Do Italian Men Love Black Women?
You are going to Italy, you are preparing for your departure, you are wondering if you will find love. As a black woman, you also wonder if Italian men love black women?
If you ask yourself this question, what is the reason? Are you afraid of not being attractive enough, of not pleasing anyone and of falling for the first one you meet? Are you afraid of falling in love with an Italian man whose family is racist? Whatever the reason, you will meet fetishists who do not see you as a unique person but as someone who fits their very reductive stereotypes about black women.
From 2015 to 2016, I lived in Naples but it was not a new place for me. I had been visiting Italy regularly for years to improve my Italian and learn more about the culture. During my several stays, I did not particularly notice how racial fetishism was expressed, how some Italian men ‘would love black women’.
‘Loving black women’ often simply takes the form of dehumanization, racial stereotyping and the absence of individuating. The fetishist feeds his imagination, his desires, and sexual fantasies through his preconceived racist and postcolonial ideas of black women: that they are wild, sexually active, and so on and so forth. During my stay in Naples, I was regularly complimented by both men and women
, for my skin tone. I found it strange as I grew up in an environment where dark-skinned people were devalued. And furthermore, I did not understand how people could be ‘fascinated‘ by my skin color.
Having a romantic relationship in Italy can be quite complicated (as everywhere else), especially when you find yourself with partners who have lack self-confidence, and who embody the cliché of the jealous and possessive Italian. I’ve encountered two stereotypes of the Southern Italian man, so I might as well tell you as it’s worth the detour.
Stereotypes about Italian men can sometimes be true
The atheist, anti-religious man, curious about the world
One guy you will certainly meet is the persona of the man who grew up in southern Italy and hates Catholicism. Conforming to social Italian norms is difficult for him. He does not particularly want to get married, or start a family, and he avoids conforming to the social Italian norms rooted in Catholicism. According to a survey, 11.7% of southern Italian men identify as atheist
s or agnostic s. However, Italian male toxicity is never far away. He remains possessive and jealous in a more subtle way than the macho southern man.
The southern man, close to his mother, macho and catholic
This stereotype is pretty well-known in the world. The mama’s boy, called ‘mammoni’ in Italian, is a man in his 30’s, living with his parents, who loves his mom and cannot do without her. She does everything for him from cooking to cleaning. Not getting along with his mom could put at risk your relationship with him. Your opposite-sex friendships are unacceptable for him but he doesn’t mind flirting with other women in front of you. To be forgiven for this sin committed, he will certainly invite you to church. Even if he is a believer, he is not conservative when it comes to yours? clothing. Being sexy and ‘feminine’, would be necessary every day as women have to be so. In a relationship with this character, one has to conform to traditional gender roles.
And what about racial fetishism?
If you are a black woman staying or living in Italy, you may also come across people who will fetishise you. This is called racial fetishism. What does it mean? For example, a white woman who only loves and dates black men has a very simplistic, stereotyped and sexual imagery of the black man and wants to fulfill all her sexual fantasies with him. Thus, the fetishist projects his/her/their preconceived ideas and his/her/their racist stereotypes that stem from the colonial period and have evolved over time.
Through the lens of racial fetishism, people do not represent unique individuals but a group of people, all more or less alike. Comments such as ‘I like black women’, ‘you have a beautiful skin color”, ‘you’re so sexy’ can seem like compliments. Yet they are the very demonstration of racial fetishism, by generalising preconceived ideas with strong sexual connotations. Some of you have already heard such highly unpleasant comments as ‘I heard black women are very good, tireless in bed’, ‘I’d like to try a black woman’, or being nicknamed ‘my black panther’ and ‘Naomi Campbell’.
The history of the racial fetishism of black women
Racial fetishism is clearly not understood by people who fetishise; they see no harm in their attitude, in their remarks and according to them there is nothing to be offended about. Fetishists do not want to understand these sexual stereotypes, which have their roots in Western societies during slavery and the colonial period and are passed on from generation to generation. Thus the image of black women as ‘easy, lascivious, lecherous, perverse and therefore fundamentally insatiable’ is imposed, which ‘also allows the image of the ideal white, modest and chaste wife to be constructed in a mirror’, as can be seen in the images below.
During Italy’s second attempt to conquer Ethiopia, from 1935 to 1936, Ethiopia embodied for Italian soldiers a place full of black women with uninhibited sexuality. From there, a sexualized image of the Ethiopian woman and black women, in general, flourished in music and the arts, as can be seen in the postcards of Enrico Seta, an Italian draughtsman, and painter.
The song Facetta Nera (Little Black Face), became the anthem of this second war. The purpose of this war was to liberate, assimilate and sexually exploit Ethiopians. Through this song, one can clearly feel all the violence and the physical, mental and sexual oppression of the colonizers as well as sexual fetishization. The line ‘La legge nostra è schiavitù d’amore’ which means ‘Our law is the slavery of love’ outlines this sexual violence.
Other songs from the colonial period, such as Africanina by Daniele Serra, reveal the same violence and sexual fetishism. ‘Pupetta mora, africanina, Piccolo fiore di orientalina, Labbra carnose’, which can be translated as ‘Brown doll, little African girl, a little oriental flower with fleshy lips’. All these nicknames that objectify have contributed to shaping a derogatory image of black women, with such fantasies and sexual desires
, still very present in Italian society. In spite of this colonial past with its many associated intergenerational traumas, the questioning of racial fetishism and hypersexualization of racialized bodies is little discussed.
The photos and videos above show us how colonial imagination has shaped the mindset of many fetishists with these stereotypes still well anchored in their minds. The
So do Italian men love black women?
I will not answer this question. I think by asking this question, there is another question to be asked. Do I have low self-esteem? What traumas were involved? Look for all the reasons that made you think this way. We live in societies where black people are constantly being dehumanized. We live in a post-colonial period but continue to suffer the consequences of slavery and colonization. Self-esteem is a real problem in many Afro-descendant communities, the validation of the other (non-black people) is still necessary for many. There is no magic formula to escape fetishism, but working on your self-esteem, self-image, and individuality will certainly help. We all deserve someone who loves us for who we really are.
Igiaba Scego, Les femmes noires comme incarnation forcée du corps de l’Autre,21/09/2018
Maria Malagardis, La conquête de l’Ethipie et le rêve d’une sexualité sur ordonnance
Marie-Anne Matard-Bonucci,La vera storia di Facetta nera, 6/08/2015