Asian Fetish

Apparently, on OKCupid Asian Women get the most messages. This preference is true for men of all races except, strangely, Asian men. Interesting! I’m sort of jealous, but also having a little bit of schadenfreude at the same time. Cuz, you know, us white women hear a lot about how Western beauty standards damage the self esteem of women in other races.

But, you can’t blame us anymore! Western beauty isn’t where it’s at, it’s passé, old news! So, I hereby bequeath all of our liberal white woman beauty guilt to Asian women (and, Middle Eastern women who apparently also get a lot of responses.) Next time someone goes on about how our beauty standard is whitewashed, you can be all “what are you, stuck in 1950?” So, for realzies, white women may still be over-represented in magazines, but that’s just a holdover – it’s on the way out, as the racist old men who control the media slowly die. Also, are we even sure all those women are being “whitewashed?” Seems to me some of them could be being “Asian-washed.” As a very white English woman, I can testify that my particular very-pale skin tone is usually not in fashion unless some Winona Ryder renaissance is happening.

However, the way liberal discourse responds to white women being desired as opposed to Asian women being desired is very different. When white women are “what’s hot” it’s an example of an oppressive beauty system that is degrading to other races. BUT, when Asian women are “what’s hot” it’s an example of Asian fetish, which is degrading to Asians.

So – to simplify:

White women hot? Seen as privileging white women.

Asian women hot? Seen as dis-empowering Asian women.

It is worth noting, that according to Wikipedia Asian Fetish supposedly doesn’t exist, and even on OKCupid white men responded to Asian women and white women a similar amount. Yes, it’s true *some* white men say some really terrible things to Asian women (and, there’s a tumblr about that) but I’d suggest that it’s more that the race difference opens up opportunities for a *particular set* of vile things to be said.

This difference in how we read preference for white women vs Asian women reminds me of how we read preference for thin bodies as opposed to a preference for heavier bodies. Many heavier women complain that they are de-sexualized, and also that the only people who sexualize them are fetishists. But, what they fail to see, is that thin bodied women are also frequently fetishized – in that, many people who date thin women are not interested in their sparkling personalities, but have an obsessive attraction to a particular body type. Many heavier women won’t see this as a similar thing, but this is because of the ways that heavy women *themselves* are privileging thin bodies. On some level, men who are attracted to heavier women are seen as “fetishists” because we view it as abnormal to be attracted to fat women. Men who behave the same way toward thin women aren’t viewed as “fetishists” because we see that as normal. So – again, attraction to fat women is phrased in a way to disempower fat women, whereas attraction to thin women is phrased in a way to empower thin women.

Similarly, we have normalized attraction to white women so we see attraction to Asian women as fetishized. If you believe it is fetishizing to be attracted to Asian women because of typically Asian physical traits, but it is not fetishizing to be attracted to white women because of typically white traits, then you have brought into the idea that the white appearance is the default, and you may want to introspect a little on that. (I’m not calling you racist, but… well, think about it.)

I’m not saying that Asian women don’t face racism, or that heavy women don’t face size-discrimination. In fact, I’m saying the opposite of that – that racism and sizism are so prevalent that they they have infiltrated liberal discourse such that Asian women and heavy women are seen as being *disempowered* by things that would be seen as *empowering* white or slim women. We are denying the Asian/fat groups access to the power that we would grant the white/slim groups (and, yes, I hope women get power outside of their physical appeal – my point is Asian and fat women don’t even get *that.*) And, the problem isn’t with the fetishists – the problem is with is the liberals whose critiques of beauty culture end up implicitly reinforcing the prejudices they are attempting to denounce.

The trap is a trap, watch out for it.

Bisexual Performance – or – Girls Who Pretend to be Bisexual

Nothing is better than a good, fake bisexual roasting. Fucking straight female attention seekers, co-opting queerness to enhance their heteronormative sex appeal. We should have a pussy eating entrance exam for bi women! With judges – make me one! Amirite?

(Hint: I am not right)

Do you remember that song, I Kissed a Girl by Katie Perry? (Yeah, I know it’s been a while.) It’s about… a girl, kissing another girl – and liking it! But, you know – it was sanitized. No one was eye-deep in pussy, Perry had a boyfriend, and it was just an experiment (a “naughty” one at that.) And some queers cried “appropriation” and I get it, but, on another level it actually reminded me of my very early experiences with women from a time when, well, we just assumed everyone was straight.

Many of my first experiences with girls were essentially bisexual performances for men, and before you cry “hetronormative appropriation of queer culture” you should know I was 12. Or 13, but young anyway. I didn’t know myself, I didn’t know my sexuality, and I certainly had no idea how it related to other people or the queer community as a whole. It didn’t stop me being attracted to women when men weren’t around. It didn’t stop me casually dating women in my 20s. It didn’t stop me from eventually falling in love the woman I now call my girlfriend. But, yeah, when I was young I used to kiss girls to turn men on. It’s not PC, but it’s true.

Most of the criticism for this phenomenon falls to the girls themselves – like from this bisexual woman who doesn’t want to think of herself as one of those bisexuals (aka, a bisexual performing straight woman.) One of the most common questions I got when coming out as bisexual was was I a “real” bisexual (aka, how much pussy have you eaten?) starting from when I was outed at 13. I went from being a fairly nerdy, anonymous middle school girl to someone who was immediately hypersexualized, and I did not have the emotional maturity to deal with it.

On a related note, check out this graph:


It’s from a study that documents the higher rate of sexual abuse among bisexual women than among any other sexual orientation (see here.) In this study, 46% of bisexual women had experienced a rape (as opposed to 13% of lesbians, and 15% of straight women.) You can also see most of these rapes were happening during the ages of 11-17 (at every other age, straight women are more likely to be raped.) Bisexual women are vulnerable to being raped right around the age they are likely to be discovering their sexuality and coming out. This is also the age we tend to see a lot of “fake” bisexuals, who are forced to absorb a lot of cultural expectations about their sexuality.

I don’t want to read too much into this study, since the sample size of bisexual women was small, but it fits with my own experience. At the time when I was most vulnerable, I was also exposed to a blast of criticism and doubt about my sexuality, as well as a blast of hypersexualization. And, I *was* attracted to men, I *did* want to impress them, and I didn’t fully understand the negative repercussions of bisexual performance. By the time I was in high school, I’d figured it out and avoided it, but I also had a heavy feminist influence in my life. I can understand it would take some women a little longer to come to sort through this mess, especially since many bisexual women lack support from their queer community (I feel uncomfortable attending events for “lesbians” because I have been explicitly un-included before. This is an annoyance at 29, but probably has much sharper repercussions at 19 – “sharper” repercussions being sexual abuse because the only people you can find to support you also hypersexualize you.)

There is a much deeper message, however, to all of this that I – and probably many other bisexual women – have absorbed. And, that message is “your sexuality is not determined by how you feel, but rather how others judge you to be.” I have often felt the obligation to *prove* my bisexuality, even to people who were supposed to accept me. For instance, I used to see a gay therapist who specialized in issues of sexuality. He once, explicitly, asked me if I was really bisexual or if I was just attached to the identity. I was so shaken by his question that for about a month I identified as straight, but felt so sad I eventually decided I’d rather be a happy “fake” bisexual than a sad “real” straight person. But, if I’d kept that identity, I would never have fallen in love with my girlfriend. My life would have been less in ways I can’t even begin to describe.

Perhaps a deeper question is, why do we resent these young, “fake” bisexual women? Unfortunately, I’m too drunk and it’s too late to answer that question. Another day, perhaps.

I Love This Photo

I have found few photographs as uplifting as this one:

Tribes Woman


(from here.)

There’s a lot of sadness in this photo, as if we are witnessing the first steps of a unique culture vanishing into abyss of modernity, but there’s hope too. As we witness *our* way of life being subjected to *her* gaze, it becomes apparent that there is more out there than the panopticon that is our own society.

I stumbled across this photo when I was torturing myself by using the internet to classify my body type. What I was really hoping, as I am always hoping whenever I do this, is that somehow my body will magically get categorized to be in the “hourglass” category. Unfortunately, it is nearly always categorized in the “box” category. And, even more unfortunately, if I could just lose a little off my waist, I could just barely classify as an “hourglass” shape. Well, logically, I know that if I lose an inch of my waist I will almost certainly lose an inch off my bust thus keeping me squarely a box. But, in my head, I always suspect that maybe, magically, my weight loss could defy my larger “body type” patterns and just remove itself directly from the offending area.

Then, I would be hot like Christina Hendricks and could resent everyone who was attracted to me for being a superficial ass. Victory!

Funnily enough, for years one of the things that kept me from this body type was skinny legs. I tended to put on slightly more weight in my upper body than lower body, which perpetually interfered with my plans for the optimal hip to waist ratio. The other day, I realized my legs had gotten a little bigger. I’m not sure if it’s from getting fatter or buffer (I prefer to imagine buffer,) but I freaked out. Despite a decade of telling myself that I wanted to put more weight on in my lower body, when it actually *happened* I started googling “thigh gaps” and lamenting the loss of my teenage skinniness.

Anyway, while I was subjecting myself  to all this judgement, I found this photo and realized that I am totally crazy. I have found myself caught in a narrow, temporal definition of beauty and I focus on it – performing behaviors that increase it’s hold on me rather than behaviors that support my own mental freedom. My mental habits reinforce my own dissatisfaction, and then consequently, fuel my drive towards cosmetics, certain exercise, etc. Sure, there’s beauty culture, and marketing, and whatever. I’d even go so far as to say, I don’t think it’s my *fault* I do this – I’ve just absorbed the values of the culture around me. However, it is still my *responsibility* to fix it, in the sense that no one else will fix it for me. And, this doesn’t just apply to appearance. My whole value system, all the ways I reduce myself to achieve my cultivated definition of success, are my responsibility as well.

And, this woman provides hope. Not because she’s better – for all I know, she devoted her entire life to acquiring a head-necklace of shells which chains her to an identity that doesn’t fit – but that’s not the point. The hope in this picture, is that this woman is totally different from me in all the ways I think are important, but probably exactly like me in all the ways that are actually important. We look at her, she looks at us, and we all see *another option.*

Not everyone thinks skinny girls are beautiful, not everyone thinks white face markings are beautiful, and one day both these definitions of beauty will be forgotten anyway. For me, that’s where the hope really lies. One day, all the systems that trap you, that trap me, that trap her will disappear. These traps are only in our heads, and are no stronger than our own minds. What will arise once they have fallen?

Not Religion

I just came back from a week at Tassajara, a Zen Buddhist monastery, and when I was there I casually referred to Zen Buddhism as a “religion” a few times – to which, other people often responded “oh, I never really considered Zen a religion.”  Wikipedia refers to Buddhism as a “religion” within the first five words of the article, which at least points to the fact that most non-Buddhists probably consider Buddhism to be a religion. However, I suspect many Buddhists do not. I also suspect many Buddhists do not consider themselves Buddhists, which makes them a lot like bisexuals.

According to the Dharma talk I went to (given by Greg Fain,) if I’m remembering correctly, “Buddhism” is really a Western translation of something that reads more like “the Buddha way” in Chinese or Japanese. The “ism” is a Western concept, perhaps an indicator of the framework we’re using when we talk about belief systems. For whatever it’s worth, I don’t consider myself a Buddhist – I just go to the Zen center and meditate one two times a week.

How would a similar statement read, “I don’t consider myself a Christian, I just go to Church and pray two or three times a week?” Would you consider that person Christian? Do most of the people who go to Church on Sundays think of themselves as Christian? I think so. Do most Christians consider Christianity a religion? Again, I suspect that they do.

One of the big differences between Christianity and Buddhism is that Christianity seems to be defined by what you believe. If you don’t go to Church, but believe that Jesus Christ is your savior, then you still count as Christian. The Western Zen centers I’ve been to have tended to say something more like “why not just start meditating, and see what happens?” There has never been a request to believe any of their metaphysical ideology, or even a solid description of what that metaphysical ideology may be.

While we’re on the topic of fruitlessly categorizing religions, where would “science” fall? Some people call science a religion, but like Buddhists, I suspect many scientists do not consider science a religion. And, perhaps unlike most Buddhists, I think most scientists would be offended by the idea that science is a religion. And, although I’m all for offending scientists, I personally don’t believe science as correctly understood is really a religion, but science as implemented in our society is practically a religion.

If we change “believing in a metaphysical ideology” to be “believing in things a higher authority tells you to without calling on your personal experience” then science is a religion. Practically, for most people. Sure, some of my friends at MIT replicated some of the classical physics experiments – and I, myself, have personally seen the double slit experiment thus providing personal evidence for the wave/particle duality of light. Yet, most of the scientific things I believe, I believe without personally examining the evidence. I believe it because someone I consider reliable told me it was true.

And, in a way, that’s the way it has to be. Unless you have a big mirror, and can bogard two mountains to measure the speed of light for yourself, you’re going to have to take someone’s word for it.

However, the danger comes in dropping science into a culture that’s basically primed for Christianity. Christianity is still the most prominent religion in the west, and it definitely was – say – 200 years ago, and Christianity as implemented was essentially a perpetual appeal to higher power. I mean, maybe not *real* Christianity (I have no idea what the experience of Christianity is like for Christian nuns) but practical Christianity as exists in the world. People use it to prove themselves right, by appealing to a higher authority (God, if you get all the way to the top) the same way many people use science now. Not *real* scientists, of course, not the people who actually ran the experiments and are likely aware of the fallibility, and limitations in what they have discovered.

Consider, for example, the entire vaccine/anti-vaccine debate that’s happening as more parents choose not to vaccinate their kids. I don’t really care which side people come down on this debate because we’re all going to die anyway*, but the fascinating thing is that both sides are intent on *clothing* their arguments in the *appearance* of science, or appealing to scientific authority.

Check out this article on Jenny McCarthy on hollywoodlife. Actually, you probably shouldn’t, but checkout a few choice quotes:

despite all the medical research and recommendations by the World Health Organization

Even though she doesn’t have a medical degree or any medical training

Jenny clearly feels that she and other parents know better than doctors

There is an appeal to scientific/medical authority with no real attempt was made to actually disseminate information about vaccines. Conversely, on the other side of the argument “Studies Prove Without a Doubt That Unvaccinated Children are Healthier.” (Pro-tip, basically nothing can be proven “beyond doubt.”) This article digs up quotes from some scientific study done in the 90s to prove its points.

Thing is, scientific papers are sort of like the Bible – you can really dig up a section that supports your point of view on anything if you want. Yet, most people seem deeply disconnected from anything approaching actual science, which is, essentially, being open minded. Having an opinion, then hand selecting evidence to support it is not “science” even if it looks like it. You have to start with a hypothesis, do a fair test, and then check if your results supported your hypothesis. To be fair, it’s actually really hard to do science. Most scientists don’t even do it right. And, that’s ok – but, there is no authority. No one *knows* – there is no safe path, no way to do it “right.”

You are always open to being wrong, and no *one*, no *ideology* can save you from that. And, as long as that’s where our energy is focused, we’re always going to be wasting time to some degree.

That doesn’t mean science is useless – I am using a machine to type this right post now that owes its entire, complex creation to science. I’m just trying to point out that, as a culture, we tend use science and religion similarly, to either justify beliefs we already have, or to get someone else to tell us what to think.

In Greg’s Dharma talk, he said one of the things that a lot of people new to meditation want to know is what to think. What should I be doing with my brain, when I meditate? I think that’s a big part of our current Western cultural heritage – even though we have, to some degree, in some parts of society, dropped our “Christianity,” the type of structures it lends itself to still permeate throughout, and those structures permeate deep into our minds. When I go meditate, even though I have been an atheist or agnostic most of my life, and even though both my parents are atheist/agnostic, I cannot escape the deep structures of Christianity. Even to call it Christianity is itself likely wrong – Christianity is probably an expression of a pre-existing cultural tendency that is without name.

Don’t believe me? Check out this Last Psychiatrist article, he’s really smart, AND a psychiatrist, so maybe you can believe him instead.


*fwiw, if I had kids, I’d vaccinate them, and ideally send them to a school that mandated vaccines – but, I respect the right of people not to vaccinate. On isolated hippy communes. Far away from me.

Not Allowed in Gay Spaces

I was a member of a lesbian science fiction meet-up group, before they explicitly dis-allowed bisexual girls. I mean, I know I’m not a lesbian – but, both me and my girlfriend liked science fiction so I figured whatever, I’ll just join and we can go together. It’s not like we’re really going to be fitting in super well in science fiction clubs dominated by straight men.

But alas, a recent update to her description of the group:

the organizer is purposely and intentionally creating a lesbian space.  this is not a meet up for bisexual women.  if you identify as “queer” as a modernized way of saying “lesbian,” this group is for you.  it is my hope that women who identify as lesbian will join the group.  it is also my hope that those who are not lesbian will recognize this, be aware of and sensitive to the intent of this group, and not join the group.  in these hopes, my hope is also that i do not have to become the “lesbian” police.  i am looking to build a sci fi lesbian community.   thank you.

SF/Bay Area Lesbian Science Fiction Fans

So, this brings up a difficult point of being a bisexual woman in a gay relationship. When I’m out with my girlfriend, people see me as gay. For instance, when we went on our anniversary trip, and we checked in to our hotel room together, I felt a little weird. I told my girlfriend that sometimes I worry how people who aren’t from a big city are going to react to us. She told me she worried about the same thing (it’s worth noting, they were very nice to us at the hotel.) Sometimes men holler at us together, “make my night, let me watch you two” – stuff like that. Sometimes, I think people don’t give my relationship with my girlfriend as much respect as they’d give a straight relationship – say, by suggesting male partners when I have a girlfriend, or by not giving us as much space/privacy as they’d give a straight couple.

All of this boils down to, as a bisexual woman in a gay relationship, many of the things that are difficult about being a lesbian are difficult for me to0. Except, I don’t have a safe space to be with my girlfriend in. I do feel more comfortable being with my girlfriend in places where there are other gay couples. Yet, if I tell the lesbians around me that I am bisexual, many of them will not want me there. Even if it’s not stated, and even if the lesbians I’m with really would not care, I always feel like I’m “passing” – or, have stepped into a lavender closet, so to speak. On the other hand, straight people tend to really not care about my bisexuality, but being with my girlfriend in heavily straight spaces sometimes is awkward for me. Especially when men don’t read us as a couple, and hit on one of us (that really pisses my girlfriend off.)

So, where do we go? Probably the places I feel most comfortable, actually, are gay male places – like, walking around the Castro. They tend to read me as “gay”, but probably wouldn’t be upset to find out that I wasn’t. They also wouldn’t judge me for having sucked a little dick (lesbians are SUPER uptight about sucking dick.)

Anyway, in a way, I’m glad this organizer made her intentions explicit because it’s a lot easier to pin down. It’s hard to pin down the subtle ways I feel unsafe in gay spaces, the looks, the intonation, etc. But, I’m sad. I would have liked to go to a queer science fiction thing. Also, I have this larger fear I have that there is no space for me. The problem with being bisexual, is that you don’t date only other bisexuals. You date gay people, and you date straight people – and sometimes bisexuals/pansexuals/queer too. I think this actually the main reason it’s hard to create a bisexual community, is the diversity of sexual partners. So, when I’m excluded from lesbian places – from places where my girlfriend is welcome, from places that are safe spaces *for her* – it creates a divide between us. There aren’t really bisexual spaces, and there aren’t a ton of spaces for us to be safe together.

I’m not really sure what’s to be done. I messaged the organizer and tried to explain some of this to her, but I doubt it will really make a difference. I wrote about it in my blog (and, apparently  you read it – thanks!) but, I’m also not going to demand inclusion, and I’m not going to lie about my sexuality. That’s just not my style.

Nazis and Meditation

If you were beamed back into the body of a young, Aryan man in 1930s Germany, and you could send yourself one message, what would that message be? Also, for fun, it’s not allowed to be place/time specific. It has to be a message that you could apply anywhere, any time.

Because, for whatever it’s worth, I think  you *should* apply this message to yourself – right here, right now. You think it was obvious to the Germans in 1930 they were starting down a path more fucked up than incest? Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’re not going to be on the oppressed side of the next holocaust. Well, maybe – can we ever really separate the oppressed from the oppressor? I suppose a bunch of dead Jews would say “yes,” but I still think it’s complicated.

Anyway, what was your message?

I struggled with this question for a while. Sure, there’s “don’t kill anyone,” but is murder really the only way we can oppress people? (Also, how does this square with my tax dollars funding drones? I may actually be fucking this one up, but I’m not even sure what steps I could take to stop paying taxes. Go to prison, maybe? Sorry Afghani babies, I’d rather you die than go to prison. Now we’ve established that, we can probably establish that if I were in the SS and knew I’d get shot for not killing Jews, I’d probably kill some Jews. But wait, back to Afghanistan, even if I *didn’t* pay my taxes, the government would still fund a similar number of drones – my money deficit would just come out of the education budget. I’m safe! Except, if I was in the SS and didn’t shoot the Jew in front of me, Hans would probably step in and do it for me. So, would I lose my life just so *I* wouldn’t be the one to kill that jewish child? She’s still going to die – why waste my life on a meaningless gesture? Oh my god, it’s so hard not to kill anyone.)

Anyway, I digress. I abandoned the “don’t kill anyone” option as too easy, despite the fact that I have not actually been able to achieve it, and tried to get a more generally applicable answer. To that end, I read Rudolph Höss’ autobiography trying to figure out what he did wrong, more generally than killing one million people.

The main answer I came away with was he ignored his inner feelings. Apparently, people asked him if he ever felt any remorse watching all those families walk into the gas chambers. He said of course he did, but he had to do his duty. He had to be hard, to steal himself against emotional weakness.

In fact, it was reading that book that convinced me that emotional expression was *not* a weakness. Since then any versions of the phrase “suck it up” have become abhorrent to me – borderline immoral. To ignore your inner sense, to do things you don’t like doing because other people think it’s a good idea, is usually a horrible idea.

Unfortunately, I’m also a programmer. I often don’t even *know* what my inner sense is telling, let alone have the strength to follow something as insubstantial as my feelings when pitted against societal institutions. Meditation has helped me somewhat – when my insides go quiet, I can more easily see what is underneath. But, it’s hard.

Doing the right thing is scary, often insane seeming. Even when I’m just disagreeing with someone, I often feel like a lunatic. For instance, all the liberal/conservative back and forth never addresses what I see as the underlying problem: one side never allows the other side enough dignity to change their opinion while saving face, so we can never achieve a reasonable answer. All opinions get more and more entrenched with continued arguing. Consequently, every single “YOU ARE SO WRONG” article someone posts on Facebook nearly always acts *against* its cause. But, I don’t even know how to *say* this without causing whoever I am talking to to double down into their established beliefs. So I usually say nothing, but I keep wondering – am I crazy? Are they? Why would *everyone* do this if it didn’t work? Do people care more about being right than actually convincing others of their point of view?

But, you know, the Holocaust. It happened.

Everyone is crazy. How can you not be? Only you know the answer to that.

Privilege and Dating White Women

Privilege has become something of an obsession of mine for the past few weeks, because there’s something so wrong about it, but something right too.

One of my old friends is a trans woman, called the “privilege master” by one of my cis white male friends. This is because, over the course of her life, people have looked at her and seen everything from a half-white “cis” “straight” “man”, to a lesbian Latina trans woman. Her opinion has varied over the years, from something that was effectively “Shut the fuck up, white boy!” to an acknowledgement that accusations of privilege could be used as a type of mental laziness, an unwillingness to fully consider the point of view of someone unlike you.

However, she has always maintained she could only date a white woman who was fully willing to acknowledge her privilege. But, one night, as we were re-having this discussion, I retorted “If you’re a person of color who only dates white people, you’re not allowed to bitch at me about my privilege,” to which she responded “maybe” – and, acknowledged that some people of color do choose to date mainly white people.

So, on the one hand, my statement was wrong – but, there was a kernel of truth locked in there. There has always been an uncomfortable question for me – what do I do when I’m dating someone who admits their preference for dating white girls? MANY of the people I’ve dated have explicitly told me this, with varying degrees of crudeness. If it’s a white dude telling me this, I tend to assume they’re a little bit of a bigot, but (honestly) I’ll date slightly bigoted people. When it’s a not-white person though I don’t know what to think.

The stated reasons are usually varied, but often boil down to “I don’t think people of my own race will like me.” For instance, I once dated a 5’2″ Asian man who claimed “Asian women want to date tall men.” Maybe that was true, and maybe that was only true in his head, but I had a fair amount of sympathy for his reason. Even if it wasn’t quite right, I could also see a similar reason “It’s less painful to try to date white women, who may reject me for being Asian, than it is to try to date Asian women, who may reject me for being short,” being his motivation. Regardless, to him, there was nothing *wrong* with Asian women except their taste.

Still, not every person of color with a preference for white women has quite so solid an alibi, and it gnaws at me.

So, to make an obvious point – I have no idea how many people of color have a preference for dating white women, but a disproportionately large percentage of the people *I* date have a preference for white women because I am a white woman. People who like black men don’t come within 100 feet of me, unless it’s to ask for a sip of my mojito or something. Anyway, I can’t place this in a larger cultural context very easily – but, I know these types of discussions have come up before.

Like in Why Don’t You Date White Girls? and Butch and Femme Through a White Lens (I’ve been reading a lot of Black Girl Dangerous lately.)

There are a few choice quotes here:

Over the course of the last few years, I have learned a lot about the institutionalized desirability of white women and the misrepresentation of black women as unsuitable romantic partners.

It was only as my stepfather explained how I qualified as a suitor to white women that it became clear that he was speaking to me as he would another black man. Indeed, I thought, this must be how many black men speak to their sons. Fathers, brothers, and male community members often espouse the idea that a white woman is a black man’s trophy for excellence. 

“White women are docile and loyal and they’ll take care of you…” he went on.

– Erika N. Turner, Why Don’t You Date White Girls?


Being feminine, aside from how triggering it is to feel forced to perform femininity as a MOC person, was hard – really hard – because femininity is viewed as intrinsic to valid womanhood; it is white and a reflection of female inferiority. I wasn’t a slim, straight, able bodied white girl and that overwhelming sense of inferiority is something I remember and resent when faced with anti-femme sentiment from white, MOC queers.

More poignantly, I watch Black butches and bois size up how white they can romantically and sexually aim for, how out of their league of Blackness they can strive. Because, like Frantz Fanon’s Black cishets, Black queers also want to feel worthy of white love.

– Arianne Diaz-Cebreiro, Butch and Femme Through a White Lens

So, as a supposed “trophy,” this is where I start to feel stifled on the discussion of privilege. On the one hand, I can’t deny I have regularly benefitted from being read as white, and having a white name, etc. On the other hand, these attitudes aren’t just coming from white people, and these attitudes don’t always help me.

I’ll acknowledge my privilege, but I also need space to discuss my experience of being a white woman – my experience of being objectified by *everyone*. Many people are interested in dating me, not because they care about who I am, but they are interested in what dating me says *about them*. Euro-centric beauty standards may have devastating effects on black people – adults and children. I don’t deny that, and, I don’t want to compare my experience in any way or say it’s “worse.” But, euro-centric beauty standards are bad for me too. Once, one of my romantic partners told me “you’re not the type of girl I usually go for,” (when referring to my physical appearance) and I took it as a compliment. I thought to myself, “wow, if he doesn’t like me for how I look, he must like something else about me.” That’s not an experience I usually get.

Most people who date me don’t really love me. They often aren’t even attracted to me physically. They’re just using my body the same way they’d use a fancy car, or a well tailored suit.

In fact, the experience of being a trophy is so painful I have reconciled myself to a life of being single if it comes to it. I’d rather be alone, but be seen as a person – the way my friends see me as a person – than I would live with someone who is using me as only an addition to their own identity.

Often, when we use the word “privilege” we use it to silence someone. Sometimes rightly so – if you are white, you should probably not talk about the experiences of people of color. What you *should* talk about, and what there’s not a lot of discussion on out there, is the experience of *being white*. The fact that we see the white experience as default, as so obvious it’s something not even worth discussing, is a sign of racial oppression. The white experience is *not* the default experience of living in our culture, and to talk about what it’s like to be *white* is less racist than not talking about it. Because, when we don’t talk about it, we assume everyone already knows it. However, everyone does not know it because not everyone is white.

To fully see race, we’re going to have to see all sides of it. The oppression of black women is intimately connected to the objectification of white women. The experiences of Latino immigrants must be contrasted with the experiences of European immigrants and Asian immigrants to fully see what racism is there. The problem isn’t that white people talk about being white, it’s that they don’t identify how crucial their whiteness is to their experience of everyday life.