Monday, February 15, 2010

If only I were less bossy.

My Race-Based Valentine., by Jenée Desmond-Harris, Time via Yahoo! News. Emphases mine.

This Valentine's Day, more of us than ever will be looking for love online. And if recent studies are any guide, relatively few women on mainstream dating sites will bother to respond to overtures from men of Asian descent. Likewise, black women will be disproportionately snubbed by men of all races. Yes, even though America has been flirting intensely with a postracial label for some time, color blindness is not upheld as an ideal in the realm of online romance. On some sites, it's not even an option. (See the 25 most important films on race.) requires users to identify their ethnicity; like eHarmony, it considers members' racial preferences when suggesting matches. lets users filter their searches by race. The site's profiles include space to indicate interest (or lack thereof) in various racial and ethnic groups. But after Jennifer House, a black woman in Los Angeles, perused one too many profiles only to find the guys had checked off every box except African American, she changed her strategy. "Now I look at that section first so as not to get my hopes up," she says.

[ . . . ]

. . . a study published last year in Social Science Research examined 1,558 profiles that white daters living in or near big U.S. cities placed on Yahoo! Personals, which, much like Match, lists 10 racial and ethnic groups users can select as preferred dates. Among the women, 73% stated a preference. Of these, 64% selected whites only, while fewer than 10% included East Indians, Middle Easterners, Asians or blacks. (See a nerdy Valentine's Day guide on

The story is a little different for the men, 59% of whom stated a racial preference. Of these, nearly half selected Asians, but fewer than 7% did for black women. Why? One theory offered by the study's lead author, Cynthia Feliciano, a sociologist at the University of California at Irvine, is that men's choices are influenced by the media's portrayal of Asian women as being hypersexual and black women as being bossy.

I keep explaining this phenomenon to my friends. I express to them that it affects me personally and how unhappy it makes me feel. Yet half of my friends still deny that the above situation is an actual problem. So I doubt that they will ever be convinced, even with an 87-year-old American institution acknowledging that racism continues to be a problem in 2010.


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