Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Breaking News!!!!!!

In a blog post at Psychology Today, Satoshi Kanazawa has come to the totally original conclusion that black women are "Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women." For some reason, Psychology Today pulled down this ultra-objective, ultra-scientific post! You can read it here.

Personally, I'm floored. This is such new, groundbreaking stuff. No one in our society has ever suggested that black women are less attractive than other women! I mean, this is not something you see every day in media outlets.

Oh, wait...

Okay, slightly turning off my sarcasm, I'm just going to post what I wrote to my BFF on when she asked me to find the article and talk about it:
**Yawn** same ol', same ol', Mrs. O. We as black women are too masculine/have too much testosterone AND his "objective evidence" of our lack of attractiveness [as far as I can tell] is based on the opinions of some interviewers who do the longitudinal study "ADD Health." These are the opinions of people who have **totally** not been influenced by a culture that is always positing black women are less attractive and less feminine than other women, I'm sure. Now, while their opinions are "objective" the opinions of black women, who rank themselves as more attractive than other women, are subjective. 'Cause we're not bona-fide experts or authorities or whatever. **Side-eye alert**

But, oh, thank goodness that our lack of attractiveness is not due to our lack of intelligence (yeah, he cites "racial differences" in intelligence, too).

He also pondered if it might be our "much heavier" bodies (surprise!) or our African genetic mutations.

What he didn't seem to consider is that beauty is a standard constructed by and within a sociocultural context. As Kanazawa's colleague explains:
Standards of beauty, like most other beliefs, are socialized and change not only from place to place but also over time. In both the United States and England, (where Kanazawa lives and works), standards of beauty are essentially "White" standards, because whites comprise the majority of the population and have disproportional control over both media and fashion.*


As long as this is understood and framed accordingly, there is no problem with the data Kanazawa reports. What they show is that because Black faces and bodies don't fit mainstream White standards of physical attractiveness, both respondents and interviewers show an anti-Black bias. Unfortunately, Kanazawa fails to consider either sample bias or socializing effects. Even if he believes, as he apparently does, that human behavior is entirely "evolutionary", good science requires a careful analysis of sample bias and an explicit discussion regarding the study's generalizability. Without this kind of methodological analysis, Kanazawa's entire premise -- that there is such a thing as a single objective standard of attractiveness -- is fatally (and tragically) flawed.

What's tragic is that this shit keeps getting published.
*These aren't the only reasons, I'd argue


Unknown said...

I too ran across this article the other day, as well as a nice vivisection of its "logic".


elle said...

Thanks for the link!

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