Best of the Week
of Dec. 26, 1999

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Dec. 26, 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.

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


Order the
hilarious and heartwarming book on Y?

"Why Do
White People
Smell Like Wet Dogs
When They Come
Out Of The Rain?
"

ISBN: 0-9675971-0-2

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Question:
Recently I discovered that my father, who is 50, is in a relationship with a 20-year-old girl. I am 25 and have two younger sisters, 23 and 20. Needless to say, we are very upset by this because we think the age difference is too great, and we don't feel this girl is mature enough to make a decision she will not regret later in life. My father feels there's nothing wrong with their relationship because legally she's not a minor. I'm trying to understand why I am so upset by this. Sometimes I feel I'm being unjust to him, and sometimes I feel totally justified in my feelings. Are my bad feelings rational at all?
POSTED 12/27/1999
Fiona F., New York, NY, United States, 25, Female, Agnostic, Asian, Straight, research assistant, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1112199960054

Responses:
I would like to say that feelings are never 'wrong' or 'irrational.' We don't control our feelings, they just exist. The actions you choose to take reguarding your feelings is an entirely different matter. As for your specific situation - your 50-year-old father dating a 20-year-old woman - I would probably feel the same way you do if I were in your situation. Whenever I see tremendous difference in age between a couple, I have to wonder what the driving force is in the relationship. What is motivating these people to be together? For a healthy relationship to develop and last, the people involved have to have similar ways of looking at the world. In your case, your father has lived a lifetime and a half longer than his girlfriend, how similar can their outlooks be? I would be very worried about what is motivating them both.
POSTED 12/28/1999
Jacqueline C, San Jose, CA, United States, 26, Female, White/Caucasian, Engineer, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 1227199993436

You didn't mention your mother. Is she still alive? If she has died recently, perhaps you feel your father is not giving your mother the respect she deserves by waiting longer to be involved with someone. If your mother is still alive, are your parents divorced, or is this an affair? How does your mother feel about it? Does she express her views to you? She could be influencing how you feel, due to loyalty to your mom. Is your father wealthy? If so, are you worried that the young woman is a gold-digger? Perhaps you what you feel is sibling rivalry. Try to get to know her before you ake any final decisions on whether she's right for your dad. Remember that everyone has the right to be happy and your father is no exception.
POSTED 12/28/1999
Cheryl, Atlanta, GA, United States, 52, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Analyst, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1228199911156

I think it is true that wisdom and maturity does come with age and experience, but that is not to say this particular person is not mature enough to make decisions for herself. And even mature people make mistakes and have regrets. My concern with age differences lies with unequal power dynamics. I'd be interested to hear the different perspectives on this question: Can two people with a significant age difference between them still be equals in a relationship, considering the likelihood of financial disparity and other factors that increase dependency?
POSTED 12/28/1999
Anon, Toronto, NA, Canada, 20, Female, Atheist, Asian, Mesg ID 12281999122105
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Question:
I have noticed that my 18-year-old daughter is collecting objects I associate with sado-machistic tendencies (handcuffs, whips, blindfolds, etc.) I am not sufficiently informed on the subject to approach her. Could someone familiar with or who perhaps enjoys this eroticism please explain the motivations and gratifications of this sort of foreplay so I can open a meaningful dialogue with my daughter? I need to assure myself she is 'playing safe.'
POSTED 12/27/1999
Martha B., Detroit, MI, United States, Female, Mesg ID 10111999124835

Responses:
You are assuming your daughter is sexually active. I think that if you want to have a discussion with her about safe sex, a) you waited too long, and b) - do not bring up the S&M topic. I have a feeling that with the way pop culture has been driven lately, she could just be curious and just keeping them 'for show.' Does she have these items sitting around in her bedroom left for you and the world to see? Is she in a commited relationship? If she is in a relationship, I wouldn't concern myself with what her bedroom habits are but maybe ask her whether she has seen a gynecologist for an annual exam, etc. That would present you in a more teen-friendly manner. I would confine 'the talk' to that of her health and general welfare - which is what you should be concerned with, anyway. I think you may embarrass her needlessly, and that would do more harm for your relationship than good.
POSTED 12/28/1999
Kris, Newark, NJ, United States, 24, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, sales, 4 Years of College , Middle class,Mesg ID 1227199930859
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Question:
My husband and I just found out that his son and daughter-in-law are going to have a Down Syndrome child. As the very new step-mom, I do not know what to say. The family is very sensitive and does not communicate at all. I am extremely social with everyone but his kids.
POSTED 12/16/1999
J. Smith, Fresno, CA, United States, Mesg ID 12141999101100

Responses:
You should first and foremost remember that you are having a new grandson who needs love and support just like any other human being. There are many organizations that can provide up-to-date information about the lives and prospects for people with Down Syndrome. My 21-year-old son lives on his own, as it happens, in Fresno! If you would like to meet him, please contact me by e-mail. You might call the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles and ask to be sent a new parent package. Ask for the executive director. Find out if there is a local Down Syndrome parent group in your area.
POSTED 12/27/1999
Ted F., Simi Valley, CA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 1222199911431

What is it that you really want to say? I say you should respect your heart, and offer kind words to someone you know is probably in need of your wisdom and compassion. Just because his family doesn't communicate doesn't mean you shouldn't. You should be you. You should reach out when you really want to.
POSTED 12/27/1999
L.S.R., Santa Monica, CA, United States, 32, Female, Catholic, Hispanic/Latino, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 12221999105227

Having a Down's sister, I wanted to reply to your question, but I wasn't sure how to, as my position is so different from yours. But when I read Ted's opening line that you should first and foremost remember that you are having a new grandson, it reminded me of something my mother told me as a child. She explained to me how upset she and my father were when my sister was born, and how, not fully understanding the condition, they were prepared to sell the house, anything, if there were an operation to 'cure' her. As a 10-year-old, I couldn't understand that. How on earth could my parents want to change my wonderful, loving sister? I understood she was hard work for them, but I had the benefit of knowing her as a person. Just like everyone else, she has her own personality, just as your grandson will have. And believe me, he will be more loving than you can possibly imagine.
POSTED 12/28/1999
Geraldine, London, NA, United Kingdom, 32, Female, White/Caucasian, Civil servant, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1227199960759
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Question:
Are there people who wear diapers from infancy to their teens and into adulthood?
POSTED 12/27/1999
Angie, Charleston, SC, United States, <Wynonna@aol.com>, 24, Female, Baptist, White/Caucasian, Straight, High School Diploma , Middle class, Mesg ID 1112199995035
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Question:
Many Catholics have sex outside of marriage, use birth control and have abortions (among other 'sins') even though these acts are forbidden in the Catholic faith. How can these people still call themselves Catholic when they obviously don't accept the Church doctrine? If these people are going to break Catholic 'law,' why don't they leave the Catholic church and affiliate with a denomination of Christianity that is less restrictive? Or worship God independent of organized religion?
POSTED 12/26/1999
John L., San Diego, CA, United States, 25, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Scientist, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 1223199942658

Responses:
People tend to think that if their parents/ancestors are of a denomination or if their ethnicity is traditionally of said denomination (Mexican, Irish, etc.), then they are automatically of the denomination. Well, being born into a tradition doesn't make someone a Christian, just like being born in a garage doesn't make someone a car. It is a personal committment/decision and requires a lifelong walk. Also, just because someone calls themself a Christian doesn't make them one, just like someone claiming to be a doctor is not one unless they actually are. But I guess that certain denominations will grant anybody designation if all they do is claim it. It's altogether impossible to tell who's devout and who isn't.
POSTED 12/27/1999
Dan, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, student/dishwasher, Lower middle class,Mesg ID 1226199991604
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Question:
Why is it that the title of the book based on the Y? web site - Why Do White People Smell Like Wet Dogs When They Come Out Of The Rain? - is acceptable to all races, but if any other race were substituted for "White People" it would be considered a horribly racist observation?
POSTED 12/26/1999
Steve, Orlando, FL, United States, 41, Male, White/Caucasian, Straight, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1225199965443

Responses:
It's because verbal ideas aren't neutral; they react with a history. Hardly any white people have found themselves subjected to black people who did not regard them as fully human; whereas the reverse is within living memory. We talk about how animals smell because 1) we don't much care about how the animal feels about it, and 2) we don't think they understand us. That's the implication behind questions about black body odor. But very few white people - or at least few straight white males - have ever felt that their humanity or relevance was seriously in question. Hence, the issue doesn't sting as much.
POSTED 12/27/1999
John B., Rural area, CO, United States, 42, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, college professor, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1226199952251

That is probably an unfortunate, valid point.
POSTED 12/27/1999
B.B., Jacksonville, FL, United States, Mesg ID 1226199965737

Yes, I agree. Why is that the title of the book? That's not right, because you know that if it was substituted with black people instead of white people, they would have cows. If it's not right for you to do it to them, then there should be no reason in hell for you to do it to white people, either.
POSTED 12/27/1999
Meghan, rochester Hills, MI, United States, Female, Mesg ID 1226199980000

For many many years, blacks were the butt of things such as Minstrel shows, blaxploitation, demeaning caricatures and various other indignities. We Latinos have had to put up with everything from having our 'accents' mocked on down to the Taco Bell dog. This goes back for decades, even centuries. Not to mention centuries of oppression and discrimination. With all these rights minorities have scratched and clawed for, we can get a little hyper-sensitive when faced with ethnic caricature. Yet when I think about it, 'Why do Hispanics drive so slow?' would be a more appropriate title than 'Why are white people greedy and evil?' I think 'Wet Dogs' is appropriate for the nature of the book.
POSTED 12/27/1999
Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, student/dishwasher, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1226199990318

Steve: Unfortunately, 'Wet Dogs' is not only an appropriate title, but it is safe. It's safe because in society it is acceptable for the little guy to finally stand up to the big guy. We applaud it, actually. Minorities have been demeaned, abused and disrespected for as long as we all can remember. Why then would whites, the majority, believe they would be exempted from criticism and stereotyping? Granted, every white person isn't guilty of some social injustice or living some grand life simply because he/she is white. However, remember you're not immune to unwarranted generalizations, either. The title of the book illustrates that you're fair game for some of the same prejudice that minorities experience. While prejudicial thoughts and comments are undesirable, we all are guilty of such feelings and have made some unsavory racial comments in our lifetimes. We're lying if we say otherwise. What's more important is that we fess up to our prejudices. Can you say that you have never made a comment about minorities that you might be less than proud to publicly admit? While the title is unflattering, it speaks true of a feeling that many minorities believe about whites. Given the nature of text, the title boldly addresses such prejudices. If you feel personally offended, try to understand this perspective. We're talking about collective consciousness here. The title doesn't say 'Steve smells.'
POSTED 12/28/1999
Zawadi, Farmington Hills, MI, United States, <aquarius9@hotmail>, 34, Female, Black/African American, Publishing, 2 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1227199995818
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Question:
Are there female jockeys in horse racing? If not, why?
POSTED 12/26/1999
John L., San Diego, CA, United States, 25, Male, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Straight, Scientist, Over 4 Years of College , Upper class, Mesg ID 1224199911507

Responses:
Yes, there are female jockeys. I believe Julie Krone competed in the Kentucky Derby a few years back.
POSTED 12/28/1999
Sue, Canoga Park, CA, United States, Female, Mesg ID 1227199960843

There have been a few female jockeys in racing since the '50s I believe. The first two or three had to overcome incredible discrimination, both from the other jockeys and from the owners. Owners' discrimination made it hard to get mounts. But I suspect the real reason is that controlling a race horse running at full speed requires incredible upper body strength. And few women the size of jockeys (110 pounds or so) have that.
POSTED 12/28/1999
PappaJerry, Tampa, FL, United States, Male, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1227199914326
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Question:
Why do black people have such a strong and offensive odor when they get warm or sweat?
POSTED 12/20/99
Jim P., Clearwater, FL, United States, Male, Mesg ID 12199992757

Responses:
I suspect this supposed bad odor that emanates from the armpits and bodies of black folk when they are warm or sweating is the same odor that white folk give off when they are perspiring. All people (or those without glandular problems that may inhibit sweating) perspire; it's not something unique to people of African descent.
POSTED 12/26/1999
Jahi B., Alexandria, VA, United States, Female, Black/African American, Mesg ID 12211999105258

This is just like the question some blacks ask: "Why do white people smell like a wet dog when they get wet?" If someone stinks, they just stink. It has nothing to do with whether they are white or black. My suggestion to you: Find some friends who shower.
POSTED 12/26/1999
Bridget, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 25, Female, Black/African American, Lesbian, 2 Years of College, Mesg ID 1222199921334

White people don't exactly smell so good either when they get sweaty. I've lived in a suite with athletes, and it didn't exactly smell pretty.
POSTED 12/26/1999
Dan C., Uxbridge, MA, United States, 20, Male, White/Caucasian, Student, Mesg ID 12221999105902

That's a very interesting observation that causes me to ask: Have you not ever smelled an offensive odor when around other whites, Asians, Indians, Native Americans, etc.? Everyone sweats, and sometimes we just don't smell clean or fresh (lack of deodorant, hormonal imbalances, uncleanliness, etc.) Are you sure it's the "odor" that offends you and not just being in proximity to a black person?
POSTED 12/26/1999
A. Adams, West LA, CA, United States, 29, Female, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1224199972303
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Question:
In the Bible, Jehovah refers to himself as a jealous God. But since covetousness is forbidden by the Ten Commandments, and jealousy and covetousness are basically the same thing, isn't Jehovah breaking his own commandments by coveting human devotion so strongly?
POSTED 12/22/1999
Leonard, Seattle, WA, United States, 28, Male, Pagan, Straight, 2 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 730199971730

Responses:
Covetousness is wanting something that belongs to someone else. Since God created us, we belong to Him. Therefore, He cannot covet us. On the other hand, God created man with freedom of will. We can choose to put other things before God. God wants to love us and wants us to love Him so passionately that He can't 'share' us with another 'god.' That's why He calls himself jealous.
POSTED 12/26/1999
Stacee, Houston, TX, United States, Female, Christian, White/Caucasian, TV director, Over 4 Years of College , Upper middle class, Mesg ID 12231999124528
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Question:
To people who seem to behave as if their actions have no impact on others (examples: playing your high-powered car sound system loudly, regardless of where you are, or bringing your cellular phone to an acoustic music concert and not muting the ring): What is your attitude toward others?
POSTED 12/20/99
Phil S., Panama City, FL, United States, 65, Male, Straight, retired, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 12199932950

Responses:
Those folks who breeze into the parking lot and take a handicapped spot, or squeeze their Suburban into a tiny parking spot, or take their ringing phone into concerts, or cut in line at the deli, etc., have consciously or unconsciously decided they are more important, stressed, hurried, whatever, than everyone else. Their parents proabably gave them everything they ever asked for, conceded to their every whim and let them walk all over them. Thanks, folks, for raising such a loathsome bunch of self-centered snots. Teenagers blast music and make noise because they desire the attention. Adults do it because they're jerks.
POSTED 12/26/1999
Kat, Montevallo, AL, United States, 29, Straight, web master, Over 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1221199914043
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Question:
Where did the terms used by blacks for whites such as "honkie" and "ofay" come from?
POSTED 12/20/99
S.W., St. Petersburg Beach, FL, United States, 51, Male, Agnostic, Hispanic/Latino, Straight, retired, Over 4 Years of College , Lower middle class, Mesg ID 12199963357

Responses:
There are many theories about how different names for different ethnic groups came about. Most theories are suspect. One of the more plausible explanations for the word 'honky' is that black men tend to have deep voices, and speak from the diaphragm (think of Barry White or Isaac Hayes), while white people tend to speak with a more nasal tone (ever hear a black comedian doing a 'white' impression? Notice how nasal they make white voices sound?). 'Honky' probably refers to the nasal quality blacks hear in white speech.
POSTED 12/26/1999
Astorian, Austin, TX, United States, 38, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 122099101905

I can't tell you officially where these derogatory words originated from, but my guess is that they are a response to words used to describe us(blacks): Nigger, coon, monkeys, gigges, apes, blackie, etc. All these words are designed to hurt and demean.
POSTED 12/26/1999
L.S., Los Angeles, CA, United States, 33, Female, Christian, Black/African American, Straight, TV Research, 4 Years of College , Middle class, Mesg ID 1222199925500

From what I understand, 'honky' describes the way whites, when speaking, sound to blacks because of whites' narrower nasal passages.
POSTED 12/26/1999
VEZ, Los Angeles, CA, United States, Mesg ID 1222199970947

The term "honky" is derived from the "honky" sound that many blacks perceive when whites speak through relatively narrower nasal passages.
POSTED 12/26/1999
Paul G., L.os Angeles, CA, United States, Male, Mesg ID 12251999114705
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