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post #44 of (permalink) Old Aug 30th, 2012, 01:46 AM
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Re: Race and Media

Originally Posted by kwilliams View Post
What do you mean? I said I've heard of studies stating such things. Why do you think that has to do with my own life or experiences?

"people who look extremely different have migrated, had sex with eachother and produced offspring"

You think I don't know this!!?

"It was not until European scientific racism (white supremacy) that humans began to see themselves in rigidly, racial terms, and assign characteristics to those races which affects how attracted you are to individuals of different backgrounds"

Hmmmm, I wonder if you're implying that I'm only attracted to my own kind and that I was advocating the ideas that I wrote about in my post. I was not, perhaps I didn't explain myself well enough in my post. I was merely relaying something that I heard in a documentary and found interesting. I'm Irish. I've never had sex or a relationship with an Irish person. I've never even had sex with a "white" person, unless you count Hispanic/Latino Americans. My boyfriend of 3.5 years is African American. I'm attracted to all kinds, though, and have been with non-Americans too!

Also, I'm fairly familiar with scientific racism as it was often employed very well by the British to depict Irish people are subhuman or animalistic and in need of "civilising". It made pillaging, exploitation, evictions, beatings, rapes, murders, executions and massacres all the easier for their forces to carry out. It made it easier for hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom were children, to be exported as slaves, especially during the Cromwellian period. It also made it easier to hugely increase the "exportation" of crops and livestock during the famine and at the same time demand that starving families complete a full day of backbreaking work in the soup kitchens before they would be given any sustenance. So, believe me, if I thought that that documentary was in any way rooted or influenced by such thinking, I would not have taken any interest in it. Again, I was not advocating the theory, just expressing how interesting I found it. To be honest, I think that human attraction is so complex that I think there is room for both ideas. Of course, looking for people quite different from you, would go along with the idea of spreading one's seed.

I think that people are probably attracted to people that resemble themselves but not those who necessarily look (just) like themselves. When I have lived abroad, or travelled to other countries I've often seen people and labelled them, "my French uncle," "my Chinese BFF," "my Brazilian neighbour," or "my Qatari former teacher" because they seemed to resemble people from my life - often not just in their looks but also in how they've carried themselves (if that means anything?) I've seen people like this so much, that I often look out for doubles when I go away. People like this would fit both theories - of choosing someone with some sense of familiarity but also some differences.

The documentary went on to describe how people are attracted to symmetry, especially facial symmetry, as this is apparently a sign of a person with good genes and an absence of visible and even non-visible defects. Scientists mapped thousands of people's faces (or something like that) and found that the most symmetrical face (and thus most "desirable" face) belonged to a half-Syrian, quarter-French, quarter-Irish woman. So, you see that even in the documentary they weren't necessarily advocating "sticking to your own kind." I myself find perfection can sometimes be a bit boring (though not always) Actually, I often think of Sharapova and think, there's nothing wrong with her face, some would say it's perfect but, on the other hand, there's not a lot that's striking about it. She's pretty but she's fairly plain and so I think near-perfection can sometimes be better but maybe that's because my face isn't perfectly symmetrical! I think that Syrian woman was on the cover of People. She was Syrian-American, I think.
No, I wasn't talking about you specifically, kwilliams. Just the idea that sometimes ideas/theories can make "common sense" (based on the idea of collective life experiences) and that makes them appear compelling, even though they are not true. I have seen similar documentaries about the role of symmetry in attraction, but I often ask: who was polled in those studies? I know most psychology experiments in the US are conducted on white, male, middle-class American college students, which of course limits the level of generalizations one can extrapolate from the results, especially if one wants to speak in global, cross-cultural terms. Symmetry may be important, but who defines the parameters of where symmetry begins and ends? Which features must be symmetrical? If you have a wide, flat nose and/or a large, round butt, does that automatically make you asymmetrical? Based on what standards, a Western European ideal?

Are those tests measuring natural, human biological/psychological tendencies, or just the way that we have been enculturated by Western media to find certain features attractive? Things to consider.

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