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Dating apps must prevent racial fetishism against Asian American women

By on April 4, 2022 0

The opinions expressed in the opinion columns are those of the author.

It’s been just over a year since Atlanta Spa 2021 shootings. It’s been just over a year since a white man excused his abusive behavior towards Asian American women as a way to eliminate his “temptations.” For just over a year, racial fetishism has seriously hurt the Asian American community.

Unlike other types of discrimination, racial discrimination fetishization capitalizes on the idea of ​​”positive bias” by positioning someone’s race as something to look out for. For example, I wondered if a Tinder match swiped right expecting me to display the stereotypical submission associated with Asian American women. Racial fetishism is deeply embedded in the American history we learn about, the expectations of society, and the warnings that Asian American women face. Due to its constant presence, it’s no surprise that it’s also at our fingertips when we browse dating apps and websites.

Dating apps can aggravate racial fetishism because they provide perpetrators with a platform to discriminate against. When apps are designed with preference options for ethnicity, even with good intentions, they create an environment to fuel race-based sexual and romantic discrimination. Not only do dating apps create an environment of racial fetishization, but the lack of consequences of dating apps themselves also gives perpetrators a green light to show more of their aggression and mentality in the violence of life. real.

Asian American women have continually encountered face fetishization in concrete and abstract ways. Racial fetishism is when they are expected to be a lotus flower, a submissive and docile sex object – but warned to be a lady dragon, an evil and menacing sex object. And it’s also when men tell them they are “so bad for Asian girls”. Racial fetishism impacts 21-55 year olds percent of Asian women in the United States who reported experiencing intimate physical and/or sexual violence, according to the Asia-Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. It goes back even further than today’s modern attitudes about sex and dating; in 1875, the US government limit Chinese women immigrate to the country due to racist fears of being prostitutes.

Even in my own research for this article, I came across various websites regarding: “Top 5 Asian Dating Sites”, “Filipino Cupid”, “Japan Cupid”, “Best Asian Dating Site”. While the rise of in line dating helps promote interracial and cross-cultural couples, it is also the backbone of most romantic racial discrimination.

The latter is immediately integrated into the composition of the application. Dating apps such as Hinge, OkCupid, and Coffee Meets Bagel all have race and ethnicity filters. For example, Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel describe ethnicity as a “dealbreaker” or “must-have” respectively. In response to criticism, both dating apps say their users benefit from ethnic filters to make it easier to find partners who share common experiences and cultural backgrounds.

However, to research reveals that racial filters do not help people of color in finding sex or romance. While racial filters can be useful for POC in the online dating world, they can also have the opposite effect of making it easier for people with racial fetishes to discriminate against their matches. This creates a confusing experience for the POC user who may feel both complete for the match but uncomfortable, for fear of fetishization.

The algorithms that apps are built on have the power to encourage fetishization. Due to the machine learning nature of apps, users who may not originally have a preference for racial encounters may have their matches artificially limited by an algorithm that chooses what a ” good” match in the past, closing the doors to future matches. So if someone’s Tinder conversation starter was “I want to try out my first Asian wife” after matching with one himself, Asian women can start populating his matches.

Here’s the problem: even if a comment or user like this reports racial discrimination, their profile may be filled with other Asian women because of these algorithms. For example, a Bumblebee The representative revealed that every report is reviewed as soon as possible and at a minimum the profile will be blocked and if necessary the user will be banned from using the app. But that doesn’t stop the perpetrating user from going to other apps or racially fetishizing people in real life.

While there is work to be done for the individual to confront their internalized racial biases that manifest as racial fetishism, dating apps and websites also have a responsibility to create an online space that promotes racial equity. Dating apps and websites should create an online space where algorithms don’t encourage racial fetishism by keeping matches as open as possible. Moreover, there shouldn’t even be a feature that considers racing a “decisive factor”.

Hearing about the 2021 Atlanta spa shooting for the first time was heartbreaking. However, recognizing that there are psychics in our daily lives who contribute to and encourage racial fetishism, I am sadly not surprised. Too often, authors have a platform to discriminate against. Without anyone or anything telling them otherwise, their continued discriminatory actions will shift from behind the screen to offline violence. While it is normal for racial minorities to want similar cultures to feel welcome and safe in their relationships, dating apps and websites need to realize the power they have to encourage and satisfy harmful biases and work to change that.

Lei Danielle Escobal is a second year majoring in American Studies and Sociology. She can be contacted at [email protected]


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