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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