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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:11 PM
Original message
Personal Preferences and the Concept of Progressiveness
Is it socially acceptable to write: "Looking for a woman, preferably East Asian", but socially unacceptable to write: "Looking for a woman, preferably not African-American"?

Is it socially acceptable to write: "Looking for a man. Must be an agnostic or atheist", but socially unacceptable to write: "Looking for a man. Must not be a Muslim"?

Is it socially acceptable to exclude lots of people based on race or religion, but socially unacceptable to exclude fewer people based on race or religion?

Aren't we making progress when people are moving from excluding lots of potential dates based on religion or race to excluding fewer potential dates based on religion or race?

Please obey the usual DU message board rules on this thread. In addition, I request that one additional rule be obeyed:

If you make a claim and provide some kind of argument to support your claim, then respond to specific questions about your reasoning.
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_testify_ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. Well then
Great questions :)

I personally see nothing offensive about any of these statements. As a matter of semantics, the 'acceptable' phrases are couched in sort of a passive inclusiveness ('this is what I like') while the 'unacceptable' phrases are actively excluding ('this is what I don't like').

Couldn't someone's reasons to want to date a certain type of person be prejudiced? Could someone's reasons to not want to date a certain type of person be innocent?


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crispini Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:33 PM
Response to Original message
2. Hm, interesting.
I see no problem with people expressing preference for a certain race/religion... after all, you know what you like, right? And just because I say I "prefer" eggplant doesn't mean that I don't like green beans.

I also see no problem with people saying "must be" a certain religion. Religion is a key component of someone's personality, and if you are looking for a life partner, and you exclusively want to date in your religion, that's pretty acceptable to many people.

Saying that somebody "must be" a certain RACE, however, is starting to ring my "prejudice" bell. After all, if you "must be" race X... why? And saying that somebody "must NOT be" a certain race is starting to smack of prejudice even more. Both of these are starting to edge into the territory of statements like, "I don't date X/Y because most of them are (insert stereotype here)."
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nashville_brook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:38 PM
Response to Original message
3. whether or not something is "socially acceptable" isn't subject to the "rules" of reason
by definition, "socially acceptable" is a function of "agreement" -- as in, do people respond positively or negatively.

logic is the wrong tool for the job here.

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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 12:58 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. If logic is the wrong tool for the job, then is it okay for me to
congratulate you on making the right choice and posting a message that made no use of any kind of logic?

Seriously now, instead of trying to exclude reasoning entirely from this thread, we could just acknowledge that some notions of what is "socially acceptable" may contain elements of the bizarre.
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 01:55 PM
Response to Original message
5. What is socially acceptable?
"Looking for a woman, preferably East Asian" uses a less exclusionary term, namely "preferably". To my mind, this would mean others may be considered.

I've never used personal ads, nor do I read them that often to comment more.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 06:11 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Both "Looking for" requests in the following involve the word "preferably":
Is it socially acceptable to write: "Looking for a woman, preferably East Asian", but socially unacceptable to write: "Looking for a woman, preferably not African-American"?


So it's not clear why you wrote this:

Looking for a woman, preferably East Asian" uses a less exclusionary term, namely "preferably".


Do you have some reason for wishing to compare "Looking for a woman, preferably East Asian" to "Looking for a man. Must be an agnostic or atheist"?

I've never used personal ads, nor do I read them that often to comment more.

Are you suggesting that there are some special conventions for personal ads that make it impossible to understand what people really mean? Do you need to know a lot about dinner etiquette in the USA in 1967 and popular conversational topics in the USA in 1967 to comment on the movie "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061735 /
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. In my case, yes
I have led a very sheltered life, and don't understand dating conventions or the practice of personal ads.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-29-06 09:50 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Why not simply take the words at face value?
Do you have some reason to believe that there is some special code language that one needs to know?
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-30-06 01:20 PM
Response to Reply #8
13. Well, as I said in my original post
"prefer" seems to leave an opening for other choices, whereas "must" seems to close matters.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-30-06 11:15 AM
Response to Original message
9. The questions in the OP aren't meant to be rhetorical.
There may be room for lots of discussion here. Does anybody see some issues that are relevant and need to be articulated and considered?
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NorthernSpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-30-06 11:38 AM
Response to Original message
10. translated:
Edited on Sat Dec-30-06 12:04 PM by NorthernSpy
You said:
Looking for a woman, preferably East Asian


Translated, it means:
Girls, dodge this bullet at all costs.



You said:
Looking for a woman, preferably not African-American


Translated, it means:
Some of you aren't within range. The rest of you, duck.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-30-06 01:39 PM
Response to Reply #10
15. How do you translate?
Edited on Sat Dec-30-06 01:39 PM by Boojatta
Looking for a woman, preferably East Asian

Translated, it means:
Girls, dodge this bullet at all costs.


Are the following bullets that "girls" should dodge?

"Japanese man looking for a woman, preferably East Asian"
"Vietnamese man looking for a woman, preferably East Asian"
"East Asian man looking for a woman, preferably East Asian"
"Mixed-race (Caucasian, Black, American Indian, Asian) professional man looking for a woman, preferably East Asian"

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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-30-06 11:45 AM
Response to Original message
11. If you are going to advertise for a date,
then you should be as specific as possible, in my opinion.

Is it socially acceptable to advertise for a date? Sure, if that's what you feel called to do. If you are going to advertise for something, shouldn't you advertise for exactly what you want? Sure. Are racial and ethnic biases still strong enough to be part of the list of what people want, or don't want, in a partner? Yes.

I think it would be preferable to include what you really want. Then you are narrowing down your respondents to those who not only fit your criteria, but won't be repulsed by the bias that generated it to begin with. It helps people decide if they want to respond to your ad, too.

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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-30-06 12:33 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Thank you for participating in this thread.
Is it socially acceptable to advertise for a date?

Why do you raise that question?

I think it would be preferable to include what you really want.

I agree that people should specify what they actually want. However, if they think that a given specification would be socially unacceptable, then they might deliberately specify something that is not exactly what they want. As you wrote:

Then you are narrowing down your respondents to those who not only fit your criteria, but won't be repulsed by the bias that generated it to begin with.


Of course, people have some sense of what will repulse others and I suspect that many people, to avoid repulsing others, modify their wording in ways that affect not just style and connotations, but also the actual substantive meaning. Here lies a problem.

Tradition in many places around the world seems to favor dating and marriage between those of the same ethnicity and those of the same religion, or indeed, not just the same religion, but the same sect of the same religion. Tradition in many places also opposes all alternatives to this matching of ethnicities and religions/sects. How should people move beyond the tunnel vision of this kind of tradition? Should they create lists of acceptable ethnicities and religions? Inevitably, they will omit some of the less well-known ethnicities and religions. In that case are they guilty of ignoring some ethnicities and religions? Are they guilty of excluding those ethnicities and religions that are not explicitly included?
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-30-06 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. Is it socially acceptable?
I'm thinking that perhaps this part of the question needs some exploration, regardless of what follows it. Would we have to ask "socially acceptable to whom? Clearly, what is socially acceptable to one group/culture is not the same as another. Even when we begin to narrow the groups down to "like-minded people," there are going to be differences about what is socially acceptable. For example, here at DU there is an assumption of "like-mindedness" at least in opposition to the Bush administration, if nothing else. Still, there is plenty of dissent among the "like-minded."

So, raising the question of whether or not it is socially acceptable to advertise for a date simply takes your question back one level, but not all the way to the core of how "socially acceptable" is defined.

I'm thinking that, to some, advertising for a date is not socially acceptable; somehow "shameful" even if they participate in it. For others, it may be a practical way to address the need for a social life. Since the advent of the internet, of match.com, eharmony, etc., advertising for a date has probably moved further into the mainstream, beyond the "personals" in the local paper.

How should people move beyond the tunnel vision of this kind of tradition?

I expect that this is not a one-step process, but a long, slow evolution in the larger culture. It probably involves tolerance, then acceptance, then celebration of others' choices, of acceptance of one's own limitations even when we can see beyond them, of acceptance of where ever others may be in that evolutionary process. As far as U.S. culture goes, I'm thinking about the values of the general population. While not true for many, it seems that the majority of the U.S. values appearance over substance, every time. What someone looks like, how someone dresses, attracts more attention, conversation, and, ultimately, a larger following, than what someone thinks or says, or how they choose to live their life in relation to others. With this in mind, the U.S. is probably a long way away from the point where what a potential partner looks like is not considered before character.

Er...reading all of that, my apologies for not being able to untangle my thoughts more concisely!

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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-31-06 10:24 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. You use the words "if nothing else", but surely nobody on DU
Edited on Sun Dec-31-06 10:24 AM by Boojatta
considers GWB to be too centrist.

Clearly, what is socially acceptable to one group/culture is not the same as another. Even when we begin to narrow the groups down to "like-minded people," there are going to be differences about what is socially acceptable. For example, here at DU there is an assumption of "like-mindedness" at least in opposition to the Bush administration, if nothing else.


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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-31-06 01:40 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. I think that opposition to the bush administration
is perhaps the only truly unifying perspective on this board.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-31-06 10:36 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. Are you sure there's no DU consensus on what's socially acceptable?
I'm thinking that, to some, advertising for a date is not socially acceptable; somehow "shameful" even if they participate in it.

Well, perhaps there are some DUers who could be pushed around by someone who might loudly accuse them of doing something shameful. However, do you think that more than a tiny percentage of DUers would make the accusation against others?

Maybe we should make a distinction between those who rush into meeting in person and those who first do a fair amount of communicating with potential dates. What's the difference between saying "the first communication must take place in person" and saying "I participate in online dating and I have a rule against ever communicating with anyone who doesn't have a photo posted"? They both sound rather arbitrary and superficial.

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