What is Fetishisation and why is it an issue?
"You are attracted to a particular person based on factors such as; race, culture, religion, environment and background. However without the elimination of other ethnic groups."
"Only acknowledging and fixating on someone's race, making it the only part of their identity you consider... you do not take their personality or opinions into account and your perception of them is based on harmful stereotypes."
Fetishisation is a micro-aggression in the guise of a compliment. From overtly sexual messages and other inappropriate comments, dealing with racial fetishisation has become a large part of dating for ethnic minorities.
Racial Fetishising Sounds Like:
‣ "I've never been attracted to X before, but…"
‣ "You're so exotic!"
‣ “I’ve always wanted to date a X”
‣ “I have a thing for X”
Click to find out more:
The power of technology has added an extra layer to this issue. Some dating apps have been criticised for allowing people to filter by race. With this technological possibility to narrow down your pool by race, it not only perpetuates fetishisation, but also enables people to exclusively date within their race.
Online dating also creates perceived barriers for strangers to bend social norms. Instead of approaching someone in person, the screen provides some people enough cloaking to say things they may not usually say directly to someone face-to-face
Case in point:
Over recent years, there have been new 'interracial dating sites' emerging, and eventually these will need to be looked into to understand if they perpetuate fetishisation by their very nature.
To find out more:
💻 ‣ The Subtle Way Dating Apps Reinforce Our Racial Biases | HuffPost (Article)
💻 ‣ Swipe Right or Left on Interracial Dating? It’s Complicated | Sixth Tone 2021 (Article)
Examined the polarised dating habits of Chinese women in Australia and comments on the stereotypes linked to Chinese/White relationships.
On the flip side, by making it easier to meet people outside of our typical social circles, online dating apps have also been credited to the rise of more interracial and intercultural marriages over the last years.
💻 ‣ There's Now Evidence That Online Dating Causes Stronger, More Diverse Marriages | Forbes (Article)
While most couples are pleased to hear comments like:
"Wow, you guys look great together!"
it becomes uncomfortable when it's apparent people are saying this because the racial differences.
While it's hard to measure this in daily life, a recent trend has been the rise of interracial fan pages on Instagram. While some of these fan pages share the personal stories of couples, there is a growing segment that simply share photos and even contests for best looking couple.
In the media we have also seen this. With the press narratives of Prince Harry and Megan Markle during their engagement being a prime example.
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