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Fair Women, Dark Men: The Forgotten Roots of Color Prejudice Paperback – March 15, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Cybereditions Corporation (March 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1877275727
  • ISBN-13: 978-1877275722
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,152,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

In a society like the United States, where the pigmentary differences among ethnic or "racial" groups exceed those between men and women of the same group, the latter differences may very easily be unknown to people, but the preference within each ethnic group for fair women still persists.

Peter Frost backs up his sexual selection thesis by bringing together hormonal evidence for pigmentary differences in the two sexes by age and fecundity. He also reviews the results of his own studies on preferences in experimental subjects. Finally, he concludes his synthesis with a suggestion that the Snow White Syndrome may be rooted in a hardwiring of the human brain for such a preference.

This would mean the discovery of a direct link between a biological predisposition and a cultural preference, although such hardwiring remains to be proven. The two would reinforce each other reciprocally as part of the larger interplay of sexual selection.

Although this thesis may startle or even scandalize most of our social science colleagues, it deserves at the very least to be either pursued or challenged by a counter-hypothesis that rivals the explanatory power that Peter Frost has brought into play. The time has come for the social sciences to take the biological evolution of our species’ behavior seriously, and to try to understand the many links between our nature and our culture.

From the Foreword by Pierre L. van den Berghe
Seattle, University of Washington


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
A couple of decades ago, I began noticing that the leading lady in a movie was almost always fairer-skinned than her leading man.

It appears filmmakers and their audiences subconsciously associate lightness of complexion with femininity. Yet, nobody ever seems to talk about it.

Medieval Europeans referred to women as "the fair sex," but in contemporary discourse, skin color is associated only with race, not with sex.

We don't behave like that, however.

Audiences famously want their leading men to look "tall, dark, and handsome" (a phrase first applied to that epitome of male glamour, Cary Grant) when they embrace their leading ladies. But, apparently, "dark" is even more important than "tall."

My impression is that female fans are more insistent than male fans that their favorite actresses be fair. Conversely, male fans don't much like pale actors, as Jude Law's problems shedding the dreaded "pretty boy" tag demonstrate.

When the Internet came along in the 1990s, I discovered that an anthropologist at Université Laval in Quebec named Peter Frost had been researching for years this question of why actresses were so fair, and much else besides.

His findings are quite extraordinary.

He's finally published a lucidly written and wide-ranging book entitled Fair Women, Dark Men: The Forgotten Roots of Color Prejudice. It proves well worth the wait, shedding light on a broad array of contemporary social issues.

It turns out that this favoritism toward lighter skinned women is not an invention of Hollywood. You'll note that conventional "social constructionist" thinking can't explain this phenomenon.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lemas Mitchell on January 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most shockingly bad popular science books that I've ever read. Ever. The only reason I give it one star is because I could not give it ZERO stars. (And let me say that I already agreed with the author's thesis and was looking for a reasoned demonstration thereof.)

One by one:

1. The prose is extremely choppy and disconnected. It makes reading 5 pages like reading 50 because it is so hard to follow where the argument is going.

2. The actual text of the book is only 76 pages (it says 140 pages on the website, but the last 66 pages are taken up with a review of the anthropological literature (with lots of comments that could have been included in the text if properly treated) and footnotes.

3. The book is self published-- and now I see why! If this book was talking about anything even vaguely interesting then he would have been able to find a decent publisher. I've read many books on popular science that were not that great and still were good enough to get a publisher. There are only 3 reviews on this book 5 years after it came out, and NOW I SEE WHY.

4. In the foreword of the book, an endorsement (of sorts) is given by Pierre VandenBerghe of the University of Washington at Seattle. This person is apparently a retired professor of Sociology-- even though the book claimed to be (in some way) about the biological basis of color preferences. It's some perverse combination of anthropology, anecdotal evidence and undeveloped historical context.

5. There is no elucidation of any biology in this book. That would have been a good departure point. Instead, there are some weirdly broken up chapters and no introduction to the book that told what direction the book would take as it progressed.
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12 of 53 people found the following review helpful By La Reyna on September 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
the more I'm enlightened by it. I was so wrong about the premise of the book. Yes, lighter skinned women and darker skinned men are valued around the world at various time periods. There are several exceptions, the valuation of fairer men by darker women and 18th century Jamaica, the only British colony that granted mixed-race people rights and privileges that are usually reserved to Whites. Also, most slaves during medieval and Renaissance times were male. The few female slaves were fair-skinned women who were used as concubines and mistresses for the powerful. Examples were Circassians and Russian women. It was only after the Renaissance did darker skinned women were imported more as domestic slaves.

My previous commentary was abound with ad-hominem attacks on the book, which I didn't take the time to comprehend. I was making PC statements regarding race and color that were raised in Mr. Frost's book. I was attacking Mr. Frost and conservatives as racist/sexist and that the book wasn't worth reading until I read it again and thought about what he said. Then I went to Mr. Frost's website, Evo and Proud. His website is an eye-opener for this liberal.

I say to all of you, please read this book seriously and think before coming to conclusions.
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