Dating Racial Preferences
As a child, my Chinese mother warned me about dating Caucasian men. “White men always cheat”, she’d counsel. “Date a Chinese boy because they’ll stay loyal.”
Her advice was ironic since she’s married to a Caucasian man herself, but nevertheless, her assumption that her own race was better than others revealed a racial superiority complex.
But does preferring one race over another automatically make us racists?
Growing up, I was oblivious to what racial preferences meant. In school, I dated guys of all races and never found myself preferring a particular group.
It wasn’t until I lived in Europe where I was surrounded by Caucasian men did my love life take a hit. I realised I was being sidelined as a potential girlfriend because I looked ‘too Chinese’.
On having a ‘type’
When I posed this question to my Singaporean friends, many of them became defensive. They attributed their preference to a specific race as ‘having a type’ and argued there was no right or wrong to what a person found attractive.
At first, I saw no flaws in their logic. On Tinder, I often swiped right on Indians more than on Chinese and Malays.
However, I came to realise I didn’t necessarily prefer Indians per se; I was attracted to men with sharp noses and big eyes–traits Indian men often possessed.
Still, many describe romantic attraction as an unexplainable feeling. “I can’t help that I like girls with fair skin” is merely an excuse to justify dating only Chinese girls.
In our globalised world, our perception of physical attractiveness is largely influenced by media platforms. In films, billboards, and social media networks, we often see models and actors with Anglo-Saxon features to front beauty campaigns.
In turn, these beauty ideals subtly inform our racial and dating preferences.
Take for example, the iconic Sarong Party Girls (SPGs). They are known to exclusively date Caucasian men for their money and social status.
Yet, you’ll often hear discriminatory remarks such as “I want mixed babies because they’re cuter” and “I just don’t find Singaporean men attractive”, which show an underlying bias based on one’s beauty ideals.
Cultural preference versus racial preference
Certainly, it’s easier to connect with someone of a similar ethnicity and upbringing because of shared cultures and values.
But saying “I only like Chinese girls” or “I will never date Indian boys”, and not being able to provide more than a superficial reason, is thinly veiled racism.
By lumping an entire group of people together, you see them as stereotypes; not as the individuals they are.
By reconsidering how we view attraction, we admit how having racial preferences and ‘cherry picking’ what race to associate ourselves with is a form of racism.
If we want Singapore to truly become an open and inclusive society, it’s important to recognise and unlearn our beauty biases.