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Best of the Week
of Dec. 13, 1998


Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Dec. 13, 1998, as selected by Y? These postings, as well as "Best of the Week" entries from previous weeks, also can be found in their respective archives, which we invite you to browse. There, 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.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at our guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

Question Code Key:

A=Age

GD=General Diversity

RE=Religion

C=Class

G=Geography

SE=Sensitive Matters

D=Disabilities

O=Occupation

SO=Sexual Orientation

GE=Gender

R=Race/Ethnicity


THE QUESTION:
G61: Why do people think that people in the Midwest of the United States are all boring, un-cultured idiots?
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
B., 28, white male, Minneapolis, MN
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THE QUESTION:
R2: I'm a Latin American woman and I always wondered about Latin men being labeled "Latin lovers"... Where does it come from? What does it mean? I think it is a negative stereotype and all men from Latin countries are NOT "Latin lovers".
POSTED FEB. 4, 1998
L. Soto-Barra, Jacksonville

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
The Latin lover stereotype probably came from the custom of "piropos," flirtatious comments. In conservative Latin countries, often the only way to meet women is by flirting on the street. The comments are supposed to be as poetic as possible. Unfortunately, this has led to the image of Latinos as part of a machismo culture repressive to women. But machismo exists in most if not all cultures.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
A.C.C., Mexican, San Antonio, TX
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THE QUESTION:
A35: Everywhere we look, we see Senior Citizen discounts, for meals, hotel rooms and even in department stores. Do others, particularly Senior Citizens, view this as being age discrimination? Do you think this practice should be discontinued?
POSTED DEC. 16, 1998
K.Anderson, 42 <
kda10@yahoo.com>, Fergus Falls, MN

ANSWER 1:
I am 58 and don't use the senior service. Many I know think they earned it and many others need the financial break it offers. As for age discrimination, I feel it's a positive discrimination. Yes, it should be continued, if nothing more then to say "you deserve a break for all you have been through."
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
G.C. Jenkins, 58,<
garyjenkins@sprintmail.com>, Poulsbo, Wa

FURTHER NOTICE:
Senior citizens as a group will fail to outlive their savings and investment income. This makes them a most unlikely group to need a reduction in the price of anything. The senior citizen discount is used as a ploy to lure this group of people, who have discretionary income, to do business with the business offering the discount. To offer this discount on vacation travel, theater tickets, gourmet meals etc. is ludicrous. If a business has truly the will to give away part of its profit on a sale, it should offer a discount to the homeless, single parents or people on welfare. Even more bizarre is the fact that all these different businesses do not apply the same standard as to what age qualifies a person as "Senior."
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Les H. <
lphfla@aol.com>, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I think you misunderstand the reasons for Senior discounts. Stores and restaurants and movie theaters do not give such discounts out of the goodness of their hearts, or because they love senior citizens. Rather, it's an economic decision. Senior citizens tend to be more frugal with their money than younger folks, and are less eager to spend it. Senior discounts are simply a way to attract older customers, who might otherwise stay home. Senior citizens are far less likely to go to a movie theater than younger folks, and a senior discount may be just what it takes to get seniors to go to the theater at all. Depending on local demographics, a restaurant may find that offering a small senior discount brings in larger numbers of senior customers. Is this discrimination? Yes, but it's not done with any bad intent. Businesses simply realize that it's better to earn a small profit from many senior customers than to earn a large profit from only a few senior customers.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Astorian, 37, male <
Astorian@aol.com>, Austin, TX

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Think of senior citizen discounts as an honorary reward/respect for their years of service in contributing to society (as you are doing now). They have kept this country up and running while you were too young to participate; now you're doing the same. Leave their discounts alone, that you may have the same when you reach their age.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Alonzo C., 32, African American, Jacksonville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I think there are two reasons for offering senior citizens discounts. The first is that many of us "older" citizens no longer have the same size income to spend as when we were working. Secondly, as time goes by, the size of the senior citizen population is getting larger and larger. Therefore, as a group, we have quite a bit of money to spend. This is not a refutation of the first answer. With a large pool of money to spend, the commercial world is offering discounts to get us to spend, just as anyone with a product or service advertises on TV, radio and newspapers.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Senior Citizen, Port St. Joe, FL

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Many senior citizens are living on small, fixed incomes. As they are past the retirement age, there is practically no hope they will be able to improve their financial situation, unlike children and working-age adults. Should they sit at home and suffer poverty and boredom because of their age? That sounds more like age discrimination to me. I consider the reduced rates to be a small token of respect, and a reward for a lifetime of hard work, just as longstanding employees are paid more than the new kid fresh off the street. Most of us expect to be senior citizens ourselves some day, and taking away their benefits will only rob us in the long run. How can something be "discrimination" when we will all benefit from it in time?
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Colette, 33, female <
inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour , WI

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
Senior citizens, as I understand it, receive discounts as an honor for what they have contributed to society. Some have braved the second World War and have given more than we are willing to give to our country. The other side of the story is that some senior citizens rely on their pension. Their pension often is eaten by inflation. Not all seniors can afford to pay full price. Those who are financially endowed should pay the full price. But as a norm, I believe that senior citizens deserve the break that they get.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Ronald V., 46 <
draugas@mailcity.com>, Edmonton , Alberta, Canada

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
Senior citizen discounts are nothing but a transparent marketing ploy to attract the business of us old geezers. My attitude is that if some business wants to give me a discount, I'll take it. As far as discrimination is concerned, if it does discriminate against anyone, it discriminates against those younger than 65. The last time I looked, this class is not a protected class to whom the anti-discrimination laws apply
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Jerry, 65, lawyer, FL

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THE QUESTION:
R542: How are dreadlocks achieved? Is that style easier to take care of? Where did it orginate?
POSTED DEC. 1, 1998
Tina, 30, white female, Kansas City, Mo

ANSWER 1:
I believe the term "dreadlocks" originated in the days of slavery. As the slaves were being transported from Africa, they didn't have the luxury of taking care of grooming needs, so our hair became intertwined, creating "plats," or locks. Slaveowners saw this and thought it looked "dreadful," hence the term "dreadlocks." So in short, the term is derogatory - the correct term is just "locks." What others saw as ugly and dreadful, we saw as natural beauty.
POSTED DEC. 16, 1998
S.M., black male <
smoore15@aol.com>, Baltimore, MD

FURTHER NOTICE:
If you do not comb extremely curly hair (what some folks call kinky or, derogatorily, nappy hair) for a long time, it will eventually mat, or "lock." You can create "cultivated" locks by rolling individual pieces of hair so they're neat. Some people use gel or wax to try to hold starting locks together, but extremely curly hair doesn't really need much aside from water or a water-based holding agent. As the hair grows, you keep rolling the new growth up into the lock. When you're starting out, it's recommended you not wash your hair for about a month so that the starting locks don't come loose. Afterward, you can wash your hair as often as you like. This counters the common assumption that locks are unclean.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Kecia L., black female who's thinking about growing locks, Chicago, IL

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THE QUESTION:
R559: I have heard many racial slurs, usually made by white people. What slurs do black people use for other races? How about people who are minority but not black? It seems to me that white people have (and use) more of them.
POSTED DEC. 15, 1998
T.A.S., 35, white male, Hobe Sound, FL

ANSWER 1:
I don't think I've ever heard a black person use a racial slur toward another race, especially one on the level of the N-word. I've never heard my mother use a racial slur, even though I am pretty sure she, as a child growing up in the Jim Crow South, had bad experiences with white people. Nor have I heard any of my friends use any. At the risk of sounding naive, it seems the worst thing you could call a white person today is "racist." "Cracker" and "honky" went out with bellbottoms and disco (though bellbottoms did make a comeback).
POSTED DEC. 16, 1998
RG, black female, 26, Richmond, VA

FURTHER NOTICE:
There are slurs about white people you have probably never heard. Be warned, you won't like these: Crackerbastard (male), crackerb***h (female), crackerf**k (any white), blackcracker (a white who acts black or a black who acts white), dog stringed b***h or bastard (the opposite of nappy-haired nigger), crackerjack (to rob a white), and nigger (a blatant reversal of the most despised slur coined by whites back onto whites).
POSTED DEC. 16, 1998
Anonymous black male

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
You are just itching to get your feelings bruised, aren't you? I have heard extremely ugly words I wouldn't use myself, but here goes: Honkyf--k, white cave b---h, dog-haired cracker, and a term I've yet to figure out, nigger, and its oxymoron, white nigger, referring to white people.
POSTED DEC. 16, 1998
Black male, New York

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Latinos have some very ugly racial slurs for blacks and Indians, often used by some with black or Indian ancestry themselves. A black is a "miate," a black bug. There is also an ugly saying "Soy un negrito a ti?" meaning: Am I a little darkie to you? i.e. someone you can ignore. "Indio" for Indian also means a hick or a dumb animal. Those for whites were actually originally for the "pure" Spanish and later applied to white Anglos. They are mildly teasing more than serious insults. "Guero" means light-skinned, "gabacho" is a rutabaga and "bolillo" is white bread. Gringo is equivalent to Yank, not an insult. I hope others will learn these not to use them, but to know when someone is insulting them. Racism between non-whites is something we must confront as much as the white variety.
POSTED DEC. 16, 1998
A.C.C., Mexican and American Indian, San Antonio , TX

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
To me, the term "white trash" is extremely derogatory coming from anybody.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Chris, 39, white female <
cnorman@startribune.com>, Minneapolis, MN
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THE QUESTION:
A20: Why is so much youth fashion so aggressively visually unappealing, sexually unappealing or unflattering to the wearer, such as grunge or baggy styles? What is the first impression the wearers of such clothing wish to convey ?
POSTED JUNE 30, 1998
Greg C., 35, male <
gregc@NewZealand.Sun.COM>, Wellington, New Zealand
(Similar question regarding the revival of '70s baggy, loose-fitting clothes posted July 17, 1998, by Rocky S., 50s <
fred1c1dobbs@webtv.net>, Las Vegas, NV)

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I think the whole point of grunge was to be freed from having to be attractive and a sex object. It can make you feel free of hassle about your appearance and you can concentrate on the things that really matter in life. By becoming fashionable, a lot of that side of it changed; you now have to wear perfect make up with your army trousers! I don't actually find the grunge style of clothing unattractive or unappealing. I find many of the older conventions of dress much more ugly. I hate certain types of suits, frilly shirts, puffed sleeves, and over-fussy clothes of any sort. I dislike them so much because of the sort of people I associate with them - fussy, narrow-minded people. Having said that, I don't think the style of clothing has all that much to do with how attractive or unattractive someone is. Certain people can just wear anything and look really good.
POSTED DEC. 15, 1998
Beth, preferer of messy clothes, Edinburgh, UK

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
Since we are approximately the same age, I find your question funny. What a lot of the fashion is now is retro '70s - shirts with Adidas or Charlie's Angels on them, elephant bell bottoms, shirts with stripes on the arms, etc. They are wearing what people wore when we were kids, just more exaggerated, and the only message we were worried about was that other kids our age would think we were cool. Yep, their kids will laugh at them one day, too.
DEC. 18, 1998
Craig, 35 <
cmorris@loft.org>, Minneapolis, MN
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THE QUESTION:
SO107: What are people's opinions on homosexual adoption? No doubt anyone is capable of loving and being loved. That is not the issue. To inject an otherwise "normal" sexually oriented child into a daily 24/7 homosexual environment places that child at risk of being influenced to make that same "choice" later in life. That is what I believe homophobics are worried about when the issue of gay adoption arises. Compassion seems to end when an "innocent" in the eyes of the mainstream is placed in a high-risk situation, since the adoptive parents seem to be more selfish than willing to understand. If one were truly concerned about the children involved and not simply trying to prove a point that they are just as capable of loving as the next straight person, this matter would become moot. What say you?
POSTED DEC. 14, 1998
47, white male, retired Navy, Muncie, IN

ANSWER 1:
I suppose the pat response is to point out that the overwhelming majority of homosexuals grew up in heterosexual households. Orientation is not contagious, and there's no evidence that children raised by gay or lesbian parents are any more or less likely to be gay/lesbian themselves. And to say that gays only want to adopt to "prove" that they're capable of being loving and nurturing is as silly as saying that straights only have children to "prove" that they are fertile. From the studies I've seen, and from the gay people I know with children, children raised by gay parents tend to be very secure in their own sexuality, whatever that may be. In fact, the extensive screening process that prospective gay adoptive parents go through seems to weed out many who might not be good parents; at any rate, and I admit that my evidence is anecdotal, they seem to have a much lower rate of child abuse and dysfunction than many straight families.
POSTED DEC. 15, 1998
Kathie, 31, straight female, IA

FURTHER NOTICE:
Heterosexual parents do not "influence" a homosexual child to be heterosexual, even though that child is exposed to heterosexuality 24/7, so why would the opposite situation be true? Children of divorce do not automatically grow up to have a tendency to divorce, and children from "stable" parents are not guaranteed to have stable marriages. A child brought up surrounded by love is what the world needs, regardless of the bond between the adults raising the child.
POSTED DEC. 15, 1998
W.F., teacher, military wife, 27 <
rfleegal@erols.com>, Ellicott City, MD

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
It may be true that the child's environment influences sexual preference, but genetics seems to have the dominant influence. I grew up in a straight environment and my homosexuality still came through. Why is the situation "high-risk"? Why is it so terrible for a kid to grow up gay? I can think of only one reason - persecution of homosexuals by a heterosexual majority. Maybe I was in a "high-risk" situation - a homosexual kid who grew up in a straight environment. But I'm doing great. Gay parents, like straight parents, want children to love and nurture, not to prove a point. Their desire shows that even if kids grow up to be gay, it's not going to stop procreation. As you can see, views on this issue will be highly subjective. Let's first end hatred of gays, and then concerns about gay adoption will be less important.
POSTED DEC. 15, 1998
Ben S., 30, queer caucasian male <
bscaro@hotmail.com>, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
As a matter of logic, how can one assume a child raised in a homosexual household would choose to be gay? I ask this because the question seems to ignore the fact that extant homosexuals were not all raised in homosexual households. How did those people become gay without living in a homosexual household? How can one logically assume that being raised by gay parents precludes the sexual orientation of the child? Perhaps this is too rhetorical for the discussion, but some thread of logic needs to be inserted here somewhere. Thanks for the forum.
POSTED DEC. 15, 1998
42, white, married, heterosexual father of one, Baltimore, MD

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
The case presented here against permitting adoptions by gay or lesbian couples rests on several fallacies: 1) That sexual orientation is a choice; 2) That heterosexuality is "normal" and preferable to homosexuality, which is not "normal", and 3) That children raised by gay or lesbian parents are more likely to be gay or lesbian themselves.

Sexual orientation, whether heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual, is not a choice. No one chooses to whom they will find themselves attracted or with whom they will fall in love. All three are "normal" and do not, in and of themselves, make for good or bad parents (or good or bad children, for that matter). As the questioner points out, anyone is capable of loving and being loved. Examples of good and poor parenting can be found across all sexual orientations. Being raised by gay or lesbian parents no more increases the probability that a child will be gay than being raised by straight parents. (My daughter is straight, married and soon to make me a proud grandma.) Statistically, most children will identify as heterosexual regardless of their parents' sexual orientation. If anything, perhaps children who happen to be gay may have an easier time accepting themselves and coming out to gay parents than to straight parents. I have yet to hear of any gay parents rejecting their heterosexual children in the physically and emotionally abusive way that some straight parents have violently rejected their gay children. That to me constitutes a high-risk environment.

An adoption agency should indeed have the best interests of children in mind. Children should be placed with warm, loving, caring parents who will nurture and love them, regardless of either the parents' or child's sexual orientation (not because the adoptive parent is either gay or straight, but because the individual is a good prospective parent). To limit adoptions to only heterosexual people is unfounded discrimination, largely against gay men. While studies have shown that statistically gay men are less than half as likely as heterosexual males to be fathers, lesbians already mother children in almost equal proportions to our heterosexual counterparts.
POSTED DEC. 15, 1998
DykeOnByke, 48, lesbian mother & soon-to-be grandmother <
DykeOnByke@aol.com>, Southfield , MI

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
In your question, you include a sentence whose facts I need to rectify/counter: "To inject an otherwise "normal" sexually oriented child into a daily 24/7 homosexual environment places that child at risk of being influenced to make that same "choice" later in life." First of all, if a child is adopted and matures to discover that he or she is gay or bisexual, they have not made a transition from "normal" to "abnormal," because both gay, bisexual and heterosexual orientations are normal. Second, there is no proof, either empirical or anecdotal, that placing a child into what you term a "homosexual environment" has any influence whatsoever on the child's sexual orientation. Children do not look at the parents as say, "I want to be just like them," and parents don't go to kids and say, "Don't be straight." However, if a child matures and discovers he or she is gay, they may have an easier time coming to terms with it, since they have role models - their parents - to look up to. If they mature to be straight, their parents are equally happy.
POSTED DEC. 15, 1998
Wendy, 24, bisexual, Atlanta , GA

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
Selfish? Willing to understand what? That raising children is a heterosexual privilege and they want to keep it that way, lest we turn out even more gay people? The desire to have a family is not unique to heterosexuals; it is not toggled off simply by being gay or lesbian. As a gay man I am keenly aware of couples who have children simply because they happen to have the proper equipment, children who are doomed to a life of mistreatment and neglect. Their disregard for their offspring is apparent when they walk into social services centers and demand that someone "fix their kid."

My would-be spouse (of nearly 10 years) and I have pursued this. We gave up after running into one brick wall after another, though we know of others who have had more resolve and have not lost complete hope. Granted, adoption is difficult even for mixed-gender couples, but I think anyone who is willing to put themselves through the torturous hoops that are set up for gay and lesbian people wanting to adopt are not doing it to prove a point.

The question you pose is heavily laden with bias. But let me tell you where we agree: If everyone were truly concerned about the children involved and not simply trying to prove that gay and lesbian people are less capable of loving as the next straight person, this matter would indeed become moot.
POSTED DEC. 15, 1998
Rex T. , 35, well-educated, nice income, stable home <
rex_tremende@hotmail.com>, Cincinnati, OH

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
I am a happily involved, straight female who was raised by my dad and his partner. If anything, it has only made me more accepting of people who are different from me (not only gay). I couldn't have asked for more loving parents. Their homosexuality has not influenced my orientation in any way. I hope all my relationships can be as loving as theirs. The only downside of having gay parents is the questions from kids at school, but if they don't accept you because of who your parents are, they usually aren't worth being friends with, anyway.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
M.J., Amarillo, TX

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THE QUESTION:
RE122: I've noticed that many Native American men I see have long hair. Is this for spiritual/religious reasons, or just preference?
POSTED DEC. 11, 1998
K. O'Connor, 26, Hispanic, Salt Lake City, UT

ANSWER 1:
It depends on the tribal tradition. For some it's a cultural tradition, but some tribes have spiritual beliefs saying you should not cut what the Creator has given you, that you are making yourself unnatural if you do. Some tribes traditionally believed your hair is the emblem of your sexuality, so cutting it is symbolically saying you're sexless. In these same traditions, you cut your hair after the loss of your spouse, to symbolize your loss.
POSTED DEC. 14, 1989
A.C.C., Mexican and American Indian, San Antonio, TX

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THE QUESTION:
GE102: What are people's opinions of unmarried women? What is your reaction to a woman telling you she is unmarried, but a mother? What about unmarried and childless? Does that opinion change based on age? At what age is it still OK to be unmarried and female? What about a man in the same spot? If you were to meet a man who is 35 and unmarried, would you assume there was something wrong with him?
POSTED DEC. 9, 1998
Apryl P., black female <
apryl@mail-me.com>, Oak Park, MI

ANSWER 1:
As a never-married, 28-year-old hetrosexual woman, I do feel like there is something wrong with me. I have gone through the "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" phase with all of my friends, and now I'm going through Phase 2: Throwing baby showers for all of my expectant friends. I realize people are getting married at a later age these days, but I feel like once I hit 30, I've blown any chance at all of ever getting married. Regarding single men of my age and older, I admit that my first question is "what's wrong with him?" But the reason for that is reflected in my above statement that something is wrong with me for still being single. As far as single mothers are concerned, I see nothing wrong with that. One-parent families are sometimes the best thing for the child.
POSTED DEC. 16, 1998
J.P.J., 28, female, MI

FURTHER NOTICE:
I don't know about other guys my age (25), but I feel as if something is wrong with me (being single at my age, that is). Listening to and hearing about my college classmates' engagement and/or birth announcements often drives me into deep depressions. The depressing thing is some of my classmates are younger than I. I feel as if something is missing in my life. All I can say is you aren't walking alone.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Vincent B., 25, single black male <
flame73@iols.net>, Chicago, IL

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I grew up in a family with two never-married aunts, so for me, for a woman to not marry is a perfectly valid and reasonable choice. Both of them have full lives, with many friends and jobs they enjoy, and they have been wonderful role models for me and my younger sister. As a result, I've always felt there can be (and are) as many reasons for a woman not to be married as there are unmarried women. It doesn't necessarily mean there's anything "wrong" with them. It's probably better not to marry at all than to marry the wrong person (which holds true for both men and women, in my opinion).
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Margaret E. female, Minneapolis , MN

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
As another 28-year-old, never-married heterosexual white female, I am starting down that path of wondering what I think about me. As the first respondent noted, my reaction to the thirtyish never-married date prospect is to be a bit wary and put off by his lack of marital history, so I assume his reaction to me is similar. I don't know - do you want the 35-year-old with an ugly divorce behind him, or the one who's never been down the aisle? The prevailing, extremely personal questions are why are they single, why are they divorced and where are they at mentally? It depends on the person. Lately I have entertained the thought of raising a child alone if I don't meet that marrying man in the next few years. I don't know, I'm just trying to live it one day at a time.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
K.R., 28, single white female, Birmingham, AL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
As a divorced, now single, 44-year-old female, I run into a lot of bizarre situations. I have a non-traditional job for a female in an industry that is predominantly male-oriented. Some insecure, married women seem to find me threatening, or at least they treat me with suspicion. Often I find that married men "hit" on me. It is disturbing because my old tapes say "What is wrong with me? What messages am I inadvertently sending?" One married male friend and I were talking about one uncomfortable incident that I experienced. He jokingly informed me that men look at a single female my age and assume she "needs her ashes hauled." Yikes. I don't stand a chance!
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
J.W., white, 44, female <
CP1028@AOL.com>, Milwaukee, WI

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
J.P.J.: I'm another 28-year-old unmarried straight woman, and sweetheart, let me tell you that the only thing wrong with you is that you have internalized bulls**t societal norms! There is nothing wrong with being 28 and unmarried. There's nothing wrong with being 48 and unmarried. There is something wrong with women getting married to abusive, patriarchal or simply incompatable men because they are afraid to be alone, which is where you may wind up. In a society that teaches women in all kinds of subtle and not-so-subtle ways that we have little value if a man doesn't love us, being alone is being a rebel. Embrace your rebel status, and be grateful you're not in a lousy marriage. If and when a great man comes along, you'll know you held out for what you deserve.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Rhiannon, 28, single feminist babe <
rock0048@tc.umn.edu>, Minneapolis, MN

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
I am a single woman and plan to remain that way. While I am only 24 and may of course change my mind later, I am beginning to watch my friends get married off. It has been very hard to see my friends, both male and female, who once had big ideas and goals for themselves, compromise their values and dreams in the interest of staying together and getting married. Or to observe them choosing men who are not necessarily good for them out of fear of being left behind in the marriage game.

Much like the first respondent, many women feel like there is something wrong with them if they don't wed; marriage has evolved into some bizarre ritual of validation for women. Honestly, I regard single women with a bit more respect than married women. Ask yourself honestly, after 20 years of marriage, how many truly happy and "in love" couples do you know? Not many. Marriages are characterized by power struggles, abuse, coldness and dishonesty. I'm not being cynical; if you study family and culture, you will see that these characteristics are the norm and not the exception. In light of that, I seriously do not comprehend the emphasis that our culture still places on marriage. I am involved in a very loving, respectful, understanding relationship, and yet all anyone wants to ask me is, "When are you two going to tie the knot?" Why does that matter? I'm not anti- marriage, but I certainly appreciate a woman who appreciates how very optional married living is, and is able to first find fulfillment within herself - something all too many women don't learn to do until after the divorce.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
D.M.M., female <
donikam@hotmail.com>, Charleston , SC
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THE QUESTION:
RE93: Do some Christians, Baptists, etc. believe in evolution? And why do most creationists (mainly fundamentalists) close their ears to the idea of evolution? Can they not accept it as God's way?
POSTED SEPT. 3, 1998
J.Williams, Quaker <
1krazykat@widowmaker.com>, Williamsburg, VA

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
At the heart of the matter is a desire to see the universe as an orderly place. Those who believe in a God as many Christians do - a father figure who guides all aspects of human life - abhor evolution not because it contradicts what they believe, which it doesn't, but offends their sensibilities, their desire to have a grand and wise father who doesn't have to resort to messy and time-consuming processes to do his work. As a fallen Southern Baptist, I have thought and talked about this a lot, and I believe that what most offends many is not the theory of evolution but science in general, which many believe (perhaps rightly) is taking the place of religion in society. Therefore, they approach it with mistrust in the first place. Those who adamantly oppose evolution are revealing their own insecurity, in that they know, intellectually, that the Bible (or their interpretation of it) cannot be factually accurate, so they lash out doubly so at any interpretation that might seem to water down that irrational belief. Those who prefer to rely on an oft-edited, revised, often illogical and contradictory complilation of stories and fables as a guideline for their intellectual exploration (or lack thereof) feel threatened by evolution because it's a theory they don't understand and one they feel somehow drags man down to the level of animals. The more intelligent who still refuse to look beyond the Bible for answers resort to poking holes in what is, after all, a still-emerging theory. The open-minded understand that there's plenty of room in their faith (which can be a very good thing) to make room for scientific inquiry and progress, and understand that evolution is as miraculous a process in its way as God breathing life into earth to create Adam.
POSTED DEC. 14, 1998
J. Wilkerson <
jwilker@ptd.net>, Allentown, PA

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
Whether one believes life as we know it was created in the Garden of Eden, or by some dust molecules coming together in some sort of "big bang" event, I find it hard that anyone would deny that evolution is an integral part of life on Earth. One only has to look at the history of and at Life itself in the form of the changes experienced by humankind and the floral and fauna on Earth to know that evolution does happen. I feel there has to be some incredible power, call it God or whatever, that had some influence on creation and its evolution, moreso than just a couple of spacedust particles coming together to form planets (where did the dust come from?), and yet, at the same time, I find the story of Adam and Eve a bit too simplistic for such an incredible event as the creation/evolution/development of whole worlds.
POSTED DEC. 16, 1998
Paul D., 39, Christian and Earth inhabitant <
pdeeming@rnc.net>, Eagan , MN

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
The story of creation states that God made the heavens and the earth in seven days. Some people take this quite literally, thinking God did this in what we consider a week. Well, who's to say that a day for God is 24 hours? In my opinion, many stories in the Bible are myths, such as the creation story and the story of Adam and Eve. People throughout history have made up stories to explain the world around them. Have you ever read Greek mythology? Fantastic stories. I love them. We have four seasons because Persephone ate some pommegranate seeds while she was in the Underworld. Naturally. Storms are caused by Zeus throwing thunderbolts down to the earth. Of course. Women have pain in childbirth because Eve ate some fruit. Is this story any more plausible than the others? I think not. I am a Christian, and I have a very strong belief in God and the Bible. However, I feel people must be open-minded to science, not afraid of it or of what we have to learn about our existence from it. Evolution was God's idea, if you ask me.
POSTED DEC. 18, 1998
Shari D., 27, protestant Christian, Canton , MI

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THE QUESTION:
GD56: Would someone please explain what is so wonderful about hip-hop music? To me, the music is generally poorly constructed, the voices blah and the lyrics pathetic and/or crude.
POSTED DEC. 11, 1998
jprhedd <
jprhedd@hotmail.com>, West Palm Beach, FL

ANSWER 1:
Hip Hop music is a form of poetry and the greatest form of expression for young people around the world. African Americans embrace this as their own, along with R&B. I and other minorities can identify with the lyrics because they are speaking the truth. I admit, some rappers do suck, especially the ones who talk about what they have all day long. But a real hip hop head doesn't have to speak about all that because the fans know his capabilities, not his possessions or how many Benzes he has and "hasn't even drove yet." Also, I do feel it is worth mentioning that Hip Hop is a way of life; the music is rap. You may not understand the whole message of the music and beats, and maybe that's why you dislike it - which is fine, because you are entitled to your own opinion. Still, I don't dig soft rock, rock, metal, goth, sk8 and all the others, but I'll never disrespect your music style and taste, as you did with the question. Maybe if you would ask in a better manner, you'll get a better response. To each his own, remember.
POSTED DEC. 14, 1998
A. Bailey, Bridgeport, CT

FURTHER NOTICE:
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Hip-hop attracts some and not others. Every type of music has things people like and dislike. The very thing you don't like about hip-hop, someone else may absolutely love. You could ask the question about anything: Music, food, clothes, television, books, cars, etc. Different strokes for different folks.
POSTED DEC. 14, 1998
J. Sin, white male, GA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Art is pure opinion. While some hip-hop is extremely poor in all your mentioned areas, some of it is simply another way of viewing the classical world of music, in a fast-paced manner that keeps the attention of popular culture (which has an attention span of all of three seconds on a good day with the wind helping them). While few teenagers today have the patience to read Shakespeare's classic "Romeo and Juliet," many will sit through an 18-second lyric in Semisonic's song "Singing in my Sleep" about the story.
POSTED DEC. 14, 1998
Pop/classical/jazz/country/rap/blues music fan, Elkins Park, PA

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THE QUESTION:
SO103: Why is it so uncommon to encounter the idea that sexuality is a continuum rather than a black-and-white issue? People aren't tall or short; there are different degrees of height. Similarly, aren't there different degrees of sexuality?
POSTED DEC. 3, 1998
Richard B., 20, white male <
richard.brooks@furman.edu>, Greenville, SC

ANSWER 1:
I have asked myself this same question and I believe there are many gray areas. Sexual orientation is not a choice but a more black-and-white issue (in my experience). However, it is normal to have fantasies or sexual experiences with people not of the sex of your sexual orientation. I think the lines of sexual orientation can be blurred if you respond to the humanity and the beauty of a person without limiting yourself to their sex. Of course, it's a lot easier to respond to those feelings within the parameters of what you consider "normal" for you. I am a straight woman, but I have had sexual experiences with other women. After these experiences, of course, I questioned my sexual orientation. The fear was that I was somehow repressed or in the closet and didn't even know it myself - being gay was not a fear. I realized I could be sensual and open with other women and enjoy the experience without the fear that I was somehow changing something about myself. Intuitively, however, it is men to whom I am attracted - and given the men I meet, that is truly a shame.
POSTED DEC. 16, 1998
Sherri, 27, straight female <
wackydiva@hotmail.com>, New York, NY
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THE QUESTION:
G58: Recently I was at a youth hostel in Japan, and I met a nice Mexican girl and we shared our respective views of America and the world. In particular, we talked about the "world cop" position of America. We had different viewpoints, and I would just like to know what people from various parts of the world think about it. How do you view the current global position of America?
POSTED NOV. 29, 1998
M.S. <
ms@gol.com>, Osaka, Japan

ANSWER 1:
I think a lot of Swedes have mixed feelings about it. The United States is "admired" and has a lot of influence on Swedish culture, and most people are pro-United States. At the same time, Jante�s law (Don�t think you�re better than anyone else) has a strong influence in Sweden. The result is resentment and the question, "Why do those Americans always think they�re better than anyone else?" The Swedish intelligentsia prefer that a unanimous U.N. makes all decisions. Personally, I think a strong democracy should influence the world as much as possible, but I resent the hypocrisy of American policymakers: Terrorism is fought by bombing civilians in Sudan and Afghanistan; and Saddam Hussein is dealt with by killing up to a million children in Iraq through the economic boycott.
POSTED DEC. 14, 1998
Peter <
peter.erlandsson@observer.se>, Stockholm, Sweden

FURTHER NOTICE:
I had a similar experience speaking with a Mexican college student from Mexico City. She wanted to know why we in the United States refer to our country as "America" when Mexico, Canada, etc. have as much claim to that title as anyone. There is a perception internationally that we in this country place ourselves above all others. I responded to her by saying that I guessed I hadn't thought about it. She opened my eyes, and I hope she opens a few more. Let's think about it.
POSTED DEC. 16, 1998
Michael O., 25,white male <
mjolson@prodigy.net>, St. Paul, MN

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
I am an American. I grieve for the folks in Iraq who suffer from our policy. Americans at heart tend toward isolationalism. We really don't want to be involved with or in others' affairs. However, world wars and our own proseprity have thrust us into the role of "cop." A role of world leadership cannot happen in a philisophical vacuum. Thus, we view things from a democratic and English law perspective. We know, too, that we will be expected to act in the "greater good." Iraq has leadership that is seen as dangerous to its own people, to the region and to people far away. Iraq, through its leadership, is slaughtering her own people - the Kurds - among others. Americans view such things as simply unacceptable - against mankind's inalienable rights. We have a saying here: "You can pay the piper now, or you can pay the piper later." Either way, you pay! We resolutely hold firm against Saddam while the Iraqi nation finds her voice. We know a huge price is being paid now by the Iraqi people. Know also, Saddam could erase this all in a moment. It is a painful situation. Hypocrisy? Don't be too self-assured. We are now taking down our own president because he broke the rule of law. Rest assured, the American people struggle over these things. We are a compassionate people. We seek to do the right thing. We hope we can thread the needle. When we fail, we grieve. When we succeed, we simply sigh in relief
POSTED DEC. 16, 1998
Everyman <
mcgau001@tc.umn.edu>, Minneapolis, MN
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