Open Thread: Dating, Online and Off

by Latoya Peterson

Reader Minda sent in this interesting tidbit she heard while listening to the radio. She writes:

    I was listening to XM Shade 45 today and the rappers/hosts of the radio show were discussing how on eHarmony they might get a possible match, but then when the woman hears their voice on the phone and discerns their black she’s no longer interested. They talked about how they had to use their “white” voices and how if internet dating sites are a last ditch effort, then what are black men to do?

Now, there are a lot of potential places to go for conversation in this small paragraph, but I want to focus on the race based lack of interest angle. Has anyone else ever been hit with the “you aren’t what I was expecting?”

I’m also going to expand this a bit. One of Wendi Muse’s most commented on posts is Craigslist Personals: Desperately Seeking Diversity Training where Wendi discusses the racial bias inherent in a lot of personals postings.

She notes:

In the world of online dating, where a user name, masked email address, and optional photo sharing means freedom to speak ones mind in complete anonymity, users frequently abandon political correctness and resort to exotification, stereotypes, and blatant racism when referring to racial/ethnic “others” in their attempts to choose a mate. While some ads include the user’s thoughts on race is more subtle ways, for example, simply stating a racial “preference” (still, arguably, a sign of prejudice), others are more obvious in their descriptions—ranging from the utilization of explicitly racist phrases or terms to describe his/her own background and/or the background of the person being sought to downright exclusion a la Jim Crow style (“No -insert race here- need apply”).

Wendi also calls attention to the ways things are implied online:

2. People like using juxtapositions a lot to imply stereotypes about certain groups.

For example, I see a lot of things like this: “I am looking for a woman who is slim, drama-free, intelligent, and who has no children. No black or Latin women, please.” Though sentences like that are not connected, you can clearly connect the dots on your own. Apparently the racism found in the “rejection” line of some posts is so common and offensive that a few members mentioned about it in their posts:

“Don’t be a SBM. No matter how clever, funny, or interesting you are once she finds out you’re black the emails stop. If you put SBM in your post you can pretty much guarantee no responses.”

“It seems that every non-asian woman have preferences for pretty much everyone except asian. Even asian women in new york city have started to steer their preference more towards non-asian males…I’d like to know why the majority of new york women are so closeminded toward us. You guys claim you aren’t racist or anything but why have such a preference? I figured since NYC was so diverse, it would be different but I guess I was wrong. I can understand if women like a guy who is tall/short, or strong/fat but based on race is kinda weird.”

Has anyone else ever experienced this?