Why I Won't Date Secular White Women
The writer and television producer Hari Ziyad recently wrote a blog post entitled "Choosing Black Love: Why I'm Unlikely to Spend My Life with a White Person." Ziyad, who is African-American and gay, argues that white supremacy has so corroded Western ideas of what constitutes beauty that even black people don't recognize themselves:
After many failed pursuits [of white men], I began to feel again that I was unworthy of love, a belief that I had previously learned from a household and childhood environment that was not accepting of my queerness. But it wasn't that I was unworthy, it was that White Supremacy and those who operate within it necessarily couldn't love Blackness. It was that I was operating within it as well, and could not fully love the vibrant Black communities and other communities of color that I had never noticed were around me because I wasn't looking.
I agree with Ziyad, albeit in a different category and for different reasons. As Ziyad can't date white men, I find it difficult to date white women.
White women in the West -- like white men in the West -- have lost their souls. Triangulated between a feminism that preaches perpetual outrage, a porn culture that turns love into a biology lesson (and which has made it into our sit-coms, movies, and music) and a hard conservatism that ignores art, many Western women have lost the capacity to appreciate and create beauty, to wonder and delight, to genuinely love. Bombarded into spiritual catatonia by rage politics, digital devices, easy sex and irony, American women don't seem to have wisdom, but sarcasm. Instead of joy, they trade in snark. They take flirting to be sexual harassment. Claiming to be "spiritual but not religious," they are neither.
Compared to white women, women from other parts of the world offer genuine substance. I was lucky enough to date someone from another culture for several years. She was from India, and had in abundance what most women in the West have lost: what the philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand called "receptivity to values." Values, as von Hildebrand saw them, were not just the moral guideposts that people hold to. As author Thomas Howard phrased it, "by value, [von Hildebrand] did not mean the windy generalities invoked by presidents and mayors in Fourth of July speeches but rather (shall we capitalize it?) That Which is excellent in itself and is to be admired (a very weighty word for von Hildebrand). Interestingly enough, the word 'value' is so massively basic for him that it is far from easy to tweeze succinct definitions of the word from his work, so to speak."
Howard then quotes von Hildebrand:
Values are not only like dew falling from heaven, but also like incense rising to God; each value, in itself, addresses to God a specific word of glorification. A being, in praising God, praises Him through its value, through that inner preciousness which marks it as having been drawn out of the indifferent. Nature praises God...This is true of every work of art, every perfect community, every truth, and every moral attitude. Man...must first of all respond adequately to each value as a reflection of God; he must respond with joy, enthusiasm, veneration, love-and lovingly adore God, Who is the fullness of all value.
Howard adds to this: "The Matterhorn is not a value in so many words, but it towers there, shimmering in its might, and bids admiration forth from souls who exult in might, majesty, purity (the snow), form, grandeur, gravity, serenity, and so forth. The Mozart Requiem is not a value, but its music -- the very notes themselves, of which the emperor thought there were "too many" -- draws us into the precincts of sheer beauty: sublimity, perfection of form, decorum (the notes "fit" the text), awe, terror ('Quantus tremor est futurus...tuba mirum spargens sonum'), rescue ('Recordare, Jesu pie'), and repose ('Hostias et preces, tibi, Domine, laudis offerimus'). These are matters that call for admiration from souls well formed.
Dating someone from India brought me into contact with a culture that is still receptive to values as von Hildebrand understood them. My girlfriend clutched my hand in delight at dance concerts and wept when she saw the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. "It's just so overwhelming," she said. "To see something that grand." Grand. It's a wonderful word that reveals a certain receptivity to values; no wonder it is rarely heard in the West anymore, where our souls are no longer well formed.
India -- like Africa and Japan and other non-Western cultures -- still sees with open eyes. They have dance that flatters rather than degrades the female body, colorful and embodied religious ritual (hands folded, my girlfriend would greet the sun morning at the beach), and food as soulful restitution and not just bodily nourishment. We have cupcakes and 2 Broke Girls.
Who in the West still has a capacity for wonder at the true and beautiful? Who has not been ruined by cynicism and sarcasm? Who has sensuality to burn but also knows how to harness that power -- rather than do the inevitable sex tape? Madonna? She's still mooning cameras and writing instantly forgettable self-empowerment anthems. The Kardashians? Jennifer Lopez? It's a sad and revealing fact of our culture that Lopez, a woman with potential but ruined by American culture, trashed a promising career as a gifted actor after 1998's Out of Sight. Lopez traded talent and imagination for celebrity and songs that won't outlast the decade. It's hard to imagine a Bollywood actress doing the same thing -- or Lauren Bacall, for that matter.
Indeed, it wasn't so long ago that there were women in the West who had both brilliance and the capacity to wonder -- to create are by seeing values the way Dietrich von Hildebrand described. Sophia Loren, Annie Leibovitz, Bille Holiday, Joan Didion, Elizabeth Taylor, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Audrey Hepburn -- to name just a few -- were women who have no contemporary equal, at least in the decadent Western world.
It all reminds me of that famous quote from G.K. Chesterton: "Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which your are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked. It may be that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal and that you are a paralytic."