Dating is hard for most people. In an ideal world everyone deserves an equal chance to find companionship. However, that is a privileged thought. In our society, there are qualities that are deemed attractive, and if you do not possess these qualities, you are therefore seen as less deserving. Whether you have a wonky eye or are a little overweight, the dating scene can be harsh. But has it ever occurred to you that our ideals of physical attraction are also racially charged?
In a society that emphasizes the importance of romantic companionship, it can be daunting when you fail to find potential matches. I have not had the best luck myself. Sometimes I think “maybe our personalities were not compatible,” but I have only recently realized that it may be my race people are seeing. It turns out I’m not the only Asian-American male to have troubles with the ladies (and gents and other folks).
A 2014 study by OkCupid explored how race affects desirability by polling both heterosexual men and women on their racial preferences. The results from an initial 2009 polling show that the majority of women prefer white men, and Asian men received an especially low rating.
Men, on the other hand, were more open to other races, except for when it came to black women. OkCupid compared the 2009 result with the following years and concluded that even though our conversations about race may be more abundant, users’ racial preferences have stayed pretty much the same.
Humans are judgmental creatures by nature. This is only exaggerated by the influx of online dating apps, which give people the anonymity to discriminate freely and honestly without any guilt. OkCupid’s study notes that its users are no more racist than any other dating app’s users, but that the data collected by OkCupid is in line with a societal trend. Minorities tend to find their own and the white dominant race attractive, yet black women and Asian men continuously receive the short end of the stick.
I have experienced this myself when trying out Tinder and meeting people in-person. While I am not particularly invested in dating, part of it is that I know I am not viewed as attractive due to my race. When I encounter the profiles of white girls, I can already tell that I am not what they are looking for.
Most of them will list a height preference, and I will always be below it. In general, Asian males have trouble fitting traditional standards of “Western masculinity.” It is difficult to live in a society that already strips you of your confidence.
At the same time, Asian women remain the most fetishized among heterosexual men, which I find grossly disturbing. The objectification of the “submissive Asian femme” is anything but complimentary to my race. LGBTQIA+ spaces only complicate this, with effeminate Asian men being expected to fit the same submissive stereotype.
So, is saying, “No black women and no Asian men” just a sexual preference, or is it plain racist? I do not intend to call any individual preference racist, but it’s a reflection of our society. We must be aware that attraction, at some level, is a construct informed by the culture we are surrounded by.
Physical attraction is inherently a superficial thing, especially in terms of deeming minority races less attractive than others. We all partake in this bigotry, whether consciously or subconsciously.