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The race is on.
October 7, 2009 10:42 AM   Subscribe

"We’ve processed the messaging habits of almost a million people and are about to basically prove that, despite what you might’ve heard from the Obama campaign and organic cereal commercials, racism is alive and well." The people who run the dating site OkCupid continue to analyze the aggregate data of their users, shedding light on preferences and behavior. The most recent OkTrends post takes a look at their compiled racial data: Your Race Affects Whether People Write You Back. (previously 1 2)
posted by naju (459 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
Welcome back, dorks.
Your opening affects whether people read your blog post.
posted by Liver at 10:49 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


In other news, the sky is blue.
posted by killdevil at 10:50 AM on October 7, 2009


Liver, I don't think people reading about that statistics of dating give a fuck whether OkCupid calls them a dork or not.
posted by chunking express at 10:53 AM on October 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


well, at first I thought these were some pretty awful conclusions to make without discussing other factors that may be involved, but then they provided those charts at the bottom with survey results about dating someone of your own skin color. jesus.

wtf, white people?
posted by shmegegge at 10:55 AM on October 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


More pertinently why did they seem to drop Gnuplot as their charting software after September 10th? GNUCIST!
posted by PenDevil at 10:56 AM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


So what I read off that blog was that if you're a white guy who can't get a date, you are going to have to learn to live with your lack of attractiveness.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:57 AM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not for nothing, but couldn't this have been put into the already open OK Cupid blog thread you included in the post?
posted by zarq at 11:02 AM on October 7, 2009


Funny, the chart, (noted as a sample) does not include the racially-charged Black Male-White Female data.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:02 AM on October 7, 2009


I've tried to make up for it by dating everybody who seems receptive, but that's only amounted to about three people.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:03 AM on October 7, 2009 [14 favorites]


I see the info on the later charts.

Wow, white ladies only wanna date white men. Plus black women are twice as likely as black men to want to date exclusively inside their race.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:07 AM on October 7, 2009


Wow...they don't like their users much.

Is it really "racist" to prefer to date a person of a specific race? I mean...whatever does it for you, right? I think that's kinda like saying preferring to date a specific gender is sexist. Of course, I think gender preference in sexuality is a much more hard-wired issue than race preference, but still - it seems like you should be free to prefer to associate with people based on whatever criteria you want without fear of criticism, as long as you don't try to prevent OTHER people to date each other based on YOUR bizarre criteria.

This made me wonder if the "reply to message" button in OKCupid has the rollover text "or else your a fucking asshole, your racist punk"
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:09 AM on October 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


wtf, white people?

As a somewhat attractive white man who is open to (and has dated) acress the racial spectrum, let me just say STOP ASKING ME WHY I'M SINGLE.
posted by kittyprecious at 11:09 AM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


White guys are shitty, but fairly even-handed about it.

Ah finally proof that white men are jerks - racially sensitive jerks.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:11 AM on October 7, 2009


On the other hand, they're probably right that this is an indicator of racist feelings, but I don't think preferring to date people of a particular race is racist or "wrong" in and of itself. I don't know much about online dating - is it really considered that shitty to not reply to someone who messages you? Are you morally required to reply about what a nice personality any random stranger who writes to you appears to have, but you just don't think it'll work?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:12 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


oof - "or else your YOU'RE a fucking asshole..." I almost never do that, and I apologize to all you literate mefites.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:13 AM on October 7, 2009


Is it really "racist" to prefer to date a person of a specific race?

Howard Zinn would probably say yes. Your preference has been influenced by your racial prejudice.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:14 AM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, people continue to be attracted to people that look like them.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:15 AM on October 7, 2009


Is it really "racist" to prefer to date a person of a specific race?

Interesting question. And it's interesting to me, in part, because it's just the start of a series of questions. Why would somebody limit their dating oppotunities based on race? When you are compatable in every other way, why would race be the deciding factor?

To answer your initial question, I think I would need to know the answers to those questions.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:15 AM on October 7, 2009


Why is it racist to not be attracted to someone outside of your own race (not a rhetorical question)?

BTW, I'd suggest that all members of a racial majority are. to some degree, racist. I'm just not sure I'd agree that attractiveness is an indicator as Salvador notes.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 11:17 AM on October 7, 2009


Kudos to OKCupid for wading into a minefield with that data.

wtf, white people?

It's not just white people. Male Asian friends of mine have complained about the Asian women they know looking for white boyfriends (with a corresponding response from white males termed, charmingly, "yellow fever"). That people tend to date within their racial group isn't all that surprising; the more interesting data is how cross-racial dating favors certain groups over others--usually, but not always, with directly racist connotations.
posted by fatbird at 11:19 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Indeed. And when you are compatible in every other way, why would someone's plumbing be the deciding factor? Sexist!

I simply cannot wait for the day that we wear expressionless grey masks over shapeless jumpsuits and have our sexual partners selected by lottery number. Finally, all of those prejudices overcome!
posted by adipocere at 11:19 AM on October 7, 2009 [26 favorites]


And when you are compatible in every other way, why would someone's plumbing be the deciding factor? Sexist!

That's very odd. Are you suggesting that racial preference is hard-wired into us as sexual preference is? Perhaps so, but I have never heard any studies to indicate that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:20 AM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


If racial preference was hard-wired you'd expect to see the effects more or less equally across all races. Why, for instance, are white people over twice as likely both to say they strongly prefer to date within their race and that interracial marriage is a bad idea?
posted by aspo at 11:25 AM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


When you are compatable in every other way, why would race be the deciding factor?

I think there's some amount of assumption that people of other races can't be that compatible with you, though.
posted by thisjax at 11:26 AM on October 7, 2009


Well, that's a bit depressing.

Of course, I'm mixed (female - other - that's what that means, right?) and I guess we get a decent response rate from everyone.

I think it's weird when people express a racial preference about whom they want to date because:

1. It's incredibly rude to say in the presence of someone of a certain race that you find all members of their race unattractive

2. People of each race vary enormously in attractiveness, personality, etc. and saying that you don't like ANY of them is like saying you won't like anyone who likes strawberry ice cream. I guess it's your prerogative to date whomever you'd like, but it seems weird and overly restrictive.
posted by kathrineg at 11:26 AM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wonder how much of this is attributable to class, or perceived class. I think people would be more likely to date other races if they were of the same class (or better).
posted by desjardins at 11:29 AM on October 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


Indeed. And when you are compatible in every other way, why would someone's plumbing be the deciding factor?

Because I like sexy sex as if it were my profession??
posted by kathrineg at 11:29 AM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


wtf, white people?

And in a completely different way... wtf, black men and asian women?!
posted by rokusan at 11:31 AM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Another data point is this: Sometimes if you know just how much of a hassle it would be to bring a person of another race home, you'd just as soon skip the drama. The only thing I was concerned with when my daughter married outside her race was all the crap she and I would be dealing with from my folks. Who didn't disappoint me on that score, unfortunately. Hopefully in another generation that sort of stuff will totally die out.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:32 AM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why is it racist to not be attracted to someone outside of your own race (not a rhetorical question)?

Not being attracted to one non-white person is not racist. However, "I just don't like [any] non-white dudes" ignores any potential variation based on personality, taste, sense of humor, or anything else that might be important in a relationship. Using race as a filter means assuming that there is no difference among all non-white people, which is racist.

Not racist: I am not attracted to that black man.

Racist: I am not attracted to black men.
posted by stinker at 11:33 AM on October 7, 2009 [19 favorites]


After reading this, I feel like the data points to one thing. People want to date those who guarantee the highest amount of success, whether it be financial, a goal of a pure family line because of a concocted sense of nostalgia (the "I want my kids to look like my grandparents" remark), or how they're respected by their social network.

On the flipside, perhaps people don't want to date anyone who they think could jeopardize this. Further, if you have nothing to lose, you're trying to take the moral high ground, or you think nobody determines your future but you, you're going to be open minded.

Of course white people look racist. Statistically, white people are. You might be too if you felt that you had more on the line to lose.

This is starting to smell like class, not race. I can't prove this. Like I said, it's just a feeling that this is how things really work, brought on by a suspicion of always following the money.
posted by hanoixan at 11:34 AM on October 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


Your preference has been influenced by your racial prejudice.

So you have a prejudice against all groups that share some characteristic? That's a rather wide-ranging prejudice. So preferring blondes (random example) means you're anti-Malay, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Lao, Indian, Pakistani, Phillipino, etc. -- all on account of some underlying prejudice about what people from all these disparate ethnic backgrounds are like?

Or you just like blonde hair?

Of course, I agree that limiting choices based on such characteristics means you're a bit of a shallow douchebag, but otherwise sometimes a preference is just a preference. You want to remove aesthetics from dating? Good luck with that.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:34 AM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Are you morally required to reply about what a nice personality any random stranger who writes to you appears to have, but you just don't think it'll work?

No, but I think the point of the post is that generally response rates correspond to match percentage, except that in the case of race the response rates vary a lot between races whereas the match percentages are very similar across races. So either the match questions are skewed in some way that they miss genuine racial differences, or people are giving a relatively large amount of weight to race compared to other factors when deciding who to reply to.

Why is it racist to not be attracted to someone outside of your own race (not a rhetorical question)?

The "Is this racist or not?" question comes up in pretty much every discussion about race, and the answer is usually that people disagree because it's a subjective term and life is complicated. Personally I think the whole idea of separating everything into bins of either Racist or Not Racist is tiring and distracts from the real issues involved with whatever topic is being discussed.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:35 AM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


aspo: "Why, for instance, are white people over twice as likely both to say they strongly prefer to date within their race and that interracial marriage is a bad idea?"

When a white person dates outside of their race, they (and moreso, their children) lose a lot of the privileges that white people enjoy.
posted by kathrineg at 11:35 AM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


desjardins: they did look at that already and came up with the conclusion that, excluding racial preference, expected match percentage and race are pretty independent. The numbers are much more opaque, but it does show that the authors took that into consideration and tested to make sure that wasn't the case.
posted by aspo at 11:36 AM on October 7, 2009


hanoixan: "This is starting to smell like class, not race. I can't prove this. Like I said, it's just a feeling that this is how things really work, brought on by a suspicion of always following the money."

Why would you think that, considering that all the data points to it being an issue of race?
posted by kathrineg at 11:36 AM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does this reflect economic facts of life more directly than it does racial? (Which is not to say race doesn't effect economics.)

If, as popular wisdom says, white males rule the world (at least the "world" of the United States, or of Western Civ, or the "First World," whatever,) their seeming attractiveness to all groups might stem from the notion they have more money to spend on a date, as well as more power to exercise in more areas of their lives for a greater length of their lifetime. Making white males, in the power & money department, better prospective dates 'n' mates.

If black females are in our society's toughest straits as, again, popular wisdom suggests they are, the low incidence of replies to them suggests the possibility of it being a reaction to their societal position more than than it being a racial preference per se.

I wonder if the data indicates, at least as far as race & social power can be separated, that we are not so much a society of racists as we are a society of money-grubbers.
posted by Forrest Greene at 11:37 AM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


White women prefer white men to the exclusion of everyone else—and Asian and Hispanic women prefer them even more exclusively. These three types of women only respond well to white men. More significantly, these groups’ reply rates to non-whites is terrible.

And finally what you've always suspected is confirmed: White men might not be able to jump, but they are totally the dreamiest.
posted by ignignokt at 11:39 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Looks like hanoxian, above, wondered the same thing while I was writing.
posted by Forrest Greene at 11:39 AM on October 7, 2009


Forrest Greene: "Does this reflect economic facts of life more directly than it does racial?"

No, not really. I find it strange that people keep talking about this in terms of class when people state that they strongly prefer to date someone of their own race and all of the data is about race. I guess you should all write OkCupid and ask them to break it down based on income or some other mysterious class-based measure BESIDES race that has nothing to do with race.
posted by kathrineg at 11:40 AM on October 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


Is it racism to find one race more attractive than another?
posted by Allan Gordon at 11:42 AM on October 7, 2009


Forrest Greene: "If black females are in our society's toughest straits as, again, popular wisdom suggests they are, the low incidence of replies to them suggests the possibility of it being a reaction to their societal position more than than it being a racial preference per se."

This is still about race. It's not suddenly not about race because one group holds more institutional power than another--that's what institutionalized racism is.
posted by kathrineg at 11:42 AM on October 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


Allan Gordon: "Is it racism to find one race more attractive than another?"

Is it racism to read the thread?
posted by kathrineg at 11:42 AM on October 7, 2009 [16 favorites]


The black female data made me literally put my head in my hands. I think of all the beautiful sisters I know and it grieves me that they might see these charts.
posted by letitrain at 11:43 AM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is starting to smell like class, not race. I can't prove this.

If that's the case, there are other statistics like education level and income (although not everyone fills that one out) that they could use to help prove or disprove this. Also, the match percentages that they are using as a baseline would probably be much better at capturing class differences than physical appearance, so I don't think it would make sense that class differences would cause the reply rates to vary so much compared to the match percentages.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:44 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think we need more data, like cup sizes and penis lengths, to better understand things. Do men with small penises respond more, or less? Do women with gigantic breasts respond more or less to Indian males? Basically, I like more boobs and genitals in my data. (Doesn't everyone?)
posted by jamstigator at 11:44 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Like a hangover this is one of those things which is no less disconcerting because of its expectedness.

kathrineg:
2. People of each race vary enormously in attractiveness, personality, etc. and saying that you don't like ANY of them is like saying you won't like anyone who likes strawberry ice cream. I guess it's your prerogative to date whomever you'd like, but it seems weird and overly restrictive.


If it makes you less discouraged, these are tendencies rather than absolute rules - there are probably users who are, say, white men who never respond to black women - but the chart doesn't indicate that directly. It just points out that fewer queries by black women are responded to by white men.

adipocere:

Indeed. And when you are compatible in every other way, why would someone's plumbing be the deciding factor? Sexist!

I simply cannot wait for the day that we wear expressionless grey masks over shapeless jumpsuits and have our sexual partners selected by lottery number. Finally, all of those prejudices overcome!


Just because we accept that certain preferences seem really basic, almost as basic as our level of attraction to a certain sex, that doesn't preclude our investigation or speculation about why our preferences might be that way.

Durn Bronzefist:
Of course, I agree that limiting choices based on such characteristics means you're a bit of a shallow douchebag, but otherwise sometimes a preference is just a preference. You want to remove aesthetics from dating? Good luck with that.

Might we have preferences that are both along aesthetic lines and racial lines? At once? That interact? Desire is fickle and complex - saying that one element of desire is problematic doesn't mean that we're saying that it is the only level of desire that is salient.
posted by voronoi at 11:44 AM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


Whoa, it's like socialization factors don't even exist in here!
posted by iamkimiam at 11:45 AM on October 7, 2009


MetaFilter: What?! Wait, wait, it's gotta be class, not race. Gotta be!
posted by ignignokt at 11:47 AM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


black women are twice as likely as black men to want to date exclusively inside their race.

Back when I was single this was a constant source of profound and disheartening frustration.
posted by milarepa at 11:48 AM on October 7, 2009


Once again, for those claiming it's all just class, THEY ALREADY LOOKED AT THAT and when looking at what people say they want out of a partner, the numbers imply that race and compatibility are pretty much independent variables.

I'm not saying they are right about that, but it isn't like the authors didn't try to take that into account.
posted by aspo at 11:51 AM on October 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


When you are compatable in every other way, why would race be the deciding factor?

When dealing with people directly; where you are making your judgments based primarily based on physical appearance, I wonder if a part of it is that you are initially better disposed to identify beauty in features similar to your own; you can more easily identify the nuances of something mostly familiar rather than something compelling but more 'alien'.

When dealing with online correspondences where this doesn't apply? I've got no clue.
posted by quin at 11:52 AM on October 7, 2009


quin: "I wonder if a part of it is that you are initially better disposed to identify beauty in features similar to your own"

I think you're socialized to identify beauty in white features.
posted by kathrineg at 11:58 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


the numbers imply that race and compatibility are pretty much independent variables

And most of the compatibility is based on general things like personality traits, political views, hobbies, etc. that would be just as applicable to friends as it would be to dating. Physical appearance obviously matters with dating, but less so with friends, so it would be interesting to see related studies about how race factors into people's decisions about who they tend to become friends with.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:58 AM on October 7, 2009


Is there an "-ist" word for those who like blondes?
posted by -harlequin- at 12:02 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]



Is it racism to read the thread?


Oh, I meant outside of your own race. Sorry for not specifying.

I for instance find Indian women to be very attractive though I am not Indian. If I could exclusively date Indian women I would be happy. Am I racist?

That was what I was trying to say.

But good for you being so snarky.
posted by Allan Gordon at 12:03 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


On the one hand, interracial babies represent the best and easiest method for ending worldwide racism. On the other hand, the one non-white woman I dated screwed a drummer in my bed and came downstairs wearing my shirt afterward. On the third hand, I got to keep her thermos and it was a really nice thermos.

This is interesting stuff, though I'm always wary of trying to draw too much from the OK Cupid data set. I'd like to see this broader. I also wonder how trends differ based on number of partners. I mean, I've only really seriously dated, like, five women, four of whom I met through mutual friends. I realize that by virtue of being on OK Cupid, it means folks are looking, but I wonder how many actual people getting together that translates too, as I'd expect that relative proportion of interracial dating would go up with more partners. I would also say that, and this is based purely on my own experiences growing up in a predominantly black neighborhood, that the black people I converse with online are not the same ones that I grew up with, and I remember there being very clear racial delineations with regard to dating in my neighborhood, though it's kind of funny to me how reversed this is. In my neighborhood, black women bitterly complained about having to compete with white women for black men, but would not date a white guy until they were significantly older than the population here. Dating or marrying a white guy was a mark of becoming middle aged and settled, for the most part. Whereas I think that the black folks that I know through the internet tend to, well, conform much more to the broader internet demography by being more educated, more affluent, and more socially liberal. And I think that makes them more likely to be open to dating other people of similar socio-economic backgrounds. This could be tied in with white people not perceiving that demographic difference nearly as much, leading to latent racist outcomes.
posted by klangklangston at 12:04 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


They're probably overemphasizing the differential preferences w/their heatmap scaling, but overall OKCupid deserves quite a bit of praise for this.

First, their study might not be perfect, but to my surprise it doesn't completely and totally suck. Second, the fact that they even published these results is pretty ballsy.

Because of this study, were I single, I would gladly use this site to strike out 2/3s to 4/5s of the time.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 12:06 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


"I for instance find Indian women to be very attractive though I am not Indian. If I could exclusively date Indian women I would be happy. Am I racist?"

If you're excluding women because they're not Indian, then yes, the answer is probably, "You're racist."
posted by klangklangston at 12:07 PM on October 7, 2009


The numbers are interesting, but the conclusion is bullshit.

Denying someone a job or an apartment because of race is called racism.

Not dating someone based on race is called life. Who the hell says I have to be equal-opportunity in my romantic life? What, do I have to date little people and senior citizens now, too?

My god people, has the word 'racism' just lost any meaning at all?
posted by Sloop John B at 12:07 PM on October 7, 2009 [16 favorites]


Are you suggesting that racial preference is hard-wired into us as sexual preference is? Perhaps so, but I have never heard any studies to indicate that.

Funnily enough I was just reading about exactly this in Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale. If you see it in a bookstore, browse "The Grasshopper's Tale", pp. 397-414. I am aggressively paraphrasing but his main ideas are 1) Humans have a weird amount of "racial" variety of surface appearance, and if racial preference weren't hard-wired into us, we probably would have mostly all become Tiger-Woods-like Calablasians by now, and 2) this sort of "racial" preference is not uncommon in other animals as well (when it goes so far as to cause a split into two species, it's called sympatric speciation).
posted by dfan at 12:07 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Not dating someone based on race is called life. Who the hell says I have to be equal-opportunity in my romantic life? What, do I have to date little people and senior citizens now, too?

My god people, has the word 'racism' just lost any meaning at all?
"

Look, look, it's OK that you only want to date people of a certain race. White pride worldwide! You just may be in the wrong place to argue that it's not racist or that racism isn't bad or stupid.

And yes, you do have to date senior citizens and little people now. It was in the Stimulus Bill.

(PS—In the most basic terms, "racism" is "discrimination based on race." That might help you get it.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:12 PM on October 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


kathrineg : I think you're socialized to identify beauty in white features.

Oh, I'm certain that I am, as I suspect are most Americans who have lived for the past half century under the constant advertising blitz that has made me see a stylized version of white women as being the thing that is desirable.

But I wonder if this is still true in other countries that don't ring that particular bell so hard.
posted by quin at 12:12 PM on October 7, 2009


The last time I looked into it, I stumbled across (and wish I had kept a cite for) something suggesting that people were more likely to have had a homosexual encounter than an interracial encounter. I was originally shocked, even a little disbelieving, but when I thought about what I knew of the activities of my acquaintances I realized that the conclusion was not out of line with experience. Of my friends, I'm the only one to have dated across racial boundaries — that's weird. Interracial marriage rates with a white partner is maybe only five percent.

In any case, it's still not clear as to precisely how much or how little (or at what level: genetics, maternal affect, early experience) sexual preference is hard-wired. Sexual behavior in humans is so complex as to defy being nailed (heh) down to any single factor. Nor does it matter, to me. People have a weird subconscious attraction to certain head sizes — it's a weird thing I saw some fifteen years back, measurable, and frankly bizarre, but there it is. Head sizes. You probably have a head size type and you don't even know it. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some non-zero "hard-wired" component to racial preference living in conjunction and interacting with culture, class perceptions, feedback from your racist peers, familial expectations, and everything else. Assortative mating happens in things without big brains, too.

I'm okay with investigating for scientific purposes, and am curious about them myself, but no later than ten seconds after two differing percentages appear than someone will cry, "Aha! You're a something-ist!" Bam! It's nearly instant. The publication of analysis generates a rush to judgment, and from there a prescription: you ought to be doing this, or not doing that.

The sooner we stop telling people with whom they can or cannot or "ought to" have sex, the better. Gracious, so much emphasis on telling people what to do with their bodies, through legislation, or shaming, or summer straightness camps, or "enlightenment education," whatever. It's so Baby Jesus doesn't cry when balls touch. No, it's so, in our utopian future, careful studies for someone's grad school thesis can distinguish no correlation between X and Y. No, it's so we don't have the inevitable destruction of the family unit. No, it's because someone's feelings might be hurt.

Or, to be blunt about how I feel: fuck away, or fuck off, but "fuck you" to any fuck who tells me what the fuck to do. Whom to fuck or not to fuck, why the fuck do you care? That is the fucking question.

Now, let's nerd out and analyze some data. I need to dig up my awful/hilarious Sexual Astrology book to see how well that Zodiac data lines up with the suggested matches.
posted by adipocere at 12:15 PM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


Sloop John B: "My god people, has the word 'racism' just lost any meaning at all?"

MY GOD, PEOPLE!
posted by shmegegge at 12:16 PM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


kathrineg: "Why would you think that, considering that all the data points to it being an issue of race?"

Can I call it color racism and class racism? I'm making these terms up.

Color racism: I think most people that say that they aren't racist believe they aren't because they know how irrational it is to think that someone's skin color/nose shape/etc. determines the person they are. And even if they're the type that professes that they don't like dating X race because they usually aren't attracted to members they've come in contact with, you could probably convince them that there is someone in that race they would want to date.

Class racism: Where one prejudges someone because of their race, because they (again, irrationally) believe that because of their color and what they know about history and economics, they don't think said person had the upbringing to be good enough to be part of your circle.

In the article, the author showed how everyone said they weren't racist. I think people were answering in the voice of color racism.

I think that people are class racist much more frequently (and don't realize it as such), especially on a dating site. I think they have certain expectations about how a date's going to go, and don't want to put up with the stigmatization of not having a successful date, relationship, and future. So this is where class comes into play.

Which brings me back to my original point, that I think what we're seeing is people wanting to have successful dates, and using class racism to play the numbers.

It's all racism. Lazy racism.
posted by hanoixan at 12:18 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not dating someone based on race is called life. Who the hell says I have to be equal-opportunity in my romantic life? What, do I have to date little people and senior citizens now, too?

My god people, has the word 'racism' just lost any meaning at all?


I really doubt anyone is saying that you, personally, need to find black women to be attractive or be thought a racist.

The question people are asking when they mention racism in relation to this is: How did black women and the other disfavored groups in that report come to be in such a position?

I think it probably has something to do white men and women always being portrayed as the ultimate in romantic partners on TV and other media, while black men are tough and virile but dangerous, Asian women are exotic prizes, and Asian men deliver you food and know kung fu or some shit but never kiss anyone.
posted by ignignokt at 12:20 PM on October 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


OK, if you're a white dude and you're thinking this is more about class than race -- consider this:

If you're a white dude in America, you probably experience classism a lot more than you experience racism. You may be inclined, therefore, from your own experiences, to think that things are a result of classism, and not racism.

This does not mean that somebody who is not a white dude will experience the same things, right?
posted by Comrade_robot at 12:22 PM on October 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


I think there are degrees and degrees. Saying someone is racist does not automatically mean that they are the same as segregationists, or the KKK or ... well whatever. One can be a racist and live next work with and get along just fine with people of different ethnicities.

What I'm saying is, racism is a relative thing, which I suspect many of us embody in some manner or another. Online dating is a leap into the unknown, and dating outside your "race" may add additional elements of unknown-ness to it.... people are generally crappy about dealing with things that make them feel awkward (uknown things), look at any individual who is socially inept or exhibits some transgressive behavior (mental illness, mental retardation, severe physical disability...) and you will find a rich and ongoing history of the majority of people avoiding them, even if said individual also happens to have a fantastic personality.

I would not immediately jump up and down and scream these people are horrible people for not wanting to date outside their racial subgroups, even if it is, frankly, a silly thing for them to do. Yeah, it may well be racism but it is a far cry from the overt and damaging racism occurring every day.
posted by edgeways at 12:28 PM on October 7, 2009


sometimes a preference is just a preference. You want to remove aesthetics from dating? Good luck with that.

Exactly. Besides, dating isn't a job with the Federal government or a college application. You can be as racist as you want while dating, if it even is racism. There's no rule that says you have to like everyone or even use sensible guidelines for choosing who you like.
posted by GuyZero at 12:28 PM on October 7, 2009


kathrineg asserts: "This is still about race. It's not suddenly not about race because one group holds more institutional power than another--that's what institutionalized racism is."

Indeed. I did include such qualifiers as "Which is not to say race doesn't effect* economics." & "suggests the possibility of it being a reaction to their societal position." which I hoped would attend that objection. There is certainly plenty of racism in our society, no doubt about that.

(*And, pardon me, that should be "affect," shouldn't it?)

My question might be another way of asking "how deeply does racism descend from the mob into the individual?" That is, before other personal, individual, in-context issues take precedence, to whatever extent they do.

I guess to look into that statistically, we'd have to find a society with other actors occupying the roles of top dog & underdog, & parse their statistics. Don't know where that would be.

Other questions that arise are "Does economic prejudice trump racial prejudice?" (again, insofar as they can be separated) & "Where would you rather live, in a racist society where everyone was financially equal, or in a racially egalitarian society with big income gaps?"

Of course those last two are heavily academic & do not reflect real-world conditions anywhere I've heard of, as well as presenting false dichotomies which exclude any number of other, happier, possibilities.

Another, smallish, point is that a preference for one thing does not, in & of itself, imply an abhorrence for another, which seems to be an assumption made in many of these replies.
posted by Forrest Greene at 12:28 PM on October 7, 2009


so because an asian female didn't respond to an indian male she's a racist?

that whole theory is a nonstarter.

at no point did the asian female here indicate she believed to be superior because of her race. she just didn't respond. she said nothing. there are a lot of gradients this blog post overlooked: she can very well be tolerant of black males, she can very well like black males, this just indicates who she put in the first position on her desirability list. we do not know if the black male here is potential match number two ("I will see how my favorite one responds for now"), in third place or a very distant dead last ("hell would rather freeze over..."). we also don't know if the ones writing her were too tall, short, had moles in places she didn't like, had a crooked nose or the wrong hair color or clothing style or whatever else might tick each individual person off. it could be the music they listed.

we don't know.

this is a dating site. people look for their absolute favorite type, their dream. they do not comment on anyone not at least somewhat close to that absolute favorite ideal they have. we know nothing about whether they are racist, at least not because of that. we know who their favorites are. we know white women like white men best. nothing more, nothing less.
posted by krautland at 12:28 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm okay with investigating for scientific purposes, and am curious about them myself, but no later than ten seconds after two differing percentages appear than someone will cry, "Aha! You're a something-ist!" Bam! It's nearly instant.

Actually in my experience the reaction is almost always "But I'm not a something-ist!" even if no one is accused of being one. Or, more generally, if some sort of social problem comes up, everyone tends to claim that they aren't contributing to the problem, or that the they are contributing to that phenomenon but that it isn't actually a problem.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:29 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Will they do ageism next? Because I've come across a few profiles that BLATANTLY ADMIT TO IT. I'm 39, and I have an OkCupid profile -- and a few times now I've checked out a guy my age, or older, on OkCupid, only to see there in black-and-white that they WILL NOT respond to emails from anyone older than 35.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:34 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Comrade_robot posits: "If you're a white dude in America, you probably experience classism a lot more than you experience racism."

Which is that statement, racist or classist?
posted by Forrest Greene at 12:36 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


krautland: "so because an asian female didn't respond to an indian male she's a racist? "

no, that is not what they said.
posted by shmegegge at 12:37 PM on October 7, 2009


Obligatory link to A Girl Like Me (SLYT) re: race and beauty standards.

1. Dating whomever you want is not racist.
2. Generalizing a group as ugly/beautiful based on skin color is.
posted by yeloson at 12:40 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Denying someone a job or an apartment because of race is called racism.

Not dating someone based on race is called life.


Sure, "racism" is possibly too strong of a word to describe the motivations behind the response rates of OKCupid users, but you can't just "oh, that's just life" their data away when white women (in this data set) are basically way more concerned with dating dudes of a certain color than anyone else is concerned with dating people of a certain color. If it's not racist, it's certainly weird.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:40 PM on October 7, 2009


I knew a hot chick who wasn't interested in me, because she was exclusively into black guys, and I wasn't black.
It didn't occur to me that this was racism, I saw it as me simply not being her type. (I still see it this way.)

I know people who take it as a judgment of them personally when someone (who they like) indicates that they're not their "type". For me, it's is completely non-personal - my not being someone's type bears no reflection on me or my qualities whatsoever, and bears little to no reflection on theirs - people are turned on by all sorts of dumb irrelevant things, we just are. Some girls will pass over guys with long hair, even though a haircut could take 15 minutes. Cut the hair and some other girl will pass over you for having it short. If you're bald, you don't get a choice, but the choice was never meaningful anyway.

I think there is going to be a similar dichotomy in who feels that if the racial element in what turns people on, has some general trends in society, whether that is racism of a sort that is bothersome.

The stats are interesting. Kudos to OkCupid. Best ddating site out there for so many varied reasons.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:40 PM on October 7, 2009



Comrade_robot posits: "If you're a white dude in America, you probably experience classism a lot more than you experience racism."

Which is that statement, racist or classist?
posted by Forrest Greene at 3:36 PM on October 7 [+] [!]


So you believe white people experience a great deal of racism, then?
posted by Comrade_robot at 12:43 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, I am bad with statistics, but it seems from the last charts on the OKCupid blog that there are about 3 times as many white people as there are nonwhite people on OKCupid. How would this affect the statistics at all?
posted by 23skidoo at 12:45 PM on October 7, 2009


PS—In the most basic terms, "racism" is "discrimination based on race." That might help you get it.

Therefore, OKCupid is racist because they discriminated by race when aggregating this data.
posted by CaseyB at 12:46 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


The most racist part of the article, and I'm including the "data":

White guys are shitty, but fairly even-handed about it. The average reply rate of non-white males is 48.1%, while white guys’ is only 40.5%. Basically, they write back about 20% less often. It’s ironic that white guys are worst responders, because as we saw above they get the most replies. That has apparently made them very self-absorbed. It’s interesting that white males do manage to reply to Middle Eastern women. Is there some kind of emergent fetish there? As Middle Easterners are becoming America’s next racial bogeyman, maybe there’s some kind of forbidden fruit thing going on.

That killed their "we're not racist, but" angle.

Anyone read The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond? It's a slightly horrendous book on several fronts, but he puts forth some interesting ideas pertaining to this conversation. For example, he says:

"If you measure enough things about enough couples, here is what you'll find...the highest correlation coefficients - typically around +0.9 are for religion, ethnic background, race, socioeconomic status, age, and political views...The next highest correlation coefficients, usually around +0.4, are for measures of personality and intelligence."

According to his data, physical traits are also very important - namely length of middle finger (+0.61).

He also says the people you grew up around have a major influence on who you are sexually attracted to (hence the whole Oedipus thing, I guess).

PS - class means socioeconomic status, which is inextricably linked to race, not just how much money you make.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 12:47 PM on October 7, 2009


I'm white, and my wife is half-white, so does that make me half-racist?
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:47 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


If it's not racist, it's certainly weird.

PEOPLE ARE STRANGE WHEN YOU'RE A STRANGER, film by Jim Morrison at 11.
posted by GuyZero at 12:47 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


class means socioeconomic status, which is inextricably linked to race, not just how much money you make.

Wait, so what did class mean in 1800's England when there was only one effective "race"?
posted by GuyZero at 12:48 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


at no point did the asian female here indicate she believed to be superior because of her race.

How fortunate that a belief in one's own superiority is not the sole condition of racism.

we also don't know if the ones writing her were too tall, short, had moles in places she didn't like, had a crooked nose or the wrong hair color or clothing style or whatever else might tick each individual person off.

Except for the parts where they controlled for consensus-attractiveness, and height in men specifically.

we know white women like white men best. nothing more, nothing less.

Look, if you're not going to even bother reading past the first paragraph of the article (specifically, if you're not going to make it to the part where they enumerate exactly what they know and what they don't), and you're not going to read the conversation in the discussion thread, maybe it's not in your best interest to drop in your two cents, eh?
posted by Mayor West at 12:49 PM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


well, at first I thought these were some pretty awful conclusions to make without discussing other factors that may be involved -- shmegegge
Other factors like what? This wasn't raw data; it was data that had been controlled for their 'personality compatibility' system, which as you can see when not discussing race matches pretty well with response rate (I'm guessing the compatibility figure is included in the profile or whatever, which would probably make people more likely to respond in and of itself, look at the huge spike at 100%)

But I digress. They also corrected for attractiveness based on the picture ratings.
That's very odd. Are you suggesting that racial preference is hard-wired into us as sexual preference is? Perhaps so, but I have never heard any studies to indicate that. --Astro Zombie
Especially since Asian women prefer white men over Asian men, according to the reply matrix. Or why Black men are less interested in black women. In fact, for the women Asians, Hispanics, Indian (south Asian) and Middle eastern women on OkCupid show a preference away from their own race. I think on those terms there may be something of a selection bias going on in terms of the User base, though. You would find more traditional minded people on a site like eHarmony.
If, as popular wisdom says, white males rule the world (at least the "world" of the United States, or of Western Civ, or the "First World," whatever,) their seeming attractiveness to all groups might stem from the notion they have more money to spend on a date -- Forrest Greene
So what you're saying is, this is based on the stereotype of black people and other minorities being poor, and white people being rich, not racism? I think you need to think that through a little more. It's interesting how people will try to find absolutely any excuse they can think of in order to discount any possible example of racism in society, even when all other reasonable variables are controlled for.
And yes, you do have to date senior citizens and little people now. It was in the Stimulus Bill. -- klangklangston


Clearly the AARP has too much power. That Medicare Prescription Nookie Benefit just goes to far.
posted by delmoi at 12:50 PM on October 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


What IS race, anyway? It's a social construct. There's nothing to race. It's all arbitrary. To even talk about people in terms of race egregiously legitimizes the damn thing. It may require some creative and introspective thought to talk about people without reference to race. This is not a bad thing.
posted by clockzero at 12:53 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, I am bad with statistics, but it seems from the last charts on the OKCupid blog that there are about 3 times as many white people as there are nonwhite people on OKCupid. How would this affect the statistics at all?

It mainly just means the margin of error is lower in the statistics dealing with white people, due to larger sample sizes.

There will be other factors at work though - your profile's race is what you self-identify as, and I imagine a lot of half-white people are going to self-identify as white on a dating site, for exactly the reasons that these stats illustrate.

(For many in the dating trenches, the OkCupid examinations are not news, just a rigorous and controlled confirmation of what we already knew)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:53 PM on October 7, 2009


Also, I am bad with statistics, but it seems from the last charts on the OKCupid blog that there are about 3 times as many white people as there are nonwhite people on OKCupid. How would this affect the statistics at all?

There would be no effect, except the data would be slightly more accurate, but not by much. This is based on millions of data points, so they probably had a good statistical sample for each square in the matrices. (it would be nice to see the raw numbers, though)
posted by delmoi at 12:54 PM on October 7, 2009


It's also interesting how many people claiming this is "about class" seem to also be saying that class is intrinsically tied to race, as if minorities are intrinsically lower class even when correcting for actual class markers. In which case it actually is about race again.
posted by delmoi at 12:56 PM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


What I learned from the blog is that if you stop replying to e-mail, you will eventually turn into a white guy.
posted by storybored at 12:56 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Therefore, OKCupid is racist because they discriminated by race when aggregating this data."

Look, I'm sorry, just because you're trying to put up a noble defense of racism doesn't mean that you have to also be disingenuous.

Oh, wait, I'm getting a call.

Actually, it turns out that the number one way to try to defend racism is to be willfully disingenuous. Carry on.
posted by klangklangston at 12:57 PM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


delmoi: "Other factors like what? This wasn't raw data;"

other factors like the fact that I've never responded to anything sent me ever on the site because I got a girlfriend shortly after joining. other factors like anything I can't think of and everything I can.

I understand that they had control data, and I think they did a remarkably decent job with their data, on the whole. but the conclusions I'm referring to when I say "at first I thought these were some pretty awful conclusions to make" are the conclusions like "White guys are shitty, but fairly even-handed about it," and "As Middle Easterners are becoming America’s next racial bogeyman, maybe there’s some kind of forbidden fruit thing going on." no matter how good their data wrangling has been, no data supports the conclusions "white guys are shitty" or "maybe there's some kind of forbidden fruit thing going on."

so that's what I meant. and bear in mind, this is not me being all like "blargle, this isn't racism, blah!"
posted by shmegegge at 1:00 PM on October 7, 2009


Comrade_robot presents the logical fallacy called, IIRC, The Unwarrented Conclusion: "So you believe white people experience a great deal of racism, then?"

One thing I believe is that people, in the aggregate, tend to like artificial, theoretical either/or explanations for complex, multi-faceted actual phenomena. I further believe that is because, as a species, we are so damn stupid.
posted by Forrest Greene at 1:02 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


So that's a yes, then?
posted by Comrade_robot at 1:04 PM on October 7, 2009


I'm white, but the love of my life is highly mixed, including some white ancestry. Does this make me really racist or really non-racist? Someone please tell me what I am!
posted by Edgewise at 1:05 PM on October 7, 2009


Is it really "racist" to prefer to date a person of a specific race? ...it seems like you should be free to prefer to associate with people based on whatever criteria you want without fear of criticism...

Yes, it is a form of racism to not date a person of another race, based on that person's race, particularly when its clear that white people are the most exclusive in regards to this (according to OKCupid).

And emphatically, no, you should not be free to "associat(e) with people based on whatever criteria you want" without social condemnation. There are so many reasons this is a scary perspective (and one that racist, sexist, and classist individuals and institutions use ALL THE TIME) that I am pretty sure you didn't even think about it when you wrote it down.
posted by RajahKing at 1:07 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sweet Jeebus, people. They asked if people would "strongly prefer to date someone of your own skin color/background." 45% of white people said yes. 20% of non-whites said yes. All the people who said yes are discriminating based on race. There are probably other people who said no because they would date whites and asians, but wouldn't date blacks and hispanics. Those people are discriminating based on race, too.

I'm not saying these people harbor ill will towards other races. But I think it clearly is a racist attitude to have.
posted by snofoam at 1:07 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


krautland: this is a dating site. people look for their absolute favorite type, their dream. they do not comment on anyone not at least somewhat close to that absolute favorite ideal they have.

Wow, your experience with dating sites is completely different from mine. When I did the whole Internet-dating thing, it was a numbers game. Date a lot of people and see who you click with. Very little emotional investment in that first date.

But that was a while ago. Maybe it's different now. Maybe the profiles are so revealing, so insightful, that you can just bypass most of those first dates because you can get a true sense of the person by reading a few words about them.

But maybe it is still a numbers game after all. In which case, it's kind of surprising that approaches from one ethnic group or another would be so met with such starkly different reactions, especially given that race doesn't correlate to OKCupid's match rate.

Rejecting someone's advance out of hand because of race, regardless of how well they match you, sounds like racism to me. If race did correlate to other factors that were significant to matching, we could shrug and say perhaps it's not race. But that doesn't seem to be the case. We don't have that fig leaf to hide behind.
posted by adamrice at 1:08 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Especially since Asian women prefer white men over Asian men, according to the reply matrix. Or why Black men are less interested in black women. In fact, for the women Asians, Hispanics, Indian (south Asian) and Middle eastern women on OkCupid show a preference away from their own race. I think on those terms there may be something of a selection bias going on in terms of the User base, though.

I think this is it. The user base of OkCupid is not necessarily a representative sample of people in general - quite possibly the opposite. Perhaps OkCupid attracts non-white women who are specifically looking to date white guys.
posted by GuyZero at 1:09 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Obligatory _Avenue Q_ link
posted by mikelieman at 1:12 PM on October 7, 2009


Comrade_robot: "So that's a yes, then?"

When was the last time you picked your toes in Poughkeepsie?
posted by Forrest Greene at 1:12 PM on October 7, 2009


Comrade_robot: "So that's a yes, then?"

When was the last time you picked your toes in Poughkeepsie?
posted by Forrest Greene at 4:12 PM on October 7 [+] [!]


OK, just wanted to make sure that was a yes. Thanks.
posted by Comrade_robot at 1:13 PM on October 7, 2009


Date a lot of people and see who you click with.
not so different from what I was thinking about. I was trying to express that you have a certain type and you try to find that on there. or maybe one or two people close to it. there might very well be ten in that realm. but who you responds to only indicates who you like most, not least.

rejecting someone because of their race would be racist, yes. but we don't know if that was the motivator. the author just claimed that without having proven it.
posted by krautland at 1:13 PM on October 7, 2009


what did class mean in 1800's England when there was only one effective "race"?

I guess you forgot about that whole "slavery"/colonialism thing? Easily done, easily done.

What IS race, anyway? It's a social construct. There's nothing to race. It's all arbitrary. To even talk about people in terms of race egregiously legitimizes the damn thing. It may require some creative and introspective thought to talk about people without reference to race. This is not a bad thing.

Yes, such a popular position. Lots of scientists have adopted it so they don't look like nazis or eugenisists. Although many genetic differences between humans point to humans being ridiculously similar across "races", there are some racial differences that can be useful in medicine. I don't think it's all that productive to deny race or to brush it off as a construction in light of this. That said, it's really not "arbitrary" at all.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 1:15 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


the author just claimed that without having proven it.

Did you read the article? It's all about trying to prove people are motivated based on race, and I think they do a reasonable job of showing that race does play a part in peoples selection process.
posted by chunking express at 1:16 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, first off: you guys taking about people's individual motivations are not understanding how statistics work. You can extrapolate from many individuals to determine trends within a group, but you cannot extrapolate from trends within a group to define individual behavior.

Now to my point... OKCupid is basing this on their match criteria which appears to be pretty successful when applied across the entire data set. However, I strongly suspect that the first couple exchanges between people on OKCupid correlate much more directly to the physical attractiveness of the sender's profile photo, than to any of the text-based elements of the match criteria.

In other words, when you have little else to go on, you are disproportionately focused on looks (cough).

I doubt anyone's going to argue that looks are not a valid criterion for romance. Well, your race directly affects your looks. Therefore, race is a relevant part of a valid criterion for romance. It's not necessarily "evil racism" to be biased about race when dating, like it would be for employment (where one's race has no inherent relevance to one's performance).

To be clear: it is racism, by strict definition. It's just not necessarily damaging or malicious racism (which is how we usually use the term) and you can't make blanket statements about people's characters on that basis.

But while race can be a fair and relevant criterion, it is not necessarily so. I'd go so far as to say that people with race-based romantic preferences owe it to themselves to do some introspection, and figure out the extent to which their bias is purely visual (and therefore valid, albeit superficial), versus the extent to which it's tied to crappy arbitrary social prejudice.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:18 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


yellow fever

WOLVERINES!
posted by Artw at 1:23 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


other factors like the fact that I've never responded to anything sent me ever on the site because I got a girlfriend shortly after joining. other factors like anything I can't think of and everything I can.
Are you saying that getting a girlfriend right away after signing up is related to race? Because that's the only way that random events like that would skew towards one race and away from another. Otherwise, they would even out and not have much of an effect on the data (compare the results with the zodiac, which had no effect. If there was a lot of background noise, they would show up in those graphs as well)
I think this is it. The user base of OkCupid is not necessarily a representative sample of people in general - quite possibly the opposite. Perhaps OkCupid attracts non-white women who are specifically looking to date white guys.
Right, but I don't think that OkCupid users would tend to be more racially discriminating the overall, since this is a site that presents itself as a "liberal", "hip" type of site. I think more traditional minded people on sites like eharmony would be even more likely to show in-group preferences, particularly Hispanics, Asian, etc women who are less interested in dating their own group then white men.
posted by delmoi at 1:24 PM on October 7, 2009


I think the most interesting thing about this is that klangklangston has three hands.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:24 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


So either the match questions are skewed in some way that they miss genuine racial differences, or people are giving a relatively large amount of weight to race compared to other factors when deciding who to reply to.

Well, another option is that everyone knows that these sorts of matches are based on the shallowest of surface characteristics -- I am liberal; I like model trains and long walks on the beach; I hate Zamfir despite his mastery of the pan flute. The computer says you also are liberal and hate Zamfir! Even the much-ballyhooed eHarmony seems to not do a whole lot more than run you through an automated Meyers-Briggs and run principal components on your answers.

But it's not unreasonable to think that someone of a different race from you is likely to have had a strongly different upbringing than you had, strongly different life experiences, a notably different worldview, perhaps different customs and so on. So that your expectation of compatibility is lower, maybe drastically lower, than someone from a similar background as you, even if both of those people gave exactly the same responses.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:25 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


They asked if people would "strongly prefer to date someone of your own skin color/background." 45% of white people said yes. 20% of non-whites said yes. All the people who said yes are discriminating based on race.

Well, whoa there a bit. The "/background" in the question opens things up somewhat. For example, my 20-something Jewish roommate mostly dates Jewish guys for reasons that are definitely more cultural/religious than racist, and Judaism is highly (though not exclusively) correlated with "white" people.
posted by kittyprecious at 1:25 PM on October 7, 2009


In other words, when you have little else to go on, you are disproportionately focused on looks

And white people are the most attractive, so it makes sense.

Which is also why white people also disproportionately prefer to date their own race, and think that interracial marriage is a bad idea.
posted by catchingsignals at 1:28 PM on October 7, 2009


Meanwhile, people continue to be attracted to people that look like them.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:15 PM on October 7


I've been meaning to write about this. Google a pic of Seal and Heidi Klum and take a hard look at hem, particularly around the eyes, cheeks and lips. Now please tell me that Heidi isn't a white german female version of Seal.

Yeah, that's right: THEY LOOK LIKE EACH OTHER.

you dont have to be of the same race to fulfill that primal urge :)
posted by liza at 1:30 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not racist: I am not attracted to that black man.
Racist: I am not attracted to black men.


I must be racist. I don't like dark skin. I don't even date white women with tans -- it's a turn-off. I also don't like fat chicks, really big or really small boobs, blond hair, big feet, or girls over about 5'5".

Interesting that only one of my preferences makes me a bad person (unless of course one of the other turn-offs applies to you, in which case, I'm just an asshole).

Sue me.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:32 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


White guys are shitty, but fairly even-handed about it.

Say, now. Who are you calling even-handed?
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:33 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Must focus on the 80- and 90% "no" answers to the last two questions instead of despairing.
posted by catchingsignals at 1:34 PM on October 7, 2009


I can't wait to see JDate run this sort of analysis.
posted by ryoshu at 1:35 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


delmoi: "Are you saying that getting a girlfriend right away after signing up is related to race?"

no, but consider the possibility that certain behaviors might trend one way or another along racial lines because of something like, say, the privilege (or lack thereof) associated with being one race or another, and that these trends might not be indicative of racism on the part of a given race, but rather the inherent racism of our culture. if such trends exist, and I believe that it's a strong possibility, then the conclusion of "white guys are shitty" is not born out by the data. this is, quite literally, all that I meant.

a non-dating example: remember when we had that post about some horrifically high in fat fried chicken burger that everybody was saying would be bought by fat, ignorant slobs and which someone went online and discovered photos of exclusively skinny, white, 20-something hipsters eating? my point is that racial, social and class divides occur, in certain respects, because of the heavily institutionalized racism of a culture such that while the conclusion "racism is alive and well" is a sound one, the conclusion "white guys are shitty" is not as sound. again, that is literally all that I meant. if you believe that there are no other factors outside of white guys being shitty that could have accounted for that statistic in this particular blog post, then fine. I think we can only agree to disagree and that's fine with me.

and finally, I'd like to once again remind you that this is NOT me saying "this isn't racism!" this is me saying that I was surprised by their initial conclusions, UNTIL I saw the survey chart at the bottom, at which point double yoo tee eff, etc... if you're trying to paint me into some corner of defending or denying racism, please reconsider.
posted by shmegegge at 1:36 PM on October 7, 2009


But it's not unreasonable to think that someone of a different race from you is likely to have had a strongly different upbringing than you had, strongly different life experiences, a notably different worldview, perhaps different customs and so on. So that your expectation of compatibility is lower, maybe drastically lower, than someone from a similar background as you, even if both of those people gave exactly the same responses.

For OKCupid this doesn't seem to be true, for me at least. There are thousands of specific questions that can be answered to make up the match score, and they are weighted by how important you think they are. The match system isn't perfect of course, but ignoring the fairly in-depth match percentage in favor of a generalization about cultural differences based on race seems silly.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:37 PM on October 7, 2009


Also, there are TONS of websites for particular ethinic/racial communities looking to date exclusively "their own". "White people" in NorthAm are a seriously diverse group.

We probably wouldn't find people from the Egyptian Coptic or Bengali or Tamil or Igbo or any other community with a strong preference/pressure for marrying in-group on a liberal site like this. Right?
posted by pick_the_flowers at 1:37 PM on October 7, 2009


What IS race, anyway? It's a social construct. There's nothing to race. It's all arbitrary.

I've heard Henry Gates express disagreement with that statement, and it seems to me that objection is well-founded. Unless you believe something other than genetics is responsible for racial features, then it seems like there's at least a mild biological distinction.

That doesn't mean using race as a heuristic for individual characteristics is a generally a good idea, and we should still work for a more equitable society. But I don't think denying any biological correlatives is a good idea.
posted by weston at 1:42 PM on October 7, 2009


But I wonder if this is still true in other countries that don't ring that particular bell so hard.

Eh, this sort of thing does go on in many countries, even in those with a very small number of white people. Take certain Asian countries or places in Africa where some of the top selling "beauty treatments" are skin lighteners and creams that are sold with names along the lines of Super White. A lot of companies use white models in ads in those countries as well. If you take too much sun, you are peasantlike, but if you have beautiful white skin, you are beautiful. Asian beauty stores sell eyelid tape to prop open the monolid and give the appearance of eyelids. There's even plastic surgery to accomplish this. I remember readng a story about some women in Africa who used some caustic cream which turned out to damage their skin and cause infections, all because they wanted to be lighter. In some South American countries, I recall polls/census where a lot of people put themselves down as white. Now, granted, Latinos can be white (I certainly am), but the corresponding oddness was that very few would list themselves as mestizo or mixed at all, and fewer identified as black. In some nations still, it's shameful to be dating a black person. My father and his sisters heard the line.

There's a lot of ingrained notions around the world that prize white as beautiful. It only makes sense that some of this seeps in, even possibly by way of cultural values from other countries.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:43 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


So, a while back, I found myself living in Carson California, working in Compton, seeing nary another white person except on an infrequent basis. Black, hispanic, polynesian... all brown faces, dark hair, dark eyes... even my roomate was American Indian. After a couple of months of this, some interesting things started to happen to me. Blonde hair began to seem eye-catchingly unusual -- not necessarily attractive, really, just something my brain would say "Hey, that's unusual." I'd see a white person and I'd have an "warning, out-of-context, what are they *doing* here?" (how's that for hypocrisy?). And most weirdly, I'd come home at night and look in the mirror and think "Whoa! I'm white! That's weird." I looked weird and different to myself, even though I'd only been there a few months, even though I'd grown up my whole life in a pretty white community.

Right around that time is when I started to think brown people looked better. I moved out of Carson not too long after that, but another year in brown-leaning LA reinforced this. To the point that for no small period of time after I went back to my largely white home, it was shocking to me. And I didn't think most white girls looked very good: pink and pale, plump-cheeked, pigish. I dated only lightly until I went with a nice Vietnamese American girl for a while.

I can tell you for certain that on any conscious or intellectual level, I didn't believe that skin color was any particular indicator of temperament or talent, character or potential. Nevertheless, for a time, I clearly had preferences that fell along racial lines. Was that racist?

It turned out to be a stage, it might have been a kind of fetishization of exoticism, but the weird experiences where I started to see whiteness as "other" -- where I had no preparation for this at all growing up -- suggest to me that there's some aspect of biology or brain-wiring at work.
posted by weston at 1:44 PM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


blue_beetle: Meanwhile, people continue to be attracted to people that look like them.

Please don't call my wife ugly.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:46 PM on October 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


It's just not necessarily damaging or malicious racism (which is how we usually use the term) and you can't make blanket statements about people's characters on that basis.

Knowing somebody who happens to be a black woman and has repeatedly been rebuffed on dating sites by the near-total disinterest in her, I'd say it might be a little bit damaging.

Interesting that only one of my preferences makes me a bad person (unless of course one of the other turn-offs applies to you, in which case, I'm just an asshole).

You actually kind of are. I wouldn't be so blunt about it, but you broached it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:47 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


What IS race, anyway? It's a social construct. There's nothing to race. It's all arbitrary.

Roland Barthes, from "The Death of the Author," on language:
The association of sound and representation is the outcome of a collective training (for instance the learning of the French tongue); this association–which is the signification–is by no means arbitrary (for no French person is free to modify it), indeed it is, on the contrary, necessary.... We shall therefore say in general terms that in the language the link between the signifier and signified is contractual in its principle, but that this contract is collective, inscribed in a long temporality (Saussure says that 'a language is always a legacy'), and that consequently it is, as it were, naturalized; in the same way, Levi-Strauss specified that the linguistic sign is arbitrary a priori but non-arbitrary a posteriori.
Social constructs are among the most unequivocal objects that shape human existence and perception. Race won't go away when you stick your fingers in your ears, because to the majority of humanity race exists and shapes the way they think and behave. Its nominal arbitrariness is irrelevant, and its weight as a concept needs to be acknowledged and dealt with.
posted by invitapriore at 1:49 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


But it's not unreasonable to think that someone of a different race from you is likely to have had a strongly different upbringing than you had, strongly different life experiences, a notably different worldview, perhaps different customs and so on.

Interesting point. I think this might be especially true if you are a racist.
posted by snofoam at 1:50 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


But it's not unreasonable to think that someone of a different race from you is likely to have had a strongly different upbringing than you had, strongly different life experiences, a notably different worldview, perhaps different customs and so on.

I don't think you can make this assumption about race, unless you're also going to make it about, say, place of origin. I've dated girls from Southern California, and they have much less in common with me than the black girl who was raised by her white mother than I briefly dated in Minneapolis.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:51 PM on October 7, 2009


To be clear, I didn't date the mother.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:52 PM on October 7, 2009


cmgonzalez - head on down to your local drugstore and have a look at the massive selection of creams and make up available to make white people looked tanned. Let's not even get started on the creepiness that is Sunset Tan.

People in Africa don't want to look white, per se, they want to look rich. And rich, right now, means you spend all your time indoors and therefore have lighter skin than the poor people walking in the sun.

It may change at some later date - after all, white Victorians were nuts about their ladies being white as paper.

This is, of course, more fodder for the argument that race and class are inextricably linked!
posted by pick_the_flowers at 1:52 PM on October 7, 2009


Since I've dated a couple of black women, it's nice knowing that racists and anti-racists would agree I'm not racist--but life's not that simple. Some racist creeps like women from a particular race because they think they'll be more submissive. It's sweet to think that in romance, people always seek equals, but that's often not true.

burnmp3s noted "there are other statistics like education level and income (although not everyone fills that one out)" I would find OKCupid's results more convincing if they'd factored in those things. Addressing race while ignoring class always distorts the results.
posted by shetterly at 1:53 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm white, and my wife is half-white, so does that make me half-racist?

It makes you a wishy-washy flip-flopper, is what it does.
posted by rokusan at 1:54 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am glad I we got to mark off the "class issue" space on the race Bingo card so early.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:54 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I think the most interesting thing about this is that klangklangston has three hands."

I've got three arms to love you, honey, three arms to hold you.

"Say, now. Who are you calling even-handed?"

All you quad-armed simps.
posted by klangklangston at 1:54 PM on October 7, 2009


I think you're socialized to identify beauty in white features.

Well, I think white mean are oafish and silly looking.

I don't know if that's because of my racism, though. It might just be self-loathing.
posted by rokusan at 1:55 PM on October 7, 2009


liza, and weston

These things remind me of my experiences being in Japan on vacation. Almost everyone there is Japanese, but I would quickly start seeing people that totally reminded me of non-asian friends. Mostly purely visually, like seeing a stranger on a subway. Maybe sometimes there would also be mannerisms or whatever to add to the resemblance.
posted by snofoam at 1:55 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


white men, even. Stupid keyboard.
posted by rokusan at 1:57 PM on October 7, 2009


dating isn't a job with the Federal government or a college application. You can be as racist as you want while dating, if it even is racism.

Exactly. At least, if you accept that "discrimination on the basis of race = racism" definition espoused above, yes, this is exactly where it gets you. But it muddles any useful notion of racism. As CaseyB alludes, "discrimination" is merely noting a distinction between two things. If I look at two people and can discern that one of them is of a different race than another, I have discriminated, but who cares? What we're generally after is unjust discrimination.

If I refuse to hire someone, or I fire them, because of the length of their hair, or hair style, or whether or not they have tattoos, or because I don't like how tall or how short they are, it's unjust if it's not directly related to the job. (I suppose if I were hiring actors, all these things might be relevant) People have a right to equal opportunity to consideration for these positions. No one has a right to an equal opportunity to date you. The whole notion is absurd.

Of my friends, I'm the only one to have dated across racial boundaries

Huh. Of my friends, not one hasn't (including me). And of our wider circle of friends, I've now been to four -- no five -- weddings in just over two years, and all of them were "inter-racial" (and four of them inter-religious as well). Maybe we just have a thing for Indian and East Asian women. Which I guess would be racist. (But I'm dating a white Quebecois girl now, I swear!)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:00 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


P.S. I did follow aspo's link, but it led to a page about religion, not wealth or income.
posted by shetterly at 2:00 PM on October 7, 2009


here are my experiences with okcupid:

1st girl i dated had borderline personality syndrome and got very stalkery so i had to delete my account...
2nd girl i went out with sent me filthy text messages the day after we went out...... that were intended from someone else.
3rd girl cried on our second date. then called me back the next morning to apologize and say she had a bad week, then cried again the next time we went out.

i dunno if i have bad luck, or if its just me, or if okcupid is just like that, but i no longer have an account there...
posted by empath at 2:01 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Uh, I hate to be the guy that actually references the article in question, but we all need to step back and actually understand the data, here.

They're doing a comparison between the expected response rates vs. the actual response rates. When there's a difference between those two rates, they highlight them with a red/green heatmap. If there's really nothing to talk about, there'd be a very boring heatmap of mostly yellow - which is what you see in their whole signs of the zodiac thing. People either don't care about their potential date's sign, or they're remarkably not sign-ist.

So, if race doesn't matter in this context, the resulting heatmap should be similarly boring. It's not. It's REALLY not. In fact, forget race for a moment and consider only gender - the heatmaps tell us at a glance that in general, males tend to respond to female senders more than you'd expect, and females, in general, tend to respond to male senders less than you'd expect. That men are more receptive to female approaches than vice versa - is this controversial? No.

However, there are exceptions to the gender conclusions. And some of those exceptions tell really unfortunate stories when you take sample splits by race.

Now, some people are arguing that all they're measuring is the effect of looks, looks as proxy for race, etc. Well, the only way that equating looks w/race isn't racist is if the bell curve of attractiveness is somehow left or right shifted depending on race. That could be true - but it's not very likely. Some people are also arguing that this is just measuring personal preference and that therefore even if the data is actually showing us racism, it's not really the malicious kind.

In fact, it's worse. It's institutionalized, society level racism - the kind that can't be pinned down on just one person because it's not their particular job to date old people or midgets. Further, if you actually look at the heatmaps, there's an incredible result there, where none of the other racial groups respond as frequently as you'd expect to BOTH black men and women (seen as horizontal red or reddish tones, all the way across) - even black women and men, respectively.

There could be something else going on here, but one could easily argue that one of the things this is telling us is that something in our culture is telling us that black people aren't attractive, to the point that even black people believe that, and worse - act on that. Cue the whole racist standard of beauty argument.

The more I think about these results, the worse we (as a culture) look.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 2:01 PM on October 7, 2009 [40 favorites]


i know i'm not racist because my gfriend is from glorious nippon (i am studying japanese at college (through fansubs of various anime)) ^_^
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:05 PM on October 7, 2009 [14 favorites]


I love that everyone is bragging about how they have dated non-whites.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 2:06 PM on October 7, 2009 [20 favorites]


As for interracial marriage in the US: "Factoring in all racial combinations, Stanford University sociologist Michael Rosenfeld calculates that more than 7 percent of America’s 59 million married couples in 2005 were interracial, compared to less than 2 percent in 1970."
posted by shetterly at 2:07 PM on October 7, 2009


So pretty much everyone replies somewhere between 20% and 50% of the time. I don't know if that counts as a huge difference. The male/female divide is far more profound, and I will place a little side bet that the fat/skinny divide is going to be huge when they get around to analyzing that one, if they haven't already.

I wonder what'd be concluded if the data were sorted by reply rates vs race, ie of those people who reply to about 60% of messages, do they proportionately reply more to blacks, whites, Asians, etc? What about 20% repliers, or 80% repliers? And so on. Does higher reply percentage indicate less fussiness, higher diligence, higher kindness, etc? (OkCupid actually does attempt to analyze characteristics like fussiness, diligence and kindness.)

On the subject of race and aesthetics, the notion of race in itself is the aggregate package of a number of distinct characteristics. Mostly we pay attention to facial feature characteristics such as eye, nose, philtrum, chin etc shape, placement, breadth, curvature etc. We can look at a photo and say "that man is probably Chinese" or "that woman is probably Armenian or Turkish" - the name of the ethnicity is a summary of dozens to hundreds of feature markers.

We individually and collectively assign aesthetic weightings to feature markers, most notably symmetry (which AFAIK doesn't actually correlate with race), and also apparent youth (which definitely does correlate with some races, although on the average one can be expected to be better at assessing the ages of persons of one's own race simply due to exposure to one's own family at a range of ages). However we also assign aesthetic weightings to characteristics that some human races, on the average, possess more or less of than others. Those who particularly like "sharp" features, for instance, if asked to look through a set of photos of Iranians and Samoans, are likely to find more matches among the Iranians; those who like "round" features, will find more matches among the Samoans. That is, it's not so much that the preference follows race, that the race follows the preference. Which comes first though, is an interesting question, and subconscious attempts to economically and socially analyze one's prospects with a partner are certainly going on.

Also complicating matters is that among some "races" as commonly defined, the degree of divergence of features is greater than others; they/we are actually many races, as distinct from each other as from any other extended-family group, who are aggregated in the cultural mindset because race is so much a sociopolitical construct, and the social construction of it much more influenced by skin colour than anything else. It is likely that a Dane, a Ukranian, and a Black Irish person on OkCupid will all be thought to be "white"; while a Somali, a Papuan, and a Fijian will all be thought to be "black". If an Italian is asked to quickly choose a person of his/her own race, I would expect that the Italian is most likely to choose one of the whites.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:07 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


pick_the_flowers, when you got it, flaunt it.
posted by shetterly at 2:07 PM on October 7, 2009


-harlequin-: "There will be other factors at work though - your profile's race is what you self-identify as, and I imagine a lot of half-white people are going to self-identify as white on a dating site, for exactly the reasons that these stats illustrate."

Actually, I'd imagine that they'd put themselves as "Other", which is what I do.
posted by kathrineg at 2:08 PM on October 7, 2009


pick_the_flowers: "People in Africa don't want to look white, per se, they want to look rich. And rich, right now, means you spend all your time indoors and therefore have lighter skin than the poor people walking in the sun."

Really, you don't think the history of colonialism and the continued prevalence of Western notions of beauty has anything to do with it?
posted by kathrineg at 2:10 PM on October 7, 2009


shetterly: "Since I've dated a couple of black women, it's nice knowing that racists and anti-racists would agree I'm not racist"

Oh, don't worry, no one said that.
posted by kathrineg at 2:11 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hang on.

They're doing a comparison between the expected response rates vs. the actual response rates.

I'll admit I'm not a statistics expert, but...how exactly are they deriving at the figure FOR the "expected response rate"? And how do we know THAT formula is correct?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:11 PM on October 7, 2009


Not dating someone based on race is called life.

Doing anything because of race (except maybe offering sunscreen) is racism.

if racial preference weren't hard-wired into us

Yeah, it's so hardwired into us that the Welsh still show the genetic imprint of having traders from the Mediterranean visit them thousands of years ago.

Xenophilia and xenophobia are equally represented in human behavior.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:12 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it racist to prefer the 100m over marathons?
posted by ooga_booga at 2:16 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Kathrineg - not as much as white people would love to believe it so. You wouldn't necessarily think the multi-million dollar tanning industry means white people want to be the exotic other would you? I think it's an ethnocentric assumption.

Also depends where you go in Africa. Anyone who things the Americanization they've seen in Mexico and Central/South America is also going on in Africa in the same manner is way off the mark.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 2:17 PM on October 7, 2009


Oh, don't worry, no one said that.

kathrineg, that was my point. Spherical cow antiracists think that looking exclusively at race in dating will identify racism. It won't.
posted by shetterly at 2:17 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Would a preference to Mozart over rap indicate racism?
posted by semmi at 2:17 PM on October 7, 2009


It's a little distanceish.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:17 PM on October 7, 2009


Come on people. Hasn't he suffered enough? It was over 30 years ago!!!
posted by Damn That Television at 2:20 PM on October 7, 2009


"I love that everyone is bragging about how they have dated non-whites."

I'd date more of them, but my girlfriend won't let me.
posted by klangklangston at 2:20 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let me pause a moment to say that if you are white, and some of you probably are, and you're in a thread where the subject is race, and your response is to mock the discussion by making it into some dismissive reductio ad absurdum joke, as some of you have -- well, it sort of strikes me as bad form, and a pretty classic expression of privilege. Race is already a hard thing to talk about, and it's a subject that is loaded with pain for a lot of people, and when they express concerns, even if you disagree, they may be a better way to respond than to act as though it was beneath seriousness.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:21 PM on October 7, 2009 [21 favorites]


semmi: "Would a preference to Mozart over rap indicate racism?"

What does this have to do with anything? Anything at all?
posted by kathrineg at 2:22 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I say that knowing I am guilty of it too.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:22 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


shetterly: "kathrineg, that was my point. Spherical cow antiracists think that looking exclusively at race in dating will identify racism. It won't."

Who are these strawpeople of whom you speak? Are any of them Maoists?
posted by kathrineg at 2:23 PM on October 7, 2009


Of course, pulling the bingo card shit is not going to make any discussion go well either.
posted by Artw at 2:24 PM on October 7, 2009


What specifically is your complaint about the Bingo card?
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:24 PM on October 7, 2009


That is, it's not so much that the preference follows race, that the race follows the preference.

I prefer "breathing," but I'm not always that picky.
posted by ryoshu at 2:24 PM on October 7, 2009


GuyZero: Wait, so what did class mean in 1800's England when there was only one effective "race"?

1800s England didn't have "only one effective race." At least not to the people at that time. They considered the Irish and Scottish and Welsh to be completely different races, with generalized stereotypical traits. And class was also as important to the stratification of English society as these racial divisions. Class based on genealogy, occupation, and town of birth.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 2:25 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


This one actually had me dwelling on it. I'm man of mixed heritage (black mom, white dad) and yet I steadfastly refuse to date black women (I'm just not attracted). I never actually thought of myself as racist, though, as I never had any thoughts about racial superiority or inferiority. It seems, though, that to be defined as racist, you just have to favor, for whatever reason, one race over another, not just the more sinister "WHITE POWER!" or "DOWN WITH $ETHNICITY" connotation.

Unfortunate. I guess ME = NOT RACIST.
posted by Imhotep is Invisible at 2:25 PM on October 7, 2009


it's not so much that the preference follows race, that the race follows the preference. Which comes first though, is an interesting question

I decided about a week ago, appropos of nothing, that I find a particular curvature of nose very unattractive. I wonder how one might go about finding out which ethnicities I'm "discriminating" against, since I myself have no clue which ones carry this trait.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:27 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Class based on genealogy, occupation, and town of birth.

My sole point being that yes, class can be separated from race. It may be intertwined, but they're not inseparable.
posted by GuyZero at 2:28 PM on October 7, 2009


What specifically is your complaint about the Bingo card?

They're a condensed strawman in a can. They are used not to have a conversation but to issue a judgement. They help no-one, they proove nothing, and are intolerably smug. In short, everything wrong about them is everything wrong about FAILers, but at at least your free form FAILer puts in some effort - bingocards are some lazy ass bullshit.
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on October 7, 2009 [9 favorites]


kathrineg, I don't know a single Maoist. How's that relevant?

To help you out here, I'm not denying that race is a factor in dating. I'm saying that the numbers from OKCupid do not give an accurate picture. If you believe in intersectionality, you have to look at intersections--and in this case, the intersection of race and class would seem to be extremely pertinent. Why, for example, do Indian women appear to be astonishingly racist in their response rate to Indian men?
posted by shetterly at 2:30 PM on October 7, 2009


that I find a particular curvature of nose very unattractive

Since the study factored in attractiveness, I am not sure what this has to do with the discussion. People weren't being discriminated against for the shapes of their noses, but for their race.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:30 PM on October 7, 2009


There is an implicit assumption that okcupid's sociometry and psychometry is valid for their non-random sample. I have a profile on okcupid and they have psychometrized me. It is highly suspect. All the data is self-report and I punted on any question I didn't know the answer to or I didn't care to reveal the answer to which means I answered (this is a guess) only about a quarter of their questions. For the okcupid people to try and make inferences from their data suggests to me they understand very little about making real inferences from real data.
posted by bukvich at 2:30 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


bingocards are some lazy ass bullshit

Trite, snarky dismissal meets trite, rehashed argument. Two will enter... hopefully none will leave.
posted by GuyZero at 2:30 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


So you really find no black women attractive at all? Okay. Sort of surprising because there is a huge range of appearance under the label "black".
posted by kathrineg at 2:30 PM on October 7, 2009


shetterly: "in this case, the intersection of race and class would seem to be extremely pertinent. "

Why?
posted by kathrineg at 2:31 PM on October 7, 2009


Durn Bronzefist: "I decided about a week ago, appropos of nothing, that I find a particular curvature of nose very unattractive. I wonder how one might go about finding out which ethnicities I'm "discriminating" against, since I myself have no clue which ones carry this trait."

Yes, that is what this is about, determining whom you would and would not sleep with and then calling you a bigot.
posted by kathrineg at 2:32 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Since the study factored in attractiveness, I am not sure what this has to do with the discussion.

Because I am dumb, although I read the study, can someone please explain how they quantified "attractiveness" to control for it?
posted by GuyZero at 2:35 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie, confess: You're totally white aren't you?! Stuff white people like #101: being offended "As a rule, white people strongly prefer to get offended on behalf of other people."
posted by pick_the_flowers at 2:35 PM on October 7, 2009


They're a condensed strawman in a can. They are used not to have a conversation but to issue a judgement. They help no-one, they proove nothing, and are intolerably smug. In short, everything wrong about them is everything wrong about FAILers, but at at least your free form FAILer puts in some effort - bingocards are some lazy ass bullshit.

Totally disagree. They're useful in summing up the cliches around a specific discussion; in this instance, they pinpoint responses that you'll typically hear when a discussion of race comes up. In some contexts, these responses might be valid, but in many, they're dismissive, effectively moving the discussion away from one of race. It's worth knowing what these are. It's especially worth noting that the "it's class" thing came up almost immediately, without mention of the fact that the study factored in class. This wasn't a response to the study's methodology, saying, wait, wait, there are things left out that might make class a factor. It was, instead, a dismissal of the conclusion of the study, based on nothing more than a hunch.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:35 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


...and if you said that with words rather than pulling the shitty bingo card trick I'd consider it an entirely reasonable comment.

Bingo cards are bullshit. Don't do it unless you want a jolt of righteousness at the expense of contribution to perma-fight.
posted by Artw at 2:37 PM on October 7, 2009


Remind me to send a letter to Stuff White People Like to thank them for having given people a reason to ignore a request for sensitivity. Of course my request is just an expression of my white need to be offended on behalf of other, and have no value beyond that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:37 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I decided about a week ago, appropos of nothing, that I find a particular curvature of nose very unattractive."

That's the most foppish thing I've heard this week.
posted by klangklangston at 2:38 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


pick_the_flowers: "Astro Zombie, confess: You're totally white aren't you?! Stuff white people like #101: being offended "As a rule, white people strongly prefer to get offended on behalf of other people.""

Am I reading this wrong, or is this the equivalent of guys saying "hey dude you're just saying that to get laid amirite?"
posted by kathrineg at 2:38 PM on October 7, 2009


The intersection of race and class would seem to be extremely pertinent. Why, for example, do Indian women appear to be astonishingly racist in their response rate to Indian men?

Your example seems to disprove your point. Indian-Americans have the highest average household income among all ancestry groups in the United States. So wouldn't they be of a higher class (at least in terms of income) than whites?
posted by naju at 2:38 PM on October 7, 2009


In some contexts, these responses might be valid, but in many, they're dismissive, effectively moving the discussion away from one of race.

Thus creating a bingo card, which is in no way, shape or form pre-emptively dismissive.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:39 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


So rather than link to the bingo card, you'd rather I describe it?

And please don't ascribe motivations to me. I've explained why I linked. Unless you have some special insight into the reason I do things, don't insist self-righteousness was the cause, and ignore my stated reasons. You think they're bullshit, fine. I don't.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:39 PM on October 7, 2009


Artw: "Bingo cards are bullshit. Don't do it unless you want a jolt of righteousness at the expense of contribution to perma-fight."

I love bingo cards. They remind me that I'm not the only one banging my head on this particular wall. Maybe they're Michael Moore-ish preaching to the choir, but bless them anyway.
posted by kathrineg at 2:39 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


FWIW, the 'expected' response rate is based on the typical match percentages between the various groups -- that controls for the fact that black people and asians (for example) probably have less in common with each other in general, so are less likely to respond.
posted by empath at 2:41 PM on October 7, 2009


Have you ever known pulling the bingo card trick to actually move a conversation on to a better place?
posted by Artw at 2:41 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Taste is acquired, is not a political statement. When you build statistics based on race, inevitably you get racist results. Some peple would never use Dating services. Those who do, do it with different objectives. Some people hope to find a mate to have children with, some want to get laid, some want to hurt, some want to get hurt....
posted by semmi at 2:41 PM on October 7, 2009


Hey! Listen up! There are marvelous partners for you out there in every hue imaginable! If you don't date someone based on the color of their skin, you deserve to sit at home alone.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:42 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


And the match percentage, btw, includes factors such as income, education, etc, so you can ignore 'class differences' as a cause.
posted by empath at 2:43 PM on October 7, 2009


I have noticed that this bingo card discussion is a derail, and I don't intend to sidetrack the actual discussion any more. If you think they're that big a deal, take it to MetaTalk and ask for a ruling. Otherwise, you can pretty much expect that, despite them not really being something you're fond of, they will pop up now and again.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:43 PM on October 7, 2009


...with predictable results.
posted by Artw at 2:44 PM on October 7, 2009


shetterly: "in this case, the intersection of race and class would seem to be extremely pertinent. "

Why?


Let's stick with Indian women for a moment. Based on their results, Indian women are astonishingly prejudiced against Indian men, but I suspect they're seeking something else that's tangential to "white men." It's always good to remember that correlation is not necessarily causation.
posted by shetterly at 2:44 PM on October 7, 2009


I'll admit I'm not a statistics expert, but...how exactly are they deriving at the figure FOR the "expected response rate"? And how do we know THAT formula is correct?

In the article, they provide an overview of how they derive the expected response rate, and show graphs of the accuracy of that formula.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:45 PM on October 7, 2009


shetterly: "Let's stick with Indian women for a moment. Based on their results, Indian women are astonishingly prejudiced against Indian men, but I suspect they're seeking something else that's tangential to "white men." It's always good to remember that correlation is not necessarily causation."

What is tangential to white men that has nothing to do with race?
posted by kathrineg at 2:46 PM on October 7, 2009


I will admit that I am classist. I got bored and quit playing with OkCupid pretty quickly, but while I was there I did not reply to anyone who listed their income. Because if you think that is information I want or need, I am confident I will not like you. (Unless they didn't actually make that much money, because then it's just oddly TMI, which I am fine with.)
posted by little e at 2:49 PM on October 7, 2009


pick_the_flowers, could you explain why "Stuff White People Like" shouldn't be called "Stuff Rich People Like"? I quit reading the site ages ago, because all the stuff they said white people liked were things my black and Asian friends in L.A. loved.
posted by shetterly at 2:51 PM on October 7, 2009


Let's stick with Indian women for a moment. Based on their results, Indian women are astonishingly prejudiced against Indian men, but I suspect they're seeking something else that's tangential to "white men." It's always good to remember that correlation is not necessarily causation.

I think for some women, the PERCEIVED socio-economic status of potential male partners is really high on their list of priorities, which may actually be a rational (but cynical) response to actual societal racism (for example, if its the case that black males in general genuinely have lower status because of endemic racism), or it might just be racism pure and simple, or it might just be an erroneous assumption.
posted by empath at 2:51 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


What I have learned today is that a lot of people on MetaFilter get very, very defensive about their racial prejudices.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:55 PM on October 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


little e: "I was there I did not reply to anyone who listed their income. Because if you think that is information I want or need, I am confident I will not like you."

I love the jokey people who put 2 million dollars but are unemployed. It always makes me smile. I think superhero should be a job category. Finis.
posted by kathrineg at 2:56 PM on October 7, 2009


kathrineg, okay, let's open this up some. From the site: "White women prefer white men to the exclusion of everyone else—and Asian and Hispanic women prefer them even more exclusively. These three types of women only respond well to white men. More significantly, these groups’ reply rates to non-whites is terrible. Asian women write back non-white males at 21.9%, Hispanic women at 22.9%, and white women at 23.0%." Do you really think Hispanic and Asian women are more racist than white women?

And does anyone have the demographics on OKCupid's users? What sort of sample base are we using here?
posted by shetterly at 2:57 PM on October 7, 2009


I don't think being racially biased in your dating choices is cool at all, but you're really talking about the lizard parts of your brain here, and I doubt there's any amount of 'awareness raising' that's going to resolve the issue. This is not like hiring and firing an employee, where you can arguably make a rational decision based on the available information.

Either you feel something or you don't, and if you don't feel something because you deep down have some kind of racist impulse that you prefer you didn't, there's not much you can do to force it.

This is the kinda thing that'll get sorted out as society becomes more mixed in general, if it ever does.
posted by empath at 2:58 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


All the data is self-report and I punted on any question I didn't know the answer to or I didn't care to reveal the answer to which means I answered (this is a guess) only about a quarter of their questions. For the okcupid people to try and make inferences from their data suggests to me they understand very little about making real inferences from real data.

Not trying to be snarky, but my feeling is that they understand a great deal more about it than most people. They've done some very clever stuff in the past.

You see the ability to skip questions as a flaw in the data, whereas they put it in there as an important method of raising the sample quality, eg eliminating samples where your answer has a higher risk of either not being significant to you, or not accurately reflecting your values. As they put it "our users write the match questions, choose which ones to answer, and determine how important each answer is."
posted by -harlequin- at 3:02 PM on October 7, 2009


shetterly, I can't explain that. But I would like to know if your Black and Asian friends are on OKCupid because if so, that could explain something about the results in the article.....
posted by pick_the_flowers at 3:03 PM on October 7, 2009


That's the most foppish thing I've heard this week.

Why thank you, sir. *doffs velvety cap*

Self-selected userbase, measures of "attractiveness" (?! -- how the MeFi Subjectivity in Attrativeness Brigade isn't jumping all over that I don't know)... supposition after supposition.

But studies, and threads, like this are certainly good for one thing: clearly indicating what people already choose to believe.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:05 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


What is tangential to white men that has nothing to do with race?

"Nothing" makes that a tricky question to answer. Wealth is racially disproportionate in the US, so people looking for rich people will respond to more white people. But does that mean they're looking for white people, or for rich people? Are they going by OKCupid's indicators of wealth, or are they ignoring them?
posted by shetterly at 3:06 PM on October 7, 2009


Thank you NoRelationToLea, for banging your head against the wall so articulately.
posted by catchingsignals at 3:06 PM on October 7, 2009


I like the bingo cards; they serve as nice reminders of the kind of useless defensive comments I might otherwise make when a discussion of racism gets hairy. If I'm going to say something in my own defense (as a white guy, as a male or whatever), a bingo card is a reminder to think first.

As far as the discussion at hand, I think this comment is pretty spot on; it's an indication of societal racism, an unconscious prejudice that is admittedly lessening with the passage of time but which is still unambiguously present. We've come a long way; we still have a long way to go.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:08 PM on October 7, 2009


Is okcupid an American only/mostly American site? Not saying that the rest of us wouldn't also have screwy biases, just that the biases might be different.
posted by kersplunk at 3:09 PM on October 7, 2009


What sort of sample base are we using here?

According to the article, the "would you prefer to date within your race" question was answered by over one million OkCupid users.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:10 PM on October 7, 2009


shetterly, I can't explain that. But I would like to know if your Black and Asian friends are on OKCupid because if so, that could explain something about the results in the article.....

To answer much too seriously: no, it wouldn't. My black and Asian friends tend to be in interracial relationships. L.A. does not look like OKCupid. I think it just looks like the rest of the world's future.
posted by shetterly at 3:11 PM on October 7, 2009


even if you disagree, they may be a better way to respond than to act as though it was beneath seriousness.
This should be beside the note that says don't attack other members of the site.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 3:12 PM on October 7, 2009


"Nothing" makes that a tricky question to answer. Wealth is racially disproportionate in the US, so people looking for rich people will respond to more white people. But does that mean they're looking for white people, or for rich people? Are they going by OKCupid's indicators of wealth, or are they ignoring them?

To any extant, that should be covered by the match percentage because it asks how important wealth is to you and what your income is, etc, and their match percentages are pretty strongly correlated to response rates, so I think it does a pretty good job of factoring that out.

So I think that what's left in the difference between expected response rate and actual response rate might be related to racial prejudice about who is more likely to be wealthy or higher status, but not actual reality of who is more wealthy.
posted by empath at 3:12 PM on October 7, 2009


-harlequin- but who are the OKCupid users? Are they more like Facebook or MySpace or LiveJournal or MetaFilter or BoingBoing or...?
posted by shetterly at 3:13 PM on October 7, 2009


"L.A. does not look like OKCupid. I think it just looks like the rest of the world's future."

If that's true I hope to God that Dr. 90210 is an unrealistic reality show.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 3:13 PM on October 7, 2009


Are we really having such a serious discussion about an article that begins with "Welcome back, dorks"?

For me, three quarters of the article's credibility went out the window with that sentence and the other quarter with "White guys are shitty".

Am I the only one assuming that their data collection standards are probably as high as their writing standards?

[not literate-ist]
posted by mmoncur at 3:14 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I could never really love anyone who was a heavy MySpace user.
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Btw, I don't think you can extrapolate this out to the general population at all -- OKCupid is distinctly NOT a typical population of single Americans.
posted by empath at 3:15 PM on October 7, 2009


This should be beside the note that says don't attack other members of the site.

Is that in reference to me? If so, who, specifically, did I attack?
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:16 PM on October 7, 2009


If that's true I hope to God that Dr. 90210 is an unrealistic reality show.

My wife went to school with Dr. 90210, so sadly it turns out I can really love someone who stalks Dr. 90210 on Facebook.
posted by Artw at 3:17 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


who are the OKCupid users? Are they more like Facebook or MySpace or LiveJournal or MetaFilter or BoingBoing or

At least in the DC area, I'd say probably halfway between metafilter and facebook.

They're usually fairly literate, educated, and quirky. Though that may be just who it matched me with.
posted by empath at 3:17 PM on October 7, 2009


My girlfriend and I are both half white and half asian. Now that I've read through this thread I'm driving myself crazy trying to figure out which one of us is the racist, and whether we're racist for being attracted to and subsequently dating the white or asian halves of each other.
posted by The Dryyyyy Cracker at 3:18 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I could never really love anyone who was a heavy MySpace user.

You MySpacist!
posted by pick_the_flowers at 3:18 PM on October 7, 2009


Astro Zombie: I was just saying that your point is a good posting guideline in general -- not just for this discussion.

Can someone tell me how you quote people so that their name appears with a link? do you do it manually every time?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 3:19 PM on October 7, 2009


I misinterpreted; sorry if I sounded defensive.

You must manually link every time. Clicking on the timestamp under the comment to get the link.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:21 PM on October 7, 2009


"Based on their results, Indian women are astonishingly prejudiced against Indian men, but I suspect they're seeking something else that's tangential to "white men." It's always good to remember that correlation is not necessarily causation."

My cousin (white) just married an Indian (dot) and this came up at the ceremony, mostly because everyone was trying to play matchmaker for my brother with the single Indian women there. The Indian women there weren't seen as suitable brides for Indian men because they all had careers where they made decent money doing things they wouldn't be willing to give up, hence them being "forced" to date white guys instead, as white guys were seen as more liberal regarding gender equality (something widely ridiculed by the older Indians there). Still, it's racist, but it's racism precipitated by sexism, which makes it kind of doubly weird.

Oh, one last thing—for folks saying that correlation is not causation, that's not a blanket dismissal of these claims. If you believe that race is not the causal factor in these statistics, you should have a plausible common causation or legitimate critique of the statistics to back you up. Otherwise, it's like listening to someone who's only learned science from Mr. Wizard talking about experimental methodology.
posted by klangklangston at 3:21 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I talk Tarzan English.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:21 PM on October 7, 2009


But it's not unreasonable to think that someone of a different race from you is likely to have had a strongly different upbringing than you had, strongly different life experiences, a notably different worldview, perhaps different customs and so on.
I don't know how you could really find that stuff out based on a single letter, and decide not to reply, which is what this survey was measuring. The superficial personality stuff was corrected for, and I kind of doubt the backgrounds of these people are really all that different. I think there is more cultural variation overall in the U.S. then there is between your average, educated, young, English speaking Americans of different races. Obviously there are going to be bigger differences between recent immigrants, but not their kids.
I must be racist. I don't like dark skin. I don't even date white women with tans -- it's a turn-off. I also don't like fat chicks, really big or really small boobs, blond hair, big feet, or girls over about 5'5". Interesting that only one of my preferences makes me a bad person -- coolguymichael
Um, yeah I'm going to go ahead and call you a person. But I certainly don't think that's there is only thing in the list that does it. (I'm also going to call you pretty neurotic)
no, but consider the possibility that certain behaviors might trend one way or another along racial lines because of something like, say, the privilege (or lack thereof) associated with being one race or another, and that these trends might not be indicative of racism on the part of a given race, but rather the inherent racism of our culture. -- shmegegge
I think you're spinning up some epicycles here. Even if white people are more likely to get a girlfriend right after joining the site, how would that effect their response rate to other ethnicities? Obviously there will be some noise in the results, but if you're saying that they're simply a confluence of second order results related to race -- rather then the obvious explanation of racial preference -- then I disagree, lets apply occams razor here.
and finally, I'd like to once again remind you that this is NOT me saying "this isn't racism!" this is me saying that I was surprised by their initial conclusions, UNTIL I saw the survey chart at the bottom, at which point double yoo tee eff, etc... if you're trying to paint me into some corner of defending or denying racism, please reconsider. -- shmegegge
I'm not saying you are, I was just saying the specific example you brought up, statistically, shouldn't have made a difference in the aggregate data. If they were surveying just a handful of people, it could have had a bigger impact (and looking at the data, I think there may be some noise in the "native American" and "other" categories due to low sample size. It would be nice if they included the total number of sent and responded to messages for each element)
posted by delmoi at 3:22 PM on October 7, 2009


As an Asian man, I don't really need a graph or a chart to tell me that Asian women prefer white men.

Seriously, WTF?!
posted by cazoo at 3:22 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The problem with bingo cards is that it treats each and every square as an argument that has been had and won. Wonderful for dismissive treatment of closed issues; not so good when anyone is interested in having a discussion about any one of them.

Of course shutting down discussion of those arguments is the entire purpose, but it's trivial to make a card that includes arguments your ideological opponents still treat as in play.

My girlfriend and I are both half white and half asian. Now that I've read through this thread I'm driving myself crazy trying to figure out which one of us is the racist, and whether we're racist for being attracted to and subsequently dating the white or asian halves of each other.

I recommend consulting this counseling duo.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:23 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are more data on this topic if you're interested.
posted by Human Flesh at 3:23 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Adding another thanks to NoRelationToLea for stating quite well something I was feeling.

something in our culture is telling us that black people aren't attractive, to the point that even black people believe that, and worse - act on that.

I'm ashamed to admit that this was true for me in high school and during my undergrad years. Not in a "I don't find black women attractive because white women are the standard of beauty" way, but with regard to my own self: I had moments of sincere, utter disbelief and even cynicism whenever I found out a non-black woman was attracted to me. To the point where I had thoughts like, "What's wrong with her?" "What does she really want from me?" and "She's only acting attracted to me to make someone -- an ex-boyfriend or a parent -- angry."

Not for all the money in the universe would I willingly live that part of my life again.

Speaking of money, I would pay nearly any amount to never have to hear this fucking "It's not race, it's class" bullshit again.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:24 PM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


who are the OKCupid users? Are they more like Facebook or MySpace or LiveJournal or MetaFilter or BoingBoing or

Yes?

The people with whom I had high "match percentages" or whatever were, I would say, similar to MetaFilter. (At least two or three of them were actually people I know from MetaFilter.) But I got PLENTY of semi-literate all lowercase "hey princess u r so sexxxy" bullshit messages also. Also the DC area.
posted by little e at 3:24 PM on October 7, 2009


klangklangston: "Indian (dot)"????????

Huh?
posted by pick_the_flowers at 3:26 PM on October 7, 2009


pick_the_flowers, I googled Dr. 90210 and recoiled in horror.

Hollywood tends to make it look like Los Angeles is a single city, but it's actually slightly over 200 communities. "90210" is a very specific--and very scary--one.
posted by shetterly at 3:28 PM on October 7, 2009


"

klangklangston: "Indian (dot)"????????

Huh?
"

Subcontinental. As in, "I'm a dot Indian, not a feather Indian."
posted by klangklangston at 3:28 PM on October 7, 2009


(dot, not feather)

The only reason I know that phrase is from an Indian (dot, not feather) friend of mine.
posted by empath at 3:29 PM on October 7, 2009


I think that must be an American thing. In the UK that would be in the realm of the super-offensive.
posted by Artw at 3:30 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


but who are the OKCupid users? Are they more like Facebook or MySpace or LiveJournal or MetaFilter or BoingBoing or...?

Largely, it's people with computer access, who are looking for partners/friends/romance, and who are not deathly afraid of online dating, and it leans American. I know that sounds like and incredibly trite description, but while OKCupid has a wider userbase that goes there for the bells and whistles, they don't really count even if they might correlate more to a ThisSite ThatSite crowd, because the data being used is mostly taken from people using the match-making mechanisms.

Since OkCupid is about the only dating site that isn't all about separating you from your money, my experience is that most people who try online dating end up trying OkCupid at some point, even if they eventually go elsewhere, or go off online dating altogether.

I haven't noticed a particular crowd or culture, the way there is for Metafilter. It's basically just a big portal that people curious about online dating will pass though. That's the demographic, and it's possibly more meaningful than it sounds, if you think about people who stereotypically aren't comfortable with online dating, vs those who are, vs how those comfort zones are changing year-by-year in the various demographics of society.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:31 PM on October 7, 2009


(see also the massive double take I do whenever I hear someone casually use the term "paki")
posted by Artw at 3:31 PM on October 7, 2009


klangklangston, empath - isn't that, um, Idunno, ur, kinda totally offensive and CRAZY?
posted by pick_the_flowers at 3:31 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


> The Indian women there weren't seen as suitable brides for Indian men because they all had careers where they made decent money doing things they wouldn't be willing to give up, hence them being "forced" to date white guys instead, as white guys were seen as more liberal regarding gender equality (something widely ridiculed by the older Indians there).

> As an Asian man, I don't really need a graph or a chart to tell me that Asian women prefer white men. Seriously, WTF?!


Anecdotally, I have a couple of female Korean friends who gave up on dating Korean men because of the sort of cultural expectations described above; i.e. the men (in their late 20s and early 30s) in question had opinions regarding gender roles that could charitably be described as "traditional," by western standards.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:32 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least two or three of them were actually people I know from MetaFilter.

For the longest time 3 of my top 5 matches on OKcupid were people I was already friends with and had known for years, one of which was an ex-gf -- it's EERIE how good their match thing is, sometimes.
posted by empath at 3:32 PM on October 7, 2009


...or maybe it's not an American thing.
posted by Artw at 3:32 PM on October 7, 2009


In the UK that would be in the realm of the super-offensive.

Yeah, it kind of is here in the US as well. (Though I'm certain the people saying it here have no ill will. Just for future reference.)
posted by naju at 3:33 PM on October 7, 2009


In the UK that would be in the realm of the super-offensive.

Seriously! The last time I heard someone talk that way was a pull-start vs push-start joke when I was 15 or something. I just figured I was misunderstanding it because it was so unthinkable that someone would just write something that flippantly offensive in a discussion about racism!
posted by GuyZero at 3:33 PM on October 7, 2009


klangklangston, empath - isn't that, um, Idunno, ur, kinda totally offensive and CRAZY?

I've never personally used the phrase, and I've only heard Indians use it.
posted by empath at 3:33 PM on October 7, 2009


To show that race correlates to class or culture and that therefore making a decision that someone is less likely to be compatible based on race has some kind of utility in no way mitigates the racism inherent in that kind of decision. What it unfortunately shows is that racism will always be an attractive shortcut in the decision making process.

Why, for example, do Indian women appear to be astonishingly racist in their response rate to Indian men?

Because if they wanted a relationship with Indian men they would be on shaadi.com?
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:33 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I find it interesting how quickly this conversation became full of people stridently proclaiming that they aren't racist so this has to be bullshit when in fact the writer never called anyone racist.

(Oh and come to think of it, the people I know who pretty much resigned themselves to a life of undesired celibacy at a young age are all either black women or asian men, which fits the data pretty well.)
posted by aspo at 3:34 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


By which I mean, comparing in race response rates of Indians ignores the huge factor of coming from an arranged marriage culture.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:35 PM on October 7, 2009


delmoi: " I must be racist. I don't like dark skin. I don't even date white women with tans -- it's a turn-off. I also don't like fat chicks, really big or really small boobs, blond hair, big feet, or girls over about 5'5". Interesting that only one of my preferences makes me a bad person -- coolguymichael

Um, yeah I'm going to go ahead and call you a [bad] person. But I certainly don't think that's there is only [one] thing in the list that does it. (I'm also going to call you pretty neurotic)
"

Can someone put together a definitive list of which physical characteristics it is and isn't okay to find attractive these days? I'm having a hard time keeping track.
posted by shammack at 3:38 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


palindromes
posted by waraw at 3:41 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


You can like whatever you like and dislike whatever you like, but going into a public forum and feeling comfortable declaring you don't date "fat chicks" puts you squarely in Tucker Max territory in my book.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:41 PM on October 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


"I think that must be an American thing. In the UK that would be in the realm of the super-offensive."

Yeah, but in the UK, you don't have Native Americans/First Nations/Indigenous Americans/American Indians/Indians. (And just as an aside, I'm not making fun of the multiple designations for the group, but would note that depending on who you ask, it's totally not a settled matter. There's even dissension on whether they should be referred to as a group, and some nations prefer to just be known by their national names, e.g. Hurons or Cherokee, but even that's not universal).

Re: Paki. It threw me for a loop looking for liquor in New England. I thought, well, yeah, foreigners run most of the liquor stores where I'm from too, but isn't it offensive to just call them all Pakis?
posted by klangklangston at 3:45 PM on October 7, 2009


For super-fun, in the UK "Asian" usually means Indian or Pakistani, leaving a similar situation for descriptors to the one you have with American Indians for people from the entire rest of Asia (and you don't use Oriental ever, ever unless it you are naming a Chinese restraunt or an express train)
posted by Artw at 3:50 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's very odd. Are you suggesting that racial preference is hard-wired into us as sexual preference is? Perhaps so, but I have never heard any studies to indicate that.

I've just done a study, sample size: 1 (me). My study indicates that in some people (me), sexual preference for people of a certain race is hard-wired. How do I know this? Because I know what turns me on. Being turned on is pretty unmistakable, isn't it? It's not something you weigh up consciously, looking at the pros and cons and then deciding whether to get turned on or not. You look at something, you get a response somewhere in your brain.

With me, I can find things beautiful and attractive and yet not get turned on by them. My dick doesn't get hard. In fact, if it is hard, it gets less hard when seeing them. I don't have a part in the decision. Honestly. In terms of people, men, black women and Indian women fall into the category of things that I can look at, perceive as being attractive (I have seen some absolutely drop-dead gorgeous black girls recently), and yet not feel that spark when seeing. That is somewhere in my brain, that wiring, and I didn't put it there - I am pretty sure it has always been there, and is in the part of my brain where all of my instincts come from.

Could it have somehow have found its way in there as an unconsciously-learned bias, related to racist sentiments on my part? No, I don't think so, because I don't see evidence of such a bias anywhere else in my behaviour (and have never had racist feelings or felt any sympathy for such feelings expressed by others). I have seen black girls and Indian girls who I could scarcely tear my eyes away from, which surely would not happen in the case of such bias. A similar thing happens with good-looking men - I can look at them, interpret them as being attractive, but find the idea of having sex with them a complete turn-off. Nobody would say that the reason I don't get turned on by men is because I have a socially-conditioned aversion to them. I don't see why not being turned on by men should have to be any different to not being turned on by black-skinned and Indian women. It feels the same to me.

To all of you people talking about racism, please, think a bit more carefully about things. There may be perfectly plausible evolutionary explanations for sexual conservatism, i.e. preferring mates who appear to be more genetically akin to yourself. To me it does not seem unreasonable to suggest that a preference for mates with a similar skin color to one's own may somehow be a product of natural selection, in some way. (I don't think such an explanation need require everyone to have such a trait.) Maybe at some stage in our evolution some kind of mutation arose in some individuals which made them less successful at mating with individuals who were too genetically different from the in certain specific ways, and maybe genes for skin color were somehow caught up in that, who knows. It doesn't seem impossible, considering how complicated the genetic code is, and considering that, if you accept evolution, every aspect of us was initially the result of an accidental mutation anyway.

Of course, people use other criteria besides sexual attraction when deciding who to date, perhaps related to perceived social status, etc, and some people probably do employ racist generalisations as part of that. But I certainly don't think racism is the only possible explanation for people not wanting to date people of certain races. I think such preferences definitely can be innate, and can be hard-wired.

Well, the only way that equating looks w/race isn't racist is if the bell curve of attractiveness is somehow left or right shifted depending on race. That could be true - but it's not very likely.

As I've indicated in my above remarks, I believe you can have attractiveness without necessarily having a sexual, i.e. a wanting-to-date-someone component. If this was true it would contradict what you say here. I mean, you seem to be saying that who an individual finds attractive is entirely determined at the level of society-in-general. If that were true, then how would wild animals know who to mate with, if they don't have a society like ours?

Some people are also arguing that this is just measuring personal preference and that therefore even if the data is actually showing us racism, it's not really the malicious kind.

If it can be based on instinct, which I've suggested, then it might not be malicious.

Further, if you actually look at the heatmaps, there's an incredible result there, where none of the other racial groups respond as frequently as you'd expect to BOTH black men and women (seen as horizontal red or reddish tones, all the way across) - even black women and men, respectively.

Well, like I said, some people probably are racist, maybe society at large is racist. But I don't this racism is the only possible explanation for not wanting to date people of all races.
posted by salo at 3:50 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


klangklangston, yes, it's ULTRA offensive to "just call them all Pakis". In fact, it's ultra offensive to call any of "them" Pakis. Luckily you're saying this on the internet and not in the real world so there is still time to adjust.

I haven't been living in North America for a while now, can someone (else) clarify - "Native Americans" pretty much covers all bases, no?
posted by pick_the_flowers at 3:50 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


A similar thing happens with good-looking men - I can look at them, interpret them as being attractive, but find the idea of having sex with them a complete turn-off. Nobody would say that the reason I don't get turned on by men is because I have a socially-conditioned aversion to them.

Backup boyo. You on the metafilters now.

Also, I only date Americans. (uh, igloo not nuke)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:53 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Let me offer a counter-example, Salo: me.

I've had long and very satisfying relationships with people who, initially, I did not find attractive, because if you have common interests, common goals, good conversation, and a few laughs together, suddenly somebody who doesn't do it for you on first blush becomes dead sexy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:53 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is just to say
I have dated
The black woman
Who was on your website.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:53 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


“I love that everyone is bragging about how they have dated non-whites.”

The premise of the FPP would never have occurred to me. I’m married to a non-white person. My best friend (who is black) also married outside his ethnicity, most of my close friends are married outside their ethnic circles… just seemed normal to me. Given the benefits (and problems with inbreeding) I’d have thought exogamy would have been more dominant. At least naturally. Hence the laws against miscegenation as an arbitrary imposition of cultural mores. I mean, not just wrong, but stupid and unnecessary all around even to the wrongheaded goal of maintaining majority privilege. Apparently – given that folks tend to date within their thing (or in favor of ‘whites’) anyway – even worse for that.

“Let me pause a moment to say that if you are white... and your response is to mock the discussion by making it into some dismissive reductio ad absurdum joke, as some of you have -- well, it sort of strikes me as bad form, and a pretty classic expression of privilege”

I’d have to trick off that and say the whole (somewhat arbitrary) classification of ‘white’ seems to be a fundamental expression of privilege.
And I think locking other folks into playing that game is sort of by design. So this is predicated on white privilege in the first place.
I mean, I saw a guy sitting out in the cold and wind (51 mph gusts yesterday) eating free peanuts from Five Guys. So I had a tuna sandwich with me that I didn’t eat for lunch and I offered it to him. Black guy. And he said he wasn’t hungry and was pissed off that I offered. “Why do you think I’m homeless?” He asked me. Obviously thinking because he’s black. But no, sitting alone in the cold and dark in a windstorm eating peanuts in a corner out of sight in a torn jacket and pants with mud all over them – it’s been my experience someone looking like that might appreciate as sandwich instead of, say, being an eccentric millionaire with a peanut fetish.
So there’s an element to The Game (which you and I just lost) here. And yet his skin tone was the lowest blip on my radar.
But then, acceptance and empathy for someone you consider foreign has always taken some conscious effort. S’why the parable of the good Samaritan (look! A guy from a group we don’t like did something moral and accepting that amounts to a more empathic act than someone from our own social group!) rests on the anomaly (outsider being nice vs. insider being nice). So, maybe dating, go figure.
But again – depends on how one defines one’s own people. So, from first principles – who’s ‘white’? And what does being ‘white’ mean? You keep hearing Obama’s ‘black’ but that’s just pigmentation. His ancestry is mixed. So too – what’s ‘black’?
posted by Smedleyman at 3:54 PM on October 7, 2009


I'm looking for the goddess. Are you the goddess? Who is the goddess?
The goddess is the woman... is a woman... is any woman... is all women...
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:55 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I haven't been living in North America for a while now, can someone (else) clarify - "Native Americans" pretty much covers all bases, no?

It's not what some people prefer, but it's relatively safe, yes.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:55 PM on October 7, 2009


There's even dissension on whether they should be referred to as a group

In Canada, they're "First Nations" people. They have The Assembly of First Nations. That may not be the term preferred by 100% of the people who it's supposed to describe, but it's accepted as unoffensive and unambiguous. It's what you'll see in newspaper articles although I suppose you see "native" as well, though I'm not so sure that's as connotation-free.

"Native Americans" pretty much covers all bases, no?

Except for the ones from Canada.
posted by GuyZero at 3:56 PM on October 7, 2009


White guys are shitty, but fairly even-handed about it.

The way these things usually go, I'm going to take that as a compliment.
posted by ryanrs at 4:01 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


klangklangston, it's not that hard. Most American Indians in the US prefer that term for the larger group, and most First Nations people in Canada prefer that, but just about all of them prefer to be known by their tribal name, because that's what tells you about their language and culture.

See:

Native American name controversy

First Nations
posted by shetterly at 4:04 PM on October 7, 2009


GuyZero - I bet people argue over that for pages and pages.

I'm probably a little over touch yon the whole dot/paki thing because it touches on racial slurs used by actual undeniable racist who beat people up and stuff, so I hear it and really it's like someone dropped the n-bomb in polite company.The more general preferred terminology tussles I have less interest in.
posted by Artw at 4:06 PM on October 7, 2009


riki tiki
You can extrapolate from many individuals to determine trends within a group, but you cannot extrapolate from trends within a group to define individual behavior.

I don't agree. Trends within a group are evidence about individual behaviour. People usually don't like having your statistical model foisted upon them, but it's reasonable behaviour in the privacy of your own mind.

In other words, when you have little else to go on, you are disproportionately focused on looks (cough).


I think this was a good point that was missed. And, not just looks, but race. Going with your prejudices, you might some diamonds in the rough, but that's life. You don't read every book just to be fair and even-handed. You have limited time, so maybe you focus on the classics.

But while race can be a fair and relevant criterion, it is not necessarily so. I'd go so far as to say that people with race-based romantic preferences owe it to themselves to do some introspection, and figure out the extent to which their bias is purely visual (and therefore valid, albeit superficial), versus the extent to which it's tied to crappy arbitrary social prejudice.

Good point about introspection, but I disagree with the dichotomy. Can't your bias be based on very real cultural correlates? I don't think the problem is that you have these preconceptions. The problem is the inflexibility of your perceptions in deference to them.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 4:08 PM on October 7, 2009


"Native Americans" pretty much covers all bases, no?

You're more likely to offend someone in the US with "Native American" than with "American Indian." See Russell Means' I AM AN AMERICAN INDIAN, NOT A NATIVE AMERICAN!
posted by shetterly at 4:10 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Let me offer a counter-example, Salo: me.

I've had long and very satisfying relationships with people who, initially, I did not find attractive, because if you have common interests, common goals, good conversation, and a few laughs together, suddenly somebody who doesn't do it for you on first blush becomes dead sexy.


OK, I was being silly, I didn't mean the results of my spurious study applied to everyone. Anyway, what you are now talking about is how important initial sexual attraction might be in a relationship, rather than whether or not racial preferences in terms of sexual attraction can be hard-wired.
posted by salo at 4:16 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a couple of people have noted above, there are a great many dating sites that cater to specific ethnic and cultural minority groups.

Presumably, the men and women who want to date within their own subcultural groups will use those sites, rather than OKCupid... or will use OKCupid specifically for widening their options.

OKCupid, then, is the site for meeting Hip Liberal Educated Young People... who are not of your own racial/religious/ethnic subculture... who, statistically, are probably going to be mostly white.

While this is a somewhat flawed study, if you misinterpret it as a judgment of what all people want, it's really fascinating, if you limit the interpretation to just thinking in terms of what people who come to OKCupid (as opposed to JDate) want... or, more precisely, what people want from OKCupid.
posted by darth_tedious at 4:16 PM on October 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


You don't read every book just to be fair and even-handed.

I bet white guys are genre-fiction readers too.
posted by GuyZero at 4:16 PM on October 7, 2009


Hating on genre fiction would certainly make a What People Who wave Bingo Cards Like site.
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on October 7, 2009


I could never really love anyone who was a heavy MySpace user.
posted by Artw


You could be surprised. I, for instance, love a soap-opera addict, though I leave the room while it's on.
posted by semmi at 4:21 PM on October 7, 2009


You could be surprised. I, for instance, love a soap-opera addict, though I leave the room while it's on.

Let me tell you about this thing called the Rachel Zo project. Actually, on second thoughts I'll just have a convulsive fit and fall to the floor.
posted by Artw at 4:22 PM on October 7, 2009


something in our culture is telling us that black people aren't attractive, to the point that even black people believe that, and worse - act on that.

Write this off as old white guy cluelessness if you wish, but does anyone think Tyra Banks looks white? Or unattractive? She doesn't look as African as Grace Jones, but she looks both black and beautiful to me. As did Beverly Johnson, back when she broke through the whites-only model ceiling, and any number of beautful black women who came after her.

Now, I imprinted on Nichelle Nichols and Gail Fisher early on, and my politics quickly made me think that Angela Davis was extremely sexy, so I don't mean to imply that there aren't people who resist the idea that black is beautiful.

But being the never-forget-class guy, I think there's something in our culture that says people aren't attractive, so they should treat their hair and visit Dr. 90210 until they look more like a product than a person.
posted by shetterly at 4:31 PM on October 7, 2009


Salo, consider the internal test cases being presented to us.

Let's say you're right, blame it on biology or instinct or whatever else you want to call what is essentially the "it's not my fault" argument. For male senders to females, take a walk from top left to bottom right. Why do women of all races (with the exception of white/white) respond less than expected to male senders of their own race? Shouldn't the "instinct" argument provide an exactly opposite result? Aren't ____ women supposed to be evolutionarily disposed to prefer ___ men?

Further, if the instinct position had any merit at all, we'd expect that not only would we see a prominent intra-race preference, we'd also an obvious inter-race lack of preference. In fact, not only do we not see a lack of preference inter-race - we see strong evidence of a preference for only one race in particular. Sure there are lots of potential reasons for that result, but a white male power structure isn't far down on that list.

I think the real problem people have here is they don't like being called racist. In fact, OKCupid's own userbase doesn't really see a problem w/interracial dating. That said, when it comes down to what they actually DO - well, that's another story.

Look, this really isn't that hard. Every time any of us makes a dating choice, who we choose casts a value judgment on both that person, as well as the people we don't choose. Websites and search engines use this algorithm as a popularity measure all the time, and it is, almost by definition user-generated. So are our dating choices. Where does it come from ultimately? Who knows. Inertia. Media. Parental cultures. Who cares? My point is part of all this is most definitely on each and every one of us, even if only a little bit.

One or two generations ago, people were also arguing that some things just were, they couldn't control what turned their crank, etc. Except some people disagreed, and some people actively made a choice and now things are different. Today we have evidence from a decent study (says I, who used to work at SPSS, which has been making college students hate statistics for decades) that things could still stand some improvement. So we're lucky - because we still have a chance to choose, instead of just being guided by what we're told we should like/dislike.

BTW: this result coming from OKCupid, being a place where hip, young, liberal people are ready to mingle, is actually the worse case - because if anything, these people should be the ones bucking the culture's racism, instead of confirming it. We've gotten to a point where our young think interracial dating is ok. We're not yet at a point where they (outside of white men and minority females) actually do it.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 4:32 PM on October 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


I do hope they didn't make up their data just to fuck with people's minds.
posted by digsrus at 4:37 PM on October 7, 2009


My girlfriend and I are both half white and half asian.

My daughter started dating last year and it has been interesting to see who she finds attractive. She is Japanese/white and while she had a few minor crushes on black guys, the two guys she dated were mixed race: Chinese/white and Korean/white. I think she is beautiful and I know, no matter who she ends up with, her babies will be beautiful too.

So I just realized something which I had not given a lot of thought to-- both my husband and I had former significant others that were outside our own race; I was married to a Japanese man, he was engaged to a Black woman. I haven't drawn any conclusions from that, but I wonder how frequently this happens?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:38 PM on October 7, 2009


pick_the_flowers, could you explain why "Stuff White People Like" shouldn't be called "Stuff Rich People Like"? I quit reading the site ages ago, because all the stuff they said white people liked were things my black and Asian friends in L.A. loved.

I don't see the word ONLY in the Stuff White People Like blog title.
posted by marble at 4:39 PM on October 7, 2009


You don't see "and you shouldn't like it because WHITE PEOPLE like it" in the title either - does that mean it isn't there?
posted by Artw at 4:44 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Project implicit can ferret out your skin tone bias for those who are interested.

https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/selectatest.html
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:45 PM on October 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


I don't see the word ONLY in the Stuff White People Like blog title.

True, but the stuff that the "white" people like at that site? My brother, a truck driver who votes Republican, generally doesn't like.
posted by shetterly at 4:45 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just went to Stuff White People Like and did a search for "monster trucks" and "hunting." Neither came up. Even more damning, "barbecue" also gave "Not Found."
posted by shetterly at 4:47 PM on October 7, 2009


If black females are in our society's toughest straits as, again, popular wisdom suggests they are...

You might want to ask some black men about this.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:47 PM on October 7, 2009


Did anyone who piped in with "there's one ethnic group I just am not particularly attracted to" go through the whole blog post that was linked?

Specifically, did you get to the part where 45% of whites and 20% of non-whites say they would "strongly prefer to date someone of their own skin color/racial background?"
posted by snofoam at 4:50 PM on October 7, 2009


NoRelationToLea is completely right - very well said.

The only thing I can see that they haven't accounted for is something that BrotherCaine alluded to, and that is the proliferation of niche dating sites for ethnic/religious groups.

I mean, I'm sure there are sites for whites who only want to meet whites, but even the white folks on OkCupid who didn't want to date outside of their race probably wouldn't be up for joining a Neo-Nazi/KKK dating site.

Whereas it's fairly acceptable for folks from other groups to join "their" site if they're looking to make a match within their own culture (jdate, shaadi, etc). So the folks from those groups on OkCupid are likely to be disproportionately open to dating outside their group. If they wanted only intra-group dating, they have a non-sketchy venue for that.

Dammit, on preview darth_tedious said all of this, but I'm going to post anyway.
posted by clerestory at 4:51 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


NoRelationToLea, you seem to be assuming that rich folks are more accepting than poor ones, which doesn't always hold true. I did a quick google to see if someone had looked at interracial marriage and wealth, and didn't come up with anything useful in the first hits--but I found My (Interracial) Marriage. They aren't hipsters. They met in the military.
posted by shetterly at 5:04 PM on October 7, 2009


NoRelationToLea, I answered both of your objections in my post. I said that everyone need not have such a trait, and I also mentioned that people take other factors into account when choosing who to date besides sexual attractiveness.

Where does it come from ultimately? Who knows. Inertia. Media. Parental cultures. Who cares?

I'm surprised. Why do you completely discount the relevance of inherent preferences in choosing who to date? Are we not programmed in any way? Like I said, how do animals know who to have sex with?

So we're lucky - because we still have a chance to choose, instead of just being guided by what we're told we should like/dislike.

I don't think it was ever all about being told what to like. Don't you think instinct has any bearing on sexuality? I am surprised by how people in this thread seem to think everything about who they are attracted to is something they have decided upon themselves (via the influence of society). Doesn't anyone here have a sex drive? And did you really all just choose it for yourself like your were choosing a car? Doesn't anyone feel any of their preferences come from somewhere other than their conscious, rational, reasoning mind? I'm not saying we have place our instincts before all else, or that we can't ignore them, but I think they influence us a lot. If everyone thinks it is time to obliterate all of our instincts for the good of society, then lets do it. But whatever people are trying to say, we don't decide on what our instincts are, they are in us when we're born. I'm sorry if that doesn't jibe with everyone's ideologies here.
posted by salo at 5:06 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also, I think there is a difference between saying "I'm not attracted to [RACE HERE] women" and saying "I have never been attracted to a [RACE HERE] woman."

Isn't that the difference between accepting that some things just happen to be more attractive to you and writing off an entire race based on the few or many interactions you've had so far.
posted by snofoam at 5:12 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm racist against non-mixed women. Assuming "half-jew" counts as mixed.
posted by Eideteker at 5:18 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


ooga_booga: "155Is it racist to prefer the 100m over marathons?"

No, but it's a little short-sighted. Or ageist, if you tend to measure distance by time.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:18 PM on October 7, 2009


Is this crazy? As a white dude, I'm just not attracted to black women. I have plenty of black friends, but I'm just not attracted to black women. I don't think that's crazy and it's certainly not racist. There's difference between preference and racism.
posted by GilloD at 5:21 PM on October 7, 2009


I just went to Stuff White People Like and did a search for "monster trucks" and "hunting." Neither came up. Even more damning, "barbecue" also gave "Not Found."
posted by shetterly at 4:47 PM on October 7 [+] [!]


SWPL refers to that as the "wrong kind of white people". SWPL is really about urban yuppies/hipsters who read the New York Times and eat hummus. There's a lot of culture/class built into it as well. OKCupid's demographic would also be that kind of white person. It is also possible that the results did not control for this demographic.
posted by amuseDetachment at 5:24 PM on October 7, 2009


So the folks from those groups on OkCupid are likely to be disproportionately open to dating outside their group. If they wanted only intra-group dating, they have a non-sketchy venue for that.

That makes sense, though it's pretty unfortunate from my perspective. I refuse to join shaadi.com because 1) it's marriage-focused rather than dating-focused, and 2) I don't buy the traditionalist "stick with your culture" stuff I hear from my parents. The very existence of a site for dating exclusively Indians squicks me out.

I also hear that many smart, independent Indian women have developed a distaste for Indian men after encounters with them that were sexist and traditional-minded. All of this leaves a progressive Indian dude floundering, really, unable to date cool Indian women and not getting much love from other races (both of which are borne out by the OkCupid data.) (Or that could just be my theory, who knows? Anyway, it's kinda complicated and kinda sucks.)
posted by naju at 5:26 PM on October 7, 2009


Can someone put together a definitive list of which physical characteristics it is and isn't okay to find attractive these days?

I could, but Markov chains are hard and I'm not sure if they would help resolve some of the underlying issues here.
posted by ryoshu at 5:37 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


"For super-fun, in the UK "Asian" usually means Indian or Pakistani, leaving a similar situation for descriptors to the one you have with American Indians for people from the entire rest of Asia (and you don't use Oriental ever, ever unless it you are naming a Chinese restraunt or an express train)"

Everything I know about UK race relations comes from Agatha Christie. Do the Chinamen still have opium dens in White Chapel?

"klangklangston, yes, it's ULTRA offensive to "just call them all Pakis". In fact, it's ultra offensive to call any of "them" Pakis. Luckily you're saying this on the internet and not in the real world so there is still time to adjust."

In much of New England, the convenience stores where you can buy liquor are "package stores," which many people call "packies."

"klangklangston, it's not that hard. Most American Indians in the US prefer that term for the larger group, and most First Nations people in Canada prefer that, but just about all of them prefer to be known by their tribal name, because that's what tells you about their language and culture."

Well, no. It really does depend on a lot more than that, down to the point where some folks don't like to have their nation called a "tribe." My college went through a lot of weird identity debates with regard to American Indians (or whatever your preferred nomenclature) back when they changed the mascot from the Hurons to the Eagles. They made the move after being pressured by some civil rights groups, but without consulting the Hurons. Many of the local Huron organizations liked having us called The Hurons, especially since many of them were connected through university outreach specifically aimed at those communities. But other Hurons didn't like the name and neither did a bevy of other civil rights organizations, some ethnically American Indian, some predominantly white. So there were folks coming in to speak to classes (I was in high school when this happened) from both sides, and field trips, and a lot of back and forth about just how the issue of identity and terminology should be handled. This was a big deal even years later, when I was finishing up my undergrad; the most mail I ever got as Opinions Editor was over the issue (which was only tangentially related to the editorial—we were EMU, and I was advocating changing the name to the Emus, because Eagles is generic and dumb). That's also why just about any political text that deals with the issues of indigenous people has a bit in the preface regarding how they chose their terminology, especially when they're dealing with issues of North, South and Central America.
posted by klangklangston at 5:44 PM on October 7, 2009


SWPL is really about urban yuppies/hipsters who read the New York Times and eat hummus. There's a lot of culture/class built into it as well. OKCupid's demographic would also be that kind of white person.

No, from what I've seen, it's really not. Monster-truck whites seem just as prevalent on OKcupid as yuppie whites. (You might be getting a different impression if you live in a yuppie area and have your location requirements of your match search set to be too close)
As I've already mentioned, the only demographic trend obvious to me, is absence of people who are afraid of or not interested in online dating - and even those are not uncommon. Likewise, plenty of users seem largely computer-illiterate, though the demographic leans to those with computers.

I can't honestly say if the cross-section vaguely matches a cross section of wider society, but nothing really leaps out as demographically skewed, the way that, for example, reading Metafilter does.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:51 PM on October 7, 2009


ROU_Xenophobe: it's not unreasonable to think that someone of a different race from you is likely to have had a strongly different upbringing than you had

In Canada and the US, in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the point might have been valid a hundred years ago, but not now. God. That sentence brings up countless memories of people who plastered all over me their stereotyped assumptions about my eating habits, career aptitudes, my first and second languages, my land of birth, my national allegiance, and my preferences re sports, hobbies, climate, dating, and on and on. I eventually concluded that people like this had little to no practice (or desire, in the case of people who were more invested in being "right" than an actual conversation where they'd have to listen) in letting go of preconceived notions and weren't about to start just because I was in front of them responding politely, "Actually, no, because...."

No argument with your

strongly different life experiences, a notably different worldview,

though, considering that the experience of being constantly Othered on no solid or semi-solid grounds whatsoever does tend to give you a drastically different worldview. I mean, compared to most people who haven't had to get used to being Othered as a matter of course because, hey, that's just how a lot of people are (initially uninformed and subsequently, unwilling to think). Things have been improving over the past decade or so, but only because of studies looking at these kinds of questions and people willing to have good-faith discussions about them.

Personally I have never been able to find someone sexy who had a great body, symmerical features, good hair etc, and then revealed during initial conversations a predictable, incurious, inflexible, know-it-all mind. Bor-ing.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:52 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Large amount of stupid here. I don't know how big a role racism plays in the OKCupid stats, but I do see a lot of astonishingly sloppy reasoning. For one, how do they disentangle culture from race as motivating factors?

Take the example of Asian women. The Asian women who are on OKCupid, are definitely a distinct group - they are not a cross-section of Asian women the same way the white women on OKCupid are. Those Asian women are ones who either by choice or necessity are already somewhat outside of their culture when it comes to dating. The "traditional" Asian women have their dates set up by their parents/relatives/friends/matchmakers or Asian-oriented dating sites - obviously they date other Asian guys. Asian women who are "forced" to use, or choose to use OKCupid, are different and more primed to date outside of their race. Those are women who have careers and/or are perhaps unwilling to adopt the "traditional" role in an Asian household.

Now you can say (as some morons here have), "well, it's racist of these women to assume that all Asian men have traditional expectations of gender roles". That this does not strike people here as clearly absurd, is testimony to the fact that liberals have anti-logical blind spots just as conservatives do. After all, this is all about statistics. Odds are definitely higher that an Asian guy has such expectations compared to a white guy. This is a matter of statistics and fact that can be researched and proved (or disproved, as the case may be!) - this has nothing to do with prejudice. Compare it to redlining by auto insurance companies. Yes, the end result may be that if you hike the rates on neighborhood with the zip code of XXXXX, you'll hit mostly race Y. But that has nothing to do with racial prejudice. It's just an algorithm. The formula is - "1)select all zip codes with higher numbers of claims 2)hike the rates for those zip codes. The formula is not "racist", even if the result is that community X, Y, or Z pays more for car insurance. Now, as a country, we decided that the results are detrimental to the well-being of the whole society, so we've outlawed such redlining even if the result is not economically optimal for a given insurance company - we are willing to pay some economic cost to achieve desirable social goals. But the fact remains, that the formulation of the algorithm was driven purely and only by economic considerations, with zero consideration of race, there was no racism involved, even if the result may seem "racist".

It's exactly the same with those Asian women. They observe - Asian guys on average are much more likely to have certain cultural expectations, the women don't want that, and therefore make a rational decision based on odds not to date Asian men. Are there exceptions - Asian men who don't hew to tradition in these matters? Of course there are - but so what? You still go with the odds - who is willingly going to buy a red lottery ticket if they know that the payoff amount is the same, but the odds are much worse? Now, you can argue that the women are wrong about the odds - but that's a different argument altogether.

To expand on this, what if it's the same about all of these preferences? Maybe some folks - of all races - may not enjoy a particular culture... say, a "black" culture? Then they discriminate based on that, and not on race. Sometimes they may even be mistaken about some facts pertaining to a given culture, but that may mean they are not very smart or worldly or aware or educated, but that does not necessarily make them racist.

Cultural issues are quite significant in people's criteria for dating. Until they can disentangle that factor, concluding "racism" strikes me as poor reasoning.
posted by VikingSword at 5:55 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


amuseDetachment, thanks! I have to admit I like 'em more now. I especially liked "#107 Self Aware Hip Hop References."

some folks don't like to have their nation called a "tribe."

True. And some don't like to have their tribe called a nation, 'cause their nation is the USA.

The sports team thing stays interesting to me, because "Redskin" is clearly racist--I'm sure not about to go, "Yo, redskin!" to anyone. But some communities think a team name like the Hurons is no different than a name like the Spartans. I understand the Seminoles are on the list of folks who're cool with that.
posted by shetterly at 6:06 PM on October 7, 2009


I love that everyone is bragging about how they have dated non-whites.

Well. If they don't then they are obviously racists. Catch-22.

It's one of those "Do you still beat your wife" type deals.

Maybe it's just me but it seems that there has been increasing trend on Metafilter having more "Your a Racist Because of __________" threads since the historical first of electing a black man with a funny name President of the US.

It's like we can't trust ourselves without having regular witch hunts.
posted by tkchrist at 6:11 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


OKCupid is old and busted anyway.

For the low, low price of $1,995, Scientific Match promises me that my partner will have more orgasms AND I'll enjoy her body odor more!
posted by jason's_planet at 6:12 PM on October 7, 2009


The "traditional" Asian women have their dates set up by their parents/relatives/friends/matchmakers or Asian-oriented dating sites - obviously they date other Asian guys.

WTF?

Large amount of stupid here.

Yes, clearly there is a lot of stupid in this thread. My god. I feel threads like this make me dumber.
posted by chunking express at 6:21 PM on October 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


The "traditional" Asian women have their dates set up by their parents/relatives/friends/matchmakers or Asian-oriented dating sites - obviously they date other Asian guys.

WTF?


Why WTF? He's right. Traditionally that was pretty much true. At least until very recently. I know. My co-worker sitting right next to me here was in a arranged engagement. And I know dozens of Filipino women who belong to Filipino dating sites. What is wrong with his statement? I'm curious.
posted by tkchrist at 6:29 PM on October 7, 2009


Well. If they don't then they are obviously racists. Catch-22.

This accusation has never been made in this thread, or, of it has, I have missed it. You may have been joking, but, if you weren't, I don't know how it helps the discussion to minimize it to that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:30 PM on October 7, 2009


The "traditional" Asian women have their dates set up by their parents/relatives/friends/matchmakers or Asian-oriented dating sites - obviously they date other Asian guys.

WTF?


WTF??

FYI, if this astonishes you, here's more: water is wet! Whoa dude!
posted by VikingSword at 6:31 PM on October 7, 2009


This accusation has never been made in this thread, or, of it has, I have missed it.

Yes. You must've missed it. Becuase the entire premise of the linked article was that being attracted to exclusively your own race is racist. It has been re-stated like ten times in this thread. I'd say that is in accusation on it's face.
posted by tkchrist at 6:35 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


despite what you might’ve heard from the Obama campaign

what
posted by DU at 6:37 PM on October 7, 2009


Becuase the entire premise of the linked article was that being attracted to exclusively your own race is racist. It has been re-stated like ten times in this thread. I'd say that is in accusation on it's face.

"White women prefer white men to the exclusion of everyone else—and Asian and Hispanic women prefer them even more exclusively. These three types of women only respond well to white men."

"Men don’t write black women back. Or rather, they write them back far less often than they should. Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race—including other blacks—singles them out for the cold shoulder."

Is this really natural to you? Can you not see any imbalance, any issue - such that the only thing you can take away from the article is that people are being called racist for being attracted to exclusively their own race? (Note again: the word "racist" never once came up in the article.)
posted by catchingsignals at 6:53 PM on October 7, 2009


Far be it from me to criticize some white dude who is apparently an expert on Asian people and all of that, but I bet I know way more Asian people than he does, and I'm really having a hard time remembering any of them who were matchmaker-ed/arranged marriage-d.

I mean, I'm not saying there's not a lot of parental "Why don't you marry him, he's a _doctor_", but I gotta tell you, I know a whole lot of white people too, and I've heard some of that going on there too.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:58 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


White women prefer white men to the exclusion of everyone else.

Heidi Klum, one of the richest and most attractive white women in the world, begs to differ. Like everything else, I'm sure it all depends.
posted by anniecat at 7:08 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Far be it from me to criticize some white dude who is apparently an expert on Asian people and all of that, but I bet I know way more Asian people than he does, and I'm really having a hard time remembering any of them who were matchmaker-ed/arranged marriage-d.

I mean, I'm not saying there's not a lot of parental "Why don't you marry him, he's a _doctor_", but I gotta tell you, I know a whole lot of white people too, and I've heard some of that going on there too.


Are you seriously questioning the fact that arranged marriages, and more importantly traditional community matchmaking of all kind, including ethnic specific dating sites are far more prevalent in Asian communities compared to whites?? The mind boggles. I don't need to be "an expert on Asian people" (though it so happens that I've had a lot of exposure to Asian cultures and people) to be acquainted with basic facts.
posted by VikingSword at 7:08 PM on October 7, 2009


Then again, Heidi Klum and Seal never went trolling for dates online...
posted by anniecat at 7:09 PM on October 7, 2009


Far be it from me to criticize some white dude who is apparently an expert on Asian people and all of that, but I bet I know way more Asian people than he does

This could be a disconnect with the word "Asian". I dunno where all youse'guys are from but some folks, when they say "Asian", are generally only referring to east and perhaps southeast Asians (Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese) while some folks include Indians, Pakistanis, and so forth under "Asian". I imagine that what groups you include under the rubric "Asian" would pretty significantly influence how common arranged marriages are.

But this is only a theory. And as we all know, COMMUNISM works in theory, Marge.
posted by Justinian at 7:11 PM on October 7, 2009


I'm Asian, now living in a European (majority white) country. Before I moved here, I was living in an Asian country, where my preferences were pretty much 100% Asian - since I barely knew anybody who weren't Asian. When I came over here, white people looked all the same to me. I could barely tell them apart.

Once I settled, I found myself attracted to white people too. In fact, soon white people became my default - someone said upthread that you start looking strange to yourself in the mirror, and that was certainly my experience. Asian people started looking the same to me - and it felt oddly incestuous somehow to be attracted to them. But black people weren't hot to me - though I had black friends, could appreciate their good looks, etc. etc. - for many, many years. Which bothered me, as I learned more about racism, implicit and explicit. I was cutting out a huge section of the population, for no good reason. What if within that population was someone I could be happy with?

So I tried to counter whatever it was in my brain that was doing it. Whereas I could have at this point happily spent all my time looking at white people, I made an effort to look more at black people - to dwell a little longer than I normally would, to see if I can be attracted to them.

Some might think I was forcing it because of my liberal guilt or whatever, but I was personally aware of how my preferences had changed when I moved - to the point where I was losing interest in "my own race", contrary to the "people are just attracted to their own kind and people who look like them" explanation. I could see in myself what social forces had done to me. So I fought it. I did not take it for granted that it was natural, that it was instinct, or that it was biological.

In recent years, I'm finding an increasing number of black women hot. I don't know how much my conscious decision had to do with it, or whether it was just a matter of time. But I now have a vastly bigger pool of people to choose from. I've also been looking more at Asian women, and trying to rediscover my attraction to them in the same way, with some success. I feel like my brain is no longer excluding people because of race.

It is my theory that if you say you are not attracted to [race], once you are thrown in the midst of a population only of that [race], what had seemed like natural brain wiring you were born with would change. It might take weeks, or it might take a year or two, but I would bet that it would happen.

There are so many interesting, complex reasons why attraction and preference seems to skew towards the people who traditionally have the most power - white people, and particularly white men - or why some sections of the population seem to lose out. Exposure to other "races"; the assumption that people of other races are likely to have less in common with you, so you just rule them out. Media reinforcement of white as the most beautiful. (First thing I thought of when I saw this post - the experiment with the black dolls and white dolls); associations of black with masculinity, and Asian with femininity. Instead it's all I'MNOTRACISTHOWSTUPIDAREYOUTOCALLMERACIST. Nobody is calling you racist. The data skews clearly to white. Why is that? Are white people just inherently more attractive? Are we all biological wired to be friendly to white people?

But, it's also worth remembering the 70, 80, 90% "no" answers to the last two questions, which despite okcupid not being entirely representative of the wider population, is still heartening. That is still progress.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:12 PM on October 7, 2009 [11 favorites]


I actually had to read this whole thread - ouch - to figure out if someone had made this point yet, and I don't think it's explicitly come up.

Now, I'm not bragging when I say that my desires are pretty much pan-racial, and I think that's the future of humanity, to the point where I've semi-seriously argued to people that they have a duty to their genes to miscegenate...

But honestly, and I think it's one of the (white) elephants in the room here, I'm scared of black women! I love the ones I know, and I've dated some, but it doesn't change the fact - a lot of black women are just plain socially intimidating. I mean, like they tend to be way more verbally aggressive/assertive than I am, or am used to.

Not to be TOTALLY RACIST or anything - fuck it, I'm not going to try to say I'm not, unconsciously etc, just that I honestly think a lot of non-white women are totally hot and awesome people and etc - but I don't think my attitude is so uncommon. In fact, I remember saying this, about being intimidated, to this black (well, she was creole, OK, but mostly self-identified as black) woman I was dating, and she was like "Me too! Black women are just too bad-ass!"

I dunno. It's a prejudice I'm more than willing to try to overcome, and it certainly doesn't make things any easier for the - I'm sure - vast majority of black women who aren't necessarily trying to intimidate white boys, but I thought I'd bring it up, because it at least sounds, to me, like a different kind of stereotype than people are imagining, here.
posted by hap_hazard at 7:20 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this really natural to you? Can you not see any imbalance, any issue - such that the only thing you can take away from the article is that people are being called racist for being attracted to exclusively their own race? (Note again: the word "racist" never once came up in the article.)

Uh. I see racism. That's the issue. Right? And somebody has to be racist for there to be racism, right? A bit disingenuous to claim there isn't an actor out there somewhere establishing all these prejudices.

But okay. Okay. Your right. He never mentioned the word racist (though in the comments section "racist" is mentioned in nearly ever single comment more than once). No he cleverly avoided the direct use of the word.

The blogger merely laid down a whole bunch of other smarmy judgment. Like:

White guys are shitty, but fairly even-handed about it...

Not to mention his intro about "despite what you may have heard from the Obama campaign."

What the fuck does that mean?

Okay. I agree with you. It's not much the data. Which you are correct in saying it could be interesting. Without all the judgment. It's his asshole presentation. And the tone of certain people in this thread who are not giving other poster the benefit of the doubt with thier Bingo cards and all that inflammatory bullshit.

So. You tell me what I should take away from this article (or this thread). Mostly the thread. Honestly. I want to know. Honest question made in good faith.

Is it now I get to mention how many non-white women, and of which race, I have dated? Will that buy the same cred it has with everybody else in this thread? Five. Black. Black. Asian. Native American. Iranian. But I married a Norwegian. S'ok. I'm the mixed race one in this relationship.
posted by tkchrist at 7:27 PM on October 7, 2009


Are you seriously questioning the fact that arranged marriages, and more importantly traditional community matchmaking of all kind, including ethnic specific dating sites are far more prevalent in Asian communities compared to whites?? The mind boggles. I don't need to be "an expert on Asian people" (though it so happens that I've had a lot of exposure to Asian cultures and people) to be acquainted with basic facts.
posted by VikingSword at 10:08 PM on October 7 [+] [!]


Congratulations on your widespread exposure to Asian people! Tell me more about their (I hear they're one gigantic homogeneous mass, such as you see on the television) strange and exotic ways.

Uh ... yeah, nobody I know is all matchmakery and ethnic specific dating site-y. I mean, really, trying to think of a single one, and I just can't do it. Maybe we hang out in different circles, but I'm going to go ahead and say that if you believe that the majority of Asian people in America and Asian-Americans connect with one another through traditional matchmaking, well ... I haven't seen it, and I really wouldn't consider it a basic fact. Not saying it doesn't happen, but you know, I'm aware that some Jewish people get all, like, Yenta'd up, yet I wouldn't be all, "It is a basic fact that Jewish people primarily meet each other through Yentas and J-date. The ones who don't have been CAST OUT OF THEIR CULTURE and MUST DATE WHITE PEOPLE."

However, since I am all about multicultural awareness, I have come up with some FUN FACTS which you may have missed during your EXTENSIVE EDUCATION on ASIAN PEOPLE.

* I have never personally BOMBED PEARL HARBOR.
* Also, I have never bound anybody's feet.
* Or known anybody whose feet were bound.
* Actually, my feet are freaking huge. I mean, some of that has to be genetic. You know what it was like before the internet? I'd walk into a shoe store and be all, "Oooh, I want those shoes." And the shoe salesman would laugh and be like, "We've got two pairs of shoes that you can buy, you can choose between them."
* A LARGE percentage of Asian people are lactose intolerant, but still think that MILKSHAKES ARE FREAKING DELICIOUS.
* I took KUNG FU for a little while, but I was REALLY BAD AT IT.
* I have never, ever, once walked into a room, and then *BONG*, someone hits a gong. Television has truly skewed my expectations of the world.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:31 PM on October 7, 2009 [13 favorites]


* No, wait, I bound someone's foot once, but his toe was broken, and I don't really think that that counts. Also, I didn't find it attractive AT ALL.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:32 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Awwww, damnit. I tried for so many years to be a good person, to treat everybody equally, and now I find out that I'm actually a racist. Damnit. I should have made sure the people I in high school were evenly racially distributed.
posted by tehloki at 7:42 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Comrade robot you are being an asshole. But it you did make me laugh with the gong thing. I'll grant you that. You left out that little tune that always means "ASIAN CHARACTER" in movies, you know the one "Deedeedeedee deet-deet deet-deet deeeee".

But I know lots of Microsoft-ers here from Asia and India who have had arranged marriages. One of my clients in fact. And there are lots of dating services that cater to one ethnicity exclusively - asianpeoplemeet.com. One reason I know this is becuase a very good friend of mine who is ethnically Chinese/Filipino and just divorced (from a Caucasian woman) is back on the dating scene and, for complicated reasons, want's to date an Asian.
posted by tkchrist at 7:43 PM on October 7, 2009


Is it now I get to mention how many non-white women, and of which race, I have dated? Will that buy the same cred it has with everybody else in this thread? Five. Black. Black. Asian. Native American. Iranian.

This is probably not the best time to link to Ricky Nelson's Travelin' Man.
posted by shetterly at 7:45 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


if you believe that the majority of Asian people in America and Asian-Americans connect with one another through traditional matchmaking

BTW. He never said that. He said "traditionally" which means, I assume, more conservative members of a given Asian community. Not as prevalent as it once was. But not all that hard to find, either.
posted by tkchrist at 7:47 PM on October 7, 2009


This is probably not the best time to link to Ricky Nelson's Travelin' Man.

It's the perfect time. But Nelson mentions his "Sweet Fraulein down in Berlin Town" which is clearly an allusion to Leni Riefenstahl and admission of Nelsons early flirtation with National Socialism. At least that' 's an ethos.
posted by tkchrist at 7:52 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


White people, please tell me more about Asians.
posted by chunking express at 7:53 PM on October 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


tkchrist: I do see your point about the presentation. I read it as more light-hearted, sarcastic, but when it comes to something like this that might make people feel defensive, that kind of presentation is not really a good idea, I agree. But I don't think that talking about the existence of racism necessarily means accusing someone of being racist, no. In my last comment for example I was talking about when I wasn't attracted to black people - while I wouldn't say I was a racist or a bad person then, I might've been under the influence of societal racism say, some of the effects of which are a lot more subtle.

The Obama campaign thing I think was about his being elected president meaning we now live in a post-racial age, which I don't think he was the first person to snark about. But I understand your objections about his presentation. (As to what I feel can be read from the article, some of them may be how the data skews for white people, particularly white men; how it's particularly hard for black women; how white and native American seem to be particularly behind percentage-wise in terms of progress... things like that. And good things - like how the majority don't have a problem with interracial dating and marriage.)
posted by catchingsignals at 7:54 PM on October 7, 2009


You['re] right. He never mentioned the word racist (though in the comments section "racist" is mentioned in nearly ever single comment more than once). No he cleverly avoided the direct use of the word.

Maybe he avoided the direct use of the word because he doesn't think it is an appropriate charge to make. I do think the numbers say a lot about race in America, and that what they say is pretty damning, but I don't think the takeaway should be "you are racist and should feel ashamed." As I said in an earlier comment, it's really quite revealing how quickly people go from reading this article to defending their lack of racism. It just goes to show how hard it is to have a conversation about race.
posted by aspo at 8:01 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


VikingSword: Are you talking about South Asians (indians, pakistanis, etc) here? Because I definetly do think it would be unsual for East Asian-Americans (Japanese/Chinese/Korean/Vietnamese/etc-Americnas) to get arranged marriages.

On OkCupid they separated "Asians" and "Indians"
posted by delmoi at 8:05 PM on October 7, 2009


But okay. Okay. Your right. He never mentioned the word racist (though in the comments section "racist" is mentioned in nearly ever single comment more than once). No he cleverly avoided the direct use of the word.

Erm, this is how the article begins:
Welcome back, dorks. We’ve processed the messaging habits of almost a million people and are about to basically prove that, despite what you might’ve heard from the Obama campaign and organic cereal commercials, racism is alive and well.
posted by delmoi at 8:08 PM on October 7, 2009


I don't buy the traditionalist "stick with your culture" stuff I hear from my parents. The very existence of a site for dating exclusively Indians squicks me out.

Naju, I married an ABCD and am not one myself, having come here to the US only to attend college. There are so many times we are just worlds apart and then other times, he reminds me of Indian guys from back home. I'm just grateful to not have married a man who carries his cellphone in a holster belt and wears those spotty 80s jeans with high topped sneakers., and has a constant entourage of other Indian nerd friends with him wearing high waisted jeans, talking about their fantasies of Aishwarya Rai, and having big mustaches. Though sometimes, that kind of thing is very familiar and this country feels very alienating to minorities. Anyway, what I was saying was that ABCDs are foreign to even the people they share the culture with (in so many ways), unless they have cellphone holsters and weird jeans...then we are united.
posted by anniecat at 8:11 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


It just goes to show how hard it is to have a conversation about race.

I agree. So when people want to talk about cultural or class factors in this survey they shouldn't get presented with things like the "Racism Bingo Card." That's simply another way of shutting down the conversation with trite accusations.

Also comments like this:
White people, please tell me more about Asians.
VikingSword attempted to make an honest point and Chunking Express is just being a drive-by jerk about it. After all If your white you can't possibly have any experience with another ethnic group that may be valid.
posted by tkchrist at 8:15 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I must be racist. I don't like dark skin. I don't even date white women with tans -- it's a turn-off. I also don't like fat chicks, really big or really small boobs, blond hair, big feet, or girls over about 5'5".

Interesting that only one of my preferences makes me a bad person (unless of course one of the other turn-offs applies to you, in which case, I'm just an asshole).

Sue me.


I think coolguymichael is a pretty cool guy. Eh likes the narrowest definition of the western standard of beauty and doesn't afraid of being an asshole
posted by ignignokt at 8:16 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


The article about What to say in your first message is also pretty interesting.

PRO TIP: Women already know they're sexy, you don't need to tell them.
posted by delmoi at 8:21 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Has anyone in this thread used the site in question? I ask because, on just about any dating site I've ever tried, about a fifth of the messages and chat requests I've received came from someone on the other side of the planet. Even assuming no preference on my own part, a baseline number of messages from Asian users are are going to go without response, for much the same reason as I find myself kicking Nigerian princes from my inbox.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:27 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


tkchrist, i'm not being a drive by jerk. These threads are usually a shocking waste of time. The comment was stupid. I still think it's stupid. I know a metric ton of Asian boys and girls, and the vast majority are apparently "somewhat outside of their culture when it comes to dating." I should let them know.

And White people can discuss racism all they like. Or classism. Or whatever MetaFilter decides to call this phenomenon. And they can discuss Asians, because, "Fuck, I know some Asians and they walk and talk like this."
posted by chunking express at 8:30 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


kid ichorous has a really good point. Did OKCupid make any attempt to control for geographical factors?
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:33 PM on October 7, 2009


For the sake of harmony, I'd like to point out one conclusion from the article that we can all agree on: astrology is bullshit.
posted by granted at 8:41 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whoa, I missed this bullshit:

Take the example of Asian women. The Asian women who are on OKCupid, are definitely a distinct group - they are not a cross-section of Asian women the same way the white women on OKCupid are. Those Asian women are ones who either by choice or necessity are already somewhat outside of their culture when it comes to dating. The "traditional" Asian women have their dates set up by their parents/relatives/friends/matchmakers or Asian-oriented dating sites - obviously they date other Asian guys. Asian women who are "forced" to use, or choose to use OKCupid, are different and more primed to date outside of their race. Those are women who have careers and/or are perhaps unwilling to adopt the "traditional" role in an Asian household.

VikingSword, that is a very misleading thing to say that plays into the stereotype of submissive Asian American women. I know a lot Asian American women. Even the ones that listen to Asian pop exclusively, go to noraebangs, and speak with an accent are capable and comfortable with making their own choices about dating, and are not "outside their culture."
posted by ignignokt at 8:44 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, joy, more teeth gnashing about imaginary racism. When are they going to address the injustice of tall and handsome privilege?
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 8:47 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree. So when people want to talk about cultural or class factors in this survey they shouldn't get presented with things like the "Racism Bingo Card." That's simply another way of shutting down the conversation with trite accusations.

I'm going to defend the bingo card. It is really, really frustrating to talk about things like this. Especially when people are being defensive and dismissive, while repeating the same arguments that you feel like you've answered in about a thousand conversations you've had before this. I was close to losing my shit and typing in all caps and blink tags earlier in the thread, and had to make myself log out and walk away from the computer. It's dispiriting to see people refusing to even consider the possibility of a problem, and exhausting to try to fend off the same arguments all the time. And then when you feel like you're getting somewhere, after 50 or 100 comments, someone else jumps in who never read the thread but snark at you from a slightly different angle. I don't think the bingo card is really for the people being presented the card. It's for those of us who are tired, to reassure us that we're not crazy, that people have struggled to have the same conversations and bumped into the same walls before.
posted by catchingsignals at 8:50 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


"When are they going to address the injustice of tall and handsome privilege?"

Hey, I'm dating a woman significantly shorter than I am! She is, I'll admit, better looking, so maybe that equals out.
posted by klangklangston at 8:58 PM on October 7, 2009


Yes, because it is all about personal anectdata. That trumps all. A guy loves his Yugo - the best car ever, after all, he has personal experience, while that Honda he had was pure garbage. Statistics, data, studies - all be damned.

And so we have the absurd situation where arranged marriages don't exist, because heck, someone or other has never met anyone (that they know!) who is in such a marriage. And furthermore it means that by percentage there are just as many people with an Indian Subcontinent background who are in arranged marriages as there are of people with a, say, Scandinavian background.

Either it's true or it is not. This is not a matter of opinion or personal experience. It is a matter of statistics and factual data.

Greater numbers though, avail themselves of matchmaking resources in their communities, and for example people with Far East Asian background have at their disposal many sites that cater to their specific ethnicity. Is that true or is that false?

I never said that this pertains to all or even most Asians. It does pertain to a certain percentage of more tradition bound Asians.

And those numbers happen to be greater in people of Asian background (Far East, Indian etc.) than in the general population in the U.S. - never mind your personal circle of friends... IS THIS FACTUALLY CORRECT OR NOT?

If it is, then my point regarding statistics and how this impacts the pool of Asians available to take advantage of OKCupid is valid.

As to the rest of the smears about "stereotypes", and gongs and Pearl Harbor and feet-binding... I appreciate that you don't have an argument, and so resort to such drivel.
posted by VikingSword at 9:00 PM on October 7, 2009


VikingSword, that is a very misleading thing to say that plays into the stereotype of submissive Asian American women.

What?? The stereotype of "submissive Asian woman" is most frequently used in reference to male-female relationships, especially Western male. It's a despicable and untrue stereotype. Nowhere in anything I've written can one read such a thing. Quite the opposite - it takes a lot of strength for those women to defy their cultural and family pressure and date outside of their race or tradition; they date on their own terms, and it is quite offensive to accuse them of racism because of that.
posted by VikingSword at 9:11 PM on October 7, 2009


I love how people keep bringing up individual cases as if they disprove the whole thing. "Well, why don't you ask DAVID BOWIE about your statistical analysis of the behavior of over a million users which indicates a significantly lower response rate to black women, probably stemming from a socially conditioned, racially based bias against them? Oh yeah, I bet you won't, because it might BURST YOUR LITTLE PC BUBBLE"
posted by granted at 9:12 PM on October 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


hap_hazard: Just want to say I really appreciate you bringing up your point. It's cultural, isn't it? And it's not exactly hard to imagine why some black women might have had to become more "bad-ass", as the woman you were dating put it. Though it might worry you a little, it doesn't sound like you're going to let the stereotype stop you though! :) And besides, even for the black women who are more bad-ass on the outside, they may be softies on the inside - and it's pretty rewarding to find that out.
posted by catchingsignals at 9:16 PM on October 7, 2009


This is probably not the best time to link to Ricky Nelson's Travelin' Man .

I've always preferred XTC's "Omnibus".

   There's nothing in the world like a gold skinned girl
   To make your bonsai weep and make your bamboo curl


It doesn't get better than that.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 9:21 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


and actually, personal experience-wise, the black women I've known who were/are that assertive are in the minority - depends on the culture and neighbourhood you're in though, I'm sure.
posted by catchingsignals at 9:27 PM on October 7, 2009


Also: "Well, first of all, this analysis is OBVIOUSLY flawed, because they didn't control for...Oh. Wait. Okay, because what about...oh. Well! I know it's wrong because, for one thing! You people and your delusions of racism everywhere, well, you won't find it here, I tell you! I mean I myself may not be attracted to black people but that's not racism, that's just a preference that I just happen to have. That I and a significantly disproportionate number of white people just happen to have. Against black people. In particular. So what! Wait, you know who's hot? Beyonce! See! Not racist!"
posted by granted at 9:33 PM on October 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


This thread is a travesty and I'm sorry for participating in it in anything resembling an honest and straightforward fashion when clearly I should have been snarking.

All that time I could have been making up a bingo card.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:35 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to defend the bingo card. It is really, really frustrating to talk about things like this.

catchingsignals, I feel exactly the same way when I'm responding to people who reduce complex issues to squares in bingo cards. I briefly considered making bingo cards in response, and I thought of two. The first had every square filled with "bingo card." The other consisted of glib phrases often uttered by people who refuse to consider class issues when they look at injustice. Neither card seemed helpful, so I gave up on the idea.

If you're concerned about an issue on the internet, you're just going to have to repeat yourself a lot.
posted by shetterly at 9:36 PM on October 7, 2009


Class certainly plays a part in it, and I don't think you can discuss race without also discussing class. The issue becomes sidetracked, however, when people insist the subject is class instead of race, which happens with alarming frequency in this sort of discussion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:44 PM on October 7, 2009


Seriously. Until they're a bit more forthcoming on the methodology, this discussion is just so much bingo in the dark. Ah, but OKCupid's marketing team is extremely good at what they do.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:46 PM on October 7, 2009


I keep coming back to the basic assumption made in "Your Race Affects Whether People Write You Back." Was Martin Luther King a racist because he didn't date outside his race? Was John Brown? I want to argue that relationships are like religion, which also appears to be extremely racist if you only look at the races of the people within a synagogue or church or mosque.

But on the other hand, I keep thinking about black women being the most likely to write back and the least likely to be answered, and I kind of want to cry.
posted by shetterly at 9:46 PM on October 7, 2009


There are a lot of circumstances where I could understand not wanting to date outside your race. Membership in many Native American tribes is based on what percentage Indian you are. Black people have a pretty distinct cultural experience in this country, and I can understand wanting to be involved with somebody who shares that experience, so you don't constantly have to explain yourself. It's why, at the start of this thread, when somebody asked if it is racist not to want to date outside your race, I said it depends on the reason.

That being said, when black women are almost universal rejected on a popular dating site, it might be worth looking into what those reasons are, and asking if the only reason is that, coincidentally, people just all happen to have a perfectly understandable personal preference that just precludes black women.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:52 PM on October 7, 2009


Just happens to, rather.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:54 PM on October 7, 2009


As someone who has spent a LOT of time examining why I find some people sexually interesting and others not, I find this to be especially interesting. My own interests run seemingly outside the standard set of mainstream attractiveness, but I've boiled it down to a certain set of features: a combination of a certain facial shape, body shape, choices about hair and grooming, etc. And I find that I can find that set attractive across nearly any racial group, although there are some groups which are more likely to choose that "look" than others.

None of this has to do with personal compatibility, which is something else entirely, and I haven't really worked my way through all that, yet. It's more difficult to assess qualities of personality from random photos or passers-by on the street.
posted by hippybear at 9:54 PM on October 7, 2009


And those numbers happen to be greater in people of Asian background (Far East, Indian etc.) than in the general population in the U.S. - never mind your personal circle of friends... IS THIS FACTUALLY CORRECT OR NOT?

If you're talking about East Asians living in the U.S. and arranged marriages/matchmakers being common, then honestly I don't think it is. Obviously there are East Asian specific dating sites, but saying that East Asians are into arranged marriages is just bizarre.

Was Martin Luther King a racist because he didn't date outside his race?

Maybe he just didn't want to get lynched.
posted by delmoi at 10:09 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Has anyone considered the amount of historical and cultural baggage that comes up in a white/black relationship in the United States? Maybe it isn't racism that turns white guys away from black women, maybe it's all the racist shit you'd both have to deal with. There's a level of intent and bravery necessary that may not be required for other pairings.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 10:23 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe he just didn't want to get lynched.

What happened to Emmett Till or any black man falsely accused of rape isn't analogous. Richard and Virginia Loving married in 1958, and while they faced many, many problems, no one tried to lynch them. Loving v. Virginia wasn't decided until after King's death, but King had to have known that the ACLU had started moving on that front.
posted by shetterly at 10:25 PM on October 7, 2009


If you're talking about East Asians living in the U.S. and arranged marriages/matchmakers being common, then honestly I don't think it is. Obviously there are East Asian specific dating sites, but saying that East Asians are into arranged marriages is just bizarre.

Fortunately, I didn't claim that East Asians were "into arranged marriages", so my claims are not "bizarre". What I did claim: arranged marriages and ethnic specific websites and heavy family/community involvement in matchmaking - Indian Subcontinent (this doesn't mean only these communities have arranged marriages - for example many Muslim immigrants from other parts of the world do too); East Asians - ethnic specific websites and family involvement in matchmaking (the latter especially true for Korean-Americans). There are many nuances of course. The above applies less to later generations, and is less true of certain ethnicities which have less recent immigration (say, Japanese). You can make the analysis quite fine-grained and there are many studies which address this, but the overall claims are quite uncontroversial (except to ignoramuses with an agenda).
posted by VikingSword at 10:27 PM on October 7, 2009


But on the other hand, I keep thinking about black women being the most likely to write back and the least likely to be answered, and I kind of want to cry.

Hey, but on the plus side, I'm gonna go ahead and guess that any decently attractive black woman on OKCupid probably has a full inbox this week from guys that think they're all desperate/easy.
posted by empath at 10:28 PM on October 7, 2009


Those Asian women are ones who either by choice or necessity are already somewhat outside of their culture when it comes to dating. The "traditional" Asian women have their dates set up by their parents/relatives/friends/matchmakers or Asian-oriented dating sites - obviously they date other Asian guys.

those numbers happen to be greater in people of Asian background (Far East, Indian etc.) than in the general population in the U.S.

it takes a lot of strength for those women to defy their cultural and family pressure and date outside of their race or tradition;


I think part of the reason these comments are triggering heat is that, aside from conflating different kinds of Asian as others have pointed out (a quick google suggests that there's considerable disparity as to the prevalence of arranged marriages depending on East Asia, South Asia, rural, urban), they conflate Asians born in Asia with those whose families' roots in, say, the US, go back several generations. Culturally, they'd have much less in common than Canadians and Americans.

Likeferinstance, that last comment, which can be read as projecting "traditional" culture onto, eg, Asian American women who in many cases don't consider it "their" culture necessitating great strength to defy, since "their" culture is predominantly American. So, the choice of phrases above just -- unintentionally, I'm sure -- rubs places that are raw already due to the kinds of experiences (fending off stereotypical "your culture" assertions from being plastered all over oneself) that I described in my previous comment. If you see what I mean.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:32 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


And just what is a "perfectly understandable" reason? Why should anyone have to justify sexual attraction with any response other than, "It's what gets me off?"

They don't. But that doesn't mean the question isn't worth asking, especially when it leads to such dramatic race-based exclusion. You don't want to date black chicks, I'm not going to make you. But I am going to wonder why. And, honestly, if there was an entire category of people that I excluded -- and there are -- I would wonder why, and try to understand it, rather than shrugging it off as just one of those unknowable things.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:32 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Was Martin Luther King a racist because he didn't date outside his race? Was John Brown? I want to argue that relationships are like religion, which also appears to be extremely racist if you only look at the races of the people within a synagogue or church or mosque."

On the one hand, a question of religion and creed as another variable is interesting. On the other hand, the MLK and John Brown bits are disingenuous bullshit of the first rank.

Finally, can we stop being moronic regarding systemic racism? That any single instance might or might not have been racism is irrelevant; the racism is seen in the aggregate of lots of little decisions. This has only been pointed out eleventy million times already in this thread alone, and I'm only typing it again because unfortunately there's no internet protocol that allows me to slap the stupid out of your heads when you trot out the same bullshit again and again.
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Some interesting links:

Interracial marriage. (It does blur what's racial and what's tribal.)

After 40 years, interracial marriage flourishing: "Many prominent blacks — including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, civil rights leader Julian Bond and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun — have married whites. Well-known whites who have married blacks include former Defense Secretary William Cohen and actor Robert DeNiro."

Interracial Marriage Rate Declines Among Asians: "According to U.S. Census data, the number of native- and foreign-born people marrying outside their race fell from 27 to 20 percent for Hispanics and 42 to 33 percent for Asians from 1990 to 2000. Scholars suggest it’s all about the growing number of immigrants."

Most Americans Approve of Interracial Marriages
: "More than three in four Americans say they approve of marriages between blacks and whites."

Interracial marriage in the United States: "The study also observed a clear gender divide in racial preference with regards to marriage: Women of all the races which were studied revealed a strong preference for men of their own race for marriage, with the caveat that East Asian women only discriminated against Black and Hispanic men, and not against White men. A woman's race was found to have no effect on the men's choices. According to studies by Jenifer L. Bratter and Rosalind B. King made publicly available on the Education Resources Information Center, White female-Black male and White female-Asian male marriages are more prone to divorce than White-White pairings. Conversely, unions between White males and non-White females (and between Hispanics and non-Hispanic persons) have similar or lower risks of divorce than White-White marriages."
posted by shetterly at 10:37 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


"I would wonder why, and try to understand it, rather than shrugging it off as just one of those unknowable things."

Seriously. We can admit the role of socialization and culture in food preferences or hair styles, but as soon as it's romantic relationships, we get neophyte New Mysterions saying, "IT IS A MISTARY"
posted by klangklangston at 10:38 PM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


unfortunately there's no internet protocol that allows me to slap the stupid out of your heads when you trot out the same bullshit again and again

Man, you should be grateful for that, 'cause MeFi wouldn't have nothing but the slapping.

the racism is seen in the aggregate of lots of little decisions

That's where ideological anti-racists part from the rest of us. Are there a lot of racists in the world? Yeah. Are the ones whose racism favors whites less likely to write back to a black woman than to a white woman? Yeah. Does this suck? Totally.

But what good does it do to address this in terms of "the aggregate of lots of little decisions"? Does the "systemic aggregate" make you think that OKCupid is a racist site? What practical action can you take to solving this problem by thinking of it in these terms? Should you sue OKCupid to get them to fix the problem indicated by these racist results?

Meanwhile, I can note that that race becomes less significant every year. This pleases me.
posted by shetterly at 10:51 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


We can admit the role of socialization and culture in food preferences or hair styles, but as soon as it's romantic relationships, we get neophyte New Mysterions saying, "IT IS A MISTARY"

And sexual preference is the only category of the three on which we still seem prepared to pass moral judgments. Although cane-tapping dandies live by the logical inverse. It's understandable for someone to be touchier about inquiries into their sex lives than their eating habits.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:55 PM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why in the fuck are people so fucking defensive about this particular issue? Christ, people, get a grip.

1: A statement about a group in aggregate doesn't necessarily say anything about you in particular. If you find yourself all hot about it, maybe think for a bit and wonder why you're defensive.

2: No one gives a flying fuck about your sexual desires or past experiences. Really. Whether you have dated people inside or outside your race in the past, or get aroused or not by various people has very little bearing on a study like this. It's especially disturbing to hear your conjectures about how good or bad sex with someone outside your direct experience would be.

3: Can we quit with the "I know all sorts of [people] and all of them are [like this]"? No matter how many people you know, your friends and associates are going to be a relatively homogeneous group and not very representative of the world as a whole.

This is a pretty depressing thread that has occasional rays of sanity in it to be thankful for.
posted by maxwelton at 10:59 PM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


"klangklangston: Seriously. We can admit the role of socialization and culture in food preferences or hair styles, but as soon as it's romantic relationships, we get neophyte New Mysterions saying, "IT IS A MISTARY""

No embrace of ignorance was made. My post was in response to one that seemed to imply that there are "right" and "wrong" preferences when it comes to whom we prefer to fuck, something that doesn't seem a particularly progressive stance as it simply supplants the old religious-based persecution and patholigizing of sexual preference with a new secular inquisition. Astro Zombie seemed to back off of this connotation in his reply. Your reply did not address the matter at all and is useless blathering and snark.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 11:00 PM on October 7, 2009


I love how people keep bringing up individual cases as if they disprove the whole thing. "Well, why don't you ask DAVID BOWIE about your statistical analysis of the behavior of over a million users which indicates a significantly lower response rate to black women, probably stemming from a socially conditioned, racially based bias against them? Oh yeah, I bet you won't, because it might BURST YOUR LITTLE PC BUBBLE"
posted by granted at 9:12 PM on October 7 [1 favorite +] [!]


This needs to be repeated.

Could some non-Asian person have some valid experience that could contribute to the discussion? Sure. Could some Asian person have legitimately more authority on the matter? Probably. But that's not why VikingSword's comment is wrong.

It's wrong because he's somehow attributing a special set of circumstance to Asian women because they participate on an internet dating site, while not also allowing that same set of circumstances to apply to Asian men, or other race/gender combinations using the same internet dating site. Maybe all those other demo groups are clicking around on there as specific acts of their respective patriarchies?

I also like how black/white responses aren't happening because people aren't courageous enough to deal with the ramifications. Again, is that true for both parties in that speculative scenario? In other words, if that fairy tale were true, black women should reject messages from white men just as often as white men reject messages from black woman, +/- the overall gender difference. Is this true? Uh, no.

Look, if you need to make up a story in your head to grok these results for the particular demographic you're interested in and/or a member of - flip the script. If the results aren't also true for the dainty Asian women rebelling against their families or the not quite courageous enough black women or whatever other character classes you need for your story to make sense - then you're on the wrong track.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:19 PM on October 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Whatever, I'd marry all of you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:15 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


*sniffle* And how many of us have you divorced, Brandon?
posted by adipocere at 4:38 AM on October 8, 2009


300 plus comments and much confusion later, i just discovered the bingo card link, YAY ME

as you were
posted by doobiedoo at 6:39 AM on October 8, 2009


Meanwhile, people continue to be attracted to people that look like them.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:15 AM on October 7 [+] [!]


It worked out well for Bianca/Mick Jagger and Valeri/Eddie Van Halen.
posted by stormpooper at 6:59 AM on October 8, 2009


But that's not why VikingSword's comment is wrong.

It's wrong because he's somehow attributing a special set of circumstance to Asian women because they participate on an internet dating site, while not also allowing that same set of circumstances to apply to Asian men, or other race/gender combinations using the same internet dating site. Maybe all those other demo groups are clicking around on there as specific acts of their respective patriarchies?


Really, this needs a response? Somebody missed sociology and cultural studies 101?

Well, yes, Virginia, men and women can behave very differently in a given culture - in fact, you won't find one culture where that is not the case. What will be a prevalent behavior in males, can be rare in females and the other way around. Cultures have different standards and expectations of behavior for men and women. For example a woman might be encouraged to stay at home while a man may be encouraged to have a career outside, a man might be expected to "play the field" while a woman may not, a man might be expected to take the initiative in dating, while a woman may not etc. As a result, you may find that men and women from the same culture will come up very differently in various statistics. Yes, gender based behavior differences do exist - shocking, I know.

How might that manifest itself when it comes to Asians in a dating situation on OKCupid? For example, if in the group of Asian women on OKCupid there are statistically more women who wish to not experience "traditional" Asian gender roles in their relationships, then they might very well avoid Asian males - based on cultural expectations, not racism. In fact, that very motivation has been even voiced by women in this thread! Contrarily, that may not be true for Asian males precisely because the role of the man in a traditional Asian culture is less constricting. Consequently they may pursue Asian women on OKCupid, and not fully appreciate that they get no response because they are in a privileged position in their culture - thus there is a mis-match in expectations. The end result is that Asian men are willing to date Asian women more than the other way around. All done without resorting to racism.

And that's the problem with this entire discussion. I opened my first post here, stating that we simply don't know how big a factor racism is in these results. To get decent conclusions, you must be very, very careful to disentangle multiple factors - many of them quite subtle. I pointed out that culture and cultural preferences are also very big factors, apparently not controlled for. Rushing to conclusions is a mark of a sloppy thinker, or person with an agenda. Those who conclude that it is "racism", while doing no work to disentangle other factors are just as guilty here as those who conclude that racism plays no role. My position is neither. My position is: from the data as presented, we don't know one way or the other, and here are some reasons why we should not rush to judgment, as this factor (culture and cultural expectations) has not been properly controlled for.

This is the case in almost all the examples. When someone argues that "whites" show a much lesser/greater response vs other groups and therefore are X, Y, or Z, first they should make sure that the groups are comparable. If the group "whites" is significantly different in composition than f.ex. Asians, your conclusions are going to be garbage. And I'll go back to my first statement: there is a lot of sloppy reasoning and unwarranted conclusions in this thread - and the post I'm responding to is a good example. You'll have to be a lot more careful and thorough to be convincing, and denying reality, or being unaware of basic cultural and gender phenomena does not help you.
posted by VikingSword at 7:11 AM on October 8, 2009


I'm confused. I'm white, and I've seen it proclaimed that white men marrying Asian women (my wife is Japanese) is a form of racism. But now, it's racist to only date within your group. Which is it? Am I not racist because I married outside of my race, or am I racist because I married an Asian woman? Is it racist that I find Asian women beautiful, if I back that up by saying that other women are fine, but I do have a preference?

(That preference is Israeli women, the most beautiful women on the planet. Not many of them where I live, though.)
posted by Ghidorah at 7:25 AM on October 8, 2009


[A couple comments removed. Please see the metatalk thread if you want to discuss it, but generally trying a little harder not to be abrasive and skipping on the "fuck you" stuff will go a long way toward making stuff go less bumpily in here.]
posted by cortex at 7:34 AM on October 8, 2009


I believe Klang has already answered that question, Ghidorah.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:35 AM on October 8, 2009


"No embrace of ignorance was made. My post was in response to one that seemed to imply that there are "right" and "wrong" preferences when it comes to whom we prefer to fuck, something that doesn't seem a particularly progressive stance as it simply supplants the old religious-based persecution and patholigizing of sexual preference with a new secular inquisition. Astro Zombie seemed to back off of this connotation in his reply. Your reply did not address the matter at all and is useless blathering and snark."

Oh, bullshit. You treated the underlying arousal as immutable and unquestionable. It is a mystery.

I mean, seriously, questioning that black girl "gash" makes you vomit is a new secular inquisition? Only literally, dufus.

And if the idea of being intimate with a black woman makes you physically ill, well, maybe I'm not gonna call you racist, but maybe you'd feel more comfortable with the commenters on this article.
posted by klangklangston at 7:53 AM on October 8, 2009


"But what good does it do to address this in terms of "the aggregate of lots of little decisions"? Does the "systemic aggregate" make you think that OKCupid is a racist site? What practical action can you take to solving this problem by thinking of it in these terms? Should you sue OKCupid to get them to fix the problem indicated by these racist results?"

What good does it do? If you weren't so hung up on your idiotic jihad against "anti-racists," you'd see that the good is pretty self-evident: By encouraging people to take a moment of reflection about this, they're less likely to exclude someone purely on race. I can't take any practical action; I'm not a member of the site. But the members of the site can take lots of little actions that will, on aggregate, be meaningful. I mean, duh.
posted by klangklangston at 7:57 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


"This is the case in almost all the examples. When someone argues that "whites" show a much lesser/greater response vs other groups and therefore are X, Y, or Z, first they should make sure that the groups are comparable. If the group "whites" is significantly different in composition than f.ex. Asians, your conclusions are going to be garbage."

No, seriously, this objection is garbage. Is OkCupid's a rigorous study? No. But is the correlation significant? Yes. If you want to posit confounding factors, you're going to have to actually show some, not just get all hand wavy about possible sampling biases, especially when you can't even bother to compare the categories they separated out, e.g. female Asians to female whites, not female Asians to all whites.
posted by klangklangston at 8:02 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Since VikingSword continues to talk about some mythical pan-Asian culture, I doubt you're going to get anything of substance out of him.
posted by chunking express at 8:06 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can't we agree this data is horribly skewed because it's all from losers who would use a dating web site?
posted by yerfatma at 8:17 AM on October 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Since everyone still seems to be having a very hard time with this, I think someone should point out, once again, that having racial prejudices doesn't mean you are a member of the KKK. If you are a white dude and you only like white chicks, your introspection regarding this matter should not stop with 'Do I hate black people? No! THEREFORE NO PROBLEM'

Can we just drop the word 'racist' in this discussion, since many defensive people seem to refuse to read it with any nuance whatsoever? Let's not talk about whether or not anyone is a racist. Let's talk about the obvious facts of widespread racial preference (which many people here have been using in their own defense, oddly) and why that might be. Please stop saying 'I only like Inuit girls, does that make me a racist?'
posted by shakespeherian at 8:19 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


No, seriously, this objection is garbage. Is OkCupid's a rigorous study? No. But is the correlation significant? Yes. If you want to posit confounding factors, you're going to have to actually show some, not just get all hand wavy about possible sampling biases, especially when you can't even bother to compare the categories they separated out, e.g. female Asians to female whites, not female Asians to all whites.

I "don't bother" to "compare categories they separated"? No, it is you who doesn't bother - bother actually reading posts and positions you attack. In fact, I did address that point in my very first post in this thread. If the group of Asian women on OKCupid have more members predisposed to date outside of their race (based on cultural factors), then isn't it pretty obvious that white females will statistically show less interracial dating patterns in comparison to the Asian females? Are there reasons to think that this is true? Yes it is, and I cited numerous reasons why that would be so - none of which can be seriously contradicted. And I did posit confounding factors - cultural differences between whites (both males and females) and Asians (both males and females), which may account for differences in behavior based on cultural factors and not racial animosity. The fact that the cultural differences which I highlighted are prevalent is a fact - that's not handwavy in the least. And it is incumbent on those making definitive conclusion to exclude such confounding factors. After all, it is they who claim it is down to "racism" - note, that I do not hold an opposite opinion, that it is not racism, rather that based on this "study" any conclusions about the magnitude of the racism factor are unwarranted.
posted by VikingSword at 8:24 AM on October 8, 2009


If you weren't so hung up on your idiotic jihad against "anti-racists," you'd see that the good is pretty self-evident: By encouraging people to take a moment of reflection about this, they're less likely to exclude someone purely on race.

Okay, I'm old school on this: I've been beaten up by racists, so I cut them no slack.

But I also cut little slack for idealogues. "encouraging people to take a moment of reflection" does nothing: racists continue to be racists, and smug ideologues continue to feel smug.

I think Priyamvada Gopal nailed it in Anti-racism has to go beyond a facile representation game.

As did Thandeka in Why Anti-Racism Will Fail.
posted by shetterly at 8:32 AM on October 8, 2009


"Therefore, OKCupid is racist because they discriminated by race when aggregating this data."

Look, I'm sorry, just because you're trying to put up a noble defense of racism doesn't mean that you have to also be disingenuous.


I'm not defending anything. I'm just pointing out that your definition of racism as "discrimination based on race" is bullshit.

You imply that it has no bearing what decisions you make based on someone's race, and that merely noticing the race at all is racist.
posted by CaseyB at 8:32 AM on October 8, 2009


Since VikingSword continues to talk about some mythical pan-Asian culture, I doubt you're going to get anything of substance out of him.

And where exactly did I speak of a mythical pan-Asian culture? Since chunking express is reading impaired, I guess I'll just have to repost something I've posted not far above:

"What I did claim: arranged marriages and ethnic specific websites and heavy family/community involvement in matchmaking - Indian Subcontinent (this doesn't mean only these communities have arranged marriages - for example many Muslim immigrants from other parts of the world do too); East Asians - ethnic specific websites and family involvement in matchmaking (the latter especially true for Korean-Americans). There are many nuances of course. The above applies less to later generations, and is less true of certain ethnicities which have less recent immigration (say, Japanese). You can make the analysis quite fine-grained and there are many studies which address this, but the overall claims are quite uncontroversial (except to ignoramuses with an agenda)."

Can you point to which part is "mythical"? Because there are many quite uncontroversial studies which show that statistically these practices far more prevalent than among the general U.S. population.
posted by VikingSword at 8:33 AM on October 8, 2009


"If the group of Asian women on OKCupid have more members predisposed to date outside of their race (based on cultural factors), then isn't it pretty obvious that white females will statistically show less interracial dating patterns in comparison to the Asian females?"

If, which hasn't been demonstrated despite your theories on pan-Asian culture, that would be meaningful if white females and Asian females were being compared strictly to each other. As they're being compared against a mean of expected response, that might explain some differences in the size of the deviation, but would not explain the deviation itself. And that objection is further minimized when you look at response rates across races—if that explained all of the difference, then both Asian women and white women would respond to other races on the same curve. As they do not, we can disregard that theory as sufficient to explain the data.

Beyond that, this has nothing to do with the patterns of response for or from black women as a cohort. Again, your theory is insufficient, and you'd do well to read the article again.
posted by klangklangston at 8:35 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


If, which hasn't been demonstrated despite your theories on pan-Asian culture, that would be meaningful if white females and Asian females were being compared strictly to each other. As they're being compared against a mean of expected response, that might explain some differences in the size of the deviation, but would not explain the deviation itself. And that objection is further minimized when you look at response rates across races—if that explained all of the difference, then both Asian women and white women would respond to other races on the same curve. As they do not, we can disregard that theory as sufficient to explain the data.

Beyond that, this has nothing to do with the patterns of response for or from black women as a cohort. Again, your theory is insufficient, and you'd do well to read the article again.


I wasn't aware that I had a "pan-Asian culture theory" - I am aware that I'm reporting facts which are easily verified, namely prevalence of arranged marriages (in the Indian Subcontinent, which is part of Asia), heavier use of ethnic-specific websites and heavier involvement of family in matchmaking (Indian Subcontinent, and also Far East Asian countries which are part of Asia). Whatever the prevalence of those practices is - one thing is certain, it is greater than in the general U.S. population. Tell me, how this is not true, or merely my "theory"?

And really, this whole thing is preposterous. Which sociological or cultural study - which dating patterns eminently fall under - chooses to ignore the enormous factor of culturally based behaviors? This isn't just about Asians - it's about all the groups in this study. All those conclusions people are drawing are worthless unless you control for these factors. Exactly as I said in my first post - cultural norms differ across the spectrum. This impacts the behavior of each ethnic group, and gender in turn impacts behavior differentially yet again, both within a subculture and outside of it. Yes, I know people have the "racism" explanation at the ready, and cannot wait until it's sprung, no matter how premature and unjustified. But jumping up and down asking "are we there yet" at the racism conclusion, is not going to get us closer to the destination if there is no gas in the tank. And there isn't - the data is not there as it has been presented. Cultural factors must be disentangled - otherwise we have absolutely no way of knowing what role they play in these stats, across the board, in each example you've given.
posted by VikingSword at 9:12 AM on October 8, 2009


shetterly: Loving v. Virginia wasn't decided until after King's death, but King had to have known that the ACLU had started moving on that front.

I'm pretty sure Martin Luther King, Jr. knew more than that the ACLU had started moving on that front. Loving was decided on June 12, 1967, ten months before King was assassinated.
posted by bakerina at 9:16 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Alright VikingSword, let's run with your position.

You're saying you need to do a breakout for one specific group by both race and sex (Asian women) and accounting for their "cultural factors" somehow explains what we see in the heatmaps. Those cultural factors somehow drive a particular subset of Asian women to OKCupid, but not a comparable subset of Asian men. Why? Sure, that scenario is possible, but you've no evidence that applies to this data set, at all.

Further, (and klangklangston already touched on this) you want to say this special subset of Asian women are predisposed to dating outside their race. Great! Then the pattern we'd expect to see is they respond less often than expected to Asian men, and more often than expected to everyone else. Is that what's happening in the data? No. They respond less often than expected to everybody except white men, to whom they actually respond more often than expected.

Yeah, yeah - cultural factors. The same traditionalists brush that paints Asian men could also paint Middle Eastern, Indian, or Hispanic men, too. But not black men. By your reasoning, Asian women should respond to them more often than expected - but they don't. Come on now, you can explain that one, too can't you? Tell us a story. Preferably a personal anecdote. According to you, there's some reason that isn't racism where Asian women (in fact, ALL racial subsets of women) in this study respond more to white men, and white men only.

The fact of the matter is you not only aren't referencing outside results, your theories don't even make sense when sanity checked against THESE results.

And that's just talking about the data. Let's take the macro view on your approach, where you need to make sex and race based special case subsets to try and say "we don't know that it is, in fact, racism." All you're doing is moving what sure looks like racism (with an additional heaping dose of sexism) to the preconditions you're bringing to the table, instead of your conclusions. Poof! The racism disappeared, you say.

Nice trick.

I'll allow that we might not be absolutely seeing racism in these results (though it sure looks like it). But we DEFINITELY are not seeing your "cultural values" - whatever those are.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 9:47 AM on October 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


Loving was decided on June 12, 1967, ten months before King was assassinated.

D'oh! bakerina, thanks for correcting that!
posted by shetterly at 9:54 AM on October 8, 2009


You're saying you need to do a breakout for one specific group by both race and sex (Asian women) and accounting for their "cultural factors" somehow explains what we see in the heatmaps. Those cultural factors somehow drive a particular subset of Asian women to OKCupid, but not a comparable subset of Asian men. Why? Sure, that scenario is possible, but you've no evidence that applies to this data set, at all.

First of all, I think one needs to do a gender breakdown for all groups, not just Asians (and Asians of various ethnicities in turn).

And I already answered you why the motivations for men joining, and their behavior on OKCupid is different from women. Should I cut and paste? Short version: because while both Asian men and Asian women belong to the same culture (their respective culture - Indian, Pakistani, Korean, Thai, etc., etc., etc. - not "pan-Asian" nonsense), their positions in that culture are radically different, resulting in different behaviors and expectations. Concrete example - those women, even in this thread, you have had enough of the "traditional" male attitude in their culture - not a single male, unsurprisingly, piped up to say "me too"... of course not, privilege rarely complains. Same culture. Different expectations - different behaviors. Different statistics.

Further, (and klangklangston already touched on this) you want to say this special subset of Asian women are predisposed to dating outside their race. Great! Then the pattern we'd expect to see is they respond less often than expected to Asian men, and more often than expected to everyone else. Is that what's happening in the data? No. They respond less often than expected to everybody except white men, to whom they actually respond more often than expected.

You oversimplify. The women object to the role traditionally imposed on them. Yes, their experience is with Asian culture, so they avoid Asian men, but their objection is to the practice itself, hence they'll avoid all groups that may potentially engage in such behavior - ME, black, muslim etc. The safest bet are white males - not because they prefer their race, but because (rightly or wrongly - though statistically, likely rightly) they associate them with the least danger of such behavior.

Yeah, yeah - cultural factors. The same traditionalists brush that paints Asian men could also paint Middle Eastern, Indian, or Hispanic men, too.

Right. And accurately too - based on statistics.

But not black men.

Come again? Why not? I don't think there's much dispute that traditional male behaviors associated with dominance are more prevalent in black families compared to white. It may change in X number of years, but for now that's the perception.

By your reasoning, Asian women should respond to them more often than expected - but they don't.

Not at all. Quite the opposite, see above.


Come on now, you can explain that one, too can't you? Tell us a story. Preferably a personal anecdote.

Snark not appreciated or productive - because it rebounds to make you look foolish. Why? Because the exact opposite is true. It is me who keeps asking people to keep to studies and facts and avoid personal testimonies and anecdata. Check the thread, please. Stuff the snark, it merely makes you look foolish.

According to you, there's some reason that isn't racism where Asian women (in fact, ALL racial subsets of women) in this study respond more to white men, and white men only.

No. I posit that there may be additional reasons, based on well accepted facts. And I never said racism might not be a factor (perhaps even the primary factor) - I said "we can't tell, based on this data, being as it is that not disentangling cultural factors is a glaring omission which renders all such conclusions garbage".

The fact of the matter is you not only aren't referencing outside results, your theories don't even make sense when sanity checked against THESE results.

Are you seriously claiming that rate of arranged marriages, and/or strong family involvement in matchmaking and prevalence of ethnic specific web sites is EQUAL between Asians and the rest of the U.S. population? Statistic dead heat? If not, then your case just falls apart. Also see studies on rates of such marriages cited in this thread, that bear this out.

And that's just talking about the data. Let's take the macro view on your approach, where you need to make sex and race based special case subsets to try and say "we don't know that it is, in fact, racism." All you're doing is moving what sure looks like racism (with an additional heaping dose of sexism) to the preconditions you're bringing to the table, instead of your conclusions. Poof! The racism disappeared, you say.

Nice trick.

I'll allow that we might not be absolutely seeing racism in these results (though it sure looks like it). But we DEFINITELY are not seeing your "cultural values" - whatever those are.


This is just a bunch of special pleading. Culture and behavior are different for the groups involved - black, white, Asian, X, Y, Z, and gender behaviors complicate things further. That's a fact. Therefore, until you account for the role of the various cultures in this, you cannot make a conclusion about the size of racism as a factor in this data one way or another. Yes, I know it may be much more satisfying to come to a simple conclusion like "it's all racism!", but however satisfying that may be, reality is much more messy. Just because we'd like to have a neat postcard conclusion, doesn't mean it's warranted by the data. Sorry.
posted by VikingSword at 10:29 AM on October 8, 2009


VikingSword: "Come again? Why not? I don't think there's much dispute that traditional male behaviors associated with dominance are more prevalent in black families compared to white. It may change in X number of years, but for now that's the perception."

Is it the fact or is it a perception that you pulled out of your ass? You are spending a huge amount of time talking about and reinforcing weird stereotypes in a hurtful and shitty way. Why?
posted by kathrineg at 10:49 AM on October 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Is it the fact or is it a perception

It's fact (there are many studies which address a whole gamut of issues around relationships) and perception.

that you pulled out of your ass?

Only I didn't.

You are spending a huge amount of time talking about and reinforcing weird stereotypes in a hurtful and shitty way. Why?

Why? Why do you keep beating your husband/wife? See how that works?

I'm reinforcing no "weird stereotypes" - please cite specifically where I did so, even one instance (and you are welcome to look at all my posts, not just in this thread).

"Hurtful and shitty" is your characterization. A characterization which does not correspond to reality.
posted by VikingSword at 11:04 AM on October 8, 2009


That link has nothing to do with what you're talking about, and for someone who is really thinking about confounding factors, you certainly picked a small, non-representative study with plenty of confounding variables to try to prove your point. 40 people from one city?
posted by kathrineg at 11:12 AM on October 8, 2009


VikingSword: "I'm reinforcing no "weird stereotypes" - please cite specifically where I did so, even one instance (and you are welcome to look at all my posts, not just in this thread)."

"Come again? Why not? I don't think there's much dispute that traditional male behaviors associated with dominance are more prevalent in black families compared to white."
posted by kathrineg at 11:16 AM on October 8, 2009


That link has nothing to do with what you're talking about, and for someone who is really thinking about confounding factors, you certainly picked a small, non-representative study with plenty of confounding variables to try to prove your point. 40 people from one city?

There are many, many studies of black marriage and gender roles. I referenced that study because of this passage:

"Additional research needs to be conducted to ascertain the processes that lead to deterioration of African American male/female relationships."

Indicating a broader perspective - the statistical fact, and popular perception of lower numbers of successful marriages involving black males. Obviously, such perceptions do not play to advantage when a women (of whatever race) is contemplating marriage. Why that is, is a complicated matter, going back all the way to the evils of slavery, but this is where it's at right now. Re: 40 people - this number does not invalidate the statistics about overall black marriages, the sample is small because the researchers were trying to get at a very fluid group of people (young males) and it is hard to do a study involving thousands across the nation. Regardless, the sample size does not negate the federal statistics.
posted by VikingSword at 11:20 AM on October 8, 2009


VikingSword: "I'm reinforcing no "weird stereotypes" - please cite specifically where I did so, even one instance (and you are welcome to look at all my posts, not just in this thread)."

"Come again? Why not? I don't think there's much dispute that traditional male behaviors associated with dominance are more prevalent in black families compared to white."


Excuse me? It's not a stereotype to accurately describe a phenomenon. Please refer to relevant marriage statistics as well as to the extensive literature on the macho phenomenon.
posted by VikingSword at 11:30 AM on October 8, 2009


What I did claim: arranged marriages and ethnic specific websites and heavy family/community involvement in matchmaking ...East Asians - ethnic specific websites and family involvement in matchmaking (the latter especially true for Korean-Americans)

I'm Korean American. I know not a single Korean American that dates through extensive family matchmaking.

If you're reading this and don't know much about Asian Americans, please take what VikingSword says with a grain of salt.
posted by ignignokt at 11:43 AM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you're reading this and don't know much about Asian Americans, please take what VikingSword says with a grain of salt.

Agreed. But not only what VikingSword says. What anyone says, without backing it up.

Asian Americans are a varied group, with many common experiences (warning, pdf).
posted by VikingSword at 11:52 AM on October 8, 2009


Again, this whole discussion has centered around America and Americans, and it makes the assumption that they restricted their sample data to US-only. Like Metafilter, OKCupid is a world-wide site. You could be making a mistake talking about Asian Americans when OKCupid has plenty of Asians.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:00 PM on October 8, 2009


OKCupid is a world-wide site.

Hah, i wonder if they filter out all the spammy come-ons from girls in the Phillipines. I got one of those ever 3 days or so. I'd look horribly racist against asian girls if they didn't.
posted by empath at 12:12 PM on October 8, 2009


Again, this whole discussion has centered around America and Americans, and it makes the assumption that they restricted their sample data to US-only. Like Metafilter, OKCupid is a world-wide site. You could be making a mistake talking about Asian Americans when OKCupid has plenty of Asians.

Perhaps you meant the other way around? I would expect these issues to be even more prominent with non-American Asians. Anyhow, right here in the U.S., these are not small numbers - there is relatively a greater proportion of recent generation immigrants among Asians as a whole compared to whites (with exceptions, such as Japanese etc.), and while the generational gap is there, the hold of the culture is surprisingly strong.

From the pdf I linked to above:

``Dating brings cultural conflict into sharp relief,'' said Judy Tso, founder of Aha Solutions
Unlimited, a non-profit group that provides life coaching and consulting for Asian-Americans.
``Values of immigrant parents clash with those of Americanized young people. Children are forced to live a double life. Some are better at balancing their own needs with parents' wishes, but others choose rebellion.''

Many families affected

The potential for such clashes of culture exists in thousands of households. In the Bay Area, 13
percent of all people under 21 -- about 241,000 youths -- are second-generation Asian-Americans.

The conflict takes on many forms. Some Asian-American youths deal with the expectation that
they'll date only within their culture. Others aren't permitted to date at all. Young men are not kept under as close scrutiny as young women, but neither are they immune to the pressures. And sometimes communication between parents and children breaks down completely.
Although old-world traditions have always been challenged by more permissive American culture,
earlier immigrant teens were tempted by ``bad'' influences such as big-band jazz or, later, rock 'n'roll -- today's ubiquitous pop culture makes it even more difficult to hang on to the old ways.

Still, Asian culture has extraordinarily strong roots, said Derald Wing Sue, founder of the Asian
American Psychological Association.

``In terms of social dating patterns, a lot of the conflict is due to the traditional Asian cultural
values and the appropriate behavior with individuals in the United States,'' Sue said. ``American
culture is much more individualistic, whereas among traditional Asians, the decisions you make
reflect upon your family. As a result, family has great influence on behavior that brings honor or
shame and disgrace to the family. There's a strong concern about types of relationships and
behavior in relationships that's important.''

Asians cannot be regarded as a monolith, since there are many countries of origin, languages and
traditions. But the dating conundrum resonates with many."
posted by VikingSword at 12:13 PM on October 8, 2009


Agreed. But not only what VikingSword says. What anyone says, without backing it up.

Asian Americans are a varied group, with many common experiences (warning, pdf).


Agreed as well, and let's extend that to extrapolating from a news story from reporters that love that type of classic culture clash story.

Also, I'd say that parents approving and disapproving your pool of potential dates is not the same as matchmaking.

I just ask that people do this: Don't assume that Asian Americans are likely to not make their own dating choices. Yes, family matchmaking does occur, but for the most part, Asian Americans are not that different from other Americans when it comes to dating.
posted by ignignokt at 12:26 PM on October 8, 2009


Agreed as well, and let's extend that to extrapolating from a news story from reporters that love that type of classic culture clash story.

Also, I'd say that parents approving and disapproving your pool of potential dates is not the same as matchmaking.

I just ask that people do this: Don't assume that Asian Americans are likely to not make their own dating choices. Yes, family matchmaking does occur, but for the most part, Asian Americans are not that different from other Americans when it comes to dating.


Indeed, but let us not deny reality either. Either the facts are there or not. And the facts don't spring to life here from the heads of journalists - these are real phenomena, and we can dig up plenty of studies too.

Nobody is assuming (at least in this thread, that I know of), that Asian Americans are "likely" to not make their own dating choices. That was never the argument. Rather than a certain percentage adhere more closely to a different (traditional) dating model, and that this throws off the stats in the big picture. And that unless you account for such cultural factors it is unfair to take the OKCupid data and accuse Asian women of racism. Because the data is not there to justify such accusations - at least not in this study.
posted by VikingSword at 12:33 PM on October 8, 2009


Viking, the subject of interracial dating is hugely complicated, but I'm not even sure we're talking about that. Get back to the gist of what happened: 1) a dating website 2) did a SQL query 3) on a messages table. You and others are going through epic convolutions to honor something that probably took five minutes for a marketing exec to think up, and thirty minutes to churn the copy for. It's possible that a helium balloon has more to say about American race relations.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:04 PM on October 8, 2009


Which is not to disrespect the discussion, but stop building a gilded framework around something that isn't even academically credible. It's pagerank fodder.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:05 PM on October 8, 2009


Rather than a certain percentage adhere more closely to a different (traditional) dating model, and that this throws off the stats in the big picture.

Here's the thing - there's no stats about matchmaking in that pdf you linked. It's just as much "anecdata" as anything else.
posted by ignignokt at 1:15 PM on October 8, 2009


these are real phenomena, and we can dig up plenty of studies too.

Feel free. Right now it seems like you're arguing from a hunch and really disregarding people's statements about their own cultures.
posted by kathrineg at 2:16 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


You and others are going through epic convolutions to honor something that probably took five minutes for a marketing exec to think up, and thirty minutes to churn the copy for.

I think you're being a little unfair to okcupid. it's a pretty small company, and they seem like pretty cool people running it -- they don't charge for it, and they aren't spammy, they barely advertise and they don't do much scummy SEO that i've seen.

And honestly, what kind of marketing droid thinks -- HEY LET'S POINT OUT HOW RACIST OUR USER BASE IS! I think they just ran the numbers, found them interesting and posted them. The whole blog is pretty fascinating.

To me, I don't see how this is much different from the mefi info dump threads. Is it scientifically accurate? No. Is it interesting and useful information? Yes.
posted by empath at 2:28 PM on October 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are many, many studies of black marriage and gender roles. I referenced that study because of this passage:

"Additional research needs to be conducted to ascertain the processes that lead to deterioration of African American male/female relationships."

Indicating a broader perspective - the statistical fact, and popular perception of lower numbers of successful marriages involving black males. Obviously, such perceptions do not play to advantage when a women (of whatever race) is contemplating marriage.


You didn't say that black men were less likely to get married, you said that "traditional male behaviors associated with dominance are more prevalent in black families compared to white."

Historically, traditional male behaviors associated with dominance include marriage, so I don't know what you're trying to prove by bringing marriage statistics into the equation.
posted by kathrineg at 2:32 PM on October 8, 2009


Historically, U.S. institutional practices have rendered Asian-American men as simultaneously hypermasculine and emasculated. Today, the model minority myth and asexual media representations have emphasized the feminized Asian-American male. Yet, no empirical study has examined how Asian-American men construct their own masculinities. Toward this end, this study sought to examine: (a) how college-age Asian-American and white men express their masculinities, (b) how Asian-American and white women perceive Asian-American masculinities, and (c) how Asian-American men negotiate their gender expectations. Through quantitative analysis of surveys, we found that U.S.-born and immigrant Asian men view their masculinity as distinct from white hegemonic masculinity. Unlike white men, Asian-American men did not view their masculinity in opposition to their femininity. Some Asian-American men, especially the U.S.-born, appeared to be creating a new, more flexible masculinity—one free from male dominance. U.S.-born Asian men linked their masculinity with certain caring characteristics and were the only men's group willing to do domestic tasks. Women viewed Asian-American men as having more traditional gender roles and being more nurturing, in contrast to their views of white men, which matched American norms of masculinity. Overall, these results contribute to the masculinity literature by showing how Asian-American men negotiate their contradictory positions as members of a privileged gender group and subordinate racial groups.

Chua, Peter, Fujino Diane (1999) Negotiating New Asian-American Masculinities: Attitudes and Gender Expectations, The Journal of Men's Studies, Vol. 7, No. 3
posted by Comrade_robot at 2:48 PM on October 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Feel free. Right now it seems like you're arguing from a hunch and really disregarding people's statements about their own cultures.

First let's get some stats in context of explanations. For example:

"The marriage rate for African Americans has been dropping since the 1960s, and today, we have the lowest marriage rate of any racial group in the United States. In 2001, according to the U.S. Census, 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites. African American women are the least likely in our society to marry. In the period between 1970 and 2001, the overall marriage rate in the United States declined by 17 percent; but for blacks, it fell by 34 percent. Such statistics have caused Howard University relationship therapist Audrey Chapman to point out that African Americans are the most uncoupled people in the country."

Those are facts. How to explain them, and what are the causes? There are many theories, and this issue has been studied by academics for years. I linked to one such study, precisely because the people involved in that study thought it important. From: African American Male Perspective on Sex, Dating, and Marriage:

"Dating multiple women is acceptable behavior, but some men maintain serious relationships with multiple women simultaneously. Women were categorized by their sexual behaviors and their relationships with the young men. They have redefined family for themselves, and marriage is not included in that definition. The young men are knowledgeable about sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy prevention, yet they continue to engage in unsafe sex practices. The young men claim to mistrust women and often feel manipulated by women. Additional research needs to be conducted to ascertain the processes that lead to deterioration of African American male/female relationships."

But ask a fundamental question. If a woman is looking at a pool of prospective candidates, and one of the criteria she picks is likelihood of entering into a lasting marriage, isn't she going to be reluctant, purely based on odds to date candidates who belong to a group more likely to not lead to a lasting marriage? Note, she didn't use race as a factor here. And that is my point. She is not discriminating based on race. If the stats applied more to white men, then I'd expect white men to be less frequently chosen. That is why I said that you need to take other considerations into account. It is not all 100% about race, 100% of the time. Again, regarding OKCupid, from the beginning I said "I have no idea how big a factor racism is, but based on this data, I don't think we can determine one way or another". We need better data, and we need to disentangle cultural factors.

And you need to stop making accusations like: "You are spending a huge amount of time talking about and reinforcing weird stereotypes in a hurtful and shitty way." You asked me for grounds for the facts I brought forward. I gave you the grounds. I did my part. Now you need to either show U.S. Census data as wrong, or apologize.
posted by VikingSword at 3:24 PM on October 8, 2009


Here's the thing - there's no stats about matchmaking in that pdf you linked. It's just as much "anecdata" as anything else.

Here's the reasoning chain, and you tell me at which point it breaks down:

1)Asian cultures in general tend to be far more controlling in regard to marriage and dating compared to U.S. or European cultures. There are always going to be exceptions and variation, but this is fundamentally true.

2)Asian American communities have relatively more recent immigration to the U.S. than European or white communities.

3)These new immigration waves obviously represent an injection of traditional Asian values, including regarding dating and marriage (the pdf I linked to previously).

4)Therefore, odds are that there are more traditional marriage and dating practicers among Asian Americans, than among white Americans.

That's all we need to establish - that there are statistically more vs the whites. That immediately translates into statistical distortion, because you are not starting with the same samples - the white sample is going to be different than the Asian. Can you point to where the chain of reasoning breaks? Thanks.
posted by VikingSword at 3:47 PM on October 8, 2009


Women viewed Asian-American men as having more traditional gender roles and being more nurturing, in contrast to their views of white men, which matched American norms of masculinity.

First of all, Comrade_robot, thank you for citing a study instead of anecdata. Second, can you provide a link to the whole study? Reason is that I'm not clear on the passage I quoted above. Who are the women (white? Asian? black?), and what do they mean by "traditional" here - is this a negative? Positive? What are the consequence on their behavior etc. Sounds like an interesting study, but I can't parse it from the short excerpt.
posted by VikingSword at 3:52 PM on October 8, 2009


Which is not to disrespect the discussion, but stop building a gilded framework around something that isn't even academically credible. It's pagerank fodder.

I agree. That was a big point of mine - this data is insufficient to draw the kind of conclusions people do. However, since people insist on doing so, I felt obliged to point out the insufficiency.
posted by VikingSword at 3:59 PM on October 8, 2009


@shetterly: You're welcome. Thanks for being a good sport. I'll admit that having spent part of this semester (I'm in law school) eating, breathing and sleeping Loving, (scratches head for a moment) my antenna are kind of keenly tuned to it right now.
posted by bakerina at 4:02 PM on October 8, 2009


Can you point to where the chain of reasoning breaks? Thanks.

No problem, homie.

4)Therefore, odds are that there are more traditional marriage and dating practicers among Asian Americans, than among white Americans.

That's all we need to establish - that there are statistically more vs the whites.


Do you mean "statistically significantly" more family-dictated dating among Asian Americans? If yes, then, it breaks here. You didn't establish that at all. Just because there's more family matchmaking going on among Asian Americans doesn't mean there's enough of it to jump to this:

Take the example of Asian women. The Asian women who are on OKCupid, are definitely a distinct group - they are not a cross-section of Asian women the same way the white women on OKCupid are. Those Asian women are ones who either by choice or necessity are already somewhat outside of their culture when it comes to dating.

If you don't mean "statistically significant," then your logic is just wrong. If you established that there's a 5% higher rate of family-dictated dating among Asian Americans, that still wouldn't justify the assertion that Asian women that make their own dating decisions are "outside of their culture" and that the norm is for them to have their dates picked by their families.
posted by ignignokt at 4:27 PM on October 8, 2009


Just because there's more family matchmaking going on among Asian Americans doesn't mean there's enough of it to jump to this:

Take the example of Asian women. The Asian women who are on OKCupid, are definitely a distinct group - they are not a cross-section of Asian women the same way the white women on OKCupid are. Those Asian women are ones who either by choice or necessity are already somewhat outside of their culture when it comes to dating.


How does this work? Even if the prevalence of such practices is low, you have to account for the fact that recent immigration of Asians to the U.S. vs the size of their community is quite significant (adherence to traditional practices declines with subsequent generations). High immigration equals high odds of practice. So which is more reasonable - that there is a statistically insignificant percentage of such practices in recent immigrant communities or that it's actually significant to some degree? Reading articles like in the pdf I linked to, it's hard to come to a conclusion that this is a statistically trivial and insignificant phenomenon - for one, if that were so, you wouldn't have whole non-profits established to counsel and help people like the Aha Solutions Unlimited focused on Asian Americans... they'd have to close their doors due to lack of clients. Then we have quotes from multiple psychologists dealing with this very issue like for example this psychologist:

Dating dilemmas have become a common cultural phenomenon among young Asian-Americans, said Sunaina Maira, associate professor of Asian-American Studies at UC-Davis, especially children of first-generation parents.

Common cultural phenomenon. Now let me think... does all this evidence lead me to think that this is a notable phenomenon with real impact on the dating scene of Asians, or is it as ignignokt assures us, practically without impact. I think we all know the answer. The weight of evidence does not seem to favor the "move along, nothing to see here" line. Probably if we dig some more, which I may, we'll get even more color on the numbers - we'll see, I'll keep looking!
posted by VikingSword at 4:47 PM on October 8, 2009


Here's another study - sounds interesting, I'll see if I can't get ahold of it. It strikes me as significant that someone who studies marital assimilation makes very explicit statements:

“Foreign-born parents are distraught over the assimilation process for their kids,” said Daniel T. Lichter, a professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell who has long studied marital assimilation and was the lead author of the study. “They want their kids to be closely tied to the religion, the race, the language.”

Doesn't sound trivial to me - I'll see if I can locate the study.
posted by VikingSword at 4:55 PM on October 8, 2009


Therefore, odds are that there are more traditional marriage and dating practicers among Asian Americans, than among white Americans.


"outside of their culture"


As I mentioned earlier, you're using "Asian Americans" to encompass recent immigrants, 2nd generations, and those whose families have been Americans for several generations.

That generalization really doesn't work for making this particular assertion about "outside of their culture." Because those whose families have been American for several generations, "their culture" is "American culture," not "Asian from Asia culture or has a parent who is of Asian from Asia culture." Making that assertion just supports and reinforces the already prevalent idea that "American" = white, that "it's not unreasonable to think that someone of a different race from you is likely to have had a strongly different upbringing than you had."

and as the target of sometimes malicious, sometimes well-meaning stereotypes about the "strongly different upbringing" that people suppose I have had and all too frequently insist I must have had, which justifies their presuppositions about my personality, sexuality, preferences of all sorts -- yes, your comments do feed into aggravating "Asian = Other / Exotic / Not American / Not Normal" stereotypes that thrive in AMerican culture and many people's minds, that are hard enough to counter as it is.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:15 PM on October 8, 2009


Aaand bingo! Here's a very nice study (warning: pdf) addressing a lot of the issues. I think I can rest my case - the primary factors in intermarriage for Asians is length of time in the U.S., with those who came more recently overwhelmingly tending to have more traditional marriages within their own culture. I'm afraid racism is not a good explanation here. In fact the gender gap in intermarriage between Asian women and men is addressed explicitly - and there appears no need to resort to racism as an explanation. One quote:


"There are several variations in intermarriage patterns
among Asians in the U.S. based on a number of
factors, including their country of origin, their nativity
(foreign-born or native-born, and generational status),
their immigration history, their acculturation status
(e.g., English-language proficiency), their socio-
economic status (SES), and their gender.
Country of origin
According to the 2006 Census, among all marriages
involving at least one Asian, the Vietnamese are
the most likely to marry someone of the same
ethnicity.30 31 Overall, the Japanese are the most
likely to intermarry,32 33 and compared to other
Asian subgroups, the Japanese have the highest
proportion (over 30 percent of their total population) of
interethnic as well as interracial marriage.34 35
Nativity
Asians born or raised in the U.S. are more likely
Research has found that individuals who are more
acculturated are more likely to marry outside their
ethnic group than those who are less so.38 Therefore,
immigration history, immigration status, and English
proficiency are factors that affect intermarriage rates
of different Asian ethnic groups.39
• Asian groups that have been in the U.S.
longer, like the Japanese or Chinese, are
likely to be better assimilated into the larger
(American) culture, and more likely to
intermarry.
• The Vietnamese are one of the most
recent Asian subgroups to have arrived in
the U.S. Almost all are foreign-born and
have low English proficiency rates, and
generally experience the lowest rates of
intermarriage.40 41
• Asian Americans who speak English fluently
are more likely to intermarry, both interracially
and interethnically.42
• Even though Asian American men are less likely than Asian American women to
intermarry, the tendency increases with the
length of time they have been in the U.S.43

Gender

Of Asians living in the U.S. who intermarry, about 75
percent are women. Asian women who intermarry
are most likely to marry non-Hispanic, White men,
followed by marriage to an Asian person of a different
ethnicity.44 Asian men are much less likely than
women to intermarry. Of those that do, men are more
likely than women to marry inter-ethnically.
APR, and Jeanette Hercik, Ph.D., and project
manager, Patrick Patterson, MSW, MPH.
1
Lee, S. M. & Yamanaka, K. (1990). Patterns of Asian
American intermarriage and marital assimilation.
Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 21(2),
287-305.
2
Lee, S. M. & Yamanaka, K., etc.
3
Hwang, S., Saenz, R., & Aguirre, B. E. (1997).
Structural and assimilationist explanations."
posted by VikingSword at 5:22 PM on October 8, 2009


"As I mentioned earlier, you're using "Asian Americans" to encompass recent immigrants, 2nd generations, and those whose families have been Americans for several generations.

That generalization really doesn't work for making this particular assertion about "outside of their culture." Because those whose families have been American for several generations, "their culture" is "American culture," not "Asian from Asia culture or has a parent who is of Asian from Asia culture." Making that assertion just supports and reinforces the already prevalent idea that "American" = white, that "it's not unreasonable to think that someone of a different race from you is likely to have had a strongly different upbringing than you had."


That's just bizarre. First of all, I explicitly and from the beginning made a distinction between "traditional bound" women, as well as referring to recent immigration (including specifying how Japanese had f.ex. relatively less recent immigration). Second, why on earth is referring to "Asian culture" somehow incompatible with being part of American culture in populations which are still impacted by the culture of their countries of origin? Such ways of referring are very common in sociological and cultural studies - FOR EXAMPLE AS IN THE STUDY I JUST LINKED TO! Don't tell me they are being sneaky exclusionists!

and as the target of sometimes malicious, sometimes well-meaning stereotypes about the "strongly different upbringing" that people suppose I have had and all too frequently insist I must have had, which justifies their presuppositions about my personality, sexuality, preferences of all sorts -- yes, your comments do feed into aggravating "Asian = Other / Exotic / Not American / Not Normal" stereotypes that thrive in AMerican culture and many people's minds, that are hard enough to counter as it is.

I understand that you have sensitivities - as do all people. I don't dispute your right to them or deny their impact and I do not dismiss them. However, you also have to understand, that your sensitivities don't give you the right to make unsupported accusations - it is a fact that researchers in culture and sociology make these distinctions and use these terms (including researchers of all ethnic backgrounds) to communicate. I have not made up any distinctions or formed or promoted any stereotypes - but I, just like everyone else, needs to use words to speak about these subjects.
posted by VikingSword at 5:34 PM on October 8, 2009


Through some combination of structural modernization, cultural Westernization, and governmental pressure, arranged marriages are increasingly giving way to freedom of choice, or "love matches," in which young people play the dominant role in selecting whom they will marry. (For the classic account of this transition worldwide, see Goode, 1963.)

Xiaohe, Xu Whyte, Martin K , Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 52, No. 3 (Aug., 1990), pp. 709-722
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:55 PM on October 8, 2009


Using the 1990 U.S. census data, we apply log-linear models to examine Asian Americans' interracial marriage with whites and interethnic marriages between Asian ethnic groups. Japanese and Filipino Americans are most likely to marry whites, followed by Chinese and Korean Americans. Southeast Asian and Asian Indian Americans are least likely to marry whites.

Qian Zhenchao, Blair SL, Ruf SD International Migration Review, Volume 35 Issue 2, Pages 557 - 586
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:00 PM on October 8, 2009


STATISTICS FIGHT!
posted by tkchrist at 7:02 PM on October 8, 2009


Thanks Comrade_robot, this is good stuff. Keep it coming. A lot of interesting things here - like if arranged marriages are increasingly giving way to freed of choice world wide in 1963, and it's still so restricted today, imagine what it must have been prior to 1963. Of course, we live today, so that's what's most relevant and as the data says "Southeast Asian and Asian Indian Americans are least likely to marry whites." And notably those are the cultures with the greatest prevalence of arranged marriages in Asia. Yeah, tradition. And Japanese are most likely (least recent immigration). It all matches pretty well. I'm glad to see we can agree, once we step away from personal anecdata. Cultural explanations carry the day, and racism is not the only explanation for these stats.
posted by VikingSword at 7:13 PM on October 8, 2009


Hoping not to get into something that's already been talked to death here, but as a first-generation Asian immigrant, I'd like to posit a nurture theory on the dating habits of Asian females. Disclosure for those of you who have never met me: I'm dating a white guy. And that probably wouldn't surprise anyone who knows me because of two factors of my upbringing.

1) I grew up in the South, where I was usually one of only a handful of Asians in my class, so the dating pool once I reached dating age didn't contain many Asian men (and Chinese men in particular--among at least my family's circle, national origin matters as much as race does). So that meant most of my potential options (since I lived in a fairly affluent suburb) were white.

2) Most of my parents' Chinese friends heartily disapproved of their children dating anyone who wasn't Chinese. My parents, on the other hand, seemed to take my dating outside our race as a granted. BUT they assumed "not Chinese" meant white. And while teenage rebellion would suggest we'd date exactly the people our parents wouldn't approve of, by the time I reached dating age, at least, those racial preferences were so deeply ingrained that they were completely subconscious.

So the point I'm getting at is that I disagree with the idea that racial preferences in dating are "hard-wired." I'd expect if that were the case then the strong intra-racial preference would be relatively uniform across races, but, as we've seen, that isn't the case. And based on my own experiences, it seems like socialization might be a plausible explanation for the variation.
posted by inara at 7:53 PM on October 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Here are my thoughts as they stand right now:

For one, how do they disentangle culture from race as motivating factors?

They probably don't because in a general sense race and culture are so entangled in what we call "racism" or "prejudice" that to boil this down to simple "what I find attractive" is misleading and a little bit absurd.

People really, really, the fuck really need to stop looking at this as an accusation of racism upon themselves. it isn't. At the individual level, everyone is going to have good reasons for dating (or at least beginning a relationship with) whomever they are currently with. Nobody is likely to think of their relationship as tainted because their partner is not of another race.

What this data is great for, however, is showing a snapshot of how the different races on OKCupid respond to one another at the wide-angle-lens racial level. Taking that down to the personal level is bizarre and may be, in itself, a little bit racist (which, per the Avenue Q song, we all are, but I digress.)

The methodology of this looks to me, as a layman, as pretty damn solid, but I think it won't be as useful as we here want it to be until we can see how it maps over time. We can look at this and see how many men or women of a certain ethnicity are willing to date whomever outside of their own race (or within) and want that number to be higher and more equal, which is the right instinct, of course. We can also read it against what we'd imagine those numbers to be if OKCupid (being from Oklahoma, I always read that name oddly) had existed fifty years ago. There is obvious progress being made, and those in this graph who are going into interracial relationships are pushing the numbers towards greater equality in the future, but progress is a process.

So, some things that bug me:

My roommate (a half-Filipino woman engaged to my other roommate, a white man) had a Law School graduation party this past May. At one point I stopped and noticed that roughly 90% of the room was made up of Asian women and Caucasian men. This included my friends, and, well, my Chinese girlfriend and my white self. At one point, my girlfriend and another Chinese woman I'm friends with (who is also engaged to a white guy) were locked into a long conversation with my roommate's dad, and she pulled me over to warn me "oh shit, we need to help the, My dad has a thing for Asian women."

Here she was talking about her white father, who had married and, as far as I know, remained faithful to her Asian mom for twenty-something years, as having a racial fetish. And yet I looked around the room, and at myself, and... I love my girlfriend. Do I need to justify why we're together to anyone else? Of course not. Thankfully, that's not what these graphs are about.

The one African-American in the room was a beautiful friend of mine who couldn't get a date in the entire time I've known her. I swear to you, in this totally valueless anecdotal datum, that it wasn't because of her looks, but because people (and I heard this often enough that I wanted to get violent with the people who said it) thought she was "scary." "Scary," in this case, meant that she was serious about race issues, and was certainly formidable in her expertise surrounding them, but she was also always eager to hear the other side and respond to it in good faith, and elsewhere she was (and is) simply one of the most genuine and fun-loving people I've ever had the pleasure to know. She was "scary" because she cared enough about racial issues to defend her position passionately, expertly, and honestly, but that wasn't nearly all of her identity, and though she was open to dating people of any race who met her on an intellectual and emotional level, it never happened for her.

That, to me, says a lot about the racism shown in these charts. People may be attracted to members of other races and still turn away due to different racial prejudice. I have never really tried online dating, but a sizable number of the people I know who do have done so because they felt intimidated by the other methods of meeting people and wanted an alternative. If you look at these numbers and imagine that a sizable percentage of the people involved are baby-stepping into the dating pool, it makes some sense that they would look at responses from people from a race (and, implicitly, culture) that they aren't very familiar with and think, "I don't even know what I should do if I'm in that situation." It's not good, but a timid white guy will probably feel more in common immediately with a white girl, or an Asian girl, or even a Middle-Eastern girl, than with girls of a culture where the images he's grown up with have been of men who were shown to be more naturally masculine than he is (like black, Hispanic, etc.) and therefor imagine that he can't measure up to their expectations.

All of these thought processes are racist themselves, of course. These are preconceptions that need to be changed. But the data we're looking at is broad-scope, and there are therefor a shitload of factors weighing into it. I guess all I'm saying is that racism is so ingrained in culture that it generally won't manifest itself as active or malicious, but rather instinctive. It needs to change, and it is changing. It's a process (and we do ourselves no favors by pretending that the problem is solved) but at least we're making progress. We need to make more.

Finally, I used a permutation of the phrase "beautiful black woman" above, just as many before me have. This phrase bugs me, because you don't really use it in this context with other races. I understand that it's about asserting the beauty of African-American women which too-often goes overlooked, but it seems to me to also reassert to stereotype that black women aren't meeting with standard American norms, and that this particular woman we're talking about is beautiful, unlike the plain black woman you have pictured in your mind. Maybe that's just me, but it's something to think about.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:29 PM on October 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


Apologies in advance for a very long post re VikingSword. Before I start, I want to note that this is not the first time that MeFi posters came out of the woodwork to proclaim themselves experts on Asians: see "How to quiet my Asian neighbors" (metatalk), in which MeFi is asked to interpret how the poster's neighbors' Asianness is the cause of their noisiness (!), even though he does not even know their ethnicity and has not really interacted with them personally at all.)

Before I start, part II -- I work in Asian American communities, frequently write grants or make presentations based on statistics & research on the topic, often in consort with Asian American professors, historians, activists, community leaders, and journalists. I am friends with the author of a high-profile book about dating in India and I actually know one of the authors that VS cites. As you might guess, my opinion is that VS's position, while it may be accurate for a trivially small slice of the Asian American population, is highly problematic, misleading, and flat out wrong. Here are a few (but not comprehensive) reasons why:

1. While, in all fairness, VS makes some reference to different cultures and immigration stages, this basically drops away when he actually makes his claim re how most Asian American men and women act. It is fairly frequent to encounter disaggregated data on the Asian American community (e.g., the Asian American Federation reports, which are often specific to different subcommunities in NY, rather than ALL Asian Americans in NY), but you don't see VS do this in his claims. VS is simply flat out wrong when he says that Asian Americans share "common experiences" and the "same culture." Here's why:

a. VS never distinguishes between Asian American and Asian. (A good rule of thumb: basically instantly stop trusting someone when they say, possibly due to some decontextualized quote from Confucius, ALL ASIANS are one way and ALL WESTERNERS are another (cf. his healthymarriageinfo.org cite).)

b. VS often conveniently forgets to distinguish between different stages in Asian American immigration. Though he does, in all fairness, talk about inter-generational tensions and the tendencies for more assimilated Asians to inter-marry, this drops out when he talks about OKCupid. While the site is a liberal site whose audience is far more likely to be that of the young, assimilated, 2nd generation Asian Americans, he never quantifies or give reason to believe that "traditional" Asians dominate OKCupid. He merely asserts this is the case.

c. It is an obvious fact that Asian Americans come from dramatically different class, ethnic, regional, linguistic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. So, while it may be tempting to sympathize w/ VS bc you don't like OkCupid calling you a racist, consider what he's essentially saying. He's saying that percentage of Asian Americans who are so-called "traditional" is so non-minor that we can conflate together the experiences of the Cantonese expat financial worker, the Hmong refugee, the pro-Tiger Sri Lankan dissident, the hot new Beijing gallery curator, the Pakistani lawyer who splits his time between Lahore and New York, the third generation Japanese American who does not speak Japanese and has never been to Japan, etc. You get the idea. In all fairness, VS does mention immigration status and does say that different Asian Americans are different, but typically when he does this, he often refutes his own hedge as a way to shore up his main points as to how Asians act. For example, he cites himself as saying that arranged marriage is popular among South Asians and family involvement among Koreans, but this precision is noticeably lacking when he frequently tosses around the term "Asian." For example, he states:"Asian women who are on OkCupid, [sic] are definitely a distinct group"


2. I frankly don't have the time or inclination to review all of VS's data, but the bits I've seen does not say what he says it does. Based on a very quick (and not necessarily accurate) count, VS has made 26 comments in this thread and even though many of them ask people to believe his ample citations to bountiful research, he only makes four cites--and this is at the end of the thread, long after he has asked people to agree with his army of cites. Of the four cites, one is a study on African Americans; one is a Google Books article specifically about South Asians; and one links to a slightly sketchy article from the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center that states combines uncontroversial statistics about inter-marriage with problematic statements about how ALL Asians tend to view love, marriage, gender and family.

Let's look at one of his cites for closer examination. He cites a SJ Mercury article about my hometown (!) to say that Asian Americans "share common experiences." The article, which is explicitly limited to the California Bay Area, actually states that "Asians cannot be regarded as a monolith, since there are many countries of origin, languages, and traditions." While I'm not terribly fond of this article, it's worth noting that it is focused on 2nd generation Asian Americans (and not the "traditional" Asians that VS is talking about)--in other words, on the Asian Ams most likely to use OkCupid. The article does not talk about any of the following points that VS makes: (1) that Asian Americans are generally similar (the article quotes a 17 yr old Vietnamese American who stresses how different Chinese and Vietnamese Americans are); (2) that arranged marriage is common; and (3) that Asian American males misogynistically force Asian American women into the loving embrace of white Americans.

3. Finally, no amount of evidence debating is going to stop VS from making his real point: while he's making certain factual claims about Asian Americans, he's really interested in a different argument--namely, that "cultural" rather than "racial" factors explain the OKCupid results. (This is actually a less original position--in that it duplicates that of many in this thread who say 1) "I'm not racist!" and 2) "there's some other explanation no matter what!") Clearly, this position, based more on ideology than facts, itself raises some questions. If one temporarily ignores that VS provides no cite showing that the Asian Americans on OKCupid fit the "traditional" mold that he describes, and further ignores that VS's discussion of the actual OKCupid results is practically nonexistent, what seems to be the case if we took his evidence as given, is that VS is actually agreeing that interracial dating is heavily fraught with concerns that are deeply entangled with racial markers, such as degree of assimilation and ethnic origin. In other words, rather than ignoring racial explanations, VS is actually saying that "cultural" explanations (what I and many others would see as racially-based explanations, if not always necessarily racially prejudiced ones) are so powerful that they trump cultural origin, religion, linguistic background, immigration status, regional background, national affiliation, and--that favorite "I'm not racist" fallback--class.
posted by johnasdf at 9:51 PM on October 8, 2009 [12 favorites]


Looking at the messaging of dating sites, I can safely and objectively prove that SEXISM is alive and well. Just see how few responses men get when they hit on other men!!! Clearly there is a HUGE anti-male bias among men.
posted by jock@law at 11:34 PM on October 8, 2009


First, I have never insisted that racism must account for all the OKCupid results re Asian women. That part of your comments is irrelevant to my points.

VS: I explicitly and from the beginning made a distinction between "traditional bound" women, as well as referring to recent immigration (including specifying how Japanese had f.ex. relatively less recent immigration).

You specified "traditional" women and "ones who either by choice or necessity are already somewhat outside of their culture when it comes to dating." There's nothing in your original comment, as written, about recent or late immigration. There may have been in your head at the time, but it didn't come out that way. Please note that I am not accusing you personally of anything here. I'm suggesting that the original comment in particular, contained word choices that you may not realize were loaded with baggage. (Baggage courtesy of the society in which we live. Not anything to do with you personally.) Your comment about immigration patterns came several comments later, I appreciate its clarification, and it suggests to me that it is not necessarily our ideas that conflict, but a few questionable expressions of them.

Second, why on earth is referring to "Asian culture" somehow incompatible with being part of American culture in populations which are still impacted by the culture of their countries of origin?

Because many individuals in the later generations 1. rightfully consider their country of origin, and that of the parents, and their grandparents, etc, to be America, and 2. may have retained certain features of "Asian culture" in their self-identification, but this is very far from considering Asian culture to be "My culture, requiring defiance and strength to date outside of." I have not argued that Asian culture is incompatible with AMerican culture. Only that the words "outside of their culture" imposes Asian culture wholesale on the many Americans who, in reality, identify most strongly with American culture, not with Asian culture. As if Asian culture somehow stamps itself onto with Asian looks, and stamps out a lifetime of experiencing oneself as American.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:16 AM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Such ways of referring are very common in sociological and cultural studies - FOR EXAMPLE AS IN THE STUDY I JUST LINKED TO!

Here are the problematic ways of referring that I see in the original and subsequent comments:

are already somewhat outside of their culture
it takes a lot of strength for those women to defy their cultural and family pressure
while the generational gap is there, the hold of the culture is surprisingly strong.
[cites an article talking about those with immigrant parents]
Therefore, odds are that there are more traditional marriage and dating practicers among Asian Americans
["Asian Americans" is colloquially used to refer both to those who have strong connections with Asian culture, and those who have much stronger connections with AMerican than Asian culture. The problem with this particular sentence is that its use of "Asian American" to designate two groups, one of which, you indicate ("These new immigration waves obviously represent an injection of traditional Asian values"), is responsible for the fact that "there are statistically more [traditional dating/marriage practices] vs the whites." It forces two groups together who have very little in common, culturally. What they have in common is appearance.]

Here, highlighted, are how the authors of that study refer to members of Asian American groups:
According to the 2006 Census, among all marriages involving at least one Asian, the Vietnamese are the most likely to marry someone of the same ethnicity.30 31 Overall, the Japanese are the most likely to intermarry,32 33 and compared to other Asian subgroups, the Japanese have the highest proportion (over 30 percent of their total population) of interethnic as well as interracial marriage.34 35
Nativity
Asians born or raised in the U.S. are more likely
Research has found that individuals who are more acculturated are more likely to marry outside their ethnic group than those who are less so.38 Therefore, immigration history, immigration status, and English proficiency are factors that affect intermarriage rates of different Asian ethnic groups.39
• Asian groups that have been in the U.S. longer, like the Japanese or Chinese, are likely to be better assimilated into the larger (American) culture, and more likely to intermarry.
• The Vietnamese are one of the most recent Asian subgroups to have arrived in the U.S. Almost all are foreign-born and have low English proficiency rates, and
generally experience the lowest rates of intermarriage.40 41
• Asian Americans who speak English fluently are more likely to intermarry, both interracially
and interethnically.42

Gender

Of Asians living in the U.S. who intermarry, about 75 percent are women. Asian women who intermarry are most likely to marry non-Hispanic, White men, followed by marriage to an Asian person of a different ethnicity.44 Asian men are much less likely than
women to intermarry. Of those that do, men are more likely than women to marry inter-ethnically.


They never refer to Asian Americans dating "outside of their culture," probably because academics make sure in published works to have chosen words that are as precise and accurate as possible, so as to avoid linguistic and cultural minefields of the sort that you either were unaware of, or consider negligible.

Of course you do refer to dating "outside of race" later on, and concede that your assertions are "less true of certain ethnicities which have less recent immigration (say, Japanese)" and that you meant to refer to a "certain percentage" of Asian Americans. I have no problem with those statements. It makes me wonder if typing on the fly may be responsible for the inadvertently loaded and inaccurate use of "culture" as a synonym for "race" or "ethnicity."

your sensitivities don't give you the right to make unsupported accusations - it is a fact that researchers in culture and sociology make these distinctions and use these terms (including researchers of all ethnic backgrounds) to communicate. I have not made up any distinctions or formed or promoted any stereotypes

I apologize for not being clear. I had no intention of accusing you, the person, of intentionally promoting stereotypes. I intended to make two observations, to offer one explanation for the anger your original comment roused:
1. the original statement contains suboptimal word choice that brackets two similar-looking groups together in exhibiting a set of behaviours that only one of the groups exhibits;
2.in the context of US history and present-day Othering of Asian-looking Americans, that kind of generalization is indistinguishable from statements that Other and stereotype those Americans who aren't white. Because it's indistinguishable, it reinforces Othering and stereotypes. It also raised heat (and the heat continued, because you were either unaware of, or considered too trivial to acknowedge, the possibility that people might have reasonable reasons for reacting with anger to those word choices).

(suddenly itoccurs to me that you may think my statement, that Asian AMericans have been and are still (though it's much better now than even 15 years ago) routinely Othered, is unsupported. Well if so, that's an entirely different discussion.)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:35 AM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's where ideological anti-racists part from the rest of us. -- shetterly

I wonder, does "us" in that sentence mean "those not ideologically opposed to anti-racism" or "those ideologically opposed to anti-racism". (or perhaps the union or intersection of those groups) Seems like it would be a small group either way.

(I asked that before but the comment was deleted because it referenced another comment which was also deleted)
posted by delmoi at 3:46 AM on October 9, 2009


@shetterly: Thanks for being a good sport.

Oh, I usually feel a moment of shame when I screw up a fact, but I hate it when newspapers and web sites bury corrections, so I have to cowboy up and own my own mistakes. And after the moment of shame, I'm grateful, 'cause I won't screw up that fact again. (And there are so many new facts waiting for me to mangle...)


That's where ideological anti-racists part from the rest of us. -- shetterly

I wonder, does "us" in that sentence mean "those not ideologically opposed to anti-racism" or "those ideologically opposed to anti-racism". (or perhaps the union or intersection of those groups) Seems like it would be a small group either way.


"Us" means general anti-racists, people who oppose racism but who aren't devout Critical Race Theorists or believers in Whiteness Studies.

The problem with the word "anti-racist" is it's so new that it appears in few dictionaries. It originally referred to a movement that began in the '70s, after the civil rights movement. Ideological anti-racists insist on non-dictionary definitions of words and take a religious approach to opposing racism--they say, for example, that all whites are racist because it's America's original sin, that people of color cannot be racist because racism equals prejudice plus power and people of color have no power, etc.

So now there are two groups of anti-racists, the tiny one of ideologues and the wider group of folks like me who just think racism sucks. I come out of the civil rights movement, so I have the same problems with ideological anti-racism that writers like Thandeka and Sharon Smith do. Ideological anti-racists, like Libertarians, are disproportionately represented on the net. As a movement, I think it's dying out, but it's hard to say for sure, because it hangs on at some universities.
posted by shetterly at 9:14 AM on October 9, 2009


A. (courtesy of klangklangston:)

Finally, can we stop being moronic regarding systemic racism? That any single
instance might or might not have been racism is irrelevant; the racism is seen
in the aggregate of lots of little decisions. This has only been pointed out
eleventy million times already in this thread alone, and I'm only typing it
again because unfortunately there's no internet protocol that allows me to
slap the stupid out of your heads when you trot out the same bullshit again
and again.

klang says "It doesn't matter whether you as an individual are guilty or not. Systemic racism exists, so the aggregate group you belong to which made all those little decisions is guilty guilty guilty."


B. (courtesy of Navelgazer:)

People really, really, the fuck really need to stop looking at this as an
accusation of racism upon themselves. it isn't.

Navelgazer says "We've made a large, nasty generalization about the aggregate group you belong to. But as a matter of semantics nobody's accused you in particular of anything, so skip the denials."


C. (courtest of granted, in the matching meta thread)

The reason white guys have been the focus of the ensuing discussion is that
white guys are the ones who've been blasting into the thread, seemingly under
the impression that by declaring and/or defending their own personal racial
preferences, they're delivering some devastating rebuttal to the article's
analysis.

granted says "Also, don't bother to protest 'I'm not like the rest of my group' because we're going to act as if you added '...which proves my group isn't guilty.'" And we already know it's guilty guilty guilty!


fuller is hitchhiking back to Animal Farm, where the triple-think isn't quite so thick in the barnyard.
posted by jfuller at 12:44 PM on October 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


ha!
posted by shmegegge at 12:52 PM on October 9, 2009


That's really refreshing, jfuller, the way you just openly admit to being an unapologetic racist.

(Everyone likes the stupid misreading game, racist!)
posted by klangklangston at 1:03 PM on October 9, 2009


God, our human brains sure are faulty huh?
posted by catchingsignals at 2:22 PM on October 9, 2009


Apologies in advance for a very long post re VikingSword. Before I start, I want to note that this is not the first time that MeFi posters came out of the woodwork to proclaim themselves experts on Asians: see "How to quiet my Asian neighbors" (metatalk), in which MeFi is asked to interpret how the poster's neighbors' Asianness is the cause of their noisiness (!), even though he does not even know their ethnicity and has not really interacted with them personally at all.)

Great way to start, by arbitrarily linking your opponent to someone reprehensible, so that the smear will be extra slippery. The mark of a real master however, is to actually accuse your opponent of something that's conspicuously the opposite of the truth, so that the sheer brazenness of the maneuver will instantly prevent any chance of a real discussion taking place.

So, the accusation is that "I proclaim myself an expert on Asians". Never mind that nowhere do I make such a proclamation, and that nowhere do I imply - even subtly - that I am "an expert on Asians", and never mind that not a single citation is given in support of this charge. No, the Rovian flourish here, is that the precise opposite was the case, I was always at pains, to not say anything like "based on my experiences", or appeal to my supposed authority in any way - that in fact, I've done the opposite, I've affirmed that one should never take anything a poster including me claims, without supporting evidence, that the default position should always be skepticism; I have repeatedly asked that people not use personal anecdotes as proof of anything, and I have complimented opponents when they finally provided a link to a study instead of yet again claiming personal experience as authoritative. And yet. And yet, johnasdf finds it best to open with this bracing combo of a dishonest rhetorical maneuver and an active lie. If mere speaking about a subject - even in the most self-effacing and focused-on-data vs anecdata - leads to accusations of "proclaiming oneself an expert", then I submit no discussion is possible at all... which I suspect is the ultimate aim of those who want to shut out all voices except those who agree with them.

From such august beginnings, we have a predictable downhill race into a farce. The next gem is just dripping with cosmic irony:

Before I start, part II -- I work in Asian American communities, frequently write grants or make presentations based on statistics & research on the topic, often in consort with Asian American professors, historians, activists, community leaders, and journalists. I am friends with the author of a high-profile book about dating in India and I actually know one of the authors that VS cites. As you might guess, my opinion is that VS's position, while it may be accurate for a trivially small slice of the Asian American population, is highly problematic, misleading, and flat out wrong.

This is genius! After first sliming me with spurious links to other posters, and making totally made up charges of my supposedly setting myself up as an authority, he proceeds to do the exact thing he accused me of! What an amazing little paragraph - unpacking it yields ever more spectacular fireworks of unintentional irony - we start with a long list of credentials, personal acquaintances, lists of friends in the know, and on and on and on. What for? Does it make an iota of a difference as to whether a stat or argument is valid or mathematically/statistically correctly derived? No, what it is, is proclaiming oneself an "expert on Asians" - a classic establishment of "authority". And just how long did we have to wait for an appeal to said authority? Why, it was the very next clumping of words - "As you might guess, my opinion is that VS's position, while it may be accurate for a trivially small slice of the Asian American population, is highly problematic, misleading, and flat out wrong." Perfect! Heck of a job!

Just amazing. Truly, truly amazing. You'd think, that someone with such convictions regarding just letting the argument speak for itself, could skip the long lists of supposed credentials and appeals to authority, and simply start with: VS is wrong, and here's why - followed by a cogent non-ad hominem argument.

But no, because this is not about an honest, cogent, not ad-hominem arguments. It is about lying, distorting, sliming, and mind-boggling hypocrisy. Which is why it is so long before we get to the center of the shit sandwich - the supposed "why".

"Here are a few (but not comprehensive) reasons why:

1. While, in all fairness, VS makes some reference to different cultures and immigration stages, this basically drops away when he actually makes his claim re how most Asian American men and women act. It is fairly frequent to encounter disaggregated data on the Asian American community (e.g., the Asian American Federation reports, which are often specific to different subcommunities in NY, rather than ALL Asian Americans in NY), but you don't see VS do this in his claims.

Sigh. This insanity is what makes so many arguments in the blue, basically an impossibility. Just read over that paragraph - the accusation is that I don't break down references to "Asian American" communities the way "e.g., the Asian American Federation reports, which are often specific to different subcommunities in NY, rather than ALL Asian Americans in NY)" FUCKING AMAZING! Followed by "but you don't see VS do this in his claims." Holy Post In A Thread Gods! This is a website, not a study, report, book, or even an article! We post - quickly, with limited amount of time, to the point, using shortcuts and abbreviations and assuming basic good faith reading - not pedantic lawyerly paragraphs and pages of minute qualifiers and caveats and asterixes practiced as defensive writing, so that morons and people of bad faith won't accuse you of god knows what crimes. If we are to adopt the federal reports level of details and standards johnasdf accuses me of falling short of, we would never get a single discussion about anything going, period - not on a website fast moving discussion.

The irony of course - there's always an irony in with this guy - is that as it is, I did provide quite a bit of breakdown (though admittedly not down to sub-communities in NY burbs levels) - which he even ever so generously acknowledged. But what bugged him, is that I didn't keep repeating those qualifiers and breakdowns every time I referenced the Asian-American community. One can only lie down and die. Where do you even get started unravelling this idiocy? Can you imagine writing a post, and having to add every time you use some term or another, pages, and pages, AND PAGES (they'll never be satisfied!) of qualifiers and caveats and assurances (throw in back rubs)? It would look like one of those legal documents, where you start a sentence of substance followed by six paragraphs of qualifiers and exceptions, then get another part of the sentence followed by another six paragraphs of defensive writing and so on, so that it takes 900 pages of text to get one paragraph of actual meaning - all because there's a legion of guys perusing it with magnifying glasses ready to sue you for any kind of reason.

Many posters took up the same chant, under the rubric of my allegedly having "pan-Asian theories", based on this part of my first post:

"The "traditional" Asian women have their dates set up by their parents/relatives/friends/matchmakers or Asian-oriented dating sites[...]"

Accusation is that not all Asian communities practice arranged marriages and use matchmakers and therefore it's unjust to lump them all together.

Except that's not what I wrote. Had I written: ALL "'traditional" Asian women etc., then yes, I'd be guilty of lumping. Instead, I wrote generally "traditional Asians" followed by a bunch of facts only some of which apply to any one given community at one time - trusting that it's clear enough without my having to spend endless paragraphs qualifying. This is equivalent to saying: "Europeans suffer from a variety of climactic problems, floods, heatstrokes, frostbite, etc." - there is nothing actually wrong with that statement. It would be stupid for an Italian to pop in and say "Italians don't suffer from frostbite" while a Brit to say "Damn lies, there are no heatstrokes in England". I didn't say ALL Europeans suffered from ALL these problems equally - in my sentence, there is room to allow for some things to apply to one group and other things to other groups. The sentence was correct, and short to save on time. Only a person of bad faith would mock me for pan-European theories of climactic exposure. Same here. Only a person of bad faith would claim that I generated a "pan-Asian theory" based on that or any other sentence I wrote. Yet I was immediately attacked and lambasted mercilessly - for no crime at all, except that which people willfully (and incorrectly) read into it.

To put a stop to such willful misreading, I went ahead and provided further detail, just so that there cannot be any doubt:

"What I did claim: arranged marriages and ethnic specific websites and heavy family/community involvement in matchmaking - Indian Subcontinent (this doesn't mean only these communities have arranged marriages - for example many Muslim immigrants from other parts of the world do too); East Asians - ethnic specific websites and family involvement in matchmaking (the latter especially true for Korean-Americans). There are many nuances of course. The above applies less to later generations, and is less true of certain ethnicities which have less recent immigration (say, Japanese)."

At which point, I thought it was clear. But no, now the attack is that I didn't keep repeating all those qualifiers (and more and more qualifiers) at each and every instance where I said "Asian-American" communities. The mind boggles. Even in lawyer's papers, they allow for a formula to the effect "by such and such we mean x, from hereon", and are spared having to repeat pages of qualifiers every time a term is used.

And this is how discussion dies. You are forced to defend yourself from unreasonable attacks through a massive volume of defensive writing and qualifiers lest you be accused of x, y, or z, and then the text becomes so dense as to be unreadable (rather like this post is turning out to be). Mission accomplished for those who wish to stifle points of view different from their orthodoxy.

I don't know how much longer I should keep this post - it is so easy for someone to throw a glib accusation, and even though it is utterly false and without merit one is then forced to spend multiple paragraphs disentangling the nonsense - I'll plow on a bit more (only for those who are heroically still reading) and I'll try to keep it short:

VS is simply flat out wrong when he says that Asian Americans share "common experiences" and the "same culture." Here's why:

a. VS never distinguishes between Asian American and Asian. (A good rule of thumb: basically instantly stop trusting someone when they say, possibly due to some decontextualized quote from Confucius, ALL ASIANS are one way and ALL WESTERNERS are another (cf. his healthymarriageinfo.org cite).)


Bullshit. I never said or thought that Asians and Asian Americans are the same. It has always been extremely clear to me that these are distinct communities. Now, an article or another may have made a claim about common experiences, but that was in a colloquial context of interviews or blurbs, and not part of my claims. I did cite such articles as reference point, because a given community may undeniably share certain experiences - for example, all may face discrimination (Japanese lumped in with Chinese or basically anyone with certain ethnic features being harassed during the WWII persecution etc.).

b. VS often conveniently forgets to distinguish between different stages in Asian American immigration. Though he does, in all fairness, talk about inter-generational tensions and the tendencies for more assimilated Asians to inter-marry, this drops out when he talks about OKCupid. While the site is a liberal site whose audience is far more likely to be that of the young, assimilated, 2nd generation Asian Americans, he never quantifies or give reason to believe that "traditional" Asians dominate OKCupid. He merely asserts this is the case.

Bullshit. I have repeatedly distinguished between different stages of AA immigration (and he grudgingly acknowledges some such instances). But I "drop" these qualifiers in some posts - yeah I should have to forever keep repeating oodles of defensive text... or I could just assume good faith on the part of the reader, to understand that when I say "Asians" I don't mean there are no exceptions to some traits or behaviors or percentages. And I don't provide extensive citations where facts are not controversial, though if someone is bent on it, there is no helping that ("water is wet" "What??? CITE! Plus: wrong, what about ice??!!UNO!). Indeed, I'm writing to communicate, not to idiot-proof my posts from malicious folks with agendas and it is not to play gotcha word games that have nothing to do with the substance of an argument.

c. It is an obvious fact that Asian Americans come from dramatically different class, ethnic, regional, linguistic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. So, while it may be tempting to sympathize w/ VS bc you don't like OkCupid calling you a racist, consider what he's essentially saying. He's saying that percentage of Asian Americans who are so-called "traditional" is so non-minor that we can conflate together the experiences of the Cantonese expat financial worker, the Hmong refugee, the pro-Tiger Sri Lankan dissident, the hot new Beijing gallery curator, the Pakistani lawyer who splits his time between Lahore and New York, the third generation Japanese American who does not speak Japanese and has never been to Japan, etc. You get the idea. In all fairness, VS does mention immigration status and does say that different Asian Americans are different, but typically when he does this, he often refutes his own hedge as a way to shore up his main points as to how Asians act. For example, he cites himself as saying that arranged marriage is popular among South Asians and family involvement among Koreans, but this precision is noticeably lacking when he frequently tosses around the term "Asian." For example, he states:"Asian women who are on OkCupid, [sic] are definitely a distinct group"

Bullshit. See above. Same nonsense.


2. I frankly don't have the time or inclination to review all of VS's data, but the bits I've seen does not say what he says it does. Based on a very quick (and not necessarily accurate) count, VS has made 26 comments in this thread and even though many of them ask people to believe his ample citations to bountiful research, he only makes four cites--and this is at the end of the thread, long after he has asked people to agree with his army of cites. Of the four cites, one is a study on African Americans; one is a Google Books article specifically about South Asians; and one links to a slightly sketchy article from the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center that states combines uncontroversial statistics about inter-marriage with problematic statements about how ALL Asians tend to view love, marriage, gender and family.

Let's look at one of his cites for closer examination. He cites a SJ Mercury article about my hometown (!) to say that Asian Americans "share common experiences." The article, which is explicitly limited to the California Bay Area, actually states that "Asians cannot be regarded as a monolith, since there are many countries of origin, languages, and traditions." While I'm not terribly fond of this article, it's worth noting that it is focused on 2nd generation Asian Americans (and not the "traditional" Asians that VS is talking about)--in other words, on the Asian Ams most likely to use OkCupid. The article does not talk about any of the following points that VS makes: (1) that Asian Americans are generally similar (the article quotes a 17 yr old Vietnamese American who stresses how different Chinese and Vietnamese Americans are); (2) that arranged marriage is common; and (3) that Asian American males misogynistically force Asian American women into the loving embrace of white Americans.


This guy is a LIAR. I use that term carefully. He is a LIAR. He said I made a claim that "Asian Americans share common experiences" and I falsely supported it with an article that actually said the opposite "The article, which is explicitly limited to the California Bay Area, actually states that "Asians cannot be regarded as a monolith, since there are many countries of origin, languages, and traditions."

That is a LIE. Here's what I actually wrote:

"Asian Americans are a varied group, with many common experiences (warning, pdf)."

Not only did I start with the fact that Asian Americans are a varied group, but I also (in another post) quoted the very passage he cites. Except for one thing. He cites one sentence:

"Asians cannot be regarded as a monolith, since there are many countries of origin, languages and
traditions."


GUESS WHAT THE VERY NEXT SENTENCE IS? Here:

"But the dating conundrum resonates with many."

So the full context of that quote is:

Asians cannot be regarded as a monolith, since there are many countries of origin, languages and
traditions. But the dating conundrum resonates with many.


I bolded the missing part from his quote. Now I ask - why would you chop off the very next sentence that even starts with a connective "But", unless you are doing it in bad faith - because it directly contradicts your claim that I falsely used an article to bolster my case. This is not a case of an innocent mistake - this is a deliberate trick to flip the meaning around to bolster your false accusation. IT IS A LIE. Nothing less, nothing more. Not a "stretch", "exaggeration", "rhetorical device" - IT IS A LIE.

He lies by distortion, omission and misrepresentation, in ways small and large. Every time he cites a position of mine, he distorts it in ways large and small. Even in this passage, I wrote that "Asian Americans are a varied group with MANY common experiences". He dropped the 'varied group", and also "many", giving an impression that I actually claimed that all Asians have common experiences - when I did no such thing, but specified "many common experiences" as opposed to all having all the same experiences. And of course he claims the article has nothing to do with a long list of my points (not all of which I even make, that's another distortion of his). I encourage folks to read the whole pdf, but here are some quotes and you can see how the relate to what I wrote (bolding emphasis by me):

Dating dilemmas have become a common cultural phenomenon among young Asian-Americans, said Sunaina Maira, associate professor of Asian-American Studies at UC-Davis, especially children of first-generation parents.

"While worries about young love -- along with grades, popularity, and clothes -- are common for
many young people, some Asian-American teenagers often are faced with an additional pressure:
immigrant parents who insist that their second-generation children adhere to the more restrictive moral values of the home country."


"The conflict takes on many forms. Some Asian-American youths deal with the expectation that
they'll date only within their culture. Others aren't permitted to date at all. Young men are not kept under as close scrutiny as young women, but neither are they immune to the pressures."


"American culture is much more individualistic, whereas among traditional Asians, the decisions you make reflect upon your family. As a result, family has great influence on behavior that brings honor or shame and disgrace to the family. There's a strong concern about types of relationships and behavior in relationships that's important."

"It's more of an issue among young women, because of traditional values that call for women to be chaste and protected. But young men deal with the issue indirectly through experiences with their friends, sisters and significant others."

Again, read the whole thing, and then see, if in any of my posts I distorted anything in this article, and how the article fits in with what I wrote.

3. Finally, no amount of evidence debating is going to stop VS from making his real point: while he's making certain factual claims about Asian Americans, he's really interested in a different argument--namely, that "cultural" rather than "racial" factors explain the OKCupid results. (This is actually a less original position--in that it duplicates that of many in this thread who say 1) "I'm not racist!" and 2) "there's some other explanation no matter what!") Clearly, this position, based more on ideology than facts, itself raises some questions. If one temporarily ignores that VS provides no cite showing that the Asian Americans on OKCupid fit the "traditional" mold that he describes, and further ignores that VS's discussion of the actual OKCupid results is practically nonexistent, what seems to be the case if we took his evidence as given, is that VS is actually agreeing that interracial dating is heavily fraught with concerns that are deeply entangled with racial markers, such as degree of assimilation and ethnic origin. In other words, rather than ignoring racial explanations, VS is actually saying that "cultural" explanations (what I and many others would see as racially-based explanations, if not always necessarily racially prejudiced ones) are so powerful that they trump cultural origin, religion, linguistic background, immigration status, regional background, national affiliation, and--that favorite "I'm not racist" fallback--class.
posted by johnasdf at 9:51 PM on October 8 [6 favorites +] [!]


Nice projection there, extrapolation to some nth degree onto a far branch of what I must want people to believe. What utter dishonest bullshit. My posts were all predicated not on "there is NO racism" - but "from the data we can't tell HOW MUCH racism there is, because other factors have not been disentangled, prominently culture" - I stated this repeatedly and explicitly. But this guy likes to make up his own story of what I wrote and what I must wish and expect. If I am to go now sentence by sentence to refute every lie and distortion and invention, this post will never end. Since he is a liar and dishonest debater, I don't have much motivation to go on. As it is, this post is way too long. If anyone feels that some point must be addressed, I'll happily do so, but for now, I'm done with this guy (and by "anyone", I'm not including the morons who like to lob an accusation and then walk away silently when shown to be wrong).

My apologies for the length here. In the future I'll try to be a lot smarter about how I choose to respond to dishonest "debaters" with an agenda who are not actually interested in debating.
posted by VikingSword at 4:30 PM on October 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


cybercoitus interruptus, just a quick note. Thank you for writing cogently, and intelligently without any animus. As you can imagine I'm somewhat burned out on typing, given the moron attacks here, so I don't have it in me at the moment to respond to your very reasonable points. Rest assured however, that I take your posts seriously (even if I don't agree with everything).
posted by VikingSword at 4:37 PM on October 9, 2009


You're welcome! May I suggest that you may find it productive, in future conflicts like this, to think twice about posting terms like "moron"? I know that when feeling like people are unfairly attacking me and / or repeatedly calling my comments some variation of "stupid," it's awfully satisfying to type terms like that into the little box. "ASSHOLE" and "FUCKING TOOL" are my defaults.

At the same time, I've found that taking those things out before hitting post pays big dividends in being able to get my points across clearly, to as many people as possible. A lot of people who were in GRAR mode before, take themselves out of it upon reading a reply that earnestly assumes their good faith -- or their potential to return themselves to good faith -- rather than to irredeemable asshole / moron stature.

Certainly, when people attack me first with insults, ridicule or whatever else, the temptation to respond in kind is strong. I've found this line of reasoning constructive: "Yeah, this jerk started it, so why shouldn't I respond in kind?...well, because that's going to go nowhere fast. If I think I'm the mature one here, I'm going to have to be willing to be the first one to act like it and address them with respect even though they haven't earned it, and hope that they'll respond in kind." (If they don't, repeatedly, well then, I give myself more license to post swear words.)

Look, my first reaction to johnasdf's comment was "HA!" because, honestly, it expressed ALL the frustration and anger I felt since reading your original comment. It articulated my initial and several subsequent reactions to your series of comments beautifully, in fact. But when composing my own reply, I took deep breaths, took the emotions out of my words, and took the approach

"OK, there's information about Asian American experiences that I take for granted due to life experience, exposure to various Asian-ities as expressed by people I know in the US and CAnada, and academic research. Maybe he doesn't know about any of this info that I take for granted.

"VS has information based on his own experiences, exposures, and possibly research. There's probably Grand Canyons of difference between our respective sets of information. That's one source of disconnect, which I should allow for instead of attributing his comments to pure Let Me Tell You All About Asians assholery / blindspots that he wilfully is refusing to consider the possibility of.

"Another source of disconnect could be, maybe he intended one meaning but the words conveyed a different one?" etc.

Just offering this as something you may decide could be useful to at least think about, whether you end up crafting a few of your comments in future threads along those lines, or whether you conclude "Nah, not for me."
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:21 PM on October 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is OKCupid a hetero-pairings-only site? I'm curious about why they presented data on M-to-F and F-to-M responses exclusively.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:21 PM on October 9, 2009


VS, I meant also to say, alongside Maybe he doesn't know about any of this info that I take for granted,

that part of my thought process in composing my replies is also, It's possible that there is well-grounded info s/he takes for granted everybody knows, but I don't, and if I reply respectfully, s/he'll realize I don't actually know it and will respectfully fill me in.

Just to clarify that I was not saying anything at all like, "I'm right, everybody else is wrong, and I won't consider the possibility that my position could ever be improved upon." In case anybody was about to interpret my last comment that way.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:09 AM on October 10, 2009


Wow, Viking Sword, while that comment was epic, you've really broken down a lot of what makes me want to bang my head into my desk to the point of concussion when the MeFi pedants brigade comes out for an argument. Very, very well said.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:16 AM on October 10, 2009


Hi, me again! Viking Sword, I apologize for, in your opinion, lying and drastically misrepresenting your position. I think you should think about why cybercoitus, who's on your good list, thinks I represented his initial response and why, even though you explicitly said that Koreans don't do arranged marriages, someone felt obligated to point out that they were Korean and had never had an arranged marriage, and why another poster felt like kung fu music and a gong went off (to badly paraphrase) when he read your post. We're responding to you in this way, not because we're necessarily right, but at the very least, because of one simple problem: you have a huge paper trail in this post, so people aren't going to cross-reference your numerous different comments in a way to come up with the best, most qualified interpretation of what you're saying.

I wanted to try to explain why people are having such intense reactions to your post. You and maybe others think I'm being pedantic and trying to win an argument and I wanted to demonstrate why I was actually being earnest (and trying to show that you often did qualify your positions). First, imagine if you came to a thread and someone kept saying things like "the thing about African, European and South Americans is that they have arranged marriages and the men are highly traditional and by implication sexist and so the women in this race have no recourse but to logically not date these men." (I know this is a very loose and maybe unfair summary of what you're saying.) Now, imagine that there was one word that summarized these three very different places--let's use these randomly typed letters GDDQEECD. Imagine you made a post talking about the difference between these three continents and then started making all these very broad generalizations about the way GDDQEECD people deal with things like race, family, marriage, and gender. We're coming back and saying, dude, no matter how much you qualify in another post, we feel that it's just really wrong (and not pedantic!) to just group a significant proportion of African, European, and South Americans in one bracket, no matter where you qualify it. You're essentially coming back and saying, Hey man, I know these people are different, but when I bracket them together later, the differences are trivial enough that you're only making a gotcha point and not a real one I should be concerned about, especially since there are shared common experiences that bring GDDQEECD people together. That's how it looks from the outside.

Secondly, you know how a lot of Metafilter posters flip out in race/gender posts because they feel like they're being called a racist? Something similar is happening here. Your initial posts broadly argue that Asian women have legitimate reasons to not date Asian men for a variety of reasons, including the fact that, you imply, they're basically misogynistic traditionalist monkeyturds. (A loose paraphrase--you can ignore the "monkeyturds" if you want.) Basically, everyone who is an assimilated 2nd generation Asian American (the wide majority of Asian Americans on this site) is going to reply, "Uh, no." This is especially true because you're points give the appearance of treating Asian cultural origin as strongly static and determinative (no matter how many times you quote statistics about assimilated intermarriage rates), which also has the effect of making people feel like you're essentializing them and of feeling like you can void their life experience by citing to the San Jose Mercury News. I'm not saying this is your intention. It's the effect of reading your posts, especially when the way you qualify one point is often made in a post several clicks up the page from what seems like a bald, generalizing statements about me and a million people I know.
posted by johnasdf at 7:18 AM on October 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Is OKCupid a hetero-pairings-only site? I'm curious about why they presented data on M-to-F and F-to-M responses exclusively.

There's a sentence in the article addressing their gay users; apparently they're next up.
posted by desjardins at 9:51 AM on October 10, 2009


You know what? Screw this kumbaya jazz. If someone's (hint: and lots of people appear to be, according to him) misreading VS, he needs to write better. It's not my responsibility to read him in the best possible light, it's his to write such that he's not misunderstood.

I'll happily do so, but for now, I'm done with this guy (and by "anyone", I'm not including the morons who like to lob an accusation and then walk away silently when shown to be wrong).


Like that. He's presumptuous about the motivations of Asian men/women, he's presumptuous about the difference between those two groups, and here, he's presumptuous about why people walk away. It's not because he's declared himself right and the people he disagrees with wrong. In fact, to even take the position is consistent with his posture throughout this whole thread. People walk away for lots of reasons. VS doesn't get to decide why. And he also doesn't get to decide what people's motivations are when they're shown to behave in what sure looks like a racist way on a dating website.

To be clear: I walked away because engaging with him is, at this point, a waste of my time. Thread is over. Favorites have been handed out. People have weighed in with their agreements and disagreements. You agree w/VS? Bully for you. You don't? Congratulations. But spare me the sanctimonious I'm-such-a-victim garbage. Nobody arguing w/VS has approached his level of animosity or lack of clarity. Matter of fact - OTHER people have to soften their tone to that normally used for someone who's clearly gone off the rails. Why? Why does he deserve even that much consideration, when he's the one who dragged the discourse there in the first place ("Large amount of stupid here").

VS thinks I'm wrong? Fine. Do I care? No.

He, and anyone else for that matter, is free to presume I mean something else (though note, it's not ok if you do that sort of thing to him. That much he's written clearly).
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:47 AM on October 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's not my responsibility to read him in the best possible light

Agreed. I should have realized my comment might give the impression that I thought it was.

I do not think it's anybody's responsibility to do that, except my own, if I've got the energy for it right that minute, one more time.

Why does he deserve even that much consideration, when he's the one who dragged the discourse there in the first place

I chose to give him that much consideration because over the past few years IRL but especially here, I've come to the conclusion that a lot of people I initially categorized in the "Irredeemable Asshole" file, are, say, having a horrible day/week, or have had little opportunity to practice stepping back from anger, or are in the automatic habit of handling disagreements with retaliatory snark rather than the much more challenging give-and-take of constructive communication and resolution.

I emphatically do not think it's anyone else's responsibility, duty, or obligation to give him that consideration. I happened to have the energy to try extending a personal olive branch, on the off chance that it might lead somewhere.

Even if it doesn't, having this stuff written out will come in handy later. As you know all too well, these kinds of remarks and situations come up again and again and again IRL and here. I'll keep engaging these kinds of discussions whenever I can muster the energy, and since my ideas and arguments flow easier when I've already written some variation of them in umpteen previous threads...it's like a workout.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:42 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


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