In keeping consistent with my “Defense of black women, since no one else seems to want to” theme from the other day, I just found out about yet ANOTHER assault on black women. But this one is too insane for words.
A website called Psychology Today – which, to me, appears to be less academic in nature and falls more in line with self-help type lit – recently came under fire for publishing an article “Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” The article attempts to provide “objective” and quantitative data explaining why black women – more than any other group – are considered the less attractive.
Author Satoshi Kanazawa cites a very dubious Add Health study (
with no links, I should point out) assessing “…the physical attractiveness of its respondents both objectively and subjectively” as a foundation for his study. After providing results from a factor analysis conducted in this mysterious Add Health study, the author summarizes his study with the following mind-boggling conclusion:
The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone. Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently. Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive. In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive. The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.
As if that wasn’t enough salt on open wound, this guy takes it a step further:
It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others. In Wave III, Add Health asks its respondents to rate their own physical attractiveness subjectively on the following four-point scale: 1 = not at all, 2 = slightly, 3 = moderately, 4 = very. As you can see in the following graphs, both black women and black men rate themselves to be far more physically attractive than individuals of other races.
Yes. You read that correctly. Testosterone makes black women uglier. Oh, and more conceited.
I’m sorry to say this isn’t an article written for The Onion. Homeboy is serious. The online magazine has since tried to remove the evidence, but not before falling victim to the permanency of the Internet. You can read that piece of s**t article here.
In no way do I claim to be an expert in any field of psychology, let alone evolutionary psychology. But I at least know that attractiveness is not based on testosterone. It is simply a subjective analysis of a person’s external (and, in some instances, interal) features; as shaped by and reinforced by pre-defined cultural norms. Historically, the eurocentric standard of beauty has been the barometer by which the attractiveness of all other races of women has been measured. I don’t deny that. But if white women have SOCIALLY bore the standard of beauty in our society, what exactly does that have to do with a person’s genetic pre-dispostion? How can a person be more attractive genetically? If Kanazawa was engaged in a social study, I’d be on his team. But he’s trying to turn a socially constructed idea (attraction) into a genetically-created idea. I know. WTF, indeed.
I could go on with my rant, but Natasha over at The B[E]-Girl Manifesta says it all:
And while I would be telling a lie audacious enough to land me a Congressional seat if I didn’t admit that I was hurt by this article, my hurt isn’t the impetus for my criticism. I can deal with hurt feelings in the face of solid, scientific, fact. What struck me about this “study” was how flimsy Kanazawa’s science was. Even with my laymen’s (and I do mean laymen’s) grasp of evolutionary psychology, the article’s assertions seemed unsupported by strong methodology. Even to my untrained eye and limited understanding, the holes were glaring. Kanazawa presented very little that suggested that he had access to – let alone utilized – tools that could measure something as subjective as human attractiveness.
Now, in addition to the questionable methods that he employs, the credibility of his research receives yet another devastating blow due to its complete omission of important socio-cultural factors that condition our ideas about beauty and attractiveness. We live in a world where the white beauty standard prevails. This standard was necessary in order to build a system of domination based on white superiority. The maintenance of this standard is just as important today to uphold the current system. And don’t get it twisted, this standard of beauty is not limited to the United States or Europe. It is a standard that has come crashing into every corner of the globe – often on the back of colonization and conquest.
Read the rest of her kick ass post here.
Well, there you have it. Stupidity presented to the world under the guise of intelligent, sound, thinking. But I guess I can’t harbor too much anger with this Kanazawa guy. His thoughts – insipid as they may be – are his to have. Instead, perhaps we should take the momentum from this controversy and use it (as well as the Albert Haynesworth nonsense from my previous post) as a discussion tool on matters of socially defining and redefining beauty. There is something to be said about the long-term psychological damage levied on people who demonstrate severe self esteem issues; issues stemming from how society measures them. This is nothing to take lightly, and certainly not something to exacerbate with some bulls**t lugubrious junk science.
But should Kanazawa and folks like him continue with their “scientific” assault of black women, they can go right ahead. While he is working on a follow-up piece, I’ll be spending time with my black and beautiful girlfriend.
It didn’t take me too long to learn more about the Add Health study mentioned earlier. Here is its website, if you’re interested. In my initial response to the Kanazawa study, I joined a legion of other people calling into question this study. I was misguided in that respect. They had nothing to do with how Kanazawa interpreted or used the data in their findings. So to them, I offer a hardly apology.