© Jesse Gross
The London School of Economics (LSE) is investigating a blog post by psychologist Dr Satoshi Kanazawa's, one of its lecturers. The Psychology Today article "why black women are less physically attractive", ignited outrage this week. In the article Dr Kanazawa outlined the findings of a University of North Carolina survey, in which interviewers rated the "physical attractiveness" of selected subjects.
Following much criticism, Psychology Today removed the article that generated so much internet traffic that it almost brought down their site. While the internet notably Facebook and Twitter heatedly conversed on the issue; demands for Dr Kanazawa's dismissal mounted. Washing their hands of the affair, LSE said his views were his own and "do not in any way represent those of LSE as an institution".
Although the posting was removed, cached versions show that Dr Kanazawa wrote: "Black women are … far less attractive than white, Asian, and Native American women".
No details were provided on the interviewers backgrounds (social/political/ethnic) nor the criteria used to determine a persons "physical attractiveness".
Psychology Today told the US radio station NPR that its bloggers were "credentialed social scientists and for this reason they are invited to post to the site on topics of their choosing". Adding "We in turn reserve the right to remove posts for any number of reasons. Because the post was not commissioned or solicited by PT, there was no editorial intent to address questions of race and physical attractiveness."
The articles critics included Dr Mikhail Lyubansky, (Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois) who said the posting failed to consider possible "anti-black bias" in the perceptions of the respondents and interviewers. "Without this kind of methodological analysis", he wrote, Kanazawa's entire premise that there is such a thing as a single objective standard of attractiveness is fatally and tragically flawed," .
Sherelle Davids, anti-racism officer-elect of the LSE students' union, said: "Kanazawa deliberately manipulates findings that justify racist ideology. As a black woman I feel his conclusions are a direct attack on black women everywhere who are not included in social ideas of beauty."
Dr Kanazawa's was not available for comment.
My thoughts? Beauty is subjective; it is strongly influenced by experience and culture. Dr Kanazawa's article makes his viewpoint crystal clear. Sadly his stance may be embraced by individuals with a similar bias.
"If black women take this on as a reasonable argument or assumption, we would be taking on other people's baggage," said Helen Miller (a black woman). "That is his problem", she continued. "We should not make it ours. We should not dispute it. We should not condone it. We should not embrace it as a reasonable conversation, because it isn't."