"We live in a society full of choice, why does somebody like dark chocolate instead of white chocolate? It's my preference." - Rudo
By
SBS Insight

Airdate: 
Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 20:30
Channel: 
SBS One

Rudo is a black woman who has never been attracted to black men. She's always dated white men and eventually married one. She says she enjoys the physical contrasts between herself and her husband.

The world around us is full of choice, but do you find yourself only dating a particular type?

This week, Jenny Brockie hears from people who have particular racial preferences on who they are attracted to and why.

We find out what science and sociology have to say about our sexual desires and look at whether racial stereotypes are at play – and whether that matters.

Presenter: Jenny Brockie 
Producer: Elise Potaka 
Associate Producer: Sarah Allely 
Associate Producer: Susan Cheong 

Join the discussion by using the #insightsbs hashtag on Twitter, posting on our Facebook page

Web Extra

Race-based attraction in online dating

A study by sociologists Jennifer Lundquist and Ken-Hou Lin from the University of Massachusetts found that in online dating, people are more likely to contact someone of the same racial identity as themselves.

The results, published in the American Journal of Sociology, also discovered a clear racial hierarchy is present in the response process.

"Simply stated, white women prefer white men over non-white men, while white men prefer non-black women over black women," they write in their paper, Mate Selection in Cyberspace: the Intersection of Race, Gender and Education.

"Being black on the dating market - particularly being a black female - means that one's invitations are most likely to be ignored. The only group that responds regularly to black men and women are one another."


Asian women speed dating

Insight went along to a Fast Impressions 'Asian women speed dating' event to find out why it's one of the agency's more popular nights.

Transcript

JENNY BROCKIE: Welcome everyone, good to have you with us tonight. Rudo, let me start with you, you have Southern African heritage, what kinds of guys are you attracted to?

RUDO BANYA: I'm attracted to Caucasian men.

JENNY BROCKIE: Why?

RUDO BANYA: I really don't have a rational explanation as to why, I just am.

JENNY BROCKIE: Exclusively?

RUDO BANYA: Yes, exclusively. I've certainly been on dates with people of different races but I've just found that I had a better connection with people of Caucasian heritage.

JENNY BROCKIE: What appeals to you about them?

RUDO BANYA: I think I like the contrast, the difference in skin tone, the ebony and the ivory, I quite like contrast.

JENNY BROCKIE: Got to a laugh, yeah.

RUDO BANYA: And yeah, I just.

JENNY BROCKIE: So is it purely physical or is it a mixture of a whole lot of things?

RUDO BANYA: It's a mixture of a whole lot of things, it's not just physical and it's not just sexual. I think personality wise as well, certain interests and things - I just tend to find that I connect better with Caucasian men.

JENNY BROCKIE: Now you're married to a white Australian man?

RUDO BANYA: Yes I am.

JENNY BROCKIE: And you've never dated an African man?

RUDO BANYA: No I haven't.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, Linda, what about you, who do you date?

LINDA BENZ: My preference?

JENNY BROCKIE: Yeah.

LINDA BENZ: Would be for darker men, African men predominantly is probably where I'm sort of more drawn to.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what are you drawn to about African men?

LINDA BENZ: I'd have to say I like the skin tone too, you know? But, but to be honest, most of the African men that I have met or got to know, I found them really interesting. There's been be intellectual stimulation from them, the cultural differences.

JENNY BROCKIE: So you like difference?

LINDA BENZ: Cultures, I like different cultures in different backgrounds and it just interests me.

JENNY BROCKIE: Mike, what about you? You have a Croatian, Irish, Scottish background?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: Yeah, that's right.

JENNY BROCKIE: Who did you prefer to date?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: I prefer to date black women, so from all around the world, you know, any kind of culture.

JENNY BROCKIE: Would you look at other races or just black women?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: I have dated, I have dated, you know, white girls, mainly because in my area in Western Australia, you didn't really have that kind of option, especially around in my area around near the coast. But now that things are changing, demographics are changing around Australia, it's really great to see, you know, that kind of thing happening and more.

JENNY BROCKIE: So when did this attraction start for you, how did it start?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: Probably when I was quite young I used to read a lot of books about missionaries and stories of Africa and things like that and it just kind of got me interested. Probably American movies as well, and TV shows.

JENNY BROCKIE: Which TV shows? There's one in particular?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: Okay, it's the Cosby Show. Mainly, mainly for Felicia Ashard, Claire Huxtable.

JENNY BROCKIE: There she is?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: Yes. She just sings to, she was just like my genuine class and like everybody else is like Bill Cosby's really funny, but when I watched the TV show, Felicia Ashard really kind of stood out to me and yeah, the other one is Whoopi Goldberg.

JENNY BROCKIE: Whoopi Goldberg as well, okay, so you saw Whoopi and you thought mmm?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: In the movie Burglar, everybody, basically we were watching it over at a friend's place and everybody was like man this is the funniest film, you know, we thought it was absolutely fantastic but I thought that she was really attractive.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, I want you to explain to me a little bit more about what it is about black women that you find so attractive, are there qualities that you see that you find, is it physical, is it cultural, what is it?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: It's kind of a mix of like the whole lot. You know, there's obvious physical attraction of course. I do find, as your guest I just find that I click a lot easier with, like Rudo that I do with other kind of women and"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: She's married by the way?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: I know.

JENNY BROCKIE: Just saying, just saying that.

MIKE MIOCEVICH: I'm too late unfortunately. But yeah, it's just a whole new, just a big mixing of the whole kind of thing.

JENNY BROCKIE: When did it start Mike? When did this attraction start do you think, I mean in terms of you actually dating someone?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: It was in high school at a high school dance and basically the entire year was basically all mostly white people from like, you know, Perth, but there was one girl from South Africa who had come over, her family had come over so, yeah, went to the dance and, yeah, took her. So"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: So you went to the dance with the one black girl in the school?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: And that kicked it off?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: If I had any kind of reservations before I didn't have any after, so.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay. Sophie Song, you're in South Korea visiting your Korean in-laws at the moment.

SOPHIE SONG: Yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: Welcome to Insight. Your husband Han is here in the studio. What attracted you to Han?

SOPHIE SONG: I came to be attracted to him over time. He had quite limited English when we first met but actually he was able to convey his personality and sense of humour really clearly, despite his language limitation, and I came to feel that we had quite similar, I guess, I guess complementing personalities.

JENNY BROCKIE: Had you dated other Korean men before Han?

SOPHIE SONG: Yes I had.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so had it been a preference for a long time or did you have a preference, or didn't it matter?

SOPHIE SONG: I probably have always had more interest in darker haired, darker eyed people, and what I had found, you know, my experience of the Korean people I had met prior to meeting Han was that a lot of them, by their upbringing, are quite family oriented and that was something that very much appealed to me.

JENNY BROCKIE: So how did you meet?

SOPHIE SONG: We actually met at a pub, we both had gone with our respective friends and we were watching a football final and basically I met him briefly in the queue at the bar. He just approached me and said hello, he introduced himself and then actually we parted ways but a little bit later in the night there was a guy at the bar who was quite persistently talking to me that I was trying to find a way out of the conversation and really struggling and it happened that Han walked past and I saw him and recognised his face and I thought well, here goes nothing and I grabbed his hand and I said to the other guy: "Hey, this is my boyfriend", and even though Han had quite limited English skills, he picked up what was going on in the moment and he, you know, he acted the part and he rescued me.

JENNY BROCKIE: It's a great start, great start. Han, when this happened in the bar you didn't speak English, did you, very much?

HAN SONG: I could speak barely, I could just say hi, how are you, I'm fine thank you and you? Okay, bye, that was pretty much.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so when you met Sophie how did you feel about her? Was it an instant attraction or not?

HAN SONG: Yes, like when I saw her and she wasn't, she was wearing like a beautiful dress, it was like vintage dress and I thought wow, she's beautiful. Maybe I could see her in a movie or something and, but I thought oh well, but I'm Asian, probably she's not interested in Asian guy so I was just, okay, let's just say hi. I won't lose anything, it was just hi and then she was, she said hi back to me, very friendly, which I didn't expect at all. So"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: So you didn't expect to date a white woman?

HAN SONG: Not at all.

JENNY BROCKIE: Why?

HAN SONG: Because I was, I grew up in Korea and in Korea, not many Caucasian people in Korea, even though there are some English teachers, I can't meet them personally so I thought they are very hard people to be with, especially as Asian. So I had a kind of fantasy that I want to date a Caucasian woman.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so had you gone out with any white women before Sophie?

HAN SONG: Not at all. I just only dated Korean woman before I met Sophie.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, but you found white women more attractive or just attractive?

HAN SONG: More attractive of course. It was like a fantasy to me and I thought I can't ever date white woman, I can't ever hold white women's hand or something like that. So it was like fantasy, so I didn't expect at all.

JENNY BROCKIE: I know it was, it was around six months I think before you two could have a proper conversation?

HAN SONG: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: With one another?

HAN SONG: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: But you were going out during this time, yes?

HAN SONG: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: So it begs the question of what kept you going during the six months then?

HAN SONG: Okay, We used to use electronic dictionary to tell just one word, you know. I was, I want to eat something, I couldn't say what I want to eat in English so I just found a word what I wanted in English, in English dictionary and I showed her, I want to eat this. Oh, okay let's go, something like that, so"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, I just wonder the extent, Sophie, to which the physical, the sexual attraction kept you going during that time when you didn't have any language, so I'm just interested in how big the physical attraction was for both of you?

SOPHIE SONG: Well, the thing is basically his language level was very limited, which obviously caused a lot of problems, but he still could convey humour and still could convey his personality which I think is quite unusual amongst people with quite limited English because of that warm humour, because of the good personality, I did find Han very handsome, very attractive person.

JENNY BROCKIE: Yuliana, what about you? You're originally from Indonesia, who do you prefer to date and why?

YULIANA SUNARTO: I prefer to date Caucasian men. At first I didn't expect to date Caucasian men as well, I always think oh, I'm going to go out with Asian men for the rest of my life.

JENNY BROCKIE: Why, why did you think that?

YULIANA SUNARTO: Because I thought they look so different than me and I don't understand how their mindset works and then I started to work at this global bank and there's a lot of people from the UK and then at that time I just broke up with my ex-partner and then it's time for a change and I got a lot of attention from them.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so it shifted for you with exposure to people from other backgrounds?

YULIANA SUNARTO: Yeah, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, Jennifer Lundquist in Boston you've looked at racial preferences with dating. We know the majority of people find their partners within their own racial grouping, why do some people like these people choose to date outside their race do you think?

JENNIFER LUNDQUIST, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS: Yeah, well it's an interesting question. Most people don't explicitly set out to date one race or another and they end up falling into it and what demographers find is that there are certain characteristics that interracial couples tend to have compared to same race couples. Some of this is, for example, they tend to be more highly educated but a lot of it has to do with exposure. So what we find with interracial couples is they often live in urban environments, large cities where they're exposed to people of many other backgrounds.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, Ida you've been in Australia since you were for four, is that right?

IDA HARDING: That's right.

JENNY BROCKIE: And you went to an all white school?

IDA HARDING: I did.

JENNY BROCKIE: And you've never dated a white man?

IDA HARDING: I never have.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so proximity just hasn't come into it?

IDA HARDING: I was going to say I'm going to shoot the exposure theory out because I've been exposed, I obviously had lived here all my life, I lived here when, you know, there was a minority, a real minority of Africans. There's more migration now but back in the '80's certainly not.

JENNY BROCKIE: So what's your preference Ida?

IDA HARDING: I tend to break it up into two, two things. I think finding other races attractive, that superficial initial sexual attraction or physical attraction, it doesn't matter to me. If I think you're handsome, you're handsome. However, to take the next step in terms of actually dating or getting married to them, I have to really consider a lot of other factors, cultural factors, attitudes, how we're going to fit into our families, so I think"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: And where does that lead you? Does that lead you into a particular direction?

IDA HARDING: It leads me to a preference of dating, yeah, races that look like myself so brown skins.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, in a sense of a longer term relationship?

IDA HARDING: Absolutely.

JENNY BROCKIE: Yeah, okay, yes?

MARIANNA SHEK: My preference is for Caucasian white Australian males and I'm from a migrant background so I immigrated quite young, and you're told very quickly you've got to, you know, you've got to work twice as hard, you've got be, you know, twice as good. There's this "west is best" mentality, and even just the physical value of beauty, even though they don't - like my parents would never say, you know, being white is beautiful. It would be things like get out of the sun, you're getting darker and you know, that sort of mentality that actually is more of a classist thing because for a lot of Asian people being dark skinned is actually associated with working labour class.

JENNY BROCKIE: So that affects who you're attracted to?

MARIANNA SHEK: Yes, because in my youth I would have interpreted that as get out of the sun, you're getting darker, darker is ugly, look at all my white friends, they're not dark, they're white.

JENNY BROCKIE: Sen?

SENTHORUN RAJ: When we talk about issues of dating, particularly in kind of a racialised context, it's in the broader context of race relations. And so for example, for myself, you know, growing up being kind of recognised by white guys as attractive was like an ego boost because you know, effectively you're like wow, you know, you see these kinds of white guys, they're kind of, you know, treated as these kind of epitome of attractiveness and we see all the, particularly in the kind of gay male community a lot of representations are of these of kind of muscular, white male bodies and so, you know, when a white guy kind of looks at you and recognises you as, you know, or asks you out, it's like wow, what an ego boost and I’m talking quite specifically in kind of a gay male context, but you know, from my experiences it's one of the kind of challenging things to do is kind of confront that and to recognise those kind of power relationships that go on in terms of race relation.

JENNY BROCKIE: Ian, you've done facial attraction research. What are the drivers for physical attraction between people and does race come into it at all?

DR IAN STEPHEN, MACQUARIE UNIVERSITY: Attraction is a very complex thing, but from an evolutionary perspective, being attracted to someone is thought of essentially as a way of identifying an appropriate mate, someone who is healthy and someone who could potentially give you healthy children. And where kind of the cross cultural sorts of inter-ethnic aspects of this might come in is that by having children with someone who is less related to you, you actually reduce the chances of your offspring having certain genetic diseases.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, Bill Von Hippel in Brisbane, you're an evolutionary psychologist, what do you think are the drivers for sexual attraction and where does race fit in?

PROFESSOR BILL VON HIPPEL, UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND: Well, there is no evolutionary basis for being attracted to somebody of a different race because in the kind of evolutionary timeframe where these preferences would have evolved, we never actually encountered anyone of a different race. It's very much a privilege of the modern world that I can meet somebody who their group lived thousands of miles away from my own. In my lifetime, 10, 20, 30 thousand years ago I would only encounter people who looked quite a bit like me. So in response to the earlier question you're asking Ian, and part of the reason why we haven't evolved to prefer other races, even though in fact he's absolutely right, we get a real benefit genetically out of having offspring with people of other races, is that we don't have a history of doing so. As it stands now, we simply are attracted to people by virtue of whether we personally find them attractive, whether they have the features that we personally are looking for.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, is there any evidence that race in itself is a driver for people's attraction to other people?

PROFESSOR BILL VON HIPPEL: No, in general, no, and in fact even people who claim they prefer X or don't prefer it, often find that when life throws them a curve ball, they meet somebody that they actually are very attracted to who is a member of a different race and they didn't want this for themselves but that's the way it goes.

JENNY BROCKIE: John Carroll, you used a dating website, Filipino Cupid, to find a wife. Why did you specifically want a Filipino wife?

JOHN CARROLL: Pure and simply because I wanted someone that could speak English.

JENNY BROCKIE: There are a lot of people in the world who can speak English.

JOHN CARROLL: Yes.

JENNY BROCKIE: So why Filipino?

JOHN CARROLL: Because from my understanding, it wasn't going to - there wasn't too many Chinese that could speak English very well, there wasn't too many Vietnamese people, Thai people, but Filipino yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so you're looking for an Asian wife in a sense?

JOHN CARROLL: Yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: So why that, that group, why Asian? Why were you looking only at Asian women and not more broadly at English speaking women?

JOHN CARROLL: Prior to meeting Edelisa I'd had like a decade plus long relationship with a lady from Malaysia, she'd been here a number of years, could speak English very well, and despite the fact it didn't work out I had a lot of good positive memories of the relationship itself so that basically set it in train for me. I said that's what I'm looking for, that's what I want and that's why I went down this road.

JENNY BROCKIE: Were there particular qualities that you associated with Asian women and with Filipino women apart from the language issue?

JOHN CARROLL: Yeah, well the stereotype, one of the stereotypes that is bandied around, well Asian women treat western men better than a white woman might and the belief is, is that yes, that's true, I believe that to be true. That was just very much my own experience of"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: In what sort of ways?

JOHN CARROLL: Very attentive, very attentive, yeah. But really made you feel, you know, you're, yeah, it made you feel good, complete, yeah.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so that was based on what, your experience of that one relationship or"¦

JOHN CARROLL: Yeah, that one relationship so I said well, yeah, I'd like to, go down that road and that's why I constantly chose, you know, to find someone who I could speak with in my own language, who was attractive. Attractiveness is important to me, let who get that point clear, I think for a lot of men that is the first thing that they look at when trying to find somebody, is she attractive or is she not?

JENNY BROCKIE: And you proposed to Edelisa three months after you'd first"¦

JOHN CARROLL: Only three months.

JENNY BROCKIE: Made contact with her via Yahoo Messenger you proposed?

JOHN CARROLL: Yeah, that's right. And it was just a snap decision, I just picked up the phone off the counter and just went to the site, will you marry me, boom and that was it.

JENNY BROCKIE: And you hadn't met her in person?

JOHN CARROLL: No, no, only on webcam, like, you know?

JENNY BROCKIE: And Edelisa, how did you feel when that Yahoo message came through?

EDELISA CARROLL: I ask him, like are you serious about it? Because it's like that fast, you know, to ask me. We've been chatting for three months only and then he already asked me to get married.

JENNY BROCKIE: So you were surprised?

EDELISA CARROLL: Yes I am.

JENNY BROCKIE: Were you specifically looking for a western husband?

EDELISA CARROLL: Yes, I'm like, I'm attracted to Caucasian also.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what are you attracted to about Caucasian men?

EDELISA CARROLL: I could see it in my two brothers-in-law and they are like responsible.

JENNY BROCKIE: In what way?

EDELISA CARROLL: They look after my sisters, I mean they are good husbands, better than a Filipino husband.

JENNY BROCKIE: Wow, okay. Is there a Filipino man in the audience here somewhere please?

EDELISA CARROLL: Sorry.

JENNY BROCKIE: But I want to explore this a little bit more though, what do you mean they look after you better, in what way?

EDELISA CARROLL: I just found him like, they are responsible in the way that they are, like that's it, they look after, like also the kids, send them to a good school and they provide everything the kids want.

JENNY BROCKIE: Interesting, Sophie, the idea that Edelisa has is that Caucasian men are better at providing those things and your view is that, you know, you like it in Asian men.

SOPHIE SONG: I guess that I wouldn't broadly say that all Asian people are the same, it's a big continent. What I found is quite true, is that in my opinion, in my case, Korean, my Korean husband there, Han, he's been a very responsible father, very responsible husband, really interested in providing for our family and very interested in having a lifelong marriage.

JENNY BROCKIE: I want to ask you two about the actual physical attraction between the two of you. I mean at this point where you were asked about getting married Edelisa, were you in love, had you fallen in love with this person on the other end of Skype or not?

EDELISA CARROLL: Like we've been chatting three times a day on Skype, for three months, like there's already the spark. Like, then when he asked me to marry him, so that's why I did not say no, because I already feel something that I like him and then I'm also like attracted to him.

JENNY BROCKIE: So how long was it before you actually met one another in person?

EDELISA CARROLL: Six months.

JENNY BROCKIE: So three months after the proposal you actually met one another person?

JOHN CARROLL: Yeah, and then we did it, we got married just like that.

JENNY BROCKIE: Edelisa, had you ever dated Filipino men?

EDELISA CARROLL: Yeah, yeah, I had a child from Filipino.

JENNY BROCKIE: And had you dated other races at all?

EDELISA CARROLL: No.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay. Jennifer, to what extent do social reasons drive people's choices?

JENNIFER LUNDQUIST: If you look at interracial marriage rates and coupling rates you tend to find a big difference if you look at, for example, whites and Asian unions, you find a big gender difference. So in both cases white women are less likely to be married to Asian men and white men are more likely to be married to Asian women, and there are a lot of different theories for why this. So for example, some westernised men may look for women from other cultures that are perhaps more family traditional and want to marry a woman who, subscribes to more conservative gender roles and that certainly seems to be the case with your one guest there and thinking about having a Filipino wife. Whereas many westernised women, white women, may feel that marrying an Asian man or a Latino man, that they will have a more patriarchal approach and be less supportive of their more feminist type of culture.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay. Anyone relate to any of that??

YULIANA SUNARTO: I find like there's a huge difference in how Caucasian men treat women. So just for example, when I, my English ex cooked me dinner, he would cook me dinner like from the start to finish and even like help cleaning the dishes and even like pamper me and do everything for me. But my Indonesian ex would just expect me to cook dinner and then let me do the dishes and then he'll just like play games on the internet. That's the idea of having like a romantic dinner.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, I think we've got to be very careful not to stereotype here. You know we're talking about people's individual experiences. Shaun, you run a speed dating agency and you sometimes have race specific events"¦

SHAUN COMERFORD: We do.

JENNY BROCKIE: "¦ at that speed dating, why? Why do you have Race specific events?

SHAUN COMERFORD: We program our events based on preference. So popularity, if enough people suggest a certain type of event, that's an event that we'll put on. If it's popular or successful and when I say successful we talk about a higher match rate, then it's an event we keep on running.

JENNY BROCKIE: So what are the most popular events?

SHAUN COMERFORD: One of our really popular events is Asian women speed dating. It has a very high match rate so we ran an event last night that had 100 percent match rate, meaning that every person who came met at least one person that they matched with.

JENNY BROCKIE: Let's have a look.

SPEED DATING VIDEO:

MAN: Ladies if you can please spread yourselves around the room at one of the tables and we'll get going.

MAN 2: I don't know what it is, but I do find Asian woman attractive, there’s something about them. Nothing against the blonde haired, blue eyed girls but Asian ladies definitely look after the partner, yeah, and very easy to get along with.

WOMAN: I'm looking for a good man. It doesn't matter where he comes from

MAN 3: I guess Asian women might be a little more open to try new things. Just things out of the ordinary, I guess, like hobbies like car racing, and stuff like that.

WOMAN 2: If I want to get married to someone, I don't want to only marry them for their good looks only. If we have nothing in common, it's going to be like flat line.

MAN 4: Asian girls like a guy that doesn't flirt with everybody but they just find the one they like and settle down rather than Caucasian, which tend to be a little bit more player-like. I guess that's - yeah, I think that's the stigma.

WOMAN 3: Do you speak Italian?

MAN 4: Yeah. Spaghetti, Ferrari, lasagne.

WOMAN 3: I can speak that too, he’s full of bull shit isn’t he?

JENNY BROCKIE: It's just great. Marianna, it brought a big laugh here, why?

MARIANNA SHEK: It was just the car racing, he was open to try new things like car racing. It wasn't what I was thinking.

JENNY BROCKIE: No, I don't think it was what anyone here was thinking really, but what did everybody make of that? I mean of that whole idea, I mean it's a popular event for Shaun.

IDA HARDING: It clearly perpetuates those stereotypes that we were talking about, about Asian women being maybe sometimes a bit more docile or that they are supposedly, you know, well I think our friend here said more attentive to the man and will be at the man's beck and call rather than somebody that's more assertive. I think it's a stereotype. I've got Asian friends, I don't think that they're necessarily all like that - I think it's a personality issue.

JENNY BROCKIE: John, do you think it's a stereotype?

JOHN CARROLL: To an extent it is, but as far as Asian women being docile, I'm sorry to disappoint you, they're not docile, they're not docile.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, I wonder, Juliana, have you met men who you feel like you just because you're Asian in that sense, have you had that experience?

YULIANA SUNARTO: Totally, yeah, I think for like Europeans, they're so crazy about Asian women, like they have this thing called yellow fever, I think everyone knows that.

JENNY BROCKIE: We heard that term a lot in research that showed, yeah, we heard about other types of fever too I have to say, a lot of fever going down. Shaun, I mean when you say that an event is focused on Asian women, do you find men are looking for predominantly a particular nationality? Is there one nationality that's more popular than others?

SHAUN COMERFORD: No, no, I don't think there is. I think people have an internal check list, if you like, and so race specific events such as Asian women or such as European men, which is another event that we do, people come into that with one thing already ticked off their list. So the eight minutes that you have with each person then perhaps you can focus on other things which perhaps might be why there's such a high match rate, as opposed to some broader events that we put on.

JENNY BROCKIE: Where isn't there a demand?

SHAUN COMERFORD: We haven't been approached about Asian men events, we haven't been approached about European women events.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay. Katherine, you provide a match making service too. Who are the majority of your clients and what they are looking for?

KATHERINE WEI, MATCHAKER: 70 percent of my clientele are looking for cross cultural love in the relationship. And "¦

JENNY BROCKIE: So what's the bulk of that business, does any one particular cross cultural pairing stand out?

KATHERINE WEI: Yes. For example Caucasian looking for Asian ladies or vice versa.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, but what do those men say they're looking for?

KATHERINE WEI: To me, I'm professional match maker for 25 years, I have interviewed about more than 20,000 individuals, so majority of the Caucasian men came to me, the physical attraction is coming first. Then they develop the interest into the personality.

JENNY BROCKIE: So what is it about the physical attraction, do they say what it is?

KATHERINE WEI: Yes, majority, majority of Asian woman appeal to be petite and they particularly like the petite type figure or physical attributes, if you call, and the dark complexion and hair and the way they present themselves. They take a pride in their looks. Apart from the physical attraction they think Asian women are friendly, they're more approachable, they're gentle, they attracted to their mentality, attitude, outlook on life, and they're appearing to be more family orientate in lots of ways.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what, so that's what the men are looking for. What are the women looking for?

KATHERINE WEI: Women, blue eyes, blond hair, strong, tall body so there's lots of Asian women are attracted, physically attracted to the Caucasian men.

JENNY BROCKIE: And your husband is sitting right there beside you?

KATHERINE WEI: Yes. Typical example. That's why I fall in love with him. I say you're so lucky, you have a full set of beautiful hair, that's what I fall in love with.

JENNY BROCKIE: And are there any groups that you don't deal with or won't deal with in your business?

KATHERINE WEI: Yes, lots of Caucasian men want very young age of Asian ladies. So one guy particularly, it's very funny, so he's 68 or something, he wants someone 30. I said tell me why you think this lady would like to go on date with you. He says someone else can do it. I don't know if I should mention the name, someone famous, right? The Australian media guru married a very, very, very, very young woman lady.

JENNY BROCKIE: Whose initials might be RM perhaps?

KATHERINE WEI: Yeah. Anyway, he said if he can do it, why can't I? I says if you have what he has, I can give you what you want. So he said well, you can't help me so I said obviously. So for the people they don't look themselves at reality, so I don't take them on. I decline them.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, and what about if people come to you and they say that they want something in a person that you find distasteful, how do you deal with that?

KATHERINE WEI: I hardly come across someone really, really bad. If I do I'll tell them that I'm not selling young Asian women to an old Caucasian man. But I'm here to help genuine singles, Australian and Asian singles, find their true love. So I'm sure they get the message.

JENNY BROCKIE: Jennifer, I know that you've looked at preferences with on-line dating does race come into that and if it does, what's the hierarchy?

JENNIFER LUNDQUIST: Yes, well we find that race is actually a primary deciding factor. We find that when people send an initial message to another dater, homophily is what social scientists call the trend and that is people tend to contact people who look just like themselves in terms of race. So that is the most common. White daters contact white daters, it's true across sexual preference as well. But when people have the opportunity to respond to groups of people who have contacted them, what we find is that there is a racial hierarchy.

So men of all races are about equally likely to respond to women, Asian women, Latino women, I'm talking about heterosexuals right now, and white women. However, unfortunately, there tends to be less of response rates to African American daters who contact them. So African American women seem to be very marginalised on the on-line dating market. With women it's very interesting. So women tend to respond first and foremost only to white men and this is true regardless of race, of the woman's racial identity. So white women respond primarily to white men and we also find that African American women, Asian women and Latino women also respond primarily to white men first.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, so is there any explanation, do you have an explanation for why that hierarchy is as you describe it in America?

JENNIFER LUNDQUIST: We can speculate that men, male daters tend to be more racially open generally, but what I do have to say, however, there are more men than are there women on these websites and men are much more likely to send messages and to respond to messages than women are. So some have argued, well it's not necessarily that men are more racially open, it's that they have less of a market to interact with.

JENNY BROCKIE: What about gays then in terms of their preferences and their choices because there's a smaller pool to start with in terms of, in terms of choice?

JENNIFER LUNDQUIST: Yeah. Yeah, that's exactly right and because the US census just started collecting information on gay and lesbian cohabitation, and it looks like gays and lesbians have higher rates of interracial unions and the argument is that okay, is it that gays and lesbians have more, are more racially open than straights? Or is it exactly as you just said, a thinner dating market, you know, less of a choice. We find again a very gendered effect. The effect is more about gender than sexual identity. Lesbians look very similar to white men in their racial preferences. That is being more open racially, whereas gay men look much more similar to straight women, being less open to racial groups.

JENNY BROCKIE: Interesting. Sen, I wonder what you think about hearing that, you've got a Tamil background.

SENTHORUN RAJ: Yeah, that's right.

JENNY BROCKIE: Does that sit with your experience. Do you find you have preferences for certain specific groups?

SENTHORUN RAJ: Well certainly when I was growing up I used to kind of dream of the prince charming, the knight in shining white armour, you know, where effectively, you know you've got these kind of representations and so your fantasy of, you know, the perfect guy is white in your head. And so"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: And now?

SENTHORUN RAJ: Now it's changed, I've had a kind of a broad dating history now which we won't get into.

JENNY BROCKIE: Fair enough.

SENTHORUN RAJ: But certainly, but certainly, you know, growing up I've managed to kind of confront that and kind of mix it up a little bit.

JENNY BROCKIE: Mike, what did you want to say?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: I just wanted to basically say that the reason that a lot of black women in the US are actually dating out now is because of the demographics. Within the black community, there's a lot of cultural enforcement for a term called "nothing but a black man". You want to basically marry a black guy and basically within, stay within your community. However, you've got to the point now in the United States that if every single black man and every single black woman that were available met up together and got partnered, there'd be 1.2 million black women who wouldn't have a partner.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, okay, over here, yes?

FARI CHAWORA: Hi, I just wanted to comment on that. I think my preference is for black men and that's simply because I don't want to be someone's fantasy or fetish and I think for a lot of black women the main thing is when men come up to you, they're dating you solely because you're black. But you want someone who dates you because they like who you are. I'd prefer to date a black man because I know it's about me more than it would be about going to Africa and being a mission’s trip or anything like that.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, Rudo, yes?

RUDO BANYA: I think I'll disagree with that because that's also another stereotype, because you're saying a black man's going to date you because you're also black. My husband had absolutely no preference for black women, he just wanted someone that he connected with and we met and we got on and we got married.

FARI CHAWORA: My question is then are you not stereotyping Caucasian men by saying that you only date Caucasian men because they're less, less patriarchal than African men? Is that not a stereotype as well?

RUDO BANYA: Not my only reason for dating Caucasian men.

FARI CHAWORA: It's just a question.

RUDO BANYA: I'm attracted to Caucasian men. You know, we live in a society full of choice, why does somebody like dark chocolate instead of white chocolate? Why does someone like milk chocolate instead of peppermint chocolate? It's my preference. You know, I'm very proud to be black because I think there is this stereotype, but if you prefer to date outside of your race, you've got self-loathing, you've got self-hatred issues. I don't, I'm very proud to be black, I'm proud of my African heritage. I just like what I like and that's all there is to it. I don't think I have to justify my choices to anyone. I just, I'm more attracted to Caucasian men.

JENNY BROCKIE: Anyone else, yes Ida?

IDA HARDING: I was going to say you're right, you don't have to justify your choices, but I think that's one of the things that if you're about to go into an interracial relationship, you have to consider because society does judge you. They judge the motives behind the two people that happen to be in love. Why are they together in the first place? Is it because someone's trying to get immigration papers or is it because someone's trying to, you know, sort of move up in society in terms of their social standings or whatever? Based on stereotypes of course.

FARI CHAWORA: Yeah, definitely, because you've got to look at the cultural factors when you get married. I mean some people would say western culture is more individualistic. Where I'm from it's not, it's very family orientated. I'm not against interracial dating. I am saying though if it is based on a fantasy or an idea of okay, Asian women are more docile or African women, you know, I read this book or whatever, then it's a no because you're trying to fulfil your fantasy. You're not looking for a life partner so that's a big difference.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what's your background, where are you from?

FARI CHAWORA: I'm from Zimbabwe.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, and if terms of your dating preferences, what do you do?

FARI CHAWORA: I generally, I'm more inclined to date African men and that's simply because of my experience. If I met an Australian man who approached me and had a normal conversation that didn't involve some sort of stereotypical comment, I'm open to that.

JENNY BROCKIE: Have you been on the receiving end of those stereotypical comments?

FARI CHAWORA: Yeah, definitely, quite often.

JENNY BROCKIE: Very often?

FARI CHAWORA: Yes, very often especially on line.

JENNY BROCKIE: And what sort of stereotypes?

FARI CHAWORA: Comments like oh, big black booty girl. I love that, or I finally got myself a Rhianna.

JENNY BROCKIE: Oh, wow.

FARI CHAWORA: I don't even look like her. So I have received those kind of comments so that's where I'm, I guess I'm more wary. I'm kind of like well, why are you here?

JENNY BROCKIE: Have you had any of those stereotypes Rudo?

RUDO BANYA: Oh, I've had lots of stereotypes. Somebody actually asked me once are you from Sudan and you know, are you a refugee? And I was utterly gobsmacked because even if I was, you know, what does that have to do with anything? And how did you meet your husband? Some people think because you're a black woman you're going to be more dominant, you're going to be kinky or - and I encountered this when I was dating. I tried on-line dating and there were people saying oh, my God, you're black, do you do this. Do you do that and I'm like seriously? You know, it was completely ridiculous.

JENNY BROCKIE: Your aunties had some very strong opinions about black men, didn't they, when you were growing up?

RUDO BANYA: Yes, they did.

JENNY BROCKIE: Tell us about that?

RUDO BANYA: I used to hear things growing up like, for example that they're going to womanise and of course Caucasian men womanise just as much, go with other women. They don't help around the house with chores and just, you know, just negative stereotypes. I did grow up with a lot of those and perhaps subconsciously that did shape my choice.

JENNY BROCKIE: Do you think there's a point where that tips into racism or can tip into racism?

RUDO BANYA: I suppose yes, it can be to a certain extent. But I don't think it's racist to have a preference. If you prefer to date someone that's your own race or someone that's Asian, people should not condemn you for your choices.

JENNY BROCKIE: You've been accused of being a racist, haven't you?

RUDO BANYA: Yes I have, I've been called a Bounty, that's black on the outside and white on the inside. I've been called a coconut, I've got self-hatred issues, I'm not proud of being black, the list goes on and on because of my choices. And people can think what they like, you know, I'm not really bothered by that. I know what I like and I don't have to justify my choices to anybody.

JENNY BROCKIE: But can it tip into racism? Yeah, Andy?

ANDY QUAN: I think it does. You know, if we stereotype ourselves into boxes where we think that we're only attracted to one race of people or one kind of people that it's limiting, not only for ourselves but for other people as well. It can have a really negative effect on people's self-esteem and especially if people express themselves and say that they won't date somebody from another race, that's quite racist.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, Mike, your response to that, putting limits by saying only black women?

MIKE MIOCEVICH: Not really. I mean people have a personal preference for who they date in their lives and they've got a multitude of reasons behind that. I don't see it really as being like anything too out of the ordinary to be quite honest. I mean do we complain that white people only date white people? You know, I mean that's the norm, isn't it? So I don't see any problem, like we are all human beings for goodness sake. Basically within the small community that I'm part of we basically emphasise you date character first.

JENNY BROCKIE: But you're putting race first, you're saying you're putting it first.

MIKE MIOCEVICH: No, but I mean that's just the preference that I start out from, but then you have to look for the character behind, that is behind, you know, the person.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, Denton, I know that you've got a view on this, you look at race preferences in the gay community, what do you think?

DENTON CALLANDER, UNIVERSITY OF NSW: I would actually argue this is all an expression of racism and that comes from, you know, the social science perspective, that we can be and frequently are racist without meaning to. And when it comes to race in particular we need to ask, you know, am I inadvertently reproducing a hierarchy, am I shutting people out who are already marginalised? Of course the counter argument to that is when people do engage in interracial relationships, that ultimately we do see these same types of power dynamics play out. Of course everyone's experience is different, but we see really clear and consistent trends when it comes to so-called racialised attraction and that doesn't just happen by accident.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, and what are those trends, just briefly?

DENTON CALLANDER: White values, certainly in countries like the United States or Australia, white identities are consistently valued, but we know that those racialised as Indian, Aboriginal, and occasionally Asian tend to be consistently devalued identities.

JENNY BROCKIE: Jennifer, you found that being mixed race can be a real asset in on-line dating, explain that to us?

JENNIFER LUNDQUIST: Something about white bi raciality with another race people find compelling, very attractive and perhaps it's safer. You can still be open minded, interested in someone different from yourself, but still not quite as different as someone of a completely different race. That would be my speculation behind it.

JENNY BROCKIE: Bill Von Hippel, what does science say about mixed race people and attractiveness, and the notion of attractiveness?

PROFESSOR BILL VON HIPPEL: Because when two people of different races have an offspring together and because most of the bad genes that we carry tend to be recessive, then those bad genes won't express them in their body and in their mind. And so, on average, we see what we call hybrid vigour from like agriculture, that the offspring of multi-racial, multi-racial offspring actually are more attractive. They often are taller than their parents, although we see that generationally quite commonly, but they often are much more attractive as well and so it's quite possible that people are responding to them more positively simply because they look healthier and more attractive.

JENNY BROCKIE: But you still say that for all those rules there's very little we can predict when we're actually presented with something unexpected?

PROFESSOR BILL VON HIPPEL: That's right, if we don't yet understand a lot of the factors that predict who's going to be attracted to whom. We know that factors that we don't necessarily think about consciously matter a lot, like scent, we know sometimes resemblance to one's own parents, there's lots of factors that play a role really rather unconsciously and we don't yet have a good handle on those.

JENNY BROCKIE: Jennifer?

JENNIFER LUNDQUIST: One thing that we find that's very interesting is if you look at people's preferences, their racial preferences that they state in their profile, many American daters will say I don't want to date Middle Easterners, for example, and this was particularly strong after 2001, but what we find is that their behaviours do not in any way reflect that. When you come into contact with a real live human being they realise that these mark or these ethnic identities are so often cut up in stereotypes due to our isolation from one another, that contact with one another makes a huge difference in forming our preferences. So preferences are really an interactive process.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, we do have to wrap up. Anyone rethinking this as a result of this discussion? Rethinking your preferences? What do you reckon Linda?

LINDA BENZ: No, no, I'm not, I'm not fixated though. So if there's anyone out there who thinks I'm amazing, you know?

JENNY BROCKIE: Marianna, what do you think after what you've heard tonight?

MARIANNA SHEK: Well I'm a bit on your side as in I did have a - you know, I do have a preference for Caucasian Australian male but like you said, if someone came long that was completely not what I expected, and because it's the personality, yeah"¦

JENNY BROCKIE: I think we're turning into a dating show at this point.

MARIANNA SHEK: It's not a bad thing.

JENNY BROCKIE: Okay, we do have to leave it there. Thank you all very much, fascinating discussion, really enjoyed it and that is all we have time for here but there is a lot more to talk about of course on Twitter and Facebook. Tell us who you're attracted to and why. Thanks everybody.