The Sexist

Sexist Comments of the Week: Race Dating Edition


Last week, a brief history of racism among participants in the Washington Post Magazine Date Lab inspired some spirited defenses of racial preferences in the boudoir—and some polite rejections of the idea that one's blind date is merely acceptable "for an Asian guy." Let's take a look!:

Kim Chi Ha says it's about preference, not ethnicity. (I say it's about preference for ethnicity! But I digress):

I really think it’s a matter of preference and not a matter of ethnicity. You’re attracted to who you’re attracted to. Some people prefer blondes, others prefer brunettes. It’s not discrimination. You can’t help what features you’re attracted to. Some people are attracted to Asians, some are attracted to whites, some are attracted to them all. Just because you have a preference on the basis of someone’s ethnicity, doesn’t make you racist. It’s like having a preference for someone who’s tall versus someone who’s short. If you’re going to prefer an Asian over someone who’s white, it’s probably because of the culmination of looks that tend to occur more among Asians.

Why does everything have to come down to being about racism?

Katie says it's not natural:

you can’t help who you’re attracted to, but you can help making blanket statements about entire races of people that are probably based on stereotypes and subconscious or overt racial discrimination (you being used generally here). We have to at least be willing to consider what informs our attitudes and ideals of what makes a person “attractive.” It’s not just genetics.

Kit-Kat says the daters are doing it wrong:

If it was really just about looks, that might be one thing–we’re attracted to what we’re attracted to. If I have a thing for dark skin, or blond hair, or green eyes, then I’m likely to find myself attracted to people from ethnic or racial groups in which those features are more common.

But (1) not all people in the same ethnic group look the same. There is a *huge* amount of variation in terms of hair color, skin color, facial features, etc. among Caucasians, Hispanics, African-Americans, Indians, Asians, etc., which makes a statement like “I don’t find Indians attractive” just stupid.

And (2) not all of these daters are speaking purely in terms of looks. Some of them are pretty open about their prejudices. Plus, to not even really give someone a chance because of their race is discrimination.

. . . My real objection though, is that it’s stupid dating behavior. Sometimes a good match for you is someone you are not initially head-over-heels for, or who doesn’t match your superficial checklist. Sometimes attraction grows over time, as you get to know someone. Sometimes looks become less important as deeper connections develop. Even if it’s not racist, it’s pretty shallow and self-limiting.

chris sets some ground rules:

Litmus test for whether something you’re saying is racist or not: Would you be willing to say it face-to-face to someone of the race/ethnicity you’re talking about? If not, it’s probably racist. If so, it might still be racist and you might be a colossal asshole. . . . protip: Saying “All x people always/never do y” is not really helping you look not-racist.

upk on the effects of bedroom racism:

. . . some people might be applying the idea that racism is a combination of prejudice and power. Even if they choose not to date a person because of his race, they are not depriving him of something he is legitimately entitled to (sex with them).

Matt is like, does being straight make me sexist? (In other news, commenter Matt is straight, everyone!):

Is it sexism if, as a heterosexual man, I don’t want to date a dude??? Give me a break!

Photo via George Eastman House

  • TJ

    When I originally read Matt's comment, the first thing I thought was that was the most ridiculous argument FOR discrimination that I've ever heard.

    That's not discrimination, honey, that really is what preference is about.

    What a silly comment...

    That would mean that I discriminate against men since I'm a lesbian... again... that's just a silly argument.

    Now, if you said, as a hetero, that you don't want to date an entire race or ethnicity because you don't find them attractive, then THAT'S discrimination. That was Amanda's point. I honestly thought that it was a simple one that didn't need all the discussion that transpired, but with comments like this one... GEEZ!!!

  • Glenn

    TJ - Matt's comment is not as silly as it seems. If you are a lesbian, in the strictest sense you are discriminating against men. It's just that your "discrimination" is considered acceptable because it's based upon an immutable characteristic - masculinity.

  • drsnacks

    but the groom is so handsome

  • anon

    TJ, this whole conversation was sily. OMG, this is silly.

  • TJ

    @Glenn, I'm sorry, but there is a huge difference. If you want to say that I'm discriminating based on the fact that I prefer vaginas, then that would mean that all preferences are discriminatory, because I lump this preference in with folks who prefer blond or tall or even fair complexioned people. As a matter of fact, it is more an orientation than just a preference. I am oriented, or inclined, to be attracted to females. Saying that you are oriented to date only a particular race is not an orientation... but I digress.

    The difference, to me, is that you are making a decision based on a specific characteristic of the person. When someone says that they only date Asians or whites or blacks, or say that they would NEVER date whites or Asians or blacks, they aren't making a preference based on a characteristic. They are discriminating based on stereotypes of an entire ethnicity/race.

  • CTD

    Um, isn't dating pretty much 100% about discrimination? Isn't that the whole point?

  • Glenn

    @TJ-I don't believe that people are oriented to date only a particular race. But I do believe that people can be oriented to be attracted to certain physical characteristics and that orientation may lead to them primarily dating people that are of a particular race that has those characteristics. Letting physical attraction, or the lack thereof, drive your dating patterns is different than letting stereotypical beliefs about the internal character of people of a particular race drive those patterns. It’s not racist to find or not find black, or white, or Asian, or whatever features attractive or unattractive. It may not be smart or make sense, but it's not racist.

    @CTD-Exactly. Dating is 100% about discrimination - age, looks, height, weight, income, geography, the list is almost infinite. Nobody will go out with just anybody; and nobody wants to date someone who will just go out with anybody.

  • chris

    We live in a culture that is constantly promoting white people as more attractive/desirable/interesting/varied-looking/whatevs, and we're constantly informed by that, consciously or not. Nothing is 'just preference'.

    And, seriously? You guys define dating as excluding everyone you don't like instead of sharing yourself with someone you do?

  • TJ

    @Glenn, I believe that we are on the same page. You are right. It is not racist to be attracted to certain physical characteristics, and if only a few races have those characteristics, then so be it. But there are so many varieties of people out there that you almost can't make that generalization.