The purpose of this research was to provide insight into the lived experiences of black women that engage with white and non-black men on online dating platforms through their own narratives. The posed research questions sought to understand two precise processes; firstly, how black women experience their interactions with white and non-black men online, paying close attention to instances of anti-blackness and secondly, how these women receive and respond to this. The motivation for incorporating the second research question precisely was to extend the positionality of black womanhood outside the confines of victimhood and demonstrate the agency they possess in constructing their own perceptions of certain experiences. Ten semi-structured, informal interviews were conducted with ten self-identifying black women that were in use or had been in use of online dating platforms in the preceding six months at the time of the interviews. Online dating applications were operationalized as dating platforms with locative sensibility, defined as applications that are user’s location-aware and downloadable on a smartphone; examples included Tinder, OkCupid and Bumble. The interviews demonstrated a commitment to existential phenomenology and post-colonial feminist research in prioritizing the sentiments of the respondents and limiting the influences of the researcher. Experiences of racialized sexualization and subjugation emerged from the accounts provided by the respondents. In regards to racialized sexualization, the respondents problematized sexually-racialized comments and expressions guised as propositions and compliments, which made reference to their bodily features, ethnicity, and celibacy. In the context of subjugation, the respondents identified instances whereby the men they engaged with disputed their intellect, denied the respondent human complexity beyond their blackness and positioned them outside the realm of belonging both within a racial and national context. In experiencing both processes, respondents admitted to adopting avoidant coping mechanisms so as to curb the prospects of reoccurrence. Sentiments of mistrust towards white men accompanied with the gradual awareness of the problematization of race engendered the respondents’ withdrawal. The polarization between black women and men they categorized as white and non-black was a consequence of this. Gender and race are inextricably linked to determine the experiences afforded to certain people and the manner in which those experiences are perceived.

Additional Metadata
Keywords media, culture, society, online dating platforms, racialized sexualization, subjugation, race, gender
Thesis Advisor M. Sommier
Persistent URL hdl.handle.net/2105/50082
Series Media, Culture & Society
Citation
V. Ntinu. (2019, June 24). “It’s like you’re trying to conquer me”: Black women account for their experiences engaging with white and non-black men on online dating applications. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/50082