“Black Women Attractiveness” Study Exposes Racism in Evolutionary Psychology

May 17, 2011  |  

The black blogosphere went H.A.M. yesterday over a post written in Psychology Today entitled “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” The post, which was penned by pseudo-evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics, contains a lot of inflammatory subjective “science” that basically trashes black women.

In the piece, Kanazawa polls a bunch of his friends, who also hate black women, and (surprise, surprise) discovers that black women are statistically far less attractive than white, Asian and Native American women. Then he “analyzes” his data, determining that “Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women.” Moreover, “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.”

Kanazawa concludes his findings with this thoughtless piece of subjectivity: “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.”

So in non-scientific terminology—black women are not only fat and less intelligent than our non-black counterparts, but we also look like men.

After a mid-morning email blitz from disgruntled black women (and the men that love them) everywhere, Psychology Today pulled the piece. However, thanks to the infinite powers of the Internet, Kanazawa’s bigoted douchebaggery lives on for eternity.

While I am not a psychologist, I can certainly tell when someone needs one. Perhaps Kanazawa is overcompensating for the unproven stereotypes about the sexual prowess of Asian men. Or maybe he has gotten his heart broken before by a fat, black, handsome looking broad, so now he is taking out all his anger on all black women. Either way, it’s clear that whatever inferiority “issues” he has can only be solved with some deep therapy and not here on this post.

Nevertheless, it does shock me to see that a somewhat generally reputable science magazine has continually engaged in irrational arguments for why blatant forms of ethnocentrism, xenophobia and racism are perfectly rational. As pointed out by Jezebel, Psychology Today has a long history of debasing women and feminism, “blaming it for everything from unhappiness to sexual harassment to just plain evilness.”  Some of Kanazawa’s previous entries have included topics such as: “Why Modern Feminism is Illogical, Unnecessary, and Evil;” Men Sexually Harass Women Because They Are Not Sexist;” and my personal favorite, Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?”

But it’s just not women that Kanazawa seems to degrade with his moronic theorizing. He has also claimed there is a link between lower average IQ and poverty in Africa. Unfortunately, Kanazawa, among others, is allowed to play up these baseless hypotheses about the human condition thanks in part to evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology is becoming increasingly popular and influential on popular culture, and you are often more likely to see articles from this perspective in publications like Psychology Today.

Evolutionary “study” is not a new concept; prior to the 1980s, sociobiology was the popular science that linked human behavior to evolution. Like Kanazawa, Charles Darwin did his fair share to popularize biologic racism.  By the early 1900s Darwin had cooked up the theory that white people evolved from chimpanzees, the more intelligent primate, while blacks and the Orientals evolved from less intelligent primates such as orangutans and gorillas. Then there was Sir Francis Galton, founder of the eugenics movement, who theorized that intelligence was mainly hereditary and that Negroes were barely human at all.

So does this prove that evolutionary psychology is totally useless pseudo-science? Not exactly; it does have its uses to show how certain environmental conditions can impact human behavior.  But as a general rule, it’s best to take certain evolutionary studies we read with a grain of salt since a lot of the conclusions drawn are often based on a political and/or social prejudice idea—if not from the views of the bigot scientist himself.

Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.

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