What if a person wrote, “Whites only”, “No Asians” or “No Blacks” on their dating profile? I had a Mulatto friend who told me they were asked out on a date after being told he looked white enough.
Would that be considered sexually racist?
There are several dating sites like wherewhitepeoplemeet.com, asiansingles.com, or blackpeoplemeet.com for those that prefer a specific ethnicity. But if we are on a site that welcomes and encourages all ethnicities at what point are statements like, “No chinks” no longer a preference but are in fact racist.
Sadly, this is happening on some of these online dating sites. The questions above are based on actual truths. It’s shameful, horrifying and in my opinion needs to stop.
Most of the big, multi-ethnic online dating sites ask a user to fill out what they prefer in a relationship. Preferential questions can be about weight, age, religion, lifestyle and ethnicity. They are designed to help the site select the people who are more likely to be a successful match for a user who is supposedly looking for love. They are not designed to attack, belittle and tear another person apart for their ethnicity.
For now, dating sites are not responsible for badly behaved daters who are not life threatening and violent even though they could use some lessons in respect and dating etiquette. Thankfully a few bloggers have called out these badly behaved daters, but it’s not enough. It’s time to make some radical changes in the online dating world. We not only need to become personally accountable for our sexually racist behaviors but the online agencies need to also start making some changes---delete users who are discovered to be sexually racist.
If we are not into what someone else is offering on their dating profile say, “No thank you.” Or “Thanks for reaching out, I’m not sure we are a right fit.” Interactions like this can go a really long without having to be sexually racist.
Yet for whatever reason some of us may feel this behavior is acceptable—whether it’s the safety of hiding behind a user profile on a computer screen, the feeling that honesty, entitlement and cruelty are somehow the same thing as preference, the general need to overshare insults so many of us wants to read—being sexually racist is most definitely not preference when approached in this manner.
There is a huge sociological influence besides the chemical/biological component when it comes to who we are attracted to and what we prefer. Which means that who we prefer to date is just as much in our control as it isn’t.
Studies show that black men and women are the least desirable in the dating preferential pool on gay or heterosexual sites. Is it because so many people are just inherently not attracted to black men and women? Can anyone really justify such a blanket statement for an entire racial group?
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and dating preference but, we should start asking ourselves how much of that choice is a conscious one or is it habitual. Studies show that much of our “It’s just what I’m attracted to…” statements have been programmed by what we are constantly exposed to.
If we took a hard look at our sociological influences from the people were raised with, went to school with, work with, live in our community and the social media we are exposed to daily, we can start to understand better why we are attracted to who we are attracted to. (Assuming we have a desire to grow and change.)
For example, how many movies or television shows portray black men as sexy, successful and desirable? How many Asian or Indian men have been cast as sexy, hunky leading men in a big romantic film or weekly TV series? Given that only 10% of minorities ever get cast in films and TV shows the answer is not many. As a matter of a fact, it usually happens that a white actor gets cast as the ethnic lead of a film that should have an ethnic cast like, “The Prince of Persia” or numerous other examples.
If we don’t think decades upon decades of Hollywood whitewashing is affecting what we define as sexy and desirable to date the sociological statistical data disagrees. As a society, we spend a lot of time watching film and TV from childhood to adulthood. Its influence on what we find sexy and attractive effects our off-screen decisions.
Yes, there is a component to attraction and preference that we can’t help, that is chemical, but there is a lot we can control. Who we think we are attracted to is partly a result of enforced behaviors and sociological influencing. If we were raised and working in a primarily all-white community, where we only dated white people, then one day got sent to Asia to work for a few years, it might not take very long for us to start finding Asians more attractive than whites.
So the next time we start writing down what we prefer on a dating site, perhaps we should consider two things.
Author: Heather Dawn
A version of this blog originally appeared in Heather Dawn's column on Elephantjournal.com