By Marianne Beach, GalTime.com
Can soul mates come in any color or from any culture? Yes, according to ex-Goldman Sachs analyst turned author, J. C. Davies. Her controversial new book, "I've Got the Fever" looks at interracial dating--both confirming and dispelling various stereotypes and helping women go beyond their racial comfort zones and "get the fever" themselves. We asked Davies to tell us more.
Tell us a little bit about what made you decide to write the book.
When I started dating interracially over twenty years ago, there were no books on the subject. I have learned a lot over the last twenty years, but mostly though a painful process of trial and error. I wanted people to learn from my experiences as well as others' who are quoted in my book. People have this idea that if they date someone of another race or culture something terrible will happen. They don't know what, but they are sure it will "never work out." I wrote this book to reduce the fear factor. To help make people feel more comfortable dating among other cultures.
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I spent over a year interviewing interracial daters for I Got the Fever, and I have more than 20 years of experience dating men of different cultures including Latino, Asian, Jewish, Black, and Middle Eastern men. I am self-taught as far as cultural studies. I have read hundreds of books on the topic and have always surrounded myself with people-men and women--of different races and cultures. We have made people so afraid to talk about race in this country that we hide behind charts, graphs, and studies. Interracial daters are people-not lab rats. Most important, in my opinion, is what real people say about their experiences dating people of different races or cultures.
Are there really differences in dating different races?
It isn't so much race as culture that creates the differences between people. But here in the US, a lot of our cultures have tended to focus around race as well, so those two concepts often are used interchangeably. The differences in cultures, including how people relate to each other and how they act in relationships, is very real. That is what I Got the Fever is about.
What are some stereotypes you've found to be true?
One confirmed stereotype that surprised me was that Latin men are macho and possessive. I was in a relationship for almost a decade with a Latin man who didn't have either of these traits, but most Latin men (and the all of the women who dated them) said that this stereotype is, in fact, true.
Again, critics called this a stereotype, but overwhelmingly I found that Latin men can dance well, and it is one of the things women reported really loving about dating Latin guys. In fact, a recent study from OK Cupid showed that dancing was the most important thing listed on a Latin man's online profile. As I like to say, facts can't be racist.
What are some stereotypes that don't hold water, from your research?
Jewish men are not cheap. Stereotypes can stick with a group for a really long time. I actually found that this stereotype goes back to the Middle Ages, and women said that it's definitely not true for the modern Jewish man. Women said their Jewish boyfriends were very generous (including one woman who said hers picked up her student loans). In my experience, as well as the women interviewed for the book, Jews strive to get the most for their money, but definitely don't skimp on the women in their life.
When it comes to black men, not all the equipment is supersized. Both men and women said that the brothers have a normal distribution around the US average of 5-6 inches. I think this stereotype hurts black men by sexualizing them and causing some to feel inadequate if they don't live up to the stereotype. On my website, I caution women who are considering using a black man for a "black experience" that they will not only be disappointed, but to consider how unfair that is to the black man in that relationship
Why should a woman, in your opinion, consider interracial dating?
Women tend to focus on a very specific type (in NYC: 6 foot tall investment banker, making 7 figures, with dark hair and blue eyes…) and whether or not they admit it to themselves, race is usually part of the type. I think that causes women to overlook some really great guys. If women broadened their horizons to include interracial dating, they would be more likely to find that special someone. Soul mates come in all colors and cultures. You never know where you will find yours. Also, I think that interracial or intercultural relationships offer a unique opportunity to learn about another culture. We are so lucky in the US to have people from so many walks of life, so many cultures. But because we are not allowed to speak about race or culture in this country, people know relatively little about other cultures. Interracial dating offers you two great things: the ability to learn about someone new and the ability to learn about a new culture.
Some people might be offended by the idea of this book and using race or culture to determine who to date. How would you respond to them?
First, we have to stop being offended. This country has become so judgmental--especially about race--that the minute someone brings up the topic, we do anything to shut down them and the conversation. Being PC is not helping, but hurting us. If we can't talk about race and culture openly, then we will go back to our racist roots. I hope that this book restarts a long-ago extinguished dialogue, and that people can begin learning about other cultures, and even have fun with it.
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Second, the book is not about using race to determine who to date. Instead, it gives you a list of cultural norms (provided by people of each culture discussed as well as those who date them). Nothing in the book is written or intended as an absolute. It is a list of topics worth discussing as you date people of different cultures.
A couple nuggets from the book you can share?
The book discusses everything that is important to women: who picks up the check; whether the guy spends time to get to know you or rushes you to the sack; who is faithful versus who cheats; who is family and career oriented; and what cultural norms you should expect. A couple of those are detailed below:
Beware the Circuit. Indian culture is one of the most insular, and thus has seen the least interracial dating. And while Indians in the US are less likely to be in an arranged marriage, it is very possible that their entire extended family is setting them up on blind dates. I call this The Circuit. As I say in the book: "For a non-Indian woman dating an Indian man, it's good to be aware of The Circuit; it would not be out of character for your boyfriend's parents to continue to look for an Indian wife for their son even after he has told them he is serious with you. And to please his family, he might even be taking the dates."
Food is bigger than God. In some Asian cultures food has an importance much larger than just satisfying hunger. A quote from the book: "The Chinese have an expression: 'Food is bigger than God.' It's all about survival. You have to realize that this has been ingrained in people for thousands of years." Food is more than just sustenance. It communicates how people feel about you. As a result, there are a lot of "food rules," which I also explain in the book.
What do you think about this book -- and the topic? What are your personal opinions? We want to hear from you!
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