It goes much further than simply have “a type”
By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer
When a person is interested in you, they’d like to know more about you. It is usually the case that if you are a person of colour, you are asked where you are from, or what your ethnicity/race is. If the question is out of genuine curiosity, it’s perfectly fine, but this type of question could be an indicator that you might land in hot water.
From personal experience as an Asian guy, I’ve been in such a situation, and I respond to the question by asking why they want to know. It could be that they were just wondering, but then there are responses like “Nice, I’m into Asians.” When I ask why that’s the case, stereotypes are listed, like Asians being naturally submissive, exotic, younger-looking, or eager to please. That, my friend, is racial fetishism.
Fetishizing races involves racial stereotyping. You just see the person as a means to fulfill your fetish. In this way, it becomes dehumanising, because you are not attracted to a person, but traits that are stereotypically associated to a race. They stereotype the person as having specific characteristics that may not necessarily be true. Other examples include Asian women being perceived as subservient, black men as having large genitalia, and black women as being curvy and knowing how to twerk. These are all harmful stereotypes, since the people are expected to be something that they may not necessarily be.
There is an argument that it is not a bad thing because it is still attraction, but there is a difference semantically. A fetish is a must-have to fulfill a person’s sexual fantasy. According to the dictionary, it’s “a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, or part of the body.” From this, we can see the problem with racial fetishism as it makes race into an object. You are only attracted to specific characteristics you strongly desire, independent of who they are as a person. You do not appreciate the person’s beauty, but you are more gratified and obsessed by the person’s race, which inherently includes associated stereotypes. It’s a form of objectification, and it’s dehumanising.
Being genuinely attracted to someone is being attracted to the person as a whole. Perhaps you both share similar taste in music, or you love their talents, skills, and their personality. These are human traits and what makes a person. Of course, it is important to acknowledge the race of the person you are dating because this is who they are, but if you think their race is so important that it overshadows everything about them, then it is a problem.
Interracial relationships are beautiful, progressive, and a reflection of how diverse society is. Excluding specific races from your prospective dating options is racist as well due to this usually being based in perceived negative stereotypes. You can see how associated racial stereotypes is the common denominator of the two, and why both are systematically racist.
If you are open to dating people out of your race, then that’s great! But you have to ask yourself: “Is this because there is something about the other person’s race I find attractive?” “Is this because there’s an attractive characteristic I think a person of that race has?” If those are the reasons, then you need to unlearn this racist way of thinking and understand not everyone from that race fits into that box of stereotypes. If you are attracted to a person for who they are and they just so happen to be of a different race, then that means you like or love the person as a whole, and you respect them. That being said, if you find their physical characteristics as stunning and you appreciate a person of colour’s aesthetic beauty, then that is a compliment. When you fetishize it, though, then that’s a problem.