Monday, July 9, 2012

Dear People Who Have Sex with Other People

Dear People Who Have Sex with Other People,

Hi!  I don't actually want to speak with all of you, but I figured that if I started off with, "Dear Creepy People," some of you would think, "I'm not creepy!" and stop reading.

I just might be talking about you, though, so please follow along!

I want to talk with you about this othering, fetishizing thing you keep doing to people.
I think it’s fair to make a distinction between “I want to have sex with a person who is X because that’s new and exciting to me” and “someone from group X must be Y, therefore I want to have sex with a person from that group”
I want to discuss this point in particular:
“I want to have sex with a person who is X because that’s new and exciting to me”
That's creepy.

Here's what you're actually saying:

"I want to have sex with a black person because I've never done that before, and I think that it'd be sexy and exciting!"

This suggests that all X people (all black women, or all trans women, or all bisexual women, or all women with disabilities, or whichever group you're so excited about) will provide the same sexual experience.

You're treating X people (or whomever you're so excited about) as a monolith.  Why do you think that sex with this "new" sort of person will be different from sex with the people you've already partnered with?  What sort of experience do you believe that you're going to get, that you wouldn't get from people in other groups?

You're playing into stereotypes.  You sound like people who seek out Asian women as sex partners, assuming that they'll be submissive.  You sound like people who seek out Latinas as sex partners, assuming that they'll be wild in bed.  You sound racist.

Maybe your last 87 partners were white women and you've never had sex with an Asian woman.  Then you meet an Asian woman.  Saying, "I can't wait to have sex with her, I've never had sex with an Asian woman before," makes it sound like you think there's something uniquely different about her sexual behavior because she's Asian.  Try, instead, saying, "I can't wait to have sex with her, we get along so well I can't wait to see how compatible we are sexually."  Or, "I can't wait to have sex with her, she's so fun and sexy, she really turns me on."  Or, "I can't wait to have sex with her, she's really into [sex position] and I'd love to give that a shot."

"I want to have sex with a black person because I've never done that before, and I think that it'd be sexy and exciting!"

That's othering.  Fetishizing.  Exoticizing.  Racist.  And really creepy.

Please consider why you consider X group so sexy and exotic, so new and interesting.  Please consider why you think their race (or whatever other basis you're using) dictates their sexual behavior.  And if you're lacking in interactions with people from X group, maybe you should start by making friends, first.

With love,
Frank Lee

5 comments:

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    1. Gasp! It's macavitykitsune! I'm all atwitter. Thank you for visiting!

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    2. *blushes* Oh, you.

      I love your blog, by the way! I've been lurking here since you started posting links on the Shakesville blogarounds. ^__^

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  2. I think people very frequently run into problems when their fetishes and preferences intersect with real people, and that these are made worse by porn and its enthusiastic rush to stereotype, genericize and depersonalize.

    The potential to offensively objectify is there with nearly any strong preference, and it's everyone's responsibility to treat others better than that, no matter what one's turnons are. This isn't saying that one is not allowed to find people attractive (or, for that matter, unattractive), but rather that it's one's responsibility to treat people with appropriate respect, decency and manners.

    I all too often see people act as if their personal turnon gives them permission to be a bit creepy (or a lot creepy), and that is so not OK. People do it worse when their preference goes together with a common, pre-existing stereotype or power imbalance, but the potential is there even if it doesn't fall down one of those pathways.

    For instance, I am English living in California. A lot of people find English accents attractive, and that's a species of exoticizing even though that doesn't correspond with a particularly noteworthy oppression, historic or modern. Most people with that turnon still treat me respectfully, but I've encountered people who have been very creepy with their turnon, and acted as if it gives them the right to expect me to play to their kink.

    Now, this would be so much worse if I were a person of less privilege in the society I'm living in; privilege allows a lot more confidence in one's ability to resist unwelcome behavior from others, and that people around me are more likely to support my wish to resist it.

    The non-privileged will not feel that confidence, making the experience of being objectified in such a manner significantly worse. Especially if the one doing it is someone of greater privilege. A lot of people appear to be (willfully, in my belief) ignorant of the intersection of privilege in these things.

    That was a bit rambly -- hope it made sense.

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    1. I appreciate your thoughts on the subject! People have all sorts of kinks and fetishes and turn-ons and preferences for all sorts of reasons. Some of those are incredibly problematic, some are iffy, and some are fine. The thing is, though, that *your* kink is *your* responsibility. It's up to the individual who has those turn-ons to pay attention to how they manifest, where they come from, how they affect other people, and so on.

      Like you're saying, if someone has an exoticizing/othering kink, that doesn't give "them the right to expect me to play to their kink." Human sexuality isn't outside the boundaries of critical examination. "I can't help what turns me on" is not a good defense of racism.

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