Dear Dan: I’m a man from a very liberal background. Recently, a girl I started dating — a girl from a similar background — mentioned that she has “a thing for black guys.” She also met my childhood best friend, a man of Korean descent, and commented to me that she found him handsome despite not typically being attracted to Asian guys. The position that I’ve always held is that we’re attracted to individuals, not types, and it’s wrong to have expectations of people based on race — especially when it comes to sexualizing/fetishizing people. I think we should date and have sex with whomever we want and not carry prejudiced expectations into our relationships. I am worried she sees black men as stereotypes of athleticism, confidence, and the other complicated constructions we’ve made about the black body, like black men having bigger dicks. I also worry that she might see me as less masculine and less well-endowed because of my race. I eventually asked her about these issues, and we had a tense conversation. I tried to ask if she had ever checked herself for possible prejudice where her sexual desires are concerned, and she shut the conversation down by accusing me of trying to control her. I reassured her that I wasn’t trying to control her, but it is possible I was projecting the insecurity her comments stirred into the conversation. I’m trying to balance two components: my own insecurity and the possibility that she’s holding a legitimately prejudiced opinion that makes me uncomfortable. Any advice?
—Seeking To Interrogate Newish Girlfriend’s Statements
Dear STINGS: It’s a big leap from “I have a thing for black guys” to “white guys aren’t masculine or well-endowed,” STINGS, and you made that leap on your own. So in addition to confronting your new girlfriend about her attitudes and assumptions… you might want to give some thought to your own?
That said, the things your girlfriend has said about Black and Asian men are legit problematic. When someone describes their attraction to a certain group, racial or otherwise, as “a thing,” that usually means they see members of that group as things — and in a society that dehumanizes Black people, white people can easily come to see Black people as objects.
As for her comment about your Korean friend: Prevailing beauty standards shape our ideas about attractiveness, and those standards are shaped by our rabidly racist culture. A person socialized to only recognize the beauty of men or women of European descent may not even consider — they may not even be able to perceive — the attractiveness of people who aren’t white. And then when someone of a different race does manage to make a blip on their sex radar, it comes as a surprise. But instead of reconsidering their ideas about attractiveness, a dumb fucking white person — even one from a liberal background — is likelier to say something stupid like “I don’t usually find Asian guys hot, but your Korean friend is attractive,” rather than rethinking their assumptions about their desires. Declaring one Asian guy an exception allows someone like your girlfriend to have her racist cake (“I don’t find Asian guys hot”) and eat it too (“But this Asian guy is hot”).
It’s a shame your girlfriend reacted defensively when you tried to bring all this up, STINGS, but sometimes people react defensively in the moment and then keep thinking about it. My advice: Keep bringing it up — but it would help if you owned your own shit during these conversations (and you have some shit of your own) rather than just self-righteously going after your girlfriend for her shit. I have to say, though, I disagree with you on one thing: People do have types, and there’s nothing wrong with having types. It’s a good idea to ask ourselves whether our “types” are actually ours and not just assigned to us by conventional standards of beauty (white, slim, young) or a thoughtless/fetishizing reaction to those standards (a desire to transgress with nonwhite, larger, or older folks).
Dear Dan: I’m a middle-aged African American man. I’m single, I dress well, I’m fit, I cycle to work, I eat healthy, etc. I live in a basement apartment on a narrow street in a large city. My only window faces the street. After showering, and pretty much whenever I’m home, I’m naked while walking around my apartment. A young white couple moved in across the street, and they have an unobstructed view into my apartment. At first I would notice the woman standing at the window looking my way as I toweled off. Then the male as well. And when I masturbate, which I sometimes do after a shower, I noticed them both making several passes by their windows to look. Later I noticed the male coming out late in the evening when the view into my apartment is at its optimum to watch me masturbate. He seems very interested. The woman will come outside and sit on the steps in the morning and look directly into my apartment at me while drinking her coffee. More than once she has run her hand up the inside of her thigh as she’s watching. Also I’ve noticed that their shades, which used to be closed most of the time, are always wide open with lights on so I can clearly see them in their apartment. I’m sure the woman knows that I want her — and the male seems to be exhibiting bi tendencies (something I’m not interested in at all). In your opinion, are these two a voyeur couple or a submissive cuckold couple? How should I approach to seduce? If she’s sitting on her steps, can I go over and say “Good morning” to break the ice? The other day, I left just as she was going out, and we walked past each other. I thought about saying something, but I don’t want to appear to be chasing her.
—Display Attracts Neighbors’ Glazed Looks Everyday
P.S. What do you make of the male’s behavior?
Dear DANGLE: I once dated a guy who was arrested in his own apartment at 10 in the morning for masturbating in front of an open window. Granted, he lived across the street from a school (a university, not a middle school), and that may have had something to do with it. But he was a white guy, DANGLE, and considering all the ways African American men are targeted by the police, I feel obligated to warn you — well, I feel obligated to warn you about something you already know: Cops are always looking for an excuse to arrest or harass a Black man, and your exhibitionism could attract the attentions not just of horny neighbors, but also the authorities.
That said, DANGLE, if everything is as you describe it — if this isn’t a case of dickful thinking on your part — it sounds like this couple is interested. “Interest” is a spectrum, of course, and they could find it interesting to live across the street from a hot, in-shape exhibitionist, and difficult to look away, without actually wanting to be fucked (her) or be cuckolded (him) by you. But if they’re staring into your apartment while you walk around naked and throwing open the curtains so you can stare into theirs, I’d say the ice has already been broken. So say hello the next time you run into them on the street. Keep that first convo light, neighborly, and nonsexual, and see where it leads. But if during that first convo they invite you over for a beer sometime… well, that’s a Yahtzee. But even then, don’t make any assumptions or sudden moves: Use your words, draw them out, make sure everyone is on the same page.
P.S. Maybe he’s bi. Maybe he’s a cuck. Maybe he’s the woman’s gay roommate. There’s only one way to find out what’s up with him: Say hello and get to know them.
On the Lovecast, it’s the one-minute-wonder show: savagelovecast.com.
Follow Dan on Twitter @fakedansavage