Fetishization of racialized women: “Men tend to believe that I make love like a savage” – Elle

“I’ve always dreamed of sleeping with a black girl. “This message, which is a stereotypical fantasy, Oumy *, 30, no longer counts the number of times she has read it on dating applications. The problem is that between negrophilia and negrophobia, the border is extremely thin.

Blonde hair, blue eyes, dark skin, thin or round waist… physical attractions are unique to everyone. So from what limit do we switch to racism? “The question is whether we are attracted to a racialized woman for the stereotypes she represents, or for the person she is, and her beauty. We must not confuse physical preferences and fetishization”, underlines Christelle Murhula, journalist and author of the book “Amours sienciées” (ed. Daronnes). “Black women are considered primarily as bodies and not as people. »

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From hypersexualization to rejection of black women

The ideas received around her skin color, Oumy unfortunately knows them by heart. “Men tend to think I make love like a savage. There is this cliché of the black woman who would come from the savannah, and who would be violent in bed ”, ironically this young Frenchwoman of Senegalese origin. “Some people think of me as a black woman first and foremost, not a woman,” she continues. And this objectification has a considerable impact on his sentimental life. “I slept with men with whom the current passed very well. I felt that I was almost perfect for them, but that they would never pair up with me, because I am black,” says Oumy.

In the love market, many black women feel rejected. A 2014 study by dating site OkCupid found that black women were the least successful. “On Tinder, I know that some men will swipe left because I’m black, or swipe right for the wrong reasons,” regrets Oumy. “The “misogynoir” [néologisme qui désigne une forme de misogynie à l’égard des femmes noires, ndlr], it is also to consider that they are not worthy of being romanticized, because they are far from what is supposed to represent femininity, classic Western codes of beauty, and social criteria, notes Christelle Murhula. Automatically, we think that they come from the working classes. And since black women are not valued by society, it is not rewarding to be in a relationship with them. Therefore, the only interest they can arouse is sexual. »

“For many men, sleeping with a black woman is a check on a list”

This attraction would therefore be based only on stereotypes related to the body: wide hips, plump buttocks or unbridled sexuality. An “exoticization” that transforms bodies into experiences, to satisfy sexual fantasies. “For many men, sleeping with a black woman is a goal, a check on a list,” Oumy laments. Over time, this fashion collection coordinator has become more suspicious. “When I speak with a guy, I reach out or ask trick questions on subjects related to Africa, to black people, to see his reaction. I am also very careful about the words used, in relation to my skin color and my origins. »

The cliché of the Arab woman, “Beurette” or submissive

This hypersexualization has its origins in colonization, the women of the conquered lands having been raped and exploited. A sexual domination that shows through in the representation of bodies, within the cultural works of history, and which has persisted over time. “Arab women are considered either as submissive women who absolutely must be saved from patriarchal norms – particularly because of the wearing of the headscarf – or as women who take up too much space in the public space, who wear too much make-up, speak much too loudly and dress much too short,” explains Christelle Murhula. According to a survey by XHamster, the keyword “beurette” was the most searched for on the porn site in 2019. A sexualization of women of North African origin that also exists in real life.

“Some think they will save the Arab woman, oppressed by her father or her brother”

Inès* has never found herself in these stereotypes. However, many men have tried to attach labels to it. “When I was 20, I was dating a guy who asked me where I was from. So far, everything is fine, ”says this 27-year-old Frenchwoman, of Algerian and Lebanese origin. “He replied ‘that’s good, I only go out with Arabs, because you are spicy (spicy, in French)””, she continues. This was the beginning of a long series of prejudices, associated with her origins and her religion. “It’s always the same thing that comes back: I am told that I must being wild, with a strong character, or that I have to know how to cook well. It’s distressing”, adds this journalist. “When I say that I am of the Muslim faith – because I am asked the question – the men immediately imagine that I want to be serious. When no, I don’t want to get married tomorrow! “, she blurts out. “Finally, I conclude that I am not the type of woman ‘they are looking for. “

This ordinary racism obviously has no limits. “One day, I met a guy at a party. His fantasy was to go home with a veiled woman, and sleep with her. I found it very creepy. Some think they will save the Arab woman, who would be oppressed by her father or her brother. It’s ridiculous. »

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Exoticization of Asians, “gentle and docile”

Women of Asian origin are also subject to racist reflections of a sexual nature. According to a survey published on March 15, 2023 by the Defender of Rights, and conducted by the multidisciplinary research network “Migrations from East and South-East Asia in France” (MAF), discrimination against Asian people persist. If men are stigmatized in relation to their masculinity, women are the object of fantasy.

“The idea of ​​domination is very present among Asian women, since the entire imagination of the Asian woman is completely built around the fact that she would be softer, more docile, and much more able to satisfy the man”, explains writer and feminist anti-racist activist Grace Ly, in an episode of the podcast “Kiffe ta race”, posted online in December 2022.

“I was sent back to a sexual image, at a time when sexuality was not yet part of my life”

Ma Li, 30, is of Chinese origin. His first memories of this date back to his college years. “My classmates – mostly boys – compared me to porn actress Katsuni [Cécile Tran, ndlr]. I don’t look like her at all, but since she’s Asian, I was immediately associated with her. I was therefore entitled to remarks in relation to his sexual practices, ”she says. The allusions to his physique obviously did not stop there. “I have a big chest, compared to some Asians. A lot of men – even strangers in bars – asked me if my boobs were fake,” Ma Li continues. there’s something sexual about it. “For good reason, she was still only a teenager. “I was immediately reminded of a gendered image, at a time when sexuality was not yet part of my life. A very problematic attitude, which still follows her today. “I’ve had comments made about my private parts before, implying that I have a tight vagina. »

In 2019, Yann Moix dared to confess in the columns of “Marie Claire”: “I only go out with Asians. Ma Li herself came across men favoring relationships with Asians, reducing them to their origins, and completely ignoring the specific identity of each of them. “Most of them were white, and I don’t think they would even know the difference between a Chinese, a Vietnamese or a Korean. As long as we have slanted eyes, that interests them, apart from our deep history”, she observes, before concluding: “Not all Chinese and all Asians are alike, quite the contrary. From one girl to another, it’s not the same education, the same story or the same experiences. Perhaps it would be more relevant to focus on the person and the cultures. »

*Names have been changed

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