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Open Letter to Grindr Users: I Am Not Rice, He Is Not Curry

06/28/2013 09:00 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
  • Jaime Woo Cultural Critic, Author of "Meet Grindr: How One App Changed The Way We Connect"

Hey, sup?

Yeah, I'm talking to you, dude. I saw your pic and thought you were super-cute. You have a nice smile, but I'm sure you hear that a lot.

I'm going to keep this brief, because, you know, no one wants to chat forever on Grindr. Stop reducing men of color to food by referring to them as "curry," "rice," or "chocolate," especially when it's to reject them. See, it's not just that you're discounting, like, billions of people as unattractive, but also that you're a jackass when doing it.

Yes, you're correct: Writing "no Asians" does use more characters and is harder to spell. And I get that you'd feel a little guilty putting "no blacks," because of the whole Jim Crow thing. Um, no, Jim Crow isn't the name of a clothing store. Did you watch The Help? It's something like that. Do you ever wonder why only certain ethnicities get treated this way? I mean, have you ever seen anyone write "no croissants" or "no pasta"?

I'm writing you because I hope I can change your mind, if even to go from thinking negatively about huge swaths of people you don't know to being neutral. But maybe not. I am up against a whole culture: Tons of guys will defend your decision to insult as a right. They get red-faced, writing stuff like, "What, I have to find everyone attractive now?"

The truth is that no one is forced to find men of any ethnicity attractive. But here's the truth: Many do. They can appreciate the differences between people without using them as weapons to exclude entire lineages. They can find someone attractive even if they themselves don't necessarily want to sleep with the guy. And they get upset when racist things are said to them or their friends; sometimes that's why guys don't reply to you.

And to those guys: I hope you keep it up. It's not just about openly rejecting racist language, even if it's not directed toward you. It's about vocally sharing how many types of men can turn you on; why not ask for more men of color in Sean Cody videos (without it being labeled "exotic" or a "fetish") and Andrew Christian ads? (By the way, the company would love more Asian models, so if you're in Los Angeles, hit them up!)

Take it from Gandhi: We have to create the world we want to live in. There are some guys who want a place that defines beauty in ever-limited ways, and that makes me feel sad for them. Race isn't as clean-cut as everyone makes it out to be, and in the end it can be downright tricky. For instance, I have a friend who gets messages of interest from guys who think he's Latino, and then they quickly drop off once he reveals that he's South Asian.

Same guy, different response. It feels so outdated, right? But baby steps first: I am not rice; he is not curry.

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