Sometimes the answers to black and white questions are too obvious to see.


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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193 Responses

  1. Avatar Will Truman says:

    I’d figured it was related to the asymmetry in couplings, as well as various racial stereotypes (which some argue are demonstrated by the asymmetry in couplings). But if white women are more likely to be attracted to black men and vice-versa than the other way (white men and black women), a different nerve is touched.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      I’d include sexual assaults. I’m guessing through US history, there’s been a whole mountain of sexual assault of black women by white men; far, far, far outnumbering white women assaulted by black men. There was a time where such an assault was considered a privilege of ownership.

      I think it, in part, roots here: lingering ownership.

      But I also think there’s more too it: a fear rooted in the saying, “Once you go black, you don’t go back,” some odd racial notions projected on peter meters and performance.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Can’t be that last one. if it were, we’d see Asian men flipping the bugfuck out about Asian women dating White Men.

        I think it’s all about power, status…Report

  2. Avatar Lynn says:

    This is interesting to read an answer given by a non BM.
    Regarding the question by Nichole, I have to say she could not be more wrong in terms of racism not taking place in the reverse.
    The recent increase, over the past five years in particular, of BW/WM has prompted the relentless bashing of BW all over social media, not to mention what many BW are dealing with in real life.
    I live in an area where this pairing is steadily increasing. I’m not sure people outside the Black race know just how much pressure BW are under to regulate themselves to BM only. Choosing to date a WM is a HUGE DEAL! If non Blacks don’t believe that BW are not getting pushback from multiple groups who preferred BW maintain the status quo, you are sorely mistaken.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      It’s not as common because they’re a very small percentage of the overall population, but some Asian men are angry about WM/AW couples, and white women can get pretty catty (and racist) about the same topic. I’ve also heard that many black women aren’t terribly happy about white women taking their men.

      As for why white women don’t care about WM/BW couples and white men don’t care about WW/AM couples, I suspect that it’s a matter of the ratios being lopsided. B/W intermarriage is a net win for white women, and W/A intermarriage is a net win for white men.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Lynn, pressure from what groups?Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    No, I’d argue that your answer to Perkin’s question is wrong. The reason why Black Man/White Woman stirs up anger, rage, and racism in away that White Man/Black Woman does not has to do with power. Under a patriarchal system, one of the most cherished forms of power was the ability to restrict a women’s sexuality and control who she could and could not be in a relationship with. This was especially true for sexual relationships. In a racist and patriarchal system, being able to kill members for even so much as looking at your women was the ultimate form of power for the group on top. In America, a black man and white woman couple would rankle racists beyond belief. In Europe and the Middle East, replace black man with Jewish man.Report

    • Avatar LWA says:

      I agree.
      However modern and cosmopolitan and evolved we like to think we are, “THEY are coming to TAKE OUR WIMMEN” is still a powerful primal emotion and underlies a lot of the conversations we have about ethnic and racial issues.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Um, last bar fight I saw — which was back in college, a good while back — was very much a “Were you looking at my woman” affair.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      First, let me say that @lynn properly outlines the degree of question-begging going on here.

      Second, when I read this quote:
      “Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of other things going on here — and almost all of those things have to do with race.*”
      I had to do a, “Wait… is here serious?” Race is obviously a huge factor in all this. But so is gender, as @leeesq points out. I would go further and say there is also a patrlonizing view of women baked into all this. White women need to be protected lest they be preyed upon. Should a white woman engage sexually or romantically, it cannot because they are exercising a freely decided upon choice, but because they are the victim of some sort of manipulation or violence. Women do not have sufficient agency. They are inherently victims.

      So, the mindset that leads to hand wringing over BM/WW relationships manages to be both racist and misogynistic. But, more importantly, it is not the only hand wringing going on when it comes to interracial relationships.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        You could probably tie the “nice guy” syndrome in there, as it’s much the same thing.

        Men “deserve” women, they “earn” them in some sense — they prove they are worthy according to cultural criteria and they get their female reward.

        We have not come as far as we think we have.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Morat20, from my experience it seems that the idea that a man has to earn a woman is still a very popular idea with a lot of woman. Its why a lot of heterosexual men really hate the early parts of the relationship. Its like an audition or a job interview at best.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Yeah, women sometimes try what they think they can get away with. Particularly when they can string men along with promises of sex.

        This is worst with the girls who have been told they are pretty their whole life — treating their virginity/virtue like it’s gold plated.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Morat20, from my experience it seems that the idea that a man has to earn a woman is still a very popular idea with a lot of woman. Its why a lot of heterosexual men really hate the early parts of the relationship. Its like an audition or a job interview at best.

        I think you’re confusing two types of “earn”. There’s simple, bilateral way — both man and woman have to be the ‘right sort’ for the other, and show it. It’s not earning — it is, literally, a relationship job interview that goes both ways.

        Then there’s “earn” in the “nice guy” sense — wherein if Nice Guy does X, Y, Z the woman he is interested in must date him. If she doesn’t, it’s because she’s heartless, a b*tch, a tease, or a whore — or some other nasty appellation.

        I *earned* my wife’s love, just as she earned mine. But I never thought “I’m a nice guy, I’m interested in her, if she’s not interested back it’s because she’s broken or evil or a tease“.

        I’d have thought “I must not be her type” or “She’s just not into me” and moved on.

        It’s really not a Nice Guy thing alone — it really is a sort of default assumption by many men — that if you meet some objective criteria, than any woman you’re interested in owes it to you to be interested back. Because the objective criteria supersedes whatever silly little subjective nonsense criteria she thinks she has.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      @leeesq — Yep, I think this is the root of all. There is a long cultural heritage that views men as agents and women as property. Thus when a white man “takes” a black women, we whites are seen as asserting our power over our rightful property. (Although to marry a black woman can be viewed as lowering one’s own status, in effect marrying down.) However, when a black man is with a white woman, he is viewed as having taken what does not belong to him, a think rightfully belonging to white men.

      The dynamic is a perfectly horrible mixture of white supremacy and patriarchy.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Anybody with a common knowledge of American history, meaning all you had to know is that it sucked/sucks to be Black in the United States, and a bit of analysis would have came up with the same solution. It isn’t that complicated. Its a combination of women as property/status symbol and racial hierarchy.

        To an extent, I’m not really surprised that the case that the Supreme Court selected to use to hold that bans on interracial marriages were unconstitutional involved a white man and black woman that surprising. A case involving a black man and a white woman would have been probably simply too much for many Americans at the time even though lots of such couples probably existed.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Depends on the culture, really. Plantation culture would have flipped its lid — but Appalachian culture would have been pretty hunky-dory with it (not a lot of people to select from in the mountains. hard to keep your race to yourself).Report

  4. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Lot to say here…

    First off, some statistics from Wikipedia:

    According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2009 there were:

    – 354,000 White female/Black male and
    – 196,000 Black female/White male marriages

    This is a ratio of 181:100. This traditional disparity has seen a rapid decline over the last two decades, contrasted with its peak in 1981 when the ratio was still 371:100.

    I recall very distinctly in the late 90s, early 2000s that there was a lot of hand-wringing, at least in my neck of the woods, about how many white girls seemed to be dating black guys. The general line of thought was that they were ‘trophies’ for these black men which was an uncomfortable echo of Birth of a Nation and the Postbellum South. At the same time the black men themselves were saying that it wasn’t trophies but an escape from what they saw as hostile black women.

    On the other hand, as the statistics point out, white men/black women pairings happen 50% less often. Ironically, during slavery the most likely pairings were with white men and black women, but of course this was often less-than-consensual. One wonders if this legacy of black women bearing the children of their white masters hasn’t trickled down into modern society. Perhaps black women unconsciously feel a need to protect their race from the dilution (for lack of a better word) that would come from more white/black pairings?

    For me personally, I dated a black girl once and going out in public was a very surreal experience. We were actually laughed at by several black men when walking into a bar and to this day I don’t know if they were laughing at me or her. I’ve always been attracted to black women and I will admit that I silently cheer when I see a white man with a black woman because it is still so rare and it feels like a victory for diversity.

    As a weird side note, I’ve talked to several black women about this and with complete candor I have been told that they think white men would probably be better boyfriends but they just aren’t attracted to them. There is a real problem with player culture among black men and yet black women seem willing to endure for their own personal reasons. Metrosexuality hasn’t taken a foothold in the black community either and I think they also see black men as more manly, more virile. Again, these are just my observations and info gained from a very small polling group.Report

  5. Avatar BillyDe says:

    Yeah, nipping this in the bud right here. -tkReport

  6. Avatar greginak says:

    Fear of overwhelming and predatory sexuality in black men has been a major part of racist thought since well into the 19th century. Black men have been portrayed as rapists uncontrollably slavering for sweet innocent and of course virginal white women ( picturing Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles asking “where the white women at?”) A black man with a white women pushes all those nasty buttons for the asshole/bigoted crowd.Report

  7. Avatar Chris says:

    I remember reading a article in college, which I am unable to find now, which basically argued that the history of racism is the history of black men with white women. This is hyperbole, of course, but it contains a kernel of truth. Since the days of the slave trade there have been depictions of black savages raping innocent white women, and in the days of lynching (during and after slavery), even looking at a white woman could be a capital offense for a black man. It is, as Lee says, about power over women (racism and sexism have always been closely aligned), power over other men, and the purity of the race. On the other end, black women are seen as both less attractive generally and hypersexualized at the same time. Sex with them was also seen as a further extension of power. To the extent that these dynamics, which are all interrelated, are still at work, they lead to the differences in reactions we see even today to interracial relationships.

    My own speculative view is that the increase in white male-black female relationships has to do with the fact that more and more white men see black women as actual people, and not just sexual objects, so more and more black women are comfortable dating white men.

    I should note that I have been in a relationship with a black woman for many years, and we’ve experienced some racist reactions, mostly from men, but it has been pretty rare.

    One of the most unexpected reactions has been black men telling me how lucky I am. That happens surprisingly often.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      I’ve got a white male friend who is in a relationship with a black woman. They get some of the same troubling responses described here. But what is interesting is that their own unique paths make these responses all the stranger to them. My friend was born and raised in England, moving to America sometime around middle school, and spending a few of his post-college years living in South Africa. His girlfriend was born and raised in Nigeria, eventually moving to Queens. For both of them, their experiences as a white man or black woman in America were atypical and thus their relationship with the perception of their race and other races in America is different. They didn’t feel the same burdens as many others might have. As I understand it, her mom had some hesitations, but they stemmed from a very different place than the typical hand wringing does. He reported that his family had no qualms.Report

  8. Avatar Damon says:

    I remember the Cheerios commercial, if only because I watched it, thought nothing of it, then realized later. “Hey, was that an interracial couple? That was balsy.”

    Curiously, I’ve seen my fair share of interracial couples-and the overt/covert racism was a lot more pronounced in the east coast that it was in Seattle. I also saw a lot more IR couples (BM/WW) in Seattle than in the east. The majority of white women I’ve dated / read their dating profile specificially exclude black men, and by their profile comments or comments in person, they get a LOT of emails from black guys.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      Wait, seriously? I can see not checking the “Black/African” box, but they actually complain in their profiles about getting mail from black men?Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        They’ve specifically stated in their profile their preferences or checked the boxes and still get emails. One gal I knew had this is in her profile “I DON’T DATE BLACK GUYS” in caps, yes, several times. She said she got like 20 emails a day from black guys. Some of this probably is the old complaint that guys (any guy) only looks at pictures and doesn’t read the profile text. 🙂Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        I’d hesitate to say it’s a black man only thing, insofar as every woman I’ve ever know who has used dating sites has gotten tons of contacts from people who don’t fit their (the woman’s) criteria. Their publicly available, on the profile, criteria.

        I note that lesbians, by all accounts, get a shockingly large number of contacts from men despite the “Looking for women” up there.

        I think there’s a pretty solid “cast as wide a net as possible” and “I’m awesome, they’ll make an exception for me” feeling behind it.

        I suspect skin color’s more obvious than, say, not fitting into an age bracket or having kids (or not having them) or whatnot.. Skin color’s obvious from a picture (as is, generally, gender). A lot of other “No X” stuff isn’t.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        There’s also the “responding while drunk” quality to online dealings…
        (let alone posting while asleep. Ambien does fucked up things to you).Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      @damon — Wait! They said this in their profile and you still dated them? You hard up or something?

      Myself, I have a no-shitty-bigot rule for my dating. I recommend it.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Ofc. I fit the parameters of their preferences, so why not? I don’t assign bigotry to a dating preference. I, generally, don’t date women of african decent for the sole reason that I don’t find many of them attractive.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        If someone won’t entertain the possibility of saying anyone who is a member of a different race, that’s pretty much the definition of bigotry.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Leaving aside that leaving a check box blank may be a matter of economizing one’s time given a greater interest over here and a lesser interest over there… I have mixed feelings. If a black woman has a preference for a black man, or a white woman for a white man, that seems different from virtually every other form of “my race only” I can think of given the very personal and exclusive nature of partner selection.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        I have similar mixed feelings. It’s hard for mr to not see racism as being a factor, really, but on the other hand there’s something vaguely similar feeling — and equally moronic — as the many guys I’ve known who “only date blonds,” or gals that “only date men over 6 foot.”

        (Well, maybe moronic is overstating and a little harsh. The loins want what the loins want, after all, but I have a hard time comprehending having loins that are so very specific in their tastes. It must be terribly inconvenient during the single, dating & mating years of one’s life.)Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        To me there seems to be an enormous difference between, as a matter of inclination and habit, dating within your own race versus expressing a complete unwillingness to even entertain the possibility of dating outside your race, to the point where you would baldly state that “those people” should not contact you and to furthermore get offended when they do.

        We’re talking about the latter sort of thing.

        If you put “no blacks” on your profile, you’re a racist shit. On the other hand, if it turns out in practice that you seldom meet black people you want to date, well then, maybe you’re a racists and maybe your’e not. Not enough evidence.

        Now I’m going to say something super controversial (with this crowd): I think the following two ideas are fundamentally different: a white person who will not date black people versus a black person who will not date whites. To my view, the former is simply racism, full stop; the latter, on the other hand, is a sound response to living in a culture of white supremacy.

        It’s called context. In my experience many white folks get uncomfortable talking about it. For some reason.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I agree that they are different things, as my comment above about black women dating white men implies. There are different issues involved, and black men and women both have to consider different dynamics than white men and women even saying interracially.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        By the way, if I were going give saying advice, one of the pieces would be not to be limited by your current preferences. They are determined by your experience, and you might be surprised by how easily they change, and how much more you can get out of saying if you let them do so.Report

      • Avatar RTod says:

        @veronica-dire “Now I’m going to say something super controversial (with this crowd):”

        That’s true enough, at least with me.

        I actually agree that due to power dynamics potentially different things are going on, and that it’s really important to take the time and effort to sort through what those things are. What you’re describing, however, sounds like the opposite if taking that time and effort.

        It sounds more like an argument that slavery isn’t actually inherently bad and should really be encouraged,so long as you get to be the person that owns others.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @rtod — Either you completely misunderstood me or you believe some decided unsavory things.Report

      • Avatar RTod says:

        @veronica-dire “Either you completely misunderstood me”

        That may well be true. But since I’m a cis male and not allowed to ask for clarification, it’s hard to know.

        Don’t get me wrong, VD. You’re a great addition to this site, and I love your point of view on things. But you have a TVD-level of lack of empathy for others that makes it hard to engage you at times.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @rtod — That seems unfair. Have you openly and honestly asked me for a clarification and been rebuffed?

        I will probably respond rather bluntly to bogus questions of the “when did you stop beating your wife?” variety, questions that come loaded with gotchas or broken assumptions. But an honest, “Veronica, can you clarify this point?” question would, I expect, be greeted quite well. Even from a cis dude.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I would generally agree with your “super-controversial” comment, though would probably have some degree of conditionality in there.


        “…a TVD-level of lack of empathy…”
        I don’t know how long Veronica might have lurked here, but her commenting history indicates no time overlap with Mr. Van Dyke. It might be useful to flesh out what you mean by that.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @kazzy Politically? Sure, I would totally agree.

        But this whole thing of constantly going after people full bore, refusing to hear where they are coming from, and feel offended when people treat them half as disrespectfully and dismissively as they treat everyone else seems pretty on the money to me.

        Seriously, replace “cis” with “sophist” to Veronica’s replies to people that make seemingly valid points, and I think you’d be hard pressed to tell the dif.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        My apologies for being less than clear. I do not disagree with your assessment. But telling Veronica she is acting like TVD might not be that useful if she doesn’t know who TVD is. Fleshing it out as you did just there more effectively communicates the issue to her and ought to suffice in communicating your concern.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Veronica, I think Tod probably misinterpreted you, as my agreement with your sentiment would indicate, but you’re asking here for something the subthread below demonstrates that you are unwilling to give. I think that may be what Tod is getting at.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        That TVD might have had zero meaning to her is a fair point. (And perhaps an unintentionally humous one: When I googled it just now, it appears that it is now most commonly used as the acronym for The Vampire Diaries.)

        And if she gets where I’m coming from now with that clarification, great. But I suspect not. One of the things blogging has taught me, sadly, is that it’s really hard to explain to people with no empathy they come off as having no empathy. Which is why being an editor to one and trying to get one to understand why he was having issues with commenters was often like ramming my head into a brick wall.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Heh… yes… the potential meaninglessness of “TVD” was all I was getting at.

        However, telling someone they have the empathy of a vampire… well, that might need to become some new OT lexicon.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        I recall TVD. Personally I find any comparison to him odious. But whatever.

        It is probably inevitable that any challenge to privilege will be met with consternation, that when I say, “privileged people should talk less and listen more,” folks (who talk very much) will accuse me of saying they shouldn’t talk at all.

        Which is totally not what I believe. But these conversations are hard to have, since the very dynamics of the conversations are what are in question. And these are very hard things for people to hear. People like to believe themselves uniquely insightful and interesting. To be told there is a topic where voices such as yours are problematic, and you should be very careful how you approach them, and your magic-deep insights are likely broken, for all sorts of cultural reasons that you think you are above but you are not, and thus you should place much weight in observations of people who live the life and less to your own insights — these thoughts do not please the dudes-who-like-to-argue-on-the-Internet. (All this coming from a gal who likes to argue on the Internet.)

        But all that said, if a cis dude wants to ask me a respectful question, one that is not thick with broken assumptions, I hope he feels free to go ahead.

        I do love to answer questions!Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Come to think of it, I have told people who seem wholly incapable of self-reflection that they remind me of vampires. A critique I may have even aimed at Mr. TVD himself.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        People like to believe themselves uniquely insightful and interesting.


      • Avatar Chris says:

        Aaand there you go again, insulating yourself from criticism, and cutting off discussion. It’s a clever trick. Now that I see it so clear, though, I will take it into account any time I get the urge to engage with you or something you’ve said in the future.

        And again, I would bet I have significantly more experience with the topic of this post and the topic below than you. In fact, if someone were in a position in which it would be good to shut up and listen here, you’ve shown it’s you. But that doesn’t fit your ego protecting narrative in the face of your saying something you might not want examined.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @veronica-dire “It is probably inevitable that any challenge to privilege will be met with consternation, that when I say, “privileged people should talk less and listen more,” folks (who talk very much) will accuse me of saying they shouldn’t talk at all.”

        I think that’s pretty much my point, actually. If it were simply a case of you being territorial/touchy/whatever on gender issues, I think I would be more understanding of where you are coming from.

        But it’s not my experience that you bother to listen at all, ever, regardless of the topic — even those topics where others speaking have experience and you don’t. And it’s not my experience that you ever try to see where others are coming from, even in topics that have nothing to do with gender. And it’s not my experience that you treat people who disagree with you with any modicum of respect — even when those areas of disagreement have nothing to do with you, your experience, or your gender.

        Like I said up top, the lack of empathy you have for other human beings — combined with your insistence that you you are somehow uniquely excused from having to treat other human beings with humanity — makes having discussions with you on almost any topic problematic.

        You talk a lot about the importance of listening, but you never seem to have an interest in doing so yourself. It is, as I said, very TVD.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @rtod — So I let this sit a day before I responded. Anyway, I think you are deeply wrong, but I guess it would be pointless to dig (too far) into it. I mean, I could drop a long post here, but would it help?

        I can live with your not liking me.

        I think the stuff I say is true and important. It is, I think, worth my time to engage. I do my best to communicate effectively, but I’m just one woman dealing with my own shit.

        And the question on how we marginalized folks should communicate with the oppressor class is fraught. In fact, it is a classic double bind. Too nice? Too blunt? Too angry? It’s a hard needle to thread. I do my best, but when you focus on me you aren’t seeing the oppressive structures.

        But then, you don’t see the oppressive structures anywhere near you, right? That’s a problem that other people have.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @veronica-dire FWIW, I actually do like you. And as I said before, I think you’re a great addition to the site.

        As to your question about how to communicate with people different from yourself, I can only say what my preference is on this site: with respect. I know you feel that we here at OT somehow give you less leeway because you’re transgendered, but I actually think it’s the opposite. When guys on this site treat you the way you treat other people here, we have given them warnings or suspended their commenting privileges. We’ve let you say pretty much whatever you want to whoever you want.

        In a forum that honors the concept of people from different background and points of view coming together and sharing those different experiences, my preference would be that you treat our readers as if they were as human as yourself. I get that my asking you to do so shows up on your radar as “oppression,” and I am not sure how to get around that.

        And if the whole treating CIS people thing is a bridge too far, I would ask that you start smaller, and treat our gay readers and contributors better than you do.Report

  9. Avatar DavidTC says:

    I don’t think this is really racism. There’s racism there, but it’s not the problem. The problem is sexism when it crosses streams with the othering of black men.

    Now, othering of people solely due to race is, yes, racism. But it’s less ‘black men are less than us whites’ than ‘they are not *us*’. This is why you still see it showing up where you wouldn’t expect.

    There is a certain form of sexism that sees the world as ‘men vs. women’, where it is the goal of men to win women. Men are one team, and women are the other team.(1) At one end, in player culture, this can be taken literally, but even at the other end, it still shows up in jokes about ‘bro before hos’ and ‘cockblocking’.

    And, thus, to a certain extent, a victory of any man to ‘get’ a woman is sorta a victory for all men. I.e., even if you wanted to win that particular wrestling event, at least *someone* from your team did.

    Interracial dating is the point where this gets extremely weird, because to a lot of white men, even people who wouldn’t think of doing, or even thinking, of doing something overtly racist, don’t think of black men as on ‘their team’. They’ve divided men into multiple teams. (And women too, probably.)

    The solution here, though, isn’t exactly to make sure they merge all people of one gender into the same team…the real problem here is sexism and the ‘teams’ and the idea of the ‘war of the sexes’.

    1) I’m deliberately not going to talk about gay people here, except to suppose that homosexuals, in this paradigm, are ‘people on one team that gave up and joined the opposing side’. Thus gay men are traitors, and gay women are, well, teammates, although there’s always the assumption they might join with you in scoring.Report

  10. Avatar veronica dire says:

    Slightly off topic, but I have this huge, highly sexualized fetish for black men — all sorts of black men: gorgeous queer black men with impeccable makeup and arresting stares; tall, broad chested, chiseled-fit black men, with voices smooth as velvet and smiles that melt my heart.

    Just oh my I can’t even.

    Anyway, this is waaaaay problematic and objectifying, and I work to ensure I don’t do shitty things.

    But anyway, yeah.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I say, you’re allowed to be attracted to someone, or a particular kind of someone, without impermissibly reducing them to objects. Recognition and actualization that people are not mere sex toys does not mean you must pretend that some people are just plain beautiful physical specimens. Don’t get carried away with it, but by all means a little bit of ogling is enjoyable and harmless.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      Having a preference isn’t objectification, but calling it a “fetish” is, quite literally. A fetish is a sexual fixation on an inanimate object.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        It’s more complicated than that.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        He’s right. Fetishization, in any sense, is objectification. Calling a attraction a fetish is to indicate not viewing the object as a. Individual or a person. And fetishization of black men and women has a long, problematic history.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Folks, I assure you I know what fetishization is.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        “A fetish is a sexual fixation on an inanimate object.”

        While I am not well-versed in sexual lingo, I will say that I have never thought of or used the term in this way. I wonder if there is a formal definition and a more colloquial one.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I’m quite certain you do. That doesn’t change the fact that Brandon was right.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        A fetish doesn’t have to be of an object, but it does entail trading the fetishized feature, object, or act (e.g., smoking or sneezing) as the object of desire itself, independent of the individual instance or person. When it attaches to people or body parts, it is by definition objectification.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Trading = treating. Stupid phone.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        the man who likes watching boobs jiggle is not a horrible guy.
        It is not immoral to objectify others — though it’s probably a bad idea
        to do so continually in a relationship.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Please forgive if I offend, I don’t mean to, but there’s something to explore here in the gender differences of how people publicly speak their attractions.

      Most women (I know, not all) would never say something like this in mixed company; mostly because it invites all sorts of sexist trolling. While men seem to often refrain, it’s typically more to be polite then for fear of attracting sexual aggression from others; so they’re very different restraint mechanisms.

      You, my dear @veronica-dire have the wonderful privilege of some experience of both views; so I hope you expound on the varying reticences of men and women. Because it’s definitely one of the areas where equality lacks.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        It’s a hard conversation to have, and quickly goes down rabbit holes: witness above where a bunch of cis dudes want to explain to me the difference between attraction and fetishization.

        I wonder if they have the slightest inkling of how well I understand this? I wonder if they know why I understand this?

        Sometimes I forget my audience. I freely have conversations like this will other trans folks and don’t have to stop and do the 101.

        Short version: above I called my attraction fetishization as a form of self-critique, a practice I recommend to everyone.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Verinica, you know cis dudes can experience fetishes as well, from both ends, right? I would wager I know it as well as you do, but I am not using my experience as instant righteousness in the face of any challenge.

        If you fetishize black men, that is problematic. If you are familiar with fetishization, as I am sure you are, then you must already know this. Dismissing me as a cis dude talking about things that aren’t limited to trans people just looks pointlessly and offensively defensive.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        But you felt free to even express an attraction (and called it a fetish, if I understand you correctly, to distinguish it as a form of objectification).

        The majority of cis-women I know would feel constrained from even admitting to the attraction, let alone a fetish; it opens the door for too many attacks and pushes on the cultural legacies of purity and chastity and fidelity; for women, to admitting be sexual often flips into being sexualized; and your initial comment, to me, seemed aimed at this difference.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Fetishizing black men and black women, by men and women (gay, straight, cis, or trans), has a long history that is part and parcel of the phenomena Tod describes in the post. Look at the secualized depictions of black men and women historically. Look at porn today. Perhaps Veronica meant attraction instead of fetish, bit given get insistence that she understands fetishization (better than we possibly could, she implies), I doubt she’d use the word so loosely on this context.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        I meant precisely what I said.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @zic — I tend to be very candid about matters of sexuality, which perhaps comes from being openly poly/kinky/queer and also having written a ton of erotica. It’s just kinda nothing for me to talk about this stuff. But then, this is not much different from any number of cis women who are similarly open, think Molena Williams or Clarisse Thorn.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @chris — And for the record (said as I leave, as this conversation is going to a bad place) I never said that cis men cannot understand fetishization. Instead, I said that you all do not understand how I understand fetishization. Nor did I say you could not possibly understand, but from the content of your posts I concluded they you in fact did not.

        Perhaps you could if you listened instead of spoke.

        Just a suggestion.

        I have no idea what your personal experience is (nor do I think you should feel obliged to share). On the other hand, personal lived experience is the gold coin. It is what I look for in these conversations.

        From that theory follows. When people come in with theory-first, and with no evidence that they have perspective — well at that point I prepare for *-splaining. Lots of experience to back this up.

        We seem to go round and round on this, and I rather suspect you have formed in your mind your own private Veronica, with a whole host of things I-don’t-quite-believe.

        In my experience once things reach this point not much can be done.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        witness above where a bunch of cis dudes want to explain to me the difference between attraction and fetishization.

        Yeah, this is where you lose me.

        Feminists have long complained about (cis) males fetishizing women’s body parts, right?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Veronica. You didn’t say it, but you clearly implied it. You said something, had it pointed out to you that it was a problematic thing, and defensively resorted to using group identity to shield yourself from criticism. And I would bet a lot of money that I have more “lived experience” of fetishism, and this particular fetish in particular, than you, and it has nothing to do (and therefore wouldn’t require revealing) my personal preferences. But you have already poisoned the conversation, so I not only respect your desire to leave it, but am glad you’re doing so. A conversation about the fetishization of the black body in the context of this post would be on topic and previously productive.Report

  11. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I’ve heard tell that if you’ve got a black woman, white man coupling, there is indeed social friction, but it takes the form of seething resentment and condescension, rather than hostile outbursts and threats of violence. I guess the resentment comes from the notion that there has been some sort of breach of solidarity, and the condescension takes the form of unstated questioning if the one partner couldn’t have done better.

    I don’t understand why anyone has time for it. It’s hard enough to find someone you can build a life with without having to deal with a toxic cocktail of racism and sexism.Report

  12. Avatar Will Truman says:

    @kazzy @chris @rtod … Down here. Having ruminated on the subject while shopping, I wanted to make several points on this topic:

    1) Declining, or refusing, to date someone is not an aggressive act. Not in the same way that refusing black customers is or refusing to be friends with black people. Because…

    2) Choosing who to partner up with is one of the most personal decisions in one’s life. Choosing one person excludes all others (in the case of monogamy) and we should be extremely wary before declaring various criteria invalid. Which by calling it bigotry, we’re doing.

    3) That said, while I am hard-pressed to say that a decision to date within one’s race is bigoted, there are bigoted reasons and not-so-bigoted reasons for it. The rationale here is extremely important. Refusing to date black men because you “want someone intelligent” or “don’t want someone who will beat me” represents bigotry. Declining to date someone of a different race because of how your family and friends will respond is maybe not quite bigotry, but is certainly a surrender to bigotry and often an acceptance of bigotry.

    4) I do agree with the claim that there is a difference between black women dating within their race and white women doing the same. Or rather, there is often a difference. There are more non-bigoted reasons for a black woman to refuse to date a white man than a white woman refusing to date a black man. But if they give the same or equivalent reasons (“I want my children to look like me”) then the criticism does apply (even if we might rightfully come down harder on one person than the other on the basis of disparate broader social implications).

    5) I don’t think it’s particularly unfair to assume more benign explanations from one set of people than another set of people. If I were on a date and a woman excluded black men from her dating pool, I would look on her suspiciously for that. I’d be damn sure to assess whether or not racism is a problem.

    6) Completely anecdotally, for all that anecdotes are worth, I have seen surprisingly little correlation between someone’s dating habits and someone’s broader views on race. Which is to say that some guys whose views on race I see as suspect are actually intrigued by black women. I can speculate as to why, but I’ve seen it. I’ve also seen monoracial daters that seem to have no other or overt issue with people of color outside of that realm. My sample-set here is men. For a variety of reasons, it seems that men are more willingly open to discussing their criteria than women. (They’re especially more willing to discuss it with me but I think it’s true in the broader context as well because we tend to come down harder on female romantic preferences and criteria than male romantic preferences and criteria.)

    7a) This one is important and I probably should have put it first, but I want to reiterate that failing to check a box that includes black men is not the same thing as an out-and-out refusal to date black men (or white ones). It may be taking a different approach to meeting men online that you don’t know and making a decision on dating someone of a different race than you do know.

    7b) Online dating is a numbers game (especially for women, which I will get to in a minute). Leaving race aside, I know that my targeting online was far more specific than in meatworld. I was more particular and more specific about what I wanted. I was more willing to act (probably unfairly) on limited information to pursue the best possible leads. It is not particularly indicative of my criteria elsewhere.

    7c) This is particularly true of women, who are far more likely to field many more requests and emails than men are. This makes it more rationale for women online than men online, and for both genders online than offline, to exclude on the basis of correlation even if it’s not causation (recognizing that one is more likely to get along with and be attracted to someone of their own race, even though you don’t refuse to date otherwise). This is one of the reasons why I think studies have shown that women (of all colors) are more likely than men to exclude on the basis of race.

    I’m probably forgetting some things here, but will go ahead and push the button before paralysis-by-analysis sets in.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Racist people saying people of the the race they are bigoted toward is a well-documented phenomenon. So you’re definitely right there.

      I still think eliminating the possibility of saying anyone from another race (or your own, for that matter), because of their race, is racism simpliciter. This is true even if the explanation is one of physical attraction, because people are attracted to individuals, not races.

      I admit that, if you had asked me before I first dated a black woman, I’d have told you I tended to be more attracted to white women. I couldn’t say that now, but that’s in part because I realized that what I am attracted to in women has little to do with race or skin color.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I don’t like to make a habit of pointing out typos, but I want to make sure it’s not causing any confusion… you keep writing “saying” where it doesn’t make sense to me. I assume that it’s an autocorrect or something for “seeing”… am I right on that?

        I think it’s often going to be the case, perhaps usually or maybe even almost always. But I frequently attribute such comments to what NewDealer says about wanting a jewish girl. Obviously, there are differences involved. But I think an overriding similarity is that I don’t think ND means anything at all bad about non-Jewish people when he says that (which is why I call it a non-aggressive act), but that he envisions his married life along really particular lines. That might be an example of narrow-mindedness*, but not particularly of bigotry.

        And I really don’t mean to ding ND by saying so. Some people are more open to wider experiences and some people are more particular about what they want. In many ways, I am actually closer to the latter than the former.

        A missing bullet-point, though (and I knew I was missing at least one) is that there is a world, world of difference between saying “I want to date…” and “You should only date…” or “People should only date…” In the former case, I am more respectful of the intimacy of one’s own life choices. In the case of the latter, I think it’s automatically revealing and it would take a whole lot of convincing to convince me otherwise (I don’t think I have ever been so convinced). I’d probably also view “I won’t date black men, but there’s nothing wrong with that” and try to look between lines and see if there is any reading there (along the lines of “I’m not racist but…”).Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Or put in a slightly different way, I think “I won’t date outside my race” can be a pretty strong indicator of someone who is bigoted (or exhibits bigotry on the subject of race), but I don’t think the act or declaration itself is because it’s not an aggressive act. It shows disrespect to refuse black patrons, or refuse to make black friends, but the intimacy of partnerships nullifies it, to a degree, in my mind.

        If they refuse to date someone outside their race for what I would consider to be bigoted reasons, it would necessarily be so (in my view) that these bigoted reasons result in actual bigoted behavior elsewhere (making friends, hiring people, voting for David Duke, etc.).Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Ugh, that’s what my swype function thinks I mean when I type “dating.” I have been on my phone all day, and I really need to learn to proofread any phone-typed comment.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Here’s an interesting scenario: it is not uncommon for Jewish people to prefer dating other Jewish people. It is also not uncommon for Jewish parents to want their children to date other Jewish people. I have seen a couple cases in which Jewish men married non-Jewish women, and the parents, who wanted their children to marry Jewish women, are upset with both parties (and treat the women with resentment, if not animosity). Is this racism? If so, where does it become so?

        I don’t mean to single out Jewish people. I imagine this happens all the time with other races and ethnicities as well.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        When I was young, my father invited a young couple from our church to dinner one Sunday. The man was black, the woman white, and this was in the mid 1970s.

        In the early 1980s, my sister started dating a black man (think a black, church-going, Felix Unger, for those who remember The Odd Couple), and my dad hit the roof; wouldn’t let the guy in the house.

        In the 1990s I got married to a part Indonesian woman, and my dad had no problems at all with it, or with her much more “ethnic looking” mom. In fact he said it was the best decision I’d ever made (although that may have been a low bar in his mind).

        I don’t know what that means, except that humans seem complicated.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        And that time marches on.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @chris That’s where Judaism is an odd case, as it’s both an ethnicity and a religion. It also covers two areas where I make a distinction (what the young Jewish man or woman wants, and what everyone around them wants).

        If the young Jewish man or woman wants to date another Jewish person, it doesn’t matter to me terribly whether it’s along religious or hereditary lines. It’s their intimate choice.

        How I feel about the outsiders, though, depends almost entirely on that distinction. If there is a cultural issue or a religious one, the question hinges on how they would feel about someone willing to honor the culture or who has converted (a slight exception here if there is suspicion that they are insincere converters). If it’s a hereditary or ethnic issue… I’ve got problems with that. I cut them more slack than I would cut the whites, but not indefinite slack and definitely not to the point of approval.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        A personal anecdote… my family used to go on cruises when I was younger. It’s not uncommon on these cruises to have a romantic cruise-buddy. Not sex or anything like that, as far as I was concerned, but somebody of the opposite sex with whom to spend time. This never happened to me because I was fat and awkward. Shockingly, one time a cute young lady actually saw me glancing at her and sort of reciprocated the smile. Once her mother got wind of this, though, she completely disappeared. Vanished. I don’t know what happened. Anyway, there was a delay on the unboarding process and we happened to run across one another there and she basically said (with an eye-roll) what had happened. Once her mom saw her making eyes with a gentile, she kept her at the waist for the rest of the trip. Which actually kind of made me feel bad for her. But I was sixteen and lonely and mostly felt bad for myself.

        I actually still have a picture of her. So rare was that, and so pathetic was I, that I wanted to remember The Girl Who Smiled Back and so I bought one of the photo room pictures.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @james-hanley My mother has views on race that I wish she didn’t. When I was seventeen or so, my brother got four tickets to go to the local amusement park. It would be a double-date. My date was a girl of Egyptian extraction with dark skin. She came over, we went and had a good time, and we came home. Mother was furious. Not that I had gone out with a woman of color, ostensibly at least, but because I hadn’t warned her. The thought that this would be an issue hadn’t actually occurred to me.

        My brother married someone of middle-eastern heritage. Mom was disappointed for a number of reasons at their announcement that they wouldn’t have kids. One of them, though, was that their children would have had awesome skin. (Not because of my brother.)Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        The technical rule is that Jewish lineage is traced through the mother. So the children of a Jewish mother and Gentile father are Jewish but not the other way around. This means that under Jewish law, Jewish women are more free to date and marry non-Jews than Jewish men if they want Jewish children. There isn’t any fretting about half-Jews because under the Jewish ideas of Jewishness its an all or nothing proposition. You are either a Jew or you aren’t one.Report

      • Avatar Don't Mind Me says:

        [Edited] – tk

      • Avatar zic says:

        @tod-kelly just wanted to point this out for your tender ministrations. I’m grateful.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @zic Thanks, I was just working on that.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Aw, @tod-kelly , I had a good limerick all typed up.

        I know I am low man on the totem pole, but if I see crap like that again, you mind if I hit it? That one was really ticking me off.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Sure, though a limerick is not needed.

        All contributors: If you see an obvious troll (as opposed to someone you really disagree with) don’t wait for the editors. Feel free to wipe the comment.

        There was one yesterday on tis thread that might well be the single most racist thing I have ever read. And when I googled the email address, it appears that that’s all this guys does, is go around to blogs and make offensive racists comments.

        Stuff like that shouldn’t wait to be wiped.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        though a limerick is not needed.

        I beg to differ. Limericks are the best defense against trolls. I’m certain, in defending his life and convincing the troll to wait for the bigger billy goats, the Little Billy Goat Gruff spoke in limerick. I’m absolutely certain of it, and the next time I stage the story with a group of five year olds, I’ll have a limerick script prepared.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I actually still have a picture of her. So rare was that, and so pathetic was I, that I wanted to remember The Girl Who Smiled Back and so I bought one of the photo room pictures.

        This is awesome.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        might well be the single most racist thing I have ever read.

        That’s gotta be a pretty damned high bar!Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Did I run over your cat or something? Seriously, what’s the beef?Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        @will-truman said no such thing. He said nothing even remotely resembling that. In order to claim the mantle of the Fearless Teller Of Unpleasant Truths, you must begin by actually telling the truth.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Am I missing something? That’s not in response to my comment is it? Did a comment snarking at Will get deleted?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        A comment was deleted by Tod. I’m assuming that is what caused the kerfuffle.

        Though who knows… your ability to rankle people is unquestioned. :-pReport

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Thanks. I assumed that must be the case, but it was just weird seeing Will’s “did I run over cat” response immediately following my comment not directed at him.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      All of this makes sense, especially (if you will) in its ambiguity.

      And I agree that how people choose to communicate preference colors my judgement of them. A woman who does not check “African American” on her preferred mate profile on certainly feels significantly different to me from one that bothers to post I DO NOT DATE BLACK MEN at the top of her own profile.

      This bit:

      “Online dating is a numbers game”

      reminds me of a piece I saw on that I considered doing a Love Symposium post on. The story was from a mathematician that claimed to have “broken” OKCupid’s “code” and gotten himself a girlfriend. He goes into great detail, with stats and profile trends, etc. But then you get further into the article and it says that he went on 90 first dates, none of which led to a second date, before he met his now-girlfriend.

      And I remember thinking: you didn’t break OKCupid’s code. You just proved that one out of 90 women will agree to go out with you again once they’ve met you. And I don’t know that I’d publish something bragging about that.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I mention that article here. (Actually, it was more a personal anecdote, but it was inspired by that article.)

        I’m not sure if I agree with your assessment, though. If he got 90 dates using an online dating service, he was actually doing something right. (Or maybe I was just terrible at it.)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Actually, it’s only 1 in 91 women who agreed to a second date. (And now you know why!)Report

    • Avatar Shazbot11 says:

      I disagree somewhat, Will. (Though you’re always so careful and close to correct in everything you say.)

      Re 1-3:

      There are some business decisions that are as consequential and as personal as marriage. Should I say “no black dudes” when loaning 30 million? (The answer is “No, that would be bigotted”) Some business decisions decision require trust and personal connection as much as marriage. More so in our easy divorce world. For a closer analogy imagine “No black roommates” or “No black business partners.”

      Re 4 and 5:

      I think there is a difference between a black woman refusing to idolize white men over black men as she is pressured to do by society at large by saying that she wants to date black men. Granted, she should be careful in how she says she feels about white men, but if she says that she doesn’t want to date them at all, that emotionally-caused overstatement is excusable as a reaction to oppression, in a way that we shouldn’t excuse white people who say that they won’t date blacks.

      Re 6:

      The stats on this would be interesting. My anecdata fit with yours, but I’m unsure what to say.

      Re 7:

      But checking the box is saying that you have a race preference. Imagine I send out an email saying I would like a roommate that fits the following description: Must be all of the following: 1. Nice, funny, kind. 2. Able to demonstrate current source of income of over 3000 per month. 3. Caucasian, Asian, Arab, Persian, Indian, Native American, Latino, or Pacific-Islander.

      That’s a pretty aggressively bigoted email.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        1-3, 7 – I don’t consider roommate (or business partner) and romantic partner to be in the same intimacy orbit. I don’t think anything is.

        4-5 – I think your word usage stacks the deck here. With your word usage, I don’t disagree with what you say even though we’re not exactly in agreement.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        “That’s a pretty aggressively bigoted email.”
        Is it? I’m not yet convinced.

        I have a friend that did the online dating thing a few years ago. She’s 6’2?, and she doesn’t like being the tall person in a relationship. In fact, she always wants to date a man that is taller than she is if she’s in heels. She once told me that she didn’t really bother to go through profiles of asian men who responded because they were always well below her stated preferred height requirements. For whatever reason (perhaps because she’s a Seattlite), they represented almost half of the many, many emails she got each day. Eventually, she unchecked the thingy that allowed people who had checked that they were asian to contact her.

        Is that racist? Maybe; I honestly don’t know how I feel about that question. But I’m not sure it deserves an “aggressively bigoted” label.

        Also, there’s this:

        I think TNC (to take a name oft quoted in my threads this week) and I would both say that pulling the “I want a [insert my race here] mate” is racist. And then you look at each of our wives, and it suddenly feels a little glass-housey.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        I think there is a difference between a black woman refusing to idolize white men over black men as she is pressured to do by society at large


      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        It’s interesting that nobody, except maybe some short men, seems to find the height thing objectionable. Now that I think about it, I can’t really think of an argument for condemning people who refuse to date people of another race that doesn’t apply equally well to women who refuse to date men below a certain height.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Yeah, it’s an odd intersection.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @tod-kelly I didn’t mention it above, but I can’t stress enough my agreement on the check box being very different from “no black men need apply.”

        Though I am not a black man, I’d have a lot of difficulty replying to someone who not only felt a skepticism towards interracial dating, but who felt the need to go out of their way to announce it.

        Here is where I take a completely different view of a minority doing the same. If a black woman who wants a black man doesn’t say something, she runs the risk of getting deluged with responses from white men. Along these lines, I might be understanding of a woman putting a note about that if she was in a place where whites were a minority, though how it is phrased would matter.

        In between is the old personals, where people would specify “SWF in search of SWM”… I call it “in between” because it states an affirmative preference rather than a hard “no black men, please”… but looking back it makes me more uncomfortable now than it did then.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        really think of an argument for condemning people who refuse to date people of another race that doesn’t apply equally well to women who refuse to date men below a certain height.

        Or men who refuse to date women above a certain weight, age, etc. etc. etc.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Women are criticized for heightism, though it’s certainly a different ballpark of criticism. Mostly by short men, but not entirely so.

        People who have met me will understand why I see no problem with romantic heightism whatsoever. 🙂Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Weight is another good one, though people often like to couch that as a matter of health. I think that’s often a false reason, but it’s a reason.

        Age… well, age is actually a more pertinent delineator beyond basic attraction. Though, ahem, it’s often about attractiveness or the perception thereof.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        It should be pointed out – I alluded to it in my earlier comment – that female mate-selection criteria tends to be much more scrutinized than male mate-selection criteria. Which honestly is one of those things that makes me and this conversation feel a tad awkward (as a guy scrutinizing female mate-selection criteria).Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @will-truman a giant thank you. Because I was getting this angry, misogynistic-generated buzz, and wanting to unload in a most unladylike way.

        Men, despite their woes in attracting women, do not have any idea of the amount of visual-based judgments that women deal with (often of their own making, too). We are never perfect enough. I think some of you cis males ought read The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. Particularly those of you with daughters, with sons, with sisters, wives, or mothers, too.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @zic FWIW, I would almost agree.

        My impression is that men and women are fairly equal in how they have physical attractiveness (which varies per person) drive desire.

        Where it gets skizzy is that men too often judge a woman’s entire worth on those looks. Some women do too, of course, but I think men do far, far more often.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        My personal take is that male emphasis on appearance is actually overrated in the popular imagination. It is assumed that looks matter to us to a greater degree than they actually do.

        And the opposite is true of women. If they were allowed to be more open about what they are attracted to, we’d find out looks matter more than we think they do. I don’t know if it’s an equal amount – because social expectation seeps into our consciousness and subconsciousness – but the notion that “women are less superficial” is actually a product of women expressing their physical desires and preferences getting more blowback.

        The end result is that there is a guys-will-be-guys response to male superficiality, and a sense of betrayal when women exhibit it.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Where it gets skizzy is that men too often judge a woman’s entire worth on those looks. Some women do too, of course, but I think men do far, far more often.


        /in honor of the tremendous Jane Austen thread you started:

        Women are also accused judging by the size of a man’s wallet. There’s plenty of looking-at-characteristics-out-of-context to go around.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @will-truman I think I might agree with this notion that women get blow-back and guys get a pass because they’re guys.

        When it comes to the money, we’ll see how things change over the next decade when the prowl for a sugar mamma becomes a bigger part of the game then it has been historically.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

        Wait, are you guys saying that there is no difference in terms of oppression and bigotry between saying “I won’t date black people” and “I won’t date tall people ?”

        I grant that both are small-minded, but only the former is truly awful for a zillion reasons you must be sure of.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 says:


        If you don’t like my nonsensical incomprehensible sentences, then get out of America. 🙂

        I mean to say that a black woman shouldn’t say that she won’t date white men, but that is an excusable sin, so to speak. She can say that she feels cultural oppression that pushes her to see black men as less than white men and she wants to fight back against this pressure. She’s got a good reason. By analogy, a white man who says “No black women” cannot be sad to be fighting oppresion, but rather -in some small way- is adding to it.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Though I am not a black man, I’d have a lot of difficulty replying to someone who not only felt a skepticism towards interracial dating, but who felt the need to go out of their way to announce it.

        Now you’re getting to the meat of the issue. I’ve noticed that lots of upper-middle class women go out of their way to mention that they are not racists or that racists need not apply to date them. Likewise, I’ve noticed that a lot of the women who state an explicit preference against dating black men are from lower SES.

        I’ve also noticed that lots of the white women who make a point about not being racists aren’t all that open to dating black men and that the women who say “no black men” are more than open to dating the right kind of black man. What this says to me is that much of what is written on dating profiles has more to do with signaling certain things to potential mates than with actual preferences. Further, what it implies is that lower class white women don’t want to be seen as the kind of woman who would date a black guy and middle and upper class white women want to be seen as open-minded and not racist.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      I haven’t been as deeply involved in the conversation here largely because love is such a complicated thing that I rarely see fit to judge how people pursue it. I mean, we don’t fault gay men for excluding women from their searches or straight men for excluding men. And while I would not say that sexual orientation is anything remotely close to a “BLACKS NEED NOT APPLY” approach, ultimately, folks are going to do what folks are doing to do. I generally find it bothersome if people are absolutes in their criteria but recognize that people are naturally going to develop preferences and tendencies and that these will almost inevitably lead to some sort of line being drawn somewhere.

      At the end of the day, if some dope wants to declare that he would never ever under any circumstances date someone of a different race or religion or hair color or weight or body type, I tend to think, “His loss.”Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        This is kind of where I am at on this. Not that there can’t be disturbing factors at play – obviously there can – but at the end of the day, the heart (and c**k, and clit) want what they want, and they are turned on (and turned off) by the interplay of all kinds of stuff that we have little conscious control over, down to accents and speech patterns.

        We are all familiar with the studies showing women (those not on the pill) choose the scents of men that are unlike them in certain genetic areas; I believe that many of these other sexual preferences may be just as unconscious and uncontrollable, even if they have been instilled culturally rather than biologically.

        It’s not that it’s not worth interrogation or reflection, but if at the end of the day someone says “I just like pale skin (or dark skin, or red hair, or tall or petite or etc.); that’s what gets my engine revving”, then it is what it is.

        It’s hard enough to suss out with any certainty what goes on in people’s big heads, I am very leery of putting too much analysis on what goes on in their small ones.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Well said, @glyph . Ideally, people wouldn’t bound themselves by their preferences — be it in love or what’s for dinner — but people are gonna people.

        Me? I always preferred darker skinned girls… Hispanic/latina, Mediterranean, Native American, etc. And never liked red heads. Naturally, I’ve married a pale red head (more auburn than orange) and similarly colored women catch my eye all the time. Unexpected to say the least, but, hey… Works for me.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


        Ironically I dated a several redheads (and still dig red hair) and then married a brunette.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Kazzy, the range of what qualifies as redhair for women is wider than for men. Since redheaded women are considered attractive those on the blonder and more brunette side of the red spectrum are going to be called redheads. Red hair isn’t really deemed that attractive in men so a lot of them get classified as blondes or brunettes if they could get away with it.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        My blonde wife is fond of bringing up the fact that one of the first conversations we ever had, back when we were just friends and were both dating other people, involved me telling her that I was very much a brunette man and didn’t really care much for blondes as a general rule.

        Now that I think about it, she may have taken that as a challenge…Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        You bring up an interesting point. My wife’s hair is undeniably red but were she a male, it’s possible it’d get classified as brown. This is actually a quasi-fear of mine with our son, whose hair color remains unknown because he’s still pretty bald. I think it can be hard on red headed boys, especially if they are of the “ginger” variety. When I jokingly say to people, “Name me handsome red-headed men,” the best they can usually do is Prince Harry and the guy from ‘Homeland’. This is all really just needless handwringing as his hair will be what it is and we will love him regardless, but I do think the perception of it is different for the different genders.

        Hair color in general is an interesting topic, especially with all the work that goes into people coloring it. I know many women whose hair is so processed you’d be hard pressed to really categorize it. But because they add some highlights, it seems to default them into the blonde category even though it is really anything but.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        Kazzy – I am sandy blonde on my head but my beard comes in auburn. I get called a redhead all the time because they see the beard first. And I’m pale and freckled. My daughter is strawberry blonde though her hair has started going more auburn as she has gotten older.

        Be happy if your kid ends up a redhead. Redheads are awesome. But don’t use ginger. It’s a terrible word.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        My apologies for any offense I might have caused.

        Julie’s brother is similar to you, though hasn’t quite mustered up the ability to grow a real beard. And my concern about Mayo’s potential ruddiness is (mostly) joking.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        Kazzy – no offense . I think when my beard came in red it just made me want to grow one more. At the moment my kids think I am hoping to join the cast of Duck Dynasty. It got a little out of control during waterfowl season and I haven’t decided what to do with it yet.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        As a redheaded woman, I ought to tell all yall that you are nuts.
        Freckles are not considered a good beauty feature by most folks.

        Yes, having red /hair/ is one thing. But being a redhead is (nearly always)
        the whole package (yes, there’s more than freckles and blue eyes — description
        available upon request, but will be technical.).

        I have seen a lot of women — and I’ve only ever seen one who
        was naturally a redhead without freckles (It’s a Scandinavian thing).Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


        I am the rare bird that hair AND loves red heads. Freckles are a bonus. My oldest daughter has a sprinkling of them arcoss her nose and I think they are the cutest thing ever. I have thousands on shoulders and arms. But my wife thinks freckles are gross. We debate it regularly.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Yeah, there’s a reason I don’t wear makeup. It looks decidedly unnatural on me
        (particularly mascara and foundation, but also lipstick.)

        If blonde goes with the stereotype of being stupid (is this a Polish thing?), redheaded women go with the stereotype of being active, adventurous and a bit of a tomboy. So, from what I’ve heard about you, I’m totally not surprised you like redheads.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        Kim, you may have exposed my kryptonite.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        At the moment my kids think I am hoping to join the cast of Duck Dynasty.

        Has that replaced ZZ Top as the epitome of over-beardedness?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Its true that most people prefer fair-skinned redheads than readheads with heavily freckled skin. People like Deborah Kerr in her prime.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        This whole conversation makes me feel like I have something lacking.

        Because I don’t find body type as a good basis for cataloging my attractions. I definitely go for ‘smart,’ first, ‘focused on something,’ second, and ‘kind an thoughtful,’ third.

        I’ve been attracted to people like that, whatever his or her body type, my whole life through. That said; I suspect my ability to feel attraction was subverted as a child through being the object of an adult’ inappropriate love; had I not had that experience, I would probably have been more able to develop along the lines of physical attraction expressed here.

        But not having done so, it sort of baffles me. It’s easy for me to write it off as superficial attraction, but I think that does the vastness of people who are physically attracted first a great disservice.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Kazzy, when people think of redheaded men they usually think of color like that on Carrot Top, orange. Really, really orange. Auburn men or men with reddish-gold hair are going to refer to themselves as brown haired or blonde rather than as redheads.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I think most guys tend to start orange and get darker — they know if they’re redheads or not (also, if your beard is red, that’s kinda a sign). There’s a real difference between “dark red hair” (which is my color — looks coppery in the sun, or as it bleaches) and a true blue-toned brown.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I too am attracted more by people’s brains than by people’s physical features.
        Of course, my husband’s the same way.

        Tori Amos has a good spattering of freckles under all the makeup. She takes the makeup off and then nobody recognizes her anymore.Report

  13. Avatar NewDealer says:

    LeeEsq brought up good points but I don’t think that men are the only people prone to being assholes about this.

    From what I’ve read and heard, minority women get a lot of heat for dating outside of their respective groups and this creates cultural strife. “Why isn’t our tribe good enough for you?” kind of stuff. Or if a white woman marries a black/hispanic guy she is talking disliked by black/hispanic women for “taking one of the good ones”. Good ones usually seems to mean some kind of combo of looks, wealth, and educational success.Report

  14. Avatar Rose Woodhouse says:

    Just thought I’d throw in a few points:

    I am a cis hetero white woman, so mostly seriously privileged in the usual ways. In terms of my woman-ness, however, it strikes me as odd to call most of the cis dudes on this site incapable of listening, especially folks such as @rtod and @chris. The cis dudes on this site strike me as exceptionally good at listening. If we only ever could really understand our own experience, there’d be no point in talking about it, would there? There are lots of things I could write about on this site. I focus on disability so much partly because it’s something that a few, but not most, readers are acquainted with, and people who are interested in enlarging their viewpoint might find it interesting. I assume that they can, in fact, do that without experiencing it directly (although obviously direct experience gives a special kind of knowledge). I also find the comments instructive on these posts, frequently. Even from people who have never dealt with people with disabilities.

    Other points: I’m Jewish. Husband is not. My parents were upset. FWIW, I thought my parents close-minded and unjustified. Especially because if they are so worried about the petering out of the Jewish people, a more welcoming attitude might help. His (Catholic) mom was slightly upset, but less so. My parents have now come around, and are mostly irritated at our joint expression of atheism to the kiddos.

    I used to think I had a marked preference for tall men. Then I met my husband and found him attractive. He’s an inch shorter than me. You meet people, your prefs can change. (Although I do wish I could wear 4-inch heels around him – he doesn’t care about that, but I do.) So I would think that NO BLACK PEOPLE on your dating site is problematic for several reasons, at least one of which is simply prudential.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      I’m actually not unsympathetic to the Orthodox position on this. We have lots of data on what happens when Jews marry non-Jews and the result is more often than not that the kids and grandkids don’t view themselves as Jewish even in very welcoming circumstances. Maintaining a strong Jewish identity through the generations does seem to require two Jewish parents and a commitment to installing a strong sense of Jewishness in the children. There is nothing that could be done to reduce the rates of intermarriage but we shouldn’t be dishonest and deny what the data shows about this.Report

      • Avatar Rose Woodhouse says:

        I am skeptical that “very welcoming” is a variable that has been adequately controlled for. Even so, I get bemoaning the general state of things. I do not get alienating your kid or his/her future partner.Report

      • Avatar Rose Woodhouse says:

        I should say that the synagogue which we sporadically attend has been very welcoming, and that has made a far bigger difference to the fact that my kiddos identify as Jewish than my parents’ acceptance.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        The Very Welcoming Approach is whats doing done by the Reform movement and to a lesser extent the Conservative movement for decades. Both those movements are in decline and the intermarried couples and their children have a lesser rate of attendance and participation than Jewish couples and their children. The data shows that children of intermarried couples even if Halachically Jewish are more likely to marry non-Jews and stop participating in Jewish life altogether. If a Very Welcoming Approach does not maintain Jewish identity than it isn’t really doing that well.Report

      • Avatar Rose Woodhouse says:

        I was brought up in a reasonably observant family in a conservative synagogue on the outskirts of New York City. Went to Hebrew school 3X a week from pre-K through age 16. There were regular lectures on the evils of intermarriage, and regular discussions about how the Jewish people were dying out, first after WWII, and now through intermarriage. I do not recall anyone, not a single person, trying to introduce a non-Jewish spouse into the congregation.

        The first time my husband attended shul with us, my father impulsively draped a tallis around him because he didn’t want everyone to see his daughter married a goy.

        The Conservative movement seems to me to have made a remarkable change in the past 5-10 years or so, and has been very welcoming. I know my husband and I would NEVER have attended in the synagogue of my youth. We enjoy attending now, and enjoy encouraging our kids’ Jewish identity.

        Can speak less to the Reform movement, but I had Reform relatives reject non-Jewish spouses.Report

      • Avatar Rose Woodhouse says:

        Anyhow, “very welcoming” can mean a lot of different things. I think it is quite easy for people to say, “What? I was welcoming! We had an official policy of accepting those people,” and thoroughly believe they were welcoming while in fact subtly making people feel quite unwlecome. I see this with sexism and racism in workplaces. Obviously, same goes for families.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I’m curious why “maintaining a strong [religious] identity through the generations” often seems more important to Jews than to Christians. I’ve got some speculation as to why but I think I might be better served to hear you share a more insider perspective. FWIW, I don’t think it unreasonable that this is the case, I’m just trying to understand why.

        Also FWIW, my wife is herself the product of an interfaith marriage between a Jewish father and a Protestant mother. Perhaps ironically, it was her mother who did and continues to make a bigger push for maintaining certain Jewish cultural practices within the family*. I was raised Catholic but now informally identify as atheist (as does my wife) so our marriage is a weird tri/non-faith relationship. I’ve spent a good amount of time with both the Protestant and Jewish sides of her extended family and felt equally welcomed among both. The biggest issues that arose were largely around practical considerations for our wedding, including making sure the Friday night affair began before sundown and that there were sufficient kosher menu items.

        * I think this has more to do with their individual personalities than anything to do with their respective faiths. Zazzy’s mother is much more family-oriented than her father (who struggles to make and maintain normal relationships) so I think she would have pushed to make sure any and all traditions were maintained regardless of faith.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Kazzy, there lots of reasons for this. As Will pointed out above, Jews have always interpreted themselves to be more than a body of believers in a particular faith. We also see each other as a people whose experience is past down through the generations. That requires Jewish children rather than new members. Other reasons why is that there aren’t a lot of us and and just disappearing into the night isn’t an attractive option. “Do not give our enemies a posthumous victory” so to speak.Report

      • Avatar Rose Woodhouse says:

        @kazzy Our wedding was interesting, too. Especially since there was an edict (this was in 2006) from the Conservative and Reform movements not to marry interfaith couples. Even though we wanted an entirely straightforwardly Jewish wedding (that is, no elements from any other religion mixed in); the fact that my husband had not converted was reason enough. We had to get a Reform cantor that had gone rogue.

        I fail to see how this is Very Welcoming.Report

      • Avatar Rose Woodhouse says:

        Also, @kazzy , part of this from Conservative and Reform points of view is that the Orthodox and Hasidic groups are growing, we are shrinking. Those of us who prefer a Judaism more willing to modernize do not want the only representatives of Judaism to be Orthodox and Hasidic.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        That last bit is largely what I suspected… namely that Jews are a much, much smaller population of Christians and are not predominant culturally and thus require a more concerted and explicit effort to maintain their identity, culture, traditions, etc. Thanks for fleshing it out beyond that.

        Zazzy and I never seriously entertained doing a religious ceremony, largely because we didn’t want to turn it into a bar joke (“A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk up to the podium…”). Also, neither Zazzy or I are particularly religious. We ended up going with a JP that was a family friend. My mom was bothered by this so I reached out to a local church and asked the priest if he could offer a blessing over the meal. I got a very disturbing response back. I wish I had saved it, but to paraphrase it, he said that because our marriage was not between two practicing Catholics, it was not true love or a true marriage and he could not give it such an endorsement. Remarkably unwelcoming.

        FWIW, I wish he had incorporated some Jewish traditions into ours. The symbolism embodied in much of it is really beautiful even if you strip away the religious nature of it. The huppah, the broken glass… those are pretty remarkable gestures on their own.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:


      I am my Jewish girlfriend’s first Jewish boyfriend. She grew up in San Francisco and I grew up in suburban New York.

      Her previous rule with boyfriends was “No Jesus” and this seemed to cause the breakdown. I don’t think she dated super religious guys but they all seemed to want Jesus even if only during Christmas and Easter for future families. Eventually she figured out that the best way to do No Jesus was to date and potentially marry a Jewish guy.

      This is where the East Coast v. West Coast thing comes up. There is a joke I’ve heard out West that is roughly along the lines of “East Coast Reform=West Coast Conservative” and it seems to be true. My girlfriend told that all her Jewish friends had Christmas trees growing up and I find this scandalous even if I think that lobster is one of the most delicious foods in the world. I was kind of shocked when I saw photos of a Christmas tree in her apartment and developed a mental note of “things we will need to talk about” if we get to the point of marriage and kids. It just makes me uncomfortable.Report

  15. Avatar Matty says:

    For me seeing “I do not date x” in an dating advert would be a red flag whatever x is an even if I am not x. What it immediately says to me is this person is treating dating like job recruitment checking to see if you match pre-set criteria rather than seeing if you get on and like each other. I’d half expect them to show up on a date with a clipboard.

    There is nothing wrong with having preferences but putting them out there in such absolute terms strikes me as a bad idea that will lose you more than you gain.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      Yah, this is why I don’t specifically exclude certain races in my profile, but my body sizes are. As a white guy, I’m open to dating a AA chick, I just don’t find many of them attractive. And to give you all some perspective, I’m not that hot over Halle Berry, although I think she’s attractive. If I had my preference, I’d go with red hair, pale white skin, and an Irish / English / Australian accent. Hubba hubba!Report

  16. Avatar Kim says:

    Any Jew that won’t date a black jew is welcome to leave before the door hits them on the ass.
    (I’m ethnically white (so far as I know), but not all my family is).Report

  17. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    @veronica dire


    I don’t think you and I have ever interacted here because I am not as active in the comment section as I should be so…hello! From what I have heard from the other writers you make have made some smart contributions and bring an interesting and new perspective to the OT. While I want to make it clear that I am 100% sympathetic to the challenges you face out there in the world, I just wanted to respond to the overall tone of your comments. I understand that non-hetero people often spend a lot more time thinking about their sexuality than hetero people do. It’s easy to make that a big part of your identity when you feel, as you say, oppressed. It’s also easy, when you spend so much time thinking along those lines to see that very thing everywhere or to use every opportunity to discuss that subject. In much the same way I have an aunt with a new (first) grandson and she tries to work him into every conservation she has. It can be annoying but I also understand.

    I would just say that if you’re going to do that though, tone is important. You may have crossed the line a time or two but I don’t care about that. What I am talking about is saying things like ‘cis male’ and ‘oppressor class’. I understand the first is a legitimate term but it is not commonly used outside the gender-neutral or trans-gender communities. So it becomes an intentional use of jargon in a conversation with a mixed audience and that seems like an intentional poke at others. ‘Oppressor class’ needs less explanation. You might feel that way but it is a term designed to start fires. At this site we generally dislike flame bait. Not saying you can’t do it or that we would ban you for saying it, but it’s not in-line with the kind of dialogue we prefer. It will just end up ticking off your fellow commenters in the long run. So take that advice for what you will.

    Otherwise, glad to have you here and looking forward to seeing what else you have to say.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      @mike-dwyer While “oppressor class” is loaded language, “cis male” is non-derogatory and descriptive. The only problem with the phrase is that a lot of people aren’t going to know what it means. But I think it’s a solid addition to our lexicon.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Yeah. and unlike a lot of terms, it’s more going to generate a “wtf?” rather than a “oh, no you didn’t” (compare to white privilege).Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        I agree it isn’t derogatory and I tried to make that clear to Veronica. I think it just gets a little too jargon-y for certain conversations.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        It’s jargonny, but I can’t think of a non-clutzy, non-jargonny way of identifying the thing it refers to. I prefer “cis male” to “non-trans male.”Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I think it’s a new-enough addition to vocabulary to require reassurance that it’s not derogatory. The discussion of oppressed classes of people, the language to hold that discussion, pushes against the traditions that created the oppression.

        When you belong to that minority, no matter how oppressed you might feel, it’s very easy to create a perception of shrillness if you don’t honor the vocabulary of the group doing the oppressing; and there is often a fine line between being frank and being inconsiderate. Which is a great irony considering the inconsideration you receive, too.

        I applaud Mike for getting at this, too. I value Veronica’s contributions, and can easily overlook the places she sounds shrill because of the fraught nature of moving language from the past to the future. And I have long respected Tod’s skill at helping establish respectful bounds for heated conversation.

        TLDR: can’t we all be friends? Because we all have something worthwhile to hear and to say.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I tend to use cis male because my understanding is that part of the push to use the term is to avoid further otherizing trans people. In much the same way I identify as straight or white because failing to do so gives the indication that either identity is the norm and thus goes without saying while the onus is on people who identify differently to indicate as such.

        It is also a signaling behavior.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Reassurance is probably helpful (particularly if it’s in the context of a comment with a negative tone) but not required.

        On the broader (and this comment is not directed at anybody in particular), Veronica knows how she comes across and I think it’s pass the point where its productivity should be explained. She feels that her points are better made with a more confrontational style because it’s more likely to be heard and even if people do respond negatively to it now they can only actually consider it at some point if they actually hear it to begin with. Or maybe her reasoning is different entirely. Either way, it’s her prerogative and while that limits my own interactions with her, I do read what she has to say and that alone may sufficiently outweigh that (or if not for me, than for others). Which isn’t to say that I agree with all that she does, but I don’t have as much invested in her fight as she does so I more defer to her own assessment and the assessments of those closer to that particular fight.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        It’s jargonny, but I can’t think of a non-clutzy, non-jargonny way of identifying the thing it refers to.

        How about “male?”Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Also, I think, not accurate — since the definition of “cis-male” specifically excludes transendered men, but “male” or “man” does not.

        And @veronica-dire , this is one of those times when I would really, really, really appreciate hearing from you if I’ve fished this up.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Or just “people”. (As opposed to women, blacks, atheists, gays, the transgendered, etc.)Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Yeah, “people” definitely works.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        “People” is inspecific, as is “male.”

        I do not feel a particular need to identify as “cis” every time I refer to myself as male, but in a conversation involving gender and transgenderism, “cis male” has a meaning that “male” (and “people”) doesn’t specifically identify.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        It seems that how one refers to oneself is a matter of pragmatics, so that sometimes “male” works just fine, sometimes “person” is sufficient to convey someone’s identity at the necessary level of abstraction, and sometimes “cis-male” or “trans-male” or whathaveyou is more appropriate. The ethical issue imbedded in the pragmatics has to do with exclusion. The idea is to convey the amount of information about one’s identity appropriate to the context without unnecessarily excluding others. Of course, that’s not always easy, which is why it’s good to have someone who is likely to be excluded weigh in.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Also, I think, not accurate — since the definition of “cis-male” specifically excludes transendered men, but “male” or “man” does not.

        Of course it is accurate. You may claim that it is not precise enough, but it is definitely accurate.

        And certainly there are conversations where the use of cis-male is appropriate, but in most conversations the cis is superfluous. This all of course simply begs the question of what those appropriate conversations are and how often they occur or ought to occur. That’s where the meat is.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Can’t we just stick with “Oppressor Class”?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        That’s MEAN! And we oughtn’t be Mean!Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        “Saving Time” == NiceReport

      • Avatar EB says:

        @mike-schilling I know this thread is pretty done, but I owe you an apology. I took

        “Or just “people”. (As opposed to women, blacks, atheists, gays, the transgendered, etc.)”

        as an example of privilege (ie ‘why do all those minority groups want to impose on me by making me think about them’) but I see what you meant and applaud your conciseness. FWIW.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @eb Someone returning to a blog post, noting they misunderstood, and saying so publicly is too rare a thing. Very classy.

        Blessing upon your house, hat tip, round bought and all that.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Also, I would like to note that I was significantly more abrasive,
      when I first started commenting here, and no one seems to
      hold that against me.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Kim, you can still be wonderfully abrasive, and I love you for it. I was, too. You are wonderfully equipped to point out the exceptions that prove the rule, which requires some admirably serious out-of-the-box thinking.

        One of the real values of participating here is that it really seems to help people develop an awareness of their on-line tone. I value that greatly.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Abrasiveness is less of a problem than dismissiveness, at least with respect to what went down in this thread.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Abrasiveness is less of a problem than dismissiveness,

        No, you’re wrong.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Oooh, that’s one for the ages, Mr. Schilling.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      @mike-dwyer — Thanks for your comments.

      I can understand why people’s first reaction to “oppressor class” is negative — ’cause it’s not a great thing to be. But then, on reflection, I think folks should be willing to admit that’s exactly what they are, at least if you accept any class/gender/otherwise structural analyses.

      Watch, I’ll show how it is done:

      I am a member of an oppressor class, at least on two loci: I am white and I am middle-class.

      This governs how I relate to people, how I can relate to people. There are privileges I get that others do not. These shape my perception, my interests, my values. But others with less privilege will naturally form different perceptions, interests, and values. Often these competing worldviews can be at odds, and mine is not automatically correct.

      But mine is that of privilege, thus there is a vast network of social power backing it up. Which is just too bad for the not-so-privileged. They’re kinda fucked.

      I believe accepting this means I will do less damage. I encourage others to similarly self-reflect.

      On cis, one can think of it less as an identity — since few people walk out the door and think, “Golly, folks sure are treating me cis today” — and more of a locus of privilege.

      Trans is an identity. Cis is a locus of privilege.

      To my view, black/white, gay/straight, disabled/able, poor/middle-class, on and on, can be analyzed similarly. Which isn’t to say that no one will self-identify as cis or white or whatever, but as those things are normative folks will feel less need to. On the other hand, if I ever forget I am trans, I will soon be reminded.

      Anyway, I’m going to step away from the forum for a few days, since I’m pretty riled up right now and unlikely to be further constructive.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


        I disagree with your analysis on ‘oppressor class’. You talk about privelage as it relates and I can totally accept that. A lot of people, especially around here, understand that concept. That is why the term ‘privelaged class’ is much, much more commonly used. But privelage is largely passive in the sense that no one is intentionally pushing other people down with their privelage. ‘Oppressor class’ seems to take the notion of privelage and apply intentional malice. So yeah, that’s going to offend some people. I think that’s where you are also being intentional in that you are trying to get under people’s skin a bit with that turn of phrase.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        “Oppressor class,” or rather the more grammatical “oppressing class,” is used pretty often in Marxist literature. I don’t know where it comes from, but as far as I can tell one of its earlier uses is in the famous Lenin paraphrase of Marx on the oppressed getting to vote every few years on which members of the oppressing class will “represent and repress” them. From then on it’s pretty common, and under most Marxist theories, the oppression is unconscious. That is, it is something that the members of the oppressing class participate in by default, not through active or conscious maliciousness.

        The problem is, there aren’t many Marxists here, or people who are likely to find Marxist terminology useful or informative. So the risk of using “oppressing class” in lieu of, say, privileged individuals, in a space like this one is that many of the people here will see it as a reason to take whatever is said around it less seriously, or as referring to other people.Report

      • Avatar trumwill says:

        Just changing the grammar from oppressor to oppressing lightens the load a little bit.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Right, though that’s deceptive. Oppressing class is more apt because it implies an ongoing and inevitable relationship, whereas oppressor implies that if the members were only to recognize the error of their ways…

        The reason I am reluctant to use the concept outside of a Marxist analysis of class is what the solution to an ongoing, obviously inevitable oppression by one class of another is. It is not, we can be certain, light and epiphany and consciousness, since the very existence of the class, not as oppressive, but as a class is predicated on their opposites.

        Now, some of us might be in the Tear It Down party, but most of us ain’t.Report

  18. Avatar Roger says:

    Actual on line preference data by race for partner race is interesting:

    One way to view it is that everyone except black females prefers another race. There are alternative explanatory frameworks though.Report