The Daily Gamecock

Column: Racial fetishes are inherently objectifying

French psychologist Alfred Binet is most well-known as the creator of the IQ test. However, this influential leader also coined the word fetishism, which is much more exciting. A fetish is a sexual attraction that is focused on an inanimate object, or particular part of the body. Foot and shoe fetishes are the most popularized, but nearly anything can be fetishized. Leather and fishnets are common clothing fetishes — but don’t worry if you like girls in leather or boys in fishnets because there’s a difference between an attraction and a fetish. For many fetishists, they are unable to achieve orgasm without the object of their fetish present.

In an of themselves, fetishes are unproblematic. As explored in my previous article on kinkshaming, a kink is only a bad thing when it begins involving non-consenting individuals. These fetishes do exist, like the fetish for stolen underwear or hair, but most fetishes are personal, private and perfectly safe. Where fetishism does become problematic, however, is racially. Fetishism is all about sexualizing an object. When that object is a person, then it's not just fetishism, it’s objectification. This sort of racial fetishism is found most surrounding people of African-American and Asian descent.

There is a particular fetish that illustrates this well, called cuckolding. Cuckolding is a humiliation kink in which men get sexual pleasure from watching their spouse cheat on them. By itself, this fetish isn’t harmful, if everyone consents. However, there is a particular trend in this sort of activity that is incredibly racist and problematic, and that is the presence of the “bull.” This man, called “the bull,” is grossly dehumanized in the situation, as he is always black, always aggressive and entirely objectified. He is no longer a man happily consenting to a little voyeurism with a married couple; instead, he is turned into a tool for another man’s sexual pleasure — the basis of which is humiliation — because in a systemically racist society, there is nothing more humiliating for a white man than having his white wife be used by a black man.

Usually, however, the social problems in porn get better the gayer you get. This means that in gay porn, the two (or more) people in the scene are more likely to be treated equally than in heterosexual porn, in which that never happens. This, unfortunately, is not really the case for sexual racism. In interracial gay porn, the same black male stereotypes from straight porn still exist. In what is called “reverse interracial,” in which the black partner bottoms, the racist undertones can often just get worse. In porn in which both (or all) participants are black, it is almost always violent, aggressive and very one-sided, reflecting the very harsh attitudes about homosexuality in African-American culture.

This isn’t just a problem for black people or people trying to find not-terrible porn; it’s also a problem for Asian people. While infantilization of Asian women is its own incredibly terrifying problem, a large part of it stems from the assumption that Asian women are submissive, eager to please and exotic objects. All of the racist portrayals of black men in porn are met in greater number for Asian women, especially in animations. Anime has problematic depictions and characterization of women in a context that, ostensibly, is not entirely for the purpose of sexual gratification. Hentai is entirely pornographic anime, and the women are always portrayed as submissive, objectified and often engaging without having given consent. On the gay side of things, Asian men are portrayed very much the same: always effeminate, always submissive and always objectified.

Fetishism is about objects, so fetishizing a person based on race is inherently impermissible, as it is dehumanizing on the most basic level. Good porn is hard to find, but it’s out there. Supporting the studios and companies that produce inherently racist porn is the same as supporting sexual racism and racism in all contexts. Feminist porn exists, porn produced by black people starring black people exists and porn with dominant Asians exists.Stop buying into the fetishism of race. Stick with fetishizing toes and shoes and other things that don’t have feelings.


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