Interracial dating outside America
I’ve been dating a black guy for six months now and I’ve had to put up with some raised eyebrows (to put it mildly) about it from some really unexpected people. It led me to think about and discuss the subject of interracial dating with all kinds of people. This blog is not about what I’ve learnt or my experiences, it is about an interesting conversation that I had with a Pakistani exchange student, Sara (Yes, that’s a Pakistani name too), at my University on the subject and the interesting perspective it let to prejudice and bias in cultures outside America.
I once saw an episode of “Don’t tell my mother: Pakistan” where the host asked a famous Pakistani drag queen if he faced homophobia and he replied that “We’re not at a point where anyone cares about that, we have a lot of other problems that we need to fix like corruption and the energy crisis, and we focus on that mostly.”
So, as far as who dates whom, there isn’t a lot of discussion about it. By that I mean discussion on public forums like you have here. Not to mention the fact that dating in my country is vastly different. Most people really don’t have the ‘luxury’, I would call it, of dating and those that do, they only date people with the object of marrying them; I like this person, I’ll probably marry them, but I’m going to spend some time with them first.
As far as racism is concerned, we have an entirely different brand of that in Pakistan. Now that I think about it, I guess it’s of two kinds: Color and caste, I’m not even sure if it’s to do with race exactly. When I first arrived here I was surprised at how attractive everyone thought I was. In Pakistan, dark skin like mine is not considered pretty. When women look for brides for their sons the first demand is fair skin. It’s a holdover from our colonial past, I think, the idea that fair is lovelier. People are starting to talk about it and women have started campaigns. Some of the larger cosmetic brands have stopped marketing face creams as ‘fairness creams’ (though the models are still fair and they still show a dark skin to fair skin change) and instead use words like ‘clearer skin’ and ‘radiance’ but local brands still ride the fair bandwagon. This is mostly because these movements are restricted to the highly educated and the elite and have not trickled down to the masses.
Caste is a whole other issue. There is no implied racism; like a Chaudry is better than a Sheikh, but they rarely intermarry. You stick to your own caste, sometimes your own family; there are many cases of three whole generations of marriages amongst first cousins. I haven’t even begun to factor in the fact that these same barriers exist even more stringently along sectarian lines; “Fine, you can marry a Bhatti but he has to be a Sunni, he has to be our kind of Sunni, in fact!”
So yea, I think you have ‘a pretty sweet deal’, as you say, as far as interracial dating is concerned. You can date whoever you want and your social constructs only mean that a few people might say something or act badly towards you. Where I come from, even if you do somehow manage interracial relationship you can face some really horrible consequences.