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Sexual Preferences and Racism

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User 73706

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/ / / READ THE OP BEFORE YOU POST / / /

Since I know certain triggers do certain things to certain folk, I'm going to go ahead and lay down a couple of rules before I even get to discussing the article - which shouldn't even be a necessity at this point, and yet, here we are.

If you really have a problem with reading the rules, at least read the stuff in bold.

1. This thread is not about any one individual. As such, this is not calling you in particular out. Do not start your argument by immediately throwing up a deflection. "oh well I'm not racist, it's just preference," "i've banged like six Laotian dudes i'm chill," "i'll have you know i took the 'no portuguese' bit out of my dating profile," responses etc. ad nauseam are unnecessary. Unless you happen to say some dumb shit within the confines of this particular thread or the broader confines of GAF in general, nobody's trying to start out this discussion by saying you, the reader, are racist / are a racist. This is about tackling an element of racially-charged perception, inclusion and exclusion that ultimately contributes to the larger problems of institutional racism.

2. If you happen to disagree with the article, you better be willing to back up your argument with sources beyond simple personal anecdotes and confirmation bias. Just like it was mentioned above, "having preferences doesn't make me racist" is a little at odds with having preferences based on specifically excluding other races.

3. While the article particularly focuses on gay men within social networking circles (e.g. dating sites / apps like grindr), these practices are as old as dating itself and are by no means exclusive to one demographic. It's totally counterintuitive to come in here and accuse any one particular demographic of being the worst about this: "gay men have got to be the most racist people on the planet," "I've noticed the ones doing this in my area are always French," and so on. Sharing personal stories about how someone wronged you are fine. Pointing fingers at a lone group for being most guilty of this is not and diminishes the whole purpose of this discussion. Speaking of which...

4. Do not attempt to derail by blowing this out into some larger abstraction that's impossible to discuss in corporeal terms. Re-aligning the discussion toward "people can't choose who they're attracted to," "we can never discuss this without at least one group getting hurt," etc. have a modicum of interest in discussions like these, but attempting to constantly force the thread in that direction and allowing for only "purely factual" objective reasoning more or less tie threads like these to the railroad tracks. It's happened on several occasions on GAF, such as with "would you date a transgender individual" threads.

Now for the article itself:

"No Blacks" Is Not A Sexual Preference, It's Racist

If you’re a gay man, phrases like “no blacks” and “no Asians” aren’t just words that you’d find on old signs in a civil rights museum, they are an unavoidable and current feature of your online dating experience. On gay dating apps like Grindr and Scruff, some men post blunt and often offensive disclaimers on their profiles such as “no oldies,” “no fems,” and “no fatties.” Among the most ubiquitous are racial disclaimers like “no blacks” and “no Asians,” which are most frequently posted by white men but, as Edwards’s case proves, not always.

Those who deploy these disclaimers defend themselves from accusations of “racism” by claiming that they merely have “preferences” for certain races over others. Wrote one gay blogger, “Don’t tell me I can’t have a preference! I don’t want to have sex with women. No hard feelings. Does that make me a misogynist?” Others have argued that it is impossible to separate the language of so-called sexual racism from racism in other spheres of life. There is a reason, they insist, that men of color are most often pushed to the sexual wayside. “No whites” is a much less popular slogan.

Debates around “sexual racism,” as researchers have labeled it, are particularly heated within the gay community, although it is certainly a source of controversy in heterosexual circles as well. It is also an argument that could soon be settled by emerging sociological research.

After putting these two data sets together, the trend was clear: “Sexual racism… is closely associated with generic racist attitudes, which challenges the idea of racial attraction as solely a matter of personal preference.”

Sixty-four percent of the men said it is acceptable to state a racial preference on an online dating profile and 46 percent said these preferences do not bother them. Men who had experienced racial exclusion in the past were, predictably, more likely to report being bothered by it than men who hadn’t but, still, a staggering 70 percent disagreed with the argument that sexual racism is “a form of racism.” A majority of them perceived racial exclusion as “a problem” but were reluctant to attribute it to racism.

“While society is generally pretty comfortable condemning racism, there has been a surprising reluctance among people—gay or otherwise—to challenge racialized sex and dating practices,” Callander told The Daily Beast.

Like the sexual racism survey, the QDI asks respondents to agree, disagree, or remain neutral in response to certain statements. In this case, the QDI included items like “Overall, I think minorities in Australia complain too much about ethnic discrimination,” and “I would feel OK about my best friend having a relationship with someone from a different ethnic group.” Lower QDI scores indicate a lower level of tolerance for multiculturalism and racial diversity.

With both sets of survey results in hand, the researchers ran two regression analyses to test for any correlation between them. The results are bad news for anyone who still believes that a disclaimer like “no blacks” is “just a preference.”

“Almost every identified factor associated with men’s racist attitudes was also related to their attitudes toward sexual racism,” the researchers reported[...] “Men with more positive attitudes toward racial diversity and multiculturalism (on the QDI) tended to view sexual racism less positively.”

This correlation strongly suggests that racial discrimination on gay dating apps can be attributed to racist attitudes and not, as so many maintain, to benign aesthetic preferences. Sexual racism, it turns out, is probably just plain old racism disguised in the language of desire.

There's more in the article including a supplement from Project Q Atlanta wherein this article got some of its information, though two other big points stuck out to me:

“While it may feel like our desires are our own, in reality they are influenced heavily by social norms,” explained Callander. “For me, the findings of this study are a reminder that even though society and individuals may actively reject racism, racial prejudices are increasingly subtle and they can find their way into even the most private and personal corners of our lives.”

This one in particular has been increasingly troublesome (even on this very board!) due to a reluctance to acknowledge racism unless the perpetrators are adorned in full Grand Wizard garb and are starting racist chants, and even then not everyone's always on board with the idea of racist actions done with racist intent explicitly defining any given individual(s) as being racist. This one in particular generally serves as a guaranteed way to slash the tires of any conversation involving race relations because of the swaths of moderates that are unwilling to acknowledge something so "innocuous" as being unhealthy.

Eric, who is mixed-race, told The Daily Beast that some men who list “no Asians” on their dating profiles have messaged him anyway, explaining that he is “white enough” for them or that he is attractive to them because he can “pass” as white. Eric confronts these men by asking them to explain in detail why they think he passes, a question that would require them to talk about his physical features in uncomfortable detail.

“I usually end up with a version of ‘I don’t know, you look kind of white,’ or ‘You seem white,’” he said.

Tying in to the above, there's issues on the other end where people with "just preferences" are willing to look past the horrible ugliness of being a given nationality just as long as their partner "looks the part," which should be more than enough to drive a stake into the heart of most "purely preferential" folks' notions of having pure interests.

This issue in particular has remained especially prevalent with the relatively recent advent of social media and online dating making it so much easier for people to show their (proverbial) asses and completely alienate people that would have otherwise been totally compatible for them if not so unwilling to acknowledge something about themselves may have been a little (or a lot, in some cases) racist. Back when I was using online dating frequently it was easier to find bios with "no Xs" than ones without them, but I'm glad someone made the effort to compile some concrete evidence into a concise and cohesive article like this.
 

theignoramus

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Provocative, well laid out OP. Im curious how many will actually read it and not just storm in here reflexively disagreeing with the premise.
Personally, I largely agree that there is "something" behind someone saying "I dont find "x" race attractive or whatever but I dont try and go to war with that mentality the way I would with someone whose discriminatory in some other, less personal area.
Im just like "how narrow minded" and carry on with my day.
 

Crud

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I feel like the "no [enter race here]" is super racist. I can't help by feel that way.
 

DOWN

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OK Cupid released stats comparing race responses of their users, and comparing heterosexual users to homosexual. All demographics displayed racial selection, with homosexual users less so than heterosexual. It's interesting while we're looking at the subject:

http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/your-race-affects-whether-people-write-you-back/
On the gay data:
In general, they show that straights and gays share many of the same inclinations, but the prejudices of the latter are perhaps a bit less pronounced. I should say at the top that some of the sample sizes for the various race/gender slices presented here are rather small (for instance, OkCupid doesn’t have many lesbians of Indian descent), and that accounts, I think, for some of the scatter-shot nature of the color tables. Race preferences are not nearly as stark here as they are with the heterosexual data.




Straight:




Gay:


 

theignoramus

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I feel like the "no [enter race here]" is super racist. I can't help by feel that way.

Probably because the people who say that have a negative perception in their mind of how people of "X" race generally look and behave. Even if they refuse to admit it.
I know the OP doesnt want anecdotes, but Ive never met anyone with a racially diverse circle of friends exclude dating partners on the basis of race or ethnicity.
 

User 100115

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I think this is a problem on straight dating sites as well. I've seen lots of people complain about folks having 'no blacks' in their profiles. It's weird to me, honestly. If you are looking for 'the one' why would you exclude vast swathes of people?
 

kirblar

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There's "I know my own preferences/tendencies in attraction, I tend to go for X but am open to Y should the right person come along". That's not a problem.

Then there's "I don't date X, full stop." That's a problem.
 

Volimar

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Eh, people use those apps and sites as if they're basically "ordering" a mate/boy or girlfriend/fuck buddy whatever so I put it a lot in the same vein as "no fatties", "no shorties" etc. Kind of assholish, but in the end they're the ones missing out by excluding people.

I mean, preference for one thing is in effect prejudice against everything else, but does it rise to the level that it should bother people? Guess it depends on the person.

But yeah it's at least a little racist.

"No Nickelback fans."
 

megarockexe

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Maybe the word is "prefer" one over the other without explicitly saying "no" to a group. Otherwise it comes off a bit strong and that's where the racism starts showing.
 

Valhelm

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Racial preferences are clearly racist, but they're also unconscious. You really can't choose who you are attracted to.

What can be changed are bullshit arbitrary rules like "I'm not into black women", which might be just as important as preferences.
 

Vestal

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Provocative, well laid out OP. Im curious how many will actually read it and not just storm in here reflexively disagreeing with the premise.
Personally, I largely agree that there is "something" behind someone saying "I dont find "x" race attractive or whatever but I dont try and go to war with that mentality the way I would with someone whose discriminatory in some other, less personal area.
Im just like "how narrow minded" and carry on with my day.

Ill only speak from personal experience, I am one you could say does not feel sexually attracted to African American women, ill find them pretty and or gorgeous but taking it a step further to a sexual attraction, well lets just say I am 37 and it hasn't happened yet hehehe.

I really don't think that would label me sexually racist, I mean the body wants what the body wants right? Just like I am not into guys doesn't mean I am a homophobe.

Not really sure what to attribute it to though. Could be an upbringing type thing. Maybe the type of sexually suggestive content that I viewed growing up. Back in the late 80s and 90s most if not all of the Sexually suggestive content I was exposed to was limited to Caucasian ethnicity(Skinemax and Showtime ftw). Could be that the schools I went to were 95% Caucasian,, I mean in my class there was only 2 African American boys and 2 African American girls.


Who knows really?

Edit: My preference I would say relates to physical traits and not ethnicity.
 

MGrant

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It's a difficult subject, because no one wants to tread into the tricky territory of telling people who they should sleep with; I think it is counterproductive frame the argument as "Not wanting to sleep with x race means you are racist," because although that applies to a lot of people who are putting vile shit into their dating profiles, it's too easy for them to deflect criticism towards the idea of people trying to control their sex lives. And while I feel there is a bit more of a promiscuous edge on gay dating apps and websites, the problem is widespread on straight and bi profiles, too, even among more traditional courtship-seekers.

Three underlying ideas jump out at me when I look at things like this, one of which is a problem with culture at large, and two which are exacerbated by the nature of dating on the internet:

1. Who you're having sex with is a sign of your social status, now more than ever.

2. Internet dating encourages people to view relationships as a thing to be shopped for and acquired, as opposed to built over time.

3. Tangential to number 2, the variety of people posting dating profiles has fostered a kind of showroom atmosphere for different kinds of bodies and cultures, and users are encouraged to find someone that checks off all the right boxes.

Number 1 wouldn't be so bad, were race not still inexorably linked to class in many parts of the world. I do think that people have the right to proudly display their sex lives if they feel that's an important part of their identities. Numbers 2 and 3 are dehumanizing and often cause a lot of unhappiness among people who cant seem to find meaningful relationships on dating sites despite having such a wide audience to present themselves to.

Unfortunately the desire for partners to be trophies, to some extent tailored to each others' tastes and biases, means this problem will be around for a while.
 
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It feels like it's still trying to make a logical leap. I think we can all agree that racist people will use that as reasons not to date certain races but I'm unless I missed something while reading, I'm not understanding the insinuation by you and the article that people having "preferences" are racist.
 

Linkyn

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I think it's natural to be more attracted to some races than others, but outright saying that you're not attracted to a given race at all is really just ignorant (in the purest sense). There's no way you could possibly predict that you're not going to be attracted to any black people, for instance, just like it's impossible to predict that you're not going to be attracted to any men / women (regardless of what you think your sexual orientation might be). Some people just don't want to make the effort of checking whether they can find someone that defies their bias.
 

Valhelm

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Ill only speak from personal experience, I am one you could say does not feel sexually attracted to African American women, ill find them pretty and or gorgeous but taking it a step further to a sexual attraction, well lets just say I am 37 and it hasn't happened yet hehehe.

I really don't think that would label me sexually racist, I mean the body wants what the body wants right? Just like I am not into guys doesn't mean I am a homophobe.

Not really sure what to attribute it to though. Could be an upbringing type thing. Maybe the type of sexually suggestive content that I viewed growing up. Back in the late 80s and 90s most if not all of the Sexually suggestive content I was exposed to was limited to Caucasian ethnicity(Skinemax and Showtime ftw). Could be that the schools I went to were 95% Caucasian,, I mean in my class there was only 2 African American boys and 2 African American girls.


Who knows really?

So you think some black girls are pretty, but would never fuck them. Why? If Nathalie Emmanuel (nsfw) came onto you, you'd say no?
 

Undead

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I'm not sure why it's bad for people to have preferences, it's perfectly normal behaviour and like others have said, we cannot help who we are attracted to.

Telling people who they can and cannot have sex with would be much worse and would be no better than arranged marriages which completely go against our concept of free will.
 

riotous

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This isn't uncommon on straight female profiles either;

I have a theory.. straight females get overwhelmingly more responses than straight males on dating sites/apps.. do gay men also have a relatively large amount of suitors?

It could simply be: demographics with more suitors filter these suitors with more criteria.. it isn't that they are "more racist" than other demographics, just more likely to express racial preference (or any other preference)?

Sorry if this was covered.
 

Vestal

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So you think some black girls are pretty, but would never fuck them. Why? If Nathalie Emmanuel (nsfw) came onto you, you'd say no?

The body wants what the body wants I guess? I can look at a guy and say, damn there's a handsome individual, that doesn't mean I want to fuck him.

I am referring to physical traits.. Not ethnicity though.
 

Drencrom

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Straight up saying "no people of this ethnicity" is kinda racist, but you can't control what you and others are attracted to in the end.
 

SenorArdilla

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Izuna

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Porn made me appreciate women of all color, shapes and sizes.

Thank you porn.

avatarquote

....

It's not racist, honestly. But people's preferences are nurtured and generally if you don't have much contact (close or otherwise) with one race or the other, then it's not surprising if people prefer what they are familiar with.
 

kirblar

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This isn't uncommon on straight female profiles either;

I have a theory.. straight females get overwhelmingly more responses than straight males on dating sites/apps.. do gay men also have a relatively large amount of suitors?

It could simply be: demographics with more suitors filter these suitors with more criteria.. it isn't that they are "more racist" than other demographics, just more likely to express racial preference (or any other preference)?

Sorry if this was covered.
The lower overall reply rates are definitely a volume thing - online dating is a sausugefest. I wish they had a graph with relative %s to try and compensate for the tonnage difference between the girls/guys.
 

Galang

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It's definitely frustrating and sadly happens on straight dating sites as well. The difference is that if you're not straight the dating pool is already significantly less and it becomes much harder to ignore seeing it. I hope that doesn't sound wrong. It's depressing either way and it's sad to go through discrimination only to do the same to others. I can understand having a preference to an extent, but I find it weird to dismiss a whole group of people and only date certain people exclusively.

If I had a racial preference I can't even think of a reason why I'd advertise it to the world? Most people on dating sites just don't respond either way if they're not interested. Does seeing a simple message from a race you're not interested in annoy you so much that you have to warn people in a profile? I don't get it... and I don't get people who message these people seeing that stuff.
 

Izuna

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There's "I know my own preferences/tendencies in attraction, I tend to go for X but am open to Y should the right person come along". That's not a problem.

Then there's "I don't date X, full stop." That's a problem.

You know... those are practically the same thing.
 

Sanjuro

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In my experience, I've met specific people who prefer...

No blacks.
Only wants blacks.
Only Asian.


From that point you can have...

Only curvy.
No curves.
No blondes.
Perfect teeth only.


Can continue...

Only women.
Both male and female.


Even more...

Only Jews.
Only Catholic
No religion.

I see it as a mental checklist of likes and dislikes. If someone is telling you a portion of these options it can be a trigger to digest it as "Oh, god. Why is this person telling me this?" or "Oh, that's interesting." Even then, I'd imagine a healthy amount of those people still will disregard them as strict rules.

Then you have other issues like in the "black sperm" thread from a few days ago, where people are raised in certain environments where introducing specific races seems like more of a problem than any sort of immediate benefit.

Labeling someone immediately potentially is disregarding a ton of possible information.
 

ReiGun

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While obviously we can't use preferences to call any individual person a racist as there is million and one factors that could influence what one finds attractive, it would be naive to think that societal forces like racism (the devaluing and othering of features that move away from Euro-centric standards, for example) don't have some effect on what we do and do not lean toward.

I think this is a problem on straight dating sites as well. I've seen lots of people complain about folks having 'no blacks' in their profiles. It's weird to me, honestly. If you are looking for 'the one' why would you exclude vast swathes of people?

Oh it's absolutely a problem on straight sites. Back when I tried online dating, I saw more than a few "No Black/Asians/Whites/etc." profiles. OKCupid even has a question where it asks would you strongly prefer someone of your race and a lot of women's profiles were a definite "yes" (and I'm sure it was the same for men).
 

Linkyn

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Reading it again, oddly enough, I think the food metaphors would bother me a whole lot more than a direct statement (aside from me probably not even getting them).
 

User 73706

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It feels like it's still trying to make a logical leap. I think we can all agree that racist people will use that as reasons not to date certain races but I'm unless I missed something while reading, I'm not understanding the insinuation by you and the article that people having "preferences" are racist.

You have to understand there's a difference between preferences and "preferences." Let me use an old conversation I had on GAF a while ago:

original convo said:
Saying you prefer a race over another is not racist. Its personal taste and purely subjective. You're not valuing a race's ability to love as being superior to another. That would be racist.
flashback sub said:
That's pretty much the very definition of racism. Aesthetic preferences are one thing, but specifically tying preferences to "inherent" racial qualities is definitely racist on some level. Example:

1. "I don't like girls with frizzy hair." Not racist.

2. "I don't like black girls." Definitely racist.

3. "I don't like black girls because of their frizzy hair." May not be worth grabbing the torches and pitchforks for, but it is still racist by a baseline standard.

For one, not only are you making assumptions about an entire race and likely tying projection and personal experience to it unnecessarily, but you're also using small numbers of people as spokespeople or representatives for an entire race, aka stereotyping. Even if you may not consider it offensive or derogatory or whatever in the way that actively subjugating someone to prejudice because of race is, it's absolutely a racist thing to do, even if subtle. "I normally don't like spanish guys, but you're pretty cute," "you're so polite for a Scotsman," "this is the longest I've ever been with a black guy," etc. are all no-nos. You're absolutely allowed to have preferences, for example wanting someone with red hair or freckles or glasses or even being tan, but the second you actually tie those qualities to a race, positively or negatively, it's absolutely racially-charged and by extension racism.

It's not an impossible leap to make that excluding entire races in dating pools > excluding people by race > exclusion thanks to stereotyping > racism.
 

Izuna

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TBH I think the difference is between thinking it and saying it.

To me that makes all the difference in the world.

Preferences stated as absolutes are the problem, not so much the preferences themselves. Usually preferences framed in the negative are worse. Ex: "I prefer athletic women" vs. "no fatties."

The difference is being polite or not, in reality.

The preference itself is the same, no matter how it is presented.
 

theignoramus

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Telling people who they can and cannot have sex with would be much worse and would be no better than arranged marriages which completely go against our concept of free will.
Really now, categorical exclusion of races from romantic or sexual consideration becoming a social faux pas is morally comparable to arranged marriages?
Okay....
 

Opto

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One of the most bizarre conversations I've ever had with someone was when they said "Racism sucks" and then "I wouldn't date an Asian guy" within ten seconds.
 

kirblar

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The difference is being polite or not, in reality.

The preference itself is the same, no matter how it is presented.
There are people who are attracted to X race of people, will sleep with them with no hesitation, but date them? Never. That's where the second example comes in- it's not just about unconscious preferences, its about a conscious decision to X a group out.
 

Izuna

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But they aren't. Not in the slightest. When someone goes "I don't date X", they're making a conscious decision to actively exclude a group.

Look at this as if it were porn preferences though... People have these preferences and not everyone IS open. It's just like their own sexuality, they should already know. I mean, if someone is being a dick about it, then that's that, but that person is always going to choose Y over X no matter what.

There are people who are attracted to X race of people, will sleep with them with no hesitation, but date them? Never.

We're not even talking about the same thing now.
 

SenorArdilla

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avatarquote

....

It's not racist, honestly. But people's preferences are nurtured and generally if you don't have much contact (close or otherwise) with one race or the other, then it's not surprising if people prefer what they are familiar with.

Yeah. Preferences are pretty hard to change but the whole "no blacks" devalues race to a type of fetish.
 

Gallbaro

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Yes it is racist, but sexual desire is such a deeply personal, or basic part of a humans personality developed over the course of a lifetime that you cannot expect people to change their own preference over the course of their lives.

The best case result of that reflection should be facilitating change over multiple generations by a cultural redefining of sexy.

I admit, I have always had a preference, but I feel it is getting less and less as I get older.
 

theignoramus

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avatarquote

....

It's not racist, honestly. But people's preferences are nurtured and generally if you don't have much contact (close or otherwise) with one race or the other, then it's not surprising if people prefer what they are familiar with.

But why do our "unavoidable preferences" and "unappealing" groups consistently align with the groups society places both high and low on its social totem pole?
 

Undead

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Really now, categorical exclusion of races from romantic or sexual consideration becoming a social faux pas is morally comparable to arranged marriages?
Okay....

No, if you read, I said telling people who they can and cannot have sex with. see that statement?? "who they can and cannot"
 
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You have to understand there's a difference between preferences and "preferences." Let me use an old conversation I had on GAF a while ago:




It's not an impossible leap to make that excluding entire races in dating pools > excluding people by race > exclusion thanks to stereotyping > racism.

But isn't that obvious? I mean "preferences" is essentially the equivalent of "I have a black friend!". I'm just not seeing what it's showing that wasn't known, like yeah some "preferences" are due to people being racist but it doesn't seem to give a way to tell without just making a logic leap and assuming that it has to be racism.
 

Izuna

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But why do our "unavoidable preferences" and "unappealing" groups consistently align with the groups society places both high and low on its social totem pole?

That's what I'm talking about though. It's nurtured, by media, by society, by people's peers.

When a person is born their own skin doesn't dictate their preferences, it's external factors. This is why whatever is the most, popular, is popular regardless of the race of the person.
 
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