Best of the Week
of Dec. 30, 2001

Best of Week Archives

Here are the most intriguing cross-cultural exchanges either begun or advanced during the week of Dec. 30, 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.

First-time users should first make a quick stop at Y?'s guidelines pages for asking and answering questions.

The book on Y? is here!
"Why Do White People Smell Like Wet Dogs
When They Come Out Of The Rain?"

Order it securely via credit card
Delivery in 2-3 days via Priority Mail
Read the Associated Press story on "Wet Dogs"

Order the book on Y? today!

 


Question:

Why is it that people are nearly always assumed to be straight unless they fit the obvious stereotypes of gay/lesbian? For example, instead of asking a female, 'Do you have a boyfriend?', why can't the question be, 'Do you have a partner?' or if a female says, 'My partner...', do people have to start saying, 'he', when they don't know for sure? I know people don't intend to be offensive, but a bit of extra consideration would be nice. It gets frustrating having to keep correcting people's assumptions, and you don't know whether the other person is going to react in a homophobic way when you make the correction.

POSTED 1/1/2002

Paulette, Sydney, NA, Australia, 25, Female, Agnostic, White/Caucasian, Lesbian, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 11200211207

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

Are guys interested in girls who are always talking, or in shy girls who don't talk very much?

POSTED 1/1/2002

Alicia, Chicago, IL, United States, 19, Female, Black/African American, Straight, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1230200145016

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

Is it unusual for a couple in their 60s to enjoy sex as much as my wife and I do? We are a very close couple, and we like each other as much as we love each other. We love sex with each other, a little bi, and sometimes a little swinging.

POSTED 12/30/2001

Don B., Glendale, AZ, United States, 60, Male, Catholic, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Production type work, High School Diploma, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1229200195733

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

Why is it that when interracial couples (black men/white women) are out and about and see a very attractive black woman, they stare at her (as if they want to be acknowledged or seen) or dramatically grab, hug, or kiss each other? If you're dating for true love, why put on the act? I've noticed this a lot lately, as my friends and I are very attractive black women. I don't think white women really understand something: We don't want the man you're with. We are attracted to black men who are attracted to black women - get it?

POSTED 12/30/2001

Nikki T., Washington, DC, United States, 31, Female, Black/African American, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1228200180148

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

Are Jewish men attracted to non-Jewish women? I have always wanted to have friends of different backgrounds, races and religions

POSTED 12/30/2001

Daisy, Panhandle Area, FL, United States, 28, Female, Black/African American, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1226200185437


Responses:
I find myself attracted to the person first and then discover their religion. My first girlfriend was Christian, and since then a little less than half the girls I've dated have been Jewish. I have never dated an African-American girl, more due to lack of opportunity (there have been none I've felt very close to) than any aversion.

POSTED 1/1/2002

Alex, Beloit, WI, United States, 18, Male, Jewish, White/Caucasian, Bisexual, Student, High School Diploma, Upper middle class, Mesg ID 1230200141245

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

A while back I ran into this guy who was down on his luck and temporarily homeless. After we went to a pool hall and shot a few games, my treat, I led him to a campsite with shade trees and a stream. After that I saw him around here and there, and we would talk and whatnot. Then I didn't see him around for about three months. When I did run into him, he did not remember me at all. It took me several minutes to try to jog his memory, and even then he could muster only a vague recollection. He was a heavy pot smoker and did speed and a few other drugs, just like many others around here. I have experienced this with other individuals as well. So, to people who have done heavy drugs: What is it like to experience such mental deficiencies as a result of drug use, and how do you cope?

POSTED 12/9/2001

Dan, Los Angeles area, CA, United States, 21, Male, Pentecostal Christian, Hispanic/Latino, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 617200051127


Responses:
As someone who recently pulled himself from the brink of chronic alcoholism, I can only give you an approximation of what it must be like to be a full-time, full-fledged burnout. Getting drunk or high is a time-consuming process. It's not just the two or three hours downing a couple ludes with a bottle of popov, it's that AND the nine hours of inebriation followed by 10 hours in bed. You do this on a daily basis and you have zero hours of clarity. Imagine that getting your laundry done was such an organizational ordeal that when you finally do it (in the most slipshod of fashions) it's actually a great source of pride. You get your laundry home and decide to get good and roasted before putting it away. It doesn't get done that night or the next. Two weeks later you pull your last wrinkled garment out of the bag on the floor and find yourself reflecting on how fast your work's been undone. Cleaning your clothes seems as futile as anything else in your life, so you go three weeks past laundry day wearing either smelly clothes or clothes you've washed in the sink with dish liquid. This is your life: just barely managing to keep it together enough to keep your job. You see other people, clean-shaven, making it to work on time, and you hate them. You figure they grew up privileged with a better body and mind than you. It never occurs to you that what is present in your life and absent in theirs is the constant fog of inebriation. When you evaluate yourself in rare moments of clarity, the drugs and alcohol are as invisible to you as the nose on your face. For what little bit you are aware of your dependence, you flatly reject the idea of living without it. You blur the ordinarily very clear line separating moderate drinking and using booze to choke back suicide. Your mind is active, but undelineated, floating around in a stew and inaccessible. The only continuity in your life is getting wasted. That's when you shine brightest. The guy you met that night was only with you subliminally, his cognitive mind buried under 10 layers of fat trying desperately to remember how normal people have fun together - trying to think of an amusing story to share that doesn't center on crack. When you saw him later, he genuinely didn't remember at first, but when he did remember, he wanted you to go away. You treated him like a human being, and that's better than he'll do for himself. It's a shame beyond words or tears.

POSTED 12/30/2001

J. Fleming, Chicago, IL, United States, 35, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, 2 Years of College, Lower middle class, Mesg ID 1228200143948

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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


Responses:
The pattern of movements and speech you've described are part of a subculture of blacks who use more colorful slang than their (typically older and better-educated) black counterparts. It's used for self-expression and out of habit, depending on the person. You'll see a lot of this on talk shows because talk show audiences are not typically populated by well-educated people, but by high school students skipping school for the day or other young, sometimes lower/working-class people. The people on stage are generally from the same socio-economic class. 'Know what I'm sayin'' is definitely in vogue among the youth/hip-hop set in general - turn on the Korean or Chinese Top 20 videos and you'll hear it coming out of the mouths of Asians, turn on MTV and God only knows who you'll hear it from.

POSTED 12/30/2001

Sera, Seattle, WA, United States, 27, Female, Agnostic, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1213200152611


I find it annoying when they say, 'You know what I'm saying?' 20 times in a minute on these shows; in fact, I don't know what they're saying - to me, they haven't said anything.

POSTED 1/1/2002

Thom, Chardon, OH, United States, Male, White/Caucasian, Mesg ID 1231200161753

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

Islam is the second-largest religion in America, and growing fast. It accepts all the Jewish prophets and Jesus. Why is it then, that many Jews and Christians have an aversion to Islam, even though most Muslims are peaceful?

Original Code RE70. Click here to see responses from the original archives. Click "to respond" below to reply.

POSTED 2/18/1999

Brad P., Honolulu, HI, United States, Male, Mesg ID 2189990647


Responses:
There are innumerable passages, many of which are quoted in this forum, from both Bibles and the Koran, instructing the believer to proseletize, and in the case of Islam, to do so by the sword. Though plain to me, no one seems to observe the obvious. The issue is not intolerance toward or by Islam. The problem is religion in general. History is rife with wholesale slaughter between factions of Christianity, between Christians and Islam, etc., ad nauseum. Belief in anything always results in the believers shoving their beliefs down somebody's throat. The authors of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights knew this well, which is why they wrote a wall of separation between church and state into the foundation of their new government. Claiming that Islam, Christianity and Judaism are basically benign is idiotic. The history of these three major religions is little more than intolerance and slaughter of anywone who didn't agree with someone's idea of perfection. It's true for Christians, Jews and Muslims, just as it was true for Stalinists and Nazis. Religion demands that the believer be incapable of recognizing truth, even if it bit them. Its foundation is that clerics must interpret the truth for you, from secretive and mystic runes. This is particularly offensive in certain southern U.S. states, where they play with deadly snakes. Give me a break! Get a life! Think for yourself!

POSTED 12/30/2001

Rick S., Williamsburg, VA, United States, <mrwizard@erols.com>, 54, Male, Atheist, White/Caucasian, Straight, musician/artist, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1228200165847


1) For starters, they are theologically opposed, as Christianity and Judaism are essentially theologically opposed. Jews are still waiting for the Messiah. Christians claim Jesus was the Messiah. Muslims claim Muhammad was God's final prophet. Christians don't accept this because Jesus said he was the last one. It's true that Islam does acknowledge Moses and Jesus, but it 'demotes' Jesus to just another prophet. Hence the rub.
2) There is the problem with a fatwa of condemning someone to death for blasphemy, whether they are a Muslim or not, such as what happened to Salman Rushdie. Even Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam), author of 'Peace Train,' said Rushdie must die.
3) Though it's not 'true Islam,' some quasi-Islamic cults often use the religion as a racial bully pulpit, such as the cult 'The Nation of Islam' run by the racist Louis Farrahkan. I've heard a few black people say things like: 'Don't fall for white man's religion (Christianity). Become part of the brotherhood, the true black man's religion: Islam.' This is not true Islam, anymore than the KKK is true Christianity, but it's still 'out there' creating a false impression.
4) It's a lot like what mainstream Christians have to endure due to the small-yet-vocal minority of fundamentalists who give the impression that Christianity is a loud, divisive, intolerant, warring religion. The vast majority of Christianity is peaceful, tolerant and loving, but you wouldn't think so if you only had contact with the mass media or a fundamentalist. Islam has the same problem with the militant, extremist Muslims who do hate Christians and Jews and often use violence as a means. Most of Islam is not like that, but you'd never know this from the media.
So, even though most of Islam is comprised of devout, peaceful people, there are some things that have contributed to a negative stereotype.

POSTED 1/1/2002

Yahmdallah, Castle Rock, CO, United States, Male, Presbyterian, White/Caucasian, 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 1202000122523

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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 am fortunate to have been the daughter of a multi-millionaire. I had many comforts and privileges, including travel to foreign countries when I was a child. I grew up in a beautiful home filled with fine art and antiques. My parents were, in spite of this, quiet, gentle, generous people who taught me to appreciate my situation. As a young child, I felt lucky just to have a roof over my head and enough food to eat. To this day, I consider myself lucky to have grown up in a rich family in the United States.

POSTED 12/30/2001

Jesse, Ashland, OR, United States, 45, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Upper class, Mesg ID 12112001100537

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

A strange thing came to my notice and I would like people's comments on it: On doing a bit of research on the atrocities of Muslim invaders on Hindus, I became interested in their invasions in other parts of the world. I found that Arabs openly enslaved pagan blacks and Christian Ethiopians long before the Portugese took slaves, and they treated them very badly. Europeans were enslaved extensively by the berber states of North Africa. White Christians had their ears cut off, nails ripped off, etc. Their Muslim masters openly called them white Christian dogs and used to say, 'See how I control my Christian white dogs.' In addition, there were white female slaves, especially slaves in Turkish harems. These harems even had black, East Asian and Hindu slaves. Many Armenian and Serb freedom fighters had their wives enslaved and sold in Turkish markets after being raped by Ottoman generals, and their children were sold as slaves, too. Another piece of information: when Britain decided to ban transatlantic slavery, black tribal chiefs who had grown fat on the slave trade sent diplomats to London and Paris to oppose the move. Any comments are welcome.

POSTED 12/30/2001

Anand M., Ahmednagar, NA, India, 30, Male, Hindu, East Indian, Straight, Educator, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1228200145425

To respond
BACK TO TOP


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


Responses:
If sharks were still following old slave trade routes, it would make you wonder how they have managed to survive 100 million years! Why would they continue to do this 100 years after the food source stopped? My guess is that it is either not true or the other way around; that is, trade routes followed oceanic currents, and sharks just happen to surf the same currents.

POSTED 12/30/2001

Steve, Houston, TX, United States, 45, Male, White/Caucasian, Corporate Shark, Over 4 Years of College, Upper class, Mesg ID 1218200192851

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

I have read many opinions pointing out that traits that resemble those of African-American women are the idealized standards of beauty. For example, Angelina Jolie is popular for her very full lips, and Jennifer Lopez is popular for her round bottom. They both have traits typical of African (American) women. Is it possible that African (American) women are the idealized beauty?

POSTED 8/27/2001

Pat, White Plains, NY, United States, Male, Christian, White/Caucasian, Straight, Temp worker, 2 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 825200192452


Responses:
I come from a country of beauty queens. Venezuela is the country that has won the most beauty pageants in the world, even though our population is less than California's. Venezuela is a true melting pot, where the mix is the majority. So, the beauty queens here have those black-derived features that you mention, plus the white features (big bust, skin complexion, facial features, hair) plus the indigenous features (exotic eyes, hair and sex appeal). Even the white-skinned blonde girls here have curvy hips and round bottoms. This is what I believe to be the standard of beauty, a mix of the most desirable characteristics from these three races.

POSTED 12/30/2001

Nelson A., Caracas, NA, Venezuela, 32, Male, White/Caucasian, Lawyer/Business, Over 4 Years of College, Mesg ID 8282001102120


Why do you think J.Lo garnered so much attention for having a big butt when you can step outside your door and find millions of black women built the same if not better than her? Because it's easier to take certain black characteristics piecemeal than to admit admiration for black beauty. But let me digress: is black beauty the standard? Sure. But when, say, Bo Derek wears cornrows, Pamela Anderson gets collagen injections in her lips, or some other white female dons 'self-tanning' cream, who do you think still gets the credit? It would literally kill some people to knock white women off their pedestals, so it's easier to focus on 'parts' rather than the whole.

POSTED 12/30/2001

Nikki T., Washington, DC, United States, Female, Mesg ID 1226200191113

To respond
BACK TO TOP


Question:

I'm a young white woman. Lately I've noticed that every black guy I know has either hit on me, asked me out or told me he was interested. I've dated a couple of them, but I am not currently in a relationship. I've found that most white guys, however, only see me as a friend, or not at all. I've been wondering if my weight had anything to do with this abnormality (I say abnormality because I'm exposed to far more white males than black ones). I'm not huge, but I'm not tiny, either. I'm about 185 lbs. on a 5'7" frame. I find that most white guys seem very preoccupied with weight, whereas most black guys don't seem to care. Is this true, or is it just me?

POSTED 12/6/2001

Dana, Toronto, Ontario, NA, Canada, <danafox1121@hotmail.com>, 20, Female, White/Caucasian, Straight, Student, Mesg ID 125200154844


Responses:
You're not imagining things. It's a cultural difference (with exceptions) between black men and white men. The black community is more accepting - indeed celebratory - of rounded women (remember 'Baby Got Back'?), and there are lower incidences of eating disorders among black women as well. I know black men who even disdain women who fit the American definition of 'slim.' I think part of this is because American black women were not held up as fashionable and beautiful in the public eye until well into the 1980s. Being ignored as a target market has its good and bad points, among them not feeling a relentless pressure to conform to difficult standards. No women who look like you in '50s girdle ads? '60s diet ads? '70s and '80s underwear ads? A neglectful kind of freedom, that invisibility. Black women went about their business normally, and black men basically said, 'Alright by me.' It's become rather culturally ingrained. Meanwhile, white men have had 'skinny' shoved in their faces so long that they're ashamed to deviate from what's expected of them (supermodels), even if they want to.

POSTED 12/30/2001

Sera, Seattle, WA, United States, 27, Female, Agnostic, Straight, Over 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1213200142552


Many of my female friends who are African American always told me, 'Nobody likes a bone but a dog!' I never heard that saying from Caucasians.

POSTED 12/30/2001

Michelle, Las Vegas, NV, United States, 36, Female, White/Caucasian, Analyst, 4 Years of College, Middle class, Mesg ID 1226200112837

To respond
BACK TO TOP


    Copyright and disclaimer