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I Love You, Let's Meet » and speaking of skin

and speaking of skin

Online daters discriminate right out there in the open, making tribe with every blanket policy. In the “What I’m Looking For” part of the profile, the “height-weight-proportional,” the college-educated, the nonsmoking, the high earning, and every other clique are  self-sorting with their check marks.

When I started online dating, back in 2000, I figured everyone would check “Any” or “Doesn’t Matter,” next to the Race box, that that would be one area where people would not discriminate. I was wrong. I tried to imagine the guy scrolling slowly down the boxes, carefully deciding, “Yes to Pacific Islanders, but no Hispanics or African-Americans, hmm, should I let East Asians in?” You ask guys who do this WTF? and they mutter looking down that they’re sexually wired more visually and specifically than the ladies. Their lust is separate from politics, they insist. They shrug ironically (but not) that “I’m not racist; some of my best friends….”

I believe them. There’s a lot of blonde on billboards and TV and magazines programming them that way. Maybe it’s not their fault, but it’s still not very appealing. I told a cynical friend about my policy of not corresponding with men who’ve checked any racial preference. He snorted at me. “You, a white woman, won’t go out with a white man if he doesn’t want to go out with black women? That’s absurd! And don’t you know that all the smooth hipster guys on nerve — just check “Any” to look PC?”

I told him he might be right after I read A study by the Freakonomics guys Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Their analysis of dating site data indicates that people don’t spread far at all into the melting pot. They looked at the outgoing mailboxes of white e-daters who didn’t check a racial preference and found that the men sent 90 percent of their first-contact e-mails to white women, while the women contacted 97 percent white men.

I don’t know what to make of that 97 percent. For what it’s worth, I think my girlfriends and I have dated more interracially online than we did offline, my guy friends less so. Of those 90 percent of men in the study, I’m sure they’re not all necessarily timid, much less racist or — in the case of white men seeking only “Asian” — gender role Neanderthals or sexual tourists. But a fellow does flash the possibility with those check marks. And maybe the “Any Race” guys are trying to play PC womyn, but at least those guys know that’s impressive. To me anyway. “Those who tend to align with or at least not shrink from what people deride as PC” is one of my tribes. Gooble gobble, one of us.

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