Best of the Week
of Nov. 14, 1999

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Nov. 14, 1999, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found by accessing our new database using our search form, or, in the case of answers posted before April 24, 1999, in our Original Archives (all questions from the Original Archives have been entered into the new database as well). In the Original Archives and the new database, you will find questions that have received answers, as well as questions still awaiting responses. We encourage you to answer any questions relevant to your demographic background, as well as to ask any provocative question you desire. Answers posted are not necessarily meant to represent the views of an entire demographic group, but can provide a window into the insights of an individual from that group.

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Question:
Am I the only one who thinks that in its attempt to educate young viewers about the perils of unprotected sex, certain musical cable networks have crossed the line from educating and warning to advertising and promoting?
POSTED 11/19/1999
Kristan, Wharton, NJ, United States, 24, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Upper middle classm Mesg ID 11181999125040
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Question:
While I'm a 'normal' male in most respects, I don't understand the sports mentality. I laugh when I watch a football game and see fans and players alike beating on each other when they're happy! 'Hey dude, (slap) our team just got a touchdown! (punch arm). We rule! (Jump up and high-five each other hard enough to turn skin red, bellow real loud for 10 seconds, spill beer, belch.) I just don't understand. Why do players and fans do this?
POSTED 11/17/1999
Eric G., Colorado Springs, CO, United States, 34, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 1116199942328

Responses:
According to a book I read, this behavior is due to the fact that all humans have the need to touch and be touched (in a non-sexual way). Women usually feel more comfortable about hugging each other and displaying physical affection, but men often have no opportunity for physical contact besides sports.
POSTED 11/19/1999
C.P., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 21, Female, Mesg ID 1118199992756

I say avoid those who feel that the sports section of a newspaper should be 10 times the thickness of the business section. Our local paper is a perfect example. "Super fans" who slap, punch, belch and wet their pants do this as a substitute for personal accomplishment. It's not a fault of the team; at least they're doing something.
POSTED 11/19/1999
Jim, columbia, SC, United States, Male, Mesg ID 1117199994353

These guys you observe learned this from their fathers. Team devotion can go as many years back in the generations as the team itself has existed. Back in the olden days, times were much harder, and diversions such as movies and ballgames were a much-needed break. And since people spent 60 hours a week at the factory and the rest of their time at home or a bar, they used such events as a release. According to my grandparents, people were actually rowdier in their time. I don't get too excited, either. Since my family is from northern California, there's supposed to be this legacy of devotion to San Francisco teams. I just saw no reason to adhere to it
POSTED 11/19/1999
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, student/dishwasher, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1117199984858

They do this because they get excited about the game. What you describe is merely celebration for scoring a touchdown or something. If you're wondering why the celebration is so extreme, I think it's just because people have so much interest in watching or playing the sport; this makes the outcome that much more exciting. As for the IQ level thing: Sports are often more physical than mental. You might see this kind of behavior at a football game, but not, for example, a chess match.
POSTED 11/19/1999
Patrick, Menlo Park, CA, United States, 21, Male, Mesg ID 1117199913837
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Question:
Why are working-class Irish and Italians so clannish and outright racist? In Philadelphia, the Italian South Philly and the Irish Bridesburg/Kensington areas are outright hostile toward black people and all minorities. In other cities like New York (the Italian Howard Beach) and in Boston (the Irish South Boston), this seems to run concurrent. Is the Catholic Church involved?
POSTED 11/16/1999
Joseph, Philadelphia, PA, United States, 18, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Straight, Carpenter, Technical School , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 11151999104442

Responses:
This seems to be a fairly common artifact of metropolitan history on the East Coast. Recall that most of the Irish and Italians now living in those areas are the descendants of immigrants. In places like Philly, Boston, Chicago, etc., Irish and Italian immigrants would live in ghetto conditions and depend on extended family and ethnic connections to get by. Add to that the strong family 'clan' tradition in both ethnic groups, and that explains why they are so clannish, as you say. But now the real question: Why are they usually so racist? This comes out of the prior answer. The Irish and Italians were segregated and discriminated against until earlier this century. So when other ethnic groups and freed black slaves entered the mix, there were distinct ethnic groups all fighting for the same resources. Even though the conditions have changed sharply, the mindset remains due to attitudes and grudges passed down through the generations. Note that the attitudes you mention are more prevalent in lower-income ethnic areas, like South Philly, South Boston, even the Irish Channel in New Orleans. This is consistent with the idea that these ethnic groups consider minorities to be competition with regard to resources like jobs. I doubt that the Catholic Church is involved to any large extent, other than the usual religious issues.
POSTED 11/17/1999
John K, Cranford, NJ, United States, <jkeegan3@home.com>, 26, Male, Chemical Engineer, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 11161999121225

I live in Fishtown, which is just south of Kensington (and not too far north of South Philly as well). Anyway, I think we are 'clannish' because of a feeling of snobbishness from outsiders. And that's outsiders of all races and backgrounds. Fishtown has gotten a bad rep as a neighborhood of racist White Trash; in fact, last I knew, black cops weren't allowed to work in Fishtown. But from my own experience, we aren't racist at all. Unfair associations with Frank Rizzo have given us a bad name. The media pokes fun at us at will. To us, sometimes it seems all we have is our neighborhood.
POSTED 11/17/1999
Mickey, Philadelphia, PA, United States,Mesg ID 1116199914808
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Question:
A friend of mine (who I know has white supremacist dealings) has a tattoo on his shoulder that says 'K-9'. Does this have a racist meaning?
POSTED 11/16/1999
J. Hendrickson, St. Petersburg, FL, United States, Mesg ID 1116199923836
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Question:
Please take this as an honest question: Why do black people seem to have the inability to pronounce certain words correctly? I mean words like 'ask' (which comes out 'axe') or anything with 'th' (which comes out 'f'). I work with a lot of highly educated (more than me) black people, and none of them pronounces these words correctly. Any ideas?
POSTED 11/16/1999
Brian, Dearborn, MI, United States, <cardio64@aol.com>, 35, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Licensed Customs Broker, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1115199985425

Responses:
I am an African-American woman and correctly pronounce words like 'ask' and those 'th' words you are referring to. From my point of view, the reasons some African Americans mispronounce those words may be due to speaking too rapidly. Or it could be due to a particular person's accent. People pronounce words differently in certain areas of the country. Also, it may depend on how a person's family members traditionally speak. When you grow up hearing certain words pronounced (or mispronounced) it's difficult to condition your speech to pronounce those words differently than how you are used to hearing and saying them.
POSTED 11/17/1999
Tina, Chicago, IL, United States, 29, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 11161999120552

It is not that African Americans cannot 'properly' pronounce English words; it has more to do with African American Vernacular English (AAVE). In AAVE, the proper way to use words that end in "th" is to pronounce it like an f. The 'mispronounced' axe for ask is also AAVE. A good book about varieties of English and sociolinguistics is Sociolinguistics and Language Learning by Sandra Lee Mckay and Nancy H. Hornberger. Also if you have a chance to take some more college classes, I highly recommend taking a class in sociolinguistics because it may help answer some more of your questions about why people speak the way they do. I found it really interesting, too.
POSTED 11/17/1999
David, New York, NY, United States, 28, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class,Mesg ID 1117199910619
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Question:
I was looking at some prices for the Prada label, just out of curiosity. A pair of pants was 400 bucks, and a coat topped a few thousand smackers! Military surplus gear and Dickies would probably last five times as long, and take five times as much abuse. How can wealthy people, even though they're wealthy, justify spending thousands on an outfit that will go out of style in three months? This has always greatly puzzled me.
POSTED 11/14/1999
Dan, just outside L.A., CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, Student/dishwasher, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1114199924530

Responses:
People, in general, like to be surrounded by nice-looking things. Some people like nice cars, others like to decorate their houses. Clothing is simply another aspect of this. Prada and other designer labels go beyond being simple articles of clothing. They can be thought of as art that is worn. A similarity can be drawn to 'classical art': Some people buy because they truly like it, others buy for prestige, and some people just don't understand. I happen to like the design aspects of much of the higher-priced clothing - it appeals to my esthetic side. On the other hand, I can't justify to myself paying any amount of money for a jacket with a sports team logo on it - I find them devoid of almost all esthetic quality. That isn't to say I am a clothing snob - I mainly shop at The Gap and the like. It's just nice to clothe oneself in a little piece of beauty, if only once in a while.
POSTED 11/16/1999
Andrew, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, Male, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1115199951557
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Question:
What does the term 'cake-eater' mean when used in reference to private school or Catholics?
POSTED 11/14/1999
Curious, Tulsa, OK, United States, Mesg ID 1114199924442
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Question:
Are white men afraid to date black women because they think we are too aggressive and possess too strong a character? Or are they afraid of what their peers will think? Or is there another reason?
POSTED 11/14/1999
Gia, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 18, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, student, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 7169965606

Responses:
I'm white and dated a black woman for about a year and a half. I was working in St. Lucia in the West Indies. I'll have to admit, race didn't seem to be as big an issue down there as it is here in the United States. I believe that in our country I'd be somewhat uncomfortable in public if I were dating someone black simply because race does seem to still be an issue here. I'm married now but still have pictures of Maggie (the black woman I dated)around that I show my kids, who will hopefully not be intimidated by what others will think.
POSTED 11/16/1999
Mike, Fort Worth, TX, United States, 41, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 11151999113126

I grew up in a culture - school, neighborhoods and churches - that was predominantly white. The first real contact I had with anyone of another color was in college; I shared a room with a black student. I never knew any black women well, not by conscious choice, but because of ignorance. And naturally, I married a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant woman. Fate, huh? I have worked with people from many backgrounds in the years since, and several black women were among them. As I got to know them, I responded to them as individuals - some I admired, others not so well. Some I found very personable, attractive women, whom I would have dated if I weren't married. I probably missed out on some great relationships as I was growing up, due primarily to ignorance.
POSTED 11/16/1999
Ben, Melbourne, FL, United States, <qxzlool@yahoo.com>, 41, Male, Liberal Evangelical Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, grounds maintenance, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 11151999112001
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Question:
I'm curious about the challenges that students who use wheelchairs encounter as part of their college experience. Is it challenging to get to know other students? Do you feel your social or academic life is different from other students?
POSTED 10/15/1999
Katie K., Bowling Green, OH, United States, <gliss@juno.com>, 22, Female, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Graduate Student, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 10149942125

Responses:
I used a wheelchair at my small college in Boston. My experience was probably different from those who were at a big school. I found it easy to get to know people. My social life was different, in that I came to school from a more sheltered life than some students. But I felt all of the activities going on at school were totally available to me. I think it would have been a lot harder for me to get to frats for parties, but I had no interest in ever going to a frat party. If you have any more questions (more specific questions), I hope you'll ask more!
POSTED 11/14/1999
Amy, Arlington, MA, United States, 30, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Spina Bifida, Special ed aide, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1111199943616
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Question:
Why would normally modest women hire male doctors to examine their breasts, genitals and anus with fingers and tools? Do you find it embarrassing or demeaning? Why not insist on a female examiner? Do your husbands and lovers object to this type of intimacy?
POSTED 11/12/1999
Greg M., Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 48, Male, Quaker, White/Caucasian, Straight, Married, Sales, 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 118199921114

Responses:
I think you are associating a male gynecologist examining a woman with some kind of sexuality. If you want to think of it that way, why would a normally straight woman go to a female doctor? The fact is there is absolutely nothing sexual in a gynecological exam. I choose a doctor based on their knowledge and experience. My gynecologist delivered my aunt's children, and she said he was very good. So, I went to him. I felt comfortable because he was very professional. I'm sure there are doctors out there, male and female, who may think something sexual during an exam, but I believe that stat would be about one in a million. The gynecologist's office is not full of women who look like Pamela Anderson. Many times people so to the gynecologist because they are having a problem - like a sexually transmitted disease or something. I have to believe that, knowing the types of things a gynecologist must see in a day, there isn't a whole lot of sexual thought going on in the office.
POSTED 11/14/1999
Danielle, Lakehurst, NJ, United States, 24, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 1113199914645

What is so intimate about being probed during a medical examination?
POSTED 11/14/1999
Christopher D., Arlington, TX, United States, 23, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma,Mesg ID 1113199932827

When (or if) your wife had (or has) children - if you were (or would be) present in the operating room, would you be in a sexual state of mind while she is in labor? I hope there are some men in the world who can put business/professionalism ahead of their gonads. I have to also object to physical intimacy having anything to do with someone's hands examining me. I wonder what your reaction would be if your wife were raped - would you consider that physical intimacy, too?
POSTED 11/16/1999
Kristan, Wharton, NJ, United States, Female, Mesg ID 1115199980020

I would never have a gynecological exam done by a male doctor. It is uncomfortable and embarrassing enough with a female doctor. I would rather go without the exam than go to a male doctor. I don't know what my husband would say if I went to a male gynecologist, but I would understand if he would object, because I wouldn't particularly want him to have his private parts examined by a woman, either.
POSTED 11/16/1999
C.P., Montreal, Quebec, NA, Canada, 21, Female, university student, Mesg ID 11151999124023

I wonder if I am just paranoid or imagining things, but I feel like I've noticed a distinct difference between male and female gynecologists. It seemed to me that female gynecologists knew how the examination felt to me and took more care to make sure I was comfortable. The male ones were very efficient and brisk, and the examinations were physically painful. One of the male gynos gave me a creepy smile afterward. Then there was this incident -not gynecology-related: I'd been having back pain from a car accident. The male doctor who examined me cut the examination short and told me about his unhappy marriage and asked me to meet him at a bar sometime. I was 18. Now I generally try to always see female doctors. I have nothing against male doctors and know there are a lot of good ones out there; I just don't feel too comfortable with them anymore.
POSTED 11/16/1999
S.R., Austin, TX, United States, 21, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, student, Mesg ID 11151999113924

I have a male gynecologist, and it has never been a problem for me. When I was younger I went to a female gynecologist because I thought it would be embarrassing to have a man examine me. Then I moved to a different area and had to switch doctors. A friend recommended her gynecologist, who was male. I went in for an exam, and it was no different than going to a female doctor. An exam is not a sexually intimate situation; it is an examination of the physical body. Doctors are professional people. My husband has not expressed an opinion one way or the other about the gender of my gynecologist.
POSTED 11/16/1999
Jacqueline C., San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Systems Analyst, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1112199950914
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Question:
My nephew is new to the Islamic faith and has met a young lady he will be marrying on Saturday. They have known each other three weeks. Is rushing common within this faith, and if so, why?
POSTED 11/10/1999
Debbie, Edinburg, TX, United States, <dcat2187>, 38, Female, Christian, Straight, student, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1191999110459
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