I see a lot of people get confused about the topic of “fetishization.” They’re all “people complain about fetishizing trans people/fat chicks/bi women/women of color, that means it’s anti-feminist to be attracted to trans people/fat chicks/bi women/women of color!” And then half of them are like “therefore FEMINISTS HATE YOUR BONERS!” and the other half are like “therefore I must self-flagellate about my evil evil boner.”
No. Feminists do not hate your boner, and you should not self-flagellate about your evil evil boner. It is not anti-feminist to be attracted to trans people/fat chicks/bi women/women of color. It is not even anti-feminist to be attracted to a trans bi fat woman of color!
Fetishization is not about attraction, it’s about using your attraction as an excuse to objectify people. The misdefinition of objectification is one of the very few things I get legitimately angry about (my sources of anger are few and geeky), so let’s review what it means with the help of Granny Weatherwax:
“And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
“It’s a lot more complicated than that–”
“No it ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”
“Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes-”
“But they starts with thinking about people as things…”
Basically, “don’t fetishize me” means “don’t treat me like a thing because you’re attracted to me.”
One of the really common ways that fetishization plays out is the assumption that people you’re attracted to exist for your boner. For instance, dominant women in the kink scene regularly report submissive males assuming that because she’s dominant and female that she wants to dom them in exactly the way they want to be dommed. I mean! She’s dominant! In public! Clearly that means you don’t even have to ask before you lick her boots and call her Mistress.
Similarly, fat women who post pictures of themselves on Tumblr often get reblogged onto porn blogs, because clearly the only reason someone would post a picture of themselves on the Internet is so you can talk about how much you want to stick your dick in their fat jiggling ass. Fat women also often face problems with chubby chasers whose apparent thought process is something along the lines of “we have so much in common: you’re fat, and I like fat women.” For fat women and other women culturally considered unattractive, there’s also this really nasty “look, people who are attracted to you are so rare that you should be willing to fuck literally anyone who’s attracted to you” angle.
(PSA: you should not be willing to fuck literally anyone who’s attracted to you. Sex is amazingly much better if you’re attracted to the person you’re with and they care about you enjoying yourself too.)
Furthermore, a lot of the reasons that people give for being attracted to certain kinds of women are… really really gross. For instance, you should not believe “bi chicks are hot because two girls fucking is hot!” As a bi, poly, and female-presenting person, I have met approximately ten million people who believe this. I am sad to disappoint all of them by pointing out that when I fuck a lady, it’s because I want to fuck that lady, not because I want to give some other random dude a boner. It’s almost as if my sexual orientation is not entirely related to giving dudes boners. (I also hate threesomes and have no interest in being the third in your marriage. Sorry to crush all your Hot Bi Babe dreams.)
“I like Japanese girls because I love sushi and anime and I want a girl I can–” NOPE. You know there are Japanese women who grew up in Iowa and like McDonalds and Glee, right? You can’t assume that every person of a particular ethnicity shares all the traits you associate with that ethnicity. (Not to mention “I want a Japanese girl because Japanese girls are submissive and moe and I have never actually met a Japanese person” guy. Do not be that guy. If you become that guy I will fly to your house and light all your hentai on fire.)
“I like trans women because they’re the best of both worlds! A combination of male and female!” No, trans women are women, stop invalidating people’s genders. Furthermore, ‘best of both worlds’ implies all trans women have penises, which is just… not true.
“Ozy, you’re saying I can’t be attracted to anyone!” No, I’m not. It is perfectly fine to be interested in women who want to have threesomes with you, or women who like sushi and anime, or people who combine male and female– just don’t call those groups “bi women,” “Japanese women,” and “trans women,” because that isn’t true. Similarly, it’s perfectly fine to be attracted to women with penises or people with typically East Asian features or fat women, as long as you’re not an asshole about it.
A related issue is whether it’s possible to fetishize conventionally attractive, privileged women. My intuition would be “yes,” but for some reason the feminist movement has decided to go with “fetishization” for fetishization of marginalized groups and “sexual objectification” for fetishization of conventionally attractive and privileged women. I don’t get it.