"No one wants us for real": How College-Educated Black Women Understand Dating Opportunities, Define Priorities, and Cope with Structural and Cultural Vulnerabilities Public Deposited

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  • February 26, 2019
  • Douglas, Chelsea
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
  • Black college-educated women face many structural and cultural vulnerabilities as it relates to their dating opportunities and accordingly their health. The low male to female sex ratio that exists in the Black community has made it difficult for many women to successfully find partners. Adding to this, are the mass incarceration and the low educational attainment of Black men that further reduce the pool of men that women can choose from. As a result, Black women have begun making accommodations revealing that they are intimately impacted by these socio-cultural environments. Individual interviews were conducted with 10 Black women attending a Historically Black College and University (HBCUs). The goal was to investigate the meaning and strategies that young adult women develop to make sense of their dating opportunities and risks, and define their goals and priorities, Further, it was to gauge women's knowledge of this imbalance and to unravel how women’s past experiences colored their ability to navigate and understand their social worlds. Women identified the gender ratio imbalance of more women to men on campus as a facilitator of partner concurrency. They shared the generational expectations and advice that they carry from their mothers and grandmothers about what constitutes a good man and why. Themes of colorism and racial identity illustrate the multiple factors that are at work as women select partners. Racial preferences and representations of Black bodies in the media made it difficult for Black women to be viewed as prospective partners. The humanity of Black women and the struggles they face as they try to make meaningful lives in the midst of powerful social forces cannot be sidelined as we work to empower women in their decision-making and protect their sexual health.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Funding: Tom and Elizabeth Long Excellence Fund for Honors
  • Colloredo-Mansfeld, Rudi
  • Bachelor of Arts
Academic concentration
  • Anthropology
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018
  • English

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