About OkTrends

OkCupid is the biggest free dating site in the U.S.; since we went online in 2004, we’ve collected an enormous amount of data on human interactions. This blog was started in July 2009 as a way to share some of the things we’ve learned about people. We called it OkTrends because OkTrendz was already taken. We publish only when we feel like we have something interesting to say; that’s usually every 6 weeks or so.

OkTrends has been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Inc., The Atlantic, and on Nightline and the Rachel Ray Show. All data is anonymized and aggregated; no member of our blog staff sees an individual user’s personal information.

All press or academic inquiries should be directed to: press@okcupid.com

40 Responses to “About OkTrends”

  1. musigeek says:

    As an OkCupid member, I’d be interested to see data and analysis on use of the rating system, how many users send an email as a result of receiving a mutually positive rating, how many users actually USE the start-rating systems (across varied demographics), etc. I suspect that men use this far more than women. Then, users who are rated more highly, how likely are they participate in quickmatch, etc.

    Also, maybe this is intentional, but I looked around a bit for the best place for me to send this message. If you are interested in receiving notes from the members as to “what we’d like to see” or suggestions for the blog — perhaps you could create a form for us. I realize that this would likely be overwhelming, but it’s an idea.

    Overall, I think the blog is really impressive and I’ve enjoyed reading it.

  2. TheVirtualKid says:

    Also as a user I’d be interested in seeing how a users age affects how they send/respond to messages, so configuring the last few blog postings scaled by age/sex or age/religion instead of by race/sex or religion/sex . It would probably allow you to make some neat 3-d Images so you can explore the data in different slices. You have the opposite problem from most researchers. Too much data instead of not enough.

  3. Nancy says:

    I want to know why so many men over the age of 35 mention how much they like to kiss in their profiles. I just did a comparision of male to female profiles and it was amazing how many more men mentioned kissing.

    I have a theory on that – I think these men go to prostitutes, and it’s a cliche that prostitutes don’t like to kiss their johns.

    I would like to propose a study: survey men and ask them if they’ve ever been to a prostitute. Then compare their profiles and see if they mention kissing.

  4. VeeBee22 says:

    I enjoy OkCupid very much, and the statistic I want to see is how many users end up in a long term relationship- actually meet their mate on OkCupid. I’d actually like to see a webpage devoted to showing the success stories and photos of couples who met on OkCupid, whether they’re just happily long-term dating (at least 6 months), happily shacking up, or happily married. After all, isn’t matching happy couples at least ONE of the goals of this site? I’d like to see if and when the process works.

  5. Christian says:

    We’ve thought a post like that would be cool, too, and one is in the works. Expect something in earlyish ’10.

  6. jenny says:

    Ditto to the suggestion that you study how age factors into things. My profile lists my age as 40 and the ONLY messages I get are from men much older than me (by at least a decade) or men WAAAAAAY younger. Like early 20s. In fact, the majority of men who message me are 21 to 26. I think it’s this whole cougar craze. I’m wondering if women my age are messaging men this young. And what about the men? Is anyone attracted to their own age? I’m not above lying about my age (on a profile). So if i want to interest a man in his late 30s early 40s how old should I say I am? That’s what I am really getting at!

  7. Rachel says:

    I’d be interested to know how people respond at different days of the week or different times of day…or maybe even yearly trends.

    Thanks.

  8. Blair says:

    Is there an API (or methods like the Last.fm API) for okCupid that we can use for performing our own statistical analysis?

  9. Kaichester says:

    If you’re doing an analysis of what makes a good profile, I hope you will look into these, from my journal post:

    Things to Remove from Your Profile
    http://www.okcupid.com/profile/Kaichester/journal/5180867750512532525/Things-to-Remove-from-Your-Profile

  10. Jesse says:

    hello ok trends,
    I have noticed that there is a difference between what women say they want verses what they really want. In my experience, MONEY, or SECURITY is of most importance to women. .i.e. I am a struggeling artist. That means that I live paycheck to paycheck. Most woman just love me until they find out that I’m broke. Then they dump me. I have also noticed that women say they want nice guys, but always hook up with jerks. When they get older, they marry nice guys, but then cheat on them with jerks again. Why is this?
    What I would like to find out is: What are the things that men/woman say they are looking for verses what they are really interested in? Is this ALL woman? or just the ones that are in my age group?

  11. Jon T says:

    I’d be interested to see how where a person lives influences the amount people send/reply to messages. I wonder if it would follow the stereotypes of the areas. I wonder if northerners wouldn’t talk to as many people vs. southerners who might be a little more conversational, east vs. west, or just a state by state breakdown of the number of the percentage of profile views vs. messages sent.

    And a state by state break down of the okcupid population could be interesting as well to see which state contributes to the most number of people.

  12. jim says:

    Perhaps your math minds will appreciate that 5% of males are red-green color blind next time you draw out a stat map.

  13. Mike says:

    It would be awesome if you also offered more LGBT-concerned breakdowns of some of your findings. A lot of them are fascinating, but entirely inapplicable and unhelpful to my own dating…

  14. Larry says:

    I enjoyed taking your current survey, but one of the early-on questions is seriously vague: “How many people have you had oral sex with?” –The previous question asks “How many people have you had sex with?” Is the oral sex number supposed to be *only* oral sex? The way the oral sex question is written, I feel compelled to (and did) include all the people in the “had sex with” number too, because by the letter of the question that was the correct answer, and try as I might I couldn’t convince myself to go with the non-literal interpretation (much though I suspected that’s what you meant).

    Hope this helps! Cheers,
    –Larry

  15. Ron says:

    I’d like see email and wink response rate by day and time of day.

  16. techne says:

    Do you have plans to introduce more analytics tools on the site, for example, for each question? Each one could click through to an analysis page that could show the results by age, gender, geography, etc. It’d also be cool to see response rates, weight rates…

    Such a feature would TOTALLY make this geek sign up for A-list.

  17. Canoist says:

    Great job on correlating dating to geography.

    How ’bout considering time? Which month of the year are more contacts made? Is it the winter doldrums? Valentine’s? Is Spring a time for love? Do the warm days of Summer have us seeking each other? Or when we bring in the fall harvest so we hope to bring in a new love to help get through the long winter?

    Personally I find more dating email traffic through the winter, but is this universal?

    Is there any preference by sex, orientation, race, or winter duration (perhaps plant hardiness zone or length of winter by county) by month?

  18. Mismatchedshoes says:

    I’d love to see an analysis of elapsed time between messages & response rate/success of a conversation. How long can a user let a message sit before the probability of the sender replying drops off? Is there such a thing as responding too quickly? Etc.

    Great work! Love reading the blog & no serious bites on the site yet, but good fun browsing & answering questions.

  19. Shellius says:

    Could you do a comparison of whether people from more populated areas get ranked higher than people who live in the sticks? City people often don’t like to drive outside of their city walls, and I’m wondering whether that explains why I (a 4 star out in the boonies) seem to get a lot of initial interest, but I don’t get that many real dates nor REAL prospects.

  20. Tom says:

    I totally dare you to do some graphs plotting a women’s desire to have children against their age – pretty sure the line will get steep in the late 30’s…

  21. misshepburn says:

    I only recently came back to this site and I understand why, no worthwhile prospects in my city. It’s true. And in reading what women say they want to what they really want, I have my own notion of what men really want: sex, really early on. I even had a guy tell me this. I’m wondering if I should just delete my account as I’m so not that kind of girl and can’t find what I’m looking for on this site.

  22. bicyclegardener says:

    I would love to see the statistical charts for how many different people one might need to date before they find a match for a steady sweetie. Both for queer (!) and straight, please.

    Love your site, by the way. Thanks!!!

  23. Paul says:

    You should check to see whether or not personal preferences in disposable media are actually good predictors of successful dates/relationships.

  24. Reeza says:

    White first and foremost. Maybe Asian if the person has a good profile and is attractive. I guess being from the South i am a racist as much as I hate to admit it. I do have best friends who are black.

  25. Philip says:

    My I suggest a blog topic? As an overweight man, I’ve long suspected (known) that my body size drastically reduces the number of messages and responses I get. People, especially women, always disagree with me and spin a yarn about women being less interested “looks.” I firmly believe that weight or size is treaty differently than looks and women are just as judgmental about it as men. I think it would be useful see this data analysed and presented. If we are lucky it’d motivate people to make some health changes.

    Thanks for all the great posts, it’s helped me better understand the world and how to approach dating.

  26. RP says:

    It seems like there is a significant number of women who include some combination of the following in their profile:
    Please read my profile before messaging me
    Your email should have at least a few sentences in it.
    Dont message me if you cant spell.

    And I think these are pretty reasonable requests, and that is how I would construct an introduction anyway. But do these women realize that it is annoying and discourages thoughtful introductions, when they do not have the courtesy to reply with some form of thank you for your note, not interested. Which I would say only about 10% of those who request thoughtful introductions do?

    And have you done any research on whether thoughtful introductions get a differing rate of response then what the women seem to categorize as the internet equivalent of the construction whistle?

    Thanks

  27. EcoLunatic says:

    I would be curious to see your statistical take on whether or not the age range people specify for who they want to date is in fact what they really mean. I have noticed that some women visit my profile repeatedly, despite the fact that their profile specifies they are only interested in men much younger than I am. I have also found a number of women I am interested in who specify younger men as well, so I don’t message them because I assume they know what they want when they say they want someone younger and I consider it rude to ignore their stated preference. On the other hand, I am in extremely good condition and my biological age is almost ten years below my chronological age. What do the numbers say, should I be ignoring their stated age preferences and contacting them anyway?

  28. Neal says:

    Here’s what I want to know:
    After I get a response from a woman, how many messages are optimum for a meeting? Do I ask her out immediately? Should I wait until we have exchanged 2 messages each? 5? 10?
    I tend to ask when we’ve said enough to know there will be good conversation when we meet. If it gets to the end of two long messages, or three short ones, usually i have a date. But sometimes it doesnt get that far. Can statistics tell what are people on the other end are expecting?
    Can you predict a successful meeting with the number of words exchanged? Or the number of messages? Is there a way to predict statistically when the online conversation has gone on too long?
    There are tons of other factors to consider, but knoing more about this one, or at least how users of this site behave, would help ms out a lot.
    Thanks for an awesome site!

  29. Adriana says:

    Couldn’t you do some analysis on ‘astrology’ with your data as well?
    For example, I would be interested in whether there are any correlations between birth date / zodiac sign and personality characteristics in okcupid users?
    What if one looks at the people who believe in astrology only and in the ones who do not? Does the place of living potentially moderate such effects?
    Are there zodiac signs that match better than others? (again if there was such a relation is it affected by belief in astrology)

  30. anon person says:

    Howdy, love the blog, thank you for your efforts.

    I would love to see just about all of your previous articles broken out with information on straight/bi/gay/lesbian stats- the most recent “top 10 graphs” article, the graphic “odds someone enjoys giving oral sex”, is a good example. The data there would be quite interesting if there were major differences when separated by orientation.

    I also suspect you would have a lot more bi men in the stats if you were to somehow create a second, hidden, “real” orientation which was for use by OK Trends only. When a woman is bi, that’s not such a huge deal anymore. Bi men keep it to themselves a lot more, I am guessing because of the yet-prevailing homophobia in general in the USA. And yes, that means I do not have ‘bi’ checked on my profile, even though I am.

    Maybe you can add an optional “all-hidden stats” section to everyone’s profiles which includes all sorts of personal data which is for use in OKT only. I would fill it all in in a second- exact weight, measurements, top/bottom/preferences/inclinations, the length of my equipment, etc. Helping out OKT would be a pleasure for sure, and the articles you could generate from those answers could be quite fun.

    I would love to contribute to the effort on the article-writing side of things, if only with ideas, but there really isn’t a contact e-mail anywhere other than the press@okc address…

    Thanks again!

  31. anon says:

    I would like to see an analysis of the questions “In a relationship, who do you prefer to be taller?” by gender, height and age, and maybe race as well. Looking at profiles, I seem to find a lot of women in the low to mid 30s who are under 5’6″ but looking for a man more that 6′ tall. As a North American male of completely average height (5’8″) who has dated women as short as 5’2″ and as tall as 6’1″, I find these sorts of limits absolutely maddening.

  32. TC says:

    I just wanted to say that this blog is great! I am a bit of a data geek, majored in economics and statistics and now work as a data analyst. Kudos to you all for taking advantage of this data, geeking out, giving us all something interesting to look at and having a sense of humour about it all! Cheers

  33. DK says:

    I’d like to see the difference of messaging success between height and gender. 40 years ago this year, Time magazine did it’s first report on heightism in America. Has anything changed?

  34. Jeremy says:

    I’m curious about the “down-low” effect on these statistics. When I was dating online before I met my partner ( I’m a white male, he’s a Pacific Islander and we’ve been together for 3 years), I would get hit up by black men who didn’t want to show their faces or talk about their identity, and that just doesn’t cut it regardless of race. I never responded to people with only pictures of torsos, or other body parts.

  35. FarceBeWithYou says:

    I’d like to see an analysis on dating type test that you guys invented; and if the matches that happen on the site correlates to the “consider/avoid” types your test makes for each dating type.

  36. M.S says:

    I believe further research on bisexuals should be interesting.
    I am very surprised by racial preference of bisexual males. White bisexual males don’t stick to their own race.

    Except whites, all the races show similar strong preferences to their own races, compared to their gay male counterparts (~2% difference at most). Interestingly, however, white bisexual males show them a lot less than white gay males (-16%). Furthermore, their tendency is even lower than white straight males’ (-13%) but similar to white gay/bisexual females’ (~4%).

    Actually, I have suspected this tendency from my experience.
    I have felt bisexual or bi-curious suspected white guys seem to be interested in non-white guys. I believe it should be interesting to survey bisexuals in depth.

  37. Toetare "Equal Rights For Blacks Brotha" says:

    Well, let’s consider some pivotal facts Okcupid is leaving out when posting these statistics to the public:

    The white race brought the African American community into a country that’s 74% white (80% white if Hispanic whites are included) while blacks only make up 13% of the country. This has brought forth a slew of white privileges/black disadvantages. To add to that, because of whites, America has experienced a five-century long era of socially acceptable anti-black persecution which only fully came to an end by the mid-1970s. Efforts being made to improve the state of the black community throughout the 1970s as a result of all the oppression were already being overturned and heavily opposed by the very early 1980s when another republican was elected president, that of course being Ronald Reagan. With beliefs in “reverse racism” already prevailing among the American public by 1979 (as stated here http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Q2JxxNuBWeMJ:www.infoplease.com/ce6/society/A0802658.html+brought+charges+of+so-called+reverse+discrimination+in+the+late&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us), most programs intended to helping the black community had begun being abandoned (not reparations, mind you, that could instantly equate the status of the black community to the status of white community, but merely catch-up aids for a toilsome game of catch-up that the African American community has been forced to play). As one example of aiding programs that were cut, programs intended to helping the black school system were all dropped throughout the early 1980s. More money and funds were put into white schools and societies in directions of white flight. This caused the majority of black schools to return to their previous 1960s condition by the late 1980s, and so on.
    Believe it or not, this long history of racial persecution and failure to make up for it has created a whole host of negative effects for today’s African American community that rear their ugly head in the dating world as well. This history has created a whole host of white privileges/black disadvantages.

    Let’s take a look at how this history has affected my experience in the dating world as a gay African American male. Few facts about myself: I am mocha-colored to be exact; 24 years of age; year away from earning my second college degree; into taking care of myself as I’ve always been fit (5’9 and 139 w/ a six pack), pearly white teeth, never drank nor smoke, never done drugs, never had any diseases, never done hook-ups nor friends with benefits and never will as I have strong values that go against all that kind behavior (no offense, but this is more than I can say for most gay, or even str8 white male I have ever heard of); I was born and raised middle-class in all-white suburbs. My requirements in another guy aren’t anything excessive. I always post that the other person must be: neither fat nor chubby, non-effeminate, a non-smoker, a non-heavy drinker, non-drug users, and no one with any sort of disease.

    Now, I’ve never even been able to go on a date with anyone from my own race yet which is unsurprising when you consider the situation I’m in as a gay African American male: (1.) African Americans only make up 13% of the country (2.) Cut that 13% in half because the country is only 6% black male (3.) Cut down that 6% black male because not every black male is gay or bisexual (4.) Cut down that less than 6% even more because the era of socially acceptable anti-black persecution 35 years ago has left much of our community lower-class and struggling. To be exact 25.8% of the black community is poverty-stricken, while the majority of blacks are working-class. (as is stated here http://www.washingtoninformer.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4534:poverty-rate-among-african-americans-nearly-double-that-of-whites&catid=53:business&Itemid=162 AND HERE http://milwaukeecourieronline.com/index.php/2010/10/02/poverty-rate-among-african-americans-nearly-double-that-of-white-americans/ ). Working-class is an area below the middle-class level where most of the white community sits at. To break it down more clearly, finding middle-class black men like myself is hard enough as it is, without also trying to ferret out gay middle-class black men looking for long-term relationships. If you are lucky enough to be an African American born in Atlanta, Georgia — where most middle-class blacks in the U.S. live — perhaps this wouldn’t be such an issue, but what about the rest of the nation. I grew up not only in the mid-west, which is the most racially segregated area of the nation, but in Wisconsin which is the most racially segregated, and noted for its lack of black middle-class and suburbs (as is stated here http://racerelations.about.com/b/2011/04/04/do-you-live-in-one-of-americas-most-segregated-cities.htm )

    I’ve come to realize that the only way I’d be able to find another gay black male that fits my standards is by saving up a lot of money and moving. I’ve asked my dad if I can attend college in Atlanta and he says he neither has the money nor the energy for all of that. Most black males in my neck of the woods, as is the case in many other areas of the nation, are only into secretive down low hook-ups and understandably so: Most of them are lower-class and the tough lower-class lifestyle that they lead do not allow for them to completely embrace their homosexuality. Being tough and able to survive in hood environments is crucial for lower-class African Americans. Additionally, because they’re dealing race issues, gay issues, and poverty issues all at once, its very likely they smoke, do drink heavily, do drugs, etc., which are all things that eliminate them from my list of requirements. Heck, it’s hard enough as it is to come across a gay white male that doesn’t smoke or do drugs, you can imagine how hard it is to come across a gay black male that doesn’t when they’re faced with a helluva lot more challenges than any gay white male.

    So here I am, forced to search through a bunch of gay white males with racial hang ups. I’ve realized the Internet isn’t even an option anymore. Usually when I make out posts on Craigslist in search of an LTR and I get no responses, however, once when I changed “African American” to “White”, a bunch of white males started answering. (Internet dating is pivotal in the gay community even for whites by the way). Placed all the same exact stats and information: how I have my degree, never drank nor smoked nor done drugs, fit, so on and so forth. Only difference was that I changed my color, and my luck changed.

    I can’t tell you how many white men have stared into my eyes daily (some even going so far as playing footsy with me) and have done all sorts of stuff that implies interests at college, then when I was direct about it, acted like they never did any such a thing and completely changed their tune. They’re very into wasting time and sending mixed messages which exacerbates the lives of gay black men even more. It goes hand in hand with the fact that most of the white men I’ve gone out on dates with (I’ve only been able to go on dates with white men by the way) all had something racially offensive to say. It’s almost as if they’re conflicted just because of skin color. I mean, before I even met the last guy I went out on a date with, he told me on the phone, “Can we just meet as friends? My parents would freak if I brought home a black guy.” “Why?” I asked. “Well please don’t take offense but most blacks are lazy and on welfare. You guys also have d*cks that look like fudge popcicles.” When we actually met, he wanted more but looked like a bum, had a hunch, and he had a small bald spot at only 20 years of age. I ended up sneaking off in the middle of our date while he had his back turned to me, rambling on, as he was out of my league. He called me off the hook, wondering why I bailed on him and had the nerve to say “I could have been nicer”. I’ve learned that a lot of white males are willing to get involved with African Americans with no hesitations whatsoever if you’re out of their league above them in some way, whether you’re 9 years younger than them, you’re skinny while they’re fat, you don’t smoke while they do, etc. I refuse to get the short end of the stick with a white male which unfortunately has meant I get no one. It’s important to note, however, that it’s not rare for white males who are uglier than black men to still act like the black guy is out of his league. The general consensus when I asked random strangers what I was on a scale of 1 to 10 was that I was a solid 8. Now I’ve come across a few white men that were straight up 3s and 4s with faces filled with that reddened acne that whites get. Anyways, these dudes STILL… STILL acted as if they were above me in the dating arena. Obviously I didn’t mind their not contacting me back after our dates as I would have turned them down anyway, but it’s more of an issue of ‘damn! I have no one from your own race to choose from as a result of the whites, and I can only get the short end of the stick as far as the majority of choices go, and sometimes not even that.’

    Anyways, many of the white men I’ve gone out on dates with have said something similar to my last date in terms of black people. It explains why all of these white college men will send signals but then act differently once I approach them directly. Wasting my time with conflicted white men with racial hang ups, who like sending signals has been pretty much the story of my life. It really sucks having to put up with white people and having only white males who are out of my league to choose from. I hate that most middle-class black people live in Atlanta. I’ve asked my dad if I can attend college in Atlanta and he said he doesn’t have the energy and money for all that. I don’t get my second degree until May of 2012, so I’m going to have to put up with zero romantic life until then and figure out some way to save and move. Whites don’t have to consider any of this when looking for a soul mate. They can simply walk out of their homes because no one has racially persecuted them for 5 centuries, creating a whole host of disadvantages for them to deal with. Being 24 now, I’ll probably be too old by the time I’m able to move to Atlanta. All that said, not everyone is gay and I can’t speak for the str8 black male experience here in Milwaukee WI. I can say that, while I have had a great deal of pretty white girls flirt me up and look at me adoringly here at college and other venues, I don’t know what, if any, antics are played once you get involved with them. But let’s just say I’m doing a lot better for myself than my brother seemed to be going down the right path until he started dating white girls. That’s the point at which he took up smoking, dropped out of college, and had a baby with one white chick, who also smokes, when he wasn’t ready. But who knows if that was because of her or not. I can’t make any assumptions about the lives of str8 black male but I know for a fact the past horrors of whites have complicated the lives of gay blacks.

    Whites are always bugging blacks about why they don’t feel motivated to be successful? Well, perhaps this is why. I am a relatively successful African American male and couldn’t be more miserable.

    Last but not least, because of the likelihood of middle-class blacks growing up in all-white areas in the U.S., it’s very possible that they will begin to see whites as their preference while overlooking the option of another middle-class black person. Due to ignorance of what whites have done to are community, you have these types of black men making our trials and tribulations as a race that much harder.

    THANK YOU OKCUPID FOR OMITTING ALL THIS INFORMATION IN ADDING STATISTICS THAT WILL PROBABLY ONLY SERVE TO COMPLICATE ISSUES FOR GAY BLACK MEN. IF YOU WANT TO PROVIDE SUCH STATISTICS, ITS ONLY FAIR YOU ADD ITS BACKGROUND AND EXPLANATION WITHOUT THE SURFACE THAT MAKES ONE GROUP LOOK BAD AND THE OTHER GROUP LOOK GOOD.

  38. Jerome Descimes says:

    Congratulations and thanks from France ! Your analysis is very interesting, sometimes amazing, sometimes disturbing. Bravo pour ce travail très intéressant !

  39. M.S says:

    Among whites, bisexual males least stick to their own race. Their openness to non-whites is even higher than straight white males’. Interesting, but why?

  40. merteuil says:

    Thanks OkTrends – these two articles on race and message reply rates have elegantly and clearly laid out what has been going on for decades- people, regardless of their education, class, and political leanings, often just play concentration/matching when it comes to dating and sex…but it goes well beyond that.

    Particularly regarding the LGBT data, and the numerous examples of people of color replying more to WHITE users than others of their own ethnic background, we see that it isn’t just the interracial marriage factor – LGBT folks, particularly gay/bi males, strongly prefer white dudes OVER their own ethnic backgrounds. What’s going on here? In the U.S., something about being socialized/sexualized as a gay male makes you fit this mold. As a mixed black/white man of color, I unfortunately have been both affected by this (though I’m no supermodel, I’ve had a VERY low response rate from white men/other non-black men of color) and fall within the ugly statistics on the chart – many of my ex boyfriends have been white – and the last middle eastern! :)

    The big question to me here is, what can we DO about this? People relate to their attractions and sexual/dating preferences as these “natural”, fundamental parts of themselves, yet the example of things like Asian gay men replying to white men 8% more often than to other Asian men shows that this is ALL socially constructed. No one wants to talk about this, and are usually even less inclined to examine their own feelings about race/dating – we don’t have to extend our beliefs about racial equality to ACTUALLY connecting with people of other races, do we?

    P.S. My two cents on the gay middle-eastern trend that is off the charts – there are a few angles to this. First, many middle eastern men can sometimes pass/identify as white themselves, so there’s a lot of (superficial) cultural and identity-based appeal that links them to white men. BUT, they also have the added advantage of being seen as “exotic” by many men, with anything from beautiful eyes to penis size mythology to other middle eastern fantasies factoring in here. Finally, I think that many people in the U.S. are experiencing a shift in our national identity as it relates to thinking of people from the Middle East – with the “war on terror” looming over much of my generation since high school, we’ve been taught to fear and obsess on people from the middle east – and sometimes, this kind of foreign, exotic appeal becomes erotic in its own way. Look at the intensity and celebration following Bin Laden’s death as an example of how much we have vested in our notions of the middle east – how many of those people chanting and celebrating after his death even knew where he came from?