Preferences and Prejudice: Which Is It?

Is it classist to reject someone because they don’t have a job? 

Most of us know that it’s fairly racist to reject a potential partner based on race or on the color of their skin. Many self-identified feminists mourn the perceived standards being projected onto the female gender, and there is more than enough discussion about how people feel in regards to women having short hair or natural hair. (Unfortunately, I am not as well versed about the criterium projected onto same sex/alternative couples, so if you know any – feel free to list them in the comments for added discussion!).

A great deal of people spend an inordinate amount of time trying to prove to others (and themselves) that we’re each unique individuals and aren’t required to abide by arbitrary beauty prerequisites.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the concept of beauty and whose opinion matters the most. When I was a Senior in high school, there was this guy, CJ, that I liked. He was a white boy; tall and rail-thin, and I remember chatting with him online. In my usual style, I told him I liked him and he responded with: I only date white girls.

Most people would respond with complete disgust over this – How dare he!? That’s so racist!  I lived in a racially diverse area where a myriad of people attended my high school, so you would think that most people would have a more “open” view of who they’d like to date. But -

My whole life, I’ve never really been attractive enough for anybody:

1. my skin wasn’t clear enough

2. my breasts were too small

3. I wasn’t perky enough, hood enough, outgoing enough… the list continues

Of course, our choices aren’t made in a vacuum. Do many white people reject black partners out of some racist agenda? If we had a more egalitarian media (since television and cinema influences many people’s understanding of relationships and who they’re attracted to) – would more people be interested in dating outside of their race, economic class, sex, (etc)?

Many women (and perhaps men too) spend a lot of time looking at how they’re not represented in the media, and how this somehow suggests they’re not attractive by conventional standards. I’m not exempt from this; I spent a few minutes on Twitter yesterday lamenting how small breasts are rarely touted as being signifiers of attractiveness. Essentially, large breasts are considered more “womanly” and “feminine” than having a “boyish figure”.

This is a complex problem: on one hand, the world is giant mirror, reflecting back to us what we believe about ourselves and the world at large. On the other hand, I see this as a type of Second-Hander rhetoric – where I long for other people to give me validation about myself in some capacity. It’s almost like I don’t exist until someone else decides I exist. All of this pertains to self-esteem, and the value being placed in one’s own ideas and opinions.

I don’t want to be a Second-Hander, and have other people’s prejudices and preferences dictate Who I Am.

 

What About You? What are some of your preferences or prejudcies? 

As anyone said you weren’t enough because of the way you look?

7 thoughts on “Preferences and Prejudice: Which Is It?

  1. This is an interesting blog post, and I tend to think it’s not as much racism as personal preferences. I’m Indian, and I am pretty much only attracted to Indian boys. And many people are the same way. Many of my friends are more attracted to one race in general, like Indian/east Asian, so on. I don’t think it’s from some form of racism, but it’s also because of personal preferences and attraction. Although it’s worth pondering whether your preferences have been socially constructed as well, in some way.

    • Thanks! I was fascinated by the topic since Racialicious has had a few posts about interracial dating, and how each race is effected by it: black, white, latin, asian, and indians. I don’t think that in some circles, white beauty is heralded as being more attractive than other types. I remember the articles talked about how black women and asian men are considered to be the least attractive of all the races and of either gender.

      So it made me wonder if all attraction is socially constructed – if by simply exposure to certain things forces us to only believe we’re capable of being with someone of a different race? And what does our dating preferences reflect about us? For a lot of people, if a white person said that they only dated other white people, they’d be perceived as racist. Is something like that fair – or is it how most people are anyway? And should we force people to date outside their race simply to prove how non-racist they are?

      Thanks for commenting! :D

  2. It’s definitely hard to know where preference leaves off and other influences begin. I’m Asian, and as an asexual, not all that likely to be attracted to anyone. However, I freely admit that I appreciate Caucasian beauty more than I do Asian and (tellingly) am married to a Caucasian man. My interests have always been rather white-washed — fairy tales, European art, British literature — and that has certainly had an impact on my preferences now. My sister, in contrast, has always been more interested in our Asian heritage, dated exclusively Asian men, and married one. I don’t think I would consider either of us racist based on how we interact with and treat other people, but it would be interesting to examine more closely why we’re attracted to the people we are.

    • That’s really interesting – thanks for sharing your story!

      The eurocentric preoccupation is really popular in America – especially when we talk about what kind of stories are being told, who is being represented, etc. My friend is in Japan now and every once in awhile we talk about preferences, especially what it’s like to admire Japanese people from a far and then to actually live there. And there’s this black guy I know – total anime otaku – doesn’t like black women, like at all. He thinks they’re angry and mean – and prefers white and asian women (I can only assume based on inaccurate media portrayals or a few anecdotal experiences). So clearly his preferences are based on prejudice and no where near accurate information – and when I tried to educate him on it, he was willingly ignorant. Honestly, it shocked the hell out of me.

      Personally… I think everyone is good looking! Hah. I love Rain – his super sexiness and in America I tend to find male actors more attractive than female ones (but I also loathe white-washed beauty in cinema – though I don’t mind white girls in real life). Hmmm…

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Wow. There have been times when I’ve never felt attractive enough for anyone in the US, neither white or black men (usually just losers it would seem, of both races). Just like you, in high school if I were attracted to a white guy, most of the time he couldn’t fathom the thought. And sometimes I meet a black man who’s awesome and he has a white girlfriend. And I’m happy for him. But it’s tough, yes. This is what being a black woman in supposedly “post racial” America is. It was way easier to date in London. People hate to hear it, but it’s true. I am attracted to every race, but I find it takes someone really cool to be attracted to me. It’s a headfuck and hard to explain to pretty much everyone. But I think it has a lot to do with our white washed media. If all you see in magazines and on tv is smiling white faces, of course you’re going to think that’s the obvious sign of beauty. It’s getting better but it still has ways to go.

    • Hey Aja!! :D

      Yes, I definitely agree about White women and men being considered the standard of beauty. We’re exposed to it so constantly, it sucks! Sadly, I don’t know a lot about dating per se, but I haven’t had any luck anywhere I’ve been; US or abroad. So, there must be something that’s wrong with me! Heh. I guess it’s hard for me to say why people of various races aren’t attracted to me – I’ve gotten slack from people of all different races. So, again… a “me” problem. Dating seems… complicated!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Yes, I agree. White women are the standard of beauty and for people, like myself that means that I am left behind, socially ostracized by everyone who feels I’m not pretty enough to fit in their social circle.

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