Smith: Not my type

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Basing who you like on ‘your type’ of person runs the risk of fetishizing that ‘type’ of person.This turns individuals into sexual fantasies rather than human beings and can have damaging effects on a person’s mental state.

By Wylliam Smith

wylliam-smith@uiowa.edu

Way back in my high-school days, I only had one girlfriend, so when I entered the college world, I was also inserting myself into the dating scene. I found myself in conversations in which people would ask me what “my type was.”

As a bisexual man, I have never understood the idea of having a particular “type.” I don’t have a type; I am attracted to people, not appearances, so when people say I’m “not their type” or ask me what “my type” is, I’m never able to relate to the idea of only liking one “type” of person.

The answers these people want to hear are that I am attracted to big people, skinny people, black people, white people, older people, younger people, etc., etc.

Personally, I find basing who you like one race, size, or age insulting, judgmental, and limiting. If you base who you like from physical appearance alone, you are literally excluding all other people from your potential partnership.

I have heard the term attraction come up as well. I won’t pretend to be a saint and say that physical attraction isn’t a thing that everyone has, but to say you are only attracted to one type of person runs the risk of fetishizing that “type” of person.

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Minorities get this a lot. For instance, Asian women, black men and women, and Latinos and Latinas are highly fetishized in today’s media. This does go both ways, though, as white women are also highly fetishized by minorities.

This turns individuals into sexual fantasies rather than human beings and can have damaging effects on a person’s mental state. For instance, as a black man, I am constantly harassed both in person and on dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr by people who want to “experiment with a black man.”

I’m not going to lie and say that in the beginning, it wasn’t flattering to have people throwing themselves at me, but these pickup lines were ultimately dehumanizing.

Lines like “I’ve never been with a black guy,” or “I only have sex with black guys” are not flattering at all. And those are the polite ones — sometimes I get the most grotesque “compliments” that make me feel less like a person and more like an object.

I found that James Baldwin describes the situation best in his essay “Freaks and American Ideal of Manhood.”

“In short, I was Black in that world, and I was used that way, and by the people who truly meant me no harm. And they could not have meant me any harm, because they did not see me …” Baldwin wrote.

This goes both ways as well. One of the ones I hear a lot is people telling me they weren’t attracted to black women. This can cause self-hate in individuals, and is also borderline racist in my opinion.

The fact is “having a type” ultimately has damaging effects on that “type” that you have. It dehumanizes people from their unique selves into a simple physical attraction.

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