If you’re a girl dating a boy who’s subtly racist, you’re part of the problem

Teach him or dump him. You have no excuse

Listen up ladies – if you’re dating a boy with questionable politics in this current climate, you’re as much at fault as him. I don’t care if you’re not racist yourself. I don’t care if he has redeeming qualities. I don’t care if he’s got the world’s most life changing schlong. No dick is good enough to make up for the fact that your lovely boyfriend sings the n word when Kanye comes on. That his boys’ group chat make comments you wish you could un-see. Or that he thinks All Lives Matter deserves airtime. And most importantly, that when it comes down to vote o’clock, that the severely misguided man you choose to spend your time with is influencing this country. Throw the cooch somewhere else, I beg.

It’s a genuine problem. Some of the kindest, most well rounded and considered women get into relationships with men who are subtly racist and make no effort to change themselves. And the worst part is that these women make no effort to change the men they love, too. They are part of the problem. Artist and feminist activist Florence Given posted on her Instagram the other day explaining that she is sick of women coming to her for advice on dealing with their racist boyfriends. In her words: “Call it out or be complicit”. Teach him or dump him. That’s what you need to do.

I know what you might be thinking – it is not women’s responsibility to educate men, as much as it is not black peoples’ responsibility to educate white people, however black people are literally out here being killed while you’re letting Danny get away with saying “I just see more of a point in All Lives Matter” as he’s lying in bed with you drinking a cold cup of tea. Danny is gross. I think we can make some allowances here when it comes to our feminist rage of having to teach men basic human decency. Why? Because you are choosing to shag these boys. If you don’t teach them or break up with them then you’re effectively standing by and letting them believe these harmful things. They can go out into the world and put those beliefs in place. Or jump on their boy’s poker game Zoom call and perpetuate those beliefs, influencing other boys who could have been spared. Or make a non-white person extremely uncomfortable, all because his girlfriend was too nervous or tired to say “you can’t fucking say that, babe”.

You would be surprised how many women have dated these kinds of men, and are disgusted by it now. Rosie, a UCL student, told The Tab: “I had been dating a guy for around 2/3 months when he began to start talking about social justice issues. He told me that before I met his parents, I should know that they didn’t like Muslims, Jews or anyone who wasn’t Orthodox Christian. I remember being really surprised but he also used to tell me that him and his parents would have loads of fights, so I assumed it was that he didn’t agree with their views on the matter.

“Then we were out on a date one time and our waiter was from Bangladesh. He told us about how he moved to England when he was 14. My boyfriend then proceeded to claim that this guy was abusing the state, only came to England to leech of benefits and concluded it by justifying his Mum’s belief that all Muslims were barbarians. At the time I told him how ignorant his views were and that I was disgusted with his behaviour.”

“I drove him to his house in silence and decided that night I wanted to break up with him. When we broke up, I told him how starkly different our views on life were and that I wasn’t prepared to go out with someone who viewed himself as being better than anyone based on race or culture. That meal was possibly one of the most painful things I have ever sat through and made it so clear that I could never date someone who was a racist again.” Cut and dry, we love to see it.

A lot of women struggle bringing their boyfriends up on mistakes they make when talking about race. The common feeling is that it makes you look angry, unattractive or that you don’t want to get into a disagreement. Far too many times have mates told me they avoided calling a guy out because they “didn’t want to make it A Thing”. But it is a thing, and if you’re avoiding calling your boyfriend out on fundamental issues of human rights because you’re scared of his response – you probably shouldn’t be with him anyway. Sometimes their response to being called out is far more illuminating than the harmful thing they said in the first place, and some boys really aren’t ready to change. Calling him out is the only way you’ll know.

Sammi, who also dated a racist boy, told The Tab: “My ex once used the N-word and P-word and I called him out immediately. He didn’t really get my point about how those words were slurs, and how they were incredibly offensive and should never, ever be spoken by white people especially, even though I tried to keep my cool and explain. I understand it can be hard to get your head around immediately, but it was all the more jarring because I have Asian heritage and hearing the P-word used so casually really hit home. Especially when it was coming from someone who was meant to care about me.

“Whenever we brought up racism, he would somehow make it about himself, and talk about instances where he was called racist, and how it made him feel. He seemed to have little to no time for hearing about how actually being on the receiving end of racism felt. Again, this was worrying and alarming anyway, but because I’m mixed-race it made me feel even more uncomfortable.

“I had to wonder – if he was so defensive about being called racist, surely there was some truth in it? Especially as this was coming from someone who saw nothing wrong in saying the N-word. Looking back, I remember him saying that he loved that I was mixed-race and being slightly irked by it, but now it’s clear this belied an incredibly worrying level of ignorance. I didn’t just break up with him because of how uncomfortable it was making me. I realised I had to end things because, to some extent, I was enabling this behaviour. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone has so much to learn, but it became more and more obvious that this person had no desire to learn or improve themselves. It wasn’t fair on me, but it also wasn’t fair on the wider BAME community for me to allow this behaviour to continue unpunished. I couldn’t change his mind, as hard as I tried, but I could walk out of his life – so I did.”

However, this is not to say that men are unchangeable. Some people have genuinely been raised without as much access to knowledge – it’s no surprise when the UK curriculum is as whitewashed as it is – and without progressive figures to advise them. Yes, to some extent it can be argued that adult men should know exactly how to behave by now, but everyone deserves a chance to learn. So before you dump him – have a go at teaching him.

Cat, a Manchester student, once dated a boy who casually said the n-word but she eventually managed to help him unlearn his racism. She told The Tab: “I definitely used to excuse problematic behaviour from men. Casual comments, racist ‘jokes’ that they would immediately brush off because they ‘weren’t being serious’. I’ve always struggled with confrontation and when I was younger I’m embarrassed to say that, while I would call out this behaviour, I’d still let it slide and stay with them. Now I know that disliking confrontation is no excuse. As white people, we have to put ourselves into uncomfortable situations to create change. And if a guy doesn’t listen, maybe it’s worth thinking about whether they’re someone you really want in your life.

“When I was a teenager I dated a guy who would casually use the n word. I would call him out on it, but it took him a long time to change this behaviour and understand that, regardless of context or intention, that word was always racist and always something you shouldn’t say. Now I know I wouldn’t date someone who used that word, let alone stay with them. But after enough calling out from me, he finally learnt. The other day I saw him get into a passionate argument defending Black Lives Matter on Facebook.”

So if you’re sitting there, reading this and feeling awfully attacked right now – it’s time to have this conversation with your boyfriend. If you’re hesitant at the idea of calling out your boyfriend on his questionable politics – remember this: Calling out racism in someone is a test of character. If they are receptive, it shows you exactly what type of person they are. If they are not, put a For Sale sign up on that pussy and get the fuck outta town. There’s plenty other less racist fish in the sea.

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