Tag Archives: fetishization

[Thursday Throwback] Craigslist Personals: Desperately Seeking Diversity Training

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse (originally posted 5-17-07)

I’ve always liked reading personal ads. Even when I was a little girl, I would check out the back of the paper in hopes of finding a boyfriend for my widowed mom, and in the meantime, made an attempt to figure out what was going on in the minds of grown-ups as they searched for someone with whom to live “happily ever after.” There were certain acronyms and terms used in the ads that I didn’t quite understand at a young age (i.e. NSA: no strings attached or BBW: big beautiful woman), but for the most part, I thought I had a handle on what I was taking in at my elementary school reading level. It wasn’t until I became a bit older that I began to notice an interesting trend: personal ads are riddled with messages, some more subtle than others, on how people feel about race, ethnicity, and nationality.

With the emergence of the internet, I abandoned the paper and began perusing online ads, some of which read more like military code than personal descriptions: “SWF BBW in NYC seeks 30 – 35 y.o. D&D free S or D H/W/B/A/M for NSA BSDM ASAP in area codes 10003, 100019, and 10011. You must host. Pics? STR.” While these types of ads make virtual bulletin boards appear cluttered, others are well-written, funny, romantic, and/or so outlandish that they are hard to ignore. Sites like Craigslist became popular resources for finding any and every thing, from apartments and pets to jobs and vacation rentals. The personal ads were no different. Considering the privacy feature of anonymous posting in order to protect one’s identity, the personal ads serve as e-snapshots of candid thought—inside peaks into what the people I encounter on a daily basis may think of themselves, but, more importantly, how they view the world around them.

I checked the CL personals about as often as I checked for apartments, or, in other words, every five seconds, even though I wasn’t really looking for anything heavy duty in the love department and happened to be quite satisfied with my Brooklyn 2-bedroom and its 14 month lease. Reading the personals was a perfect way to find a little piece of reality TV-esque drama without all the heavy editing, good lighting, and stage makeup. The ads were frank, the boards were frequently updated, and the content never failed to amuse me, but behind all the fun, there was an underbelly of racism. This came as a bit of a surprise considering that so many of the CL posters were young, educated, and lived in diverse and densely populated urban environments—all oft-cited demographic factors in the commonly held belief that racism is on its way out. Though politicians, institutions of higher learning, and Ward Connerly would like for us to believe that the United States is on its way to becoming a colorblind utopia, a simple examination of Craigslist personal ads proves quite the opposite.

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 in 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”).

I examined New York Craigslist personals for a week straight, mainly focusing on the basic m4m, f4m, m4m, and f4f ads as the prevalence of racist epithets/hate speech was so common in the “casual encounters” and “rants and raves” sections that I’d have to write an entirely separate article to cover them. In order to find data, I simply typed in a group (i.e. “Asian,” “white,” “black”) in the search box and let the magic happen. Here were some of my favorites (organized by search term) from my early set of results (please ignore the typos…I have left them in their original form):

  • WHITE: “I’m looking for a nice all American woman…Tell me about yourself and what you do, etc. I’m not picky about age, older is fine with me. White Irish or Italian is my preference, not into Latin women. . .”

Hmmm . . . an “All-American” woman who is of Irish or Italian background. . . Can anyone say “contradiction”? Is he not just saying that “All-American” equates to white, and that “Latin women” are nowhere close? Continue reading

Don’t Call It A Comeback: The Presence Of Natural Hair

By Guest Contributor Aisha Davis

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Image Credit: Instant Vantage

Last Monday, Simon Doonan pulled the best prank of the year: he pleaded for the return of the afro. This was not a spontaneous call to arms for natural hair; rather, it was inspired by Doonan’s recent marathoning of Pam Grier Blaxploitation films in preparation for an interview with the icon of film and style.

Pam-Grier

Image Credit: Pam Grier

Now, I love Pam Grier, from ‘fro to foot, but Doonan doesn’t have to go back to the 70s to find afros–or any other expression of Black women’s* natural hair. In fact, there has been something of a Natural Hair Revolution™ in the past decade. This movement includes such heavy-hitters as Nikki Walton and Taren Guy, along with the hundreds of tutorials online that discuss styling, hair typing, and homemade products to better nourish natural/curly/kinky/coily hair.

How do I know so much about this Revolution? Because I am part of it. I’m not one of the bloggers, vloggers, or gurus of natural hair but, seven years ago–after transitioning from relaxed to natural for about eight months–I cut off my hair. That decision sparked more conversations than any other decision in my life. I have never regretted my decision, but, unlike Doonan, it’s not a decision that I would try to talk anyone else into making because I know the backlash that can be associated with it.

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Mixed Media Watch Throwback: On Hybrid Vigor and Fetishizing Mixed People

Compiled by Latoya Peterson

Hybrid Vigor

Jen Chau – Oh No, Hybrid Vigor on the Big Screen?!

By the way, for those of you who are not famliar with the term “hybrid vigor,” the definition is:

    the marked vigor or capacity for growth often exhibited by crossbred animals or plants

However this is not based in reality…it’s bull…and we at MMW do not like hybrid vigor theorists who go around spouting this nonsense. I’m sure you’ve all heard it (sometimes from mixed people themselves!): “Mixed people are the most beautiful and the healthiest and the smartest and the……..” JUST STOP.

Carmen (Van Kerckhove) Sognovi – Half Asian is the New White?

The Jan/Feb issue of Psychology Today magazine included an article titled Mixed Race, Pretty Face? It was all about–you guessed it–hybrid vigor. But specifically, it was about the fact that Asian/white mixed people are supposedly the most beautiful of all. Oh and look, who’s the first person they mention in the article? Nice! this gives me an excuse to post another pic of Keanu Reeves on MMW! ;) Point Break-era Keanu, nonetheless.

    Actor Keanu Reeves and supermodel Devon Aoki have more in common than fame, fortune and good looks—both are also part Asian. Known in popular culture by the Hawaiian term hapa (meaning “half”), people with mixed Asian and European origins have become synonymous with exotic glamour. In Hong Kong and Singapore, half-Asian models now crowd runways once dominated by leggy blondes. In the elite world of Asian fashion, half-Asian is the new white.


So the article goes on to quote several scientists who talk about how genetic diversity supposedly equates to beauty. And they also base a lot of the story on this really bogus-sounding study from Australia (we told you about it back in October) that claimed “Caucasians and Asians rated average Eurasian faces as more attractive than average faces of either race.”

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