written by Tami; crossposted from Ms. Magazine blogs
If you somehow managed to miss the firestorm, Satoshi Kanazawa penned a post on Psychology Today blogs allegedly proving that black women are objectively less attractive than other women. Though the article has been pulled from Psychology Today, you can find it in full here. Other writers have capably illustrated Kanazawa’s bad methodology and his penchant for dressing racism, sexism and conservatism as science. They have written about the impact of constant attacks on the psyche of black women. But I want to point out another thing that is illustrated by this controversy: That sexism affects black women uniquely.
All women bear the burden of the European beauty standard and the fact that, as women, our value as human beings is too often defined by how closely we fit the standard—how close we are to being white, blond, blue-eyed, thin, with long, straight hair, keen nose and lips. Narrow standards of beauty are oppressive to all but a few, but it is black women as a whole who are held up as the opposite of the ideal. In the book Black Dionysus: Greek tragedy and African American theatre, Kevin Wetmore writes that black women are “constructed in contradiction to the idealogy of white, female beauty.” We may be sex objects, yes, but not “pure and beautiful” like white women. At best, we may be objects of men to “slake their lust.” In a society that equates female beauty with worth, black women are often deemed worthless. There is nothing “objective” about this, contrary to Kanazawa’s assertion. This is gender bias flavored with centuries of race bias.