photo by The Pulp Girls
photo by The Pulp Girls

The definition of a fetish is, “a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked in an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc.” (Dictionary.com) What has become a problem with this phenomenon is the fetishizing of groups of people. Specifically there is a large problem with fetishizing LGBT bodies.

The act of fetishizing the LGBT community is mainly problematic because it directly dehumanizes this group of people. In the definition of fetish it is said that sexual gratification is linked to a particular object. By fetishizing these bodies one is equating them to objects. When a person is objectified for something they are only seen as that particular trait, rather than as a human. This increases the rates for acts of violence and sexual assault against these groups of people, because they aren’t being seen as people but as sexual objects.

I would theorize that the fetishization of trans bodies and gay men is mainly linked to the idea of “otherness.” Members of this community are often thought of as sexually intriguing because of their “difference”. This is mainly reflected in pornography, where these bodies are fetishized through their objectification.

A more normalized and common fetishiziation is that of bi-sexual and lesbian women. In addition to being present in pornography this is also present in advertisement and media. Bi-sexual and lesbian women are often considered sexually appealing to straight men resulting in more frequent sexual harassment. It is common that they are asked invasive questions, or told to engage sexually for male benefit. The normalization of this can be attributed to the sexualization of women in general.

These fetishizations reflect and perpetuate the dimensions and assertion of power. The fact that this exists is reflective of society in general. Those who are objectified are those who are structurally oppressed. These inequalities can account not only for the fetishization of LGBT bodies, but many other forms of objectification and dehumanization such as higher rates of sex trafficking, sexual assault, socioeconomic disparity and acts of violence.

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September 6, 2013