August 11, 2008

S&M

I just watched a documentary on CTV called S&M: Short and Male. Apparently, short men make less money, are more likely to be physically pushed around in the streets, and are way less attractive to the opposite sex, no matter how cute or successful they are in comparison to their tall peers. They didn't do a study of how attractive short men are to gay men, however, which would be an interesting thing to research which was neglected by this VERY heteronormative doc; however, despite being heterosexist, it still had some good stuff to say...

Short men (Men under 5'8 accrding to the doc) are seen as abberrations on "proper" masculinity. They aren't big and imposing, and probably couldn't be as physically strong as a guy who's ten inches taller and in good physical condition. The lessons I took from this doc were a) Being short for men fucking sucks and b) Being short only seems to suck so fucking much because it doesn't measure up to our social constructions of what men should be like (ie. Big and powerful masters of the universe who are physically imposing to women and therefore, assisting in the preservation of patriarchy). When you are a short man, you are treated not unlike a woman, in fact. You make less and get pushed around more. Hmm. Another parallel is that when a short man is assertive, he has a "Napolean Complex" and when a woman is assertive, she's a "bitch." If we (short men and chicks of all heights)take control of a situation, or attempt to, we are othered. This is why CEO's are less than a quarter women and their average height is 6 feet tall, THREE INCHES higher than the average male height!

As a short woman, I never considered shortness a physical failing. It just made me even better at being a woman. I mean, one of the most basic and fundamental gender stereotypes/expectations is that women are meant to be smaller than men - well, at 5'3, I'm smaller than even most short men, so I've always felt extremely feminine in the traditional sense. And while it's annoying to have to ask people to get things off of high shelves for me, I've never experienced it as a humilitation, as I actually get a lot of positive reinforcement from this behaviour. As a heterosexual woman, I have even discovered that asking men to help me retrieve things from high up places is endearing and a HUGE turn-on. This is probably because it highlights what is already perceived as my perceived physical helplessness as a woman in our still sexist society, but if I'm trying to make myself attractive to a man, it's a trick I still pull sometimes even though it wracks me with feminist guilt in retrospect.

If I were a short man, asking for help reaching things and never being at eye-level in conversations with other men wouldn't be socially advantageous. It wouldn't help me find a better mate or make me cute and well-liked - S&M showed me it would make me a failure at enacting my gender, even though height is mostly genetic and entirely out of one's control!

So, I guess this post is a call of sorts. Feminism is working at being more inclusive in its 3rd/4th wave, attempting to include victims of patriarchy who have previously been marginalized from feminist struggle, like people of colour, transgendered people and gays. I'm not trying to be funny when I say that it looks like short men of all creeds and colours should be included in our struggle to end patriarchy. Anyone who is Other is "Othered" by patriachy, and it looks like men of short stature are, too.

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