If you have an India and an internet connection, you’ve probably seen Andrea Miller’s Huffington Post article “How to date an Indian (advice for a non-Indian)” based on her relationship with a man from New Delhi. An excerpt:
Before getting to “how,” let’s start with “why.” There are obvious reasons one would want to date an Indian, such as how successful and professionally desirable they are. Indians dominate as engineers, doctors, lawyers, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. They make up a large proportion of our graduate students — just walk around the campuses of Harvard, Columbia or Stanford or and you will see these incredibly attractive brown people all over the place. Which leads to point number two. Indian people tend to be really good looking. According to Wikipedia*, “India holds the highest number of Miss World winners, only to be tied with Venezuela.” (*That feels a little like citing The National Enquirer but I am going to go with it.)
Most Indians are innately gracious, social creatures; they highly value friends and family and have a calendar filled with various holidays and occasions to celebrate, which they typically do with gusto. Those endless jubilant dance numbers in Bollywood movies pretty much channel the Indian soul. Moreover, Indian men love to dance. If for no other reason other than you want someone to dance with you (or without you for that matter), date an Indian.
Oh yea, I almost forgot to mention: one more big bonus when it comes to dating an Indian: communication with cabbies. Think I’m kidding? New Yorkers: Just imagine if you could stop a taxi during the 4pm transition time and your date could say, in Hindi, “Hey brother, will you please take us to Spring and 6th?” You’d find Laxmi did indeed smile upon you.
Read the full article here, and please, read the comments too.
I’m pretty amazed that The Huffington Post would provide a platform for such a piece. (Like all Huff. Post pieces, this one has reaction tabs to click on; why isn’t there an “offensive crap” category?) And I am amazed that the author of the piece is the CEO of a (hopefully, soon to be bankrupt) relationship advice site and magazine. This kind of writing would be problematic whatever the ethnicity of Miller’s partner. As commenter emj1983 says,
I’m just an undesirable [not!] and culture-less white guy, but I agree that this article is reductive, cringe-inducing, and condescending. If someone tried to “woo” me straight out of the gate by taking a superficial and homogenizing interest in my culture, I’m sure my (thick) skin would crawl. Humorous generalization can be a laugh riot if done well– in a non-cliche or particularly insightful way– but this really misses the mark.
It could have been funny or provocative if it had not employed so many cliched generalizations, or had done so with a self-parodying sensibility. The author is married to an Indian guy, and finds him and his cultural interests desirable, even charmingly different from her own– fine, great– but it was misguided to try and draw from her experience a bogus, predictable field theory of fool-proof Indian seduction strategies. Who would ever use this as a guide?
Writing a satirical send-up of any group’s generalized habits (Indians, white people, black people, whatever) requires a deeper, more nuanced perception of stereotypes, a fresh intelligence which provokes both thought and laughter. This article lacks that freshness.
And here’s an Indian-American woman’s perspective (commenter Amita Swadhin):
This is the most racist thing I’ve read in a long, long time. I’m shocked that you thought it appropriate to publish on Huffington Post. If you really believe you can make a generalization about a people that number well over a billion (if you count the diaspora), you are incredibly ignorant. This isn’t dating advice; it’s an example of how to take one’s own personal experience and apply it to an entire culture and ethnicity. I’m Indian-American, and I can safely say that a) my own experience differs greatly from what you’ve written above, and b) I would describe every aspect of my culture that you’ve arrogantly written about QUITE differently than you do.
And I am amazed that a number of people (including many many Indians) seem to find nothing wrong with this piece. One (Indian) commenter says:
Andrea, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s a nicely written and funny article. As someone who moved to the United States in ’03 I totally understand a lot of things you wrote about.
For other people who disagree with her, RELAX. She shared her experience, thoughts, opinions, in a very nice manner. Disagreeing with her shouldn’t equate to blasting her and making a mockery of the person or their thoughts. Or else someone might stereotype Indians as having no sense of humor or tolerance!!
This is perilously close to being grateful that the article cited “complimentary” stereotypes about Indians. Wake up! That the stereotyping in this case happens to be (mostly) positive is of little consequence; exoticizing a people in this manner is to make them the Other (versus “ordinary” people). A mindset that is ready to label a billion Indians “gracious, social creatures” is just as capable of labeling them smelly beasts. Stereotyping robs a person of his individuality; does it really matter if the mugger is smiling or spitting as he’s relieving you of your valuables?
The sole positive thing about this idiotic article is the hilarious How to date… responses it has spawned. Too many to mention here, but this calculated-to-offend-everyone-on-the-planet piece on The Awl, titled “How to date a white bitch (advice for the non-white dude)” is a MUST.