Online dating is challenging for all women, but black women in particular have a rough time. Negative stereotypes seem to inform how black women are approached — or whether they are approached at all. In an eye-opening article for Vice.com Toronto-based Eternity Martis breaks down the many troubling attitudes black women face on popular dating app Tinder.
1. The assumption that black women are freaky.
A few months ago, I received a message from Leon*, a tall, dark (by European standards), and handsome man in Toronto. When I opened it, I received my first ridiculous encounter of the day: “I love black women. They are fire in bed.”
Now, aside from the racist, generalized comment just made to me, I was irked that this fool swiped right on the assumption that I would swing from chandeliers and be sexing all night like I’m straight out of an Usher music video. What if I wasn’t fire in bed, but a slow burning flame that didn’t put out?…
Candace O., from Toronto, received the following messages from a white guy named Alex: “my weakness is black girls,” followed by, “don’t take this the wrong way but i’ve [sic] always wanted to see if it was true when they say that cute coloured girls are pretty talented with their lips haha ;)”
2. Black women as sexual conquest.
One of these women was Marissa, a University of Toronto student, who was browsing Tinder when she got a message from Nick*.
“I need my black belt,” was his opening line. Marissa thought it was quirky, a little bit random, but nonetheless an interesting introduction.
“Haha do you? I should probably start with learning how to fight first,” Marissa replied.
They were off to a beautiful Tinder start.
“No…” Max replied back. “A black belt is when you fuck a black chick.”…
Serenity Hart is a Toronto-born nude model who has lived in Serbia, Italy, France, and London, England. She receives tons of messages from white men (mostly from Toronto) on Tinder who describe the creepy things they would do to her. “Some of the comments on Tinder (all by white men) have been about wanting me to be their first black ‘experience,’ ” she said in an email.
Andrew, a white male, wrote the following to Hart: “i really want to have sex with u for my first black girl can u help me open me up sexually [sic].”
When she called him out, he got defensive: “It’s a joke relax not everyone takes this app seriously.”
3. Fetishizing of black women.
Sheba Birhanu has had just about enough of men on Tinder. She lives in London, Ontario, and has taken a long hiatus from the app because she just can’t even anymore. After this message from Lucas*, I don’t blame her: “When ya waan breed mi gyal[?]” he said randomly. “Wrong continent,” she replied.
Birhanu is also tired of being called cocoa-laden names. “I have never slept with a black girl before. I crave some dark chocolate,” Mark massaged her. She shut him down real quick.
“It tastes like oppression and exploitation,” she wrote back. “Idk [sic] kind of bitter but if that’s your thing…” That definitely was not the chocolatey goodness Mark was looking for.
4. White male ‘wannabe down’ trolls.
Mandy is also tired of the struggle. She told me that 95 percent of the racist and sexist messages she gets are from white guys. Some of them even try to impress her with their gangsta street cred, like Alif, who asked her if she’s from Etobicoke because “people that live in ghetto/rough neighborhoods intrigue me.”
She’s from Caledon.
Tim also tried to earn his black stripes by saying he has two Jamaican friends and is “crazy passionate about bbal. [sic]”
5. Being cast as the ‘angry black woman’ or unable to take a joke when concern is expressed.
Candace wants to put thirsty chocolate lovers in their place, but she doesn’t want to give them the satisfaction of her rage. “It’s frustrating,” she told me. “You don’t wanna sound like the angry black woman, you don’t wanna add to that stereotype.”
6. Views of black women that date back to slavery.
Camille Hernandez-Ramdwar is a sociologist at Ryerson University focusing on Caribbean studies and racism in Canada. She believes this kind of behavior derives from historical entitlement to black female bodies. “Why are white men perpetuating these aggressions on Tinder? Because they always have,” she said in an email.
“I[t] has been around since the days of colonialism and slavery. Perhaps a younger generation of women find this startling, but I certainly don’t. It goes to show how little has changed in the arena of white male supremacy and the white male ‘gaze.’ ”
So what is Martis’ conclusion?
Just stop, and try to understand that if you can’t handle the chocolate like a gentleman, then stop trying to swirl.
We are inclined to agree. It’s unreasonable to expect a white suitor to understand all the complexities of being a black woman in society today. But the expectation of respect and decency is never unreasonable.
Ladies, what are your thoughts? And what have your experiences been with online dating?