Saturday, September 29, 2007

Colorism in Hollywood



Colorism is as pervasive in Hollywood today as it ever has been. In fact, it seems to have gotten even worse. Notice I said "colorism" and not racism. While the term colorism is not strictly synonymous with racism per se, race does obviously play a large part in colorism.

When using the term colorism, I am specifically referring to the "ideal" skin color as well as hair color of men and women as depicted in Hollywood.

In the past, this was not always the case, but in the last 10-15 years, Hollywood seems hell bent on portraying leading men as darker than leading women. A perfect example is the portrayal of black couples in hollywood. In the past , a typical "black" couple would consist of a man and woman, both whom appear to be black. Now, when a "black" couple is shown, the man still looks black, but the woman almost always looks mixed. The woman is usually considerably lighter; so much so that at first glance it appears to be an inter-racial couple, and not a black couple. This marked gap in portrayal of black men and women's skin color, and often hair color is not an exception to the rule, it is the rule. The rule does not only apply to couples, but to nearly any major role. Black male characters are played by black actors while black female characters are played by actresses that are more often than not mixed. It seems that Hollywood is trying to send the message that dark African features are acceptable or even desired in men, but not in women. Another way of looking at it is that Hollywood is perpetuating a stereotype that dark features are masculine, whereas light features are feminine.


This not-so-subtle approach of colorism is not limited to black portrayals in the media. Though not quite as obvious as the portrayal of black men and women, white men and women are also subject to the same colorism. In the case of white portrayals, hair color is much more noticable than skin color.


At a casual glance, one might not notice a particular trend in the portrayal of white couples in Hollywood. But upon closer inspection, one can see that a vast majority of couples as depicted by Hollywood as consisting of a somewhat dark-complected dark or black-haired male with a light complected blond or red haired woman. Once again, this is not true 100% of the time but is the rule rather than the exception. And once again, this does apply to not just portrayals of couples, but most major roles. When pale, blond men are portrayed in the media, it is most often in the role of a serial killer, homosexual, arrogant and/or cowardly and is usually in a position opposite the leading male.




On top of this the way in which hollywood handles celebrities who are in inter-racial relationships solidifies the stereotype. Couples such as Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren or Seal and Heidi Klum are often featured and treated like royalty on celebrity shows and tabloids while couples such as Rosario Dawson and Gerard Butler or Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry are practically ignored. I've heard mention in the media several times that Halle Berry was pregnant but none of the stories even showed the father or mentioned who he is.

While the stereotypes created by Hollywood depictions may seem harmless to whose who "fit the image", the damage done to those who do not (very dark complected women, and very light complected men) can be socially devastating. Not only are self-esteem levels lower for dark-complected women, and light-complected men, black women are more likely than any other group of women to remain single, and white men are more likely than any other group of men or women to commit suicide.

So what can be done to put an end to these harmful stereotypes, and why hasn't Hollywood done something about it? It seems hypocritical that in a country that "embraces" diversity and shuns stereotypes that our media should shun diversity while embracing sterotypes.

41 comments:

Halima said...

hello there sangraneth

i agree with you on the issue of hollywoods colorism however let me also point out that Hollywood cannot be blamed for the choices celebrity bm make to date lighter women overwhelmingly.

in this case maybe its art immitating life or art started a trend which bm wholly bought into, but that is a picture of eddy murphy and his new squeeze, surely he made a personal free decision to date her as did denzel washington to date his dark skin wife (btw google pictures of eddies first wife to understand that this isnt a one off thing with him). There is no shame in the game anymore for many bm. in fact, its lost its shock value and is no longer commented upon, i even think there would be consternation if they turned up with a darker woman!

this is the point we were trying to make to you about self-hatred on my blog but there appears to be some kind of resistence there to somehing well known and an established knowlege among black folks.

why is there this resistence -which i have noticed in a fair few white people i must say? Is this one of those issues that white people will have to 'get to a point' where they can accept it!

Aphrodite said...

I had no idea that white men were more likely to commit suicide. Wow.

But I do notice the trends that you have blogged about. Hmm

Wonder if anything can be done?

Evia says : said...

Hey Sangraneth--Wow, this is mos def a provocative post, particularly the aspect of how these stereotypes harm wm. It just goes to show how there are so many different realities--probably as many realities as there are people. LOL!

I'm sure you realize that many black folks--bm especially--would think you're whining because many, many black folks believe that ALL white men are powerful and privileged. Based on the way I've heard some bm talk, they would gladly hand over vital bodily organs in to be able to live life as a white man for even a short time. There is that strong belief that EVERY day is a sunny day for ALL white men.

I can see how this could cause lots of destructive feelings for wm because if y'all don't succeed at something, you can't blame racism or sexism.

So the question is why would the movie makers in Hollywood--most of whom are white males--depict themselves in a less-than desirable way? They surely understand that image become perception and perception becomes reality. Although your argument will get attention, it will quickly be shot down if you can't convincingly answer that question.
The Hollywood movie moguls are not dumb. They understand cause and effect. So why would they present the darker man in a way that will enable him to get the girls and present wm (themselves) as lames?

Sangraneth said...

"So the question is why would the movie makers in Hollywood--most of whom are white males--depict themselves in a less-than desirable way? They surely understand that image become perception and perception becomes reality. Although your argument will get attention, it will quickly be shot down if you can't convincingly answer that question.
The Hollywood movie moguls are not dumb. They understand cause and effect. So why would they present the darker man in a way that will enable him to get the girls and present wm (themselves) as lames?"

Well, I don't believe that it is necessary to prove WHY a trend is happening in order to prove THAT it is happening. For example, one need not know WHY 70% of black women are single to know THAT they are single. If you are skeptical whether the trend is indeed true feel free to watch some movies and television and decide for yourself.

But if you are interested in my opinion as to how this trend came about I can only theorize seeing as I am not a part of the media and am not privy to such information. What I do think is happening though is that the current trend is not intentional, it is merely an unfortunate side-effect of progress.

In the past, minorities were grossly uner-represented in TV and movies, and those roles that they did get were often negative. It is only by pressure from special interest groups such as the NAACP that caused Hollywood to rethink it's portrayal of minorities. Oddly enough though, that as over the years, black and other minority representation increased and improved in the media as a result of special interest groups' push for diversity, nothing has been done to introduce diversity into our Westernized European standards of beauty. As a result of the neglect in this area, the general overall image of minority males have increased considerably while female representation has largely gone unchanged.

This trend combined with the rise in Spike Lee's career and the rise of Hip Hop, which both introduce the ideology of the black man as the ideal in masculinity has resulted in the polarized ideal of race/color along gender lines.



As to WHY the men who control the media allow this to continue seems clear to me. Money. Hollywood of course is aware of the new bankability of black males as masculine role models while the good old standard of white female beauty still remains unchallanged. The combination of dark men and light women seems to be a recipe for success and profit. As to the negative stereotypes that are created regarding white males, those in control of the media are largely unaffected.These men are rich, influential, and powerful. Such men as these will never have a hard time finding a woman. So, in a sense the stereotypes don't affect them, and they could care less how it affects the average white guy. The primary goal of media moguls is to make money for themselves, not make life easier for guys like me.

That at least is how I see things.

Let Love Rule said...

Aphrodite said...
I had no idea that white men were more likely to commit suicide. Wow.

But I do notice the trends that you have blogged about. Hmm

Wonder if anything can be done?
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
My understanding is that women actually ATTEMPT suicide more than men. But men use more success means of suicide , so their rates are higher.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I generally agree with Evia, only to add that really the question is about what filmmakers believe will sell. Movie making is a multi billion dollar business and if they think one type will sell over another, then that's the type they will choose.

I think what really happened and what's been happening is that there has been a growing understanding that there is a significant market for films which feature black actors. So more films are being made. Not to mention that many bp people are becoming producers of films, although to date there is only one black head of a studio, Tracey Edmonds. Who heads the studio is significant because they in the end are the one's who "greenlight" films.

So I think as bp gain more power we may see a broader spectrum of both experience and hues, hopefully.

But in the end, movies are a business, and if executives think that certain types or hues will sell more than others then that's who will be cast. Really the question becomes WHY DOESN'T THE GENERAL PUBLIC ACCEPT DIFFERENT HUES. Because in the end that is who movie executives are trying to sell to. So the prejudice in the society must be tackled.

As for the blond male thing, I've noticed that as well, but I think that this is a long standing tradition in Western stories. In literature especially it seems the blond male is often portrayed as weak or morally corrupt.

On the other hand, some of the biggest stars of both present and past have been blond. Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Paul Newman.

Let Love Rule said...

I should say Tracey Edmonds is Eddie Murphy girlfriend. And I have no problem with bm prefering whatever they choose. That's their chose and right.

Evia says : said...

Sangraneth, no I don't doubt what you're saying. I'm just pointing out that there are many who will be shocked that a wm would seriously argue about his plight or that bm have it better in any way. I deal with black folks and other non-whites everyday who just wouldn't be able to conceive that ANY "typical" wm has a problem getting a woman because of the social status of wm in American society. Of course, only wm themselves KNOW what their lives are really like. I've definitely known wm who were not happy campers for one reason or another.

Yes, Halima, so many bm have for centuries sought out lighter bw and this is a big, ugly, nasty monster among AA men. Yes, a smaller number of bw are the same way, but it's men who ask women out or choose the woman. This happens to be one of my major pet peeves since I know many dark skinned wonderful women who get stomped on in the mad rush for a bm to get a lighter woman. I'm on the light side myself, so I know how some bm will fawn over a lighter woman because it's happened to me on several occasions. It can be disgusting and I've always instantly lose any interest in ANY bm like that. Maybe this is one reason why I rarely dated AA men.

My 30-year old bm cousin said that bm his age OPENLY praise the beauty of lightskinned and whiter-skinned women and some of them definitely won't date women who can't pass the infamous "paper bag" test. Some of them may date darker women but they don't praise their beauty or think they're anywhere near as special as lighter women.

Also, I make a mental note to notice the women who bm under 35, in particular, are dating these days. For ex. on Saturday night, Darren and I went out to dinner and I saw 2 bm with mixed looking women (may have been Hispanic) and 2 were with white women. I saw no bm with a darker woman.

Evia says : said...

Sangraneth, no I don't doubt what you're saying. I'm just pointing out that there are many who will be shocked that a wm would seriously argue about his plight or that bm have it better in any way. I deal with black folks and other non-whites everyday who just wouldn't be able to conceive that ANY "typical" wm has a problem getting a woman because of the social status of wm in American society. Of course, only wm themselves KNOW what their lives are really like. I've definitely known wm who were not happy campers for one reason or another.

Yes, Halima, so many bm have for centuries sought out lighter bw and this is a big, ugly, nasty monster among AA men. Yes, a smaller number of bw are the same way, but it's men who ask women out or choose the woman. This happens to be one of my major pet peeves since I know many dark skinned wonderful women who get stomped on in the mad rush for a bm to get a lighter woman. I'm on the light side myself, so I know how some bm will fawn over a lighter woman because it's happened to me on several occasions. It can be disgusting and I've always instantly lose any interest in ANY bm like that. Maybe this is one reason why I rarely dated AA men.

My 30-year old bm cousin said that bm his age OPENLY praise the beauty of lightskinned and whiter-skinned women and some of them definitely won't date women who can't pass the infamous "paper bag" test. Some of them may date darker women but they don't praise their beauty or think they're anywhere near as special as lighter women.

Also, I make a mental note to notice the women who bm under 35, in particular, are dating these days. For ex. on Saturday night, Darren and I went out to dinner and I saw 2 bm with mixed looking women (may have been Hispanic) and 2 were with white women. I saw no bm with a darker woman.

Sangraneth said...

"I generally agree with Evia, only to add that really the question is about what filmmakers believe will sell. Movie making is a multi billion dollar business and if they think one type will sell over another, then that's the type they will choose. "

I agree. Money is the main goal, and ticket sales are the way to achieve this. There are however other things that affect the bottom line such as negative publicity, boycotts and even lawsuits. Pressure from special interest groups can result an any of these.

While it can be said that the media most likely has no intention of harming specific groups of people with stereotypes, they are also not humanitarians either. As stated earlier, it was not for moral reasons that the media addressed the issue of negative stereotypes and lack of representation of minorities but pressure from special interest groups. Ultimately, it was the threat to their bottom line that motivated them.

A more recent example of this that might still be fresh in everyone's mind is the movie "The sum of all Fears". The original terrorists in the book were Muslim fundamentalists. In the movie translation these bad guys were replace with ... white supremists. The reason for this change had nothing to do with public demand. It happened because Muslim special interest groups put pressure on the company to not allow Muslims to be portrayed this way.

Throughout the years actions such as this has caused film makers to think twice about portraying any group other than white males in a negative manner. As a result, white males have seem to become the "default" group for negative roles.

This of course is how stereotypes are created, by repeatedly showing one group in particular roles. This stereotype has further created a demand to see white males in this role, which of course only exaserbates the problem.





Really the question becomes WHY DOESN'T THE GENERAL PUBLIC ACCEPT DIFFERENT HUES.

I think people accept it because it's being done on subconcious level. No company is coming right out and saying "white men suck" or "black women suck". So when it gets pointed out the message that is being sent most people think it's an over-reaction unless they have been following the trends closely (which most people seem not to do.

Miriam said...

very interesting. I have to re-read all this when I have more time (late night is my usually blogging time) But meanwhile, I wanted to congratulate you on your blog! Looking forward..

Mezzanine said...

Wow, interesting insight Sangraneth, well done!

Anonymous said...

hi from Sharon in Ohio. I just wanted to make an interesting observation about some Black female celebrities. For example, Alicia Keys, who used to wear braids a lot but now wears her hair in a more "Euro" style. When she had the braids and looked more like a "regular" lightskinned Black woman, I didn't hear too many Black men oohing and aahing over her. But now since she wears her hair in a more Euro style,(long and flowing) the Black men cant seem to get enough of her. I also noticed that she has been featured in a lot of magazines, both Black and White oriented, since she wears her hair more like a white woman now. There was also a nice article in Oprah magazine about Michelle Obama. I think that Michelle is a very beautiful and classy woman. I dont understand why some Black people have to put her down. I remember when Oprah first became famous, some BP were criticising her for being "too dark". Oprah is not really all that dark to me, but from the way some people talked about her you would have thought that she was pitch black! I get so sicked and tired of BP oohing and aaahing over mixed and near white looking women but always putting the darker skinned Black women down, no matter how accomplished and successful they are.I think that Michelle Obama is just as pretty as Alicia Keyes, if not moreso. Thanks for having such an interesting fourm.

Taylor-Sara said...

You really have a great and informative blog here I really like it. Very truthful and upfront. I was wondering if you would come to my blog and check it out-maybe give your opinion -would love that -sara
oh its at
http://sarasbloginterraciallove.blogspot.com/

Sangraneth said...

"You really have a great and informative blog here I really like it. Very truthful and upfront. I was wondering if you would come to my blog and check it out-maybe give your opinion -would love that -sara
oh its at
http://sarasbloginterraciallove.blogspot.com/"


Thanks for your kind words, Sara. Yeah, I'll check out your blog as soon as I get a chance.

classical one said...

Wow, I did not even know that Eddie's woman was black, I thought she was Latino.

classical one said...

"When pale, blond men are portrayed in the media, it is most often in the role of a serial killer, homosexual, arrogant and/or cowardly and is usually in a position opposite the leading male."

Being a pale blond guy, I have noticied this trend, but it is a ver old one. In many cultures men have been considered more atrractive when they are darker and light skinned women have been held up as more attractive, this seems to have been around for a long time.

Sangraneth said...

"Being a pale blond guy, I have noticied this trend, but it is a ver old one. In many cultures men have been considered more atrractive when they are darker and light skinned women have been held up as more attractive, this seems to have been around for a long time."

From what I have seen, I have not noticed any societies other than our own that depict dark males as more attractive. And keep in mind, the societies that cherish "lighter" females have been subjected to white colonialism, and have adopted (at least to some extent) western European beauty standards.

In our society, I have only noticed the demonization of blond males in the media in the last 15 years or so. I remember even as recently as the 80s actors like Nick Nolte, Robert Radford, Paul Hogan, Ricky Schroeder and many other pale blond males in the positive, desirable roles.

Sure, there were always blond villains, but there used to be blond leading characters to balance it out. In the early 90s though, all of this seemed to change. Since that time, I have noticed hardly any positive masculine roles to counter the negative.

To be honest, one of my friends pointed this trend out to me YEARS ago. I initially thought he was off his rocker. LOL! In fact, I told him so. It was only years later that I realized he was right. I'm not even blond and I noticed it. I'm surprised that you, as a blond male have not noticed the sudden change. Of course, if you are younger (in your early 20s) you might not remember when blond guys actually had some positive roles.

Regardless, even if you have the mentality that "it has always been this way", that is no excuse to just accept it. There was a time when slavery was the status-quo throughout most of the world. That did not make it right, and that does not mean we should just accept it today. Likewise, negative stereotypes should not be given a stamp of approval simply because they have "been around a long time".

classical one said...

"Regardless, even if you have the mentality that "it has always been this way", that is no excuse to just accept it."


That's not exactly what I meant, what I was thinking is that in my experience, allot of women are looking for a "Tall, Dark, Handsome" type. Just my own personal experiences

Sangraneth said...

"at's not exactly what I meant, what I was thinking is that in my experience, allot of women are looking for a "Tall, Dark, Handsome" type. Just my own personal experiences"

Sorry, C-1 about any misconception. That is actually what I experience too. Women want the "tall, dark, handsome" type.

roslynholcomb said...

I blogged about the popularity of dark-haired heroes on my blog a while back. It's interesting because it used to be a bit more balanced. I'm thinking Montgomery Clift, Allan Ladd and of course, James Dean back in the Fifties. As well as Redford and Newman in the 70s. But when you look at films of the 30s and 40s the blonde guy was either the villain or the wimp. Think Gone With the Wind and Scarlett's beloved 'Ashley' vs. Rhett Butler. I think it may well be cyclical.

And, of course we do have popular blondes or light-haired men today, like Jude Law, Justin Timberlake, but certainly not as many.

I do believe that there might be an innate tendency to prefer darker men as an indicator of virility and strength. And I don't think it's present only in colonized cultures. After all, we even see it in the animal kingdom.

Sangraneth said...

"I do believe that there might be an innate tendency to prefer darker men as an indicator of virility and strength. And I don't think it's present only in colonized cultures. After all, we even see it in the animal kingdom."

I have never seen any evidence of this in the animal kingdom. But I have seen studies that show a marked difference in beauty standards among cultures exposed to white colonialism as compared to those that have not. Cultures exposed to white colonializm generally prefered lighter skinned females, while those that have not been exposed to it do not. I have seen no evidence to indicate a any preferences in skin color in men.

roslynholcomb said...

When I posted that I was thinking of something I saw about lions. The ones with the black (or dark) manes are more popular than the ones with lighter colored manes. I think I've seen similar studies with primates as well, but I don't have those links anymore. It's been more than a decade since I've discussed this issue. I'll see if I can google it.

roslynholcomb said...

Here's the story aboutt the lion study.

http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2004/09/15_edgerlym_lions/

Sangraneth said...

"When I posted that I was thinking of something I saw about lions. The ones with the black (or dark) manes are more popular than the ones with lighter colored manes."

Actually, I saw that study as well on the internet about a year ago. However, I did not gather that the females prefered "darker" males, because the males were actually the same color as the females. Only the mane was different. I gathered that the females were attracted to the contrast of the mane with the rest of the lion, making the mane more visible. And since only the males have manes, it would make sense that a female would go after the more "noticeable" mane.

And regarding other animals, I have noticed two distinctive patterns as shown on many wildlife documentaries. In animals that are socially oriented and live in packs, (such as wolves and apes), the females don't pick the males. The males compete for "social position" and mating rights. The largest, strongest male becomes the "alpha-male" and thus gets first choice among the females.

In other species, such as most birds, the females choose the males. In species such as these, the males are almost always BRIGHTER AND MORE COLORFUL than the female, and they use these colors to attract them.

Now, as I stated, in the first pattern the males chose the females. But if your still using this pattern to base your opinion of what females are attracted to, it would seem that the larger, stronger male would be the natural choice. I know in the U.S. that white men are stereotyped as weak. But have you ever seen a strong-man competition? These are not uncommon on ESPN, and in most cases they are dominated by fair skinned, light-haired Scandinavian men. They have these competitions throughout the world, yet it is usually a Scandinavian guy who wins. So, if there is some inherent belief in women that "darker" males are stronger, it is not based on fact, but on media stereotypes.

If your theory is based on the second pattern, it wouldn't make much sense for DARKER men to be pursued, as darker men usually have black hair and no natural "bright or colorful" features. So, going by that pattern, it would seem that blond, or red haired men would be what women pursue, and you would commonly see men dying their hair red, or blond to compete for women, yet ironically it is women who routinely dye their hair blond, or red with hopes of attracting men.

It would seem then that the behavior that is common in the U.S. seems to be far more influenced by media stereotypes than by animal biology.

roslynholcomb said...

I think you missed one of the main points of the study on lions, the lions with the dark manes had higher levels of testosterone. Biologically, darkness has always been associated with higher testosterone levels. I think some studies show black men have higher levels than white men. Higher levels of male hormones typically indicate greater aggressiveness and in some cases virility.

Further, lighter skin in females is typically associated with fertility. If I recally correctly sunlight kills (or inhibits) folic acid, a major nutrient necessary to produce healthy offspring. So, a woman who is lighter has less likelihood of having been in the sun, and is more likely to have healthy children.

Also women get darker as they age and with subsequent pregancies so dark skin would be an indicator of age and of course a loss of fertility as well.

This might in some way account for the fact that black women around the world have a substantially lower fertility rate than white or Asian women.

So when we're talking about biological markers for attraction it would be reasonable that dark equals masculine and light equals feminine.

As for those strong man competitions, well I suspect those guys are 'roided up to the backteeth, though I could be mistaken.

There is a lot of biology in attraction, though, of course it doesn't occur in a vacuum. Is there white supremacist concepts at play here? Of course there are. But we can't discount the fact that we are animals and influenced by hormones and biological markers.

Sangraneth said...

"I think some studies show black men have higher levels than white men. Higher levels of male hormones typically indicate greater aggressiveness and in some cases virility."

Here is a quote from a related article that you might find interesting:
""From what we can tell now, testosterone is generated to prepare the body to respond to competition and/or challenges to one's status," McAndrew observes. "Any stimulus or event which signals either of these things can trigger an increase in testosterone levels.""
This indicates that testosterone levels are not static and are affected by external stimulus. The article also mentions that while there IS a link to crime and testosterone, causality cannot be determined. In other words, it cannot be determined that the higher testosterone levels were a cause for the criminal behavior, or the testosterone levels rose as a result of being a criminal.

Here is the link:
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=7DE01F25-E7F2-99DF-30D2199FCD555450

Also, you mentioned that dark skin is an indicator of strenght, and virility. Wouldn't a more acurate measure of virility be population trends? Judging by population on a world-wide scale. Asian men are the most "virile" because they reproduce the most.

And wouldn't a more accurate indicator of strength be weight-lifting competitions? As stated, most strong-man competitions are won by white Scandinavian men. You of course claim that they are all most likely on steroids. But isn't it unfair to assume that ONLY the white guys are on steroids, and not the rest of the contestants? Why would you even make such a biased assumption as that anyway, because you simply cannot believe that white males could possibly win? If so, you are basing your opinion on media-stereotypes, and not facts. And in case you were interested, most Olympic power-lifting records are held by white men as well, and in the Olympics, they DO check for steroids.




"Further, lighter skin in females is typically associated with fertility. If I recally correctly sunlight kills (or inhibits) folic acid, a major nutrient necessary to produce healthy offspring. So, a woman who is lighter has less likelihood of having been in the sun, and is more likely to have healthy children."


I have never heard lighter skin females associated with fertility. If that assumption is base on the study you cite about sunlight, then in fact the exact OPPOSITE is true! Think about it. If sunlight reduces a woman's chance to reproduce, then black women (who have the highest natural protection from the sun) would be the MOST fertile, and white women (who have the LEAST natural protection from the sun) would be the least fertile. So if a woman's fertility is what you are basing femininity on, BY YOUR OWN STANDARDS black women are the most feminine and white women are the least feminine. Yet somehow you conclude the exact opposite. Could it be that you are so conditioned to think that white women are the be-all end-all of femininity that you cannot believe anything to the contrary? Even when studies - CITED BY YOURSELF - prove it?

You seem vary unaware of the power of media stereotypes, and at the same time very affected by them. Are you aware of the inter-racial dating boom among black men and white women in the early 1990s? Do you think this was based on science? Science did not change. MEDIA TRENDS changed. The rise of hip hop along with the rise of Spike Lee both contributed to popular cultural images of the "manly" black man. This had an effect on white women.

Are you not aware of the growing trend today of black women and white men? Once again, science did not change. MEDIA STEREOTYPES are changing. You can't honestly think there is no correlation between the movie Something New, blogs such as this, and the increasing number of black woman/white men. Science had nothing to do with either trend. Cultural views based on media depictions peceeded both movements.

Can I ask you an honest question, Rosylyn? The ideology that I pointed out in the post that white = feminine and black = masculine is obviously socially damaging to both black women and white men. Why do you invest so much of your time an energy clinging to an ideology that puts you at the bottom of the food chain?

roslynholcomb said...

I don't cling to any ideology, simply stating the results of scientific studies I've read. Whether it's beneficial to me or not is irrelevant, either the studies are factual, or they're not. The truth is the closest thing I have to a god. And I'm certainly not going to cling to something that's not factual simply because it may or may not be to my benefit.

Yes, black women have the greatest protection from the sun, but we are also IN the sun and have more sun to be protected from than other groups. And its factual that black women are significantly less fertile than other groups. Keep in mind we're talking about biological markers. People who have dark skin have typically been in the sun more than people who have lighter skin. Therefore if dark skin indicates less fertility and age, then those whose skin is darker will be less attractive from a purely biological standpoint.

"Wouldn't a more acurate measure of virility be population trends? "

Maybe, maybe not. But our instinctive brain, which is still fairly primitive tends to respond to biological markers. From a biological standpoint darkness tends to indicate a higher level of testosterone.

As for the steroid issue, from what I can tell MOST weightlifters and body-builders and for that matter football and maybe even baseball players are 'roided up. I just think the eastern Europeans have been doing it longer than other groups. I recall the scandals back in the 70s involving Eastern Europeans and steroids. I don't know how long you've been following such, but I've been watching the Olympics all my life and every time you hear about some guy whose name seems mainly made up of consonants being kicked out for doping.

Again, recall from a biological standpoint we are still primates responding purely on instinct. There's no thought process involved whatever. So regardless of what our logical frontal lobes say, our primitive brain will still respond to certain stimuli. Being that we are thinking human beings, we can certainly override these instincts, but from a purely biological standpoint darkness=masculinity.

Sangraneth said...

"As for the steroid issue, from what I can tell MOST weightlifters and body-builders and for that matter football and maybe even baseball players are 'roided up."

They test for that in the Olympics.

"From a biological standpoint darkness tends to indicate a higher level of testosterone. "

So, by that line of thinking, black women are darker than white men, so black women must have more testosterone. Hmm. Interesting theory. Do you honestly think that black women are more masculine than white men?


"es, black women have the greatest protection from the sun, but we are also IN the sun and have more sun to be protected from than other groups."

A black woman who stays indoors is still going to be darker than a white woman. Also, just because someone is black, you cannot make the assumption that they are going to spend their lives outdoors.

"Therefore if dark skin indicates less fertility and age, then those whose skin is darker will be less attractive from a purely biological standpoint."


The fact is, black women are NOT the least fertile nor are white women the most fertile. Here are statistics that prove it.

http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/indicators/79BirthRates.cfm

The study indicates that as of 2005 in the U.S. Hispanic women are the most fertile, black women are the second most fertile, and white women are DEAD LAST.

So if men are hardwired to think fertility=femininity like you seem to think, then men would be flocking to Hispanic women, and white women would be the last choice. Obviously, this is not the case, which only further backs up my assumption that attraction is MEDIA DRIVEN and CULTURALLY INFLUENCED.

Also, why do you not acknowledge the the trends in the media's influence on attraction? The correlation between media trends and attraction is FAR greater than any biological statistics.

roslynholcomb said...

"Infertility by Race
7% of Hispanic women are infertile
6.4% of white women are infertile
10.5% of black won are infertile
"Fertility, Family Planning and Women's Health: New Data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth," The US Department of Health and Human Services."

If you disagree, argue it with the DHHS. The DHHS numbers are taken from self-report studies from the women themselves. Birthrate data is from raw numbers and doesn't account for women who have abortions or deliberately prevent pregnancies. Self-report data is generally accepted as more accurate in most cases and the women reporting would be specifically asked about infertility.

"Do you honestly think that black women are more masculine than white men?"

Stop building straw men. I never said any such thing. No woman will have more testosterone than a man, assuming of course, that she doesn't have some type of medical problem. But black women certainly have more testosterone than other races of females.

"They test for that in the Olympics."

I know they test for it. That's why people keep getting booted out for it.

"Also, just because someone is black, you cannot make the assumption that they are going to spend their lives outdoors."

Dear Goddess in heaven. Are you deliberately misunderstanding me? How much time someone spends in/outdoors is irrelevant. The biological marker is about skin color. From a purely instinctual viewpoint if it's looking for darkness because darkness indicates that someone spends more time in the sun, it doesn't matter whether the person is EVER in the sun or not. Our biological instincts will 'read' that skin color as indicating sun exposure, whether it actually occurs or not.

"The correlation between media trends and attraction is FAR greater than any biological statistics."

What correlation? In order to see a correlation we'd have to measure the level of attraction to black women during a time when black women have had a high positive media presence against a time when the media presence was low and negative. Since black women have NEVER had a high positive media presence this correlation you allege is impossible to measure.

Anonymous said...

Just to clear up a misconception, not all women darken with age. Black women actually 'lighten' with age. these are the kinds of misconceptions that people come up with when they take studies done on white populations and extrapolate them for every other group.

and while bw are said to have more testosterone, that is only half of the story, they also have more Oestrogen. Folks need to stop picking and choosing their 'scientific' facts, or at least read the whole document!

Sangraneth said...

"I know they test for it. That's why people keep getting booted out for it. "

The people who hold the power-lifting records (who have not been booted out) are mostly white males.


"What correlation? In order to see a correlation we'd have to measure the level of attraction to black women during a time when black women have had a high positive media presence against a time when the media presence was low and negative. Since black women have NEVER had a high positive media presence this correlation you allege is impossible to measure."

I'm talking about attraction trends among all groups not just black women. I've already pointed out the bm/ww boom in the early 90s. That trend was proceeded by a tremendous change in the portrayals of black men. Biological statistics did not change, yet the numbers of bm/ww couples surged. What caused that surge? Certainly not a change in biology statistics. Media representation DID change though and in perfect correlation to the trend. So it is quite obvious that media trends affect attraction have a far stronger correlation with attraction patterns than biological statistics.

And regarding black women, things ARE starting to change slowly. Even in the last year or so, since the Something New movie came out, we are starting to see more couples with black women and non-black men.

roslynholcomb said...

Black women do not lighten with age, and most women darken with pregnancy. It's called the 'mask of pregnancy' if you're unfamiliar with the concept. If you have some proof otherwise, please present it.

I never said that black women didn't have more estrogen. In fact sangraneth is the one who made the argument about testosterone levels in women. I kept my argument in the realm of men. My discussion about women was limited to skin color and production/inhibition of folic acid.

Where is your statistical proof showing a correlation between media portrayals of black men and a bm/ww dating boom? From what I've seen, dating numbers in this group have actually leveled off.

And once again what is applicable to black men is not necessarily applicable to black women. After all, men in general are the pursuers, so actually we would need to understand what suddenly made white women more appealing to black men if, in fact this boom does exist.

Sangraneth said...

"Black women do not lighten with age, and most women darken with pregnancy."

Pregnancy is a feminine state. If women darken with pregnancy, that means darkness can be linked with femininity, does it not?

"In fact sangraneth is the one who made the argument about testosterone levels in women."

I merely used your line of thinking. If darkness is an indicator of testosterone, that means black women have more testosterone. You are the one linking testosterone levels with skin color.

"Where is your statistical proof showing a correlation between media portrayals of black men and a bm/ww dating boom?"

Have you not seen with your own eyes the drastic increase of of BW/WW couples during the 1990s? And what preceeded this phenomona? Spike Lee movies such as Jungle Fever and the rise of hip hop.

Let me ask you something. If a white supremist told you that white people were better than black people, and provided you with "scientific" evidence to prove it, would you not question the motive of the person and the validity of the "evidence"? Of course you would. So why aren't you doing the same thing when people insinuate that black women are inferior?

Repeatedly, you have not only failed to question the validity of such studies, but you have deliberately SEARCHED OUT MORE studies. And for what? To prove that black women are less womanly?

This is why I say you are clinging to a self-destructive ideology. You are focusing all of your time and efforts on proving that you are inferior instead of proving that you are not.

And while media stereotypes have a far greater correlation with what is considered attractive, you completely discard the notion in favor of something far more self-destructive.

I think at this point it's safe to say that I politefully disagree with you.

roslynholcomb said...

"Pregnancy is a feminine state. If women darken with pregnancy, that means darkness can be linked with femininity, does it not?"

Uh, dude, most men aren't interested in a woman who has been pregnant with SOMEBODY ELSE'S BABY! In the primate world (please do recall we are primates) there is a tendency for males to kill another ape's baby so that the woman will stop lactating and thus be fertile again. A woman who has darkened with pregnancy is not going to be as attractive biologically as one who has not, simply because she'll come with another man's baby.

"Have you not seen with your own eyes the drastic increase of of BW/WW couples during the 1990s?"

No, actually I haven't, and I doubt that you have either. I've seen a dramatic increase in the number of IR couples PERIOD, particularly black women and white men. From what I understand bw/wm is the fastest growing IR pairing and has been for at least a decade, with a considerable escalation in the past five years or so. What do I attribute this phenomenon to? The same thing I attribute most dating/mating changes to––economics. I'm sure you haven't noticed, but during the nineties blacks experienced an unprecedented growth economically. More than ever you could find blacks in the corporate arena, especially black women. Greater proximity generally leads to greater romantic opportunities. Presumably black men became more desirable as their economic status increased, therefore when they pursued a woman of another race she was more receptive.

At least one economist has theorized that the increase in bw/wm IRs may be attributable to welfare reform in the mid-nineties. As black women entered the workforce and had to, for the first time consider the viability of their mates from an economic standpoint, more of them chose white or other race men. Interesting theory, but I'd have to see some numbers.

"Of course you would. So why aren't you doing the same thing when people insinuate that black women are inferior?"

Once again, you're building a straw man argument that I've never postulated. I've never said black women were inferior. I stated that skin color is a biological marker for feminine attractiveness. Black women are tops in other biological markers, just not skin color. Such things as waist to hip ratio, prominent buttock display and long legs, all of which are markers of fecundity.

Never in this life would I ever say that I was inferior to anybody, but I'm not going to go against science just because some elements of it are not in my favor. So what? You win some, you lose some. We've got the bodies, they've got the skin, big motherfucking woo!

"Repeatedly, you have not only failed to question the validity of such studies, but you have deliberately SEARCHED OUT MORE studies."

I've already done a great deal of research on the studies and their methodology. Like most studies, some are better than others, but I'm confident that the ones I've cited have some validity. I'm still waiting for you to present ANY that indicate a correlation between an increase in bm/ww pairings (actually, you'd first have to show that they have in fact increased), hip-hop and Spike Lee movies.

Your theory is bogus on your face, and with no factual validity to support it simply doesn't hold water. Now if you can show something that indicates an increase in bm/ww pairings I'd like to see it, but you'd have to control for economic factors in that same time period. I believe economic factors will trump any impact from the media, especially as hip-hop types are actually less like to get with white women. Typically the black men who pursue white women are more Carlton Banks than Will Smith.

Sangraneth said...

"Uh, dude, most men aren't interested in a woman who has been pregnant with SOMEBODY ELSE'S BABY!"

You’re jumping to conclusions again. I am merely pointing out that dark skin is not an indication of masculinity. You yourself claim that pregnant women get darker skin, yet surely they are not masculine, for only a WOMAN can become pregnant


"I've seen a dramatic increase in the number of IR couples PERIOD, particularly black women and white men."

I'm talking about the 1990s. You know as well as I do that the number of BW/WM couples did not increase drastically in the 1990s, yet you admit there was a drastic increase in IR relationships. Who do you think these couples were? If the phenomena were a GENERAL phenomena and not specifically BM/WF then there wouldn't even be a need for black women's IR blogs such as Evia's or Halima's would there?

The high incarceration rate and high death rate of black males in and of themselves would not explain the 70% single rate among black women. The fact that black men have in startling numbers begun dating out made many black women take notice. I am not the only one who has noticed that trend, many BW on these blogs openly admit to seeing this happen. Once again, if the IR trend weren't so severely balanced in favor of black men, black women wouldn't be in the predicament they are in today, and blogs such as Evia's and Halima's probably wouldn't even exist.


"I'm sure you haven't noticed, but during the nineties blacks experienced an unprecedented growth economically. More than ever you could find blacks in the corporate arena, especially black women. Greater proximity generally leads to greater romantic opportunities."


If "increasing numbers in the corporate arena" are to explain the increase in IR couples, then how do you explain that black women are far more likely to have a college degree, and actually WORK in the corporate arena than black men, but yet STILL LAG FAR BEHIND when it comes to inter-racial dating?

"Presumably black men became more desirable as their economic status increased, therefore when they pursued a woman of another race she was more receptive."

So, at least now you are admitting that they became more desirable NOT AS A RESULT OF BIOLOGY. Even so, that doesn't explain the fact that a many white women and women of other races want a "thug" type black man. It seems that many of the black men involved in IR relationships are younger men trying to live up to the "thug" image. In fact, there are many women who SPECIFICALLY want a "thug" type black man. Once again, this is evidence not of any economic change, but of MEDIA STEREOTYPES made popular in the 1990s.


"Once again, you're building a straw man argument that I've never postulated. I've never said black women were inferior."

No, but you've basically stated that it is scientifically proven they are the least feminine women on the planet. In other words black women are the least ideal choice among men and white women are the most ideal choice.

"Never in this life would I ever say that I was inferior to anybody, but I'm not going to go against science just because some elements of it are not in my favor. "

No, but apparently you will go against science when it DOES go in your favor. You accept some facts while rejecting others. For example, you embrace facts that support your "white=feminine black=masculine" ideology, while rejecting those that don't. In other cases, studies that could be interpreted one way or the other you interpret negatively.

Case in point. You point out that sunlight reduces a woman's chance to procreate. Black women have more natural protection from the sunlight. Logically one could interpret from this that white women have less protection from this, therefore are less equipped to reproduce. Yet you interpret the exact opposite. You ASSUME that black women spend more time in the sun.

You fail to take into account that black women today are not black because they have been in the sun. They are black because THEIR ANCESTORS were in the sun and developed protection to it. Now the fact that black women today have that extra protection does not mean you can ASSUME that she is going to spend her life out in the sun JUST BECAUSE SHE CAN. Making the assumption that black people are black merely because they were out in the sun a long time is like assuming you can simply turn a white person into a black person by leaving them out in the sun! LOL!!

Point number two. You claim that women are biologically attracted to males who are perceived as being full of strength and virility. I pointed out that the most of the world's strongest men are white. You flat out dismissed it, trying to discredit the claim with the assumption that white men only have the records because they were on steroids. The fact that many of the world's strongest men are white is evidence that dark skin is not an indicator of strength. Once again, this would benefit you yet you reject it favoring the much-preferred stereotype that white males are weak.

And why would you assume that? Even when faced with scientific facts, your opinion is more swayed by cultural stereotypes. This only strengthens my argument that cultural media stereotypes are far more influential on what we find attractive than scientific facts!

roslynholcomb said...

I'm not going to waste anymore time talking to you, clearly you are confused or something.

"I'm talking about the 1990s. You know as well as I do that the number of BW/WM couples did not increase drastically in the 1990s, yet you admit there was a drastic increase in IR relationships."

Yeah, they did, especially in the past five years. I was just interviewed for an AP article that talks about the same phenomenon. There has been a great increase, and furthermore the number of BM/WF partnerships have leveled off.

"In other words black women are the least ideal choice among men and white women are the most ideal choice."

I never said any such things. I said that black women have darker skin, I also pointed out that the black female body and other traits are more appealing than other groups.

"You flat out dismissed it, trying to discredit the claim with the assumption that white men only have the records because they were on steroids."

That's because they are on steroids. Even Schwarzenegger admitted to using them. Everyone (except you, apparently) knows that weight lifters and bodybuilders (even the female ones) are 'roided up.

"Once again, this would benefit you yet you reject it favoring the much-preferred stereotype that white males are weak."

Why would a white men being strong benefit me? I'm not a white man. -lol- Being a woman men are presumably physically stronger than I am.

Anyway, I'm done with this. Toodles.

Grata said...

"Just to clear up a misconception, not all women darken with age. Black women actually 'lighten' with age. these are the kinds of misconceptions that people come up with when they take studies done on white populations and extrapolate them for every other group.

and while bw are said to have more testosterone, that is only half of the story, they also have more Oestrogen. Folks need to stop picking and choosing their 'scientific' facts, or at least read the whole document!"

Anonymous,

I agree. A lot of this 'scientific' data is not only flawed but heavily misinterpreted. From personal observation from my own community, BW do indeed get lighter with age.
And I am wondering about BW like myself that travel to various countries and have at least 6 skin shades depending on location. I bet you them scientists dont know how to define some of us. My own mum can change colours from a grey black to a high yellow. Strange but true. People from my area tend to exhibit these ranges of skin tone.

And as for the comparisons to nature that are often used to explain human behaviour, well, its darwinism stretched and applied.

Biological explanations of human behaviour are often severely deficient if not outrightly offensive and always a cover for out right racism, colorism in this case.

Love the debate though btn Sangraneth and Roslyn

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late on this one and perhaps a bit off topic now, but "Mask of pregnancy" usually only lasts the duration of the pregnancy. It referred to as a subjective sign of pregnancy as is the dark line on the abdomen of a pregnant woman -- it is a subjective sign of pregnancy. I am a nurse who worked in L&D for a short period.

Meli said...

I agree that media certainly influences taste. Watch an old sitcom or drama series/Soap...notice that the women wore high-wasted jeans/pants, long puffy sleeved blouses, and even leg warmers with some outfits -- well, men still liked them and were attracted to them, and married them right? Now, skin is the "in" thing; low rider jeans, exposed thongs and tight T-shirts. Wearing less is considered what is sexy now -- people just follow trends, whatever they are told is hot and the new thing to do, they will follow suit.

Brick City Denizen said...

Thanks for this post. I'm in a BF/WM marriage and my husband and I
just had a conversation touching on colorism. It kicked off when the December 2007 issue of Black Enterprise magazine, which featured
a roundup of the top influential blacks arrived at the house. What shocked me was that the graphic artists seemed to drastically lighten Venus Williams' complexion. I think Venus Williams is pretty just the way she is, and it was almost hurtful that such an important black-owned magazine, targeted to blacks would do such a thing.
The other issue is that my husband, sister and I all went to see the family holiday movie "This Christmas", and he said he noticed that most of the actresses were light-skinned and wore long, straight hair. Mekhi Phifer was an executive producer on that film, so again, we have a situation where blacks themselves continue to perpetuate this ridiculously narrow standard of beauty for women, while black men are allowed to be themselves, dark skin and broad noses and all.

WATR (Atlantic Radio) said...

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Just like your example of Halle Berry, people who see what is truly going on are shunned by the media, and it is no accident. Television and Movies are often design to lull us to sleep and keep us in their dream world.

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