7 Awful Ways Liberal White Women Fetishize Women Of Color

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women of color

I don’t think there has been a better time than now to talk about some of the issues I have and have had with liberal white women. It isn’t a confrontation and it isn’t meant to be an insult (though how sad is it that I need to preface my thoughts in this way?), it’s just a fact.

Some liberal white women have a very serious tendency to fetishize women of color. 

In all honestly, I didn’t even think about it much until a friend asked me, “What is it like to be in an interracial relationship?” When the question reached my ears, I laughed (which is something I do when I’m uncomfortable) because I had never even asked myself that question.

What was it like? To be honest, I never thought to categorize my romantic relationship as “interracial” mainly because I’d never seen myself as the “POC” in the relationship. I didn’t see myself through that lens. The lens that saw me as the “other.” In fact, my “interracial relationship” is the most comfortable interracial relationship I have ever been in.

The most uncomfortable interracial relationships I've been in are the relationships I’ve had with liberal white women. 



I think everyone knows that friendships among women are intimate and complicated. They are even more complicated than the early stages of a romantic relationship. It’s complicated because, when starting a friendship with women, it is very easy to skip the “getting to know you” part and get right into the “7 years down the road, peeing with the door open” part.

Women have an innate bond with one another that is powerful and moving. We have menstrual cycles that sync up. We have an understanding of the unfair power struggle in our society that men will never understand. We stand up for one another, and especially now since the #metoo movement, we have lifted each other up. We just “get” each other.

RELATED: 5 Foolish, Unflattering Things White Feminists Need To Stop Doing

All of these things are positive and immensely important; however, at times, it is made very clear that all women are not created equal in the eyes of the self-proclaimed “normal” (as history has definitely informed us). This is made clear through statements, questions, and actions followed by the “ooo’s and awww’s” that women of color experience on a daily basis.

Here are 7 ways white women fetishize women of color, and why this behavior needs to be fixed.

1. “Oh my god, I love your hair, can I touch it?” *Touches before waiting for permission*

This is might seems like a harmless action, especially if we consider that this person touching hair without consent has never heard of Solange or her anthem “Don’t Touch My Hair.” I have seen this action firsthand done to black women and woman of color who don’t have "sleek, tamed hair." 

The action of touching another person’s hair because it is foreign and different to you is so disrespectful and condescending. It feels AND appears like you are inspecting us. You are clearly intrigued because it is “different” and you are so surprised that it's not what you are used to.

Though, you will try to cover it up with an empty compliment. If you ever have an impulse to do this, just... don’t.

2. "What do you mean you don’t speak a second language?"

I was born here and my mother is an immigrant from Ecuador. Her first language is Spanish. For some reason, I never learned Spanish. She attempted to teach me but there is a common desire for immigrant parents to want to normalize and, in some cases, white wash their children so they can succeed and blend in. It’s a sad but true occurrence.

The question itself isn’t bad unless it is followed by an ignorant attempt to speak the language:

Me: No, I don’t really speak Spanish well.

A white woman: It’s such a sexy language though. *Rolls her Rs*

Me: *Blank stare*

3. “Stop taking our men! Lol!”

Believe it or not, ending offensive statements with a “lol” doesn’t make it better. And yes, in case you are wondering, I have had a white woman say this to my face many a time.

Whether or not this statement is stemming from a place of deep insecurity or not, it implies that I, a women of color, am making you (a white woman) undesirable to the men you are attracted to, and I am then turned into the “other woman” stealing your men away.

As a Hispanic woman, I am often portrayed in the media as the seductress, or the prostitute with a good heart that seeks a white savior to help her start a life. This view of Hispanic women has been carried over into the world of dating. White men referring to me as “exotic” and a “temptation,” when, in reality, I might be very awkward and clumsy.

4. “I love this pattern! It’s so chic!”

Okay, so this is a complicated one. There might be a difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation, but if it’s for the sake of a “chic style,” you wearing patterns that are Hindu or South American or any other Native/ethnic/cultural identifying clothing pattern, it is and can be very painful and traumatizing. It is reminiscent of colonization and the taking of one's heritage.

In a stream of miscommunications, within society, I repeat, this is a complicated one. Even I feel confused. But the only advice I offer is this: If it feels racists, it probably is

RELATED: 9 Major Reasons Cultural Appropriation Is SO Harmful

5. “You aren’t that urban.”

You would think that this phrase was referring to a location — urban environment meaning “a city.” No, it is not. It is referring to a way of speaking associated with a class of people living in poverty. It is a statement that is equivalent to saying, “You can’t be Hispanic — you are articulate.” 

It is offensive because you are assuming that all women of color and people of color come from poverty and a ghetto neighborhood. You also imposing a certain behavior on us if we happen to tell you that we are from a particular neighborhood or city.

For example, I was raised in Washington Heights, New York, which is right below the Bronx. I told a white woman this once and she immediately responded with an over-the-top physicalization of the words "Washington Heights," then swayed her hips, made exaggerated movements with her hands, and made a slight change to her their speech.

6. Interrupting constantly

This isn’t a specific example or an exact phrase that is offensive. It’s a behavior. It is the reality that when women of color speak, they are constantly having their words explained back to them by liberal white women. Immediately cutting us off when we’ve responded. Labeling us as “too sensitive,” “not understanding,” “angry,” or “not getting the point.” 

Correction after correction said with smiles and giggles, silencing our voices because you would like to mold us to be your perfect sidekick. To be agreeable and managed. Saying now is not the perfect time to voice our opinions because it might not align with theirs and hurt feelings with arise. Interruptions are easy for you because it makes you more comfortable. 

7. Using tone deaf nicknames​

Nicknames are fun to have between friends. They are lighthearted and endearing ways of referring to one another. The only time it isn’t fun is when you call someone a “Spanish Rose” who is not from Spain.

Food for thought: it is, in fact, offensive and rude if you have attempted to lump an entire race of people into one category and limited them to only be from one country. Tone deaf nicknames also make me feel like you think you own me. Sorry, you don’t.

The truth is, I want to hear your side and acknowledge the fact that racism and fetishizations exist, no matter the race or gender.

I myself have generalized a community known as “liberal white women” in this article and I truly don’t mean any disrespect. This conversation is only aimed at liberal white woman who eagerly partake in the daily privileges and advantages that come along with the color of their skin.

When I was a little girl, I aspired to be the whitest version of myself that I could be in hopes of achieving success in the world. Is that cultural appropriation or survival? When I attempted to become this way, I was met with statements like "Why are you talking like that?" and "Where are you really from?"

I quickly learned that no matter what I did and how I carried myself, I would always be seen as lesser than and not as smart and someone who needed correcting before I even got a word out.

Yes, I know it’s shocking that women of color are quick to not want to hear your (liberal white women’s) side of the story all the time, and I know it’s shocking that we detest the idea of being your “interesting sidekick that adds a little flavor to the friend group,” but enough is enough.

Please, stop treating women of color like your own personal play toys. 

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Becca Beberaggi is a NYC-based writer and comedian. She has written for various online publications and sometimes performs in sketchy basements and sometimes performs in not so sketchy basements. It depends on the day. You can follow her feelings on Twitter @beberagg