More Fun

We all know that some demographics try to press that everything is about race, and some demographics try to press that nothing is; I am, like my namesake, a trimmer, yyfoxand I take no sides in this debate. But I want to bring up one area where everyone seems to think it is about race, and I think there is something else going on, and no one ever talks about it.

Behold a picture that appears in various forms on the internet: a Brady-grid of Fox news anchors, 51 blond women and three blond men. I have no idea how many anchors Fox news has, or what percentage are blond, or if these are really people on Fox or just imposters, but the picture’s point is clear: they have a lot of blonds. And when anyone in my demographic shares the image it’s always with a wink and a smirk: Fox sure is white, isn’t it?

yygk

Another ten.

Our culture, like Hitchcock, sure has a thing for blonds. There’s no denying this. Gentlemen prefer them. They have more fun. And we all know exactly why this is. Blonds are exemplars of WASPy Aryanism. It’s about race.

Except I’ve misspoken: Hitchcock did not have a thing for blonds. He had a thing for blondes. Instead of asking why there are 54 blond Fox anchors, you should ask why there are 3 blond Fox anchors and 51 blonde Fox anchors. I’m not usually very conscientious about gendering my hair colors, but 51:3 looks like a ratio that ought to mean something.

So our culture, like Hitchcock, has a thing for blondes—and I guess I should say that I don’t think there’s no race element here. There are many reasons behind any such obsession. It is, as Dr. Lowenstein-Zweig would say, a rich tapestry; and race will play a part in it. But we need to explain that 51:3, and I have the explanation here.

It is not uncommon, for children of central or northern European extraction, to start life blond and then develop darker hair while maturing. Among those who deal in cliches, tots are always towheaded.

yymaccThis is as much to say that  blondness may in general be a sign for whiteness, but among whites it is a sign for youth. And you know what else our culture is obsessed with? Yes, youth. You got it right the answer is youth.

Goldilocks was originally, in the earliest recorded manuscripts, named Silverlocks, and she was an old lady; when she was switched to a child her hair became gold.

There may be biological reasons, fertility windows and such, for why this is the case, but regardless, as Amy Schumer will remind us, our culture prioritizes youth for women more than men. And, indeed, it prioritizes blondness for women more than men. This is not a coincidence.

I don’t think people who bleach their hair are specifically trying to look younger, but it’s not like they’re usually trying to look whiter either. Blondness, thanks to a biological quirk, we associate with the young, and the rest, Marilyn Monroe and the noir fatale and “golden tresses” and Fox news, follow like dominos.

The theory helps explain why even among homogenous racial groups, such as in this example Medieval vikings, blond hair is valued. For vikings, dark hair is halfway to gray hair. Tell it to Sif.

Tangled-movie-image

(White babies, incidentally, usually start their lives with blue eyes, a color that changes as they age. Make of that what you will.)

So if you want to know why Fox news has no many blonde anchorwomen: it’s for the same reason that Regis is older than Kathie Lee.

That’s not necessarily better than the conventional wisdom, but it’s different.

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6 comments

  1. erinfinnegan · · Reply

    Besides the Amy Schumer bit, there are all kinds of fun statistics in this 2011 movie: http://therepresentationproject.org/film/miss-representation/ Women over 50 make up the majority of the U.S. population but rarely appear in media. Obviously I haven’t fact-checked every stat in a stat-filled documentary, I mean, anyone can make up statistics to back up a point, 12% of all people know that. I’d be curious to hear if you can make it through that film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. >Women over 50 make up the majority of the U.S. population

      This is false on all counts.

      At first, I assumed the statistic you meant was women over 50 make up the plurality, not the majority, of the US population, since they obviously don’t make up the majority (women of all ages just barely make up the majority). But according to the census data at https://www.census.gov/population/age/data/files/2012/2012gender_table1.csv this is also false (it is possible there was some recent census for which this was true, but that would have required a major demographic shift recently. It isn’t even close for this data, women over 50 make up about 34% of US females. Women under 50 outnumber them by a fair amount). But even if it were the plurality, the statistic would still be gerrymandered. Women over 50 are a larger demographic than 1.women under 50, 2.men under 50 and 3.men over 50… okay, but why was 50 chosen? It isn’t like these four categories are natural buckets to divide people into. One could just as easily say women under 60 are the plurality or women over 35 are the plurality. It just depends if you want to make it look like there are more younger or older females. Always be wary of statistics, especially ones on infographics.

      One of the infographics on your link (http://therepresentationproject.org/film/miss-representation/the-issue/ ) says women make up 50.8% of the population, 58% of the college graduates and have 85% of consumer purchasing power (I’m not sure what this means, exactly, but it is so ludicrously high, I assume it is meaningless or just completely false, but this is beside the point). The implication being girls should feel good about themselves and are making progress. Another infographic states that women are only 4.6% of CEOs, 17% of various filmmaker professions and the US is 33rd out 49 high income nations in female legislators (why 49 high income countries? more statistical gerrymandering). The implication being that women are being oppressed and need to gain ground. One could just as easily reverse all these statistics and look at men, who should be proud of their strong roles as legislators, CEOs and filmmakers, but should be outraged at being underrepresented among college graduates and at their lack of consumer purchasing power. Indeed, all of these statistics only make sense as some sort of zero sum game between demographic groups. What do these people think the ideal balance would be for all of these statistics? Presumably not something that is representative of the population, as females being over-represented as college grads is not portrayed as a bad thing.

      As always, the media is blamed for the choices that people make. When a bunch of people make choices which in aggregate result in certain demographics being over or under-represented in areas, that seems to me to be a bottom-up phenomenon, The media is probably just portraying the world as it is. I do not think it makes sense to assume this is a top down phenomenon, where a cabal is tricking everyone into making these decisions.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I think Rick is broadly right insofar as any statistic in a meme-ready infographic is so imprecise as to be valueless. For example, citing (as the site does) the stat that depression in women has doubled is only important as a gendered statistic if the depression rate for men has not also doubled. The analogous factoid “the number of women on the internet has increased 4000% since 1995!” is obviously not a helpful way of looking at things.

      Similarly saying giving a stat for teen suicide, and then redefining teen as 15-18, is clear gerrymandering, as Rick felicitously phrases it.

      Erin if of course correct on the 12%; it’s actually 11.79%, but we might as well round up.

      I’m wondering, though, if there’s actually a problem on the larger points, and if we can all agree that a chart of women’s representations in media by age of woman as a percentage of the US population for the same age, year by year, forms a different graph than a similar study for men; that in both cases, the graph moves upwards after Hollywood’s “toddler wasteland” into the prime ages of 20s and 30s, only to fall precipitously at some point—that point being younger for women than men.

      I have not run a study, nor have I watched the documentary Erin linked to, but I think it’s clear that actors have a longer “shelf-life” than actresses. I’m curious if Rick disputes this.

      If the motive behind the documentary is to blame media for the world’s problems then their fako stats might be a stumbling block. If the motive behind the documentary is to demonstrate that women “of a certain age” (or possibly women of all ages) are underrepresented in movies, then…well, is anyone here arguing that that is false?

      (If the motive behind the documentary is to point out that movies gross more when women aren’t involved, which seems to be what the statistic in infobox 1 is asserting, then it’s a weird mixed message.)

      If you want a COMPLETELY OBJECTIVE METRIC, you can calculate the average ages of People’s “sexiest man alive” and Esquire’s “sexiest woman alive” and then

      hang on—Harry Hamlin? Seriously, Harry Hamlin?

      Like

      1. > I think it’s clear that actors have a longer “shelf-life” than actresses. I’m curious if Rick disputes this.

        I do not. I’d also go further and say that it is not just actresses, but in general women have a much shorter shelf life than men when it comes to desirability.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. erinfinnegan · · Reply

    I’m just saying, if you like debunking statistics, that movie is a goldmine. If you want me to misquote statistics, I am available over 95% of the time to provide this service.

    I think the thing I was trying to say was more like, women over age X make up Y percent of the U.S. population but only appear Z percent often in media (the film includes television, films, and pictures in newspapers, if memory serves me correct).

    In our post-factual society, it no longer matters whether I am correct or not! Only the sentiment will be remembered five minutes from now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She sounds confidant, Rick. Probably she’s right.

      Like

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