People love to ask me if I think X is sexist.
Generally, if you have to ask, if not outright sexist, it’s probably inadvisable, tasteless, or easily misinterpreted. Sometimes something–an item, promotion, label, campaign–isn’t sexist when taken on its own, but contributes (often by accident) to reinforcing stereotypes or perpetuating inequality.
“Is ‘wingman’ a sexist term?”
Thus began this week’s trip down the Urban Dictionary wormhole that finished in my essay for Role/Reboot about the cult of the wingman, the origin of the term, and whether we can salvage it from the pick-up artist misogynists.
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Inspired partially by an encounter with a cologne-model looking dude at a train station and the most recent episode of Shameless (in which Lip hooks up with a very sexy woman much larger than him), I wrote this week for Role/Reboot about what happens when “guys like that” like “girls like me.”
I’ve written about this before (as did everybody else) after the infamous Girls episode with Patrick Wilson.
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This week for Role/Reboot I wrote about the always controversial subject of racial preferences while dating. It started because a friend (who is Asian) asked if I thought it was racist to not want to date other Asians. So began a long and fascinating conversation about trying to avoid people with similar neuroses, whether those neuroses stem from being Asian, whether “Asian” is too broad a bloc to eliminate (what about South Asians? What about fifth-generation Asians? What about adopted Asians? Will they all have the same neuroses we’re trying to avoid? Probably not…)
My perspective is that you can’t make assumptions about values, beliefs, experiences, or even appearance on race. Consequently, if you say ” I don’t date ______,” the thing you’re objecting to is the census category itself (which is pretty arbitrary…) That, to my mind, is racist. Here are my thoughts in a little more detail:
The feedback has already been really fascinating, and there is at least one major question I didn’t address in the original piece: what about when people of a minority or marginalized group prefer to date within their group for the purposes of solidarity and preservation of culture and traditions?
I left this out intentionally because I don’t really feel qualified to answer it, having never identified as part of a marginalized group (except for ladies, which is a moot point here). I don’t have a culture or set of traditions that it is important for me to preserve such that my dating choices would be affected. “Whiteness” is not a culture. Jewish and black friends (at least, these are the only two groups that have spoken up), both argued for an asterisk on my argument that recognized that, in the case of marginalized groups, there might be value in trying to preserve a culture or strengthen a community that might otherwise peter out if not sufficiently maintained.
What do you guys think?
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Today’s Role/Reboot post comes to you inspired by the following Facebook exchange:
I realized after I posted this that it might not be a gendered issue, but I don’t date women, so I really have no idea. There are probably lady-monologuers out there, too. That said, I do think there’s something about the economics of dating (especially online dating) wherein men are encouraged to try to impress, and women are encouraged to sit back and be impressed. The thing is, I’m mostly impressed by curiosity, which gets lost if you’re too busy telling a twenty minute story about CrossFit.
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Do feelings make sex better? Yes.*
*Yes, for me. How the hell do I know what makes sex good for you?
*Yes, but which feelings?
*Yes, but it’s a matter of degrees.
*No? Oh my bad, friend, sorry for making assumptions.
With the help of Facebook contributors and all you lovelies who emailed me with essays about your sexual hang-ups (thanks for that!) I wrote about the venn diagram of good sex and feelings this week at Role/Reboot. Sorry-not-sorry Mom and Dad!
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