Black Women and Evolutionary Psychology

Back in February, after Aunt Norma passed, I had a blog entry in mind. I started it, like, three times. I never finished.

I was going to title it “Black Women”. And then I was going to title it “Women”. It was going to be about the beautiful women in my family and the poise, dignity and strength with which they carry themselves. I never got the words right, though. Then I lost focus.

A few week ago this mess was in the news: http://www.salon.com/life/2011/05/17/psychology_today_racist_black_women_attractive

The article or professional blog entry on the Psychology Today website was titled,
“Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?”.

I saw some reactions around the web, but I figured that the author of the article obviously writes the things that he writes to create controversy and rile people up. It’s really not worthy of giving him credit or giving him the satisfaction or responding.

He posted that black people have been around longer and therefore have experienced more genetic mutations and mutations make a genetic group less attractive. Plus black people have more testosterone and therefore black women appear more masculine than other women. In whatever survey or study he cited, black women were rated as less attractive. Not black men, either. Just black women. He concluded that, objectively, black women are less attractive than any other group.

Evolutionary Psych

Evolutionary psychology has grown in credibility in recent years, I think. It’s an interesting way to view the world and social interactions. It’s a useful tool. I think people definitely abuse the tool to justify conditions or their own behaviors.

We are, in essence, fancy schmancy animals. So if you’re into that sort of thing you can explain love via pheromones or ovulation cycles or you can explain monogamy as a biological and social necessity due to Homo Sapiens long gestation and developmental periods.

You can say that black women are scientifically proven to be less attractive than any other group in society. Of course, by doing so you ignore every other social convention and America’s and the world’s history with black people. That of dehumanization and demonization. Concerted efforts to portray black people as, on one hand, happy non-threatening simpletons and on the other hand as uncivil brutes.

Point being, there’s a lot of stuff going on when it comes to attraction.

Formative

I’ve always been baffled by people who are only attracted to their own race. It’s obvious to me that there’s so much bullsh!t when it comes to how we perceive each other it’s ….

I remember when I was in middle and high school, nearly the only black kid. White girls who looked like swimsuit models, tanned and toned, would walk by and guys would comment on what they’d like to do. Then a hurried, unkempt, middle aged, morbidly obese black woman reeking of cigarette smoke and alcohol would walk by huffing and puffing and they’d say, “Gary, there’s one for you.”

Their un-attraction to black girls was active and conscious.

I remember a friend said to me, after we were discussing girls, he said, “Well, I don’t know. Maybe black women would be attracted to you. I don’t know what they like, but…”

It was like we were a different species.

Didn’t John Mayer say in an interview that his penis was a racist? Ha ha! Google “john mayer racist penis”. Pretty sure I just ended up on some kind of watch list.

My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.

Femininity

Different cultures definitely have different norms. In a book I read recently, one of the ancillary characters was a heavyset black woman and the description of her involved the phrase “her sturdy, reassuring form”.

A friend and I were listening to music once. He played some songs for me and I played some for him, some gospel. A Kirk Franklin CD, I think. He commented on the singer’s voice, “His voice is gravelly.”

“That’s a woman.”

“That’s a woman?? Ew.”

There was definitely nothing dainty or pretty about that voice. You know how gospel is, though. Full of raw passion. Full of the blues. Guttural wailing and pleas to the Lord.

It ain’t no Amy Grant, Sandi Patty or Rebecca St. James. That’s for sure. It’s not:

there’s a time i can recall
four years old and three feet tall
trying to touch the stars and the cookie jar
and both were out of reach

Awwwww.

Upbringing

There are a number of heavy set women in my family. That’s just the way it is and the way it’s been. I think for many black families — or heck, many sub-upper class families — that’s a norm. Sturdy, reassuring big women.

On top of that, in my family at least and I’m sure in many other black families, black women are fiercely stoic. The only time I would see a woman cry was at a funeral or in a moment of pride for a child. Despite the crap they dealt with in their lives — men, society, whatever — they didn’t let their guard down in front of the kids. The world can be a rough place. Be strong. Take care of each other. Treat others how you want to be treated.

Frankly, it still freaks me out when women cry. I mean, I know some cryin’ women now and it still makes me uncomfortable. This isn’t going to sound right, but somewhere in my mind I equate crying/emotional women with weakness and precarious fragility.

That’s not how womanhood was modeled in my upbringing. Like, vulnerability and smallness, whether of build or voice quality, weren’t necessarily the qualities one would prize.

Where I come from, black women had to hold their own. It wasn’t about being a pretty little princess in pink with translucent fairy wings waiting for a Prince Charming to come along. I have an aversion to Disney to this day because they never embodied the qualities of “real” women.

One of my sisters hates getting her picture taken. She’s beautiful but she doesn’t think so. I don’t know. When we were kids, the black kids (and some relatives) would make fun of her because she was light skinned. Other people would tease other black girls for being too dark. That’s in addition to all the other crap and disrespect that young women put up with. You couldn’t win.

There’s a whole dynamic of how living in a blatantly racist society affected our notions of manhood and womanhood but that’s a tangent.

Being a minority within a majority, I’ve since encountered all kinds of people from many cultures and backgrounds. I’ve grown to appreciate the various facets and cultural strengths. From vulnerability to familial loyalty to independence to fiercely supportive to fiery.

I’ve also learned that blackness, whiteness, Hispanic-ness, Asian-ness, etc. are not monolithic. And when it comes to blackness, my experience wasn’t unique, by any means, but it also isn’t definitive.

I had a point

Really, I did. Anyway, just some things that have been in the news recently.

Oh! My point. Kanazawa, the author of “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?”, definitely has a bias. Also, our society is still racially charged. We’re just getting to the point in the last ten to fifteen years or so that black people are portrayed as regular people on TV and in movies. Not just pimps, drug dealers, rapists, murderers, thugs, rappers, brutes, big and intimidating. Not just black people either. Minorities in general.

We’re just getting to the point where an Asian person can be in a movie or on TV and not be a martial artist or a nerd. We’re just getting beyond stereotypes, is what I’m trying to say.

This affects how we view each other. What we say about each other. What we feel about each other. What we look for in each other.

Go walk down the street in New York City. Heck, stroll over to Georgetown. You’ll see beautiful, shapely black women all over the place. In fact, you’ll see all kinds of head-turningly beautiful women. Bring a neck brace for that whiplash you’re going to be suffering from. (For the sake of this conversation, I’m overlooking all of the beautiful women that don’t necessarily turn heads.)

But this is the kind of crap, that article posted on the website of a credible publication re: psychology, that they have to put up with. People debating on their supposed ugliness. What a mind%$@! Pile that on top of how other people attempt to define for them what a woman is supposed to look like and … eh.

Well, I’m sure there are plenty of women out there who can speak to that much better than I can.

Oh well. This is what I did over my long weekend.

Later, gators.

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2 comments

Add Yours
    • garyarthuryoung

      Hey, Ms. Rachel.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope all is well on the west coast, Bead Goddess.

      Take care of yourself.

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