Best of the Week
of Oct. 22, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Oct. 22, 2000, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing Y?'s new database using the search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in the Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the new database as well). In the Original Archives and the new database, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. You are encouraged to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.

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Question:
I've noticed that older people tend to believe anything that is presented to them, from politics to the door-to-door salesman. We are always seeing on the news where the older generation is targeted for a lottery, sales or fix-it-up scam or believing politicians without researching them. I was always told how wise this generation is, but from what I've seen I am beginning to doubt this. With the exception that older generations are more trusting (that's a copout), why are they so ready to believe everything they hear?
POSTED 10/24/00
Rob, Warren, MI, United States, 30, Male, Catholic, Straight, Architect/business, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 102400110654

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Question:
It seems that many black people favor using corporal punishment to discipline children. What is the reason that blacks seem to support this method more than whites? Or, is this actually a socioeconomic difference, as many poorer white people also seem to use physical punishment more often than middle- or upper-class whites? Are there the same socioeconomic differences in black child-rearing?
POSTED 10/26/00
Kirby N., Philadelphia, PA, United States, <n148@aol.com>, 50, Female, White/Caucasian, teacher, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 10250082321

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Question:
Why do U.S. women shave and European women do not? Where and when did this obsession with being hairless start?
POSTED 10/25/00
Sandy Y., St. Louis, MO, United States, <haphaz99@yahoo.com>, 26, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, housewife, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 102400115848

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Question:
I think a gay/lesbian couple should be able to adopt a child. What do others think? Why or why not?
POSTED 6/28/00
M.E., PTV, CA, United States, 37, Female, Hispanic/Latino, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 627200011618

Responses:
Homosexuals should not be allowed to adopt children. Children are vulnerable and susceptible to influences from all areas of their lives. Because homosexuals have decided to allow their sex life to take predominance in their lives, that automatically makes them unfit as parents. Children who are to grow mentally sound and fit will never be able to do so in a homosexual household because they, too, will become as preoccupied with sex as these parents are. I do feel that homosexuals who have children should be allowed to see them, as long as there is another parent who is heterosexual and can guide and lead them into a young life where sex is not the most important factor of who they are to become.
POSTED 10/25/00
Lynne G., Jacksonville, FL, United States, 44, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Writer, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 102500124438
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Question:
I'm white and have a 14-month-old adopted black grandchild (the adoptive parents are white). How can the child best be helped to stay in contact with its own heritage?
POSTED 10/8/00
John C., Strafford, MO, United States, <jelad@hotmail.com>, 56, Male, Unity School of Christianity, White/Caucasian, Straight, factory worker, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 107200010853

Responses:
Focus on your own culture and values, and not on your granddaughter's race. You have no special duty to black culture merely because your granddaughter is black; and your granddaughter will not suffer any more than any other child should you unflinchingly impart your world view to her via your children. By her parents' and your persistently high expectations and example, she will eventually come to share and espouse your beliefs. And this will give her certain knowledge that she is an extension of your moral and spiritual force. She will come to see that the same noble mind and heart that lives in you also lives in her, without respect to race. You will see it gradually develop, and it will bind you to her in ways that you cannot now comprehend. The goal of parents and grandparents should always be spiritual and cultural oneness with their offspring - biological or otherwise. Work toward this and your granddaughter will experience few conflicts. Do not separate yourself from her by intentionally giving her cultural values foreign to your own, and do not in any way tiptoe around issues of race. Handle the minor issues of race, how to care for her hair, for example, as if they are mere tasks of the overall job of making her presentable, the best representative of your values she can be. Should you purposefully cause cultural wedges between you, she will certainly grow insecure, seeing her race as an innate barrier so significant that it compels you to send her toward cultural experiences in which you yourself would not partake. The same would occur were she very short or tall and you incessantly focused on her height as opposed to unabashedly loving her because she is your granddaughter. I think we must not confuse race and heritage. I am black with white parents. I have never felt a need to identify with blacks in particular, and my parents have never felt a need to do anything in this area. They taught me their own culture, which is now mine. It is from that vantage point that I approach the world, and I have no conflict whatever about my identity. I am a black, English-speaking American male, the essential product of European culture. I move through various ethnic groups as well as most because I try to approach relationships more from the perspective of mutual ideals and honor, rather than race.
POSTED 10/25/00
M. Freeling, New York, NY, United States, 30, Male, Black/African American, Straight, Attorney, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 102100120546

This is not an either/or situation. The best answer is to raise the child to know both cultures. As parents of a biracial daughter, these are issues my husband (who is of Eastern European Jewish and German descent) and I (an African American) have grappled with. There is no reason to exclude either culture. If you raise the child as German or white, he will only grow up confused. Likewise, if he's only raised to know black culture, he will be equally confused. I have no problem with transracial adoption, but I do feel that those who choose to adopt across cultural lines have a responsibility to teach the child about his birth heritage and history. This could be as simple as reading a few books and magazines on the culture and making them available to the child; taking him out to cultural events and shops; and/or joining a multiracial/transracial adoption support group in your area. It is important that the child be taught about his history, whatever that may be, so that he doesn't feel it's inferior or get wrong-headed ideas or simply isn't aware of it. I'm interested in knowing why this is such an issue when discussing black/white adoption. When I've read/heard of whites adopting Asian children or others, I've never heard this concern. They seem to take it for granted that the child learn his heritage, going so far as to give the child an Asian name. Is it just an ignorance (simply meaning 'not knowing about or aware of' and not to be taken negatively) of African history or African-American culture that concerns whites when it comes to black/white transracial adoption?
POSTED 10/25/00
Jennifer, Dallas, TX, United States, <jenn_williams@prodigy.net>, 25, Female, Yoruba/Ifa, Black/African American, Straight, Writer, Teacher, Tutor, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 10210031704

You are doing the right thing in addressing your grandchild's cultural needs. I am a black woman, but because my skin is light brown and my hair wavy, I have actually been asked what race I am. When this has happened, it was as if the earth spun for a second, clocks melted and an alternate universe was born. How could people NOT know that I was black, was my answer. For that instant, I felt that I had been stripped of my association with every black person in the world, because one person could not see to whom I belonged. Many interracial people live with this every day of their lives, and it's enough to traumatize a child who doesn't belong or doesn't know where they belong. Definitely teach your grandchild how to be proud of both of his cultures. Most importantly, you must also remember that your child will experience racism at some point in life, as long as he lives in America, and it is your responsibility to prepare him to handle bigots. Failure to do that will ensure him a lot of heartache, confusion and feelings of isolation later in life, which could stunt his emotional growth, or worse.
POSTED 10/25/00
Lynne G., Jacksonville, FL, United States, <POSITIVEVIBES@iwon.com>, 44, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Writer, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 102500123359
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Question:
I've heard that Mormons aren't supposed to have caffeine, but that they've signed a deal with Coca-Cola, and that now it is OK for them Mormons to drink Coke products. Is this true?
POSTED 10/17/2000
Tanner H., Laramie, WY, United States, 18, Male, Lutheran, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 10170012803

Responses:
I'm a Mormon and have been raised not to drink Coke or other caffeinated soft drinks. However, Coke and the like are not actually forbidden by the Church. We're advised not to drink them because they can be addictive, but it's not actually forbidden. (I had my first Coke when I was a missionary for the Church!) We are not allowed to drink coffee, tea or alcohol, though. Moreover, contrary to rumor, the Church does not own Coca-Cola. This website has more information on the matter: http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/mormon.htm
POSTED 10/18/00
Daniel H., Columbus, OH, United States, 33, Male, Mormon, White/Caucasian, Straight, librarian, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 10182000123150

I have a lot of friends and family who are Mormon, so I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but this is one more instance of seemingly hypocritical actions my the LDS church. According to the 'Word of Wisdom,' the Mormon advice on how to live various aspects of one's life, a Mormon should not drink 'hot drinks.' This has been interpreted as coffee, tea and anything with caffeine. The Mormons own a major chunk of the Coca-Cola company, but there has been no easing of the 'Word of Wisdom.' This may seem contradictory or hypocritical when viewed against LDS teachings, and I have as much trouble reconciling this as much as I do their paying for light rail to run on Sundays during their semi-annual conference, when Mormon doctrine requires people not to work on the Sabbath or to cause others to have to work on the Sabbath.
POSTED 10/24/00
G.P., Salt Lake City, UT, United States, 36, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1019200023143

I hear that the Mormons in Alaska drink caffeine now because of this deal. I don't know if it's true if the Mormons signed a deal with Coca-Cola or not. However, even if they did sign a deal with Coke, they wouldn't change their religion all of a sudden and start drinking caffeine, would they? The reason Mormons don't drink caffeine is that it's a 'drug'; it's addictive. I'm not saying that they don't drink caffeine. 'Good' Mormons don't drink caffeine. Or at least they aren't supposed to. I know so many Mormons, though, who do drink caffeine already. They are just using this deal as an excuse. True, all religions change their ways over time. They conform. The Mormons have changed a few things throughout time; I just don't understand why caffeine would be so important. This is all just my opinion. I don't know either way. But I saw your question and I thought I would comment. The only thing I think they did wrong is that they signed the deal with Coke ... they should have signed with Pepsi!
POSTED 10/24/00
Natalie, Worland, WY, United States, Female, Mesg ID 10220035614

It is not true. We are instructed to abstain from coffee, tea, illegal drugs, tobacco and alcohol. There is no mention of caffeine. Many people choose to abstain from it, but it is left up to the discretion of the individual. Our dietary laws come from God, and not from deals with industry.
POSTED 10/24/00
Trudy, San Jose, CA, United States, 18, Female, Mormon, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 102300101400
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Question:
My friend makes a lot of comments suggesting he has an interest in homosexuality. He told me about a study about men's finger-length and orientation, he's made joking remarks about becoming bisexual, he pays special attention to gay questions in Savage Love, he 'jokingly' appreciates pictures of the male body. He also likes to embrace and lie on my bed with me in his arms, to caress my back, put his hand on my buttocks, and he lets me touch him, too. But then he also demonstratively appreciates beautiful women in public, and has been with his first girlfriend for eight years, and had a couple of sexual dalliances with other women. My question is, do straight men normally engage in limited sexual contact with other men? Or is it more likely that he's a fence-sitter, as I am?
POSTED 10/16/2000
Dont know what to think, Seattle, WA, United States, <eyenvu@hotmail.com>, 35, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 10140034824

Responses:
I know you must feel a little weird that your friend is sending you mixed messages. As a straight white woman, I do not know any straight males who would let you do what you said your friend lets you do. I did date a guy who was very feminine (I thought). I was so in love with him, but he would never kiss me or even try to do what most straight males would do if a woman were sleeping next to him. I respected him but jokingly asked if he might be gay. He giggled and said 'no' at the time, but I later found out that he came out of the closet. Maybe you should talk to your friend about it, and let him know your feelings; you might be surprised.
POSTED 10/18/00
Teriza, Douglasville, GA, United States, 21, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, clerk, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1018200013439

Your friend obviously feels some comfort in discussing the male body and sexual orrientation with you in extensive detail. With my experience, I'd have to say he is either very comfortable with the established relationship with you and is bisexual (and very possibly coming onto you) or he is gay and not yet out of the closet. Straight men often have fantasies about sexual conduct with other men, and will act them out given the right circumstances. Be careful engaging in any sexual relations with him, though, until you get your facts straight (no pun intended) and understand one another.
POSTED 10/24/00
Rajadove, Pomona, CA, United States, <rajadove@altavista.com>, 18, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Gay, Student, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 1018200021756
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Question:
We get a lot of Japanese-from-Japan tourists here in Hawaii, and something puzzles me. Japanese people appear to love a lot of American culture. I have friends who are very Caucasian-looking who have made lots of money modeling in Japanese fashion magazines. Why hasn't orthodontia become popular in Japan? You see a beautifully dressed, immaculately made-up young Japanese woman. She opens her mouth and has the worst snaggle teeth you've ever seen. Their teeth are clean, just really crooked. Asian people in general seem to have teeth that are more crooked than other people's teeth. Are their mouths just too small for the number of teeth they have? Or is it that Americans are obsessed with teeth?
POSTED 10/16/2000
Maile, Makawao, HI, United States, 19, Female, Methodist, Pacific Islander, Straight, Student, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 10150085828

Responses:
As I recall, crooked teeth used to be very common among showbiz stars in Japan; I guess they find that attractive somehow. But judging from the recent popular idols, they seem to have grown out of that obsession. I'm not Japanese, so maybe this isn't the best answer you can get.
POSTED 10/24/00
Anna, Hong Kong, NA, China, Female, Mesg ID 102100120240
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Question:
I am a late-20s Asian male professional in Chicago. I notice that when Asian men express their sexuality to Caucasian women (i.e. flirt, jog shirtless, make eye contact or otherwise express interest), it makes Caucasian women uncomfortable, which is exhibited in their body language and facial expressions. I realize that some Caucasian women are not this way, but my question is directed to those who have this 'problem.' Why are so many Caucasian women uncomfortable with an Asian male who has a sexual identity?
POSTED 10/16/2000
David, Chicago, IL, United States, <linstirr@earthlink.net>, 27, Male, Agnostic, Asian, Straight, Attorney, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 10150041248

Responses:
I don't perfectly fit your description of the Caucasian woman uncomfortable with your sexuality, but I have a related comment. I am half Asian and half Caucasian and grew up mostly identifying with Caucasian, maybe because the Asian culture was not really taught or emphasized in my upbringing. I hardly recognized any differences in myself from other whites. Later in life (after identifying better with my Asian side), I noticed how attracting Asian men was not even an option. I feel Asian men only pay attention to the 100 percent Asian woman who fits the ideal of Asian beauty. Now married to a black man, I still can't fathom an Asian man giving women a chance who do not fit the description above. Perhaps this is why you get reactions that white women are uncomfortable. Perhaps they are baffled at your interest.
POSTED 10/17/00
Jordan, Wheeling, IL, United States, <ajerr@allstate.com>, 25, Female, Christian, Asian and Caucasian, Straight, Editor, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 101700113309

I admit that I couldn't see myself in a serious relationship with an Asian male or female. That is not meant to be offensive; it's just that I like to have as much as possible in common. I can't understand why masculine males and feminine females want to be together, either. I haven't found that opposites attract.
POSTED 10/19/00
Priscilla, Sydney, NA, Australia, 23, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1019200021625

I can't speak for all females, but I do not find Asian men sexually attractive and can understand the 'recoil' factor. Why don't I find them attractive? I don't know if I can answer that thoroughly, but I will try: Many women, including myself, are not generally attracted to men who are shorter than themselves, or less imposing physically, and many Asian men are short and slender. Is it because I was raised with the image of masculine white men in all the romantic leads? I am sure that has a lot to do with it. I am 32, and there were no romantic Asian male leads in any movie or TV show I can recall growing up. The only Asians on TV that I can recall growing up were in Barney Miller and M*A*S*H. Unfortunately, as I was raised in the white enclave of Marin County, the only time I encountered Asian men growing up was in San Francisco's Chinatown, and I have to say that Chinese men of a certain age have an herbal odor that is really unpleasant. This does not boost sex appeal. It is only as an adult that I have noticed Asian actors in the media playing romantic leads. Brandon Lee was handsome, and Chow Yun Fat is very attractive, and still, I don't have the same reaction that I do to Brad Pitt or George Clooney. Then, of course, there are those reports that Asian men are not well-endowed. For about four years, I worked as a stripper. We had many Japanese businessmen as customers. When you lapdance, or do private shows behind glass while the customer 'takes matters into his own hands' so to speak, you cannot help but either feel or see his 'dimensions.' And without exception, they were, in fact, not well-endowed. Sometimes so not-endowed that we felt sorry for them. In Japan, they have different sizes of condoms, and the smallest would literally fit snugly over your index finger. They make them this size because some guys need them. The 'myth' of the black man is that they are animalistically sexual, massively endowed sexual beings. The 'myth' of the Asian man is that they all majored in business and have pocket protectors. So these are some reasons, perhaps, why some women are uncomfortable with Asian men expressing their sexuality. The fact is that some or many Caucasian women don't have a positive impression of Asian men's sexuality.
POSTED 10/24/00
Kathy, San Rafael, CA, United States, 32, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1019200070315

Despite living in this 'progressive' era and country, attitudes toward some types of interracial alliances are very primitive - thanks in most ways to the mainstream media that promotes and glamorizes only selective forms of interracial dating while subtly mocking and 'taboo-izing' others. The media and Hollywood romanticizes the white male/Asian or black female (more recently) couple and 'taboo-izes' the white female/colored male alliance. Even if a white female/colored male couple were shown, there are strong hints of disapproval toward it. Moreover, the Asian man is portrayed as an undesirable mate/friend by the media; someone who is not romantic, sensitive, masculine, sophisticated, etc. It is this type of idea that most women buy into, and therefore they are uncomfortable being seen socializing with an Asian man. They fear being looked down upon by the rest of the crowd. Be alone in conversation with such white women and they are just fine, but be in a social/public setting and they'd rather not be seen with you. This in part explains the discomfort. I have had very similar experiences.
POSTED 10/24/00
Portchatter, Birmingham, AL, United States, 30, Male, Asian, student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 102200102149
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Question:
I've recently befriended a lesbian colleague. We have become very close, and I found myself thinking about her romantically. The thing is, I have always thought of myself as straight. I told her of my feelings, but she admitted she wasn't attracted to me whatsoever. The thing I find so confusing is that I know she likes me a lot, and even told me once that she thinks I look good. So the problem is not my looks, evidently, and not my personality, either, since we get along so well. So, I felt extremely hurt that she could not feel the same about me. Because I'm so confused about my sexual orientation right now, I can only guess how it is for gays. How can they differentiate between a friend and a potentail lover? Can a relationship that starts out as a friendship evolve to more than that? I know this colleague has several lesbian friends with whom she hasn't been sexually involved. I've often wondered how she manages to draw the line. I mean, she loves her friends, but each might be a potential lover. So how can it be that sex hasn't got in the way? I'd appreciate it if lesbians would share some of their similar experiences.
POSTED 10/16/2000
Irene, New York, NY, United States, 28, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Still not sure of sexual orientation, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 10160090404

Responses:
I went through a similar situation when I came out. I discovered I was a lesbian when I was 19 and met a lesbian in college. I had previously dated guys. I fell into a sort of puppy-love with her; I then went through years of self-doubt, analysis and experimentation, dating both men and women. I think this may be why your friend isn't interested in you as a lover. Many lesbians I know have 'rules' about whom they will and will not date, such as: 1. Never date bisexual women. 2. Never date a woman who has never had sex with another woman before. 3. Never date a woman who has never had sex with a man before. (!) The rules help us avoid going through what you're going through right now, over and over again. As far as how we can tell who our friends are, well - have you ever been friends with a man who was totally off-limits to you as a potential lover? (a brother-in-law, former fiance of your best friend, gay male, a member of your group of close friends?) Some lesbians 'draw the line' that way - don't date the ex-es of friends, don't date people involved in a relationship, don't date people in your gardening club, whatever. For me, other lesbians are potential friends, but not potential lovers. Then one day, something happens, and one may become a lover. Who can explain mutual attraction? Nobody knows what makes it occur. It might be a little like the way we decided someone was our 'best friend' in grade school, as opposed to just a friend. Good luck - I know this can be a difficult time. We all go through it, though, as far as I know.
POSTED 10/18/00
Nancy, Atlanta, GA, United States, 35, Female, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 10182000102707

I can only speak as a straight female, but I can understand your colleague's position. I have many male friends in whom I have no sexual interest, even though they are attractive and we get along very well. I also love my male friends but don't consider each of them a potential lover. I would have to conclude that a lesbian would differentiate between a friend and a potential lover the same as a straight women would make the same distinction about someone of the opposite sex. Why not just enjoy your friendship with this woman without worrying about sex, the same as I enjoy my friendships with my male friends without worrying about sex?
POSTED 10/24/00
Jo, Curubusco, IN, United States, 51, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Programmer/analyst, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 1018200082843

I'm gay, not a lesbian, but I'm going to make a comment anyway. You are 28 and have been to college for four years, and always thought of yourself as straight. In all that time, have you never had a male friend? Can you differentiate between who you would want as a boyfriend and guys you like a lot but have no romantic feelings for, and befriend? So, why do you act so surprised when someone says, 'You're a nice guy, but...' Lesbians aren't as different as you want to believe.
POSTED 10/24/00
Craig, Minneapolis, MN, United States, 37, White/Caucasian, Gay, Information Systems, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1019200055512

First, just because a woman is attractive doesn't mean that someone else is attracted to her in the sexual sense. And just because someone is attracted to members of the same sex doesn't mean he/she wants to bed everyone within that sex who is attractive. Surely you have male friends who are handsome and nice but whom you don't want to sleep with. The same holds true for lesbians and gays. Sexual attraction is a personal thing - either you feel it or you don't. While objective good looks are a good start, at the end of the day, the most beautiful woman or man may not 'do it' for me. As for why your friend may not be interested in you, most lesbian women have no interest in being experimented with women by who aren't clear about their preference. The gay lifestyle is hard enough - why get emotionally and sexually involved with someone who might just be curious?
POSTED 10/24/00
A.W., Seattle, WA, United States, 32, Female, Black/African American, Mostly straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 102200102642
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