Last week a very controversial article came out in the’Varsity’ newspaper. The author of the article interviewed 60 people at UCT, 10 of each race, asking each group which races they found most attractive. The poll was published along with what I thought to be quite a sarcastic article talking about the results. The results of the pole were rather blatant, with 38% thinking white people were the most attractive and only 8% saying that black people were. Before all of the reactions came out in the news, I read the article myself, thinking it odd that such an article could have been published without causing any kind of stir or raising any concerns. They did come, in the next day or so, and so fiercely. http://www.varsitynewspaper.co.za/opinions/1468-is-love-colour-blind.
I can definitely understand why this article has been read offensively, as phrases like “Quite unsurprisingly, Caucasians were chosen as the most attractive by most non-whites” and “we would have better luck creating a research wing at Med School dedicated to cloning white people to feed the demand than trying to understand the origins of some our supposed “preferences”” are just asking to rub people up the wrong way. I feel also that the poll itself, because of its extreme results, should not have been published, as it simply made many people feel bad, angry and offended in a country where many races are still trying to regain a sense of self confidence.
With all fairness to the author I do not actually think that she intended to offend, I think that the article itself is trying to make a critical comment about the fact that in a free , post-apartheid society, we are still so focused upon race as a defining feature which deters or attracts us to a person, and are so heavily influenced by the western notion of beauty we see in Hollywood films; slim, fair white women ( not that I endorse this notion). I also think that had the author been white we would have had a different issue on our hands, as the article would have appeared a lot more conceited and elitist. However, judging by the name of the author I do not think this is the case.
As I have said, I think that this article is using the results of the poll to exemplify the fact that we still have a long way to go in South Africa BECAUSE people still appear to think of whites as “more attractive”, “harder to attract”, “the ultimate status symbol”- all attitudes bread through regimes like apartheid. However it was written in a manner that offended, and the poll certainly added serious insult to injury.