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Fetishization is Not Flattering and Must be Stopped

Oli London, the infamous English personality known for undergoing multiple plastic surgery procedures in order to look like Jimin, a member of the South Korean boy band BTS, has now set his sights to the fetishization of a new ethnic group: Filipinos.While many are quick to dismiss him, London’s comments and remarks fuels the dangers of fetishization by enforcing stereotypes about certain groups and contributing to racism and xenophobia. Throughout his time in the spotlight, London has sparked massive controversy over the years, amassing both supporters and critics due to his comments and obsession with Korean culture back in 2018.One of his most notorious statements, in a video he posted on Youtube, “I look Korean and Korea is my home country,” has especially sparked a lot of backlash. Along with his obsession with his cardboard cutout of Jimin and his claimed intentions to even marry it, London has widely been accused of being a clout chaser. With the popularity and spread of Korean pop and drama culture across the globe, many Koreans felt that it was all too easy for London to jump on the train and reduce being Korean to a trend. Now, London is declaring himself “a new, straight Oli London,” and has shifted his focus from Korean to Filipino culture, intending to “go to the Philippines, find a beautiful Filipino girlfriend and get married and have Filipino babies.” This practice of looking for love in a certain ethnicity is not original to London. According to a study on preferences in dating apps, data showed that men preferred Asian women compared to other ethnicities. Racial fetishization has proven dangerous in the past, used to justify harmful behavior toward people of color. Black women are an example of this, their victimization to fetishization dating back to colonial times. Throughout history, African women and their bodies have been fetishized by European colonizers. One extreme and dehumanizing example of this is Sara Baartman, a South African woman who was made into an exhibition and tourist attraction in Europe during the 19th century because her buttocks were large. Likewise, the fetishization of Asian women, known as “yellow fever,” is also harmful and can be dangerous. The term originated in the 18th and 19th centuries when European countries adapted Chinese and other East Asian motifs into Western art. Geishas, for example—a member of a professional class of women in Japan whose role is to entertain men in business parties and teahouses—fueled the stereotype that Asian women are submissive. Asian countries have also had a long history of colonization and imperialism under Western countries. As a result, many Asian women were often subjected to sexual assault and violence. This sort of fetishizing behavior helps justify the cruelty that ethnic groups were subjected to, and the sexualization of their bodies as well as the endangerment of their lives still remains today. On Mar. 16, 2021, a shooting spree occurred at three spa and massage parlors in Atlanta, Georgia. The 21-year old gunman told police that his actions were motivated by sexual addiction and that he had been targetting establishments where he previously paid for sexual acts. Although the gunman denied that race played a factor, it is hard to believe when most of the victims were of Asian descent. Fetishization continues to foster problematic views towards ethnic groups, making it easier for us to think a certain way about a group. Comments and remarks like London’s make it all too easy for people to view others as only one trait. Thus, it is important to educate ourselves and be aware of our own biases and the way we perceive others to combat these issues.

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