My Week As A White Woman On A Dating Site
The 2014 publication of Christian Rudder’s book, Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No One’s Looking (Crown), confirmed in hard facts what many heterosexual, single Black women already suspected about the online dating game: the odds are stacked, and not in our favor. On the OkTrends blog, Rudder reports, “82% of non-Black men on OkCupid show some bias against Black women.” Rudder goes on to say in his book that this means, “being Black basically costs you about three-quarters of a star [out of five] in your rating, even if you’re at the top.” Rudder’s findings certainly back the lackluster experience that I’ve endured on online dating sites, but even despite the cold hard data, I couldn’t help but wonder if other races of women really get more love. So what better way to find out than to become a woman of a different race online and experience it firsthand?
Meet Online Stephanie
I created Online Stephanie to see if the grass is greener on the other side of the racial divide. Stephanie is an unassuming looking, moderately attractive white woman with dark brown hair and a warm smile. Her personality and hobbies are exactly identical to mine: she listens to Beyoncé, practices yoga and is a self-described health enthusiast. She’s looking for the same type of guy as me: at least 5’9”, athletic build, college educated with no kids. Here’s how Stephanie fared in one week compared to me.
- Number of Profile Views
Stephanie got 27 views in one week. I got about 34 views per week.
- Low-Grade Interactions Received (e.g. winks, photo likes, and favorites)
Stephanie received more interactions than I did on a per week basis.
- High-Grade Interactions Received (email)
Stephanie received 5 emails in one week compared to my abysmal 1 email per week.
- Quality of Emails
Stephanie’s in-mail messages were generally crafted better. Men would actually take the time to write an entire personalized paragraph to introduce themselves, whereas a good portion of my in-mail was incoherent gibberish like: “How you are beautiful eyes and your beauty beloved charming you the most beautiful angel.” Say what?
- Quality of Suggested Matches
Stephanie got more slightly better looking matches than I did. She also never ran into an issue where a match’s profile specifically excluded her race from the ethnicity preferences, in comparison to me where I’d often see Bllack women specifically excluded from ethnicity preferences.
When comparing both online dating experiences, the most curious thing that came out of it for me was that even though my number of per week profile views beat out Stephanie’s, this did not translate into more interactions. It seems like men are happy to look at a Black woman but won’t initiate flirting. On the flipside, men are spurred into action when presented with a non-Black face. We’ve all heard the urban legend that Black women are angry all the time and have attitudes so perhaps this is why men were hesitant to interact with me; but having said that, Eurocentric standards of beauty still dominate our culture so at the end of the day Stephanie’s higher conversion rate might be attributed to perceived “attractiveness” rather than “approachableness.”
Regardless of what the men were or were not doing, I have to say that the best thing about being Stephanie was feeling like there were no limitations on the races of men she could date. Stephanie never had to check if men were into white woman, they always were. Being white took away that extra hassle of having to carefully scrutinize a guy’s profile to gauge just how racist he might be. I guess this is what we call white privilege, right?
As a whole, Stephanie’s online dating experience felt better than mine, but only marginally so. At the end of it all, of the men who had initiated some form of interaction, there wasn’t a single guy whom I would have picked for a date. Stephanie would have ended up watching Netflix alone on a Friday night, just like me. So yes, even though there is a pervasive discount applied against Black women online, maybe the result of it doesn’t matter all that much in real terms. Online dating sucks… for everyone.