Best of the Week
of Dec. 10, 2000

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Dec. 10, 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:

Why do young people (high school/college-aged) wear sweats and ripped jeans to school? According to some of my professors and my parents, young university students used to dress neatly, girls in skirts and guys in suits, some 30-plus years ago. Why can't people my age do that? Sometimes the clothes students wear around campus disgust me. We should learn how to be proper ladies and gentlemen if we are to succeed in the world.

POSTED 12/14/2000

C.C., Somewhere, NA, Canada, 21, Female, Anglican, Asian, Straight, university student, 2 Years of College , Upper middle class

Mesg ID 1214200031308

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Question:

To folks of lesbian persuasion: in the history of lesbianism, have two women ever managed to date? By which I mean, not bring the U-Haul on the second date and pick out some cats named Naomi and Ruth? This girl and I have decided we're 'dating,' and we have no role models. We don't want to get married, and we don't want to have sex on date two, so how do we do this?

POSTED 12/14/2000

Schaeffer H., Bluefield, WV, United States, Female, Lesbian

Mesg ID 12132000104639

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Question:

Why do our black men seem to take their frustration out on us? Why don't they realize that we love them and detest the fact that they have to deal with racism, sometimes on a daily basis, and that we can't 'fix' it?

POSTED 12/14/2000

Maria, Buffalo, NY, United States, 34, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Accounting, 2 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1213200041450

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Question:

Should people lose their driving privileges after a certain age because old age affects their driving in a negative manner (i.e. driving 15 mph on the interstate, going the wrong way down a one-way street)?

POSTED 12/11/2000

Monica P., Birmingham, AL, United States, <monifa_2000@hotmail.com>, 19, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, student, 2 Years of College

Mesg ID 1130200013543


Responses:
As a claims adjuster, I've dealt with many accidents. In my experience, older/senior drivers are very careful and considerate. The instances you've mentioned are not common occurrences and appear to be health-related and not age-related. Taking away driving privileges based on age is discriminatory, and taking away seniors' independence in a sense.

POSTED 12/14/2000

Denise, Dallas, TX, United States, 25, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, Insurance claims adjuster, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1213200062625

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Question:

What does it mean when people say someone is "high maintenance"?

POSTED 12/11/2000

D. Williams, Miami, FL, United States, 18, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, High School Diploma , Middle class

Mesg ID 1130200025303

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Question:

Is it a great misconception to assume that a college education will elevate you up the 'ladder'? Should it? And what defines class? Is it wealth?

POSTED 12/11/2000

Reeba, Apex, NC, United States, 23, Female, Independent Christian, Arican-African American/Hispanic, Straight, student, 2 Years of College , Lower class

Mesg ID 1210200023434


Responses:
For the vast majority of people, a good education will get you in front of people who make decisions, while a lack of one will only render polite denials from people far from the top. It is not a guarantee, but rather a solid investment that pays off more frequently than infrequently. If you think about it, a college education just means that you are able to focus your mind on a relatively specific topic and master it. This developed skill usually develops further with successful people in the material world. I now see where a BA or BS from college is considered ineffectual, compared to an MS or Ph.D. degreed individual.

POSTED 12/11/2000

Matthew, New York City, NY, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, actor, Over 4 Years of College

Mesg ID 1211200083219


A college education is definitely an important part of getting a good-paying job. Of course, the degree a person receives is very important. Someone with an engineering or business degree will generally have more earning power than someone with a degree in liberal arts. A person must have marketable skills. As to whether a college education can help a person up the ladder - you bet. Education is all about knowledge and preparation for a particular career. Without that, a person's success in a particular field will be limited. Socioeconomic class is defined many ways, based on wealth, lifestyle, education, values, etc. Most people are either middle class or working class, and the biggest differentiating factor between the two is education. Higher education brings with it more earning power and generally a broader perspective about the world, which shapes our lifestyle and values.

POSTED 12/14/2000

Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1211200072520


As someone who comes from a 'lower-class' background and worked his way up the college 'ladder,' I have to say it is all a state of mind. If you don't know what is important to you, you'll be someone else's slave, even if you make six figures. You'll have the same problems as anyone else, they'll just be more expensive. I make $85,000 annually with no dependents, and money has not made me happy or made me feel like I'm in a higher 'class.' I think I would define 'class' as someone who knows what is important to them, works hard to make those things happen and does not hurt or disrespect anyone else to do it. Think of it as a sports analogy: If you don't know what the finish line looks like, where it is or who your fans are, you can be the best player in the game and never win. I know plenty of 'winners' in the $30,000-$40,000 bracket and am trying to figure out how I can be like them. Or maybe it's not about comparing yourself to others.

POSTED 12/14/2000

Carlton, Atlanta, GA, United States, Male

Mesg ID 1212200064433

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Question:

What is an orgasm, and why do some women never have one?

POSTED 12/11/2000

Lavern C., Atlanta, GA, United States, 18, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, student, High School Diploma

Mesg ID 12112000120643


Responses:
I will leave 'what is an orgasm?' for someone else to explain. But why do some women never have one? I bet you (or any woman) can have one if you try. Experiment by yourself and see what appeals to you. If penetration does not do it for you, try something else.

POSTED 12/14/2000

Priscilla, Sydney, NA, Australia, 23, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1214200041558

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Question:

Do blind people dream? If so, do they dream sounds, or does their mind make up figures according to touch?

POSTED 12/4/2000

Adrianne, Huntsville, AL, United States, 26, Female, Black/African American, Straight, disc jockey, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class

Mesg ID 1232000122323


Responses:
As a woman who went blind at the age of 23, I know I dream - I dream the same way as I did before losing my sight - with 'pictures.' I actually see what I am dreaming about - the way I remember things looking, and much the same way I dreamed before losing my sight. I am not sure if this would be the same as someone who is blind from birth, as they don't really know what things look like because they have never seen the items. I, however, make a concentrated effort not to forget the sight of things I hold dearest to me - such as the face of my little boy, and the way the snow looks on a crisp December morning.

POSTED 12/11/2000

Samantha, Brandon, NA, Canada, 27, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Blind, Retired, 4 Years of College , Upper class

Mesg ID 1210200062447

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Question:

I've noticed that homosexual men have feminine undertones and behavior. It would seem to me that if a man prefers men, he could still act more like a man. Isn't that the attraction - the same sex? If women aren't preferred, why behave like one?

POSTED 12/11/2000

Sion, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 25, Female, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 129200063120


Responses:
In your question, you state that 'homosexual men have feminine undertones and behavior' as though this were the truth for all gay men. This just isn't the case. Being gay myself and knowing many many gay men, I can honestly say that most are just regular-Joe guys who are no more feminine or masculine than any other man, straight or gay. Sure, there are exceptions, ranging from the flamboyant 'queen' to the hypermasculine 'leatherman.' That you assume all gay men act feminine just means that these 'effeminate' homosexuals are the only ones you recognize as being gay. I guarantee there are a lot more gay men you come in contact with that you don't recognize simply because their mannerisms don't jibe with your preconceived notions. You can also rest assured that not all lesbian women fit the stereotypical 'butch/manly' stereotype, either.

POSTED 12/11/2000

Jim, Dayton, OH, United States, <luvnola@yahoo.com>, 36, Male, White/Caucasian, Gay, Systems Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 12112000122254


Only an extremely small percentage of gay men have any sort of behavior patterns that would be regarded flamboyant or effeminate. Additionally, many heterosexual men do act flamboyant. Perhaps you're assuming that men who act that way are gay. I assure you that the vast majority of gay men that you know do no act 'feminine,' but you assume they're heterosexual. One of the great annoyances of life is that people always assume you are heterosexual. Maybe gay men who act flamboyant are trying to distinguish themselves from the heterosexual majority. More likely, gay men are less afraid to, for example, express interest in art than heterosexual men who are insecure and worried about violating the gender stereotypes of traditional society.

POSTED 12/11/2000

Frank, Washington, DC, United States, 25, Male, Methodist, white Southerner, Gay, statistician, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class

Mesg ID 1211200083517


Unfortunately, the gay community has been stereotyped to extremes by the media, or gay men have had bad childhood experiences. True, there are the 'screaming queens' in the gay community who are extremely flamboyant and more feminine than your grandmother, but it is also important to remember that even straight men can be more feminine than the norm. I have several gay friends who are as masculine as Mr. Universe, and I have ones who practically wear dresses. I also have straight friends who work out and refuse to show emotion, capturing the essence of masculinity, and then I have straight friends who jump on chairs and scream when they see a cockroach. I fall somewhere in between. I'm a makeup artist (considered feminine) and yet I work out, change tires and mow my lawn with brute force. My point: Humans are created as they are, whether that's gay, straight, feminine, masculine and so many more varieties. And the feminine gay people you know aren't the standard, just the more obvious.

POSTED 12/14/2000

Erick L., Houston, TX, United States, <Nicolaisiv@aol.com>, 19, Male, Wiccan, White/Caucasian, Gay, Comptuter Programmer & Makeup artist, High School Diploma , Middle class

Mesg ID 1212200060526


I agree with Frank. I know you probably didn't mean to say the wrong thing, Sion, and I'm definitely not having a go at you, but you shouldn't assume that gay men (or lesbians) fulfill certain stereotypes. Some do, but many do not.

POSTED 12/14/2000

Priscilla, Sydney, NA, Australia, 23, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1214200040055


There are all types of homosexuals, as there are heterosexuals. Not all gay men behave in what our society deems feminine ways. Nor are all men who do so homosexual. Problems arise when we expect a certain demeanor from someone because of their sex. Who can explain what attracts people to each other? Some like to take care of their partners, some like to be taken care of and some like sharing all responsibilities. This is true for all couples, straight or gay. There are countless other things that make or break a relationship, and acting 'masculine' or 'feminine' is just a small part of it. What's sad is that so many straight men feel compelled to act macho or in a 'masculine' way lest they suffer ridicule. I think the world would be a fine place if men would bend more before they break, and if women would bend (over) less.

POSTED 12/15/2000

Nancy S., Akron, OH, United States, <ranebow@iname.com>, 46, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class

Mesg ID 1215200042126

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Question:

I know I am out of touch, but why can't I understand what a lot of young black people say? Words aren't pronounced, speech is lazy and the only thing that is clear is 'You know what I'm saying' or 'It's all good.' The worst part is, they all want to talk simultaneously on Ricki Lake. Do they hear themselves?

POSTED 12/11/2000

Sion, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 25, Female, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 129200064210


Responses:
My first word of advice is don't judge a group of people by those few who appear on Ricki Lake's show - or any other trash talk show for that matter. Jerry Springer has his share of white guests who shout over each other and mumble all their words, too. These types of shows cater to the lowest common denomonator in this country by having trashy people as guests. After all, who else would go on national TV to air all their dirty laundry? I'm sure that you would find that your average young black person is just as easy to understand as your average young white, hispanic, asian, person.

POSTED 12/14/2000

Lucy, San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, Hispanic/Latino, Engineer, 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1211200073820


I have two theories on this, but they're somewhat mutually exclusive and not applicable only to blacks. First, Americans love to talk, but they are awful at communicating. They just assume that they've communicated an idea effectively because they just got through talking. Never mind whether what they just said was comprehensible or made sense to the listener. Couple this with almost non-existent listening skills and you have nothing more than simultaneous chattering. I also think some young blacks mumble because they do not really want to be understood, especially by white people whom they don't care for to begin with. It is as though they want to frustrate the listener, make the listener ask for clarification; then the listener is the bad guy because he or she didn't understand! If someone, of whatever race, has something to say to me, and they deliberately fail to make themselves comprehensible, then they are just playing games, and I don't bother listening to them. And some people just do not know how to enunciate.

POSTED 12/14/2000

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 1212200065518


As an African raised to speak properly (I speak slowly and clearly, because I have a different accent), I was amazed and rather disappointed at some of the mannerisms of African Amercians when I came to this country. I was an avid viewer of all those talk shows, and I thought all the African Americans were all the same. What I am trying to say is that those talk shows do not portray all the faces of black America. Also, when all the athletes, rappers and artists speak in such a lazy manner or cannot speak without the use of slang, of course the youngsters will try to emulate them, in almost all aspects.

POSTED 12/14/2000

Ify, Miami, FL, United States, 23, Female, Black/African American

Mesg ID 12132000125205

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Question:

To Chinese people, or people who work in a Chinese restaurant: Do you kill cats, cook them and sell them to your customers, stating that it is chicken? Please be honest.

POSTED 12/8/2000

Elizabeth S., Philadelphia, PA, United States, 23, Female, Catholic, Mixed race, Straight, aspiring actress, 2 Years of College

Mesg ID 12500120509


Responses:
I worked in a Chinese restaurant for more than two years, and we didn't use any cats at all. But we didn't use chicken, either. We substituted turkey as chicken (more white meat for the buck).

POSTED 12/11/2000

Rob C., Vancouver, British Colombia, NA, Canada, 25, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Technical School , Lower middle class

Mesg ID 1211200034100

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Question:

Why is it that when black people are on welfare, they are claimed to be milking the system, but when white people are on welfare, they just need some 'assistance'?

POSTED 12/7/2000

Netta F., Jacksonville, FL, United States, 24, Female, Black/African American, Straight, cosmetologist, Over 4 Years of College

Mesg ID 1240061129


Responses:
Says who? I don't think blacks on welfare are regarded any differently than whites or others. In my experience, anyone who remains on welfare for an extended period is likely to be regarded as a useless parasite, regardless of racial issues.

POSTED 12/11/2000

Jesse N., Herzliya, NA, Israel, 41, Male, White/Caucasian, Engineer, 4 Years of College

Mesg ID 1211200022340


Just as there are blacks who truly need the assistance, there are whites who are adept at 'milking the system.' In many poor white parts of the United States, such as southern Appalachia (where I grew up), you have the phenomenon of 'symptom hunters' who find any medical pretext for benefits. These are not the truly disabled; these are people among whom the ability to 'draw' is prized. I have an 'invisible disability', which I won't elaborate on here, and I don't always feel like getting up and going to work in the morning, but I do. I don't like supporting welfare cheats, whatever their color. The only thing I ask is that their children not be made to suffer because of their parents' laziness.

POSTED 12/11/2000

Augustine, Columbia, SC, United States, 40, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, Invisible partial disability, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class

Mesg ID 127200072107


It's just like the Willie Horton issue with Michael Dukakis. If you put a (brown) face to it, you have someone to blame. It's easier to demonize 24-year-old LaShaQuanda, who can't hold a job and has six kids by six men, than it is to demonize Allison, who lost her only source of income, be it job or husband, she has two kids and is in her 30s. Most people would assume LaShaQuanda is the typical welfare mom, when statistics show that Allison is. The biggest problem with welfare, no matter the background, is that the average person receives it for less than three years, but the public perception is that of the generational recipient: Mom raises her kids on it, daughters raise their kids on it, the grandkids grow to raise their kids on it. And many times, AFDC is the only way parents have of making sure their kids have insurance, because if they are working (and many do), they can only work at a low- to no-benefit job and keep their AFDC.

POSTED 12/15/2000

Senetra, Anderson, IN, United States, 27, Female, Baptist, Black/African American, Straight, Clerical, 2 Years of College

Mesg ID 1211200090147

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