Depending on who’s asking, I have one of two responses:
“I don’t really have a type,” or
“How’s your dad been lately?”
Joshua (2014): caucasian, dark brown hair, green eyes
Tyler (2016): caucasian, dark brown hair, green eyes
Bradlee (2018): caucasian, light brown hair, blue eyes
Spencer (on and off 2017–2019): caucasian, light brown hair, green eyes
Brian (2020): caucasian, blonde hair, blue eyes
I present to you a sample of men I’ve dated — some serious, some casual — in the last handful of years. While I’ve excluded the few outliers (including the much older men that highlight my daddy issues), it’s apparent there’s a theme here. “I don’t really have a type” but my track record calls me on my bullshit. I haven’t exactly been walking the talk.
You get what I’m laying down here? White men.
A better question I asked myself recently is, “Why are white men my type?” I can easily find handsome qualities in males from all walks of life — every colour, size (heh), ethnicity — so why do I, for the most part, only end up dating and sleeping with white men? What is it about them that’s so compelling? Why am I drawn to them like a brown moth to a white flame?
Even though everyone I listed is unified by the colour of their skin, eyes and hair, there are no other comparable qualities. It’s not a specific physical attribute that I gravitate towards. They all had drastically different personalities but even if they were similar, they’re all still white.
So what is it?
I went from “what’s my type” to “why are white men my type”. From there, it was only a matter of several thought tangents before I ended up at a generalized, “Why do you like what you like?”
I started asking myself things like — how is what I like governed? From food to sensations to places to hobbies to men, why do I like what I like? Do I have a choice what I like or is my internalized fetishizing something that happens of its own accord?
If I can’t force myself to like someone, where does that intrinsic attraction come from? Is it because of exposure? Or familiarity and the comfort it implies? Was it something I adopted when I was young — like an attachment style? Was it inherited? The origin of this intangible pull woven into not only me but the generations of family before me?
Let’s put this idea down for a moment and pick up something that appears unrelated.
First Nations and the Inuit were considered inferior — deemed savages — from the moment colonialism strangled out their way of life. The Indigenous were treated as subhuman back then and they still are today.
In Tanya Talaga’s “Seven Fallen Feathers” the horrific funding gap for education between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children is colossal. Each and every child is afforded the right to an education but the Indigenous have to jump through hoops to make this possible. Parents are forced to send their children into big cities, away from their communities, to receive a subpar education. These kids aren’t equipped to deal with the 180° shift in lifestyle. Removed from families and subject to racism, it’s only a matter of time before many fall victim to addiction and run-ins with the law as they attempt to cope with their misery. When these kids are found at the bottom of rivers, they go gently into their good night. The ripples of these tragedies do not extend so far should it have been a white youth discovered instead.
The education system is only one example. Look at the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). The average rate of homicides involving Indigenous women is four times higher than that of homicides involving non-Indigenous women. Four times. Indigenous women make up 16% of the homicides in Canada while only accounting for 4% of the female population. Imagine standing in a line-up of non-Indigenous women and knowing the likelihood of you being kidnapped, raped or murdered is exponentially higher because you’re Metis, First Nations or Inuit.
The housing situation on the reservations is abysmal. Many homes don’t have indoor plumbing or running water. Residents use plastic slop buckets as toilets. Houses aren’t installed with proper heating systems and in the winters, families are forced to Macgyver wooden stoves out of empty oil barrels to keep away the cold. In a small community called Mishkeegogamang in Northern Ontario, there were thirty deaths in just as many years due to house fires. What a twisted irony — being burned alive while you try not to freeze to death.
And who can forget about our country’s finest hour with the implementation of residential schools? They had one purpose and one purpose alone: to take the Indian out of the child.
These are only a handful of examples of how the Indigenous have been failed time and time again by the country that was robbed from them. I could go on (and I will in other essays).
EXHIBIT A + B
Could institutionalized racism be so deeply ingrained in me — an Inuk woman, a descendent of a survivor from a residential school — that there’s a subconscious part of me that continues to believe I am less than?
White people have access to better education. White people have easily accessible emotional and financial support. Amber alerts are sent out immediately when their children go missing — why wouldn’t I want to be a part of something I wasn’t afforded growing up as an Indigenous female?
Has colonialism embedded in me an inferiority so supreme that the only way I can become more than “just a native girl” is to surround myself with the company that camouflages my greatest sin? It’s not as easy to pick her apart when she’s hidden amongst those who are afforded privilege she wasn’t.
But one of these things is not like the other.
I can’t recall how many times a male has attempted a compliment only to punch me in the gut while doing so: “You’re really beautiful — for someone part native.”
Suddenly, I’d feel like I have to prove myself. Sure, I’m beautiful — but I’m also intelligent, funny and can tell the difference between real and fake wasabi. Tell me — do you see that too? Do you see me as an equal or am I just an exotic, Pocahontas look-alike that’s doing better than what your expectations are for the average Indigenous woman?
Perhaps there’s a subconscious piece of me that feels if I can prove myself as an equal to the heterosexual white male — the formidable kingpin of the colonists — some of the suffering that’s transcended generations before me will dissipate.
You are enough, they’ll say.
I might even believe it.
In the meantime, I’m positive I’ll have to endure more Tyler’s with low IQs and more Spencer’s with shitty Taco Bell palettes. What do I gotta do to find a guy who likes dimsum around here???