Sometimes the way people express their sexual preferences can become discriminatory — even racist.
On Tuesday, The Daily Show's Jessica Williams and Ronny Chieng looked at the issue, focusing on some of the stereotypes that Asian men and black women in general face in the fields of dating and sex.
The term for this: sexual racism. Zach Stafford, who writes for the Guardian, explained, "When someone says something like, 'I don't date black people,' talking about all black people, that would be referred to as sexual racism."
Christian Rudder, co-founder of OKCupid, looked at data on online dating — who people messaged, who they matched with, who they responded to, and so on — and found a few patterns. "There is kind of a systemic racial bias pretty much in every dating site I've ever looked at," he said. "We found that 82 percent of non-black men have some bias against black women. … And Asian men get the fewest messages and the worst ratings of any group of guys."
But it's not just the data. Williams and Chieng reached out to black women and Asian men to hear their testimonials on online dating. They said they constantly dealt with stereotypes. One black woman said, "One of the first Tinder messages I ever got was, 'Did you know that 90 percent of black women have herpes?'" An Asian man said, "So I went to this one white girl's profile. And on her profile it said, 'No Chinese guys, because Chinese guys have small dicks.'"
This is judging someone through a truly superficial perspective — one that solely looks at a person's skin color. This wouldn't be acceptable in any other aspect of society, but it's widespread in the dating world.
So what's behind this sexual racism? Stafford said, "The media tells us what we think is beautiful. When you live in a world that only shows white people being happy and in love and successful, even as people of color you're going to want that, and that's kind of what fuels your dating desires and sexual racism."
These kinds of biases, then, are one reason that diversity in TV shows and movies is so important: If decades of seeing predominantly white people succeed in media has warped people's views, then perhaps giving people a more diverse exposure could turn those views around.