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General Diversity Questions 21-30

THE QUESTION:
GD30: I have neighbors who are naturists, and I have a number of questions: Do nudists check each other out? What is it like being the children of nudists? Does it bother them? When I was a teenager I was a walking hormone. I am sure it is that way with teenage nudists as well, so is it more difficult for them to maintain control with all of it out there? Also, does it bother nudists to be in the presence of non-nudists who are clothed but who may be checking them out nonetheless? My husband and I have gone clothed to two of my neighbors’ events, and I have to say my eyes have wandered, and I know my husband’s have, too.
POSTED SEPT. 1, 1998
J.M., 34, white female, CA

ANSWER 1:
I am a naturist. I believe nudity is natural and in no way shameful. Humans look at other humans. That is also natural. People look when they see something unusual, and in our current society nudity (though completely natural) is unusual. So when you visited a place where there was much nudity, you looked. That is a totally reasonable reaction. Teens who live in a naturist household are no more or less hormone-driven than teens in a clothed household. However, the teen in the naturist household is much less anxious about their body, because they were not taught to be ashamed of their bodies, and they have seen, all their lives, the “result” of growing. The changing size and shape of their bodies is not an added mystery. Also, nudity, and sexuality are totally separate. They have been linked in our minds by religious teachings. Yet clothed people make sexual advances on clothed people very regularly.
POSTED SEPT. 4, 1998
S.D., 23, black male, Oakland, CA
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THE QUESTION:
GD29: While tattoos and piercing have been around since the dawn of the human race, they seem to be gaining in popularity. I was wondering about the backgrounds and reasons of those who get them. Also how others view them.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
S.W.F., 29 <pamindian@yahoo.com>, Seattle, WA

ANSWER 1:
I think the reason tattoos are gaining popularity is that they are no longer just associated with an act of rebellion. I am a 20-year-old white female college student from a middle-class background. I got a tattoo because I wanted one as a way to express myself. In the midst of changing the way I look at myself and the world, I decided I should make at least one long-term decision that was based solely on my preference. As to other people’s reactions to my having a tattoo, with the exception of my 60-plus grandfather, most seem to like it. Getting a tattoo isn’t about gaining approval. It is about expressing yourself. A tattoo is a permanent addition to your identity. Choosing an object to be with you is more than just a whim, it’s a gift to yourself.
POSTED OCT. 17, 1998
Maria L., 20, <maclary@iastate.edu>, Ames, IA
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THE QUESTION:
GD28: If you lived in a neighborhood or town where everyone was of the same race as yourself, and then it became racially, culturally and ethnically mixed in a relatively short period of time (less than 10 years), would you feel threatened or angry?
POSTED AUG. 28, 1998
Kristi G. <kgarrett@sacbee.com>, Elk Grove, CA

ANSWER 1:
I recently received a personal response to something I said in Y Forum about race, from a white person who was numerically in the minority in his community, and he definitely felt threatened. The (very real) conflict he described appeared to me to be cultural, however, and one suspects that our collective problem arises on the one hand from our inability or unwillingness to compromise our own assumptions about what is correct cultural behavior, and the failure of society in general to teach us to deal constructively with conflict. My own discomfort in the situation you describe would depend on how well my new neighbors and I could talk about cultural conflicts and find compromises as need for these arose.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
Al, 59, white, <alarose@ncwc.edu>, Rocky Mount, NC
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THE QUESTION:
GD27: I would like to know what the benefit is of valuing diversity. I have worked and played with groups that are single-sex and single-race, as well as groups of mixed sex/race. I have not seen any benefits from having mixed groups. I seem to have just as much fun or get just as much done in either one. I want to know how specifically I and my neighbors will live better if we have a diverse neighborhood or work place. I really don’t want answers related to oppression or power groups, etc. What I want is a practical answer I can use on a day-to-day basis.
POSTED AUG. 28, 1998
Lorne W., 50, white male <woody141@hotmail.com>, Los Angeles, CA

ANSWER 1:
Working, playing and living in a diverse atmosphere will cut down on misunderstandings. You might be open-minded enough to accept people from different backgrounds, but not everyone is. Mixing with different people, seeing they’re regular people and them seeing that you’re a regular person cuts down on suspicion and mistrust between races, cultures and sexes. Another practical benefit is that mixing with people of different cultures can help you learn about how other people live, and help other people learn how you live and think.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
Andrew, 34, white <ziptron@hotmail.com>, Huntington, NY

FURTHER NOTICE:
Until we realize we are of one race (the human race) on one planet (earth), we will never move beyond our petty differences and squabbling to accomplish so much more. It seems to me if we keep in our own culture, we will come to the false conclusion that ours is better than theirs. This I feel leads to fearing others and comes at a great cost to us all. Just look at what has been done in the name of God/Allah/Yahweh to maintain purity of race, thought or deed.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
Matthew, 40, white, gay and other differences <carninom@asme.org>, NY, NY

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
The importance is not how much fun you have or how much you can get done. The reason for diversity is that each person can draw from others’ experiences. This makes each of us a little wiser and a little more understanding of where others are coming from (especially if the ideas seem off the wall at first). The need for cultural and sexual diversity is for us all to learn from each other.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
M.B., 18, black, female, Kansas City, MO

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
The value diversity brings to a group is not to make it more fun or more effective but to provide different perspectives that might not otherwise have occured to you. People with the same background as you (and I’m not just talking color or sex) tend to think the same way as you. For example, many Americans have the same expectations of a first date, whereas someone from the Middle East might not even understand the concept of a first date, because all marriages are arranged in their culture. The point is to make us question our assumptions – why do we assume our way is the best way to do something? Especially if we have never been exposed to any other way? A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to talk about marriage and divorce with a group of graduate students that included Americans, West Africans, Middle Easterners, Southeast Asians and some South- and Latin-Americans. The multitide of opinions on divorce and marriage and the different perspectives on it was amazing. We had individuals whose parents had arranged their marriages, others who were sleeping with their ex-spouses, others who wouldn’t even consider marriage without a dowry. The value that conversation brought to me was not “fun” or “effectiveness” – it was the opportunity to see the world through someone else’s eyes. That may not be something you value; but if so, you are really missing out on a world of experiences.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
Nikki, white, 29, <nichole.davis@tuckerknapp.com>, Chicago, IL

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
I think there is a negative and a positive way to exemplify why a diverse culture is beneficial. Negative: Look at what happens in a racially or culturally segregated society. Some have more than others. The have-nots are disaffected and will do anything to get “even.” This might include coming into your neighbourhood and stealing your car or taking their anger out on you. If you mix, this problem won’t be there. A good reason to embrace diversity. The positive: Different cultures (and most racial groups are also culturally separated) have come up with different answers to common questions. These different answers can help you a lot in your daily life. What foods do you like? Do you like to go to a Thai or Mexican restaurant? Do you enjoy a particular entertainer that is black or Jewish? Do you live because of medication invented in Europe or Africa? If you want that stuff, you better kiss up to all the people who have come up with it or might come up with it. Ergo, if you want to enjoy life, embrace diversity.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
David, Jew, MA

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I don’t believe there is a significant difference as long as the quality of the individuals is homogeneous. I attended one of the last all-male colleges in the country, and also took summer classes at large co-ed state schools. The education at the single-sex school was infinitely better than that of the co-ed school. Granted, we didn’t pass notes and hold hands in class, but then again, we didn’t try to show off or “look good” to impress anyone, either. We studied hard, argued harder and then had girlfriends for the weekend. Also, no one had to worry about saying something “offensive” to the female gender. This doesn’t mean we slammed women all the time. There were plenty of liberal professors (many were women) who would keep us in line. But when discussing issues of social psychology, we didn’t have to listen to a bunch of anti-male diatribes.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
B., 23, white male, Kokomo, IN

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
Corporate support for diversity initiatives often places emphasis on the business case for diversity. The mandatory Diversity Awareness course that I help teach at my Fortune 5 company looks at five areas:

Changing demographics – A diverse society impacts both the workforce from which employees are drawn and the customer base with which companies interact. Impact of litigation – Harrssment and discrimination lawsuits cost billions. Better decision making -Products and services can be designed and marketed to specific groups and countries more effectively. One size does not fit all. Gains in productivity and profitability – Studies indicate that well-managed diverse teams typically outperform homogenous teams in terms of quantity, creativity and quality of results. Improved personal effectiveness – Research shows that people who work, live and learn in integrated settings develop stronger interpersonal, communication and negotiating skills. An environment that values and respects individuals has been proven to enhance the confidence and contributions of those existing within such an environment.

All of these business reasons for accepting, respecting and valuing diversity are meant to provide a competitive advantage in the face of global competition.

In addition, there is a “people” case for diversity. This may be as simple as good corporate citizenship. Treating all employees, suppliers and customers respectfully is simply the right, fair thing to do.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
DykeOnByke, 48, corporate diversity council member <DykeOnByke@aol.com>, Southfield , MI

FURTHER NOTICE 7:
The best reason for valuing diversity as far as the employer is concerned is quite simple: Money. When the best person for a job happens to be from a different cultural background from those around them, the employer needs to be able to choose them and not worry about any possible tensions between them and the existing workforce. The successful promotion of valuing diversity results in a healthier environment for someone able but different to come into a new position, learn the ropes and do the job. There is nothing wrong with a single sex or single culture environment, but it should not be a reason not to consider someone from outside this group coming in.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
Daniel B., 26, Leicester, United Kingdom

FURTHER NOTICE 8:
To Lorne: What is the opposite or absence of valuing? Devaluing? You’ve worked and played in diverse and non-diverse groups, and enjoyed both. If the diverse groups had devalued you for your diverse characteristics would you have enjoyed the contact? Or if you really devalued diversity, would you have wanted the contact? I submit that your own enjoyment is the answer to the question.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
Al, 59, Caucasian, <alarose@ncwc.edu>, Rocky Mount, NC

FURTHER NOTICE 9:
People from different cultures often have different points of view or approaches to problems. It is often helpful to have people with as wide a variety of experience as possible to deal with new difficulties as they arise. Dealing with different cultures on a day-to-day basis can also increase our understanding of the cultures of foreign countries, which is essential in an age of global economy and nuclear weapons. If we isolate ourselves, we have no idea how our allies/competitors/enemies will react to our actions, and you get wars and diplomatic disasters. And … don’t you ever get bored? Don’t you ever want to eat something you never tried before, read a book unlike any other you’ve read, hear music that doesn’t all sound alike? And just as travel broadens the mind, encountering and accepting diversity can teach tolerance and understanding, world culture, history and geography, which may be valuable to you even in a non-diverse setting.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
Colette <inkwolf@earthlink.net>, Seymour, WI

FURTHER NOTICE 10:
As a bisexual/lesbian female, knowing a gay person means you are more likely to treat us as people rather than as an item. People who are campaigning against us frequently don’t know a single overtly gay person, but are convinced of our evil. If I don’t tell them I’m queer, they will continue. If I tell them, they will see I am just a person, like them. I work, go to school, pay my taxes, etc., just like anybody else. They may still not agree with who I date, but that’s their choice.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
Kerry, married lesbian female, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 11:
To B. in Kokomo, IN: What exactly was the value in being free to “slam women,” if not all the time, then apparently some of the time? Why do you think it best to be able to comfortably avoid hearing the other side of social issues, which you characterize as anti-male diatribes? By the way, there are two or three co-ed state schools where you could have gotten an education on a par with or superior to the one you received at your all-male college. The one I attended produces outstanding engineers and scientists, note-passing and hand-holding notwithstanding. I don’t recall anyone ever showing off, except of course the professors. If you reexamine your comments, you may have the rare chance for self-revelation. I experienced this in a small way in my college years while shopping for a poetry book, a gift for a female friend who was a “serious” poet. Not knowing much about poetry, but determined to get something she would like, I looked at books for hours and came up empty-handed. I was thunderstruck when I realized I had categorically avoided any book written by a woman.
POSTED SEPT. 1, 1998
Jay G.R. , Kent, WA

FURTHER NOTICE 12:
I am a white male from South Africa (a minority group in a black majority country) and have a good idea as to how African Americans feel about being a minority group in America. As a white person we are by nature proud and arrogant, so we cope fairly better in our situation, but in order to survive we have to accept diversity. I don’t fully accept black African culture, as I don’t expect them to accept all of mine, but in this land we are striving to build on common interests. Our motto is “strength through diversity.” We are a “rainbow” nation. A rainbow is exceptionally beautiful with all its different colors, and unitedly they form this wonderful symbol of hope. In Johannesburg alone, 11 official languages are spoken along with some five other unofficial immigrant languages. I believe if we did not fully embrace all diverse races, cultures, religions, lifestyles, etc., we would certainly die as a nation.
POSTED SEPT. 3, 1998
Julian, 40 <jayem0407@hotmail.com>, Johannesburg, South Africa
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THE QUESTION:
GD26: As a future teacher and current college student, I was wondering if anyone can recommend books on specific groups (i.e. Asians, Hispanics,J ews, Middle Easterners, Native Americans, etc.) that I could use to educate my future students on diversity.
POSTED AUG. 10, 1998
P.M. Davenport, 19, African-American female) <pdavenpo@cw-f1.umd.umich.edu orpmdaven1979@juno.com>, Metro Detroit area, MI

ANSWER 1:
Specific publications on many ethnic groups can be disappointing, as the author is often a product of his/her time or culture, expressing implicitly in the writing the attitudes, perceptions etc. as they were understood. Might I suggest a text such as Images that Injure, edited by Paul Martin Lester, Praeger, Connecticut & London 1996, which tackles ethnic stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination through the media in a constructive and informative way.
POSTED AUG. 31, 1998
K. Wong Hoy, male <kevinwh@vicnet.net.au>, Melbourne, Australia

FURTHER NOTICE:
Ford Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Employees (Ford GLOBE) maintains a fairly comprehensive list of books and videos concerning gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues in the workplace. The bibliography with ISBN numbers and links to online book reviews is posted on a Ford GLOBE web page athttp://people.delphi.com/fordglobe/biblio.html. Brian McNaught’s Gay Issues in the Workplace is often recommended for those wishing to learn more about the subject.
POSTED SEPT. 4, 1998
Ford GLOBE <FordGLOBE@delphi.com>, Dearborn, MI

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Having some sense of the historical context of racism in our country is critical. As a diversity trainer, I’ve found few people in the United States know their history. You’d be doing both yourself and your students a huge favor by requiring them to read A Different Mirror by Dr. Ronald Takaki. It is truly awesome.
POSTED SEPT. 19, 1998
Deborah, white female, Ann Arbor , MI
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THE QUESTION:
GD25: People who believe the Holocaust is a hoax are said to support this belief by saying that evidential inconsistencies exist with respect to some claims made by those who say they survived. What are these inconsistencies?
POSTED AUG. 7, 1998
B. Riemer <barrage@ix.netcom.com>, Los Angeles, CA
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THE QUESTION:
GD24: I am a foreign student studying English because I strongly feel the necessity to communicate with English in many business situations. What do people think about English being the official language for the world?
POSTED JULY 28, 1998
Takeo <Takeo Fukuda@amat.com>, San Francisco, CA

ANSWER 1:
English is a hard language for a non-native speaker to learn – but being a bastard tongue, which developed with the fusion of Anglo-Saxon and French after the Norman invasion of England in 1066, it has many words familiar to anyone who speaks a Latin-based language (like French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or Roumanian) and those who speak a German-based language (like German or Dutch). That covers most of Europe and many countries with a colonial background. Also, the mongrel nature of of English means it is subtle, has many synonyms and is an excellent language for poetry, technical subjects and everything in between.
POSTED AUG. 27, 1998
Naomi B., 43 <benari-r@worldnet.att.com>, Jacksonville, FL

FURTHER NOTICE:
I’m sure those of us who live in the United States or other English-speaking countries and aren’t fluent in another language would love to have English be the official world language. Then we could travel all over and never have to worry about a language barrier. However, when I studied Spanish, I was told this is the native tongue of far more people than English is. I’ve seen people who speak Spanish communicate easily with Italians and Portuguese. And when I studied Hangul (Korean), I was told that everyone in Asia learns Chinese characters and can communicate through written notes in any Asian country. In addition, the Korean language has a very simple alphabet that has made possible an almost 100 percent literacy rate. Finally, there is an artificial language called Esperanto that many believe should be taught worldwide. I’ve been told that English is the most diverse language in the world with subtle nuances of meaning that made it possible for so many great works of literature to be created. I’ve often wondered if this is true or just English-speaker bias.
POSTED JAN. 20, 1999
Language student, Yorktown, VA

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Among many large companies in Germany at the moment it is becoming standard policy to encourage the use of English rather than German in the workplace. This is due to two factors; 1) English is the most widely used trade language in the world, and 2) It is easier and faster to express ideas, especially technical or complex ones, in English than in the longer and more gramatically complex German. (English words are approximately 30-40 percent shorter than their German translations.) I don’t know if this will appply to your native language, but it would make sense if a single language were adopted for international exchange. Many years ago, “Esperanto” was designed as a cross-match of European languages, the idea being that every country would have their children learn it as a second language, enabling all people to converse in a common tongue. Unfortunately it was never properly implemented; perhaps English is the next best thing.
POSTED JAN. 29, 1999
Agrivaine <agrivaine@yahoo.com>, Dublin, Ireland
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THE QUESTION:
GD23: I live in an apartment complex that charges $300 per year for me to have two cats. I think this is discriminatory because my cats are very clean, have done no damage to the apartment, and the buildings are divided into “pet buildings” and “non-pet buildings,” so an allergy sufferer will not occupy my unit after I move out. It seems to me that kids are much messier and more damaging to rugs, walls, etc., than most pets. Is it discriminatory for apartment managers to charge people with pets more than people with kids, since people don’t need to have kids any more than I need to have cats? Why should I be penalized for preferring cats over children?
POSTED JULY 27, 1998
Donika, 23, white female, <donikam@hotmail.com>, Charleston, SC

ANSWER 1:
It is not discrimination if they treat everyone with pets in the same manner, and everyone with children the same as everyone else with children. Contrary to your assumption, there is a difference between children and pets in that one group is necessary for our species’ survival, and the other is optional. You choose to live in an apartment that charges more for pets. If you don’t like it, don’t sign the lease contract and find a place that allows pets for free. Your landlord does not owe you anything that is not spelled out in your contract.
POSTED JAN. 20, 1999
B., white male, 23, Kokomo, IN

FURTHER NOTICE:
Not only do I pay $25 per month extra for my cats, but I also had to pay a $150 non-refundable deposit, supposedly for the extra clea up after I move out (so what’s the $25 for?). Apartment management is required to repaint each time someone moves out and shampoo the carpet as well, so where’s the extra cleanup? Some of the apartments I looked at would only allow one cat, as though two is going to destroy the place. I think it’s discriminatory, but there’s probably some small print somewhere allowing it.
POSTED JAN. 20, 1999
Cat Lover, female, 23, Columbus, OH
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THE QUESTION:
GD22: Why do people feel public nudity is wrong or upsetting? I am not talking about public displays of sex, just nudity.
POSTED JULY 24, 1998
23-year-old gay black male, Oakland, CA

ANSWER 1:
Isn’t this a very old cultural value maintained by Christianity, i.e. when Adam and Eve gained knowledge, they were ashamed at their nudity, something like that? In some other cultures, for example in Polynesia, nudity was normal until the Christian Westerners arrived. Many Westerners cannot imagine nudity being non-sexual. Most have never been to a nudist camp or beach, or even can imagine feeling comfortable in the presence of nude strangers, let alone being nude in public themselves. American culture has conditioned us to equate all nudity with sex, or at least with bad manners (no shirt, no service). However, the commercial exploitation of nudity seems to be slowly desensitizing us, as is the spreading of a casual, beach-like lifestyle. Maybe 100 years from now, swimsuits on any beach will look as out of place as the wagons the Victorians used, and public exposure of body parts, whether for nursing a baby or enjoyment of a fine day, will not be a big deal.
POSTED SEPT. 4, 1998
Jay G.R., Kent, WA
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THE QUESTION:
GD21: Why, specifically, isn’t it against the law to have an extramarital affair that results in the dissolution of a marriage, and why is this looked upon by the legal establishment with such indifference?
POSTED JUNE 25, 1998
Joe <jmill@dialnet.net>, Missouri

ANSWER 1:
I think it really depends on the society you live in. I live in the Philippines, where the population is predominantly Catholic. Here, bigamy is a crime, and one can be sent to jail. There is no divorce here, and one has to go through a lot of legal procedures to get married. I got married at 24, and I still needed my parents’ consent to be able to get a license. I think it all lies in the attitude of the sanctity of marriage. In the United States, it is easy to get married and get a divorce. One can remarry as much as he or she wants, so why pursue an extra-marital affair as a crime when you can undo a marriage easily?
POSTED JULY 15, 1998
I. C., Manila

FURTHER NOTICE:
Actually, in many U.S. states both adultery and interference with a marriage are against the law; it is just that few (whether due to embarrassment or ignorance I do not know) choose to press charges against their spouse or spouse’s lover.
POSTED JULY 24, 1998
Tara, 24 <tarakennedy@yahoo.com>, Washington, DC

FURTHER NOTICE 2:
Adultery is absolutely on the books as a crime in the United States. It is technically illegal, but not pursued as a crime because divorce takes place in civil court. If the district attorney were to prosecute every person accused of adultery in a criminal court, the criminal courts would be backlogged with these cases, not all of which are anything more than the paranoia of the other spouse.
POSTED JULY 27, 1998
D.M.M., female, white <donikam@hotmail.com>, SC

FURTHER NOTICE 3:
Although I am not a lawyer, I think it has to do with the number of people who have affairs, and the institution of community property laws in many states. I believe a few states still allow infidelity as grounds for divorce, but those of us who have been cheated on and filed due to it, and live in a community property state, literally get screwed over again by the system. We did nothing outside the marriage, and we end up having to give up half due to the other’s infidelity … with no consideration or restitution (if one can call it that) for the philandering of a spouse.
POSTED SEPT. 3, 1998
Sue <obriens@vcss.k12.ca.us>, CA

FURTHER NOTICE 4:
It is against the law in some states. It is called alienation of affection.
POSTED OCT. 7, 1998
Craig, 40, male, MO

FURTHER NOTICE 5:
I don’t think adultery laws are enforced as much as they could be, simply because extramarital affairs are so common. About half of all married people claim to have had an affair at least once during their marriage.
POSTED NOV. 16, 1998
Gypsy, female, 34, St Louis, MO

FURTHER NOTICE 6:
To answer your question you have to consider a few things 1) our government views marriage as a legal contract forming a partnership very similar to a business partnership; 2) the government does not punish the business partner who violates the contract he/she has with his partner; it is up to the partner to seek damages in a civil court case for breach of contract; 3) taking into account 1 and 2 above, there are no grounds for treating a breach of a marital contract any differently than any other sort of partnership. I think there should be severe penalties written into the marital contract (for example giving all assets to the faithful spouse if he/she decides to pursue divorce).
POSTED NOV. 29, 1998
Calico, 26, married, MD
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