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Racial Fetishism – Is Preference Racist?

If you follow big-name YouTubers, you probably heard Philip DeFranco discussing race last week. He was debating sexual preference and whether or not a preference for one race over another is racist.

This story was sparked by a series of tweets from fellow YouTuber and online personality, Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley), who proclaimed that having a racial preference is indeed racist…

“Pssst, saying an entire race of people is “not your type” isn’t “just a preference” – it’s just racism. Not here to argue! Just informing!”

“Maybe instead of replying to this to justify your racism, look inwards as to WHY you choose to write off millions of people based on race :]”

“To those saying my argument implies gay people are sexist: sexual orientation isn’t a choice. writing off an entire race is”

“ ‘I can’t help what I’m attracted to’ let’s dissect the WHY: society makes beauty standards/favors whiteness, your ‘preference’ is prejudice”

Kim and Kanye West celebrity mixed race couple

DeFranco then expressed “I love the entire rainbow” and opened up the discussion to his followers for the comments section: “Is it racist to prefer one race over another?”

Followed by:

“If someone has a personal preference that they just have, what’s the big deal? If someone’s going like ‘I don’t like black girls!’ then okay, yeah. Why are you spouting off information that no one cares about? I just don’t think personally I’m hurt or affected by it. If someone was like ‘I’m not into white guys’ I wouldn’t be like *shock face*. Is it in the same way like if someone was tall or short? I don’t know…”

Racial fetishism is a fetish whereby a person is sexually attracted to persons of a race, culture or ethnic group different to their own. However, finding a person attractive in accordance with one’s fetish inevitably involves racial stereotyping and sexual objectification.
Asian girl laying on bed

A very common form of racial fetishism is the stereotyping that East Asian women, as well as South Asian and Southeast Asian women, are sexually submissive. An example of this would be the meek Japanese girl stereotype.

Artist and designer Donna Choi created an illustrative series in 2013 entitled: ‘Does Your Man Suffer From Yellow Fever?’. This included an 8-step guide to determining if your man has a fetish for Asian women. “Yellow fever” is a term often used to describe a man who is attracted exclusively to Asian women.

Just as Asian women are often stereotyped as being inherently submissive, black women are thought to be ‘sassy’ and are thus fetishized as such. Furthermore, black women are often sexually objectified for having prominent and desirable buttocks.

It is not just women whom are racially fetishized and sexually objectified, however. In 1986, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe put on a show called “Black Males” which was criticized for sexually objectifying the black male body.

Black muscular topless man

As well as Asian and Black people being sexually fetishized for their bodies or for their perceived cultural traits, western media is often criticized for “whitewashing” and holding Caucasian features to be the beauty ideal. Often, light skin, big eyes, straight hair and slim noses are portrayed as being preferential in movies and television as well as in fashion and beauty advertisements.

But what do you think?

Does a person just like what they like? Does your aesthetic sexual preference have anything to do with how you perceive a culture on the whole? Is saying “I only like Asian girls” or “I don’t like black men” racist?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and I’ll see you next week.

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