Best of the Week
of Oct. 28, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Oct. 28, 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:

I have read that most Muslims in the world deplore the actions of the radical fundamentalists and that they are actually peaceful people. In mainstream Muslim societies and families, are females considered the equal of males in all respects? Does the religion consider women and girls as somehow inferior or less important than boys and men? Is it expected that females would be afforded as much education and opportunities as males?

POSTED 11/2/2001

Fred H., Avon, MA, United States, 72, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, retired, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 1112001100311

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Question:

A friend who is married (a woman) is having an affair with a co-worker who is married. She told me it was an instant attraction for both of them, and neither one of them wants to stop seeing the other. They can't get enough of each other, but it's not just physical. To those of you who have had affairs outside of your marriage, why did you start the affair? What kept it going? Why do you think men and women have extramarital affairs? Do men have affairs just to get physical attention, or do some men fall in love with these women? Do most women who have affairs have serious feelings for these men, or are they just out for a piece of a**? I know it's morally wrong; I'm just trying to get inside the head of someone who has been there.

POSTED 11/2/2001

Missy, Somewhere, PA, United States, 34, Female, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 111200191127

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Question:

When did women started to grow and polish their nails?

POSTED 11/2/2001

A. Lenumérosix, Montréal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 44, Male, Lutheran, White/Caucasian, Straight, teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1031200164741

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Question:

I just started seeing a Japanese girl; we both like one another and get along great. We've started fooling around recently, with clothes on (rubbing, massaging, etc). But while she lets me rub her sexually, she does not want me to kiss her, and I had heard from some other friends (with no substantial proof) that to Japanese girls, kissing is taboo and something you save for your definite loved one or husband. Is this true ?

POSTED 10/29/2001

D.R., Vancouver, British Columbia, NA, Canada, 27, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 1027200151401

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Question:

Why do some people say women are better drivers than men?

POSTED 10/29/2001

Ashley, Horicon, WI, United States, 16, Female, Mesg ID 1029200175217


Responses:
Actually, I have heard more talk about how bad women drivers are than how good they are. I think a better question would be, Why do we feel the need to make generalizations about an entire group of people based on the actions of a few?

POSTED 11/2/2001

Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, Middle class, Mesg ID 1029200140714


I think it's because males have higher accident rates overall, according to the insurance companies. Young, impulsive males are more likely than females to drive aggressively and take risks than are female drivers, so those guys drive up the insurance rates for the rest of us men. As far as the actual ability to control a motor vehicle, there is probably no gender difference.

POSTED 11/2/2001

Rick, Springfield, OH, United States, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1030200164817


I am afraid I have never heard that expression or anyone say it in my entire life. From what I have seen, women are horrible drivers. They either drive so slow and cautious it takes twice as long to get anywhere, or they drive completely out of control. When I drive, it is usually above the speed limit, and I know exactly where every car is in front of me and behind me. The average woman does not. Don't bring up insurance because those figures they rely on were taken in the '50s, when almost no woman drove, so it was always men who got into accidents, whereas when I see an accident now it is usually a woman getting her insurance papers in order.

POSTED 11/2/2001

Adam P., Windsor, Ontario, NA, Canada, 20, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 1031200192458


I have heard that statistically women are involved in fewer serious accidents than men. Women, at least in the United States, are raised to be more conciliatory and less aggressive, so they may be more courteous drivers, and that can lead to fewer accidents. It could also be that women may be more likely to have children in the car and thus may feel more of an incentive to drive carefully. All just guesses.

POSTED 11/2/2001

Ramonna, Cleveland, OH, United States, Female, Mesg ID 111200185017


I don't know that I have ever heard that women are better drivers than men. I have heard it phrased the other way around, however. I would have to say that in my experience women are horrible drivers. I have been driving for the last six years, and all my experiences with bad drivers have been with women. Although not proven, most stereotypes reflect the truth in some manner. So there must be some truth to the statement that women can't drive.

POSTED 11/2/2001

Jon, Windsor, Ontario, NA, Canada, Male, Mesg ID 10312001100636

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Question:

I was wondering if nurses, doctors or morticians have ever had strange experiences when working with people who are dying/dead, such as ghosts, something strange the person said, any suggestion of life after death, etc.

POSTED 10/25/2001

Craig, Minneapolis, MN, United States, 38, Male, Gay, Mesg ID 10232001112451


Responses:
I have an uncle who was a pilot, and he used to fly passengers and cargo to and from Honduras. Once he had to fly the body of an extremely overweight woman back to Honduras. She was so large they had to take the top off the casket and place it on its side next to my uncle, the pilot. According to him, as the airplane gained altitude, it forced air from the woman's lungs and she groaned. He always carried a sidearm and he pulled it and told the woman that if she moved he was going to kill her again!

POSTED 10/26/2001

Redeemed One, Newport News, VA, United States, Female, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 10262001111556

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Question:

I recently fell in love with a Japanese girl on an exchange program from her university in Japan. She has since gone back, but we e-mail and talk a lot on the phone, and I plan to visit her next summer. We have talked about whether our relationship will work after we graduate. The problem is that she seems too willing to sacrifice her life's goals and ambitions for the wishes of her parents. For example, she is studying to be a teacher but doesn't think she will find a teaching job in Japan. Because she loves other cultures and travel, she would like to work in a country other than Japan, at least for awhile. But her parents have said they don't want her to leave Japan, and if she can't find a job as a teacher there, she will work for her father's bank as a teller or something. Also, she wants to be with me, but her mother has told her she doesn't want her to date non-Japanese because of language-cultural-religious differences. While she is certainly not happy with her parents' views, she doesn't seem willing to stand up for what she wants. Is this a common attitude among young Japanese women? That what they want is not necessarily important in relation to the wishes of their parents? Do I encourage her to stand up for herself, or just leave it and hope they come around eventually?

POSTED 10/23/2001

J., Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, 21, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineering Student, 2 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1022200125528


Responses:
What, exactly, do you think you can do? Sounds to me like you don't know this girl, her background or her family enough to really say that you 'love' her. Not to mention your condescending attitude to what is generally regarded as traditional Asian cultural values. Your white male superiority, in hoping that they will 'come around eventually,' is sickening. The assumption that 'she doesn't seem willing to stand up for what she wants' implies a subservience and weakness on her part, i.e. that standing up to her parents is the correct thing to do. Does your attraction to this girl stem from some hope of 'saving' her from her own culture and family?

POSTED 10/26/2001

D., New York, NY, United States, 25, Male, Agnostic, Asian, Straight, 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 10252001102426


North American culture is based on the individual, whereas traditional Asian culture is based on one's relationship to the group. To violate group norms is to become a shunned outsider. In the United States, a naughty child is disciplined by being sent to a room to be alone, whereas in Japan a naughty child might be disciplined by being placed outside the home, excluded from the family unit. To ask her to go against her parents' wishes is almost equivalent to asking her to be disowned and bring society's disapproval upon her. Her lifelong social implications of making the choices you would like are enormous, much larger than an American making a similar set of of decisions. Japanese culture has a separate word for those who have lived abroad, and they are viewed as being tainted and not totally Japanese any more. Interracial and cross-cultural marriage is treated even more harshly. As a product of an interracial marriage, I have experienced discrimination from both Asians and Americans, and I fit in nowhere. Yes, her not wanting to stand up to her parents is common. Her parents have a set of expectations from a son-in-law, and it's likely that you, coming from another culture, are not prepared to fulfill them. Rather than encouraging her to action, or passively waiting, I strongly recommend that you learn a lot more about Japanese culture, values and expectations. This way you will understand the full implications of what you want her to do, and you will understand where she is coming from much better. Right now, it sounds like you don't know her that well, in that you are approaching the situation in a very American way. Once you understand the magnitude of what you want, through Japanese eyes, then you will be better prepared to decide whether to encourage her (and support her through all the subsequent problems she will have).

POSTED 10/26/2001

Ruth, Denver, CO, United States, 38, Female, Christian, Asian, Straight, Arthritis, etc., Software tester, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 10262001113652


In most Asian countries, children are brought up to respect their parents. Most parents born during the early to mid 20th century lived a hard life due to the war. They didn't really have the chance to pursue their dreams. So sometimes they tend to want to 'live their dreams in their children,' which might not be what their children want, but since they've been brought up to obey their parents, it has become sort of second nature to give up their dreams. This is also because they feel they owe their parents after all the hard work to bring them up and can't bear to disobey their wishes. If she stands up for herself, it may look like rebellion to her parents, and this may cause tensions in the family. If she is close to her family, she can talk to them and tell them she wants to choose her own path in life, and if she encounters any problems, she would not hesitate to ask for advice and assistance.

POSTED 11/2/2001

Ping, n/a, NA, Malaysia, 19, Female, Asian, Straight, student, Middle class, Mesg ID 1031200154613

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Question:

When I moved to the United States (from the Caribbean) I was surprised to hear the term 'white trash' used by whites to describe other white Americans upon whom they look down. My assumption was that white people stick together and wouldn't make derogatory comments of someone within their own race. I guess I was wrong. Why is this?

POSTED 10/23/2001

Natasha, Washington, DC, United States, 29, Female, Christian, Afro-Caribbean, Straight, administrative assistant, Technical School, Middle class, Mesg ID 1023200122553


Responses:
First, I abhor the use of this term, simply because I have religious and moral principles that don't allow me to call any people 'trash.' Nobody is garbage. Having said that, though, most white people have no problem with pointing out the shortcomings of other white people because we don't perceive ourselves as a tribe. There are exceptions, such as clannish ethnic groups (e.g., Poles or Greeks) or people who take extreme pride in their own city, state or region of the country, but as a rule, white people don't consider themselves as part of a group - they are just 'people.' I don't consider the race of a person in my assessment of their character. This was Dr. King's dream, and the ideal to which we should all aspire.

POSTED 10/26/2001

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 41, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1025200172648


This is not about race, it's about class. Whether we want to admit it or not, Americans look down on other Americans who do not live the same lifestyle they do. White people who call other whites 'white trash' are knocking them for their lack of wealth,attitudes and behavior. Where I live, someone who is 'White Trash' is not just white, but is poor, has bad manners and lives in a trailer park, drinks too much and marries his cousin. You get the idea, it's about snobbery.

POSTED 10/26/2001

Susan, Reseda, CA, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1026200123609


I have more in common with my black and Latino neighbors than I do some white guy living in Appalachia, despite the fact I'm white. To suggest that 'whites stick together' is to believe we're all racist. Educated people of all races have learned to define themselves in terms beyond merely the color of their skins. To imply that I would back or defend another Caucasian who was doing something harmful or wrong solely on the basis of a shared pigment (or lack thereof) is offensive. You will soon see, if you haven't already, that Jamaicans and African Americans in this country detest each other, and they're all black. What gives with that?

POSTED 10/29/2001

Emma, Los Angeles, CA, United States, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 1029200175958


Your message surprised me - how could you not know that white people are horribly divided? The class system is one expression of this, but we also divide along religious and even sports-fan lines. I assume you mean that when black people are divided, they show loyalty to their race by keeping quiet about it when with whites. Personally, I never thought of people being divided into races until I heard about the black 'race' struggle. I always thought people just had skins with various shades of brown and pink. Did you know there is no scientific basis for race? According to studies, the DNA differences WITHIN 'racial' groups are actually larger than those between them. Anyway, no single group of people deserves the label 'trash,' black or white. It is just lazy stereotyping.

POSTED 11/2/2001

Sean H., London, NA, United Kingdom, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 1029200133500

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