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7 May

The Woes of Dating Outside of Your Ethnic Group

The biggest stereotype about women who date outside their cultural or ethnic groups is that they’re “hoes”, gold diggers and sell-outs. And recently we’ve seen a growing trend that’s exacerbated by social media, to ridicule and villify South African women who date non-South African men, even going as far as branding them “Jollof Sistas”. In my line of work, I deal a lot with land related matters. In one particularly meeting, someone quoted the bible in relation to South African women dating non-South African men. Deuteronomy 28:43-53 read as follows; “Foreigners who live in your land will gain more and more power, while you gradually lose yours. They will have money to lend you, but you will have none to lend them. In the end they will be your rulers.” This was very disturbing and proof of how subjective religion can be when it comes to matters of injustice and how religion can induce prejudice.

These kind of behaviours and perceptions tend to create stereotypes around specific groups of people, based on their nationality. They also give rise to other stereotypes for women who choose to romantically associate with men outside their cultural or ethnic groups. Here are a few of these stereotypes:

She’s a “hoe”: The “hoe” stereotype is also based on another stereotype, that non-South African black men are more well endowed than local men – WRONG! I’ve seen my fair share – let me just say, I describe my dating profile as the African Union. Growing up, I’d often hear “non-South African men’s d***s go around their waist.”
She’s a gold digger: And this gold is from drug selling. South Africans cannot comprehend that non-South African people come from countries with resources they have access to and can gain wealth from. Or even that they can come to South Africa and make an honest living.
She’s bewitched: This one is quite wild. Africans, amongst themselves always accuse the next of witchcraft. If it’s a Xhosa woman, with a non – Xhosa man, it’s witchcraft. If it’s a South African woman with a non-South African woman, again, it’s witchcraft.

Discrimination of any form (and in this case sexism and xenophobia/afrophobia) are also sustained by these stereotypes and stigmatising. Just like interracial relationships in apartheid times, and even today we’re subjected to stereotypes such as “she’s with him for the money.” The South African government’s recent announcements not to renew Zimbabwean permits incited a new wave of xenophobic attacks. In actual communities and on online platforms, south Africans took this as an opportunity to attack foreign nationals once again, and in particular Zimbabweans.

It is no surprise that this conversation came up. A lot of people seem to think the only way most non- South African men can make it in the country is through relationships with South African women. Hence the recent social media attacks on these women. In her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, Eliabeth Gilbert makes an account of a group of refuges that needed counciling, but when they got the counciling, it wasn’t around the matter of their backgrounds, they wanted counciling on issues of love and relationships. This goes to show, no matter where people This goes to show, no matter where people come from, even if they’re from the “the land of mystic, eternally cursed, primitive, traditional, static and rotten”, people are capable of loving and forming relationships.

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