Best of the Week
of Dec. 9, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Dec. 9, 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 database as well). In the Original Archives, as well as in the 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:

Is it difficult for people with disabilities to have relationships?

POSTED 12/11/2001

Janine, Melbourne, CT, Australia, Female, Mesg ID 1210200113759

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Question:

I've noticed that on many talk shows where they present real people, not actors, that many of the black Americans gesticulate frequently, move their heads in a strange pattern and use the phrase 'know what I'm sayin." I would like to know how, and why they do it - from whom they learned it, and if it's habit or just a manner of expression.

POSTED 12/11/2001

E'd, Esbjerg, NA, Denmark, 19, Female, Pagan, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, High School Diploma, Middle class, Mesg ID 12112001124629

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Question:

What's it like to grow up rich? Did you ever feel guilty or ashamed about your position in life? Did you ever fantasize about being from the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak? Was there a lot of pressure to be a 'model child'? Did you rebel from your parents and surroundings? Don't worry about these specific questions; I appreciate whichever manner you would share your story.

POSTED 12/9/2001

Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 617200051815


Responses:
I didn't grow up 'rich' but more upper middle class, and it's something I didn't realize until I was in high school. My sister and I weren't spoiled, but were coddled a lot. We grew up in a middle/upper middle class neighborhood, and didn't get exposed to kids of lower economic status until middle school. I didn't know what one of my friends meant when he said something about 'When the collectors call.' I had no idea what a collector was or why they'd call. I grew up not knowing what a family budget was. I never heard the phrase, 'We can't afford it;' rather, 'That's too expensive.' My parents were and still are somewhat frugal, but we've never not been able to afford something we really needed. And there was pressure only to be good and do my best, not to be a model child. Our family is a rags-to-riches immigrant story (dating back to the 1940s), so that may have something to do with it.

POSTED 12/13/2001

Sarah C., San Francisco area, CA, United States, 24, Female, Asian, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1211200133543

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Question:

I have heard several times that sharks in the Atlantic Ocean still follow the trade routes of slave ships, due to the fact that they would throw overboard the many who died en route. Is this true? Is there a source that can be quoted?

POSTED 12/9/2001

Scott, Hardaway, MI, United States, 27, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Pastor, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 127200160518

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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


Responses:
In most religions of the world, women are deemed inferior. However, Christianity does not look down on women. Jesus spoke with the women, which surprised the disciples. The teaching for women to submit to men comes right after the verse in Ephesians that we are to submit to one another. A man is to love his wife as his own body, caring and nurturing it. Christianity has a higher view of women than most other world views.

POSTED 12/9/2001

Ronald V., Edmonton, Alberta, NA, Canada, 48, Male, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 11162001120047


A few years ago, I met some Muslim girls who were in their last year of high school. This was in Winnipeg. We started talking a little bit about why they chose to wear the hijab (head scarf), and they asked me to remember what I thought about most when I was in school. (I said, guys and being pretty and probably drinking.) They said that for them, wearing the hijab, along with not drinking, being alone with men, etc., had freed them to study. All three of them were planning on medical school, and their grades were a lot higher than mine. They told me they expected to be equal partners to their future husbands, and, unlike lots of Western girls, they seemed straightforward and unambivalent about this. This is all to say that those particular Western Muslim girls (born in Canada) certainly had high standards for themselves.

POSTED 12/9/2001

Susie, Winnipeg, NA, Canada, 34, Female, journalist, Middle class, Mesg ID 1272001104607

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Question:

Shopping for Christmas gifts for an 8-year-old I could not help noticing the sudden and sharp differentiation between girls' and boys' toys starting at about this age group. I find it pathetic. All girls' toys are ridiculously wrapped in pinkish stuff and center on mothering or dressing (dolls and accessories), or crafts of the pretty and cute kind ('Jewels and gifts for your friends!'). Then, turning around the corner, you seem to enter a different world of brown, black, silver and plastic: boys' corner! Here you get to build/buy monsters, dinos, spaceships and machines galore, or fiddle about with computers and game stations. Also, the challenging types of games are in the boys' corner as well: inventions, experiments, programming. I've been in so many department stores and shopping centers and these impressions are uniform - and uniformly depressing. I know from several children that this differentiation does not at all conform to their interests. Girls love to experiment, invent, construct as well - and yet from a certain age they get discouraged from it because the outfit clearly is boyish and aims at boys only. My daughter's school-friends all mope secretly for a Gameboy, yet they would not be seen dead with one at the same time. No matter how cute that Pikachu is, a Gameboy is a GameBOY. And why do boys in turn get discouraged from caring (like they do naturally for their teddybears) and encouraged instead to play games of endless and often mindless destruction/construction/destruction? I used to think we were beyond such ridiculous gender attributions in society, yet when I enter toy stores here they all are again. How are we to raise these children as mature, complex, multifaceted individuals when the role models we offer for their games are so ridiculously confined? I cannot believe this is all because of the industry banking on that which sells best. I am sure more differentiated toys and games would sell as well. Any thoughts?

POSTED 12/5/2001

T., Munich, NA, Germany, 32, Female, Over 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1252001121531


Responses:
Why would your daughter and her friends not want to be seen with a Gameboy? I always thought that there were games available for girls. I am sure that they existed 10 to 12 years ago, when Gameboy first came out. Anyway, I think there should be a gender separation in toys. Girls should learn how to be ladies while boys learn how to be gentlemen. There should be a strict hierarchy and distinct separation between the two, as our chromosomes are different. If girls want to play with boys' toys, then they have serious problems, and should be fixed by sending them to a good protocol school. Ideally, I'd like to see young women wearing gloves in public and actually appreciating it when men are holding doors for them, etc.

POSTED 12/9/2001

C.C., Somewhere in Canada, NA, Canada, 22, Student, 4 Years of College, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 126200173312


This is a great, but sad, observation. I think it is up to parents to overcome this. A few years ago my six-year-old son desparately wanted an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas. These are clearly marketed to girls. He is your basic 'frog in pocket' boy, but he is very interested in food in any form, and this was a way he could participate in making some. I have to be honest, I was against buying it for him because mainly I didn't want him teased if his friends found out. However, my wife insisted. So we bought it and he is very happy with it and once a month it gets dusted off and he makes some God-awful-looking brownie or something on it. The up side is that now he is eight and has graduated to being able to make waffles for breakfast in our real kitchen on his own. So occasionally I get to wake up on a Saturday with breakfast already made.

POSTED 12/11/2001

Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 45, Male, White/Caucasian, Corporate Slug, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 12102001103832


I have tried to persuade my five-year-old daughter to look at boys' toys, but she's simply not interested; all she wants is toys in the line of Barbie and Tinkerbell.

POSTED 12/11/2001

Graeme, Johannesburg, NA, South Africa, Mesg ID 1211200122304


I know just what you mean about getting depressed when looking at all the pink vs. blue in stores. As a child, I would have loved some Legos but was told they were 'boys'' toys. In my opinion (as a sociology student), the reason behind all these gender-specific toys is that these children are being socialized to accept the positions they are expected to fulfill in later life. When I say 'gender' instead of 'sex,' it is intentional. There is nothing inherently biological in the choices children make regarding toy preferences. It's all a social construction that tries to dictate what people should act like, and this gets indoctrinated into the children at an early age. Girls get baby dolls while boys get trucks, and that sort of thing. There's actually been research that says in some stores (such as Walmart) the female toys are actually placed closer to the housewares section of the store. There's nothing wrong with children playing with toys that are 'supposed' to be for the opposite sex. If a little boy gets a toy airplane and gets to run around yelling with it, wouldn't a young girl also love to get out her energy by running around, too? It really has nothing to do with sex, but it's gender (a social construction) that determines the shame that is placed on children who want to play with toys geared toward the opposite gender.

POSTED 12/11/2001

Deborah, Starkville, MS, United States, <sirrah_h@hotmail.com>, 23, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Over 4 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1211200181914

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Question:

At my job we have a person who is in the process of undergoing a sex change from man to woman. How should I identify and address this person, as a man or a woman? (i.e. ex-him, her, Mr., Ms.)

POSTED 2/22/1999

George, Tampa, FL, United States, Male, Mesg ID 2229980640


Responses:
The most polite way to address the person in transition is by the gender in which they present themselves, i.e. a male becoming a woman would be addressed with feminine pronouns, and a female becoming a male would be addressed with masculine pronouns - unless of course they direct differently.

POSTED 12/9/2001

Jennifer D., Lindenwold, NJ, United States, <JennD1249@prodigy.net>, 49, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Sales, High School Diploma, Mesg ID 1011199985710


As a woman! It is really not a question of sexual orientation - she may like girls or boys - but of gender identity - she sees herself as a woman deeply enough to go through this very hard process. Saying 'she' (and 'Ms.' is always safe) is, even if hard at first, a real kindness and, also very appropriate.

POSTED 12/9/2001

Jessica, Seattle, WA, United States, Mesg ID 10281999124122

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Question:

Has anyone ever cut themself before? And why? I have, because my mum accused me of stealing money from her.

POSTED 11/27/2001

Lou, From a place that I'm not tellin', NA, United Kingdom, 13, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Less than High School Diploma, Mesg ID 1124200135258


Responses:
When I was about 18, I used to cut myself on the insides of my arms all the time. I don't even remember why I did it; I just remember feeling really sad and anxious and angry all the time. I would think sometimes about hitch-hiking really far out of town and then just dying there. I had a tough couple of years, but eventually it ended. All the bad feelings gradually start draining away, and then I had some successes (I got some recognition at university, met some good people) and things just started improving. I can tell you this: being a teenager is tough. You live a restricted, cramped life with rules you didn't choose or even agree to. Later, things get way better. You get some money, don't have to live somewhere you hate and, if you're lucky, find work you love. Everything is going to get better: hang in there.

POSTED 12/9/2001

Susie, Winnipeg, NA, Canada, 34, Female, journalist, Middle class, Mesg ID 1272001103312


I think you'll find many more people cut themselves than let on. I've done it on and off for about 10 years, although it gets better with time. I was your age when I started. Reasons? Many - small and huge. When someone hurts you, sometimes hurting yourself is acknowledging that you're as bad and useless as they say you are. You're confirming it to yourself, and that's not a good thing.

I used to visualize my pain in that blood, and letting it out also let out the pain. Make any sense? Take care, though - and try to talk to someone in real time.

POSTED 12/11/2001

Scarlet, South-West, NA, France, 23, Female, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, Teacher, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1211200190721

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