In my last two posts, I have explored the system/substance distinction. Today, I’d like to discuss how the system can have its own logic, almost its own ideas, that can operate without anyone in the system holding those.
The example I’ll use is the fashion industry, and the fact that white Caucasians are the standard of global beauty. You can call this “white skin privilege” or “white is beautiful”, depending on what floats your boat. It doesn’t change the substance of what we are discussing.
N.B.: I want to be clear about what I am saying – I am not saying that white people are inherently more beautiful in some abstract, platonic and eternal sense. I am saying that globally they are held up as the standard of beauty even in non-white populations. I am not saying that this is the way it should be (I don’t think it should), or how it will always be – I am talking about how things are right now.
Now how many Indians have skin that pale? Type in “Indian models” into Google images and good luck finding one who is even as dark as a southern European, let alone as dark as 90%+ of Indians.
You can also look at Africa, were there is a roaring business in skin-whitening creams. Or even Asia where eye-widening surgery is common. Look at the following anime picture, showing an idealized couple:
How Japanese do those two look? I mean, really?
Now you can either take the line of racialists like Jared Taylor that absolutely the entire world was pining for whites even before white Europeans showed up – or you can think that something else is going on here. That attractiveness is socially shaped to some extent.
One of the most important messages I took away from The Last Psychiatrist was that advertising isn’t so much about selling you the idea that their product will give you the good life, as about selling you on their version of what the good life is. Ads have attractive people in them to sell more stuff, and in so doing, they shape what counts as attractive.
Now, I repeat: I think this situation stinks. Being given the message over and over that you’re unattractive, even when you’re not, is not pleasant at all.
You can argue that this situation is racist, and I could agree – but, here’s the kicker: the entire system could be racist and operate in a racist manner without one single racist being involved anywhere, or even anyone particularly unpleasant being involved.
Are advertisement companies corrupt or wicked? No – they are just trying to make a living, and if there is a standard of attraction already abroad in the culture, they need to follow that or go bust. Individual people in the company need to make attractive ads, or risk losing their jobs. What about the people who absorb that message? They are even less to blame. Attraction is so visceral, and impossible to command.
One reason I say that, is because I’m an exception to that rule. I’ve always found Africans, Middle Easterners and Indians as attractive as white Europeans – and I think I can guess why. I grew up in sub-Saharan Africa, and hit puberty surrounded by girls from those three groups. There was also little television and advertising around where I lived.
Conversely, I don’t find East Asian girls sexually attractive. That isn’t to say I don’t recognize that one may be pretty, but it is an intellectual thing – disconnected from physical attraction. It’s the same way I can recognize a man being good looking, but I feel no physical attraction as I’m straight. I’m sure that is because I didn’t even see an east Asian girl until I was almost done with puberty. I’ve never met an Amerindian girl, but I suspect it’d be the same thing. This isn’t something I’ve chosen – it was chosen for me by my background.
So you can see you have a system that does have some very unpleasant effects and operates in an unpleasant manner, and yet is not the result of any malice or wickedness on behalf of anyone. You can also see how strong the system is, from a kind of automatic mechanism. Many people are upset about this, but try any initiative to forcibly change the system, and you end up reinforcing it. Why? Well, any campaign for more non-white models simply because they are non-white would reinforce the message that whites are naturally so attractive that other groups need to be artificially boosted.
This sucks, but I am not sure I have any answer to that, except exporting capitalism and growth to the rest of the world ASAP, so that there arises not merely a natural incentive to sell to them, but also homegrown industries.
So here we have an example of how a system can operate almost independently of its members. That is worth bearing in mind – if you want to change a system, you have to make it clear to the people in it that you are not attacking them. Otherwise all you will do is piss off a lot of people and reinforce what you are trying to dismantle.