Love And Color

.. rely. When the subject has raised its ugly head, though, they’ve typically tossed out arbitrary ideas to explain a single piece of the puzzle, rather than address the entire yin and yang of black-white and white-Asian marriages. For example, a Japanese-American poetry professor in Minnesota has written extensively on his sexual troubles with white women. He blames the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Presumably, the similarity of frustrations of Chinese-American men is just a coincidence caused by, say, China losing the Opium War. And the problems of Vietnamese men stem from win- ning the Vietnam War, etc. But piecemeal rationalizations are unappealing com- pared to a theory which might explain all the evidence. The general pattern to be explained is: blacks are more in demand as husbands than as wives, and vice-versa for Asians. The question is, what accounts for it? The usual sociological explanations for who marries whom (e.g., availability, class, and social approval) never work simultaneously for blacks and Asians. This isn’t surprising because these social-compatibility factors influence the total number of black-white or white-Asian marriages more than the hus- band-wife proportions within intermarriages. By emphasizing how society encourages us to marry people like ourselves, sociologists miss half the picture: by definition, heterosexual attraction thrives on differences. Although Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering are so compatible that they break into song about it (Why Can’t a Woman Be More like a Man?), Higgins falls in love with Eliza Doolittle.

Opposites attract. And certain race/sex pairings seem to be more opposite than others. The force driving these skewed husband-wife proportions appears to be differences in perceived sexual attractiveness. On average, black men tend to appear slightly more and Asian men slightly less masculine than white men, while Asian women are typically seen as slightly more and black women as slightly less feminine than white women. Obviously, these are gross generalizations about the races.

Nobody believes Michael Jackson could beat up kung-fu star Jackie Chan or that comedienne Margaret Cho is lovelier than Sports Illustrated swimsuit covergirl Tyra Banks. But life is a game of probabilities, not of abstract Platonic essences. So, what makes blacks more masculine-seeming and Asians more feminine-seeming? Media stereotypes are sometimes invoked. TV constantly shows black men slam-dunking, while it seems the only way an Asian man can get some coverage is to discover a cure for AIDS. Yet try channel-surfing for minority women. You’ll see black women dancing, singing, joking, and romancing.

If, however, you even see an Asian woman, she’ll probably be newscasting — not the most alluring of roles. Conventional wisdom sometimes cites social conditioning as well. But while this is not implausible for American-born blacks, who come from a somewhat homogeneous culture, it’s insensitive to the diversity of cultures in which Asians are raised. Contrast Koreans and Filipinos and Cambodian refugees and fifth-generation Japanese-Americans. It’s not clear they have much in common culturally other than that in the West their women are more in demand as spouses than their men. One reasonable cultural explanation for the sexual attractiveness of black men today is the hypermasculinization of black life over the last few decades.

To cite a benign aspect of this trend, if you’ve followed the Olympics on TV since the 1960s you’ve seen sprinters’ victory celebrations evolve from genteel exercises in restraint into orgies of fist-pumping, trash-talking black machismo. This showy masculinization of black behavior may be in part a delayed reaction to the long campaign by Southern white males to portray them- selves as The Man and the black man as a boy. But let’s not be content to stop our analysis here. Why did Jim Crow whites try so hard to demean black manhood? As we’ve seen, the chief reason was to prevent black men from impregnating white women. So, did all racist whites a century ago make keeping minorities away from their women their highest priority? No.

As noted earlier, the anti-Asian immigration laws kept Asian women out, forcing many Asian immigrant bachelors to look for white women (with mixed success). While white men were certainly not crazy about this side effect, it seemed an acceptable tradeoff, since they feared Asian immigrants more as economic than as sexual competitors. But why did whites historically dread the masculine charms of blacks more than those of Asians? Merely asking this question points out that social conditioning is ultimately a superficial explanation of the differences among peoples. Yes, society socializes individuals, but what socializes society? There are only three fundamental causes for the myriad ways groups differ. The first is unsatisfying but no doubt important: random flukes of history.

The second, the favorite of Thomas Sowell and Jared Diamond, is differences in geography and climate. The third is human biodiversity. Let’s look at three physical differences between the races. 1) Asian men tend to be shorter than white and black men. Does this matter in the mating game? One of America’s leading hands-on researchers into this question, 7’1, 280-pound basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, reports that in his ample experience being tall and strong never hurt. Biological anthropologists confirm this, finding that tal- ler tends to be better in the eyes of most women in just about all cultures.

Like most traits, height is determined by the interaction of genetic and social factors (e.g., nutrition). For example, the L.A. Dodgers’ flamethrowing pitcher Hideo Nomo is listed as 6’2, an almost unheard-of height for any Japanese man fifty years ago, owing to the near-starvation diets of the era. While the height gap between Japanese and whites narrowed significantly after World War II, this trend has slowed in recent years as well-fed Japanese began bumping up against genetic limits. Furthermore, it can be rather cold comfort to a 5’7 Asian who is competing for dates with white and black guys averaging 5’11 to hear, Your sons will grow up on average a couple of inches taller than you, assuming, of course, that you ever meet a girl and have any kids.

In contrast, consider a 5’1 Asian coed. Although she’d be happy with a 5’7 boyfriend if she were in an all-Asian school, at UCLA she finds lots of boys temptingly much taller than that, but few are Asian. 2. This general principle — the more racial integration there is, the more important become physical differences among the races — can also be seen with regard to hair length. The ability to grow long hair is a useful indicator of youth and good health.

(Ask anybody on chemotherapy.) Since women do not go bald and can generally grow longer hair than men, most cultures associate longer hair with femininity. Although blacks’ hair doesn’t grow as long as whites’ or Asians’ hair, that’s not a problem for black women in all-black societies. After integration, though, hair often becomes an intense concern for black women competing with longer-haired women of other races. While intellectuals in black-studies departments’ ebony towers denounce Eurocentric standards of beauty, most black women respond more pragmatically. They one-up white women by buying straight from the source of the longest hair: the Wall Street Journal recently reported on the booming business in furnishing African-American women with weaves and extensions harvested from the fol- licularly gifted women of China. 3.

Muscularity may most sharply differentiate the races in terms of sexual attractiveness. Women like men who are stronger than they; men like women who are rounder and softer. The ending of segregation in sports has made racial differences in muscularity harder to ignore. Although the men’s 100-meter dash is among the world’s most widely contested events, in the last four Olympics all 32 finalists have been blacks of West African descent. Is muscularity quantifiable? PBS fitness expert Covert Bailey finds that he needs to recom- mend different goals — in terms of percentage of body fat — to his clients of different races.

The standard goal for adult black men is 12 per cent body fat, versus 18 per cent for Asian men. The goals for women are 7 points higher than for men of the same race. For interracial couples, their gender gaps in body-fat goals correlate uncannily with their husband-wife proportions in the 1990 Census. The goal for black men (12 per cent) is 10 points lower than the goal for white women (22 per cent), while the goal for white men (15 per cent) is only 4 points lower than the goal for black women (19 per cent). This 10:4 ratio is almost identical to the 72:28 ratio seen in the Census.

This corre- lates just as well for white-Asian couples, too. Apparently, men want women who make them feel more like men, and vice versa for women. Understanding the impact of genetic racial differences on American life is a necessity for anybody who wants to understand our increasingly complex society. For example, the sense of betrayal felt by Asian men certainly makes sense. After all, they tend to surpass the national average in those long-term virtues — industry, self-restraint, law-abidingness — that society used to train young women to look for in a husband.

Yet, now that discrimination has finally declined enough for Asian men to expect to reap the rewards for ful- filling traditional American standards of manliness, our culture has largely lost interest in indoctrinating young women to prize those qualities. The frustrations of Asian men are a warning sign. When, in the names of free- dom and feminism, young women listen less to the hard-earned wisdom of older women about how to pick Mr. Right, they listen even more to their hormones. This allows cruder measures of a man’s worth — like the size of his muscles — to return to prominence.

The result is not a feminist utopia, but a society in which genetically gifted guys can more easily get away with acting like Mr. Wrong. George Orwell noted, To see what is in front of one’s nose requires a con- stant struggle. We can no longer afford to have our public policy governed by fashionable philosophies which insists upon ignoring the obvious. The realities of interracial marriage, like those of professional sports, show that diversity and integration turn out in practice to be fatal to the reign- ing assumption of racial uniformity. The courageous individuals in interracial marriages have moved farthest past old hostilities. Yet, they’ve discovered not the featureless landscape of utter equality that was predicted by progres- sive pundits, but a landscape rich with fascinating racial patterns. Intellec- tuals should stop dreading the ever-increasing evidence of human biodiversity and start delighting in it.

Social Issues.