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The Problem With Preferences

When being called out for superficiality, people cling to the term “preference.” In most cases, people use the term out of context; they use it to justify and perpetuate damaging behavior.

It’s not unusual to surf through hookup apps and encounter bios reading, “No fats, fems or Asians. It’s just my preference.” This is the reason Grindr changed its Community Guidelines — to “build a kinder community.”

With the launch of Kindr, users with discriminatory bios are suspended. People argued that Grindr is violating their freedom of speech; others argued that they can no longer openly discuss their preferences.

However, a preference is simply enjoying something more than something else. Some people may prefer the color red to the color blue. Some people prefer Spongebob Squarepants to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Some people prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla ice cream.

Preferring chocolate ice cream does not mean that someone will never enjoy a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Preferring Spongebob Squarepants to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles does not mean that someone will punch a hole through the television if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is on.

In this case, preferring a Caucasian muscle twink does not mean that someone could never be into someone who is overweight and Black. Preferring a guy who is masculine does not mean that someone could never be into someone who is feminine. Therefore, “no fats, no femmes” bios are simply discriminatory and unnecessary. Treating people like they are non-negotiables is, essentially, the cause of systematic bigotry.

Furthermore, people should ask themselves why their preferences are what they are. Why do you prefer white guys to Black guys? Why do you prefer thinner guys to heavier guys? Why do you prefer gay cis men to gay trans men?

It’s crucial to continually question our desires. If your answers to any of the above questions are “I’m simply not interested in (one of the mentioned groups),” you owe it to yourself to explore why that is. Could you not be attracted to Black guys because you think they’re ugly? Or are you a racist? Do you not like feminine men because you internalize anti-queerness? Or do you simply think they’re all gross? Asking these questions will help reveal whether your preference is truly a preference — or if you’re just a superficial sack of shit.

There’s a reason for our preferences. Finding out the “why” usually helps with indicating whether our preferences are truly preferences — or if they’re lazy excuses to exclude people who are not conventionally attractive.

This rule goes both ways. I encounter many profiles where white men discriminate against other white men. “No whites. BBC only!” What’s the problem with that?

Well, users like that don’t see Black men as Black men — they see them as big black penises. Sexual conquests. Opportunities to quench their offensive fetishes. The same applies to black guys that only seek out White or Asian men. That is not a preference — that is a fetish.

Today, I challenge everyone to look up the definition of a “preference.” It’s not what many believe it to be.

Image via Getty


Arkee E.

Arkee E. is a writer based in the Bronx.

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