Eroticization of People of Color

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while. It’s such a huge topic and I am aware, that as a white woman, I can never do it justice. This also isn’t an exhaustive or academic-type post. This post includes only my personal reflections and perspective.

While I grew up in a pretty white town, it also had a sizable Hispanic and Hmong population. My first, longest, and most serious relationship in high school was with a guy who was of mixed race (Mexican and Filipino). I found our color difference sexy, appealing, intriguing, erotic, exotic. I was attracted to him for many reasons, and I know that his skin color, the shape of his eyes, his hair were all attractive to me because they were different that mine. I am sure that larger cultural messages surrounding the eroticization of people of color had impacted what I found sexy and desirable. There are so many examples of this, they are too many to count and name. And these messages have a long history, from colonization and the white people conquering “exotic” lands. (Black men are dangerous to white women, Black women are either the mammy or Jezebel, Asian women are frequently infantilized and sexualized, etc.) In any case, those attractions have not gone away for me.

I find many Black men (and women) attractive (let’s just stop me there for a minute. Because given where I grew up and where I live now, it’s not like I have large numbers of Black people in my social network. I don’t have a large number to go off of.) Because of our involvement in swinging and hotwifing, I have frequently thought about my personal eroticization of men of color in particular. I don’t know if I have any specific thoughts, except that I find myself wanting to make sure that I am still engaging in the same level of communication with my partners who are of color; I want to make sure I am not treating anyone differently because of their skin color. Because I have frequently lusted after Black men, I am hyper-aware of how I interact with my partners of color versus white partners: how much time do I want to spend talking versus fucking, and am I able to be communicative about my desires? I don’t want to become a white woman who only seeks “big, black cocks” (BBC). (For the record, BBC doesn’t seem to play into my attraction to Black men. It’s the skin color contrast. And, if I’m being totally honest, it also has to do with the fact that Black men are exotic to me in my white bread life.) I don’t want to disregard any potential for more-than-a-fuck-buddy type relationship simply because this partner is Black, and while he is sexy as hell and perfect for my sexual fantasies and desires, I’m not so sure I want more than that with him.

I remember reading this article about a year ago about cuckolding culture, and this piece is relevant to my post:

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“Other sites feature images ranging from semen dripping over wedding bands to ethereal caucasian goddesses standing next to black men in mirrored shades. The race thing is one of cuckolding’s more uncomfortable aspects. On most cuckolding sites, such as blacksonwives.com and myslutwife.com, there is an overwhelming preoccupation with “Mandingos,” or well-endowed black men. Similar racial parameters exist in the swinging community, as highlighted in Details magazine’s March article on “Mandingo parties” — interracial orgies arranged for single black men to have sex with white wives in front of their white husbands. The popularity of the orgies is buttressed by a two-prong fantasy: the white couple’s fetish for a “BBC” (big, black cock), and the Mandingo’s fetish for having sex with rich, white wives. All participants get something out of it, and a Mandingo even argues that interracial orgies are a by-product of multiculturalism and tolerance. But bigotry — and a dose of white guilt — lie at the heart of any racialized fetish: black men, despite their “superior” sexual prowess, are debased and eroticized, and believed to pose less of a threat because the wives would supposedly never date them.

The cucks I interviewed denied having a preference for Mandingos, but would eventually admit some sort of racialized, if not racist, baggage. Bob, a forty-seven-year-old caucasian male, says he found a relationship through an online ad posted by a woman pursuing black bulls. “I emailed her because I was hoping to fall in love with a sexual white woman who does black guys,” he says. “We hooked up and it was really wild.”

“In American cuckold culture,” he adds, “it’s the white couple that has black bulls. There’s a notion that black men are better-endowed, and the whole idea of white men getting off on feeling sexually inferior to black men.”

A Black-Puerto Rican bull I interviewed does not answer white couples’ ads because “they tend to be more rigid in terms of what they look for in a bull,” he says. “If you’re a black bull, you’d better fit the mold of what the stereotypical black guy is. To them, he’s a cornrow-wearing thug or basketball player. They’re more into the fantasy — the big, black Mandingo.”

“Most black men are not offended by the stereotype that they’re well-hung,” he continues. “But what gets on my nerves is when the ad says, ‘We want a gold-toothed, baggy-pants type,’ or, ‘We want you to look like Allen Iverson or Usher.’ You know what? The typical bull on Craigslist is not going to look like Usher, so get over your stereotype and deal with it.”

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My most recent encounter with this topic, in the reverse, went along the lines of:

I was giving a private dance to a Hispanic man from CA, who happens to be from the same area I am from. “White women are the best.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. Black women, Hispanic women- they don’t even come close. White women- they’re the sexiest.”

I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say. It was my first intimate sexual encounter with racism. (that I can remember)

It’s one thing to me to notice particular attractions and erotic fantasies based on race. It’s another to classify entire groups of people as “sexy” and “not sexy” based on their race. But then I ask myself: is that what I have done? Can I help it? How do I ensure that I have equitable intimate relationships informed both by a sense of desire and lust and fantasy, and by a sense of social justice and explicit communication?

PS: I am nervous writing and publishing this post. I am aware that this topic (racism, sexualization of people of color) is deep and sensitive. I also think I will never get it quite right. So if you read something that offended you or struck a nerve, please let me know as I want to continue to learn and right my mistakes.

5 thoughts on “Eroticization of People of Color

  1. Well, great first scratch to address the deep issue with the eroticizaton of people of color. But one of the first things I’d recommend to you is understand that BECAUSE you are a white woman you can do articles like this plenty of justice. Unfortunately when it comes to race when heard/read/seen from of a person of color it is taken completely different when heard if the person is white. So while it is important that there are scholars in regards to race of color, having educated white people is equally important. The movement in the sixties wouldn’t have been effective if there weren’t white people to support the people of color, they may have not been leaders but their support was critical. In broad shorthand when people of color talk about race it sounds like complaining, when white people talk about it, it’s of concern. So do you and don’t be so tepid about it 🙂

    We are raised no matter what with stereotypes and racists thoughts. That is a byproduct of growing up in this country and just being human for that matter. It’s how we think after and what we choose to do after is where we progress or regress. Example, I like to believe I’m a equal opportunity employer when it comes to being attracted to women of all races. I can say growing up as much as I liked white women I just never thought they liked me. Mainly because what I saw in pop culture wasn’t ever of me in the picture with like the cheerleader or what not. I have also coincidently dated mainly black women which by default when people hear that think I have a fetish which is completely untrue. Now as much as I say I’m openly attracted to all races, statistically I have found myself more attracted to some than others. Part of it is internalized racism, and the other part is mere statistic. I embrace my certain truths and experience with race and racism to progress forward by accepting that I have these views and that it’s ok. Then at some point of time accept that the person that I found attractive is not the representative of their entire race. To fully answer your last question is you just do. When you are attracted to someone of color the communication with yourself should go just as if they were white. If it’s any different it’s probably because of built in objectification/fetishization of them. And that’s ok just recognize it and let it go and see that the person you objectified is so much deeper than the shallow perception they perceive. That there is a beautiful human being in front of you that has a beautiful color that is worth celebrating equally to yours.

    I hope this was coherent and helpful, I just got off work and it’s 4am and I’m writing this on my phone :/

    • Theo- thank you for your comment!! You are right- because I am white I can receive more attention and respect than perhaps a woman of color writing this blog might. (I’ve thought about this, too, with regards to stripping and how I can talk about my stripping experiences and receive attention and respect. If I was a person of color and/or of a lower class, I don’t think people would listen to me as much) Thank you for the encouragement to be more bold 🙂

  2. K:

    It seems like you took every precaution here about covering the topic while neither ignoring nor focusing on stereotypes. I applaud your courage and sensitivity.

    I have seen a lot of while female interest in the “BBC” phenom, and I think it stems partly from the “taboo” nature, partly from the “hung” attraction, and partly from the honest desire for something exotic. The color contrast is visually appealing, and I do understand that, from both gender perspectives in inter-racial connections.

    But certainly it IS hard even at this point in the nation’s history to have sensitive discussions about racial differences. I hope we both live long enough to see that fade as a factor in most aspects of life. Thank you for carefully navigating the start of a dialog here, even though a blog is essentially a monologue.

  3. I took a course called black feminism/womanism a few years ago and found it incredibly interesting. It was a night course once a week and it was the only class I’ve ever been in where the minority of the students were white. Typically everyone in my class is white, or close to 90%. We talked very briefly about the hypersexualization of black women and I wish it had been discussed in greater depth (I also covered it in a film class on gender/sexuality/race – again, too briefly.) I think it’s difficult to talk about it, and view it similarly to straight people talking about homosexuality, or any other person of privilege talking about xyz thing they will never experience. I like how you talked about it here. Like, how startling is it to notice racism and realize that some people hear it every day? Or how has that racism gotten into our lives and how does it influence how we might see people or develop fantasies of our own? Super interesting and maybe even more so because of the breadth and history of the subject.

    • totally 🙂 those classes sound amazing- makes me wish I could go back to college and re-do my major! haha 🙂
      the piece about how “isms” get into our lives and cognitive structures and then influence our sexual desires and fantasies reminds me of violent fantasies (like non-consent fantasies or giving-up-control fantasies), too. which then leaves me with the question of: even if my fantasies come from a dark and violent history of oppression, how can I engage in those fantasies responsibly and lovingly? It feels easier when the fantasy is of non-consent and I can have explicit communication about what kind of “scene” I want to engage in. When the fantasy involves someone simply because of their race, it feels infinitely more difficult to me to communicate about.

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