I remember that during World War II, the government operated a propaganda program that was intended to aid the war effort. This program, as it related to the Japanese, was expressly racist, and uniformly referred to them as "Japs." Furthermore, the Japanese were always portrayed in posters with exaggerated "racial" characteristics, including buck teeth, bow legs and eye glasses. I guess the use of the term stuck, and because of the context, the term is understood as being racist.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
Jerry, 64, white male, FL

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THE QUESTION:
R481: To me, many people of Middle Eastern and Indian background tend to have offensive body odor. Is there a cultural reason for this?
POSTED OCT. 9, 1998
Darrell E., 56, white, Camarillo, CA

ANSWER 1:
I am a non-Indian woman who has studied, lived and related to people of Indian origin and never smelled this odor you are describing. I can say I have come across the "smells" of tumeric, cardamon, cumin and hing, all spices used in typical Indian dishes. And, since most Indian households still cook and eat homemade ethnic meals, perhaps you came across some Indians who had just eaten a fabulous feast. I would urge you to give it a taste and find out for yourself. By the way, Indians bathe daily and use deodorant. Matter of fact, speaking about Hindu Indians, they have religious dogma that requires them to bathe before their daily pujas/prayers. So any idea of a body odor because of not bathing is false. Going a step further, my fiance, an Indian, gets complimented often on his choice of men's fragrance.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Jenny S., 29, white-female <
ganga@netrox.net>
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THE QUESTION:
GE84: Is it true that some men do not find pornography appealing because they may feel it dehumanizes or demeans the women (or men) depicted in it?
POSTED OCT. 13, 1998
Keila, 23, female, San Jose, CA

ANSWER 1:
Er - yes and no. I do believe that it can harm both the people in it (exploitation/demeaning/trapped) and the people who use it (tend to objectivize/idealize images; not relate to real people; not see subjects as real people). However, I use pornography, so I am not able to say I don't find it appealing. I am able to shut out my objections to achieve gratification. I find it hard to make real "grown-up," intimate relationships because of low self-esteem and -image, and am in therapy working on feeling better about being me and accepting that I am likable to and genuinely liked by others. Using porn is more of a symptom and (as an ex-smoker of 40 a day) like an addiction: You know it's not good for you, but it's a "safe"/familiar action with a predictable outcome. I would be surprised if there were men who didn't use it for the above reasons, but I do know men who just don't need/use it.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Steve H., 53, white, divorced <
steve.hill@stevehil.globalnet.co.uk>, Leeds, United Kingdom

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Like most men (including the ones who won't admit it), I enjoy pornography. I regret that some women feel it is degrading to women. I don't think it demeans women at all. I believe it celebrates their attractiveness. (On rare occasions, I hear women complain about being treated as "sex objects," but I've never heard their feelings about treating men as "money objects.") What I find demeaning are the commercials on TV that portray either men or women as complete idiots.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Lazarus, 45, white male <
lazarus99@usa.net>, Lawrenceville, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
I also use porn. On a regular basis. Not because of any lack of sexual activity, but as an enhancement to sex. Whether I'm alone or with a woman, porn makes a terrific visual stimulant. And why would someone think that porn is degrading to women? There are black people in pornography, and yet porn isn't considered degrading to colored folks, is it? Porn is educational, stimulating and just downright good healthy family entertainment. Don't just take my word for it, according to "Pop Up Video" on VH1, Americans spent more money last year on porn than they did on rock 'n' roll and country music combined!
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Dr. Coldfinger <
metal_head_69@hotmail.com>, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
It is totally true. My boyfriend thinks porn is wrong. He feels that it can only serve to "lower" the performer. Personally, I feel that if the actor is doing it of his/her own will and being compensated fairly, there isn't anything wrong with it.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Jon, 22, white gay male <
ruffles74@hotmail.com>, Columbus, OH

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Yes, but I don't think "appealing" is the right word. I have been taught all my life that since I am a man, I must be compulsively interested in anything related to sex at all times. Even what I find "sexy" and what I don't has been beaten into me, often through humilitation and such. It makes it hard to learn for myself what actually turns me on and how to think well about it, and actually be able to tell I am in control over my response to things sexual. Pornography that is offensive is of course just that, but as long as this sexual compulsion is there, it tells me, "Ignore the way you are offended and just pay attention to this feeling you are getting from it." When that happens, it makes me feel isolated from other people and from my own emotions, in the same way someone taking drugs or zoning out to TV might. For those reasons, I try to always avoid pornography.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Barry, 29, straight male <
bjoseph@radicalmedia.com>, New York, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
Yes, it is true.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
John K., straight Irish-American male, 25 <
the-macs@geocities.com>, Cranford, NJ
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THE QUESTION:
GD39: I am interested in finding out if other adopted people want to know who their biological parents are. I am torn on whether to do the research to locate my real parents. I was adopted at two weeks old. My parents who raised me were great parents, but I know nothing about the circumstances of my adoption. The courts sealed the proceedings. Should I brave the system and find out this information? Anyone who has put a child up for adoption can answer, too. Let me know what you think about these reunions.
POSTED OCT. 14, 1998
Steve S., 32, married white male, CA

ANSWER 1:
My son was adopted at birth about 34 years ago. I was badly parented and felt no bonds or ties with him; didn't know how families were supposed to work. He found his mother about three years ago and she contacted me. (We had kept in touch though we both had married twice since). It took me 18 months to be ready to meet him, though we wrote one letter each way. I was so impressed when I met him. His adopting parents had done a brilliant job in raising a great boy/man. I could not have done it as well. I am working on re-parenting myself, and friends who have a 12-year-old boy who loves me unconditionally (scary but great; my parents "didn't do" unconditional love) let me borrow him to practice on. I realize this is more about me than about adoption - sorry. If you need to ask the question - ask it and good luck! Be ready for anything from "Sorry; busy; doesn't fit my current lifestyle/family" to "Hi, son! Great to hear from you!"
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Steve Hill, 53, white male, twice divorced <
steve.hill@stevehil.globalnet.co.uk>, Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

FURTHER NOTICE:
I think the the urge to know something about your biological parents is a very natural one, and certainly shows no disrespect for the people who actually reared you. However, if you are successful in locating one or both of your biological parents, you should understand in advance that their reaction may not be entirely positive. I was adopted shortly after my birth, and was about your present age when I decided to try locating my biological parents back in 1979. Court records were not available so I used a private investigative firm. I was never able to locate my mother, but I did find and contact my father. He had been only 17 when he fathered me, and knew of my existence but had never tried to contact me. He was, by 1979, a very successful entrepeneur living and working in a nearby city. When I contacted him, his reaction was, "You know, people can get into lots of trouble in life without going looking for it." End of conversation. So, all that I'm saying is that if you decide to make the search and are successful in your endeavor, you should understand that the results may not necessarily be to your liking. Good luck!
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Robert, 52, Phoenix, AZ

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I am a mother who gave up a child 20 years ago. Through an almost miraculous set of circumstances, we were able to be in contact again when he was 14, and have now met each other and maintain contact. I would say do it, for your own sake, and for the sake of the woman who longs to know what became of you - but do it, if at all possible, with the support and consent of your real parents, who raised you and sacrificed for you. Make sure that searching for your biological relatives does not diminish your relationship with them. I do not know how I would survive if I had to continually wonder what had become of that child.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
A mother

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Steve, I am adopted myself and understand how you feel. I was adopted along with my biological brother and sister. We never knew our parents, and growing up, we were filled with questions. When I turned 18 I contacted my biological parents and finally got the closure I was looking for. My recommendation to you would be to go for it. You'll forever wonder if you don't. Although I no longer correspond with my biological parents (since we never knew each other, there was nothing in common) at least I no longer have to wonder.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Ken, 27 <
artnik@snowhill.com>, AL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I was adopted at three weeks old. My parents too asked me the question, do you want to find out who your birth parents are, and I said "no." I have had a good life. My father, a mill worker, and my mother, a housewife, gave my everything I could ever have wanted. They are all I know. My extended family, aunts, uncles and cousins also never treated my any differently from the others in my family. I am truly blessed. I guess the only question I would like to know is about my medical backround. However, it doesn't bother me not knowing. What I guess I want to say is, if you have questions that are eating you up, find out. If not, enjoy the family you have.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
Brian D., 30 <
dutting@hotmail.com>, Jacksonville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I would think that in this day and age where the medical profession has made such great strides in the research and cure of heriditary dieases, the background knowledge of one's birth parents' medical history would be almost paramount.
POSTED OCT. 19, 1998
John J., Port St. Joe, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
I am a 36-year-old white female adopted at nine weeks of age. My adoptive parents were supportive, loving and everything a child could ask for. I am college educated now and financially comfortable. I found my natural family five years ago, including three siblings. There are many drug and alcohol problems in the family, and no one has near my education. This has caused friction when my biological mother compares me with my siblings. Do I regret my choice? No. They are also loving, kind people who have opened my eyes to a greater diversity. However, it took some time to get over our differences, and some of it was uncomfortable. During my getting to know them I lost my "real" (adoptive) mother, for whom I am still grieving. I think I know now who my real family always was. If you want to do this, go for it, but go in with eyes wide open and be prepared for anything.
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
Katherine, 36 <
Curioddity@aol.com>, Jacksonville Beach, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
My husband was adopted as an infant, and I asked him once whether he ever wanted to find his birth parents. He said no, because as far as he was concerned his parents are the ones who raised him.
POSTED OCT. 20, 1998
Hanofer <
pwoodhouse@helsell.com>, Seattle, WA

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
I, too, gave up my son when he was born almost three years ago. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, or ever will do. I cannot speak for all birth mothers, but I pray for the day that my son is old enough to find me, and I pray that he will want to. We have an open adoption, so he will be raised with some information on me, and if he does want to find me, it will not be difficult. I hope his adoptive parents support him in this. Rest assured that your birth mother did what she did out of love. Good luck.
POSTED OCT. 22, 1998
The other mother, 23, TX

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