My Experiences with Fetishism

Written by Saran Lawson

I came across a post on Facebook about Asian Men and Black Women being undateable. Before you judge the post off of my opening line, I’ll explain. It was a simple statement that read, I’ll never understand why some people consider Asian men and Black women undateable. I read through the comments and as usual, they were extremely diverse. You had the “woe is me” group, “shoot your shot” group, “coupled” group but the one group that stood out is the “fetish” commenters. The post was made from a page that is deemed a safe space for people of color. So as you have guessed, people of color are the members who dominate the group. The comment that inspired this piece was, “But people will fetish us like hell…. different conversation tho”. I will say this, from personal experience I have been the receptor of more fetishizing than I am willing to share. Well, maybe just a few examples. 

I’ve come across my fair share in person. Like this cringy moment in the 2000s as a freshman in the deep south. I was doing a car wash for a club I was apart of in college. Despite the fact that I was in a completely covered one-piece AND a skirt, a car rolled down their window to speak in a blackcent. They said something like, “Damn girlll” and something about me twerking for them. For the record, I was just holding a sign directing people to a car wash. It was hot and I was hungry. I most certainly wasn’t putting on a red nose and multi-colored afro for those jokers. This stuck out to me more than my recent examples. It was one of the first times that I couldn’t put my finger on what I was experiencing. It wasn’t just because I was a woman. There were white girls dressed in less than me. The guys would hunk and yell “whew!!!”. They would pull over and chat them up. I’m sure saying things they thought were compliments, but no doubt misogynistic. This comment included those things, with the added element of racial undertones. The blackcent, that was indeed forced. The use of the term twerking. For historical references, black people had been doing the dance for years. We called it popping and even shaking before the term twerking became the dictionary place holder. The mainstream didn’t catch on until the early 2000s. By that point, it wasn’t what it is now, a widely accepted dance. It had racial undertones in certain groups. I distinctly remember an article where the journalist described it as a dance done by women in low-income neighborhoods. It was despite the fact that black people around the world had been shaking their derrieres for centuries. The comment I received was to be a compliment wrapped in misogyny and racism. That would continue to be the basis most white men approached me on all during college. I was an itch to scratch. They had heard about black women. More than likely rumors from friends, and I became the perfect target. Sometimes they were brutish and sometimes they were meek. However, it was mostly misogynistic fetishism all the same. 

Online is another beast. I would have to say that the majority of the fetishizing I receive today comes from Al Gore’s internet. I always tell people about online dating, “the best thing about the internet is everyone is on the internet. The worst thing about the internet is that everyone is on the internet”. If I can tell you the number of times I have heard the exact same lame lines with no changes at all to the presentation. There are guys who will pretend to be sweet then bring up sex later in the conversation. Even after reading my bio. They’ll present it sheepishly, “I’m nervous.”. Before I didn’t see it coming so I came near the trap, “Why would you be nervous?”.  The trap was then laid, “Because, I’m sure you have had sex with a lot of black men. I may be too small for you.” WTF?! (For those not familiar with internet abbreviations, the nice version is, What The Fudge. Except I don’t mean fudge.) This has happened a few thousand times. I have had guys literally tell me that they want to date black girls because they have “huge asses”. Oh my dear, let me show you a group of black girls called the forgotten ones. **Raises hand** I’m the treasurer. It’s been assumed that we are all some version of the girls they see in the hip hop videos or Instagram. You know, the girls who in the majority have been altered to continue working in the industry. On the other end, I’ve seen women who are into Asian culture and it comes off as fetishy. The guys on the receiving end have spoken out and asked women to stop assuming they’re into anime, k-pop. And for goodness sake to please stop calling them Oppa and Senpai. I’ve seen what they’re referencing to, and it’s cringe-worthy. 

Some people believe that any attention is good attention. I, an introvert and a person with self-respect, would beg to differ. Fetishes are rooted in stereotypes. Whether negative or positive, they can be damaging. Your attraction to a group of people should not come from assumptions about who they are. True attraction is not based on assumed physicalities like, “Black women have big butts”. Even non-physical assumptions like, “All black people can cook”. If you have met me, then you would assume you are correct in this assumption. However, there is a reason we tell certain individuals to bring paper plates or napkins to functions. All in all, no one wants to be an experiment. You will realize there is a real person who may not fit into the mold that was designed for them. To not fetishize is to realize that people are individuals. To see someone as an individual is where real attraction starts. Have you experienced fetishism? Sound off in the comments below! 

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