Every once in a while, I (a minority) have a conversation with a white person about online dating in which it becomes clear that they do not and cannot understand that being a visibly non-white person on a predominantly white dating site is often a very different experience than being a white person on the same site. These conversations usually leave me completely frustrated and upset, and the person I'm talking to usually thinks I'm just bitter and negative (which is then, of course, the reason for my bad experience, and if I just "had a more positive attitude", then I would be having the same great experience that they've had). Should I just avoid talking about this with white people entirely?
posted by rhymeswithcheery to Human Relations (50 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
To be specific, I've had multiple conversations with thin, white, often blonde and conventionally attractive women who are younger than me, who tend to insist that the reason they get so many positive responses from well-educated, age-appropriate men on Match/OKCupid/EHarmony/any predominantly white dating website, while I get none, *could not possibly* have anything to do with race. The most recent example of this was a woman I met tonight, who after admitting that *she is herself filtering out men of my race* on Match, was insistent that I "must not have hot enough pictures", or my profile "must not be interesting enough", but it just couldn't be possible that well-educated professional men (of many races, including my own) would filter me out on the basis of race (and, to some extent age).
I don't mean to suggest that all white people have this type of reaction, but probably 95% of the white people I've ever mentioned it to have reacted with shock, horror-- and then absolute denial (Statements like, "All my friends are completely open to interracial dating", as if the fact that their white friends are all dating other white people is just a giant coincidence, or "There are still people who care about race in this city? In 2013?", when it's pretty damn obvious just from reading people's profiles on Match that lots of people, even in big cities, have racial preferences and openly state them).
There are multiple reasons that I think this really *is* about race. Part of it is that I know literally dozens of non-white women who've had the same awful experiences in online dating (Ivy-league educated, successful women, who receive responses exclusively from men who are illiterate/ uneducated/ 15-20 years older, but never from their same-age peers). But another part of it is that I've tried posting my profile with an average-looking white woman's picture on it, and checking the Caucasian box, and lo and behold, suddenly there were way more (and higher quality) responses from guys I would actually go out with! I once even posted a profile with a picture of the back of a blonde woman's head-- and that profile, with no face, no body, and the written profile of a complete moron, received more (and better) replies than my real ethnicity/face/body/personality profile (and more responses from men of my ethnicity, sadly).
I'm not sure how to possibly explain results like that other than white privilege. But the fact that white people don't see this as privilege, or see it at all, is crazy-making. Should I just shut up about it completely? Is there any way to have this discussion with people that doesn't make me sound like a bitter old hag who blames race for all my problems?