I guess when talking about race, a disclaimer is needed: I'm white, so my insights are going to be limited by my own experiences. I hope I don't bungle a discussion of race too badly-- but I feel like as long as we have the intent of an honest and respectful discussion, talking about race is probably a positive thing, even if it isn't possible for one person to see it from all angles. And another disclaimer: I'll be talking about data that no doubt has many sampling errors...something I know asexuals dislike (and I'm only half-kidding).
That aside, what OkCupid's article showed was that white men were the most "in demand" (they get the most messages, but respond less often) and that while 7% of white users thought interracial marriage was "a bad idea", 45% of white people in general-- and 54% of white women-- said they would strongly prefer to date someone of their own race. And white people were the group who were most disapproving of interracial marriage. Until reading this, I would have assumed that one compelling reason to marry someone of your own race might be to share a cultural background. However, I'm guessing that most randomly selected white people would share no cultural background whatsoever. One commenter on OkCupid had this to say:
As a nonwhite male, it doesn’t come as the slightest shock to me at all that white men get the most attention and respect from women of all nationalities and races. After all, the richest, most powerful nation in the world (and also the entertainment media capital of the world) is predominately white, and thus white males have become the symbol of strength, virtue, and status/celebrity all the world over.
And as your resident pop-culture interpreter I think there's some truth to that, although I don't think it's all that simple, either. For example, when people talk about the "Sexiest Men Alive", it's always white men that they're talking about, unless Denzel Washington is in the mix. Of course there are attractive people of every race. Maybe we notice this walking down the street, if we live in diverse areas. But the attractive people who are constantly in our face thanks to the media, and who we are told, again and again, are the most attractive people...they are almost always white people. We all know the media can affect how we see our own bodies, so how could it not affect the way we see others? Of course, again, not that simple, but still something to think about.
All that said, over the years, I've heard people say that they do, or don't, find various races of people attractive. I'm sure you've all heard the same thing. It seems like such a pervasive viewpoint that I wonder if the fact that I don't really understand it has to do with being asexual. What is it about me that puts me in the 46% of white women that would be willing to date someone of another race?
- Is it because as an asexual, my dating pool is already so minute that to segment it further by race would be insane? And subconsciously I know this?
- Does it have to do with my upbringing, the many places I've lived, or the friends I've had growing up?
- If I was attracted to more people, would I only then start to notice trends based on race?
- Is "who I'd be willing to date" a moot point anyway, considering that I've only ever been on two "real" dates?
- Is this discussion really about attraction (which to the best of my knowledge, seems to happen without rhyme or reason), or how people label it? What compels people to declare that they are (or are not) attracted to entire races? Is there a difference between noticing "Hey, I tend to only find Asian men attractive" and then checking only the "Asian" box when you're searching for people OkCupid?
The question thing...I went with it. But psych, I'm not done yet. So, do you guys think that asexuals are more likely to date outside their race, or to be willing to do so? How about white asexuals vs. asexuals of other races? And do we even know enough asexuals in romantic relationships to be able to answer the first question? I think I could say a lot more, but I'll hold off for now. I hope that nothing I said here offended anyone-- and do I get any awards, medals, etc. for being the first person on the internet to say that? Kidding...again, only sort of.
(PS-- As a mixed-race friend once told me, "No matter who I date, it's interracial dating". So there's another take on it...)