Ever been attracted to a someone, but felt something was just a little off? Here are 8 ways to know if the person you like may be fetishizing you.
Repeatedly references stereotypes about your race
A person who is fetishizing you will often bring up stereotypes about your race, then question whether you fit them or not. Questions like, “Is what they say about black men in bed true?” are a good indicator that a person is more interested in aesthetics than interested in you.
Violates your space without asking permission
When Solange sang “Don’t Touch My Hair," she meant it as more than just a catchy hook. People who are fetishizing you may touch parts of your body that they can’t believe are real, often without consent. They may even take it as far as questioning the size, color, or texture, all while failing to consider they're treating you like a science experiment.
Makes no real investment in your culture
A person who is only attracted to you as an object of their fetish will invest little or nothing in learning about your culture. While they refer to you in cultural stereotypes, they express a lack of interest when you explain why it is problematic to lump all people of your race into one. A person who cares for you would seek to understand and appreciate your relationship to your culture, not treat it like an ornament.
“The first timer”
The unprompted, “I’ve never dated a ______ person before,” can be a good sign you need to head for the door. A person who lets you know they've never dated someone of your race before may be fetishizing part of your identity, and using you as the test. They may ask questions like, “Do Black people…?” and use your responses as a method to confirm or deny a mistruth.
Uses your culture to create companionship
In the process of building a connection with a new person, pay attention to bits of pop culture they're eager to assume everyone in your culture loves. Statements like, “I love Beyoncé, what about you?” or “Rap music is my sh*t!” might signal that they are making problematic assumptions about what music, movies, food, or fashion you enjoy in an attempt to find commonality in likes and dislikes.
Describes your skin color using food
Nicknames like “Chocolate” or "Caramel" can be considered terms of endearment, but when unwelcome, using food to describe a person's skin tone definitely qualifies as fetishizing. Unless you've made it clear you welcome a nickname like this, food products as nicknames have got to go.
Hints that you fit a certain mold
If a person tells you that you look like their exes, there is a chance they've pursued a relationship with you expressly because of those similar features. People who fetishize their partners often specifically seek people out who fit "a certain mold."
Isn't interested in your personality
A person who is attracted to YOU will show interest in your personality and your character, will care if you are funny, sweet, kind, intelligent, etc. If you suspect a person is more interested in racial stereotypes than all the many qualities that make you an individual, please trust your gut. There's a really good chance they are fetishizing you.
Hides you from friends or family
A guy who is serious about you will want you to become a part of his life. If he never introduces you to his friends or his family, the relationship is simply transactional. It's always worthwhile to question why someone isn't comfortable introducing you to his inner circle.
Gets a thrill when you "play the part"
Beware people who show excitement or amusement when you do things they consider stereotypical of your race or culture, as if you are affirming assumptions they have made about you.
Mimics your cultural norms and slang
Openly mimicking the norms of someone else's culture is fetishizing. When it comes to slang terms, beware a person who feels comfortable using words while ignoring the historic weight or cultural significance they may carry.
Claims your race
A white gay man should never reference his "inner black woman." Period. Language, mannerisms, personality traits, likes, and dislikes can certainly span across cultures, but claiming to be or be like a person of a different race is wrong on a number of levels.