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He seemed like a really nice guy, didn’t he?

He complimented your style, your hair, your voice. He seemed completely enthralled by everything you did. He paid for the meal, the drinks and gave you cab fare for the ride home. He texted to make sure you got to your house OK, and invited you to brunch two days later. You talked on the phone for hours in-between. Wow. He’s so into you. Your self-esteem is soaring. Your libido is bubbling with the possibility of finally using your birth control pills for something other than menstrual cycle regulation.

Then, when you least expect it. Just when you’re ready to let your guard down. Just as he passes the mimosa during an otherwise lovely brunch he says something that no matter how you parse it, it just doesn’t feel right.

“You’re so [pretty, nice, smart, funny, random positive attribute, etc.] for a ____.”

Stop the record. Rewind. Play that back?

You can ignore it. (He does seem so dreamy, after all. So you probably will.) But eventually you may discover what you thought was simply a preference (he always liked to date girls “like” you) was really more of a fetish.

And not in the good way.

Now before we go down that well-worn road of “there’s nothing wrong with having a type,” let’s get it clear that, yes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with preferences and being attracted to whatever you happen to be attracted to. The problem is when the type becomes an objectification, a perversion, an impersonal fetish where you don’t see these people who have these traits, looks or personality you desire as individuals with thoughts, feelings, flaws and ambitions of their own. This is when you see them as an object subject to stereotype and “black or white” rules. When the fantasy is all about the person with the fetish and has very little to do with you and what you want as the fetish object.

Case in point: When I lived in California I once knew a man who liked Asian women. Not the look or necessarily even the culture, but just any Asian woman because he didn’t see Asian women as individuals. He saw them as objects — passive, sexually submissive objects — he could project his imperialist fantasies upon. He would bemoan how “American” women were too Westernized and did not know how to be a real “women.” But ASIAN women were REAL women in the way they allegedly submitted wholly to their men.

This naturally ignored how each Asian woman is her own woman, with her own ideas, history, personality and dreams. But he did not see Asian women (or any women, for that matter) as individuals. He would meet some unsuspecting Asian girl, preferably an immigrant, become extremely aggressive with her to the point of obsessiveness, borderline stalk her and once, finally, when she’d submitted to his “charms” he would control every aspect of her life and bully her into converting to Christianity if she happened to not be Christian.

Most of these relationships, of course, did not work out. As nearly all the women would run screaming upon realizing how suffocating his brand of “love” was. Suffocating in that they were exotic “dolls” for him to boss around and own. Not humans.

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  • :)

    yes yes yes!!I believe I was.I’ve gotten the “You’re cute for a Black girl” from guys in college.Being Caribbean American,I think that I’ve been stereotyped for being that “exotic” chick;that:she’s Black,but not JUST African American.And I’m proud to say that this does not phase me.However, what’s sad is that I used to sometimes try to live up to that stereotype for my advantage. I would play that “exotic chick” role and this would nonetheless get me a lot more attention from men.
    Honestly,being “exotic” doesn’t change the fact that I’m more in tuned with my Black culture or that I rock out to Paramore…but when men find out that I am more than a “fetish”…well,the good ones stick around.And this is because I can’t change the fact that I am “exotic” to many,but I can control my personality and who I am as a person!

  • jen

    I don’t have a fetish, I have a type that I don’t deviate from. I’m a realist: I know that the men I find attractive come in all personality types (from “nice guy” to “total asshole); with that being said, I always knew that I could keep searching among my physical “type” for the guy with the right personality (for me). Do you think blonde women agonize over being “fetishized?” For some reason, I highly doubt it. Just enjoy the attention and if his personality is creepy or overbearing, send him packing.

    • jamesfrmphilly

      “I have a type that I don’t deviate from” – um, that’s a compulsion…….

    • Timcampi

      @jen

      Actually, you’re surprisingly far from the truth, but good on you! You made a baseless assumption.

    • Jen

      Yep, totally baseless. It’s not like I see t-shirts everytime I walk into the mall that say, “Blondes Do It Better” or know that the vast, vast majority of attractive young women who audition for Playboy are sure to dye their hair blonde first;) Totally baseless.

    • Timcampi

      @Jen

      So you don’t think many people are outraged by the generalizations people make about blondes based on those shirts? How does the fact that the shirt exists equates to ‘blondes don’t care how they are objectified’? I’m going make a shirt that said Black Women Put Out. Given your example no one should have a problem with it. Because clearly, every blonde woman wants to be thought of as a sexual deviant. Every red head must have a fiery attitude. Every Brazilian woman must be a beast in bed, etc…

      It is a stereotype. All stereotypes offend.

    • jen

      For the vast, vaaast majority of women, positive stereotypes DO NOT offend. But having said that, they do consider the source. If, for instance, a black man said to your average black American woman, “Black women are the sexiest, most giving, most sensual,” the AVERAGE black American woman would NOT be angered because she is being “objectified and stereotyped.” What makes you think you can speak for WOMEN? Puh-lease. At least I’m not being disingenuous. You think even POSITIVE stereotypes SHOULD offend black women… if the person giving them is a white male. Just admit it.

    • Timcampi

      @Jen

      “For the vast, vaaast majority of women, positive stereotypes DO NOT offend.”

      Do you know what Putting Out even means? Because that’s not a positive stereotype. That’s calling someone a slut. But carry on. Y’know because surely all Brazilian and Asian women want to be seen as seductresses. It’s funny how you say this and then say that I’m speaking for all women. But you would know what the vast majority of women feel like because you of course are all of them!

      ” If, for instance, a black man […] ”

      This was nowhere near the example I gave. And a totally different situation. There’s a difference between a black man saying it (even though I’d still be offended if a black man did) and someone NOT of that race making an assertion based on someone’s race. Are you even going to try to be right? All stereotypes have the ability to offend. Because, uh duh, it’s a generalization.

      “What makes you think you can speak for WOMEN? Puh-lease. At least I’m not being disingenuous. You think even POSITIVE stereotypes SHOULD offend black women… if the person giving them is a white male. Just admit it.”

      “Do you think blonde women agonize over being “fetishized?” For some reason, I highly doubt it. “

      What do you call this. Please point to me where I said ALL women would be offended?

      Also wtf white men? What do white men have to do with this? Oh wait. Apparently I’m supposed to be angry at all of them for even finding me slightly attractive? Oh that’s so funny…. my paramour is definitely currently not a half Japanese, half Caucasian man.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    so what percent of this site is devoted to hyping white guys?

    • African Mami

      @j-philly,

      0.1%-white related issues
      99.9%-black related issues-including fruits, nuts, grains, and veggies.

    • jamesfrmphilly

      it’s vegetables…….

    • African Mami

      it still gets digested the same way whether its spelled out as veggies or vegetables :) no?!

  • fuchsia

    I get what the author is trying to say, and there is a difference between a preference and a fetish. Someone with a preference will look for real relationships with a type of person. Someone with a fetish doesn’t see the person at all, only the object, and they will play out a situation as if the other person is a doll. Once the person becomes real they bounce or get violent. Usually people who prefer a fling over a real relationship are the ones to find this behavior okay because it’s easier for them to be with the fetishist by acting out their role. Maybe they prefer fetishist because it’s less work to maintain the relationship and they get the added bonus of an ego boost. They need only know “their place” and things go smoothly. But if it goes on long enough and they can’t see a few steps ahead of the fetishist it actually can become a dangerous situation. I’ve seen women go from one abusive relationship to another only because they allow themselves to be the object of someone’s fetish over and over again. IMO It’s a sign of low self worth.