Best of the Week
of Nov. 12, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Nov. 12, 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.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at Y?'s guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

The book on Y? is here!
"Why Do White People Smell Like Wet Dogs
When They Come Out Of The Rain?"

Order it securely via credit card
Delivery in 2-3 days via Priority Mail
Read the Associated Press story on "Wet Dogs"

Order the book on Y? today!

 


Question:
I haven't seen this posted anywhere else, so here goes: I was watching a show on The History Channel about the 'oldest profession,' and it made me wonder what women in this profession have to say about differences between men and women. Given the fact that they see people at their base level and unguarded state, what insights, if any, have they gained about human nature? I once read a book about women who were exotic dancers, and they said that what you see going on in strip clubs is a microcosm of American society: Classism, gender conflicts, racism, etc. Since we can all post at this site anonymously, is anyone out there involved in this occupation in any facet (dancing, phone sex, escorting, massage parlours, etc.) who would comment on these topics? I look forward to responses.
POSTED 11/16/2000
Linda, Honolulu, HI, United States, 30, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 11142000100110

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Is there any truth to rave culture's PLUR (peace/love/unity/respect) mentality? I got the idea that people who were drawn to raves were like modern-day hippies, but when I finally went to one, my friend had her purse stolen (along with her car keys) and was told it was 'great that she still went out at 27.' Is age an issue? Sexual orientation? Is there usually so much attitude? Is PLUR only a result of being on Ecstacy? Or was this atypical?
POSTED 11/16/2000
Craig, Minneapolis, MN, United States, 37, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Computer Guru, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1116200045518

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
I am an outspoken female leaving for India in a month. I want to know if there is anything I should be worried about, such as covering my face or how I dress, drinking at bars, etc. I do not want to offend anyone, and I do not want to put myself in danger. Are there any web sites I can visit to find out what is acceptable, or does anyone have any advice? Also, I will be meeting my boyfriend's parents for the first time and wanted to know some dos and don�ts.
POSTED 11/16/2000
Marie, Tampa, FL, United States, 22, Female, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 1113200094504

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
What social tensions exist between 'out' lesbians and closeted ones? How about 'out' gay men vs. closeted?
POSTED 11/16/2000
Sam, San Diego, CA, United States, 21, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, student, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1114200010340

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why do Italian Americans hate African Americans? I feel it's safe to say that most blacks don't understand where this comes from, because our two peoples don't have a history of animosity - no border disputes, no history in ancient times of doing things to one another. Also, we know that what happened to our people here in this country had nothing to do with the Italian people or other people who came later during the days of heavy immigration from Europe. When we speak of racism, Italians don't even enter into our minds. Why do they hate us?
POSTED 11/12/2000
Jada, Boston, MA, United States, 33, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Teacher, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 102300100635

Responses:
Probably for the same reason members of any group hate members of any other group. The majority of 'white people' in America today are descendents of immigrants who came after the Civil War, and therefore had no more part in slavery than the German-American settlers' descendents had in Adolf Hitler. Some Italians hate blacks, some blacks hate whites, etc. A lot of the Italians you're talking about are probably from poorer neighborhoods and grew up with poor blacks, and both groups probably have those stereotypes in their heads.
POSTED 11/14/2000
Brian, Peru, IN, United States, 25, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Management, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 11132000100933

This is a guess, but it seems to me that blacks and Italians have inhabited some of the same neighborhoods in U.S. cities throughout the last half of the 20th Century. Generally the Italians were entrenched in these communities first and saw the incoming black populations as intruders. And while you state that there's no historic precedent for conflict between these peoples, I think you'll find that the Moors and the Sicilians had all kinds of problems with each other back in the day.
POSTED 11/14/2000
Emma, L.os Angeles, CA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 11132000125744

I'm sure you didn't intend to generalize to the effect that all Italian-Americans hate blacks. I understand your question, though, especially given the fact that you live in Boston; even having never been there, I am aware of the neighborhoods where blacks take their lives in their hands by stepping foot inside. I think there are Italian-Americans who hate blacks for the same reason there are Irish-Americans who hate blacks. Both of these immigrant groups suffered similar discrimination and hatred that we did when they first came here. You should see some of the old hate propaganda perpetrated against the Irish and Italians from the early 20th century. Very similar to the white supremacist propaganda against us that persists to this day, including references to monkeys, laziness, filth, idiocy, childlike impulses and uncontrollable sexuality. However, one of the rights of passage for non-black immigrants to this country was and is climbing above blacks on the social scale. The way to do that, to distance oneself from 'the lowest of the low,' requires a mirroring of the attitudes evinced by the mainstream. The closer you are in appearance and culture to the 'lowest of the low,' the more virulently you must deride them, so that those who have the power will consider you more one of them.
POSTED 11/14/2000
Jennifer R., Saint Paul, MN, United States, <DKFLWR@aol.com>, 30, Female, Humanist, Black/African American, Straight, Writer/Student, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1114200014706
To respond
BACK TO TOP


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

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why does it seem that most male hairdressers, florists, entertainers, interior decorators and clothing designers are gay? Also, why do so many gay men seem to be into showtunes? Of course there are exceptions, but there really does seem to be some truth to those stereotypes.
POSTED 4/21/1999
K., Potsdam, NY, United States, <gazelle_sunday@unforgettable.com>, 20, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Mesg ID 42199125353

Responses:
There are a few reasons one might think this. First, society has set up an expectation of what it means to be gay. This cultural construction of a gay man is someone who speaks with a lisp, has a limp wrist, etc. When you see someone who fits this stereotype, you assume he is gay. But the only way you can tell if someone is gay is to read their mind and know about the feelings of attraction they have. Second, gay children growing up often feel as if they are different from others. This difference sometimes directs them to be interested in things that are also considered 'other,' such as a male hairdresser. Going along with my first point, many young gays feel as if they must fit the cultural stereotype of a gay man, even before they realize they are gay. Gay people can be black, Asian, white, designers, firefighters, unemployed, good-looking, fat, bald, etc. They can be anything. However, most people associate them as only looking a certain way or being associated with certain things.
POSTED 11/12/2000
Jeremy, Ann Arbor, MI, United States, 22, Male, Presbyterian, White/Caucasian, Gay, student, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 102600101142

As a gay man who fits neither the occupations nor the stereotypes you listed, I've wondered about this myself. My best guess is that many gay men feel emotionally stifled when growing up, by the stiff-upper-lip mentality that society and parents teach to boys. The one common thread among many so-called 'gay icons' such as Barbra Streisand or theater in general seems to be emotional overstatement and/or flamboyancy, which gay men would see as a refreshing opposite of having to hide their emotions and/or behaviors while growing up. Finally, the elevated appreciation of beauty (hairdressers, florists, etc.) could be because gay people can have an understandably ugly perception of society at large. By the same logic as above, beauty would serve as a comforting refuge from the not-so-beautiful things that can happen to gay people. But that's just my theory, and I'm sure it just scratches the surface. Also, one must consider that the ones who fit the stereotypes are a minority within a minority; they just happen to be the most visible.
POSTED 11/12/2000
Dennis, Seattle, WA, United States, 25, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Graduate Student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 913200021739

One of the best answers I've read to this question is discussed in Randy Connor's book Blossom of Bone. He asserts that homosexuals have historically been more in tune with their creative and spiritual natures than heterosexual males - perhaps centuries of derision and persecution have forced homosexuals to find more creative ways to express themselves and discover the beauty that surrounds us, which most people take for granted. They may also be more creative by nature (the gay gene?). By the way, do you know why so many straight guys are interested in sports, fights, guns and cars?
POSTED 11/12/2000
Khephra, Houston, TX, United States, 41, Male, Thelemite, White/Caucasian, Gay, Mesg ID 920200084802
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
I know when the word "Idolatry" is used in the Bible, it usually refers to those who believe a God that is in an object. But I also know that it can be used to describe the state of having more priority and compassion in an object (a car, etc.) than your loved ones or even God. But in movies with vampires in them, a Crucifix can keep vampires at a distance or even burn them if it touches them. And the same with Holy Water. Is that Idolatry? Or is it not, because God is not portrayed as being in the Crucifix, just Divine Power, as it was blessed by a Priest, like Holy water is? Holy water is used in Baptisms and Christenings. Or a Crucifix will be touched on the forehead of a person being baptized if water isn't used. Also, there are legends that surround holy objects, such as at Kents Cavern in Devonshire, where there is a rock near a pool of water that looks like the face of a witch. The legend is that two monks were near that pool of water, which is holy water, and a witch came and tried to attack them, and the monks splashed some of the holy water on her, and she turned to stone.
POSTED 11/12/2000
Rob S., Poole, NA, United Kingdom, <rms6859@postmaster.co.uk>, 24, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight,Mesg ID 1111200071516

Responses:
You are on the right track. Things such as crucifixes, holy water, statues, icons and so on are not viewed as objects of worship in and of themselves; they are not 'God,' and God is not 'in' them. They are viewed by Catholics and many others (Orthodox, conservative Anglicans, etc.) as instruments of divine grace or 'sacramentals.' It is not considered idolatry to venerate or pay respect to them; you are paying respect to what they represent, much as you might kiss a picture of a loved one or hold with reverence an object that belongs to them.
POSTED 11/12/2000
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 40, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1112200080126

In these cases of objects being used, the attachment is not to the object, so you could not speak of the person as 'having other gods before me [God].' The object is not being worshiped, it is being used for a particular purpose. Of course, if God were believed to be in the object, then there is even less problem. In Roman Catholicism and Anglo-Catholicism, the doctrine of transsubstantiation even asserts that the communion bread and wine changes 'substance' into the body and blood of Christ.
POSTED 11/14/2000
Ben S., Sydney, NA, Australia, <bscaro@hotmail.com>, 32, Male, Rosicrucian, White/Caucasian, Gay, Investigator, 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 11132000125135
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why does it seem that lower-middle-class people choose to go barefoot, say, when visiting the local ice cream stand? I've observed countless parents with their children with nothing on their feet who are walking in a parking lot. It seems quite dangerous and irresponsible. These are not homeless people and can obviously afford shoes if they are buying ice cream, so money is not the issue.
POSTED 10/8/2000
S.W., Sterling Heights, MI, United States, 26, Male, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 107200011914

Responses:
I went barefoot when I was a kid, and also when I got older. I grew up on a farm, and this may have something to do with it. In fact, whenever I picked my way across my grandparents' gravel driveway, they told me I should go barefoot more often outside to 'toughen up' my feet. Oh, and by the way, we weren't lower middle class. My family owned about a third of the farmland in the county. My dad did some farming on the side, but he also worked in town during week and wore a suit. I was not allowed to wear shorts to town after about the age of 6 or 7. But it seems like being barefoot was acceptable. When I moved to Atlanta, I would occasionally go barefoot, like to a friend's home, or choir practice, or something like that. And it quickly became obvious that people thought this was very strange, and sort of 'hick' behavior. So I quit going barefoot in some places; but in the park, at the lake, or my yard or inside my home - and inside the homes of close friends and family - I still kick off my shoes as soon as I can. I really don't like shoes - even though I have some very nice and comfortable ones. Nothing is as comfortable as going barefoot - not even my Birkenstocks.
POSTED 11/12/2000
Nancy, Atlanta, GA, United States, 35, Female, Episcopalian, White/Caucasian, education, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 11102000105537
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
To people of various cultural backgrounds: What are some non-verbal ways you feel offended or insulted by people of other backgrounds, i.e. through physical distance, facial expression, touch, gesture, eye contact, etc.?
POSTED 11/12/2000
Tasha, La Mirada, CA, United States, 18, Female, Mesg ID 102500120701

Responses:
Here's an obvious one that I bet many will identify with: Ever since I was 10, I've noticed some whites looking over their shoulder anxiously as we walk past each other, like they were afraid I was going to attack them from behind. I've also always noticed that many whites stare at my hands when I first meet them, like they expect me to be holding a gun or knife. Many of these same people later turn out to not be racist as far as I could tell by their other behavior toward me, or at least not consciously. But it's obvious many white Americans, even those who really try to not be racist, still have this sometimes unconscious fear of any dark-skinned male that shows itself in these ways. These things began happening to me when I was 10, stood about five feet tall and weighed less than 100 lbs. They've also happened to me no matter how I was dressed, including in military dress uniform or a suit and tie. So it's not based on anything rational.
POSTED 11/12/2000
A.C.C., W Lafayette, IN, United States, 35, Male, Mexican and American Indian, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1112200013416

The one I notice most often is the bewildered stare, kind of a cross between 'Is that what I think it is?' and 'Oh look, a Martian!'
POSTED 11/12/2000
Mel, Gunnison, CO, United States, 19, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Student, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1112200041005

When I am conducting business or otherwise interacting with other people in public, it is customary for me to make eye contact and smile at whomever I am interacting with. Occasionally, the person with whom I am interacting will make a show of intentionally snubbing me, and when this happens, it is usually a black female. These particular people will do things like not answering when I ask them a question or try to make small talk, speaking to me only to the extent that they absolutely have to, not making eye contact, not smiling, perhaps glaring in a confrontational manner or moving very slowly when they are in service job. Then I will see these same people talk animatedly with someone of their own race, or go out of their way to give them better service.
POSTED 11/12/2000
Michell, Dayton, OH, United States, 33, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Middle class, Mesg ID 1112200045102
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
I have noticed that many elderly people have hoarse, high-pitched or 'screechy' voices. But if I have known someone all my life (40 years), I do not notice that their voice has changed in any perceptible way. Aside from illness or general weakening of the body, does voice tone change with age? If this means anything, I have noticed that people in isolated environments, regardless of age, have 'relic' ways of speaking, as though their speech is 'fossilized' from the time of the earliest settlers in that area. Could the speech of some elderly people sound peculiar because they are merely speaking the way they always have, not necessarily because their speech has changed with age?
POSTED 11/12/2000
Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 10260071930

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
Why are the administrative leaders of the Boy Scouts of America - an organization built on Christian principles - against providing even the basic social rights of gay children and adults in the Scouting organization?
POSTED 11/12/2000
Denis F. C., Rochester, NH, United States, <denisfc@hotmail.com>, 60, Male, New Age/Metaphysical, White/Caucasian, housing developer, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1111200071956

Responses:
Whether the Boy Scouts are adhering to Christian principles or not is irrelevant - as is the debate on Christianity and homosexuality as well. The point is that a voluntary private organization should be allowed to organize its membership around whatever principles it wishes, even foolish ones, as long as they don't force their views on the unwilling. Society should jealously guard the rights of groups to congregate around whatever principles they hold dear, no matter if others don't like those same principles. After all, Baptist Churches do not have to give due time to Judaism, the NAACP advocates for 'colored people' only and NOW doesn't have to accept as members beer swilling, billy bob, NASCAR drivers. If the Scouts don't want to admit gays, so be it, and don't join. It's their loss, and honestly, when social groups start to go outside of society's mainstream norms, their membership begins to dwindle naturally, anyway (which is already happening to the Scouts.)
POSTED 11/13/2000
Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 44, Male, White/Caucasian, Corporate Cubicle Neanderthal, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1113200025335

Probably because this organization is run by very conservative, right-wing people who believe homosexuality is learned, or that the children will 'catch the gay disease.' They are afraid of the possibility of children in the group going to their parents and telling them they are gay and the parents blaming the Scouts for 'making their children gay.' Intolerance still runs rampant throughout our society, and the Boy Scouts are no exception. They are going to lose millions in funding from several groups that supported them until this bigoted stance. It especially hurts children in more rural areas who may only have a few options for social interaction with other children.
POSTED 11/14/2000
Marc, Morgantown, WV, United States, 24, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Grad student, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1113200024612

I'm an Eagle Scout, and I've kept slightly in touch with BSA activities. First, I know of no connection between the BSA (or the international parent organization) and any denomination of Christianity or Christian principles. As a Jew, I would not have joined the BSA if there had been any connection. Perhaps the BSA's principles are generally compatible with mainline Christian principles, but I never detected any religious tone in the BSA. In my opinion (and I do not represent the BSA), the simple reason that the BSA does not accept scouts or leaders known to be gay is that parents are entrusting boys and young men at a delicate age, and they want and expect that the BSA will rigorously establish and protect an environment free from sexual activity. In an all-male group, it is relatively easy to ensure that there is no heterosexual activity, but the only way to exclude homosexual activity is to exclude those who practice it. I support the position of the BSA. Now that I'm a parent, I would not entrust my sons to the care of a gay scout leader. It's as simple as that.
POSTED 11/14/2000
Jesse N., Herzliya, NA, Israel, 41, Male, Jewish, Straight, Engineer, Mesg ID 1113200024755
To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:
When I walk the streets of New York, I see many white male/Asian female couples every day, but when it comes to black male/Asian female couples, many months pass before even one such couple appear. Why is this?
POSTED 11/12/2000
George F. C., New York, NY, United States, 30, Male, black/white/Spanish, Straight, worker, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1192000105701

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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

I know of some fine homosexual couples who are good and decent parents. Their children generally grow up more tolerant and less bigoted. In response to Lynn: Where did you get the idea that homosexuals are preoccupied with sex? We are (again, generally speaking) not much different from heterosexuals, except that we are attracted to members of the same sex. My life is well-rounded. I am a productive member of my community, trusted by friends and co-workers, in a loving relationship, and hoping to be able to have that relationship recognized legally someday. But it's not all about sex. I just happened to fall in love with another woman. My sex life isn't anyone else's business, and those who think it is are likely to be preoccupied with sex and not fit to judge.
POSTED 11/12/2000
N.J. Smith, Akron, OH, United States, <ranebow@iname.com>, 46, Female, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, Middle class, Mesg ID 10260010614

The idea that lesbian/gay parents will try to 'make' their children share their sexual orientation has been disproven by research. There are many children waiting to be adopted, and the idea that it is better for them to live in institutions or move around from foster home to foster home than for them to be adopted into a loving lesbian or gay family seems terribly wrongheaded to me.
POSTED 11/12/2000
Carrie, Milwaukee, WI, United States, Female, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 10260023223

'Because homosexuals have decided to allow their sex life to take predominance in their lives...'? Who is to say that homosexuals are any different from heterosexuals in that respect? That rationale demonstrates prejudice. It does not provide any reason at all.
POSTED 11/12/2000
Priscilla, Sydney, NA, Australia, 23, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1110200054821
To respond
BACK TO TOP


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

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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

Responses:
I don't have any friends who don't shave their legs. As much as I dislike the idea of having to shave, I find the look of hairy legs even more repulsive. I would guess that the majority of Western European women (except for those very blonde and non-hairy ones) feel the same way.
POSTED 11/14/2000
B.B., Edinburgh, NA, United Kingdom, 26, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, PhD Student, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1113200083131
To respond
BACK TO TOP


    Copyright and disclaimer