Monday Musings: Exotic Is NOT A Compliment

There is nothing more infuriating than reading a romance involving a black woman with a man of another race, and he refers to her as exotic. GET THE FUCK OUT!!!!

Okay authors, I’ma tell you straight: This.is.not.a.compliment. I know your intentions are honorable, and you think that it’s some term of endearment or supreme flattery, but it ain’t! Animals are exotic. Destinations are exotic. Plants are exotic. Cuisine is exotic. Black women (and other women of color) are not exotic. To imply that we are is like telling us we’re these inhuman beings only to be ogled and objectified.

I am not the only one who feels strongly about this, so this is not just one ultra-sensitive, butthurt opinion. It is a declaration. Stop describing us as exotic. Please. Every time I read that word as a descriptor, I cringe. You can do better. I’m just sayin…

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12 thoughts on “Monday Musings: Exotic Is NOT A Compliment

  1. When I see the word ‘exotic’, I think of it as beautiful. Picture this: you’ve just won an all inclusive trip to an exotic location. You know you would love that because exotic is something so nice and beautiful that it can only have been created by something by nature. As to food, exotic just means something different. If a person from Tahiti came to America and tried a burger, they’d say it was exotic but if an American person was to travel to Tahiti and try their local food, we call it exotic. Exotic is just a different take on things. I don’t think it’s bad at all. People consider my eyes exotic because they’re slanted. I took that as a compliment. Nothing is wrong with exotic.

    1. I can respect your wearing your exotic tag with pride but don’t knock me for having an opposing opinion.

  2. I’m Filipino and a romance writer. Thanks for bringing this up. As a writer, I’m certainly taking note! As a woman, my reaction to being called “exotic” depends on the general attitude of the person.

    1. Thank you for your comment Cindy. From the responses this post has generated, we all clearly feel strongly one way or another about this. And while I disagree with some of the comments, I do respect everyone’s opinion-when presented rationally and without snark or malice.

  3. I’m not down with it. Nope. I agree with your post Patrice. I don’t view it as complimentary at all. As if somehow being perceived as “the other” is okay. Nah uh, I pass.

  4. It’s an author’s perogative, simply put. I appreciate and respect opinions on this matter. I found the article intriguing and wondered what others thought as well. It’s never affected me either way.

    1. Thank you. I appreciate your comment. Just as an author can express themselves in any manner, I as a reader can express my displeasure over the way they choose to. Some find the word exotic complimentary. I simply don’t.

  5. The first definition of exotic in the urban dictionary is:

    Being from Asia, South America, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Persia, Arabia, etc… basically, anyone with tan skin, black shiny hair, big luscious lips, can dance and gyrate, curvy and smart. Exotic people have mysterious, alluring and sensual eyes. ALL will surrender to those eyes when an exotic girl permits a guy she likes to catch a glance of them.

    ASIA- Zhang Ziyi= exotic
    SOUTH AMERICA/ CARIBBEAN- Adriana Lima= exotic
    MEDITERRANEAN- Cleopatra= exotic
    PERSIA- Shakira= exotic
    ARABIA- Queen of Jordan= exotic

    I really do not negate your feelings regarding a black woman classified as exotic. As human beings it is in our nature to have our own opinions. Well, that’s if you’re allowed to in the country that you live in. For me the word doesn’t anger me, it’s the “N” and even referred as “Bitch” these are the words that doesn’t do it for me. However, muse on and I mean that in a good way. 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment. It’s very clear we all have very different interpretations of what this word means to us, and yes hunty, I will muse on😊

  6. This is an interesting and important topic here. I am glad you are shedding light on this because usually when I think exotic, I think of what men(of any race) think: long shiny black hair, light skin, from some far away place…

    I never thought anyone would consider us black women exotic. When these men say the word, they say it hungrily, with a swoon in their voice, a smile on their face. Never have I equated it with anything essentially wrong. Just appreciating something wholly different and sexy.

    I don’t know, it can be confusing dissecting people’s character but I see what you mean at the same time.

    Thank you so much for this!

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