Interracial Dating-Does It Turn You On?

Alternative Dating Interracial Dating Interracial Dating-Does It Turn You On?

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      Interracial dating and intermarriage have increased in the last century due to greater human mobility and multi-culturalism. It should be remembered that personal preferences and the presence or absence of prejudice are irrelevant to people who are born and die in the same town or city, which was often the case before the invention of the automobile and the jet plane. Before the 20th century, except for soldiers and traders, most people rarely interacted with foreigners.

      Even the term “interracial dating” is subject to interpretation. Often people take it to mean marriage between Caucasians, Asians, and African Americans. However, most people have strong historic, national, and linguistic identities as well, which may cause more interpersonal differences than just ethnological definitions of race. For instance, most Caucasians would not view a union between Korean and Japanese nationals as a “mixed marriage”; however, many Koreans and Japanese would heartily disagree.

      According to USA Today, in America 6% of marriages are interracial; in 1970, it was less than 1%. A Gallup Poll on interracial dating in June 2005 reported that 95% of 18- to 29-year-olds approve of African Americans and Caucasians dating. About 60% of that age group said they have dated someone of a different race.

      This level of tolerance did not always exist. Anti-miscegenation laws used to be quite common in America. They were first passed in the 1600s to prevent freed African American slaves from marrying Caucasians.

      More such laws were passed in the 1700s and 1800s as a response to an influx of Chinese and Filipino laborers, exclusively male. In this case, anti-miscegenation laws were part of a larger anti-Asian movement that eventually led to the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 and other restrictive regulations. These laws exacerbated ethnic tensions because Asian men were no longer allowed to bring their wives to America. Those who wanted to marry had no other choice but to find a non-Asian partner.

      After World War II, racial barriers began to lessen as U.S. servicemen who had fought and were stationed overseas in Asian countries returned with Asian “war brides” of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and Vietnamese origin.

      It was only in 1967, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that miscegenation laws were unconstitutional (Loving v. Virginia). At that time, 38 states still had formal laws on their books to forbid the marriage of Caucasians and non- Caucasians. In this era, these laws still had widespread public support: just two years earlier, a 1965 Gallup poll found that 72 per cent of Southern Caucasians and 42 per cent of Northern Caucasians still wanted to ban interracial marriage.

      Especially in the Southern states, there was widespread public fear specifically over predatory African American men lusting after Caucasian women, and Caucasian women being unable to resist their charms. African American men who merely looked at Caucasian women were in danger of being lynched. In one famous case, a 14 year-old African American boy named Emmett Till, who whistled at a Caucasian woman, was murdered by Mississippi Klansmen in 1955. There was no similar level of high-pitched racist hysteria about African American women or Asians.

      Studies consistently show that Asians have the highest rates of intermarriage, and that Japanese are the most likely to have a Caucasian spouse. Those who are most likely to marry within their own ethnic group are Vietnamese men and women, Korean husbands, and Asian Indian wives. Most Asians who marry a non-Asian have a Caucasian spouse; intermarriage with African Americans and Latinos is less common. However, even among Asians, most people still marry someone of their own racial group. 22 percent of Asian-American women have a non-Asian husband. A mere nine percent of Asian husbands have non-Asian wives.

      The 2000 Census showed a gender disparity in the composition of interracial couples. The Census Bureau confirmed many African American women’s complaints that Caucasian women tend to marry African American men more often than Caucasian men marry African American women. Currently, six percent of African American husbands are in an interracial marriage, compared to only two percent of African American wives. Fourteen percent of African American men who are cohabiting without marriage have a Caucasian woman living with them, while only three percent of cohabiting African American women live with a Caucasian man.

      African American men had Caucasian wives 2.65 times more often than African American women had Caucasian husbands. In other words, in 73 percent of African American- Caucasian marriages, the husband was African American. This trend is even more pronounced among African American- Caucasian couples who cohabit without being married; in this case, five times as many African American men live with Caucasian women as Caucasian men live with African American women.

      18 percent of Asian wives have white husbands, while merely seven percent of Asian husbands have Caucasian wives. The sex ratios of Asian/ Caucasian couples are the mirror image of African American/ Caucasian marriages. Asian women had Caucasian husbands 3.08 times more often than Asian men had Caucasian wives. In other words, slightly more than 75 percent of Caucasian -Asian couples featured a Caucasian husband and Asian wife. However, unlike the situation with African American/ Caucasian couples, the gender imbalance is slightly less with cohabiting couples; only 2.09 times as many Caucasian men cohabited with Asian women as Asian men cohabited with Caucasian women.

      African American-Asian marriages, such as the one that produced golf legend Tiger Woods, are still rare, but here the gender imbalance is even more pronounced than interracial pairings involving Caucasians. 86 percent of African American-Asian couples consisted of an African American husband and an Asian wife. This means that there were 6.15 times more couples where the husband was African American and the wife was Asian than where the husband was Asian and the wife African American.

      Non-Hispanic Caucasians marry other Caucasians 96.5 percent of the time, with little difference between men and women in the rates of intermarriage.

      Slightly less than 18 percent of Hispanic wives are wed to non-Hispanics husbands, and a little over 15 percent of Hispanic husbands have non-Hispanic wives.

      This gender discrepancy has grown larger over time; in 1960, Caucasian husbands were found in 50% of African American/ Caucasian marriages, and in 62% of Asian/ Caucasian marriages. The social result of this imbalance is a lack of marital opportunities for African American women and Asian men.

      It is tempting to blame media-driven social stereotypes for the large gender discrepancy in African American and Asian intermarriage. African American men are prominent in sports have frequently been depicted in films as icons of virility. Americans engage in hero-worship of sports figures, and despite the average low income of African American males, elite African American athletes are rich and famous.

      African American women are rarely cast in highly sexualized film roles. However, African American women are prominent in sports, and are often on stage as glamorous singers and dancers. In addition, African American men have high incarceration rates, earn lower incomes and are less likely to get post-secondary education than African American women. For practical reasons, one would expect African American women to be viewed on average as more desirable mates than African American men.

      However, according to a 2005 study done at Columbia University by Aaron Gullickson, African Americans with college degrees are 35% more likely to enter interracial marriages than African Americans with less education, and lower-class African Americans showed “strong isolation from the interracial marriage market”. Caucasians who marry African American engage in cherry-picking, removing only the most successful individuals from a disadvantaged minority community sorely in need of successful role models. The Columbia study showed no correlation between educational level and interracial marriage for Caucasian spouses of African American.

      The image of Asians may be more clear-cut and consistent; Asian women are presented as quiet, delicate, and exotic. Asian men, except for martial-arts films, are portrayed as “nerdy”, unathletic intellectuals. In fact, Asians (both men and women) are slightly smaller than the national average size. Asians have been called a “model minority”, for they tend to be well-educated, hard-working and law-abiding. However, judging from the low rate of intermarriage for Asian men, these old-fashioned personal virtues are less appealing to women than a hypermasculine, macho image.

      In the search for a mate, people say they are high-minded and look for beauty within, and that their mates’ personalities are the most crucial factor in determining the outcome of a relationship. Yet it is abundantly clear that people are quite superficial and still adhere to age-old sex stereotypes: women find muscular, aggressive males attractive, while males idealize the image of non-threatening, demure, petite women. In the public’s mind, if not in reality, African American men and Asian women fit these social roles and are therefore most fashionable as dates and spouses.

      2005 Census data was derived from counts of all 54,493,232 married couples in America as of April 1, 2000. Due to the large population surveyed, these statistics are extremely reliable. Census enumeration is made once every 10 years. The Census Bureau also releases annual Current Population Survey reports on “Families and Living Arrangements,” but these are based on sample sizes too small to be entirely trustworthy.


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