It's a Saturday night, variations of Latin rhythms reverberate through the air. As I wander off from a group of sweaty dancing male bodies to look for my friend, the birthday girl, half-consciously there after one too many tequila shots I walk over to the bar lined up of hoping to find her. Instead, I am met with the glazed over eyes of men, accompanied by their soft smirks as I pass by. Even in my state of slight intoxication, I realize I'm being checked out. Their eyes take in my presence and swallow me whole making me jolt out my state of euphoria and feel out of place. Though most stay still as they keep their gaze at me some decide to get closer. One hazy eyed man steps in front of me and slurs the words "you're so hot" nonchalantly. I can't help to internally laugh at the not-so-smooth compliment uttered with the help of liquid courage. Then it dawns at me, all night long I've haven’t felt this comfortable at a party, enough to not be afraid to interact with everyone. And it seemed like others were comfortable around me, especially men. I didn’t keep track of how many men hit on me, I just knew it was more than usual. The biggest factor that contributed to this experience is race. It was a room full of POC, especially Latinxs who are also Bolivian, like me. Being in a room full of POC is always a culture shock when I come back from William & Mary. An old liberal arts college that is sprinkled with POC like me, here and there. This ratio doesn’t change when I go to parties unless I go to a party held by POC for POC. Walking into the houses of frat parties that are not exclusively white but might as well be, I felt a certain uneasiness. A feeling of not belonging. The same male gaze will follow me and my friends as we walked in but this time these eyes belonged to White men. They will look at me with no particular emotion on their face, no smile, or even the slightest smirk, just a stare of inquisition of “who are you?” But this night I didn’t do anything different than what I would do if I was attending a William & Mary party. Yet the response was different. I began to question how my desirability is perceived as a Latina woman.
Now maybe once upon a time the lack of attention from White males may have affected me when I was young and naive but it doesn’t faze me anymore. Yet, this is still an important topic to investigate. There hasn’t been much research on this and even then, the results are questionable. A man’s attention isn’t important to me but rather the why.
According to OKCupid the least desired people in online dating site is Black women and Asian men. On the other hand, the most desired are Asian women and White men (no surprise). There has been a lot of buzz around those who are disadvantaged especially from Black women who are outspoken about the issues they face with online dating. What makes Black women’s result astonishing is how much their perceived desirability lowers because of their race for almost all men except for Black. In 2014 Asian men’s desirability of Black women was the most negative, a stunning -20% while it only had 1% advantage when it came for Black men. Then there are Latino men who viewed Black women -18% less desirable and following closely White men who viewed Black women -17% less desirable. Meanwhile Asian women faired the best, with their desirability increasing 15% for Asian men, 2% for Black men, 4% by Latino men, and 9% by White men. Not far behind are White women who's desirability increased for Asian men, however were seen negatively desirable by Black men by -6%. Latino men viewed White women as 4% more desirable and lastly White men desired White women 6% more desirable, coming second to Asian women.
Though the results are eye opening how sexual racism is pervasive in online dating it’s data on Latinxs that is questionable. How do you quantify Latinxs when we are not a race but an ethnic group? And if we were to consider Latinxs a race this study and other similarly automatically erases the visibility of already marginalized groups of the Latinx community. Latinxs come in all colors, sizes, hair types, etc. We are the product of years of interracial mixing as the result of colonialism. There are Afro-Latinxs, Asian-Latinxs, Indigenous Latinxs, and lastly White Latinxs. Would an Afro-Latina who reads “Black” be considered that, just Black? Racially she is Black but ethnically she is also Latina. Yes, she can put that she is Latina on her profile, but if the viewer isn't used to seeing a Afro-Latina, most likely he will just her as Black. Therefore, how can OKcupid reliably quantify Latinxs?
This concerns me because there have been other studies that put Latina women also second in ranking as most desirable. Though in the study we are treated as whole collective, we don’t look the same. Will an Afro-Latina fall under as second most desired as a Latina or the least desired as the result of her afro descent? These results seem to contradict themselves, leaving Latinxs confused by the results.
What concerns me the most is how there really isn’t any evidence for me to go off from, how I am perceived as an indigenous Latina. It seems like there wasn’t any room my dark skin, prominent cheek bones and slightly slanted eyes to be quantified. There was no data for how Native Americans/Indigenous people faired. So, what am I according OkCupid?
Though there is no data specifically on the diverse Latinx community I don’t need a study to know that most likely it's the White passing Latina who would fair best in desirability. Embedded in Latin culture through generations is colorism, allowing whiteness to reigned supreme in desiarbility for Latinxs. As a result this puts me on the less desirable end. Then how desirable am I to a non-Latinxs? I'm probably not his first choice.
I may not be attractive as a White or Asian women to a White man, but I won’t spend my time worrying about it. I rather spend my time shedding light to the truth, why it happens. It’s only then maybe people will realize they are sexually racist.