This post is a follow up to the post Who we like: Introduction
Disclaimer: I have written these posts back to front, think of it as a teaser or a brain puzzle, I’m sure you will manage.
So recently (in the past few years) there has been a wider acceptance for people to have ‘different’ sexual orientations. Yes I am referring to people now being allowed to openly like who they like. Of course there are still some places and a lot of people who don’t agree with it .. but overall the trend seems to show an increasing acceptance. Just think how well accepted Same Love is by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert, that probably wouldn’t have even been aired 10 years ago.
Another current social issue is racism, the act of discriminating and judging a person based on the colour of their skin or their perceived race (my brief understanding, I don’t want to delve in on this particular aspect too much here).
In my last blog post (or next blog post depending on when you read this) we looked into what we are attracted to as individuals, how these attractions possibly arose and if they are somewhat ‘flexible’ or ‘fluid’. Following on from that I would like to introduce two very current social issues into the scene. Sexual orientation and race.
I am pretty much going to put into words some comparisons and thoughts that I have floating around my head, and I will bring in scientific research if/where applicable. I am not out to offend or hurt anyone, I am just creating an open discussion to facilitate and encourage active thinking about the two different aspects in this situation.
Are we okay with people having a preference:
So, sexual orientation. Most people are okay with the explanation that there is no ‘choice’ in the matter, that people like the gender they like, without any offence or negative feelings towards all the other genders (if we include gender as a spectrum rather than the older binary model). Which is totally fine.
But, when it comes to people perhaps having a racial preference, it is frowned upon. Which actually has me a bit taken aback … because I often get hope for the future of racism from how the world has become more accepting of different sexual orientations. Yet this difference almost forecasts a horrible deviation for racism from the more positive trajectory had it followed in the footsteps of the sexual orientation societal issue.
Are there reasons for the preference:
Some people might have encountered conversations with people about their sexual orientation and even tried to better understand their point of view asking questions such as “But why do you like that gender?”. To which there is not going to be one answer, every person will have different reasons for who they like or what attracts them, even one individual might not have a concrete answer to explain their preference, or they could have a billion little things. We really cannot have an answer as to why people like certain genders. Sometimes things just happen that way.
So my question then is why are we as a society so much less accepting of people who prefer a race.
Surely it isn’t any different from a sexual orientation? Perhaps we have overshot the intended target? We have removed much of the stigma associated with interracial couples, but we have gone further to say that there shouldn’t be a preference.
Perhaps we could argue that while race is just the colour of someones skin, a gender is something bigger, perhaps more defined. But it’s not, there are many genders that people identify with, and it’s not as if all women think alike, all men think alike etc. So what logically I narrow this down to, is visual and/or physical. If you have a preference for a gender, perhaps it is the actual body and it’s parts that you find attractive? But why would preference on that be deemed as okay when the person sitting next to you might find skin colour or perceived race to be attractive?
Prefer a gender, but prefer no race:
Another point I find interesting is that with sexual orientation we are expected to prefer one gender. This is evident in the stigma that is attached to a person identifying as someone that prefers multiple genders (binary or non-binary). Statistically of the people who don’t fit into the ‘normal’ heterosexual category, those that like one gender are more likely to ‘come out’, a gay person is 77% likely to come out, Lesbian 71%, but those that identify as bisexual are only 28% likely to come out. The stigma reaches even further with those who identify as being bisexual (or one of the other categories) receiving judgement from even within the LGBTQ community.
So while over in the sexual orientation playing field we are meant to prefer one gender or get judged. Over here in the race court, we are expected to have no preference, if you have even the slightest preference it is ‘wrong’. Which is very interesting when comparing these two large scale issues.
The below screenshots might give an insight as to what I am trying to get at. The race search brings up mostly negative links about why you are being racist, while the gender search mostly brings up questions about if it’s okay to like more than one gender but prefer one of them more than the others, not nearly the same ‘negative’ vibe.
The science of racial preference:
Heterosexual interracial dating:
There have been a few studies that use dating sights to see if certain races get more responses, and to see what race responds to what race the most. BuzzFeed has shown some information in a very interesting video (embedded below). What is interesting to see in this video is that there is a difference between races in how they respond, and that there is a difference in racial preference seen between races. But what surprised me more was that below the video people were commenting what race they prefer, what race they are dating currently and circumstances where they have been attracted to someone, but they haven’t been reciprocating in their attractions to them. But overall the atmosphere of the comment section is not negative at all, just people stating who they like. Which as most of you would be aware, is VERY odd for a YouTube video comments section. AND what makes it even more odd is that racism stigma that one would expect to be stuck to the issue is missing. I think though because it was a science experiment, it gives some sort of solid backing of an idea that people knew to be true internally but were never allowed to share externally due to the fragility of racism in today’s society.
Homosexual interracial dating:
Most studies that have looked into interracial dating and/or preference have focussed on that whole societal pre-determined ‘normal’ person … That is the studies were only on heterosexual people. But since times have been changing there have been studies that have picked up the slack and compared between sexual orientation categories: Females looking for males, females looking for females, males looking for females, and males looking for males. Across these categories they have looked at dating profiles to see if race gets mentioned and to see if race matters. The overall results actually show that people who identify as gay or lesbian are more interested in people of a different race. The least willing to date other races was the heterosexual women.
Do You Have A Racial Preference? -BuzzFeedYellow
So … to conclude:
We as a larger society:
- appreciate that people can prefer ONE gender over another
- do not appreciate people preferring one race over another
- accept people who can limit themselves to a gender, not those who can’t
- do not accept those who limit themselves to one race
Message from society: Soooo … pretty much like who you like, but don’t tell anyone in case you might accidentally offend someone?
Message from me: But actually, you are allowed to like who you like, if you feel comfortable with sharing that information with someone, do it and they should respect you for being able to share it.
If anyone treats you in an unfair way, is rude to you, or hurts you, remove yourself from the situation immediately and find someone who you know and trust who you can talk to and who can help you. If you can help it do not put yourself in circumstances that could hurt you or others.
I am sorry if I have offended anyone through the posting of this. Hit me up if you disagree with anything or want to discuss anything further.
I want to let you know that I do not condone racism the purpose of this post is just to shed light on the unspoken truth that humans have preferences that we often cannot explain, race included. We cannot punish people for something they didn’t decide. Perhaps if people thought of skin colour the way they think of height, as just a trait it would be easier to see. Taller people aren’t judged, or criticised for being that way, why should skin colour be any different.