So it appears that people don’t understand that there is a difference between saying “Racism and other forms of oppression can and do influence the way by which some people experience, express, and act upon their attractions” and “Having preferences is problematic! No one should have preferences ever about anything!”
To be abundantly, absolutely, and definitively clear: I was saying the former rather than the latter. I am speaking directly from experience as someone who has been on the receiving end of race-based preferences with problematic influences, implications, and manifestations.
Let’s start a long long time ago on a dating site not so far away, when and where my profile said that I prefer white men because I enjoyed the skin tone contrast as well as, and I quote, the idea of “playing the exotic brown temptress.”
I said it because I had yet to meet any men who actually thought the exotic brown temptress was a real thing. I had the good fortune of attending a very ethnically-diverse university in the city of my birth, a place where classism was rampant and rife but overt racism wasn’t tolerated. I thought racism was a joke and no one really believed it anymore.
The white males of OkCupid soon rectified my error, flooding my inbox with such delights as the following.
- From wannabe hippie Burning Man aficionados, requests to teach them Kama Sutra
- From actual hippies, salutations along the lines of “Namaste, goddess”
- From white supremacists, demands for fellatio*
- From the average-type dudebro, invitations to be a checkmark on their exotic-race-I’ve-fucked list
- From the aggressively-geeky, questions about why I didn’t message them after looking at their profiles since we had so much in common**
- From the self-described kinky, surprise that a non-white woman is open to non-vanilla exploration and speculation as to my subsequently diminished prospects on the Indian marriage market
- From the older and well-traveled, “compliments” along the lines of how inherently not-boring I am compared to “average”/”normal”*** women
I ended up removing “Indian” from my profile and leaving that box blank (which has led to obnoxious levels of speculation as to my ethnicity). I still date mostly white men due to a combination of factors (I’ll speculate upon and address them in a future post).
These examples might seem exaggerated or only of men beyond the pale, but plenty of these men didn’t see the problem with what they said to me and thought of themselves as liberal and open-minded for considering a non-white woman.
There is nothing wrong with having preferences in dating and sex. There is absolutely something wrong with projecting racist generalizations onto people and excuse the exercise as mere expressions of attraction. It’s not difficult to treat people as individual human beings rather than some collection of stereotypes who exist to arouse you with their exoticness. Those who exhibit racialized preferences, if they want to be conscientious and forward-thinking rather than promote racism and bigotry, should examine the ways in which they think of and communicate with those they desire.
* Upon quizzical follow-ups regarding why their hatred of people of color didn’t extend to our oral cavities, reminders that I would drop to my knees, suck the dick, swallow the semen, and be booted out before anyone could know or see that I had the honor of having sexually serviced the white phallus in question
** Their profiles always and nigh invariably expressed deep-seating yearning for willowy pale redheads, so I assumed that my fat brown ass was precluded
*** Upon questioning, they meant “white” women