Restrictive dating.

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    Mar 19, 2008 6:03 PM GMT
    My Gay Male Relationships class blew up again this past Monday night. I, once again, was the incendiary. We were discussing cross-cultural relationships. Our teacher was explaining the difference between attraction and fetishization. He began by saying,"When you will only date men from a race or culture different from your own that is fetishization because it is based on stereotypes and it is wrong." I raised my hand and suggested it also worked the other way. If you exclude men from your dating pool based on race or ethnicity, that was wrong as well. He responded by saying, "No, that is attraction, and okay. I disagreed and suggested that it was also stereotyping and based on racism, at which point the entire class erupted. No one was willing to own their racism, they all denied it and said it was ridiculous to suggest that having a preference was racist. I explained that I believed we were all racist, that we could not live in our society and not be racist, that I was racist, saw my racism everyday and fought everyday to overcome it. I also suggested that I would not want to limit who I might be attracted to by excluding any type of person. It seems that racism is the big elephant in the room which no one is willing to acknowledge.

    What do you guys think?
  • ShawnTX

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    Mar 19, 2008 6:20 PM GMT
    I can only speak of my own experiences which is that I've never dated someone of another race. I've slept with a few asian and black guys though. I rarely find guys of other races attractive.

    If that is a form of racism, fine. Will I apologize for it? Not one bit.

    I suppose a lot of it has to do with the environment in which one is raised. I grew up in Thunder Bay which has a very small asian and black population. It's predominately white, with a very large aboriginal population. As a matter of fact, the first time I met a black person in Thunder Bay I was 11, a Ruwandan family had recently immigrated to Thunder Bay.

    So growing up, all my little grade school crushes were on the boys in my school, all of which were white.

    I'm sure not having been exposed to diversity in cultures during someones formative years can definately influence what they find attractive in an individual.
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    Mar 19, 2008 6:32 PM GMT
    Your teacher's distinction between attraction and fetish is absurd. It just puts a shiny new coat of paint over what is essentially racism.
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    Mar 19, 2008 6:35 PM GMT
    I think there could be a genetic basis for preferring one's own race ...selfish gene type thing.

    We may be genetically disposed to prefer people who look more like us, because they are probably more closely genetically related. Therefore, it is more likely to promote one's own genes, than to be with someone who looks very different.
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    Mar 19, 2008 6:48 PM GMT
    Where your teacher went horribly wrong was attempting to chastise dating exclusively outside of your race while completely whitewashing excluding anyone outside of your race. That just doesn't add up at all. I agree with you about sexual racism - it is real and very few people seem to want to address its complex reality - I blame both people that fear being branded as racist as well as our knee-jerk politically correct culture that basically provides no room for people to be candid without said fear of being immediately vilified for it.
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    Mar 19, 2008 6:50 PM GMT
    nudewoody saidI explained that I believed we were all racist, that we could not live in our society and not be racist, that I was racist, saw my racism everyday and fought everyday to overcome it.


    You make a REALLY REALLY good, clear and sincere point, and I tell you why:

    I have caucasian friends.
    I have african-american friends.
    I have friends from the phillipines.
    I have friends from latin america.
    I hate racism i all of its forms. I can't stand it.
    I have a million excuses.

    But I'm still a racist.
    It's a sad leftover of a trait that helped us when our species was a baby, when the only thing that kept it from being eaten by other animals was to be afraid of anything that didn't look like ourselves.

    It is my duty as a human to rise above that limitation. But it takes a conscious effort from my part.
    And because it is hard work, some times it becomes just a giant elephant in the middle of a room.
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    Mar 19, 2008 8:01 PM GMT
    Ikaros said

    But I'm still a racist.
    It's a sad leftover of a trait that helped us when our species was a baby, when the only thing that kept it from being eaten by other animals was to be afraid of anything that didn't look like ourselves.



    Perhaps that is partially true. But categorization by race really didn't begin until the middle of the seventeenth century. I started in Colonial America as a means to justify enslavement of Africans. With the signing of the Declaration of Independence it was institutionalized by Jefferson in his Notes on the state of Virginia when he postulated that enslavement was justified based on racial inferiority. So it seems that the concept of racial classification is a modern and american one.
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    Mar 19, 2008 8:05 PM GMT
    nudewoody saidI disagreed and suggested that it was also stereotyping and based on racism, at which point the entire class erupted. No one was willing to own their racism, they all denied it and said it was ridiculous to suggest that having a preference was racist. I explained that I believed we were all racist, that we could not live in our society and not be racist, that I was racist, saw my racism everyday and fought everyday to overcome it. I also suggested that I would not want to limit who I might be attracted to by excluding any type of person. It seems that racism is the big elephant in the room which no one is willing to acknowledge.

    What do you guys think?

    That's a refreshingly honest and authentic admission, nudewoody. I applaud you for making such a bold statement -- especially in a University classroom, which can be an inhospitable environment for dissenting opinions.
  • joggerva

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    Mar 19, 2008 8:29 PM GMT
    It certainly sounds like your teacher is way off base. I believe that psychologically, a fetish is something that someone is fixated on - they feel a compulsive need to use it to obtain sexual gratification. Kinda strange to hear it used to describe people, but I suppose someone could have a fetish with a particular ethnicity. I would think that an actual ethnicity fetish would probably be pretty rare.

    Restrictive dating is another issue.

    I think that whether or not restrictive dating is racist has everything to do with the reasoning behind it and not simply the act of restrictive dating. It is very easy to claim something is racist; however, I think that racism is rooted in feeling/thinking that a group of people are superior to another group on the basis of their socially-prescribed "race". It is certainly possible that someone simply is not attracted to a particular ethnic group without believing that they are superior to that group. They may believe that they don't have enough in common with a person from that group. If you ask me, I'd say they are being incredibly close-minded and are limiting their life experiences, but racist? Not necessarily so.
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    Mar 19, 2008 8:38 PM GMT
    I am attracted to the person (physical and mental) makes no difference on the race. I am most attracted to latino guys but that is just me. Am I normal? Who knows and who care as long as you are happy.
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    Mar 19, 2008 8:41 PM GMT
    Nudewoody, I think you have the stronger case. Your professor's distinction was not very sensible to me. Of course I am weird, I only know of one race the human race!

    I have dated and or slept with just about every possible so-called "race" of men. I am now settled with an Asian man. If somebody said I had a fetish for Asian men, I would either laugh in his face or slug him.
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    Mar 19, 2008 8:45 PM GMT
    This is one of the joys I have found in children, watching them while they have NO preconceived notion of distinction of anyone they see. To watch a child play with other children and have no regard for the ethnic, economic or social background of another and to accept them regardless as a fellow human is truly refreshing and yet sad. Sad that some where between the innocence of childhood and the maturity of adulthood we learn to do what we all try to avoid, make distinctions for exclusion.

    I also commend you for your honesty nudewoody.
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    Mar 19, 2008 8:48 PM GMT
    eb925guy saidThis is one of the joys I have found in children, watching them while they have NO preconceived notion of distinction of anyone they see. To watch a child play with other children and have no regard for the ethnic, economic or social background of another and to accept them regardless as a fellow human is truly refreshing and yet sad. Sad that some where between the innocence of childhood and the maturity of adulthood we learn to do what we all try to avoid, make distinctions for exclusion.

    I also commend you for your honesty nudewoody.


    My parents never told me "don't associate with that person because they are ...". They never used the "n" word or the "f" word or any other derogatory word about other people. I personally do not believe racism is inevitable, I believe it is taught and learned. The same with anit-semitism or homophobia.
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    Mar 19, 2008 8:49 PM GMT
    Another voice here that thinks NudeWoody is spot on (as well as being very hot icon_wink.gif ).

    I bump up against my own racism in my mind all the time. I just have to keep working on it.
  • ShawnTX

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    Mar 19, 2008 8:57 PM GMT
    jbedwards saidNudewoody, I think you have the stronger case. Your professor's distinction was not very sensible to me. Of course I am weird, I only know of one race the human race!

    I have dated and or slept with just about every possible so-called "race" of men. I am now settled with an Asian man. If somebody said I had a fetish for Asian men, I would either laugh in his face or slug him.


    Whore!
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    Mar 19, 2008 8:57 PM GMT
    jbedwards said[quote][cite]eb925guy said[/cite]This is one of the joys I have found in children, watching them while they have NO preconceived notion of distinction of anyone they see. To watch a child play with other children and have no regard for the ethnic, economic or social background of another and to accept them regardless as a fellow human is truly refreshing and yet sad. Sad that some where between the innocence of childhood and the maturity of adulthood we learn to do what we all try to avoid, make distinctions for exclusion.

    I also commend you for your honesty nudewoody.


    My parents never told me "don't associate with that person because they are ...". They never used the "n" word or the "f" word or any other derogatory word about other people. I personally do not believe racism is inevitable, I believe it is taught and learned. The same with anit-semitism or homophobia.[/quote]

    I agree JB, I definitely think it's taught and learned and not inevitable, however, I do believe that it is most commonly taught by our actions and not our words (but not always unfortunately). I, like you was never told not to associate with one person or another but I know that I have formed a racist view at times and continually work to remove that from my life.
  • irishkcguy

    Posts: 780

    Mar 19, 2008 9:07 PM GMT
    I think exclusionary dating and attraction has its roots in some form of racism and it is very convenient for people to just dismiss it as "attraction." I think people need to really self-examine on this issue and really ask themselves some serious questions if they find entire races of people unattractive.
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    Mar 19, 2008 9:09 PM GMT
    I'm also with NudeWoody on this one for the most part. Fetishism and racism are two different things that can't be really compared on a one to one basis. If you are only attracted to someone with a specific attribute (that is typically, though not necessarily not an attribute of your own) such as race, culture, body type, hair color, etc., then that is a fetish.

    If you exclude someone for not being of a specific culture, race, etc. or if you have any preconceived ideas about someone, based on that, then you are racist. In our society, we cannot help but be racist, since it is subtly ingrained in us and reinforced by the media every waking moment. The issue, as NudeWoody aptly put it, is to recognize it and fight to overcome it persistantly. This opens the world to you by providing a far broader range of incredible people that you can bring into your life.

    Even our expectations of beauty (masculine or feminine) are a prejudice of sorts that is sociologically (via localized culture) supported even though those standards can be radically different from culture to culture and society to society, across the planet.
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    Mar 19, 2008 9:19 PM GMT
    I agree - it's easy to see excluding a whole race as having a racist element to it.

    But here's a question - and I'm asking it in all honesty - not trying to be flip: take race out of the equation and suppose it's another attribute. Is it OK to say you'll only date guys with blond hair? And if it's not, what do you call that?

    I guess the crux of my question is, ARE there certain attributes that are in the "ok as a preference" column and others that aren't or is there some sort of "I'll date anyone regardless of any of their attributes" ideal that people are supposed to try and attain.

    And not to throw a TOTAL freakin' kink in this but I realize this is in a way somewhat related to this question. I just finished reading the recent Out (I know - a bit of a rag) which was on transgender/sexual people. There was an article about "trans fags" or FTMs that identify as gay men. So in this case you have a group that identify as men who want to date other men; many have had a double mastectomy but still have that other distinctly female part. So, the question here is - are you being exclusionary to these 'men' if you say you don't want to date them because physically they're missing the parts?

    Sorry for the long winded response - just stuff that's been making my head hurt lately and hopefully getting it out there will help my headache! Thoughts?


    PS Woody - my apologies if this hijacks you're thread. I'll start a new separate on this topic if you like?
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    Mar 19, 2008 9:20 PM GMT
    irishI think exclusionary dating and attraction has its roots in some form of racism and it is very convenient for people to just dismiss it as "attraction." I think people need to really self-examine on this issue and really ask themselves some serious questions if they find entire races of people unattractive.


    So agree with this. People have this tendency to liken it to just "preference" - as in, "Same as I'm not attracted to blondes, I'm not attracted to black people!" - but this comparison does not stick for me at all. Patrol any dating or hook-up site and you'll rarely find the ad that reads, "BRUNETTES WITH BLUE EYES ONLY!" Yes, we all have our preferences but there is often an inflexibility with race that bespeaks something much more ingrained than casual preference.

    I have a friend who has this idealized reverence for blondes - but the fact is that he is often attracted to guys with dark hair. We recently got to talking about the fact that he only is attracted to white people, and I said something along the lines of, "You might find that you develop an attraction to other ethnicities at some point," and he was emphatically like, "No! That will never change!" It honestly made me cringe because it goes to show how much more deeply ingrained the race element is to him than other "preferences," and that is the same feeling I get from ads that read something like this: "WHITE GUYS ONLY - sorry, that is just my preference!"

    I don't mean to vilify people that are not attracted to other races because, as others have pointed out, it does point to broader social issues. But what irks me is the unwillingness to recognize it as something other than just casual preference.
  • irishkcguy

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    Mar 19, 2008 9:21 PM GMT
    Gigaram: I don't think race and hair color are appropriate points of comparison. For starters, I can go to a stylist right now and change my hair color.
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    Mar 19, 2008 9:22 PM GMT
    I don't believe that everyone is racist.

    I believe we are all shaped by our stereotypes towards certain races and that make act differently toward them just as we would act differently toward a white man wearing a suit and a white man wearing a hoodie and sweats.

    This sort of heuristic expands across all races and types of people. Whether it's a black man or a white man or an asian man wearing a suit, we're going to treat him differently than a black man or a white man or an asian man wearing a hoodie and sweats.

    This sort of rule-of-thumb thinking might come off as being racist when viewed in certain ways by certain people, but I think in our society, I will give the benefit of the doubt and am willing to believe that some people have been able to grow up without becoming racist.
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    Mar 19, 2008 9:25 PM GMT
    irishkcguy saidGigaram: I don't think race and hair color are appropriate points of comparison. For starters, I can go to a stylist right now and change my hair color.


    Sorry - I should have been more clear. I meant that just as a jumping off point. You could use any other attribute you want - height, weight, hairiness, perhaps even intelligence.
  • irishkcguy

    Posts: 780

    Mar 19, 2008 9:30 PM GMT
    Gigaram: Again, all the attributes you mention are things that can be changed. Intelligence, weight, hair color, hairiness are all things that can be changed. A person's skin color is pretty permanent. Shouldn't we be looking at dating and possible partners for the content of their character rather than the color of their skin??
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    Mar 19, 2008 9:34 PM GMT
    irishkcguy saidGigaram: I don't think race and hair color are appropriate points of comparison. For starters, I can go to a stylist right now and change my hair color.


    I believe there is validity in having a preference for a certain hair color or eye color and attributing it to race. If someone has a preference for blue eyes, that narrows it down to basically two races. Europeans and Latinos/Hispanics. Someone who has a preference for brown eyes might be attracted to men of all races (I have a friend like this who prefers brown eyes and likes all different races - coincidence? Who knows.)

    Also, every race looks different. Aside from any type of color, physical face features of different races look different. Is anyone ever going to confuse a Chinese woman for a Nigerian woman or a French woman? Highly doubtful, because each of these races look wildly different from one another in simple facial structures. Is it fair to call someone who prefers one set of facial features over another racist? I don't think it is.