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Hooking up & race preference

I’m currently doing the online dating and hook-up thing and showed my profile to a close friend. She was horrified to read that I explicitly state that I’m not interested in meeting Asian or black men. She told me that, as a white man, I was being racist to discourage these folks from contacting me. I thought she was being over-sensitive and ridiculously politically correct. Other white guys are just what I’m attracted to — would it be considered sexist that I’m not sexually into women?! My friend and I haven’t spoken since but I’m left wondering whether there’s something I need to look at here. What do you think?

When people can hide behind a computer or at least not have to face the folks they’re communicating with, they seem to say stuff that they would never get away with, or even attempt, in person. Hooking up online lets us cut to the chase with our personal shopping lists and that’s not always a bad thing. Unfortunately, a lot of people, like yourself, have profiles filled with their personal dont’s: don’t be too skinny, too fat, too young, too old, too black, too gay. Proclaiming your interest in only the pigment-challenged really contributes to an increasingly common racist tone that can be found all over hook-up sites. My concern is that such wounding profiles can worsen the divisiveness that messes with our community.

I do give you credit for being willing to get feedback about this. Your preference for white dudes is something I don’t judge — whatever floats your boat. I’m suggesting, though, that this erotic focus isn’t some kind of organic thing. Your preferences themselves are, no doubt, informed by a world that has elevated white men as superior and sexually most attractive. Your erotic interests are exactly that, yours. But how you express that desire in a public forum is a far more complex matter. For example, if butch men get you hot that’s all fine until you write “straight-acting men only” on your profile, which just adds to already rampant gay shame.

If the truth, for now, is that you are not open to connecting with men of colour, then I think there’s a better approach than announcing your specific cultural/racial distastes. Instead, when you are virtually winked at by a guy who doesn’t match your ideal, then simply thank him and move on. But don’t let yourself off the hook so easily — if you really want to take some responsibility, keep questioning your assumptions about who you’ll find attractive, and be willing to consider that our true desires are vastly different, and more expansive, than what we’ve been conditioned to see as hot.

Oh… and when constructing your profile, imagine its contents printed on a T-shirt you’ll be wearing all over the GTA — it might help you think twice.