Is The Fetishisation Of Race, Racist?

Recently, I sat down to watch the critically acclaimed horror film, Get Out. Now whilst I thought that it was a pretty decent film, I wasn’t quite sure as to whether the film was as great of a psychological thriller as the critics claimed it to be. I was ultimately left feeling a little confused and wondering if this was it, I felt like I had missed an integral part of the film at some stage. Well, in a way, it turns out that I had. Upon speaking about the film afterwards with friends, it quickly became apparent that I had been looking at the film with white privileged eyes, and that, despite my education, studies and my understanding of race, racism and gender, that I was never going to be in a position where I would intimately be able to understand the racial undertones, and social commentary, of the film.

Horror movie Get Out
Image: Get Out

The film, in many ways, can be seen as a discussion of race and racism. It highlights the perception of the subservient stereotype of African Americans. Such a discussion is relevant, as it comes at a time where the Black Lives Matter campaign is still on everyone’s lips, and the social and political divide across America is fraught with difficulties and challenges.

Campaign to raise awareness for police who kill black people
Image: Black Lives Matter

The film left me thinking about our interaction with race and racism which ultimately led to thinking about how these topics impact sex. A comment was made in the discussion of the film, bringing forth a whole new layer and depth which had me reconsidering the idea of sex and racism. We already have an understanding, through previous articles that I have written, about the prevalence and overtness of racism through dating apps such as Grindr, Tinder and Scruff etc, however I have to note that such discussions have always centred around the idea of what people are not interested in. Such discussions rarely focus on backhanded racism or the valuing of attributes which are stereotypically assigned to race. This, ultimately leads to the question:

Is the fetishisation of race, and the preferential views towards individuals of a specific race, considered to be racist?

It needs to be argued, that for whatever reason, we do have sexual preferences – and these preferences shouldn’t necessarily be ignored. For the same reason we prefer Pepsi over Coke, and vice versa, we as individuals cannot escape the idea of choice and preferences. However, the discussion that we need to consider is, especially when it comes to dating, is the exclusionary practices that we employ when it comes to ‘preferences’ simply a form racism?

Sexy man who is black
Image: Sexy Man

When looking at this idea – let’s first discuss African American men and the idea of the big black cock (BBC). A person with these traits is known as a Mandingo. Through the proliferation of porn there is a prevailing idea among many communities that African American Men possess larger than average cocks. The thing that is slightly different with the fetishisation of African American men – is that there are several ideas running concurrently.

African American history, the Cuckold and power play

There are many arguments that link this back to colonial periods of a young America where African American men were made to be subservient due to their physical traits – the rapid expansion of the Early America’s meant that there were large amount of labouring work to be done from farming, to building, and the continuation of the American Empire. Slaves, for the most part, combated expensive labourers and they were considered to be stronger, more active, possess greater strength, yet did not possess a greater intelligence, thus making them perfect servants and hard labourers. This ultimately gave birth to the taboo nature of interracial couplings whereby they were seen as both inferior (Intellect) and superior (Physicality) to white men. Cuckolding, a popular heterosexual practice which sees one partner willingly sleeping with other men, often involves interracial ‘third wheels’ due to the idea that they have the ability to reinforce the inferiority of the cuckolded male. In this regard, the taboo nature of interracial couplings actually work towards the fetishisation of interracial sex and relationships.

This results in interesting dynamics of a constant power play. Colonial thinking makes the idea to be penetrated by what was once considered to be an inferior male, who has the possession of a larger cock, to be hot. The taboo nature of the act, combined with the idea that an individual can simultaneously be inferior and superior, is arousing. To be fucked in such a way, is the dream of many a white male who dares to imagine the idea of being split in half by a massive black dildo like phallus – where the white male wants to be conquered. The power play is the interesting dynamic here, because to bottom is to be seen as passive, with the top assuming the active role. Simultaneously, there are many white men that wish to switch this dynamic through the topping of an African American male – to conquer and dominate as a toy. In this regard, and with specific concern to the phallus’s and orifices in these examples, does the fetishisation extend to the individual, or is it reductive in the idea that such a fetish exists solely around the genitals?

Defining a person’s qualities based upon their cock size

For the big black cock – it can certainly be seen as reductive. You are reducing the sexuality, and presence, of an individual to the size of the phallus. In an article published FS: The Gay Health and Life Magazine – Peter, an individual interviewed for the study, was continually asked variants of the question ‘how hung are you?’, long before a potential date was asking questions about him and his personality. In this regard, Peter was continually being reduced to nothing more than his phallus – a tool of pleasure as opposed to an individual with thoughts and feelings. On the flip side, it could be argued that a white male looking to dominate, and ultimately pin down, a male of colour – is reinforcing an ingrained idea of white dominance.

So is it racist?

When you are reducing an individual to the size of their cock, based on a stereotype – then you are absolutely reinforcing racism, regardless of whether or not it is considered to be ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ racism, where people assume that positive comments based on race, are not racist. By this token – actively seeking an individual of race might not be considered to be racist. Actively seeking a specific race on the basis that they possess a quality or attribute which you find arousing – is reductive and ultimately racist.

From this discussion we acknowledge the idea of preferences, we also acknowledge the idea of reduction. So is it racist? It’s a difficult question to answer – in some regards when you’re reducing an individual with thoughts and feelings, to the size and colour of their cock, in the quest for a quick fuck – then yes, it’s certainly racist. But if you have a preference for a certain race, but don’t actively exclude the possibility of others – then it becomes blurry. Where the justification of the preferences become the identifier for the racism – in saying that though, anyone that’s been on Grindr or a dating app knows that there’s just about a justification for everything.

Author: Stephen Smith – BA Of Social Sciences, M.Ed

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Stephen is a cis-gendered gay male who spends far too much time with his two cats and eating tim tams. A self-identified sex-positive advocate he cares deeply about gender equality, disabilities, sexual education and social issues. Opinionated and bold he isn’t afraid to speak his mind and say what others won’t. With a yearning for knowledge and experience in all things relating to sex, he is a prolific writer that has developed the content for a myriad of informative Sexual Health and Wellness websites.

Stephen’s articles and writings tends to focus on social issues, sexual education, queer issues and all things fetish and absurd. He comes qualified with the completion of a double Bachelor degree in Social Sciences and literature, and a Masters in Education.

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