"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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  • John Doe

    I believe that the argument over whether his scientific opinion is correct or not is best left to the scientists. Im sure that he wouldnt make such blatantly offensive claims without damn good evidence, as he committed social suicide by publishing that article. The truth is often very offensive, and lies are often very sweet. I did not see you criticize the part that said “black men are more attractive than men of other races due to higher levels of testosterone.” I am a white man and I believe that is true because it makes logical sense. Just because a study inconviently insults a group of people that you belong to does not mean that it is incorrect. Men tend to be more violent and commit more crimes due to our higher levels of testosterone, but I dont commit crimes, does that mean that I should reject this fact? No. These facts don’t mean that every man is a criminal, or that every white man is ugly than every black man (there are some handsome white guys and ugly black guys), or that every black woman is ugly. There are plenty of gorgeous black women! You need to try and understand where these “racist sexist evolutionary psychologists” are coming from before you pretend to understand their motives. There are plenty of female evolutionary psychologists that support “sexist” facts about biological sexuality and behavior. You need to take a chill pill and open your mind to other ways of thinking.

  • Pingback: Considering Evolutionary Psychology « Shift Matters()

  • I mean, all of this debating is unnecessary. I think we’ve always known our looks are terrible and we were/are the least attractive. It’s never been a secret, but it’s been confirmed and so it is what it is. Just know that people think we’re ugly and probably always will. It’s part of being a black woman…hey at least we’re superior at something, even if it’s being ugly.

    • Me.

      Just another white person pretending to be black.smh

  • Tina

    That's not true. I may be the exception to the rule (black female), but I know that most white men love beauty regardless of race. My mother tells me all of the time that white men at her job always ask her "how your pretty daughter?" Because beauty is just beauty, no matter the color. I work on myself in a way that people can appreciate my looks. I can agree that most black women today aren't doing that but those who do are beautiful women, period.

  • Tina

    I agree that women are as beautiful as they want to be. I am african american and attract most guys a lot of the time. I guess I was born with genetic qualities for being "attractive" but I really put effort into being very attractive and most men find me hot, regardless of race. I could be unattractive if I packed on a lot of weight and didn't know how to enhance my looks, which most black women fall short of I hate to say. However, on average I can say that others are more attractive because they put more effort into their appearance, but highly attractive black women are stunners just like anyone else when they're at that level. It's not even a matter of taste, they just are.

  • Jason

    I think Hitler's "genetic experts" drew some similar stereotypes about certain races…

  • Sandy

    Haters, Haters, Haters. Thats all i got to say

  • Tiffany

    Please consider signing this petition to hold Psychology Today accountable for its content (http://www.change.org/petitions/hold-psychology-today-accountable). Over and above the content of the recent blog post, which just so happens to be race-related, this is an act of abuse and irresponsibility. This was not "a study." This was not "research." The findings were not "objective." Conjecture is not "proof." And credible research does not use language such as "I think" and "I believe." I am a psychologist and it takes me YEARS to get research published. There is integrity in my work and how I disseminate that work. Kanazawa's rantings were purely editorial, coupled with rather primitive statistics and presented as credible. It was a joke. And it should have never, ever been presented as scientific. Psychology Today should be held accountable.

  • Don L

    How stupid do you have to be to believe that all races are equal?

  • Kevin

    The thing I consider most telling in the article as well as the subsequent posts, are that most of the people who are disparaging are really afraid…Why would you even bring this subject up if you were not fearful? There is no inherent truth to the article, I have known and seen beauty in every country or continent that I have been to…I love women of every color and ethnicity…but then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder…Fear is the barrier which keeps us from discovering the grace and beauty in others…Let's get real and show the love and compassion which is the underlying emotion that is the most common in man…

  • Cobobs

    The paper only shows that the author is gay, prefers black men, and has had his share of grief from black women, so he writes his little revenge paper.

  • Fridayv

    I've also read studies that report that black women have a higher rate of breast cancer partially because they have heightened estrogen levels. So…do black women have heightened levels of both testosterone and estrogen compared to other women? If this is true then black women would be extra feminine and extra…masculine too? At the same time? What?

  • Mike H.

    Professor Kanazawa makes an observation based on facts which are all easily verifiable. The writer of this article does nothing but spout childish name calling, ad hominems and offer nothing in the way of refutation of the article or person she's insulted.

    Gee, I wonder which of the two I should be taking seriously?

    Also Psychology Today "a somewhat generally reputable science magazine"? Excuse me while I die laughing. This is the first decent article they've had in a long while(they must have come a long way since they posted un-scientific trash like their 'race doesnt exist' article).

  • Rob

    I find it funny, the outrage the writer has over people's preferences. It reminds me of the "racist babies" study a few months ago, lol!

  • jewamongyou

    If black women are as attractive as other women, why are black men so eager to date outside their race – not just in America but all over the world?

  • Kevin

    Looks like Kanazawa's article applies to this author as well!

  • bad blob

    case in point
    look at the author of this article

  • La Reyna

    I'm sorry. The writer of this article is playing the race card. I wish sistas stop complaining and get on with the business of living instead of complaining everytime a nonblack person makes a negative comment about Black women.

    By the way, I'm a Black woman, so don't email your haterade towards this sista.

    La Reyna

    • Codi

      Shut up, please. I don't think the article was complaining. The author is a writer, and I am sure she is getting money to WRITE articles. I don't think black women got together and said, "please publish an article on your blog telling me how ugly I am because I feel like having something to complain about" No, we were going about our lives as usual and were assaulted with this literary nonsense. I know you may not care, but this article is something I would not want my niece or daughter to come across and erroneously process because of their immaturity. So I am glad "sistas" complained cuz it has no place in science. You are so used to being ignored that you are uncomfortable with black women who stick up for themselves and want us to "pipe down cuz the massa might hear us." No!!! We have a right to speak out against such offensive nonsense…especially FOR people like YOU!!!

      signed, another black woman.

  • A. Wallace

    "moronic theorizing"?? Uhh, Charing, darling, you have a PhD in psychology? You have written more articles that Professor Kanazawa? Hard to believe, since I have never heard your name. Maybe, you are merely a journalist, and you simply don't understand Darwinian social science?

  • davidhollister

    I find it laughable that today's definition of pseudo-science is something to disagree with.

  • Brian

    Yo man! Dey done let a sheboon rite dat artukel! Can you buhleev dat? I can says as a black man dat I sho'nuff don't want no black wimin no how. White is right-on fo' me!

  • Harold I. Brown

    I am a 65 year Black man and I am always amazed at how the black race has always been put down. I din't know what race this author belongs to by his name. If by chance he is Black, He is a fool. The idea that Psychology Today continues to print his opinion, makes one question the owners of the magazine. I think what is wrong with Blacks is regardless of the Whites in South Africa, some Whites in America, some Whites in Europe and other non-White races who seem to bash Blacks, We continue to survive, exist, grow,conquer and out live those that hate Us. There is no mire beautiful woman in the world than the Black woman. If the body features of the Black woman are so masculine, then why are White women and other races trying to enhance their bodies to resemble the Black woman? From the Queen of Sheba in King Solomon's time to the modern day Black woman they are naturally (without tons of makeup) beautiful. Hold your heads up Black women. Talk is cheap and so are the opinions of educated idiots with psychological problems of their own.

    • E-Nomad

      i detect denial.

      Its pretty much common sense black women are the least attractive and least wanted.

      You should know, black men chase white women and other non-black women alllll the damn time.

  • Bill Bates

    “He has also claimed there is a link between lower average IQ and poverty in Africa.”

    My God…you’re actually suggesting there is NOT? In spite of the near-perfect correlation between IQ and GDP? The difference between Finland and Chad is NOT that the inhabitants of the former like wool sweaters.

  • Viktorija

    When a supposed "reporter" pens a baseless opinion about something written by a PhD that is full of statistical FACTS, it just shows that this "reporter" only knows how to get indignant when presented with FACTS they don't like, and that they have zero knowledge, skill, or intelligible ability to contest. When you educate yourself, THEN you can present opinions based in facts. Until then you really need to crawl back into your childish comic-book-level hole.

  • I posted an article on this form of "Scientific Racism" titled: "Scientific Racism and the Case of 'Psychology Today': Quack Science Justifies Rating Black Women as "Least Attractive" — http://viewer.zoho.com/docs/eadDQb

  • Carl

    Charles Darwin and Francis Galton were geniuses (and half-cousins). Galton invented meteorology, most of modern statistics, a significant part of modern forensics, and modern psychology. They have a right to their ideas not being censored. All scientists do.

  • me2

    the reason there are no comments is because everyone who comments says that black women are anything but attractive. That is why none have been approved.

    • John Galt

      lol that's a joke

  • Iman Azol

    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.

    It took taxpayer money and a study to figure this out?

  • John Galt

    The most beautiful black woman I ever saw was not attractive to me. The color of the skin and coarse tightly curled black hair is not attractive at all.

  • rrjenn

    Black women ARE less attractive than all other races. Even black men will attest to that fact.

  • PMN

    "He has also claimed there is a link between lower average IQ and poverty in Africa."? That's absurd. Everyone knows poverty in Africa is linked to higher than average IQ on the continent……….

  • rrees

    We are living in a WHITE MAN'S WORLD, always have. The standard of beauty is White and because of this, his study is severly flawed and bias based on this underlying standard everyone is indocternated with. Beauty is IMPOSSIBLE to measure because its all about perception and his studies are exactly this, opinions – NOT facts. And to equate the Black womans lack of "attractiveness" he contrives jumbled theories based on evolutionary pshycology that in essence , is open to broad interpretation from anyone – I.E "Sir Francis Galton, founder of the eugenics movement, who theorized that intelligence was mainly hereditary and that Negroes were barely human at all." -YEAH ??
    It's a mess. An absolute mess.

  • BBB

    From Wikipedia article: Interracial marriage in the United States

    Gender Disparities

    Interracial marriage between selected groups is often strongly gender biased. In the U.S. the most well-known examples of this phenomenon are the relatively high frequency of both Black male/White female and White male/Asian female marriages when compared to the frequency of the gender reversed couplings.

  • Paul

    I think it's shocking that black people are so scared of demonstrable scientific results, the errors of judgment and plain unforgivable oversensitivity in this piece are the real scandal. "Baseless hypotheses"? "Subjective findings" caused by "scientific bigotry", see Dr. Phillip Rushton of McGill University and his published paper 'Race and IQ' among others, there certainly IS a link between the low IQ of Africans and their miserable state, in fact, it's the major factor. In all studies whites average 100-103, East Asians 102-105 and Africans 75-80, with a standard deviation being 15 points, Black Americans, because of the higher level of white ancestry average 85, these are not baseless hypothesis, but extensive, lab tested facts.

    • Codi

      YEA, RIGHT. So you are smarter than Barack Obama. Dr. Ben Carson, Dr. Keith Black, Oprah, me, countless other "intelligent negros". Get out of here. I am african-american and I in elementary/middle/high/college I was always smarter than the majority of white folks…so, Get out of here with that BULL.

      The only thing wrong with black folks is that the smart ones are usually too busy trying to fit in or do other more important things than argue against hillbilly as comments such as these. But i'm on school break so i thought I would enlighten you. Say thanks!!

      P.S. Who created the test? Let Africans give you an IQ test and see how well you fare. You idiot!

  • JasonK

    Good article, thanks. I read an interesting novel recently, My Beautiful Racist – it explains a lot about the world we live in and how 'intelligent' people can be just as racist as your typical dumb skinhead. Someone should buy Kanazawa a copy. https://mybeautifulracist.wordpress.com/