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Huffington Post’s Latest Piece on Online Dating Highlights Society’s Sexism and Racism

Can we just burn down the internet?

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Every once in a while, another article comes out that proves that online dating, and the ideas surrounding it, are the worst. This time, it’s the Huffington Post’s “Most Of Us Are Trying To Date ‘Out Of Our League,’ New Study Suggests” which is about how everyone is “shooting their shot” so we can all feel the solidarity of “dating outside our league,” with information pulled from a study done on “large-scale” data on heterosexual users of an unnamed dating site.

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The study also showed that, based on which users received the most attention, women peak in desirability at age 18—with a few other factors held against them, as well. So there’s that. Cue the eye-roll.

The point of this article was to soothe the minds of singles with the idea that we’re all struggling together, and if you take a chance and message someone you think is incredibly attractive and way out of your league, it could work out! However, it just lays bare some ugly truths about the way heterosexual men view women they are trying to date.

Men are seen as peaking in desirability at age 50, and the higher their education/degree is, the more attractive they are. On the other hand, while an undergrad degree is acceptable, a woman in postgraduate work is seen as less desirable. Of course, there are some ugly and racist facts involved, as well: white men and Asian women are seen as most desirable, with Black women falling lower on that scale. The article does note that this is from a predominantly white app, which in itself is problematic.

There’s so many layers of grossness surrounding male expectations of women here that it’s hard to figure out where to begin to unpack them. The idea of a woman peaking in attractiveness at 18 is deeply predatory and frightening. It perpetuates the harmful idea of “barely legal” women being preyed upon by older men, as well as the fact that their only desirable factor is their youth, and that they’ll decrease in “value” the older they get. This is an incredibly toxic idea to pass on to young women, who need to be shown that their worth does not solely exist in their physical attractiveness and that they are not going to become somehow lesser as they age.

There’s also the grossness of the racism present in the study, which is also something that has been documented well over the past year in articles on NPR and in the Chicago Tribune. Of course, this is almost to be expected, since the relative anonymity of the internet allows for people to openly be racist and toxic with minimal consequences.

On certain apps, people will even put their racial preferences in their bios, which is just downright bigoted. This study just shows that societal biases and racism that are present offline are very much present online as well. For more reading on this, check out the articles “Swiping While Black” and “How Tinder Accidentally Exposed Society’s Inherent Racism.

The problem is is that articles, this one included, offer these disheartening statistics without giving any solution to the problem. We are well aware of the harmful ways in which women, especially women of color, are treated. What we need are useful ways to fight biases and change society for the better. Until then, it’ll just be a series of articles like this one that highlight the problem but offer no meaningful ways of change.

(via The Huffington Post, image: Getty Images)

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Kate Gardner
Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.

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