Can You Not, Fetishising Fuckboys?
I don’t date that much. I don’t usually have much time for it and I have even less interest in wading through proverbial frogs looking for a prince that may or may not exist. I’m also at an age where my peers, and the men old enough to be of interest to me, are deciding that they want to settle down and have children — and while I loved being a teacher, I don’t ever want to share my home with anything or anyone that requires my constant attention or calls me “Mum.” My lack of maternal instinct, my near-complete lack of free time, and my general dislike of sharing my living space make dating a tedious affair and I’m generally okay with that. Like 98% of the time.
Of course, I am only human and I occasionally crave companionship — usually in a platonic sense — but I have a lot of female and femme friends already and the key to a well-rounded experience is diversity. So I sometimes use…apps. You know…apps. Tinder, Bumble, and sometimes OkCupid for the millennial nostalgia even though OKC has become a pale, soulless imitation of its former self. There are plenty of articles detailing the pros and cons of dating apps and “swipe culture” sociological and psychological perspectives — and some of them are fascinating, enlightening, and/or obnoxiously bad — but this particular take is not actually about dating apps. It’s about the people on them and their fundamental failing to understand that fetishisation is not a compliment.
It’s not a secret, but just in case you don’t know, I’m black. If you want to break it down into specifics, my mum is Jamaican and my father is Italian — but I’m still black. I have brown skin and big, curly — sometimes nappy — hair. If I don’t use a very specific lotion at least once a day, I look like I lost a fight with a bag of flour. I can name every cruelty-free makeup brand that carries a shade of foundation that doesn’t make me look casket-ready. I’m undeniably and visibly black. To most people, this is a simple fact and nothing more. It’s not extraordinary or noteworthy, it just is. There are, of course, some truly unfortunate people that are absolutely insensate with rage when they see or learn that I’m black. I’ve never actually seen anyone foam at the mouth, but any time someone calls me a nigger or some manner of non-human primate I think I can imagine what it must look like. I’m no stranger to all of the ways that my blackness makes me undesirable, undateable, and unattractive. But after almost 26 years of life, I’m. not really bothered by that particular brand of ignorance.
I have an ex that used to wax on endlessly about his desire for a “brown baby.” I was 20 when we started dating, so just shy of complete idiocy. I thought it was a little bit obnoxious but overall harmless. Towards the end of our 2-year, on and off relationship, his comments started to bother me more. He just wanted a brown baby? Like any uterus attached to a black woman would do? Any black genetic material would suffice so long as he got a brown baby out the deal? Did he think we (black women) were interchangeable? (He did and still kind of does.) Did he realise that he, a white man, could likely produce a brown baby with anyone with dark enough skin? Was there a…threshold of brownness that he would find acceptable in this future child? Like a brown paper bag test, but in reverse?
About two weeks ago, I got a notification from tinder that I had been super-liked. I ignored it as I do with most notifications from Tinder. A few days after that, I got another notification from tinder informing me that my profile would become inactive if I didn’t open the app soon and start swiping. I briefly considered ignoring that one too, but ultimately chose to open the app and swipe a few times. Inevitably, I was presented with a profile with a blue star on it – the person that had super-liked me. I swiped through a few of the pictures and decided that I wasn’t particularly attracted to this person, but that’s not unusual. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced immediate sexual attraction to anyone, or any sexual attraction period — but that’s a post for another day — so I took a look at his bio. Now, tinder has made minimal effort ideal with the short bio — odd for someone like me that hit my dating peak during okcupid’s heyday — but I still like a little substance so I tend to value a lengthy profile over immediate attraction. I was presented with...a mess. I don’t care about people watching anime — I like Inuyasha and Vampire Knight as much as the next person. I don’t care about pansexuality or polyamory — my own sexuality is constantly in question and I’m not attached to monogamy, just communication.
What I don’t like, what I do care about, is being fetishised, or because of my skin colour. There’s nothing flattering about being told that your only redeeming or attractive feature is the colour of your skin. I don’t feel appreciated. I don’t feel valued. I don’t feel attractive. I don’t feel reassured about your lack of racism when you have no qualifications for a partner beyond their skin colour. What about black or brown girls is attractive to you? What singular characteristic do we all share? What unifying personality traits link every black and brown girl across the world? Are we interchangeable? Are we just faceless bodies to you? When I ask these questions, I usually get ridiculous generalisations about black women being aggressive, assertive, sassy. We’re more sexually open, less inhibited, more kinky. Odd to be told that the men holding these ideas about black women are somehow less racist when their beliefs are ones that are used to justify the rape and hyper-sexualisation of black women and have been since for centuries.
I think the worst thing about being treated as little more than a custom order sex doll is that these men aren’t interested in acknowledging me. They’re not interested in having a conversation with me or hearing about my experiences or my life. They’re just looking for a show piece. These are men trying to prove their “wokeness” for one reason or another. These are men trying to live out a fantasy they’ve had since the first discovered the interracial category on PornHub. There’s no meaningful interaction in their day to day life with black people, no advocacy, no interest in being an “ally.”
I’m not interested in being a prop. If you can’t justify your interest in me beyond a surface-level obsession with the colour of my skin, don’t waste your time or mine. Leave me alone. There are too many self-loathing black and brown women obsessed with proximity to whiteness and erasing their blackness for you to be bothering me. Also, describing yourself as otaku is an immediate red flag.