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Psychology Today Asks, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?”

What’s worse than offensive articles, like “The Top 10 Hottest Female Sex Offenders” — that are ‘just kidding’?

Offensive articles, like “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?,” published in reputable (?) magazines like Psychology Today that are serious.

Yesterday, Psychology Today pulled an article it posted online by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanzawa, which sought to explain why black women are considered “unattractive” based on a study of the attractiveness of different races. (However, you can still read the article and see the illustrated graphs here.) Satoshi Kanzawa referenced a study in which white, Asian and Native American women were rated “attractive,” while blacks were markedly not, and men of all races were rated equally “unattractive.” In a particularly problematic section of Satoshi Kanzawa’s article, he posits that blacks are less intelligent than the other races. He wrote:

“Nor can the race difference in intelligence (and the positive association between intelligence and physical attractiveness) account for the race difference in physical attractiveness among women. Black women are still less physically attractive than nonblack women net of BMI and intelligence. Net of intelligence, black men are significantly more physically attractive than nonblack men.”

After an Internet uproar, Psychology Today changed the article’s title to “Why Are African-American Women Rated Less Attractive Than Other Women, but Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men?” (despite the fact “black” and “African-American” do not mean the same thing), then pulled it entirely.

The fact that a study was performed on which races are considered attractive, in and of itself, is not the problem. The problem is completely ignoring the societal context in which this study — performed by something called Add Health — takes place and drawing blanket conclusions based on it. A study based on people’s opinions that declares black women are “unattractive” as a statement of fact is no more accurate than a study that declares homosexuals “sinners” as a statement of fact. Those are simply people’s opinions, not facts around which I would hope research is based. Subjective answers in a study are influenced by the society we live in that, generally speaking, privileges white standards of beauty (long straight hair, hourglass figures, etc.) over all others.

His comments about race and intelligence are a whole different f**ked up can of worms altogether. Pseudo-science research into a link between race and intelligence may be considered by a lot of us as kooky junk science at best and outright racist at worst, but it nevertheless persists. (As much as I hate linking to Wikipedia as a “source,” this entry about the race and intelligence controversy is pretty decent and thorough.) As recently as the mid-’90s, books like The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, which argued that intelligence is genetic, gave support to the idea that IQ might vary by race. That Satoshi Kanzawa dabbles in junk science but has published multiple pieces in Psychology Today seriously calls the magazine’s credibility into question. (More so than it already was based on their dumbass — and anonymous! — articles about feminism.)

As blogger Jos Truitt wrote on Feministing, “This piece is so undeniably racist there’s just no way Psychology Today put it up for any other reason than to generate traffic, which is despicable.” (I highly recommend Jos Truitt’s piece for a more in-depth, whipsmart analysis of why this article was BS.) I imagine that will be denied thoroughly, though Psychology Today has yet to issue a response statement following what happened.

[The Something Awful Forums: Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?]
[MediaBistro.com: Psychology Today Pulls Offensive Article On Black Women From Web Site]
[Feministing: Racist Psychology Today Article Claims Black Women Are Less Attractive Than Other Women]

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