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Is it racist to like big butts? The derriere discourse guilt-trips white women

Is Kim Kardashian guilty of cultural appropriation? (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

Is Kim Kardashian guilty of cultural appropriation? (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)


December 18, 2023   6 mins

The human butt has long been the object of all manner of obsessions. We worry over it: its size, its shape, whether or not it has cellulite on it, how it looks in a pair of jeans. But now, a new source of concern emerges: the alarming possibility that one’s butt — or at least, one’s relationship to butts generally — is racist.

For this we may thank the existence of Butts: A Backstory, a new book by journalist Heather Radke. To be fair, it surely is not Radke’s intention to inculcate racial anxiety in her reader: Butts feels like a passion project, deeply researched and fun to read, offering a deep dive into the history and culture of the human rear end, from the Venus Callipyge (from whose name the word “callipygian” is derived) to Buns of Steel to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s seminal rap celebrating all things gluteal. It is a topic ripe for well-rounded analysis, so to speak. But having been written in the very particular milieu of 2020s America, Butts unfortunately falls victim to the contemporary vogue for viewing all matters of culture through a racial lens. The result is a work that not only flattens the butt, figuratively, but makes the book feel ultimately less like an anthropological study and more like an entry into the crowded genre of works which serve to stoke the white liberal guilt of the NPR tote bag set.

The concept of cultural appropriation has always struck me as both fundamentally misguided and historically illiterate, arising from a studied incuriosity about both the inherent contagiousness of culture and the mimetic nature of human beings. But when it comes to the remixing of thing such as textiles, hairdos or fashion trends across cultures, the appropriation complaints seem at least understandable, if not persuasive: there’s a conscious element there, a choice to take what looked interesting on someone else and adorn your own body in the same way. Here, though, the appropriated item is literally a body part — the size and shape of which we rather notoriously have no control over. And yet Radke employs more or less the same argument to stigmatise the appropriation of butts as is often made about dreadlocks or bindis.

The book is insistent on this front: butts are a black thing, and liking them is a black male thing, and the appreciation of butts by non-black folks represents a moral error: cultural theft or stolen valour or some potent mix of the two. Among the scholars and experts quoted by Radke on this front is one who asserts that the contemporary appreciation of butts by the wider male population is “coming from Black male desire. Straight-up, point-blank. It’s only through Black males and their gaze that white men are starting to take notice”. To paraphrase a popular meme: “Fellas, is it racist to like butts?”

Perhaps needless to say, a wealth of cultural artefacts — from the aforementioned Venus sculpture to the works of Peter Paul Rubens to certain showtunes of the Seventies —  belie the notion that white guys were oblivious to the existence of butts until black men made it cool to notice them. But the cultural legacy of the butt is undeniably entangled with the legacy of racism and eugenics, including a sordid and repellent history wherein certain anthropologists of the white male variety both fetishised the physiques of black women with ample backsides and conflated their peculiarities with savagery and promiscuity.

Most prominent in this history is the case of Sarah Baartman, to whom Radke devotes an entire chapter plus countless references: Baartman was a member of the Khoekhoe tribe in South Africa, who in the early 1800s was coerced into travelling to Europe and participating in a freak show-style exhibition in which onlookers gawked at — and sometimes poked or grabbed — her buttocks. If Baartman’s feelings about this remain somewhat mysterious (the records of the time are ambiguous as to how voluntary her participation was), the motivations of the men who trafficked her are less so: anthropologists of the time were obsessed with categorising humans into a racial hierarchy. It wasn’t just Baartman’s butt that fascinated them but her entire body, including the shape of her skull and her elongated labia, which were held up as evidence that she (and hence all black women) were a lower order of human being.

Certainly, it is impossible to do justice to the history of butts without devoting ample space to Baartman. But it’s one thing to give due scrutiny to the fact that some 19th century anthropologists indulged in the repugnant racial stereotyping of black women’s bodies and body parts; it’s another to replicate it ourselves — or to assume that other people are.

Radke does assume, though — repeatedly, persistently, and sometimes in spite of alternative theories or evidence to the contrary. This includes advancing the argument that bustles, the Victorian-era fashion that trended more than 50 years after Sarah Baartman’s death, were inspired by her singular figure — and that white women were coyly, perhaps even consciously, appropriating Baartman’s silhouette in an act of racist fetishisation. Notably, Radke is the first to acknowledge the obvious flaw in her argument: “There is also a question of why a late-19th-century woman would have wanted to look like Sarah Baartman, whose silhouette had been used as the quintessential example of African as subhuman,” she writes. Why, indeed? But Radke answers this question with some crude stereotyping of her own: “White culture and fashion have both proved relentlessly adept at cherry-picking throughout the centuries, finding a way to poach the parts of other people’s culture, histories, and bodies that suit them and leave behind the rest.”

Why would 19th century women have aspired to the silhouette of a sexually promiscuous savage? Because they were a bunch of Karens, that’s why (and here the self-loathing contemporary white woman reader is surely nodding along).

By the time Butts comes around to analysing the contemporary derriere discourse, its conclusions are all but foregone: the political is not just personal, but anatomical. The book calls multiple women, including Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, and Miley Cyrus, to account for their appropriation of butts, which are understood to belong metaphorically if not literally to black women. The most scathing critique is directed at the then-21-year-old Cyrus, whose twerking at the VMAs is described as “adopting and exploiting a form of dance that had long been popular in poor and working-class Black communities and simultaneously playing into the stereotype of the hypersexual Black woman”. The mainstreaming of butts as a thing to be admired, then, is the ultimate act of Columbusing: “The butt had always been there, even if white people failed to notice for decades.”

There is also the curious wrinkle in Radke’s section on the history of twerking, which credits its popularisation to a male drag queen named Big Freedia. The implicit suggestion is that this movement style is less offensive when performed by a man dressed as a woman than by a white woman with a tiny butt.

Butts doesn’t claim to be a story with a moral, but one nevertheless emerges: everyone may have a butt, but butts are not for everyone. And it is worth noting that however much baggage it assigns the white men who like butts, its implications are even more fraught for the white women to whom the butts are attached. One gets the sense that non-black women are not supposed to have big butts — that those who do have accomplished something unnatural if not outright suspicious. And if you insist on having a butt (and, really, do you have to?), then you must under no circumstances be proud of it, or accept positive attention for it, or — heaven forfend — make it part of your brand.

Ironically, the author of this book is herself a white woman with a large backside, a fact of which she periodically reminds the reader. And yet, Butts thoroughly subsumes its subject matter into the cultural appropriation discourse in a way that implicitly impugns all the non-black women who look — at least from behind — a hell of a lot more like Nicki Minaj than Kate Moss, women who perhaps hoped that their own big butts might be counted among those Sir Mix-a-Lot cannot lie about liking. It is worth noting, too, that the women hung out to dry by this argument are the same ones who other progressive identitarian rhetoric almost invariably fails to account for: the more it indulges in the archetype of the assless willowy white woman, the more Butts excludes from its imagination the poor and working class — whose butts, along with everything else, tend to be bigger. It fails to account, too, for those from ethnic backgrounds where a bigger butt — or, as one of my Jewish great-grandmothers might have said, a nice round tuchus — is the norm.

All told, Butts offers an interesting if somewhat monomaniacal look back at the cultural history of the derriere. But as for how to view our backsides moving forward — especially if you happen to be a woman in possession of a big butt yourself — the book finds itself at something of a loss. Those in search of body positivity will not find it here; Radke is firm on this front, that white women who embrace their big butts are guilty of what Toni Morrison called “playing in the dark”, dabbling thoughtlessly with a culture, an aesthetic, a physique that doesn’t really belong to them. The best these women can hope for, it seems, is to look at their bodies the way Radke does in the final pages, with a sort of resigned acceptance: her butt, she says, is “just a fact”. On the one hand, this is better than explicitly instructing women to feel ashamed of their bodies (although implicitly, one gets the sense that shame is preferable to the confident, twerking alternative). But after some 200 pages of narrative about the political, sexual, cultural, historical baggage with which the butt is laden, it feels a bit empty, a bit like a cop-out. It could even be said — not by me, but by someone — that Butts has a hole in it.


Kat Rosenfield is an UnHerd columnist and co-host of the Feminine Chaos podcast. Her latest novel is You Must Remember This.

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Max Price
Max Price
7 months ago

And these people honestly can’t understand why we think they’re a joke.

54321
54321
7 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

They are obviously not serious people but unfortunately they can and are doing serious harm.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
7 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

I suspect most of them have been so sheltered and coddled throughout their childhood that they remain, for all intents and purposes, children with little connection to the real world. They’ve spent their lives in environments specially constructed to shelter them from life’s harsher realities and shepherded together with other sheltered children from other carefully controlled ‘nurturing’ environments where their group dynamics reinforce whatever ridiculous notions they’ve been fed.

They are Plato’s cave dwellers who watch the shadows on the wall and imagine them to be real because that is the extent of their experience. To extend that analogy, in Plato’s original allegory, the man who leaves the cave to experience the wider world eventually returns to the cave and attempts to convince his fellow cave dwellers of the things he has seen and how reality is much bigger and more complicated than they suspect. They respond with disbelief, ridicule, and scorn. Since the man whose eyes have adjusted to sunlight cannot see the shadows as he once did and because the cave dwellers are many, and he is one, they convince one another that their comrade is mad or mistaken, and in the end, the one who has seen the truth fails to convince anyone.

IMHO, most of humanity are cave dwellers, incapable of seeing beyond whatever situation they are in. It barely matters how ridiculous the prevailing view is, because fitting into one’s social group, particularly when one is already a member of an affluent social group, is by far the most important factor for personal success. Indeed, the one who questions the dominant viewpoint or tries to achieve a greater understanding by learning about other points of view is likely to suffer from the attempt. For reference, see Elon Musk, RFK Jr, or anyone else who is outcast for daring to question the dominant views.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

I don’t think they’re a joke, Max. That a society exists on earth where someone can make an academic career churning out this sort of childish drivel is bad enough. That the society in question is the richest and most powerful nation – with the biggest arsenal – on earth is plain terrifying.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
7 months ago

The book is insistent on this front: butts are a black thing, and liking them is a black male thing, and the appreciation of butts by non-black folks represents a moral error: cultural theft or stolen valour or some potent mix of the two.
So what part of the female body do we white men get? I vote for the brain. Either that, or the small of the back. Sexiest parts of a woman. Well, that, and all the rest of her.

Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips
7 months ago

Side b**b. Smaller rather than bigger, but I’m not going to be fascist about it. Personality, however, is the most attractive thing about a woman.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Phillips

Ah! But it’s also racist to prefer small butts to large ones. Gotcha!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago

The problem arises when dealing with people whose brains are in their butt.

PS: i’m with you on the small of the female back.

Last edited 7 months ago by Steve Murray
David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago

Nape of the neck. But the Japanese got there first. Is that a problem?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

Surely the question is is it racist to hate big butts?

andy young
andy young
7 months ago

Nape of the neck can be delicious.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
7 months ago

Where would we be without scholars and experts? Oh, yeah; probably living a far more sane life free of this idiotic need to characterize everything as racist or colonialist.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

So let’s get rid of them. Scrap the student loan system and give full grants for STEM and medical students.

Naren Savani
Naren Savani
6 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Not medical students they will go on strike as soon as they qualify!

Matt Sylvestre
Matt Sylvestre
7 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Simply Brilliant.

54321
54321
7 months ago

Anyone who thinks that big butts are a black-only thing has never lived in Hull.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
7 months ago
Reply to  54321

Maybe that’s why Philip Larkin lived there – he always struck me as the sort of man who liked a big handful of butt cheek

Howard S.
Howard S.
7 months ago

The female image as extremely thin, with little to know breast fat and small buttocks became the style in the 1960’s. Created by the gay clothes designer crowd who like their women to look like the 14-year old boys these designers favored and bedded. Normal males did and still do favor women with “more meat on the bone”. Google the 40,000 year old Neolithic sculpture”the Venus of Hohle Fels. In Africa the African tribes living along the Equator have large accumulations of excess fat in the breasts (women) and buttocks (men and women). This is an evolutionary adaptation to living in an environment where when the sun is highest in the sky temperatures can reach up to 110 degrees farenheit or 43 degrees celcius. And the human body would boil if not for the excess exposed flesh to help perspire away the body heat. Haitians were originally brought as slaves from these central African regions, which is why so many Haitian women have the characteristics of large breasts and buttocks.
I go back to the time when, as John Wayne said: “Men were men and women were damn glad of it”. Still true. Don’t believe what the woke and the pervs are trying to tell us. When I take a woman out to dinner, I expect her to enjoy every course, and I always encourage her to order seconds. That tells me if she is a keeper or not.

Last edited 7 months ago by Howard S.
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Howard S.

wait where have you got this from? Any perspiration benefits will surely be offset by the insulative properties of fat.

A G
A G
7 months ago
Reply to  Howard S.

What about the 20s flappers?
And before that, the women of ancient Egypt? Spectacularly thin and spare and elegant.
The women depicted in the EuropeanMiddle Ages are also thin, and so are the women depicted in Persian miniatures, and Chinese and Japanese art.
So hardly a modern, western, gay male invention.

Dominic A
Dominic A
7 months ago

Some conundrums for Radke:
If liking big butts is cultural appropriation, is miscegenation wrong?
If a white person is racist for liking big butts, what are they if they hate big butts?
Why are asians, and their small butts, largely ignored in your book?
If a black woman works out to keep herself, and her butt in trim, is she self-hating?
Given that obesity is one of the greatest health problems in the USA, might the worship of big butts be a rascist ploy to keep black people down?
Did you scrape the buttom of the barrel to sell this book?

Last edited 7 months ago by Dominic A
A G
A G
7 months ago

What about black African ethnicities which are typically thin with small butts, like the Masai, Somalis, Ethiopians, Dinka, Fulani, Eritreans, etc.?
It seems the author and others are assuming that all all Black people are of one physical type, which seems pretty ignorant of the diversity of African ethnicities.
That is probably because they get their impressions from US African-Americans and to a lesser extent on those in the Caribbean, or who immigrated to the US and Canada and the US from there, who are the descendants of slaves imported from a specific region of Africa, on the west coast. These are not representative of the variety of African ethnicities across the continent.

Last edited 7 months ago by A G
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 months ago
Reply to  A G

That is probably because they get their impressions from US African-Americans
A generous interpretation. Actually it’s because they’re dumb. The USA may be the richest and most powerful nation on earth but their educational standards are third world.

Monica Wilde
Monica Wilde
7 months ago

What about the 11-19% of European women with a lipoedema diagnosis? They carry distinctive gynoid fat around the butt and thighs. Far more will have these lipoedema genes – they’re died in with fluctuations in food sources when we were hunter-gatherers. In the Stone Age these genes helped women maintain enough weight to conceive and carry a successful pregnancy.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
7 months ago

How is this even discussed without mentioning ‘big bottom’ the spinal tap song that clearly provided the source of cul-tural appropriation of overly large white female arses by black rap artists. Also no reference to the blatant sexism and misogyny implicit in black twerking culture , wherein big arsed women are made to perform for their black gun toting masters .
There is a reason why there is a beautiful Greek statue of Venus Callipyge but the steatopygian female had to wait for rap music to celebrate a type of female bottom clearly and rightly seen as an object of ridicule by the makers of Spinal Tap . Less is sometimes more .

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 months ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

Have you never heard of Freddie Mercury?

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
6 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

But what’s the relevance ?

Alex Colchester
Alex Colchester
7 months ago

On school outings to the various galleries of London I was always shocked by the lovingly oiled, voluminous white arses of the most favoured courtesans of European Kings. My shock was not prudery, but cognitive dissonance, as being an adolescent of the 90’s I was well conditioned to believe that the height of female beauty was stick thin- a la Kate Moss emerging from the murky CK pool.

Last edited 7 months ago by Alex Colchester
Alan Osband
Alan Osband
6 months ago

You mean the Wallace collection, presumably, and the upturned arse of the Irish mistress of Louis XV. Boucher or Fragonard I believe .
I am not sure if the somewhat more pert behind of the model for the Rokeby Venus was among the personal possessions of the King of Spain .That one at the National Gallery .She’s quite in accord with modern standards of beauty .

Russell J Cole
Russell J Cole
7 months ago

There’s only one place for this book…

Michael Layman
Michael Layman
7 months ago

Thanks Kat for another fine article. Radke’s book is much ado about nothing, though unfortunately makes having or enjoying a big butt a racial issue. You either like them or not.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago
Reply to  Michael Layman

In terms of paying any heed to Radke’s butt theories, it’s more a case of you either lick them or not.

Charlie Two
Charlie Two
7 months ago

Radke is typical of the ‘educated’ black racist class. thick, childish and narcissistic.

Dominic A
Dominic A
7 months ago
Reply to  Charlie Two

but not black – i.e. she’s whitesplaining.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago

There’s no doubt that white women have gone big on bigger butts – hence the hours spent on hip thrusts in the gym. My understanding is they picked this up from a black aesthetic via Kim Kardashian. The “white male gaze” simply didn’t enter into it. And really it rarely does. Did men choose flappers? Twiggy look a likes? By and large men appreciate (or not) what is served up to them by female fashion. Rarely do they choose it.

Monica Wilde
Monica Wilde
7 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Or perhaps the “black aesthetic via Kim Kardashian” helped reduced the fat shaming felt by white women with naturally big butts? Ergo going to the gym and toning it to show it off and celebrate it, rather than hiding it under baggy clothes in embarrassment.

Women – whether black or white – come in many shapes and sizes – and it’s ridiculous for Radke to suggest they ‘appropriate’ the genes that nature has given them.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago
Reply to  Monica Wilde

I’m a regular gym goer. The women working on their butts are not of a shape that would attract any fat shaming. And absolutely no baggy clothing or attempts to hide their shape is in evidence. They all wear gymshark.

Louise Kowitch
Louise Kowitch
7 months ago

There are a few tangential topics Ms. Rosenfield did not address but that her playful piece on the derriere led me to consider:
1. Traditional dance moves in Afro-Caribbean culture emphasize hips and buttocks, and do not necessarily connote erotic intent. With the advent of the internet and video streaming, it is now easier than ever to learn these dance moves, which are aesthetically beautiful and enjoyable. Butt-centric dance moves are healthy choices for people seeking to increase flexibility and core strength, and have been incorporated into a lot of instructional dance and exercise videos and classes. As Rosenfield implied, this phenomenon is cultural appreciation and borrowing, and is only deemed ‘cultural appropriation’ by the incurious who lack historical perspective. No one accuses yoga practitioners of ‘cultural appropriation’. Same should apply for those of us who appreciate the beauty and benefits of Afro-Caribbean dance when buttocks are central to the moves.
2. There are genetic influences at play with regards to buttock size and shape, both within families and within larger population groups. Africa, as the largest continent and with enormous ethnic diversity, is not uniform, but does include people from certain tribal heritages with Steatopygia, a genetic characteristic leading to increased accumulation of adipose tissue in the buttock region. Sarah Baartman came from the Khoikhoi tribe, which has this characteristic. It is not racist to be amazed by such large endowments but it is perhaps cruel to exploit them in for-profit freak shows. Does that mean Sir Mixalot is racist? I leave that to readers to ponder.
3. As obesity rates have skyrocketed throughout the globe due to increasingly sedentary work and housing arrangements and accessibility of high calorie processed foods, a collective resignation to big bottoms seems to be influencing fashion trends and marketing schemes. Clothing stores are finding it profitable to cater to ‘plus size’ gals (and guys). In poorer eras and places, a heavy set woman was desirable as it represented wealth and the desirability of a life of leisure in a world of scarcity and physical toil. Today, it is perhaps part of our fascination with transgression and otherness that puts big butts on full display. Will this too pass?

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago
Reply to  Louise Kowitch

Butt-centric dance moves are healthy choices for people seeking to increase flexibility and core strength

That has got to be AI generated, surely.

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
7 months ago

To be fair, there is a fetish for women (not sure they’re specifically white) in the US to get bum implants specifically too make them look ‘african’ in shape AKA not great wobbling thighs but something that sticks out backwards creating their very particular silhouette! I think Kim Kardashian is the most famous. It kind of goes along with the fashion for ‘bee stung’ lips. The motivation is pretty clear. But the reason for the rest of Human dysmorphia is a whole other subject which has very little to do with cultural appropriation. I’m thinking of men in the early 1800’s putting padding in the stockings to make their calves look more shapely and modern men doing the same with surgery. Another excruciating example would be the oriental fashion for tiny feet and binding. The way in which humans demonise each other based on their appearance is freakish but I can only assume it comes from some deep buried survivalist instinct. Meanwhile the writer should look into Western (and other) clothing history much more deeply since the female silhouette cycled through numerous (tortuous) artificial shapes throughout history and definitely through the 19th Century including a period when they got rid of all the padding and subsequently wore all their dresses too long and trailing around on the floor. The fact that the writer of the book but also of this article discusses purely the bustle (which one?) suggests they’re both appropriating the subject matter for their own agendas.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago

Thanks for a good post. Whenever somebody is cherry picking evidence from history to support the claims of a current ideology it needs somebody with knowledge to call them out.

Laura Pritchard
Laura Pritchard
7 months ago

Another thing no one much talks about with regards to female body image and, in particular, fashion was the 20th century obsession (which comes back periodically) for making models look like pre pubescent boys. From a predominantly gay male fashion designer industry, by the way. I found it deeply disturbing. If only for the loss of anything remotely female about the imagery but also for the other implied connotations. Similarly with a lot of porn imagery that might give women huge boobs and bums but insists that they have no body hair which again suggests something disturbing juvenile. I think women have a right to say we don’t want the majority of female imagery to not represent us. We don’t want to be pressurised into conforming to a weird and often obscene cartoon sexual rendering of ourselves. But we’re not very good at doing it. Apart from that short period in the 70’s of course

Timothy Baker
Timothy Baker
7 months ago

I must be very odd. I fell for my wife’s kindness first. Over the years her weight, and hence her shape, has fluctuated, but she is still the same person I fell for 55 years ago. No ifs, no butts.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago

Either this article is a bad faith pastiche of the argument in Butts or Butts is just horrendously bad. If the former then the article is not better than the book if the latter then the book isn’t worth an article.
I think there is a valid argument that our attitude to butts has been influenced by the increased prevalence of black/rap culture in the mainstream.
Our perception of beauty has an objective basis in sexual attraction and all the health/mating/breeding stuff but culture has an influence in shaping it within certain boundaries. Heterosexual males are inherently attracted to large(r) butts as they are a secondary sexual characteristic evidence of sexual maturity, fertility and health. We look at them the same way dogs sniff them.
But they are not inherently attracted to the Kim Kardashin, Nicki Minaj et al. twerking rap butt. That is a cultural imposition which is worthy of inquiry through whatever lens. The cultural appropriation argument is flawed and contradictory but at least provides a frame of some kind to think about it rather than the “me like butts. me always like butts” reasoning that seems to prevail here.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

“I think there is a valid argument that our attitude to butts has been influenced by the increased prevalence of black/rap culture in the mainstream.”
So no one noticed butts before then? Come on, man. We noticed them as kids before rap was even a music genre.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

That’s literally the exact opposite of everything I said. Try reading the second half.

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
7 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Is rap a music genre then? Genre maybe, music no. As one of the major things that will get me to change music channel immediately is rap does this mean that I’m not allowed to appreciate a nice bum?
From that point of view Kim K does not have a nice bum, but maybe that’s because of my dislike of rap! I don’t much like a flat bum either though!

Horses for courses, if we all liked the same thing the world would be a dull (and probably unpopulated) place.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike Wylde

Well that would be the argument. Less exposure to rap/black culture, less interest in excessive butts. But then that’s kind of the argument of the book.

Gary Ward
Gary Ward
7 months ago

I doubt the book’s author has ever been to Brazil or Columbia

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago

Is there still time for white males to claim exclusive rights to other female body parts? A bit like taking out a patent on them. Can we claim reparations or royalties if other people claim to like them too?

P Branagan
P Branagan
7 months ago

Sweet Lord!
To be honest I didn’t read the article. I thought UnHerd is for an elite sophisticated readership – not something that would be better placed on page 3 of the Sun in the 1980s.
Tut, tut.

Paul Darst
Paul Darst
7 months ago

I attended an all-white high school in the South in the late 1950s. The girls mostly wore skirts and dresses. I hardly ever heard talk from my male classmates about girls’ butts (it was more about their breasts and legs). Then I attended an all-white university in the South in the early 1960s. Many more of the college girls were wearing jeans and other pants.I started hearing more talk about girls’ butts. But memory is tricky, and this may be a simplistic or localized account. After all, Virginia-born Gene Vincent was singing, “She’s the one in the red blue jeans,” in 1956 (“Be-Bop-A-Lula”). Perhaps in Gene Vincent’s milieu female butts were talked about. And Katherine Hepburn was wearing pants on-screen in the early 1930s. I don’t know whether her butt was talked about or not.
I believe men have always appreciated curves in a woman–perhaps this is part of the H. sapiens package?–and certainly butts are curvy. But I’m talking about butts; and the writer is reviewing a book about BIG butts. Maybe there is, at least in our time, a racial slant to the appreciation of big butts. Speaking personally, however, I don’t remember a single black male of my acquaintance stating that he preferred big-butted women. As other commenters have said, there’s more to a woman’s attractiveness than her butt size or shape.

Mechan Barclay
Mechan Barclay
7 months ago

The book is so much ado about nothing that really I think the article shouldn’t be so much about the boring comment on butts but how book buying now is using the same tactics of click-baiting articles. This isn’t the first rodeo these days of race baiting books that have no intention of providing clear facts. It’s just another ‘writer’ who can’t get a screenplay job and needs to pay the exorbitant rent.

Ronnie B
Ronnie B
7 months ago

“ Fat bottomed girls, you make the rockin’ world go round” (Brian May, Queen)

Lord Plasma
Lord Plasma
7 months ago

Brilliant article with some useful and stylish phrases. Nice one Kat.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
7 months ago

A cracking article. However, it’s a little bit too cheeky and risks going down a rabbit hole.
Anyone who takes the subject too seriously risks making an a$$ of themselves.

Chipoko
Chipoko
7 months ago
Stuart Bennett
Stuart Bennett
7 months ago

I like small butts and I cannot lie. You other brothers can’t deny


Last edited 7 months ago by Stuart Bennett
Michael F
Michael F
7 months ago

It’s not racist – it’s all about personal preference. Think back to the 60’s – all about portraying the female body as barely pubescent. This is fashion, and fashions change.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
7 months ago

Makes me nostalgic for the Rear of the Year competition, which definitely owed nothing to cultural appropriation.
https://wiki.alquds.edu/?query=Rear_of_the_Year
The British predilection was definitely for pert rather than huge.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 months ago

Interestingly, the bums celebrated in rear-of-the-year got steadily bigger over time – culminating with Carol Vorderman in 2014, whose certainly could not be described as pert.

Chipoko
Chipoko
7 months ago
Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
7 months ago

Is it April 1st??

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
7 months ago

“…how to view our backsides moving forward”.
Isn’t that a physical impossibility?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
7 months ago

My, what a lot of words on this subject, which I suspect has rather narrow interest. In the black community, formerly the ghetto, the brothers simply call a big bottom “junk in the trunk.”

Last edited 7 months ago by Jerry Carroll
A G
A G
7 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

Beauty standards affect women and how they perceive themselves and their self-worth, their love and life prospects: are they desirable or not?
Which is why the more analytical try to understand how and why these change.
Of course men aren’t interested in dissecting this, it doesn’t affect them in the same way.
Many men obsess about the size of their p***s and muscles, which they consider relevant for their success in life and love.

Last edited 7 months ago by A G
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

It says you’ve edited your comment but that must be wrong because it’s still terrible.

John Duminy
John Duminy
7 months ago

The paragraph on Sarah Baartman is full of inaccuracies. The Khoekoe (Khoikhoi) were, and are an ethnicity, not a tribe, and are unrelated to the Bantu people. She was brought to Europe as a commercial venture, in which she was apparently complicit, not as some fiendish plan on the part of anthropologists. The men of science were interested in her anatomy and genitalia, as there was speculation that the Khoikhoi were a different species to Homo Sapiens. If this was found to be the case, it would not relegate all black women to some ‘sub-human status, only the Khoikhoi.

David Morley
David Morley
7 months ago

evidence that she (and hence all black women) were a lower order of human being.

Surely black men (not just their womenfolk) were also being so considered.

Daniel Bell
Daniel Bell
6 months ago

I think we can all agree that the world needs a similar contribution to PAWG discourse.

Eric Mader
Eric Mader
7 months ago

On the one hand Unherd publishes Mary Harrington. On the other hand they put up this teenage drivel.

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
7 months ago

Seeing this article again, it’s interesting to consider how attitudes towards cultural appropriation have shifted compared to when it originally ran earlier this year. I’ve noticed we’ve quickly moved from one extreme, where far too much – even just appreciating or learning from other cultures – was often labeled as racist, back to a more balanced perspective. However, I’m concerned that the rapidity of this shift might indicate we’re about to swing right past sensibility and into the other extreme, potentially embracing attitudes that are genuinely racist. The swiftness of the shift, along with general human propensity for rapid swings and overcorrection, is the root of my concern.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
7 months ago

Perhaps, but I think we might permit ourselves to be glad for the corrective swing even so. If this shift toward balance is more than an isolated anomaly, then maybe social media and the internet more generally can “accelerate moderation” too, in addition to the proven capacity for fostering extremism and idiocy.
This prospect is so appealing that I’ve just about convinced myself of its validity. I’ll celebrate this little victory for big butts–or rather, the rejection of any proprietary posterior features, whatever the given dimensions or geographic seat of origin.

Juan P Lewis
Juan P Lewis
7 months ago

The only shift is to sanity. Opposing cultural appropriation is like being against the wind blowing. Culture moves and travels and is appropriated all the time. A culture that is not appropriated, it has nothing to offer. It’s dead. The only reason we’re discussing all this is because American academia is full of full-of-manure brain-dead authoritarian non entities.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
7 months ago

Good grief the very concept of cultural appropriation is lunacy . No overcorrection is possible when it comes to bullying piffle like this .If you disagree then cite me a case of cultural appropriation which you think ought not to be allowed .

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
7 months ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

Just to play along: How about making a “male enhancement” pill commercial that uses music or prayers that Native American consider sacred?
Yes, it’s a concocted example, but this kind of disrespect does occur. A real world example is the white woman named Rachel Dolezal, who pretended to be black and led a chapter of the NAACP. But that’s probably better labeled impersonation or lying than appropriation.
For the non-extremist who acknowledges this possibility, it more about individual, extreme cases than the very idea of borrowing. A Yascha Mounk shows however, the worst instances are more blameworthy from the standpoint actual bigotry or mockery (e.g., a campus “Drinko de Mayo” party where all-white attendee is dressed up like a maid or laborer) than they are according to the weak charge of appropriation.
*Another real instance was the rampant pilfering of Blues and early Rock n Roll songs from black Americans and giving them no credit, let alone payment.

Last edited 7 months ago by AJ Mac
54321
54321
7 months ago

However, I’m concerned that the rapidity of this shift might indicate we’re about to swing right past sensibility and into the other extreme, potentially embracing attitudes that are genuinely racist.

In the last couple of years I read apparently serious arguments that the following are cultural appropriation/racist: barbeques; dreadlocks; coffee; grammar; fancying black people (also not fancying black people); artificial intelligence and, of course, big butts. This is just off the top of my head, by the way, I’m sure there’s plenty more which I missed.
So don’t worry, the pendulum has a very, very long way to swing before we even get back to the sane side of the looking glass.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
7 months ago

If people do start to experience racist feelings, it’s likely to be because they are constantly brow-beaten about how racist they are, combined with the tediousness of blaming every bad outcome that a minority has on racism.
Also, take notice that the same people who used to carry on about the virtues of multiculturalism are the ones who invented the nonsense of appropriation. Sorry, but appropriation is a feature of a multi-culti society, not a bug. Because if people really want to go down that road, a lot of them will have to give up cars, phones, and most other conveniences.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
7 months ago

Everyone’s a little bit racist. It’s a normal part of the human condition. The problem over the last couple of years is that accusations of racism (and I include that mean-spirited term ‘privilege’ in this too) have been made against those who are the least racist and privileged by those who are the most racist and privileged.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
7 months ago

I must have offended the gods. I am subjected to an endless parade on FB of fat ugly black women with huge butts, usually posed with the butt aimed at the camera. I am not a big-butt person. They make me ill.