Debunking Racist Sex Myths
Originally Published: January 19, 2015
Revised: January 20, 2015
Quick, fill in the blank: African-American men have big ______. No, I am not talking about hands or feet. If you filled in the blank with “penis,” then you may have heard this common stereotype.
The truth is, most black males in the United States have similar penis sizes as their white counterparts, or just slightly larger, according to research conducted by the Kinsey Institute. The average penis length is between five and seven inches when erect, which is where most men fall, not just African-American men.
This is just one of the many racialized sex myths out there. It’s important that we know the difference between myths and facts, so we don’t make ignorant or racist statements. Here are some more myths with explanations of why they are racist and how they get in the way of respecting all people’s humanity.
All people have sexuality, and when you deny someone’s sexuality, you begin to deny part of their humanity.
Myth #1: Asians have small penises.
At the other end of the penis-myth spectrum are Asian men, who are rumored to have small penises. But this is just a common stereotype. Many Asian males have larger penis sizes than the average white male, and many white males also have smaller penises than the average Asian male. It really just depends on the individual.
The problem with this stereotype is that it groups together the entire Asian population. There is always large variation within a population, and it is wrong to classify an entire group of people as one extreme or the other. This stereotype harms Asian men because it supports the racist beliefs that Asians are all unattractive and not sexual beings, which just isn’t true. All people have sexuality, and when you deny someone’s sexuality, you begin to deny part of their humanity.
Myth #2: Latina women are really sexual and always want to have sex.
On television and the Internet, we often see Latinas depicted wearing tight, skimpy clothing and then flirting with all kinds of men. For example, in Modern Family, the actress Sofia Vergara plays the role of Gloria, a Colombian woman who has remarried a much older white man. Gloria is always in super-tight clothing and showing lots of cleavage.
This portrayal of Latinas is harmful because it turns them into sexual objects, as if that’s all Latinas are. When people see Latinas depicted this way in all kinds of media, they may falsely assume that all Latinas dress like this. Some misinformed people may even believe that it is OK to hit on Latina women because the stereotype tells them that Latinas are hyper sexual and will like and welcome it, but these people are absolutely wrong. All women deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect and integrity regardless of their ethnicity.
Myth #3: Japanese people love sex.
Japanese people are stereotyped as having a fascination with pornography, hentai and love hotels as places for sex. Japanese schoolgirls are often promoted as sexual objects in pornography and popular culture. So it would make sense to assume that Japanese people are obsessed with sex, right? Wrong.
This racist myth leads people to label Japanese guys as wild sexual predators and to see Japanese girls as sexual objects to be consumed like pictures of hentai. Actually, Japanese people are not more interested in sex and pornography than Americans. In the U.S., we have porn stars, swimsuit magazines and even a hentai audience. (Pornography is created and watched all over the world. It’s a fantasy world meant for adults, and it’s not going to provide accurate information about sexuality or what people in different countries are really like.) Basically, the Americans and Japanese—and people from most every other country—just have different ways of expressing their interest in sex.
These myths illustrate the importance of comprehensive sexuality education. Sexuality education classes can provide us with information about sexualization, healthy relationships and more, so students can separate fact from fiction and reality from stereotype. The truth can be so different from the rumors and cultural assumptions out there.
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