NYC Psychotherapist Blog

power by WikipediaMindmap

Saturday, October 1, 2022

The Fetishization of Lesbians and Bisexual Women is a Social Justice Issue

Fetishization is defined as the act of making someone an object of sexual desire based on some aspect of their identity.  With regard to lesbians and bisexual women in particular, fetishization means objectifying these women and seeing them as existing soley for the sexual pleasure of heterosexual men.  

The Fetishization of Lesbians and Bisexual Women is a Social Justice Issue

Mainstream Pornography Distorts Lesbian and Bisexual Relationships
With fetishization, there is no regard for actual lesbian and bisexual relationships with women--actual relationships as opposed to the distortions portrayed in mainstream pornography where these relationships exist only for the male gaze (see my article:  What is the Difference Between Ethical Pornography and Mainstream Porn?).

Acceptance or Fetishization of Lesbians and Bisexual Women?
Although many believe there is greater acceptance for lesbians and bisexual women these days, it's important to distinguish acceptance from fetishization.  

Instead of being accepted, these women are often objectified and viewed as being on display for the sexual enjoyment of heterosexual men. 

Acceptance or Fetishization of Lesbians and Bisexual Women?

Lesbians, in particular, are often seen as a sexual challenge by many men. These men fantasize about "converting" these women into heterosexuals.  

Alternatively, many men would like to believe that lesbians would find them so irresistible that they would make an "exception" to have sex with them. These men want to believe they would be special, above all other men, in the eyes of a lesbian.

In these instances, it's all about male sexual conquest or "scoring" with lesbians.  

Related to this is the distorted perception that if these women were to experience "a real dick," they would have a sexual awakening and convert to heterosexuality.

Bisexual Women as "Unicorns" to Be Sought Out by "Unicorn Hunters"
There is a particular type of fetishization of bisexual women among men who seek out bisexual women for threesomes.  

The term "unicorn" implies that bisexual women, who participate in these threesomes (female-male-female or FMF), are hard to find, and the men who try to find them are referred to as "unicorn hunters."

There is nothing wrong with bisexual women who willingly consent to be part of a threesome with a heterosexual couple.  There is no harm if no one is being manipulated or exploited among consenting adults.

The problem comes in when heterosexual men see all bisexual women as existing only for their sexual pleasure or when bisexual women are pressured into threesomes or denigrated for not participating in threesomes.  

Similarly, some men seek out bisexual women for their "bi-curious" girlfriend so these men can gawk at their girlfriend having sex with a woman.  

Once again, if everyone is enthusiastically consenting to these sexual activities and no one is being abused, there isn't a problem among consenting adults. 

The problem comes in when all bisexual women are viewed as existing only for this purpose and they're not seen as existing in their own right.

Some bisexual women are tricked, manipulated or misled into engaging in these sexual activities by the "unicorn hunter."  

Sometimes these men lead bisexual women to believe that sex will only be between the two of them (the man and the bisexual woman) but it's really a setup to get her to be part of a threesome.  

Even worse: When men use alcohol or drugs to sexually manipulate, abuse and exploit women.

Once again, to clarify: Manipulating bisexual women into threesomes is very different from being a consensual member of a polyamorous triad or throuple, which are relationships among three consenting adults (more about this in a future article).

The Objectification of Lesbians and Bisexual Women is a Social Justice Issue
Objectification means treating someone like an object who is devoid of their own subjectivity with regard to their thoughts, feelings and behavior.  This is a social justice issue for everyone.

Objectification of any woman means reducing her to an object or body part who exists for the sexual gratification of heterosexual men.  

Similarly, when lesbians and bisexual women are seen as hypersexualized beings, this perpetuates a dangerous stereotype.  This form of dehumanization can, and often does, lead to violence against women.  

The Need For a Major Overhaul of the Sex Education System in the US
There is an urgent need for a major overhaul of the sex education system in the United States.  

Where sex education exists at all the emphasis is usually on prevention of sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.  

There is little to no education about sexual pleasure which is an important part of sex between consenting adults.

Similarly, there is little to no education about the harmful effects of objectifying women in mainstream pornography and other media.  This is an important issue because this is how many teens and young adults get information and form their views of sex in the absence of comprehensive sex education.

Abstinence-based sex education advises teens and young adults to wait until they're married to have sex.  However, with no guidance from sex education, how are these adults supposed to take the leap from thinking sex is wrong or sinful to having a healthy sexual relationship when they get married?  There needs to be comprehensive sex education to fill this void.

Raising Awareness of the Fetishization of Lesbians and Bisexual Women
Although more people--both women and men--are speaking out against the objectification of lesbians and bisexual women, their attempts are a mere drop in the ocean compared to the pervasive negative stereotypes in mainstream porn and other media.

Raising awareness starts with each individual reflecting on their own personal views and choices with regard to women--whether these women are their partners, sisters, nieces, granddaughters or strangers to them.  

In doing so, they can learn to respect women and also respect themselves.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I am a sex positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?)

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.