A British based psychologist has caused outrage after posting comments on a study which suggests that black women are less attractive than whites, Asians or Native Americans, and has reignited the debate about race ideology in science.
Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, claims that his analysis indicates that black women are less attractive than white, Asian and Native American women.
He based his findings on a study of physical attractiveness on the Ad Health website which asked people to score the attractiveness of individuals, where he said that black women scored lower than other races.
Dr Kanazawa’s comments were posted on the website of the journal Psychology Today, but after a storm of protests by readers who referred to the comments as racism his post was removed.
Based on the Ad Health study graph he said, “black women are…far less attractive than white, Asian, and Native American women.” (The Scientific Fundamentalist: Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women? Why black women, but not black men? Dr Satoshi Kanazawa: May 15, 2011)
While the study indicated that black men were seen as attractive, Dr Kanazawa explained this apparent contradiction by saying that Africans in general had a higher level of testosterone than other races, and while this is a beneficial trait in black men, making them more desirable and masculine in features, for black women it produced the opposite effect. He even suggested that since Africans had lived longer than any other race they had more mutations in their genes which results in a decreased attraction, until he realised that this suggestion contradicted the findings that black men were seen as attractive. He then settled for the testosterone conclusion.
Fighting race ideology in science head on
While Dr Kanazawa’s blog has been removed, readers are demanding an apology and retraction from the magazine and the scientist, but this will perhaps create more interest for the type of race ideology Dr Kanazawa is perpetuating. This ideology of inferior races based on skin colour has been with us since Europeans took the first African slaves across the Atlantic. The root of this ideology is based on racism and it should be fought head on with rational debate.
Dr Kanazawa is Japanese, promoting an ideology that women of his own race have been victims of. Beauty has been defined by the Western world, there is little debate about that. Black supermodel Naomi Campbell has long spoke out against racism in the fashion and beauty industry. (Read Naomi Campbell speaks out against racism in the fashion industry)
The devastation that race ideology has had on women of other races is profound. Alphonso Van Marsh, in a report for CNN Health in November 2007, said “Skin bleaching — using chemical or natural products to lighten skin color — is common practice in the Americas, Africa, across Asia, and increasingly, in Europe.” (CNN.com/health: UK’s skin bleaching trade exposed: Alphonso Van Marsh: November 26, 2007)
Bella Online’s Chinese Culture Editor, Michelle Lee mentions how both Chinese and Japanese women have an obsession with white skin, turning to skin bleaching creams to pursue their ideal. (Bella Online: Asian Women’s Obsession for White Skin: Michelle Lee:)
The effects that race ideology has had on how people view beauty is evident from the examples given above. Dr Kanazawa’s analysis of the Ad Health study failed to take these crucial factors into account.
Readers would will take note that the ancient view of Africans was quite opposite to the modern European view that prevails today. In his book Before Colour Prejudice, Professor Frank Snowden, of Classics at Howard University said that the father of Greek history Herodotus, referred to Ethiopians as “the most handsome of all men.” (p.77) Asclepiades refers to “melting like wax” before a beautiful black woman. Theocritus refers to his “honey-brown”, black beauty to a violet and hyacinths, Ovid’s Sappho tells his black love Phaon that her skin reminds him of Andromeda, who captured the heart of Perseus with her beauty and Ethiopian skin.
There is a distorted view of African people which stems in part from modern Europeans and the slave trade. This view continues to shape how other races see Africans and how Africans see themselves.
It is the same view that has led to Dr Kanazawa’s statement and continues to mislead people that racism is respectable under the guise of science.
For further research:
Snowden, F.1991 Before Colour Prejudice: Published by Harvard University Press, London.