I went to another talk at UC Berkeley’s School of Law on November 29, 2012. The title of this talk was “The Erotic Life of Racism” with faculty connected to the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society (HIFIS). There were a lot of interesting points revealed at the intersection of sexual attraction and racist sex talk.
Professor Russell Robinson explained a study he conducted to find what preferences, racist behaviors, or stereotypes prevailed in gay male dating sites. It documented what I sensed in the gay community – that there’s a preference for white men, whether top or bottom; there’s an expectation that black men are tops while Asian men are bottoms. He tackled underlying implications of the findings. Here is what I came away with based on his talk. First was minimization; the assumption that sexual preference had no racist attachment. Second was declaration of sexual autonomy; the defense that it cannot fall under racist scrutiny, even if it appeared to be. Third was helplessness; that idea that preference could not be changed any more than homosexuality or eye color.
Professor Juana Maria Rodriguez discussed the flip side of this topic. She threw out ideas gleaned from other area experts such as: is it politically palatable to be sticky rice – to be Asian and only date Asians? Is it okay to be a submissive black woman with a white male partner? She challenged the notion that sex cannot be racialized and still maintain equality and consent. This was an effort to buck the notion of color blindness. In my own words, color blindness is just as out place as ignoring gender in a sexual encounter, or a preference for brown skin, dimples, or blue eyes. She posed the question of how “transatlantic violations” of or by our ancestors impact us today in bed. She challenged the idea that the ancestral experience that made us who and what we are is something to be shunned in bed.
One area I would like to know more about is the ethnic stereotypes in our culture among the white race. People often deny my Italian heritage because of my color, yet will grant it to me because of my passionate romance. What about the fetish for Slavic blonds, or Nordic ones for that matter? I can tell when non-whites relish in my fairness, think of me as only Danish and want to take me because they will feel that they have made it in life if I, a white man, am with them.
Some provocative questions I have to conclude with are these: What does it mean to deny yourself what you like only because it fits someone else’s stereotype? And a second one just as important, for your partner (whether the same race as you or not): Do I racialize you? And finally a third question for yourself: What kind of partner are you if you cannot give the other person the freedom to consent to whatever role is embraced behind closed doors?