Monday, December 07, 2009

Acting White: Black Women Series, Education and Attractiveness

Education, unlike hair, weight, waist-to-hips, and other estrogen-signaling attributes, does not show itself instantly. However, one could argue that its presence is still nearly immediate, once people meet. It’s hard to hide smarts.

Education shows in how we dress, speak, and behave. So with this, it is more than fair to consider education, its impact on attractiveness, and disparities in Black female relationships.

As I said, when I began this series, Black women have a hard way to go, and nowhere is this more apparent than with those highly educated. Researchers present that [educated] “Black women are increasingly less likely to marry and have children; if they marry, they are more likely than any other group to marry lesser-educated men; and if they have children, they are more likely to do so while still in training, with potential consequences for educational attainment and career formation.” (here)

No physical attribute can compete with the power of education. An educated Black woman is in the formidable position to tell any man harboring unappealing male-centered notions exactly where and how fast to go with those notions. Couple this with fewer available educated Black men, and Black women are left with limited choices for finding a mate.

Either she can marry a less-educated, working-class black man and hope that they can make it/keep it interesting and harmonious, or she can consider a non-black man closer to her education level, an understandably difficult choice for many. Lastly, she can go it alone, having and raising children as a single parent.

I am not really sure why Black women outperform Black men in education, except to consider that lesser versions of the same distractions that lead to high drop-out rates, incarceration, unemployment, violence, drug addiction, and other maladies in Black men, are also driving down performance in school and the resulting education attainment.

Just as political and economic power is an aphrodisiac for women, with respect to men; it can be a turn-off in the other direction because women with overt power are not congruent with evolution and the male status quo. Black men are adapting slowly, but in the meantime this leaves Black women little choice but to either look beyond them for mates, or go it alone.

James C. Collier


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Anonymous said...

Might hypergamy and de facto polygamy in poor black neighborhoods explain the gap in education? That is to say, the gamers are right, women do really go for bad boys, so there is a huge incentive in poor neighborhoods to become a drug dealer or another sort of criminal because it gets you laid. There isn't the same incentive for women, so they focus more on education. Just a thought that I have written elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant to say, Just a thought that I have read written elsewhere. It might have even been in Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate.

Sonny said...

James I've only recently came across your blog, I find your points interesting, but not accurate. In both the topics that peaked my interest, I've noticed you failed to properly draw logical conclusions from your source data. More so in the Weight, Body Fat and Attractiveness blog. I posted your incorrect conclusion in that blog. Now in this blog, you speak as if an educated corporate black female, can't have a successful relationship with a blue collar uneducated black male, due to the education difference. Your source does claim a gap there, but doesn't claim education as the reason.
OK, we know that black males don't seem to commit and marry at the same rate as other races. Wouldn't this affect educated women too? How do you conclude that it's the education gap, for educated black females, but something else for uneducated black females?

I would argue that the keys to a successful relationship do not lie in academic education anyway, but more emotional intelligence. Some would argue that it is a better predictor of success than academic education. I find most people who base whether they are compatible with someone based on education tend to not really be seeking a good relationship, but a status or an income level.

Anonymous said...

There does seem to be a trend among the black female grad students I know to either date someone less intelligent, or date someone who isn't black (rarely both!).

Anonymous said...

In hindsight my comment came across as more pretentious than I would have liked, but I'll stand by it.

Sonny said...

I'm failing to understand the, "less intellegent" comment.
Are you defining less intellegent as not college educated? Not post graduate educated? What?

Anonymous said...

I unintelligently conflated intelligence and education.

I am very guilty of the sin of considering black status indicative of everything. I tend to relate class, intelligence, and education all around the same factors, and I think that may significantly bias my ability to give any type of insight.

James C. Collier said...

@Sonny, the factors I consider are not exclusive of each other, but rather they are additive from a low-order to high-order status. I simply acknowledge, rather than judge, the criteria people use to choose mates. Take care in applying absolutes to my considerations. If you look more closely, you will rarely see them.

Michael in LA said...

Sonny - I think you're being a bit delusional if you think that education and earning power aren't variables that affect Black relationships...

If you are a Black woman who has invested in education to attain an affluent lifestyle, how do you have a lesser earning, lesser educated mate without there being problems? If you are accustomed to ski weekends, cruises to the West Indies, shopping at Whole Foods, how do you deal with a blue collar boyfriend who considers a good vacation a road trip to Vegas/Atlantic City, fine dining is the Waffle House and leasing a used car living large – there are going to be issues...

Sonny said...

Michael I understand your point, I know it happens all the time (I’m not sure it’s exclusive to black relationships). However, you may want to reread my post. I said a GOOD relationship isn't based on an equal level of education, but more intelligence, or an equal level of intelligence. Academic education is not a predictor of intelligence, I know plenty of people who have post graduate degrees that lack the ability to relate to people.

A black women that has invested heavily in her education. Who automatically bypasses a black man that has not went to college, because he is less educated than her and has less earning potential, probably did that brother a favor. She also may find herself a victim of a superficial relationship and all its trappings. This particular sister should learn to respect a man that’s hard working, loves and respects her. She should probably find some successful relationships to study.

Sonny said...

James I definitely don’t want to misunderstand and then accuse you having inaccurate conclusion based on my misunderstanding.

Here is what made me think you believed or at least endorsed the criteria that we all agree that people use to select mates.

“Either she can marry a less-educated, working-class black man and hope that they can make it/keep it interesting and harmonious or she can consider a non-black man closer to her education level, an understandably difficult choice for many. Lastly, she can go it alone, having and raising children as a single parent.”

It sounds as if marrying a less educated man is being said as a negative vs. a neutral.

Anonymous said...


your last paragraph made me really sad.

it's interesting, this topic of marriageability and education in the black community. my husband is less-degreed than me but makes more money than me working both a white-collar and blue-collar job.

when i met him, i was in school with a kid and he was doing blue-collar only and was making more money than me. now, if i was a snobby chick, i would have passed him up b/c of his blue-collar job.

the entire discussion is based on foolish thinking. it kind of mimics that movie - Daddy's Little Girls - about the lawyer lady and the blue-collar brother.

our situation in this country is what it is. black women who don't want to be single for the rest of their lives need to find a quality man, black white or other. stop being so limited in your up your horizons, because fact is, you don't have THAT many choices. or time.

Anonymous said...

* that is to say, my husband makes more money than me because HE works both a white- and a blue-collar job...

Sonny said...

Anonymous I agree with you one hundred percent.

If my wife made 75% of the income, but we totaled 100% of what we needed to enjoy our life. Meaning, we could vacation, fund our retirement, purchase a home and raise a family. I wouldn't have an issue and neither should she. Any women or man that does feel because they are more degreed, and makes more money so they feel entitled to a certain type of person is shallow and misinformed of what makes a happy life. Divorce happens with all types of couples, degreed, no degreed, post graduate degreed, whatever.

To make sure I put the proper balance on this. I'm not saying a women with a degree should marry a brother that does not work, no one should. Men work, that's what we do. I'm just saying, if that brother is hard working and intelligent, then that's all that's necessary in this arena.

And lastly I'd like to repeat and challenge anyone who thinks education is an indication of intelligence.

Michael in LA said...

Sonny - in your last post said that "men work, that's what we do..."

I live in Compton. The latest official stats I've read state that the city's (Black) unemployment rate is 22%. Over one in five Black people are not working. I wouldn't be going out on a limb to think that the majority of those unemployed Black people are men.

When I leave for work in the morning, I see lots of Black men who are not employed, haven't been employed in a long time, and are not likely to be employed anytime soon. Criminal histories, lack of higher education, lack of vocational training has put many of my brothers at a disadvantage. The same disadvanage that sets them back in the employment arena also holds them back in the dating game.

For a lot of Black women who haven't considered crossing the color line, they are going to have to settle or be lonely. That said, I'm starting to see a smattering of Latino men, Black female relationships in the city - where I had never noticed any in the past.

Lisa V., I miss reading your blog now that it's gone private, is there a way to get an invite?

Sonny said...

Michael I apologize if it sounded as if I meant all men have jobs, or if you are a real man you have a job. I simply meant the nature of a man is to work. The world isn’t designed for men to not work. Like the saying, “if a man doesn’t work he shouldn’t eat”. I simply meant that no woman should marry a man that isn’t working or seeking to work. That man would be lazy and probably not a good mate for the same reasons.

I guess I should be safe and say, I know there are circumstances that would be exceptions to every man working.

Hope I cleared that up.

Hemlines and Haute Spots said...

@Sonny-I totally agree with you. Education is not going to sustain the realities of a relationship or marriage! I dated a Yale graduate that had major ISSUES. Some folks get caught up in how many stripes they have and forget about emotional intelligence. What your partner is lacking you are gifted at, it's a partnership.
Yes, there's a percentage of black men who are incarcerated, dead, or gay and the rest are dating WHITE WOMEN. I'm out.

Cassandra said...

Statistics show that more BM are single (and have never been married) than BW. Looks like there's something about marriage that is not attractive to many Blacks. At least here in the US.

At least we have a wonderful Black couple in the White house, who appear to be very much in love and are well educated.

Anonymous said...

Honestly. No matter how much education or money a black woman has, it does her no real good in the dating game. In fact it becomes a defacto liability to her long term happiness in the dating field. Why?

1. Men and women have different emotional triggers. A man is not attracted to a woman's status or wealth. That's what women are attracted to. A man is attracted to a woman's physical and personal demeanor. So a professional woman who acts like a man at work all day is not terrible attractive if she brings that home. And flaunting her education or status means abosolutely nothing to a man, its just less work he has to do in taking care of her and her needs. It's a plus but only a small one.

2. Women on the other hand are programmed to seek ou status, wealth, good genes. For black women this is really detrimental, for as they go up the corporate ladder they will find less men who's status and wealth is greater than theirs AND who are single, AND who are black, AND who are attractive, AND who are attracted to them.

I'm a lower middle class black man and have seen this myself personally. There is a reason the bible tells you to be evenly yoked, not just in faith, but in most things. Women who are used to being in charge are going to have a hard time dealing with a man who is used to the same. And if her status is higher than his her subcouncious respect for him is going to be lower. We already know that many black women have little respect fo black men to start you know..its just fuel to the fire.

My thoughts and what I would tell my daughter, date inter racially. Don't limit your options and chances at happiness. The black race will survive.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous who said, "women do really go for bad boys, so there is a huge incentive in poor neighborhoods to become a drug dealer or another sort of criminal because it gets you laid."

That may be true in a very minute circumstances but I am afraid its much more complicated than that. Young black men fall into drugs for the same reason why Afghani men fell into Al Qaeda, someone was offering an opportunity where there was none. Someone was offering a way to survive that in a twisted way also garnered respect in a way that working minimum wage that McDonald's does not. Yes, some black men have averted drugs and crime and have gone on to college and success. But, that is because they were offered something our youth are rarely offered today, mentorship, hope, and a society that embraces them. Again, there are a few people who are just un-reachable and want something for nothing. But, the majority are just looking for a way to survive and feel good about their future.