[WSMDiscuss] The Fetish for ‘Gori Rangat’ [fair skin] (Zafar Aziz Chaudhry)

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Fri Jul 10 18:33:36 CEST 2020

Friday, July 10, 2020

Viruses in movement…, Racism in movement…, Ideas in movement…, Pakistan in movement…

[The US is afire, its peoples are aflame, and the fire has now been widely lit… Here, on the issue of skin colour, and further to earlier posts on the ‘Fair and Lovely’ issue in India, is a discussion of the issue in a what seems to be a mainstream newspaper in Pakistan, the Daily Times – but with the information that as a sop, the government of Pakistan has in its current budget proposed “a five-year jail [term] and Rs 50 lakh fine for ads promoting fair skin”. 

[I’m again doing this post not because it advances our thinking but just as information on how the massive current irruption against racism in the US is resonating, and refracting, in different parts of the world, and including among the middle classes.  Any news or views on this from Pakistan ?  Or from elsewhere ? :

The Fetish for ‘Gori Rangat’ [fair skin]

Zafar Aziz Chaudhry

https://www.justicenews.co.in/the-fetish-for-gori-rangat/ <https://www.justicenews.co.in/the-fetish-for-gori-rangat/>
https://dailytimes.com.pk/636517/the-fetish-for-gori-rangat/ <https://dailytimes.com.pk/636517/the-fetish-for-gori-rangat/>

In the current budget, to discourage the use of sub-standard skin-whitening creams, the government has proposed a five-year jail and Rs 50 lakh fine for ads promoting fair skin. This is because, in sub-standard skin-whitening creams, the ingredients used include mercury, hydroquinone, ascorbic acid and tretinoin. All of them carry dangerous side-effects. According to the dermatologists, all these creams contain mercury and steroids. Both these ingredients get absorbed in the body and damage the brain, kidneys and reproductive system. However, it would have been far better if strict penal action had been taken against manufacturers of products with proven harmful effects.

To look beautiful is the natural desire of all men and women, and particularly the women, who concentrate more on their beautification by using various kinds of cosmetics. The cosmetic industry, because of its wide-spread demand, has become one of the richest industries of the world. The use of cosmetics certainly enhances the beauty, but in our culture, beauty has been associated with the whitening of the skin. Skin-whitening creams mostly use ingredients, which are very harmful to the skin. Thus, to curb the spread of harmful creams, the government has thought to ban its publicity.

Gendered colourism has taken the worst form in which dark-skinned women face particular discrimination in the case of seeking jobs or finding proper marriage partners

But will this step have any effect on the trend to beautify themselves by whitening their skin? The answer is a solid NO. Love for white complexion is ingrained in our culture, which is bound to stay, come what may. To be more attractive, ladies take risk of using hazardous whitening products on their skin. However, most women of the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and Latin America use skin whitening products due to higher melanin concentration in their skin. Pakistani women, like other women, will keep their skin toned and beautiful by using skincare products.

It has been reported that the greatest use of skin-whitening creams is in India and Pakistan because here, beauty is associated with fair skin, whereas the general tone of our skin is “wheatish” or “brown.” The day a child is born in our country, the first anxiety of everyone is what is the colour of his or her skin. Especially in the case of girls, the dark complexion is regarded as very undesirable. Even “wheatish” or “brown” colour in the case of girls is not liked.

Fair skin has long been a part of Pakistani women’s psyche. As a society, we have developed a mindset that fair-complexion is the true standard of being beautiful. In all regions of the hot climate, the colour of the people is dark or brownish due to the generally prevailing weather conditions, just as in colder regions, the people are white or fair-complexioned. Thus, the colour of the skin has mainly to do with the hot or cold climate of that region. In the African continent and its adjoining areas, the people are black, but they do not suffer from any colour complexion, whereas in our region, we deride dark, wheatish or brown colour even though this is our regional tone.

Why it is so?

The reasons can be traced in our history. The colour consciousness started with the influx of various settlers, rulers, invaders, and colonisers who were all light-skinned starting at the beginning of the 15th century into the Indian sub-continent. This includes the Dutch, French, Portuguese, Mughals, and later, the British, who were in India from the 17th century until India’s independence in 1947. During the British Empire, skin tone prejudice became formally engrained. The colonisers kept light-skinned Indians as allies who were mostly Nawabs or princes; giving them extra advantages over the rest of the “blacks.” Thus, fair skin became a social mark of respect.

Kathy Russell Cole, the author of the book, “The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color in a New Millennium,” noted that many people from lower castes have darker skin because, for generations, they have been subjected to hard physical labour in the sun. Since caste and class often intersect, fair skin is also perceived as being evidence of “better financial and social status of a person.”

Our entire society came to be governed by colour-based prejudices based on geography and caste. Gendered colourism has taken the worst form in which dark-skinned women face particular discrimination in the case of seeking jobs or finding proper marriage partners. For this reason, there is a craze to lighten skin, using a variety of creams, bleaches, and homemade products. Colourism also has a pervasive impact on job and marriage market. Fair people are perceived as more presentable, and they get better jobs and good marriage proposals.

Though the fetish for white colour is often considered a colonial relic, it has now become a part of our psyche. In a recent survey conducted in India to find which among young girls of the same age group were “pretty,” 71 per cent voted in favour of those who were regarded as “fair” or “light-skinned.”

This discussion between black vs white is mainly based on the climate and culture of an area. But the main question is whether the whites are genetically superior to the black? This debate is raging in the western world for several decades in the past. In several surveys in the past, it was declared that blacks cannot compete with the white academically. Their talents lie naturally in the realm of sports. But in recent researches, it has been held that the idea that blacks have superiority in athletics is open to question. In the same way, it has now been established that intellectually too, the Blacks are, in no way, inferior to the whites. But it has been seen that some races have a natural athletic advantage because of their family background and nurturing in the games from childhood. It has nothing to do with their nature.

Traditionally, the European ethnologists in the 1700s never questioned the Caucasian superiority in both mental and physical realms. During the 1800s, the previously unwavering notion of white supremacy began to be questioned. In the 19th century, it came to be believed that physical strength and high intelligence are incompatible traits. In later researches, no steady or conclusive evidence could be found that there was any special characteristic, which physically placed the blacks above the whites. The medical world has so far not been able to identify any biological differences between blacks and the rest of the human population. Neither has it been scientifically proven that blacks were mentally inferior to the white. The latest researches have proved that genetic superiority of one race over the other is also a myth, though this myth is still very wide-spread in most parts of the world.

A time has now come when dark women like Opera Winfrey, Rihanna, Beyonce, Cardi B, Stefflon Don, Maya Jama, Mabel and Zendaya etc., have left their white competitors behind. Now, black women with lighter skin are becoming greater favourites.

The idea that certain races are inherently more intelligent than others is being trumpeted by a small group of anthropologists, particularly in the US under the Trump administration. But the IQ researchers and psychologists have shown that there is no truth in this.

The main claim of “supremacists” is that there is a link between race and intelligence, which is proving to be false everywhere. Presently, it is being raised in India under Modi for Hindu domination and in the US for the next election for Trump’s victory as a political slogan, but it has no biological or scientific basis.

Courtesy : Daily Times


Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

CURRENT / RECENT publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press.  Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press.  Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
SUBSCRIBE TO World Social Movement Discuss, an open, unmoderated, and self-organising forum on social and political movement at any level (local, national, regional, and global).  To subscribe, simply send an empty email to wsm-discuss-subscribe at lists.openspaceforum.net <mailto:wsm-discuss-subscribe at lists.openspaceforum.net>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20200710/e07992dc/attachment.htm>

More information about the WSM-Discuss mailing list