Who's out of whose league? The black woman who's being hit on by "inferior" men gets some feedback.

By Salon Staff
Published March 4, 2005 8:07PM (EST)

[Read the "Since You Asked" column by Cary Tennis.]

Re: The Black woman who is constantly approached by Black men who are "out of her league."

Puh-leeze. Perhaps you did not feel you could take her to task for being vain and shallow because she played the race card, but this woman's "dilemma" has nothing to do with race, or male/female interaction; it's about her own ego, narcissism and insecurities. I'm guessing this sister was very unattractive growing up or she was frequently the only African-American in her class and had few opportunities to learn how to interact with the opposite sex (as is often the case with successful, post-integration Black women -- see Condoleezza Rice). So rather than admit she doesn't know how to handle the whole Mars/Venus thing she hides behind the "agony" of being approached by "unsuitable" Black men.

It's telling that she only mentions the men's physical traits and never seems interested in their character. She could be missing a real good Brother because of her own hang-ups or shallowness. Brothers get on my nerves, too, but, damn, this heffa is making me look bad.

-- A Mad Black Woman

Just thought I'd comment on the young woman who asked Cary Tennis what the deal was with men who were evidently "out of her league" asking her out. It's not a black thing. It's not an anyone thing. Perhaps the men who are approaching her simply find her attractive. My guy friends say that when they find women attractive, they're going to have to go up to her and say something, because a very small percentage of women initiate conversations with men they find attractive.

Because many men feel that the onus is on them to start a conversation or the opportunity may be lost, maybe women who are approached -- by any man, in any league -- should be gentle with any man who has the rocks to go on up and say something. Plus, she can take it as a compliment. This young woman, likely correctly, is confident in her outward appearance. It's probably because men of many leagues hit on her, and she should revel in it, because she's luckier than most.

Taking compliments where I can get 'em...

-- Julia

Regarding the black woman who feels that she is too often approached by black men who are too unattractive to be in her league, I think an important issue is how men and women assess their own looks. Surveys reveal that three-quarters of all men feel they are "good-looking." Only one quarter of all women do so. It's unclear why this should be so. Perhaps it's because women have to measure themselves against barrages of hyperbeautiful thin young models on every magazine cover and in every movie and television show, while the same media often portray older men, short men, or heavy men as perfectly desirable.

-- Rui Sousa

This is regarding the Cary Tennis letter in which a woman who is a black, attractive professional woman doesn't understand why black men whom she considers unsuitable approach her. She points out that she knows when a man is out of her league, and she wouldn't dream of approaching him. My question is, why not? Is it possible that this woman has some rather rigid, preconceived notions of suitability?

What kind of man would she consider "out of her league" -- and why? And what is she afraid of? What if some man she considers out of her league finds her delightful, interesting, or fun to talk to, not caring if her education or income match his? And how does she know that some of these "unsuitable" men might not be interesting, smart, insightful, warm, loving, loyal and sexy? What if a hard-working, competent blue-collar man with 20 extra pounds approaches her -- how does she know that he isn't the smartest, most wonderful guy she'll ever know? How does she know that the appropriate, slim, educated professional man isn't an embezzler? I would just suggest, as does Tennis, that she at least give them a minute or two of her time before dismissing them.

-- F

Being a hetero white woman, I have no idea why these men are hitting on her (based on her attitude, she certainly doesn't sound like someone I'd be attracted to if I were them!), but maybe it's because they care about more than physical features when considering potential mates.

I know it's not p.c. to generalize according to race, but I will do it anyway: I've also noticed that black men seem not to care as much as white men about "who is in their league." Being plain-looking with an average body (but a great personality!), I have the opposite experience as your reader -- I find that black men who I would consider out of MY league based on looks (and who would think they were out of my league if they were white) hit on me. In fact, black men of every "league" hit on me more than white men hit on me at all, and I suspect it is because most white men think I'm either out of their league or they are out of mine.

Is it because black men aren't as concerned about the status issues involved with how attractive your date is? Is it because they have a broader view of what is attractive, such that I'm actually pretty sexy to them even though according to MTV I'm fat and my face is plain? I don't know, but (assuming it's not harassment, as you say) I certainly can't see what is so wrong with those "out of their league" men not being as superficial as the advice-seeker and having the nerve to dare to speak to such a physically superior being such as herself. Jeez.

-- J.A.

I wanted to respond to Out of Their League's letter about being hit on by "unsuitable men." It's not just black men; it's all men. While I certainly don't consider myself a "10" and don't expect to have Johnny Depp phoning me anytime soon, I'm still appalled by the men who hit on me. Now 40 and divorced, I've apparently become a geezer magnet -- the men approaching me are generally in their late 60s or older. The ones who are even remotely close to my age are generally grossly overweight, bald and self-involved, and they have only a passing acquaintance with basic rules of hygiene and fashion.

Forgive me for generalizing, but I believe it's the same story no matter what your ethnicity: Most men consider themselves a great catch, no matter what they look like, and believe that -- without putting forth any effort -- they "deserve" an incredibly hot, taut-bunned, perky-breasted girl 20 years their junior. On the other side of the coin, most women -- even the most attractive, intelligent, sensitive and accomplished -- can only see flaws when they look in a mirror and have been brainwashed into believing that they're damn lucky to have a man -- any man -- in their lives.

Just look at films, where someone like 60-something Harrison Ford or Sean Connery is romantically paired with 20-something actresses. Or television, where the stupid, insensitive, balding, dumpy schlub has a hot, thin wife who looks 10 to 20 years younger. And let a woman dare to turn a man down because she finds him physically repulsive, and we're called shallow. Yeah -- he's 50 and is hitting on 19-year-olds, and I'm shallow. You're right, it's annoying, insulting and unfair, but unfortunately, I don't think it's going to change anytime soon.

-- Been There

It may be that the problem is not so much the lower-league guys. It sounds to me that perhaps OoTL is actually having a problem with her self-esteem, even though she seemingly knows how hot and attractive and professional she is.

Perhaps she has tried really hard to get (or stay) "out of the league" of these unattractive, unsuccessful guys, and the reason their approaches bother her so much is that they somehow bring her back to where she started. Or something like that. And hence the frustration. Or perhaps I'm just forcing my own issues on her ;-)

-- Karen

Maybe the old, short, overweight and unsuitable men approaching this woman (I can't make any apologies for the badly groomed) think they have a chance with any woman they find attractive because they have high self-esteem. Maybe they think they have a chance because they know they've got something worth having. Maybe she should evaluate men's "suitability" on something other than age and looks. Maybe, when she turns them down, it's her loss, not theirs.

-- geenius

Salon Staff

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