paulisadroid
2 years ago10,000+ Views
My Problem with Pocahontas
Growing up, my family owned a lot of Disney movies. And while I feel a strong connection to Aladdin, I used to watch Pocahontas just as much. I don't really know the exact reason why I did or what initially drew me to watching the movie so much but I did. And for the longest time, I thought this movie was just a piece of pop-culture that didn't influence me at all.
But I was wrong. There's something wrong about Pocahontas that has affected me throughout my whole life and influenced my own insecurities. I'd like to set aside the catchy songs and the beautiful animation as well as the giant issues with the film's narrative for a moment to really unpack the relationship between John Smith and the titular Pocahontas.
And yes, I'm aware of the "oppressor/oppressed" subtext lodged within the way they meet, etc. But that wasn't the issue that helped increase my insecurity about my appearance and identity.
I remember the way I'd watch this movie at an age where I was young enough to not know what love was but old enough to understand that John Smith was a white man and Pocahontas was not a white woman. Their relationship, if memory serves me properly, is one of the only interracial relationships that have been shown on screen in a Disney movie.
While, yes, this is great because it reflects and solidifies that idea that it doesn't matter what your race is you can fall in love with anyone. But there was something about this that made me feel less secure about being a person of color. Even though I was in Secondary school, it seemed like everywhere I looked I saw images of white men dating outside of their race but it never happened the other way around.
And when I finally got to the dating age, I was overcome with feelings about the way I should approach people I considered dating because I -- like the kids in my graduating class -- have also been inundated with images of white men dating women of every race. I was in a situation where it was inconceivable that I would be attracted to anyone outside of my race.
I remember one of my first girlfriends, she was white, and I was very much enamored by her presence. I loved being around her. I didn't feel like I there was an issue. A couple weeks into our relationship, one of her best friends (a white male) had a conversation with me. He asked me if I was really attracted/into his friend. I told him I was. Then he asked me if I would rather be dating any one of the Asian females in our grade. I didn't understand this question but I answered him honestly, no. He proceeded to ask me a bunch of invasive questions that ended in him telling a very different story about my answers to the person I was dating, which led to our break-up.
This wasn't the only time my race has been a focal point of the relationship I was in. Another white female I spent the night with was astounded that I was "so much browner" that she was, she never saw me as "brown". And even now, I'm unsure how to take that. I don't know what she meant. If she meant it as a positive thing, I don't know how separating me (Paul) from my racial identity (brown, Filipino, American) is a compliment.
In the world of Love & Relationship under the lens of mainstream media, it seems like white men have some kind of pass to date anyone under the sun while everyone else has strict guidelines to abide by. And even now, it leaves me feeling like I will not be "good enough" if I decide to date outside my race. Pocahontas (and most on-screen interracial relationships) have made me this way. There will always be someone better than me, I'll think when I'm in a relationship, and that someone better is a white man.
I know I'm coming off as an upset, angry boy complaining about how women have treated me but the point I'm trying to make is about representation and how it affects young people of color. And even though my experience has been somewhat troubling (as in, I tend to feel inadequate around white men), I know that women of color go through something much different than I do.
And as much as I want to write about the fetishization of women of color in the media and how it affects their daily lives, I can't. I don't think I have the experience (having lived most of my life as male) and I also don't think I have the right to talk about an issue that isn't mine to take up.
That being said, I do believe it's time someone does bring it up. I feel that it is important that women of color write/talk about their experiences so we (we as in all people of color) can learn and work through our problems together.
25 comments
Thank you for sharing this. In my experience as a woman of color, I've definitely seen this. I think a lot of times in dating across the board we're taught by communities/family that dating white is somehow "dating up." That white savior complex is deeply rooted and dangerous (like in Disney. Not only Pocahontas, but also in the Hunchback of Notre Dame). I'm black and mestiza Latina, so I've seen this really come in with colorism and classism - whiteness is always seen as better. I think in my experience though, I always seem to see straight MoC dating exclusively white women for the same reason. Many MoC in my experience see white women as a prize while stereotyping and committing violence against WoC, especially Black women. I've also found similar things in the queer community... Skinny masculine white folks are like the epitome of desirability, while PoC aren't, and are usually turned into jokes (ie. "I have an inner Black woman," "no fats, no femmes, no Asians," etc). It's very frustrating. Especially because I rarely see white partners dig deeply to think about things like race, stereotypes, and fetishization when it comes to dating non-white folks. To hear that someone has a "personal preference" for an entire race, which includes millions of folks with vast numbers of cultural, political, physical, and other differences, is disturbing. #whitenessisahelluvadrug
2 years agoReply
I'm with you on this one. When I dated a white girl back in high school, everyone thought it was a huge deal because you know, Asian men don't date white guys. But hey, as MLK once said, one should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their characteristics. Seriously, fuxk the system!
2 years agoReply
I think a lot goes into play when you're dating outside of your race. To me, I personally like to be able to connect with someone whom I can have serious intellectual conversations with without having to dumb myself down to make the other person understand what I'm talking about. I am an Asian lady with a Caucasian man. I've dated within my race and haven't been able to find the right one. Every one that I met I found that I had to make myself an airhead in order for them to take my conversations seriously. The ones whom I can have a good conversation with were always up their own arses about how much better they are compared to others. Etc. etc. The annoying ones. Before I got into a serious relationship with my partner; he was my friend. We were friends for many years. Eventually things just turned right for both of us. We have been together for almost 10 years and are planning to get married. I understand it's a bit of a hard subject to talk about. A lot of people do have different ways of going into certain relationships. Sometimes you have to take a chance with everyone and everything that's thrown at you. Sometimes I find it can be the people who you hang out with that can really ruin/or make things happen for you. As you're trying to understand who you are, and what you want in life. Sometimes you just have to ignore the people who you know won't help you move along. We can't be the judge of that, you'll have to do that yourself. Know you're not alone on this topic.
2 years agoReply
Well I'm mixed myself. My mom is black and my dad is Mexican and half Semoen. However, if you seen me you would either think I was black with a bunch of hair or a black Latina....just to give you a little background. I usually date outside my race. My first boyfriend was Korean and currently my boyfriend is chinese. I've dated white guys...middle eastern...biracial...asian...Latino and more. I only found that the middle class white guys who never really lived in diversity said strange things to me like....oh I like dark meat....can you call me papi...I dumped them of course. I didn't have much issues with emo white guys or any other race. Idk why. I'm not looked down upon for dating outside my race. However, sometimes I feel like some guys try to talk to me cuz they think I'm exotic 馃槕. Why are women of color seen as exotic? we are not from the jungle. @paulisaverage
2 years agoReply
Aw man, I totally get where you're coming from. When I date outside of my race, I sometimes feel like I am not "good enough." I wonder....why would they date me....when they can date any other race. Mostly because black women are often bashed. @amobigbang I totally get where you're coming from! It can really be a tricky thing to date inter-racially. It's like I often screen men to find out whether or not they like me for me, or they want to try something "exotic"
2 years agoReply
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