differences

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SATURDAY DINING OUT

Published April 10, 2013 by Tony

SATURDAY NIGHT IN NAPLES and NEW YORK

Standard of living and lifestyle have influenced and still influence the way how people spend their weekend. If we take as a reference two medium families, one from Naples and another from New York, both formed by working parents, with one or more adult children, probably in a month the Neapolitan parents spend one Saturday or Sunday to dine out, while the New Yorker parents spend three. For New Yorkers the Saturday “evening dining out” was, until recently, an obligation, especially for couples with both engaged in work. Due to the popular demand, in order to go to a restaurant or pizzeria in New York, a Saturday evening reservation even was necessary. Where the New Yorker didn’t go out to dinner, as an alternative there always was a dinner party hosted by some friends at their home or in a pub. A lifestyle difficult to eradicate, even in view of the fact that wives were not inclined to spend weekend at home, between cooking and dishes.
Aside from this substantial cultural difference, there was another of economic nature, because an average Neapolitan family certainly did not have the same economic opportunity of the overseas peers.
Although a normal dinner in a normal restaurant in the Neapolitan hinterland costs less than the one in a similar restaurant in New York, the average Neapolitan family culturally is more “conservative” and traditionalist, with wives, who, although involved in work, have not lost their  “housewives” identity, preferring to stay at home during the weekend.  In Naples, there has never been a “dining party” culture, and instead of Saturday dining out, if anything, the custom of a Sunday lunch away from home has always been more in vogue. But occasionally and not as a weekly habit. The Neapolitan wife has always been very attached to the house and the children and  weekend is just a chance to spend more time at home with family, and attend to all those household chores that she has not been able to do during the week.
Our habits have not changed much over the years. The economic situation has led, if anything, to renounce to some Sunday lunch at the restaurant and be thriftier in foodstuffs purchase.

Americans, instead, after a hard week spent at work, look forward to weekends, planning in advance for them.  For many weekend means going out with friends or relatives, outdoor activities or watching a game in a stadium.
In the past, one of the largest changes in American eating habits was the increasing reliance on food eaten away from home (FAFH). FAFH increased from 33% of total food expenditures in 1970 to 47% by 2003. Most of this is at table service and fast food restaurants.
Much of the growth is attributed to the rising value of household time, especially as induced by more female labor force participation, and rising household incomes.
As a 2009 Zagat Survey showed, eating out was a way of life for many Americans, with 50% of all meals prepared outside the home. In short, restaurants became the family kitchen for the busy two-career families. According to Zagat Survey CEO Tim Zagat, “Americans are still eating out in restaurants, they are just making smarter choices.”

Recently, the economic downturn, occasional jobs and financial turmoil in America have made it difficult for people to find enough money to afford their “dining out” habit.
Lately, Americans are making family dinner more often than dine out, a trend that slowly took root before the recession. Mostly, they’re cooking with and eating a narrow range of foods — and relying, to some extent, on prepared, frozen, and canned items to feed their families quickly and economically. “It’s very boring. That’s the sad truth,” says Harry Balzer, chief food industry analyst for the NPD Group, a national market research company. “For the most part, we’re looking for what’s the eaesiest way out of this, what’s the cheapest way out of this.” Balzer said, the number of restaurant meals an American family eats — dine-in or takeout — has been flat, at just under 200 a year, correlating to plateaus of both women in the workforce and household incomes.

Even the New York Times supported the thesis of the “end of the dinner party” because people do not have more money, time and wish to do so.  Someone else says that beyond the crisis there is a lack of good manners and savoir faire, with people no longer able to have a conversation and that’s why lately “finger food” and “standing up” are preferred to dinner party.

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DIFFERENT AMERICANS & ITALIANS MORES

Published October 16, 2012 by Tony

THINGS THAT SET APART ITALIAN & AMERICANS

 

In some previous posts, I sometimes hinted at some differences in lifestyle and customs between Italians and Americans. I realize that the term “Americans” is too general since the U.S. are made up of many countries where lifestyle and culture can be different from each other. Even if I was living in an American state, I could not generalize and assume that what happens in my state is true for others as well. Therefore, what I come to say, maybe only applies to some Americans,  but as you know, in these cases it’s the “hearsay” that counts, as happening for some clichés.

1 – The TV is one of the things that sets Italians and Americans.
For us Italians, television is one of the leading media and entertainment, and in every home there even is more than one television set. Yet, if you ask to Italian people if they watch TV, most of them will respond with a grimace, meaning, yes, but without commitment. As if watching TV is something to be ashamed of or showing laziness and waste of time. “Yes, while having dinner I just followed a little bit of that show and then a little bit of that other one….”
Anecdotally, Americans like to watch TV and talk about programs each other, while following “American Idol,” for example, does not mean being a nerd.
An Italian man at best can discuss a football game or about a political show.
Overall, for most Italians, laziness and “doing nothing” is almost something to be ashamed, and so to keep hidden. An Italian man hardly admits that has spent a whole weekend in slippers, between sofa and TV. In the eyes of the people, this would make him a debauched, a man with no interests or a bad father even.
As a cultural model or stereotype,  ‘home’ and ‘home environment’ belong to the woman. The weekend is one of those times when a man, to the father of a family, shall be granted to stay a little more at home. It is allowed to lounge and dawdle. If man or husband would be too long sitting idly at home, he will become a burden for woman or wife. A marriage with a man who stays all daytime at home will not last long! Even in retirement, a man can annoy his housewife, at least during cleaning when he must buzz off.
2 – It is said that American men do not ever greet by a kiss, while a hug is socially accepted between men. We Italians, on the contrary, often greet with hug and kisses on both the cheeks, even if there is no family relationship or close friendship. This perhaps shows the way as we are more ‘warm’ and friendly, even if we are not gay men.
3 – Another difference relates to crime and in particular those guys that you Americans call “rednecks“, “white men“, “rube” or “local yokel” who have no a precise counterpart in Italy. Still for hearsay, they are people who can behave badly in public and walk around armed. By the way, in Italy it is forbidden the possession of any firearm and it takes a “justified” reason to be allowed to buy and carry one (license to carry firearms). There, everyone seems to possess and carry a gun and any offender is trigger-happy. Then, with regard to the killings, where anyone can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, it seems that in America these episodes happen more frequently. In Italy, instead, are far more cases of theft, especially burglary and car theft. Here, especially in big cities, every store or apartment is equipped with heavy metal shutters, security doors and electronic locks. While crooks and drug-addicted people can rob or pickpocket.

Next time I’ll talk about other differences.

EVOLUTION OF SEXUAL MORES IN ITALY

Published September 15, 2012 by Tony

EVOLUTION OF SEXUAL CUSTOMS IN THE LAST 100 YEARS

censorship

Talking about sexual mores of a people means to analyze important issues for many still considered scabrous, such as sex education, sexual intercourse, masturbation, homosexuality, pornography, adultery, contraception, etc.. etc….
And referring to Italy, it is impossible to ignore the role played by the Church in relation to these issues, being one of those countries where the Catholic religion was born, and home to the Vatican City and Papacy.
Far from me the wish to make a treaty on a subject that would require a long and thorough study, my goal is just to verify, in broad terms, the differences, if there are, and analyze them in a perspective of evolution, without conditioning.
Although the “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality”  by Freud were published in 1905, they did not change immediately the sexual habits of the population. Theories that, as we know, have discovered and analyzed the sexuality of children and adults, and that have connected some nervous diseases with the trauma suffered in childhood or with repressed sexual impulses. Until mid-900, Freud was considered almost a charlatan who had dared to slander the untouchable childhood innocence. But compared to the eighteenth century, thanks to the industrial revolution, in 900 is the feminine figure to change and take on a different significance.
The woman, who began working at the factory, interested in politics and going to college, begins to assert her rights and be aware of her equality, and thus acquiring a different awareness of own sexuality. However, the slow disappearance of Puritanism and the ease in behavior related to sex begin before in the women belonging to the upper classes. This is because the bourgeois spirit was still subject to many taboos and strict religious rules that imposed an absolute sobriety. Engaged couples could not sleep in the same bed or staying too long alone, while all parts of the body beyond the face, shoulders and feet still were considered indecent. For Catholic religion every sexual drive or sexual intercourse, outside of marriage, was considered a mortal sin. But beyond this strict moral and religious facade comes, fortunately, another libertine and more tolerant one, kept hidden or strict confidential.  Like brothels for example, where all could meet their needs of a sexual nature and where a young person began his sexual activity, unless he was one of those lucky to be in good graces with some lady who initiates him to the joys of the sex. Besides, maids and housekeepers were often “used” by the heads of the family to meet their extramarital affairs or to give youngsters the rudiments of the amateur art. In later years, during the Fascist period, Italy was still influenced by religious precepts with the Church which was considered the guardian of good moral and public order. Therefore, until the Second World War our sexual customs followed this double standard. During fascism, man acquire authority and virility and if on the one hand there comes out against homosexuality, on the other hand brothels survive and the use of condoms is encouraged, but only as a means of prevent the transmission of syphilis and not as  contraceptive. The end of the war, the arrival of the Americans and the beginning of reconstruction lead to a short transition period. The desire to live and restart bring to greater freedom of manners and to the satisfaction of material needs, including sex. In addition, with successive governments supported by the nascent political party called “Christian Democracy”, also if still closely connected with the Church’s temporal power, freedom and democracy can no longer relegate the “sexual freedom” to some social rank. Most of the films that Italian cinema offers in those years are a proof even if, as in the past, the conformist moral covers up and goes hand in hand with the more libertine one. It’s the period of the “Dolce Vita”, of the empowerment of women and when the corruption of social values starts. The Church doesn’t look on passively, and its influence, as always, will determine policy and customs of the following years. One example is the Merlin Law that in 1958 will lead to the closure of any red-light house.
We must wait the mass social and political movements of ’68,  along with Karl Marx’s ideas, to see some change in terms of sexual mores. Women’s sexuality “emerges” from the ghetto, premarital intercourse increases, homosexuality and contraception become a topic of discussion. At the same time, pornography gets a foothold while many accept the sex separated from love. Among the effects of this desired “sexual freedom” we undoubtedly find the release of homosexuality from the shadows, with the first studies that do not consider it more a disease, although even today the Church continues to condemn it. “Sexuality and Sex” become subjects of study, “sexual health’s concept” appears, with the publication of many books and magazines on these topics. Nowadays, we all know that sexual activity is very healthy.
But again, the State, the Church and the Judiciary act to bring control and brake “sexual freedom”, as happened, from then on, towards pornography. The following years saw the escalation of Internet in the first place, a new and simple way to find and share information in every corner of the world. Probably computer and internet are the most important inventions of the end of 900, which in a few decades have changed the customs of all peoples radically. About sex, this leads the new generations to have easier access to products with sexual content and thereby to broad their knowledge. Slowly, the connection with the intimacy changes, and thanks to the media and Internet, in the first place, the body is exposed, personal testimonials proliferate, while physical appearance and performance gain too much in importance. Another salient event of the those last decades has been the invention of the contraceptive pill, accessible to all young people, with the opening of many family planning centers in the Eighties. The marketing of oral contraceptives and the gradual generalization of their use, have greatly promoted the opportunities for women and men to dissociate clearly the procreative activity from sexual pleasure. As historians point out, one of the most obvious differences that occurred over the past one hundred years, is the achievement of a sexual awareness caused by the conscious separation between procreation and sexual instinct; it’s to say the distinction between the intercourse for reproductive purposes from the sex for mere enjoyment. But, oddly enough, in the face of these imported social changes, sexual behavior and nudity do not undergo major changes. The sex remains a very private “need” to keep hidden, while the sexual organs still a part of the body to hide and towards which we always have an atavistic shame. One last event that has also characterized the last few decades is the arrival and spread, in the eighties, of the AIDS. After the initial moments of bewilderment, sometimes even panic, the emergence of HIV gave an important impetus to the activities of sex education and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, but at the same time has added new fears
to the detriment of sex activity, which gradually became something to fear and be done with caution. In a climate already so full of fear, of morality and control, there just was no need of a new sexually transmitted disease! About in the 2000s, the revolution from  internet  on the subject of sex brings media (who know why?) to take an interest in the phenomenon continuously, to speak of “porn generation” and exaggerate about certain issues that have always existed, such as violence, rape, pedophilia, perversion. According to a SMASH survey (Swiss Multicenter Adolescent Survey on Health), between 1993 and 2002, the percentage of young people aged between 16 and 20 years who reported being victims of a form of sexual abuse, remained stable (around 15% for girls and 2% of boys). So, it is likely that the extensive mediatisation (term meaning the media coverage) on these phenomena derives simply from the overestimation of the situation or to exploit the issue. The finding that from the eighties to the present,  the sexual behaviors have not changed much, leads one to think that to characterize the evolution of recent years are rather the plentiful messages disclosed about sexuality and their apparent banality. In the past, after the boom of pornography, it also was easy to have access to erotic material, but no one has ever thought to point out the new generation as a “porn generation”, a term  suitable to the young people of today if we only refer to the continuing stresses to which they are subjected and which bring them to elaborate in a different way the erotic contents. One downside of the sexual content provided by many media in general, is to let prevail, as already mentioned, physicality and performance, and this has a negative impact on the individual, generating dissatisfaction and sexual performance anxiety. Never as in the past, we have witnessed in recent decades, to the widespread concern of not having a body sexually arousing, performance anxiety, to an increase in cases of premature ejaculation and last but not least to the worry about the size of own sexual organ. Although in the life of every day, sexuality is a pervasive factor, in our society it causes even today, as in the past, insecurities and fears. Fears and insecurities often linked to physical factors, such as disease and indecent assault, because, unfortunately, little is known of the problems related to sex and even less about psychological problems and sexual instincts. Knowledge and discussion that should take place from puberty, when the best time to talk about sexuality and sex with family members or trusting people. Given that the sex organs are part of the body to hide and that the use to which they are destined is a taboo, it then becomes normal that from puberty onwards, any doubt or problem related to sexuality isn’t disclosed by young people. Therefore, where there are diseases or psychological problems, that will lead inexorably to dysfunction or sexual deviations, without treatment or adequate support by experienced and sensitive persons, the subject will be left to himself with all the consequences that then will result from (repressed sexuality, dissatisfaction, psychological complexes, deviant behavior, violence). Do not be surprised then if newspaper report cases of homophobia, harassment or rape, where for most of us then it’s easy, alas, to become strict judges.

Conclusions …. beyond some freedom in sexual mores, nothing more is changed from the late 1800s until today. Among these  we may mention the female nudity that is slightly more accepted, while the male one, for some reason, is still a taboo. But, with variations, because while in the past the nudity of any minor was accepted, today is instead become a serious offense. Under this point of view, all admirable community who practice nudism should be considered depraved and outlaws! This is not to say that everyone should be free to do what he wants and where he wants to, but please, do not hide ourselves behind big words as “ethic morality”, “public order” or “decency”, to rage, in the rigor of the law, against nudity or sexuality, in any place or situation it manifests itself. What is the decency? Who established what are its limits? Why is nudity a crime? Man is born naked while civilization and religions have done everything to cover him again and practice a continuous strategy of terror towards sex. For example, for years politicians, statesmen, writers and people were in favor of racism, legislating and acting against black people. They thought they were right, and for this have influenced and changed the lives of millions of people in the name of a good cause. The man who judges and puts himself above the parties, becoming a god. Who warrants us that, also towards nudity or sex, the thousands of man-made laws and that govern them are then not inaccurate or untrue?
It is true that in recent decades sex and sexuality have been discussed especially at the scientific level, with all of us who know more about, but apparently served little use if then in a world so full of diversity they are still considered “dirty affairs” and if not is coming up a deep and serious “sex education” from early age. Although, from the high of our knowledge,  we call all other living beings as animals – except humans – I think we still have much to learn from animals!

DEFERRED MATURITY

Published August 31, 2012 by Tony

DELAYED  ADULTHOOD

It’s a matter of fact, thanks to scientific and technological innovations today we are living more and better.
But these changes have helped over the years also some genetic mutation, for example just think of the stature, with the new generations taller than their ancestors, or to the reduction of the fertility, because evolutionarily not the same need to reproduce ourselves as in the past.
But looking more closely to the evolution of the species, I have noticed, as many  experts also say, that with the longer expectation of life and from age to age, it also have been acquired  a lengthening of the time necessary for children to become “mature” or adults.
From long in many countries, the eighteen years of age represent the achievement of legal age, the coming of age linked with maturity, and this should suppose an eventual physic and mental maturity.
In the past, before age 18, a teenager was already considered an adult man, as evidently he  already showed a physical and mental adulthood. Once, for a young man twenty years old, it was normal to be married, having children and already with a professional activity, beyond the need to cut definitively the “umbilical cord”, which kept him still tied to the family.
Today, instead, it’s not unusual for men older than 20 years still act and look like teenagers!
I would venture to say that the 18-years-old of sixty years ago can be compared roughly with the 25-years-old of today, about the look or the manhood, at least.
An evolutionary gap of 6-7 years or the price to pay for a greater longevity?

Formal portrait of a 15 year old New York City boy in 1898 Portrait of a 15 year old boy in early 1900
0000271726-030 John Wayne at 30 years, with Marlene Dietrich
Handsome-Zac-Efron at 25 yo Zac Efron at 25 years
472px-Justin_Bieber_at_Easter_Egg_roll_-_crop Justin Bieber, 18 years old
early_years_0009!BoPO-Ug!2k~$(KGrHqMH-EUEuYESHe3RBLmtyp06 Q~~_3 George Clooney in his 20 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A very young couple with children in early sixties

CHILDREN OF A TIME AND CHILDREN OF TODAY

Published June 10, 2012 by Tony

GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES

YOUTH OF TODAY

YOUTH OF FOMER DAYS

contacts mom by cellular;

had their moms who called them from the window;

chats with friends by social network;

talked with friends in the court or club;

plays with Playstation or PC at home, often alone;

played marbles, stickers or football on the footpaths;

goes to the gym and does sport;

always was in movement spending hours in the street;

follows a diet or eat healthy;

ate everything;

is always under parents’ control;

was as much as possible away from parents;

is pampered and spoiled by relatives;

was more mature and independent;

often is mentally unstable;

was determined and with a strong personality;

is insecure and needs parents’ help;

had fewer fears and faced experiences of his/her own;

feels more the need to be alone;

always was along with friends;

spends much time indoors;

tried to stay outside as much as possible;

have so much but share few with other people;

had not much and shared everything with other people;

does well in school, parents are involved and there is a friendly relationship with teachers;

wasn’t going well in school, parents did not care and there was no relationship with teachers;

often is unsatisfied;

adaped and asked for nothing;

feels inferior if has no brand clothes and accessories and has a fully stocked wardrobe;

was just content to go not-naked in the street and happy when received a paltry new garment;

watches much television;

watched TV only at late evening or when couldn’t go away;

receives allowance from parents and often money from grandparents;

never had money and ifhad, not even knew how to spend it;

between Christmas and birthday receives more gifts per year;

barely received one toy at Christmas;

has more knowledge, but more theory than practical;

also if more ignorant was more ingenious;

is attached to parentsand mom in particular;

loved parents but wanted to be free;

leaves home in very old age;

left home as soon as possible;

thinks that everything is due, is demanding and picky;

was grateful for the mere fact to be fed, and his claims, if there were, were for necessary things;

spends vacation with parents and often visiting new places;

rarely went on vacation or on a trip  ‘cause parents couldn’t afford it;

hardly had permission to travel alone;

on some occasions could travel alone;

often talks about sex and his flirt withparents;

knew little about sex, but were private matters;

is turning to parents for any trouble or mischief;

felt it was important reserve, privacy and conspiracy of silence;

has little courage and resourcefulness;

has no ideals or dream to realize.

was daring and enterprising in all;

lived with ideals with some dreams to fulfill.

mmmm