Soz, No Asians

I have noticed, as I’m sure practically everyone else has too, that on dating sites such as NZ Dating or Grindr, a lot of people state that they don’t want you to contact them if you’re a different race, or otherwise “undesirable”. “No Asians,” “No fatties,” “No fems,” the list goes on… On this front, Critic’s La Dida has beaten me to the post.

I’m going to deliberately take a slightly ambivalent approach, not only to avoid re-hashing what La Dida has written, but also because there’s a bit of complexity to the matter, and I’d like to try to spur people into thinking about the issue, rather than just passively reading my text.

There’s two fronts to this argument. The first is that deliberately excluding Asians because they’re Asian is, obviously, racism. (I’ll stick to racism at the moment, rather than dealing with fatphobia or ageism etc., for the sake of simplicity) As is excluding blacks, Maori or any other race. (For some reason, Asians seem to be the most discriminated against in this particular field).

The second front, is that you can’t very much help whom you’re attracted to. I’m attracted to men with facial hair, strong arms and a friendly disposition; I’m turned off by men more than a few years younger than me and guys who care more about maintaing back dimples than eating McDonalds. In this regard, race is another trait about a person that determines whether you’ll find them sexy or not — humans typically find most attractive those who are within their own tribe or race.

It is because of the second that the first has snuck in (or rather, why the first is so pernicious). But that second front isn’t set in stone.

We all have our tastes and preferences, but these bend and change depending on the culture we’re immersed in. I, for example, thought Hipsters were hot, until the sub-culture was ruined by Hipsters. Now I barely find it sexy at all. And the same is certainly true of ethnicity.

At the risk of delving into pop-evolutionary psychology, finding people of your own ethnic group sexually attractive and others not, makes sense from a survival perspective. But I think that it’s more of a “tribal” thing than a racial one. I believe that you find things within your own culture or subculture attractive, rather than ethnicity, and these things shift like the wind.

But on these sites, and especially on sex sites like Grindr, is it actually discrimination do preclude hookups from people due to their body shape, mannerisms or even ethnicity? When people are looking for sex, they’re looking for what they’re interested in, and what they’re interested in is not entirely a conscious thing, nor is it really anyone else’s business.

When you look up porn (don’t deny it) you look up whatever “genres” get you off. For some people, that means looking to specialist niches, for others it means broadly sweeping across the internet. Most of us have something specific, some trait or set of traits, that we innately consider sexy. Hooking up with people beyond the porn shoots is an extension of that. I happen to not do twinks, does that make me ageist?

But the problem with dating sites, is that you’re dealing with real people, not just porn personae (well… typically). Furthermore, our culture is increasingly being pushed onto these online media to meet people, be it for relationships or just sex. Our ability to challenge or warp our cultural preferences aren’t challenged if we can just block people that don’t fit into them before we’ve even given them a chance. Even today, our sexualities are still closeted — most of us struggle to pull without going to gay bars rather than mainstream ones, and public parks and toilets have given way to NZ Dating and Grindr. We’re still pushed into niche areas where we naturally form cliques.

This allows racism and bigotry to fester and grow.

We must be careful in our arguments. We must be careful in policing bigotry when it comes to people’s sex lives. We fought long and hard, and are still fighting, for the rights to own our sexualities — to be able to have (consensual) sex with whomever we will. Our sexual autonomy is sacred. If we are to fight bigotry in our communities, which I agree is something we must do, we must do it across the board, but not force ourselves into each other’s pants.

Yes, it is dehumanising to consistently see your traits listed as undesirable on everyone’s profiles, and we seriously need to shift our attitudes. But policing our sexuality is not the way to do it.

One thing I have to strongly disagree with in La Dida’s column is the line “The sad reality is that within the queer* community we often repeat the mistakes of our hetero cousins: Body and gender policing, ageism and racism to name a few.”

I’ve seen other things like this in his writings as well as in conversations I’ve had with him in person outside our nom de plumes. Heterosexuality is not the source of all the world’s ills. It’s not the source of sexism, ageism, racism or body policing.

I heard the same argument from a member of the once-noble International Socialists, except that capitalism was the source of all these ills. I take great umbrage at the diminishing of these problems by blaming them on our perceived enemies. That’s scapegoating, and it doesn’t recognise the actual sources of these problems that affect us all. By labelling racism and fatphobia as “hetero” things, and that we shouldn’t emulate them because they’re hetero things, denies our own hand in their perpetuation, and doesn’t actually look to the source.

We’re all humans. We’re all bound by, and fight against, human nature. It’s not the hetero’s fault, it’s all of our faults. And we have to own that if we’re going to have any honesty.

4 thoughts on “Soz, No Asians

  1. At the end of the argument, I said “Our sexual autonomy is sacred… and we seriously need to shift our attitudes. But policing our sexuality is not the way to do it.”

    A better thing for me to have written be something like:
    Our sexual autonomy is sacred, and so is our right to be free from discrimination. Policing bigotry within our sex lives is the intersection of those two things. We need to be careful, but we still need to be challenged.

  2. your article sounds like a horrible paper I took a few years back called “The Anthropology of Sex”. Women are atracted to men who can provide and men are attracted to women who look more fertile. It was incredibly outdated stuff and didn’t take into account any social factors for “our” preferences. Anyways, I get nightmares thinking about that paper.
    I also know this person you are talking about and have never once thought they’ve suggested all the worlds problems stem from heterosexuality. We’ve talked about how heterosexism, racism and sexism are often connected. You know, that thing called priviledge that some groups have *cough” white gay males. But I’ve never heard them say “all our problems come from evil heteros” (not that you wrote that but I feel it necessary to exagerate) . I feel you’ve misinterpreted the comment “The sad reality is that within the queer* community we often repeat the mistakes of our hetero cousins: Body and gender policing, ageism and racism to name a few.”
    Yes, they are mistakes of the hetero world. You only have to watch 5 mins of ads to get an idea of which groups are priviledged in our society. But the comment also imples, i mean, outright says, that we (the queer community) are also making these mistakes. What I believe the comment suggests, and this could be wrong cause girl, i aint no academic (and i don’t pretend to be) is that there are groups who have priviledge in hetero world and we too are heading down this road (or are already there).
    Now, I also have something to say about your survival tribal comment (seriously) but I need to put a tampon up my vagina (see what I did there, I grossed you out cause you’re a gay man who cant stand vaginas)

    • As I said in the second paragraph, I am deliberately taking an ambivalent approach with this post, so I guess it’s only fair that I get called out on it.

      I did take a risk dabbling in pop-evolutionary psychology, and I guess by labelling it as such, I had hoped people would read it as a nod to the existence of sexual selection, rather than an assumption that we deliberately seek out mates that will give us the strongest babies. Peacock’s tails and all that.

      I agree with La Dida’s column for all but the one line I pulled out at the end, and what I was originally intending to write was more along the lines of what he said. He got there first, so I went down the more complicated path.

      I do believe that he could have written the line “… we often repeat the mistakes of our hetero cousins” a lot better. Many others that I’ve talked to also interpreted it the way I did. I feel that it’s using an outdated model of privilege, where there’s a linear scale. I believe that the idea of the kyriarchy is more apt, hence why I said that racism and bigotry are human issues, rather being products of heterosexism, which is how I read his line. I invoked other conversations I’ve had with him personally to insinuate that I’m not just pulling that line out of context.

      I have nothing personally against the person behind La Dida, I consider him amongst my friends. It is the words that La Dida put to print, in a public forum, that I’m taking umbrage with.

    • Again, I’m sorry that it came off overtly negative, and that the end looked like a personal jab at the person behind La Dida. Since I chose to take an ambivalent approach, however, that’s a fair cop.

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