• Fri, Dec 17 2010

What’s So Offensive About This Interracial Dating Book?

Okay, everything.

Look, I’m in favor of interracial dating. I felt like Sidney Poitier and Katherine Hepburn had dealt with with the subject really effectively in 1967. If you haven’t seen Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (a better title of which would be Guess the Ethnicity of Your Potential Son-In-Law, Who is Coming to Dinner) this is the message: bigotry is bad, Sidney Poitier is the most noble man in the world, people should be free to love who they love, Spencer Tracy is sorry he was a curmudgeon and would really like some dinner. Judge people on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. And that was that.

But that was before J.C. Davies came along with her guidebook on interracial dating entitled I Got The Fever. Now interracial dating makes me cringe. I guess it’s partly because the book poses questions to the reader like:

•  Do Asian men like their women submissive?
•  Are Jewish men really cheap?
•  Are all Indian men well versed in the Kama Sutra?
•  Do Latin lovers live up to their reputation?
•  Do Black men actually have big, er, uh, equipment?
To which I think we can reply: lady, are you fucking kidding me?
Like J.C., I have dated many, many men. Here is what I have discovered: some are good in bed. Some are bad in bed. Some were eastern studies majors and do indeed know the Kama Sutra, and it is over-rated. Some are cheap. Some are generous. Some are nice. Most are nice. Some are terrible.
As far as I can tell, none of these attributes had a thing to do with their race. They had to do with human beings possessing different traits. Because we’re all special little snowflakes. Those aren’t race issues. Those are individual traits, J.C.

I suppose this is upsetting because this doesn’t seem like the kind of well-educated, interracial dating we do in what we like to pretend is a post-racial America. Instead it feels like a white Southern lady on a 19th century plantation who wants to make it with a field hand because she thinks he’s hung, and the inbreeding has made her mentally deficient. It feels exploitive and racist and wrong. The young men of varying colors perched around J.C. like cabana boys as she sits there in Herve Leger really don’t help.

And I suppose it also doesn’t help that J.C. Davies is a woman who managed stocks on Wall Street. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Good for her! I don’t even care that she wrote a book despite saying that she finds authors “snooty, snooty snoot” in her author bio page (though the mind reels. It REELS.) And I think there is probably an interesting memoir out that about someone’s own interracial experiences – someone who is not JC. Likewise there is probably a smart nuanced approach you could take to a book on the topic of interracial dating. But not when you put up articles entitled “What Is Wrong With I-Talians?”

And she especially does nothing to detract from that image with interviews like the ones recounted at Jezebel:

Probably the best part was when Davies started to talk about the difference between blacks and “people that are part of the general American culture,” and Martin interrupted her. “You mean white. You mean white — is what you meant.”

“Yeah,” replied Davies blithely. “White people.”

I feel like J.C. Davies is a woman who refers to her male companion as a “beautiful black buck.” I stole that line from Designing Women. Rather than telling you to read the book so you can be horrified, I’m just going to leave you a clip to that scene. I feel like it’s best to let Julia Sugarbaker handle things whenever possible.

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