Campus Reform | Ahead of Valentine's Day, UMass promotes prof's warning of 'digital-sexual racism'

Ahead of Valentine's Day, UMass promotes prof's warning of 'digital-sexual racism'

According to one group of professors, the rise of online dating has resulted in the rise of “digital-sexual racism.”

They argue that although “explicit” racial prejudices among White people are on the decline, they still “harbor implicit biases” that lead them to date within their own groups.

According to one group of professors, the rise of online dating has also led to the rise of “digital-sexual racism.”

University of Massachusetts-Amherst Professor of Sociology and Senior Associate Dean of Research and Faculty Development Jennifer Lundquist, alongside North Carolina State University Assistant Professor of Sociology Celeste Curington and University of Texas-Austin Associate Professor of Sociology Ken-Hou Lin — wrote a book called The Dating Divide: Race and Desire in the Era of Online Romance

The work draws from behavioral data derived from online dating sites to detail “digital-sexual racism” — a new “form of racism that is mediated and amplified through the impersonal and anonymous context of online dating.”

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“The internet is often heralded as an equalizer, a seemingly level playing field, but the digital world also acts as an extension of and platform for the insidious prejudices and divisive impulses that affect social politics in the ‘real’ world,” the book’s description on the University of California Press website states.  

UMass Amherst’s official website promoted the book, explaining the authors' view that dating sites promote racism by allowing users to filter by “personal preference.” Because White daters tend to favor their own race in dating, non-White users internalize and reproduce “techno-sexual racism.”

An excerpt from the book explains that “while new technology promises their users greater personal freedom, we argue that the promise is laden with racism and sexism that generate systemic exclusion and alienation.” The authors further assert that “the neoliberal language of individual choice is part and parcel of current digital technologies that have become so deeply ingrained in our lives that they amplify, reinforce, and rationalize oppressive social relations.”

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The excerpt mentions that although “explicit” racial prejudices among White people are on the decline, White people still “harbor implicit biases” that cause them to "favor Whites over other groups." 

“Our research suggests that, as online dating technologies increasingly replace local, in-person markets of romantic interaction, daters will use these private tools free from social sanction to even more efficiently apartheidize their dating experiences,” the researchers said, according to UMass-Amherst.

A 2010 study by the Population Reference Bureau, which aims to "inform people around the world about population, health, and the environment," revealed that although young Americans almost universally accept interracial marriages, they tend to prefer partners within their own racial groups.

Campus Reform contacted the professors for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft