I have spent my entire life living between different cultures; as a product of French-Canadian/Catholic heritage living in a town where everyone was either Italian or Jewish, the only daughter surrounded by brothers, the youngest amongst my siblings and friends due to a birthday late in the year, growing up in a city and spending summers in an extremely rural area, growing up middle class in a upper middle class milieu, living as a foreigner abroad, working as a foreigner in my own country but for foreign governments... and the list goes on and on. I have always been too other for the one that I was with. What has happened is that this is where I am most comfortable.
What I have learned from all this is to stop (to the best of my ability) being shocked by differences, other cultures - this is the direct result of always having had to explain differences/nuances to others - to ease their shock.
I went to a premier of a French movie recently and at the event afterwards I was with a French friend - at the bar when someone who worked on the film festival came up to us and asked my friend - so were the Americans shocked? To which I said, well I wasnt and cant understand why people found the film shocking but I cant speak for my fellow countrymen. The response to this was a "mais bien sur vous ne pouvez pas" well if it is so obvious that I cant speak for a country of multiple millions of citizens - why did you just ask me to?
Then I found myself trying to explain why I am American and wasnt shocked - as this seemed odd since a lot of audience members left looking shell-shocked and hadnt applauded. Could there be an age difference? It depends on what you have done and seen in your life - I have lived most of my life in major cities - so seemingly "alternative" lifestyles dont really shock me.
I left frustrated at having been put on the spot and then somewhat disregarded since my opinions didnt measure up to someone else's expectations. I was brushed off as being different since I didnt agree.
Since I am often on the receiving end of these conversations - I really try to the best of my ability to relativise things - while it may look "bizarre", "etrange", or shocking to you - it is perfectly normal or maybe there are reasons for it in another place and time. Isnt it more interesting to look into that?
I think I take offense as I find the word shocking to be very violent. It is a violent reaction to something the clearly isnt understood by the "other".
I say this but everyone has things that shock them - prejudice shocks me. I just wish that before judging we could ask questions instead of seeing the "other" as bizarre or shocking. I find that that means you really dont understand something and you dont care to look inside.