Monday, July 3, 2017

Why a Preference is NEVER "Just a Preference"

Every day on social media we see people casually throw around the term preference, but is it really ever just a preference. Whether it's skin tone, socioeconomic status, weight, or height amongst other things, these preferences are usually deeply intertwined with social constructs, and certain privilege (*please note* I'm not saying people are affected by these equally). Is a preference truly ever just a preference?

Before answering that question with my rationale let me say a few things about preferences. I don't think everyone means harm with their "preferences", but there are prejudices deeply ingrained into societies that can make preferences problematic. That is probably a reason why even though people have preferences, it makes them feel uneasy hearing the opposite gender talk about their preferences in partners. Also remember that preferences are influenced heavily by social constructs, and as such they can be affected by nationality, location, and even your own smaller town/community.

So back to my question, of whether a preference is every truly just a preference. As you've already probably surmised my answer is in most situations IT IS NOT. But you didn't come here for the answer, you've came for the reasoning behind the answer and I will try to elicit my thoughts as best as possible. Let's look at skin tone first. It's a no-brainer that it's never just a preference with this. I won't spend much time here because it's a topic that I could spend hours on and still not properly do it justice. Also, most reasonable thinkers are aware of the stigmas that follows different skin tones and the people that don't, won't be swayed by a few paragraphs from me. Colorism has a deep effect on women and men throughout the world. I once read an interesting article about how colorism affects women in the Mexican movie/television industry. Although majority of Mexicans can be classified as mestizo's (mix-raced, an overwhelming majority in Mexican society), novelas usually star white Mexicans despite them being an overwhelming minority. There are tons of examples from all cultures that are similar to that one. So please understand how your "lighter-tone" preference even if it's not malicious in intent is a sensitive issue.

I completely understand the presence a taller man has in a room, which is at the least partially attributed to the confidence he has by being born tall (Look up tall privilege for men & women, it's some interesting research). Short men are not just complaining and being sore losers because you make joke tweets everyday about how men below a certain height threshold "aren't really men". Several studies have shown that shorter men tend to be poorer, advance less in their careers, are seen almost universally as less attractive, and are also seen as less masculine and powerful. And that is just scratching the surface. There are men with socially induced psychological issues based on their lack of height. Some will say "it's just a preference", but like most of them there is a deeper malicious untold story behind it. That's why the "are short men really even men?" narrative, bothers people.

Weight is another one that seems straightforward. Part of the reason people like slim people is because they have been conditioned to see bigger people as less humane ("greedy pigs") and inferior. There can also be slight variances to this and other preferences too. For instance in the black community being "too slim" has been attached with inferiority. I'm not going to go one by one through every single preference and point out how many experience discrimination based on them. By now you should have gotten the gist of my rationale, and that is that there is a bit of prejudice in every preference. There's no reason why it would be preferred unless it was clearly seen as better than the opposite. Of course some preferences contain more prejudice than others, but that's not to say that even the lesser ones can't be hurtful.

Now am I telling people not to have preferences? I am not at all, and if that's your conclusion of my work then you have misinterpreted my message. I understand that people like what they like. Preferences actually make dating less confusing as you're significantly and purposely shrinking your dating pool, avoiding the hassle of actually having to give everyone a chance. I just want people to be more aware of why preferences can be a sensitive issue especially when they involve marginalized groups. Don't be that pretentious person that feels the need to constantly describe your perfect partner. Instead just go out there and date what you like and be happy. Everyone will feel better for it.

This is the sound I hear when I hear preferences

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