Over at Everyday Sociology, Janis Inniss posted about interracial relationships and she offered a graph showing 30 years of marriages of white men to black women and black men to white women. Describing it, she writes:
Looking at the graph below, you will see that the black female/white male pairings of today are about what they were 30 years ago for black male/white female dyads. (The blue line represents black husband/white wife). In other words, today, white men and black women marry at about the same rate that black men and white men married about three decades ago.
So, why would there be a difference in the marriages between white men/black women and black men/white women? I suspect that this has to do with the intersection of gender and race. Consider: according to American cultural stereotypes, black people, both men and women, are more masculine than white people. Black men are seen as, somehow, more masculine than white men: they are, stereotypically, more aggressive, more violent, larger, more sexual, and more athletic. Black women, too, as seen as more masculine than white women: they are louder, bossier, more opinionated and, like men, more sexual and more athletic.
If men are supposed to be sexy by virtue of their masculinity and women sexy by virtue of their femininity, then black men and white women will be seen as the more sexually attractive than white men and black women. So, while white men may not find black women particularly attractive, white women may very well find black men attractive. In this is so, we might see the patterns that Inniss demonstrates with her table.
These concrete statistics, as well as the cultural stereotypes that position black women as undesirable, help explain why interracial dating is politicized by many in the black community. It is not trivial that black men can date outside of their race and black women are less able to do so. It means that many black women have less opportunity to form long-term relationships.
SAM — January 22, 2009
I don't think you want to leave out that second, implicit, "stereotypically" when describing black women on teh internets.
Sabriel — January 22, 2009
This is very interesting! I think your explanation is probably the one that makes the most sense.
Although I feel the need to point out: as awesome as it would be if there had been 50,000 interracial gay marriages in 1980, I sadly doubt it. You might want to change this typo: "in other words, today, white men and black women marry at about the same rate that black men and white men married about three decades ago."
Great post! Thanks.
OP Minded — January 22, 2009
I'd be interested in seeing if much of that growth is in the under-class.
It seems that thirty years ago, lower class urban, younger, whites would NEVER marry or couple outside their race, now you see many young black male/white female lower income couples....
Jonathan — January 22, 2009
You should also consider expectations of power within the relationship. The black community is largely matriarchal. Women have more social, domestic, and economic power relative to their white counterparts. Thus black women would typically expect more power and authority in a relationship than white men would expect to give. Conversely, white women would expect less power and authority than black men expect to give.
Beth — January 22, 2009
On the side of performance-theory, there is the Will Smith/Barak Obama/Denzel Washington version of black masculinity which is less macho than any performance available to white men. It may be that the women involved in those relationships are ones who are turned off by white performances of manhood and the black men involved are those who adopt nonthreatening performances of race.
Noumenon — January 23, 2009
It's very unusual, but you and Steve Sailer have reached the same conclusion. He expands the argument to Asian men and women, who exhibit the reverse pattern of masculinity from blacks.
His charts are also a little clearer than this one (they're labeled, for one thing). Basically, if you look at a marriage between a black person and a white person, 72% of the time the black person is the husband. If you have an "Asian" person and a white person, 72% of the time the Asian person is the wife. So it's Asian men and black women who lose out most with this system.
Jonathan — January 23, 2009
Noumenon, my conjecture holds in this case also. Asian sub-cultures in America tend to be more rigid and patriarchal than their white counter-parts. Thus an Asian male with a White woman would have less authority and power than they would expect. While conversely, Asian women would experience more authority and power than they would culturally expect.
Noumenon — January 24, 2009
Jonathan, I think I skimmed your answer because it wasn't what I already believed... thanks for calling me out. Whenever I see something that seems to make sense from a "black men are more masculine" perspective, I'll try to look at it from a "black men feel they have to offer more to a woman" perspective and see if it works.
Rose — January 24, 2009
And from there on it's on down the FAIL-slope. Conjecture without proof.
I might as well say the sky is blue because it's definition is a stereotype. That is no account of any measurement of what that means to anyone but the person making the statement.
Do you see how sociologically irresponsible that is?
My theory is much simpler and it doesn't expose my closeted racism.
Women have some measure oppression. Therefore the gulf between white women and black men is smaller.
As for white men and black women, they are on total opposite ends of the spectrum, where oppression is concerned.
Throw in the spectre of mass-rape and slavery and it's a no-brainer.
As for those masculine qualities you attribute to black woman, I'm still waiting for you define that, so you can dig yourself an even bigger hole.
greybird — January 24, 2009
Helmsmen — January 24, 2009
So masculine, stereotypically or otherwise, black women were routinely sexually assaulted and abused during slavery...Evidenced by our varying hued black (and white) population today.
Sally Hemmings, who was 14 by the way, when middle-aged Jefferson first turned his attentions to her, was one of many during the era.
Witchsistah — January 24, 2009
Rose, I'm with you. For all our supposed masculinity and I guess overall rhino-hided she-beastliness, BW were still routinely sexually exploited by BOTH Black and White men and are still the targets of sexual exploitation and violence. You'd think our allegedly scientifically proven, objectively judged hideousness would protect us from these assorted outrages.
Oh, and his analysis doesn't go into why WM don't gravitate towards BW who do NOT exhibit said "masculine" traits ("they are louder, bossier, more opinionated and, like men, more sexual and more athletic."). Or is he saying that ALL BW are this way. Oh and I like how we're more sexual (basically justifying the sexual abuse and exploition we've suffered and continue to suffer--also the handy excuse many a slaveholder used to justify THEIR sexual exploitation of BW). On the other hand, I hear people complain that BW are too sexually conservative which is why we can't attract non-BM. And then there's the "all BW are fat" which totally belies the idea that we're "more athletic." Really folks need to pick their share of racist-misogynistic stereotypes and stick with them!
Racist mobs assault people of colour on Invasion Day as public debates about the date « She who stumbles — January 27, 2009
[...] For some reason, Carrie-Bradshaw-wannabe Sam Brett decided this would be a great time to blog (badly) about how research at Columbia University revealed that women prefer to “date within their race” while men apparently don’t care about the race of the women they date. Not that professional sociologists are any better at reading, understanding research, writing, or an... [...]
sarah — April 19, 2009
i disagree totally
just because your black dose not mean you are more masculine stereotypically,aggressive, violent, larger, sexual, athletic. louder,bossier thats just some peoples OPINION ...but i know pleny of white people who are aggressive ,loud ,masculine ect. but you should really consider finding more FACTS on this subject before you go around miss leading people .black women have JUST AS GOOD a chance as anyother woman .i know so many white girls who cant form a relationship and black woman who are searching for the right one to from one with ...
but COLOR HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RELATIONSHIPS AND WHY THEY CAN NOT FORM OR WHAT EVER THE CASE MAY BE BUT IT HAS A GREAT DEAL TO DO WITH THE PERSONALITY OF THE PERSON ...ITS 2009 PEOPLE WE LIVE IN AMERICA THE LAND OF THE FREE WHY IS THIS A ISSUE STILL ???.... THINK ABOUT IT HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF YOU WERE LOOK DOWN UPON JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE WHITE AND SOME ONE SAID WHIE WOMAN HAVE LESS CHANCE TO FORM A RELATIONSHIP ......
Sociological Images » Marketing Asian Women To Anti-Feminist Men — July 25, 2009
[...] this blog, but we haven’t talked much about how race is gendered and gender racialized. In a previous post, I wrote: According to American cultural stereotypes, black people, both men and women, are more [...]
Black, white, Asian, masculine, feminine « The Toothbrush Debates — July 25, 2009
[...] white men than vice versa and Asian men are less likely to marry white women than vice versa (see here and [...]
jenny — July 28, 2009
This is the most racist article I've ever read, I don't even know where to begin. They don't even mention latinos in the article, where do they fit in to this ignorance?lol
Jtech — July 29, 2009
What this article fails to mention is that Black and Whites are not the only two races in America.
Maybe Black women are dating/marrying out just as much as men. Its just that they are not marrying white men.
Race, Response, and Dating Websites » Sociological Images — October 27, 2009
[...] makes sense give the way in which race is gendered. For more, see our posts on asymmetry in interracial marriage and how Asian women are marketed to white men. 4 Comments Tags: marriage/family, [...]
Ben — January 15, 2010
I feel like you are misinterpreting the information with your theory. In the article, I think a more accurate theory of the facts was presented.
"one explanation may be that men—regardless of their own race—have been exposed to a similar beauty standard. And that beauty standard is white. Tall, thin, straight- haired white women is the image most of are bombarded with as being beautiful. All men seeking that image would be seeking white women. (This is not to suggest that these relationships remain at a superficial level.)"
Think makes more sense to me than trying to generalize masculinity and femininity to genders and races, because honestly it doesn't hold up very well, i.e/ everyone is different and the correlation isn't as strong.
Hypothesizing Uneven Rates of Married Households » Sociological Images — February 20, 2010
[...] may play a factor too, since interracial marriage is still uncommon and asymmetrical when it does occur. Some counties have more disproportionate ratios of males and females, which may also shape [...]
Deathbunny — May 28, 2010
Did you know that--according to a study done in 2008--marriages between white men and black women are 44% less likely to get divorced over a 10 year period compared to marriages between white men and white women?
It's probably a small N in the study, but--for one or several reasons--once black women and white men hook up it seems to take better. I wonder if there's an age component to it though.
"But Will It Last?": Marital Instability Among Interracial and Same-Race Couples by Jenifer L. Bratter & Rosalind B. King in
Family Relations, Volume 57 Issue 2, Pages 160 - 171
sociological blog posts to check out | misadventures in paradise — December 29, 2010
[...] “Hipster” and the Authenticity of Taste * the intersection of race and gender: trends in interracial dating and in Diesel ads * two facets of World War II we don’t see as frequently — black U.S. [...]
Trends in mixed-race marriage « Neon Gumbo — May 12, 2011
[...] likely reflect the way in which we gender race and racialize gender. I’ve written about this in a previous post: Consider: according to American cultural stereotypes, black people, both men and women, are more [...]
Vincent — June 5, 2013
We seems to focus a little too much on black/white couples, nobody ever argues about white and asian couples. White and Asian couples have the gender issues which is the polar opposites in regards to the subject. I heard almost three-fourth of whites married to Asians the husband is white and the wife is Asians, which the gender gap is even more acute, the main causers are Chinese and Vietnamese womens in California where they are more likely to marry white guys, similar to Japanese womens. For black and white the gender gap for black man and white women is still around 70-71%, still 250:100 ratio, a little bit less severe than white and asian pairing systems.