Friday, 18 January 2008

Is It Because I Is Ugly?

I met up with Ange again a couple of days ago. I told her I’m keeping a blog, but wouldn’t tell her what it was called. The reason I wouldn’t tell her what it was called was because I feel really shy about it. And I haven’t really got anywhere yet. It just feels a bit half-arsed. Plus, if I’m honest, I’m starting to really like Ange. More perhaps than is healthy for our burgeoning friendship. So I’m trying to keep some distance. Plus, I think I just feel a bit ashamed. I kind of hate blogs.

Now of course I'll be even less likely to tell her about it, not only because I've just confessed to fancying her (and by extension, pleasuring myself to thoughts of her), but also, because I'm just about to call her a racist. Repeatedly.

So. Wednesday night it was, she cooked me healthy food and we drank wine at her place. Which was very nice. During which, the conversation turned to sex again, as conversations often do. She couldn’t believe I’ve only slept with two people. I couldn’t believe she’d slept with over 50.

‘It must be worse to have slept with two than with none at all,’ she said, sensitively. ‘Because you know what you’re missing, don’t you?’

‘Hmm, yes. That’s very true,' I replied. 'Thanks for ramming that home.’

‘But how do you cope with the frustration?’ she wanted to know.

‘What makes you think I cope with it?’ I replied. Then: ‘I have a very active fantasy life. And I’m a highly skilled masturbator. And if my imagination is waning, I also happen to be a dab hand at the internet. There is no pornographic permutation I can’t search and squeeze one out to within a matter of minutes. Not that I’m comparing masturbation with sex of course… Well, I suppose I am, but only very unfavourably. Have you seen a film called Last Night?’ I asked. She hadn’t. Probably neither have you. It didn’t do a lot of business.

In a nutshell, it’s about the last night of human existence: everyone knows it’s coming and the film is about how they all prepare for it. One character makes a list of all the different types of people he’d like to have sex with before he dies. A black woman, a virgin, his high school French teacher, a man. And using various means, he attempts to complete his sexual to-do list before the world ends. I explained this to Ange and then explained that I’d done something similar, but with masturbation.

I should add at this point that I’m not proud of any of this. But it’s all part of what it is living a life unloved, and for the most part unlovable. I’m sure I can’t be alone in being alone to such an unpalatable extent. Can I? Oh, well. Even if I am, I beg you to bear with me. I am getting to the point very soon. Probably.

So, on the back of this conversation, Ange tells me that she would never sleep with a black man. Naturally, I call her a racist. She denies it. ‘I just don’t find them attractive,’ she says.

‘But that’s idiotic,’ I say. ‘It’s like saying, “I don’t find Taureans attractive” or “I don’t find lawyers attractive”. There are as many different types of black men, as many different black “looks”, as there are fish in the sea.’

‘I don’t fancy fish either,’ she said.

‘Fair enough. But to say you don’t fancy black men is like saying you don’t fancy freshwater fish, or you don’t fancy flounders, whereas other fish you’re fine with. In other words, racism.’

‘I can’t believe you’re calling me racist,’ she says at this point, seemingly on the verge of becoming quite upset.

‘I can’t believe you’re being so openly racist!’ I cry. ‘OK, let’s calm down here,’ I suggest, more to myself than to Ange. I pour some wine. I drink some wine. ‘What would you think,’ I said, ‘if a black man said that he refused to sleep with white women, that he just didn’t fancy white women?’

She paused, as if to suggest – at least as far as I read it – that she was about to lie. Then she lied. ‘I’d think it was fine,’ she said. ‘It’s personal taste innit.’

‘Hmmm,’ I said. ‘Well, it seems to me it’s personal taste informed by personal prejudice. OK, let me try another tack. Tell me – honestly now – don’t you fancy Denzil Washington?’

‘No, I don’t,’ she replied, scowling racistly as she did so.

‘OK, what about Kanye West?’


‘Right then. What about Thierry Henri?’ I was feeling confident. Every woman I’ve ever met can’t help drooling over Thierry Henri.

‘Nope. Look, I’m sorry, Stan. I just don’t fancy black blokes.’

I sighed. I didn’t believe a word of it. But I felt that to call her a liar as well as a racist might be verging on the offensive.

‘OK,’ I said. ‘When you go on holiday, do you like to sunbathe?’ I could tell she did. She has sunbed skin.

‘Yes,’ she said, ‘and I can see where you’re going with this.’

‘Good,’ I said. ‘That’ll give you time to come up with a decent answer. Have you ever been to bed with a white bloke with a deep tan?’

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I really fancy white blokes with tans.’

‘Well, what’s the bleeding difference?!’ My exasperation was beginning to flow over.

‘OK, OK,’ she said. ‘I’ll tell you what it is.’

‘You’re racist?’ I offered.

‘No,’ she said. ‘And I really wish you’d stop saying that.’

I apologised. Sincerely.

‘Have you got a type?’ she asked. ‘What’s your type?’

I started to shrug. ‘I really don’t think I do have a type,’ I replied. ‘I’m incredibly unfussy.’

‘You must have a preference,’ she said. ‘In your head. An ideal.’

I shook my head. ‘Conscious?’ I offered. ‘But really, I’d take whatever I could get.’

‘OK, well you’re probably a special case. Most other people – let’s call them “normal people” – they have a type. My type is tall, muscular white men, with thin noses and large, square chins. What I don’t like however, are African men. And this is probably going to make me sound more racist than ever, but what I don’t like about them are their physical features. I don’t like their thick lips. I don’t like their wide noses and flaring nostrils. I like blue eyes. I like thin lips and noses. I like hair I can run my fingers through. I don’t like short, wiry black hair. And I don’t like dreadlocks. You know? I like pale ginger blokes. And I know a lot of people don’t. Loads of people don’t fancy gingers. Are they racist? I don’t think so. It’s personal preference.’ She paused, then added, ‘For fuck’s sake’.

I laughed. She had worked herself up into quite a little froth. But I was also scheming. ‘I’m pale,’ I said. ‘And certainly ginger-ish.’

‘Yeah, but you’ve got a face like a bag of elbows,’ she said. ‘And you’re too fat.’

‘Fucking racist.’

She laughed.

‘No, but seriously,’ I said. ‘This personal preference thing. It’s tantamount to prejudice.’

‘Oh, God…’

‘OK, OK.’

We changed the subject. But I still can’t help feeling that not fancying black people is racist. Just as not fancying white people, or not fancying Indians, or Japanese people, or Arabs would be racist. Actually, maybe not Arabs. Nobody fancies Arabs.

I jest, I jest.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the reason it rankles so much is something to do with my looking for excuses for the fact that I am not attractive. If I can label Ange racist for not fancying black fellas, I can label everyone else racist for not fancying me. And maybe that’ll make me feel better in some way.

It does, in fact. If I think that every woman who’s ever looked at me with disgust is prejudiced – prejudiced against ugly people, prejudiced against fat people, prejudiced against me – then that makes me feel better.

I, in turn, am prejudiced against anyone who’s ever been on Big Brother, all Scientologists, anyone who supports a football team, anyone who regularly takes cocaine, pathological liars, cheats, racists and Helen Fielding.

And so it goes.

Normal service resumed next week. Any thoughts in the meantime gratefully received.

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Anonymous said...

This is absurd! Of course she's a racist, but really, who isn't?

By the way, I don't fancy black fellows either. Please tell Ange one of your devoted readers empathizes with her.


Anonymous said...

Would you say that all the black fellows who like having blondes hanging on their arms racist or perhaps they just prefer blondes. This PC rubish is crazy. If you can't fancy who you want doesn't make you a racist. To say so is the height of predjudice and another sign of the nanny state.

Anonymous said...

I once overheard a guy (who was indian) tell another guy he didn't find white women attractive. As a white woman, I didn't think it was racist at all. Furthermore, I realize that some people fetishize particular races - most commonly asian women or black men - and those people would kind of be stuck with their fetish. Heck, a person who was ONLY attracted to black people might REALLY be racist, because the attraction might be based on racist stereotypes and a sense of taboo. Fetishes aside, people can have general preferences about appearance, as long as they are flexible about it. If they were open to the possibility that one day they might meet and be attracted to someone outside their "type," even if they didn't think it was likely, they wouldn't be racist. Sex is so weird and loaded for most people, I don't think its a good measure for how racially accepting they are. (That said, if someone said they would never, regardless of attraction, have a relationship with a person of a certain race, they are racist.)

Anonymous said...

I really don't agree with your point of view here. I would say that you can't control who you find attractive. I see dozens of men I fancy every day - black, white, other - but have never yet found a south Asian guy attractive.

I suppose I wouldn't say categorically that I never will, because it's always possible. However I would freely admit that I don't fancy south asian men and I do not think this makes me at all racist.

As a comparison, I know lots of men who insist on blondes. Would you describe them as racist?

BTW your blog is great, keep up the good work.

Sue said...

Very interesting. I am more interested in how openly honest and forthright you were in the conversation with her than the perceived racism, however. If only I conversed as well with my peers.

Mina McKay said...

I think lots of black men are hot, (Denzel, Will Smith, Cuba Gooding Jr, Don Cheadle), and Id probably do one of them if I thought I could, however I don't prefer them as a rule either. I still tend to prefer Caucasian males. Ange didn't outright use racist or hateful words, so this doesn't feel like outright racism to me. If she was to absolutely stray away from black people as a rule (for friends) based on how they look, or based on stereotypes, then I'd definitely call that racist.

Anonymous said...

I fancy the Lebanese-American actor Haaz Sleiman quite a lot. I've lived in a few non-caucasian majority countries, and the more you get to see the nuances and characteristics of the local faces, the more you fancy the locals. Viva la difference!