Wednesday, August 5, 2009

#15 Heightism

In an experiment on female sexual selection (reported by the TV news show 20/20) women were asked to choose between hypothetical men of differing stature. The short guy was really short - 5 footish - but he was also, women were told, super smart and sophisticated, even eminent, a Nobel Prize winner or something. The tall guy, on the other hand, was exceedingly average: undistinguished, unambitious, intellectually banal, etc. Women chose the tall guy every time. When a subject was asked whether she could imagine any circumstances under which she would choose the short guy she responded, "I guess if you told me the tall one was a murderer. Or a child molester."

Two points here. First, that woman was probably lying because women pursue death row inmates with sufficient frequency that (and this is totally true) 20/20 subsequently ran a story titled “Why Are Women Marrying Murderers?”. Second, when SF women complain all the time that SF men are physically unattractive we know what they really mean: that SF men are short. This is vexing for SF guys, and understandably so because we aren't THAT short. We aren't Lilliputians, moonlighting in some B movie with Ted Danson; we're simply a wee bit below average.

The lower average is probably influenced by San Francisco’s relatively high representation of Hispanic and Asian men (which comprise 14% and 33% of SF males, respectively (approximately)). In this regard SF heightism is wildly unfair, even if we accept the predicate that height reflects in some small way genetic fitness, because our Hispanic and Asian brothers are not actually short, they just happen to live in a nation where the majority of men have an African or European lineage, genetic lines that, by some Darwinian happenstance and over many millennia, sacrificed spatial reasoning and number processing skills for a few extra inches of elevation.** So the latter don’t get into UCLA but they do get into UCLA girls' pants, which is both pathetic and sort of ingenious.

Heightism, by this measure, seems fabulously random, totally discriminatory and economically counter-productive. Given women’s obsession with height you'd think that the NBA propped up the national economy. Imagine asking a non-socialized third party, a Martian say, to scrutinize our modern, information-based economic order and identify which trait is more highly prized by humans, height or brain power. The alien would choose brain power every time, right? Of course, because that alien would be a short, self conscious Jupiter-head and totally compensating.

This all flows from a sociological fact we're dimly aware of but never really think about: male attractiveness doesn't exist in the abstract - it's a fluid thing that depends on your environment. You can be pretty average in life, for example, but if you develop one situationally specific skill, like being a black-belt in karate, and publicize it, by say teaching a co-ed karate class, then you're suddenly a bonafide bad-ass, at least behind the doors of the dojo. Meanwhile that handsome lady-killer who made the mistake of signing up for beginners' karate will suddenly seem very beta, especially if you regularly use him as a punching bag.

In other words, all that a guy needs to be desirable is a one socially relevant talent. You can be poor if you're brawny, you can be weak if you're brainy, you can be boring if you're beautiful, you can be bald if you're a black-belt, so long as you have some forum to show off your excellence. But the one thing you can't be is short. There's no redeeming talent for that. Women put up with lying, cheating, beating, stealing, murdering pregnant women, but they won't touch a short guy with a six foot, 2 inch pole.

In San Francisco it's worse because we're both short and living in a community known to be disproportionately populated by short guys, which drives women away in hordes, like the Computer Science building on any college campus. And where do all the girls go? No one knows for sure but we might want to check San Quentin or Pelican Bay during conjugal visiting hours.

**To be fair WTANGISF wants to clarify that this statement is expressed for humorous affect with the understanding that culture plays a huge role, probably a larger role than genetics, in determining the kinds of activities certain groups might seem to excel at. See Stephen J. Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man or this blog, for example, both of which suggest, in WTANGISF’s opinion, that nearly everything that happens in society, at least with respect to who is accused being what, depends not on preordained edict, genetic determinism or really anything other than collective cultural choice, implicating all of us, a thought that is simultaneously really depressing and really hopeful.


  1. I would like to say that as a San Francisco girl - currently (ironically?) living in Hong Kong... I love love love this blog and am finding it really enlightening from the other side of the gender barrier.

    [And I am 5'10 and heightist... but maybe there is hope for me yet.]

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  2. "you can be weak if you're brainy"

    This one's not really true. Most women are simply not attracted to feeble men.

  3. i dunno man; i'm 5'3, but i've pretty much fucked every kind of girl there is, so i'd have to disagree with this one; i guess if you're short and you don't have game, that's a different story, but isn't that the story with every guy?

  4. one thing that is left somewhat unexplained here is why it is that san francisco isn't thereby populated by *very* short women. apparently it's a sociological fact that women refuse to touch a short man, irrespective of *relative* heights? and that is what is truly mind-boggling.

  5. good job 5'3". girls are reading your post and laughing. either that or they're nodding and agreeing because nobody likes to think of themselves as irrational and shallow...until they actually visualize the fact that you can't also wear heels when they do.

    or maybe i'm wrong, and that girl-kind from hong kong above just hasn't felt the force of your Game.

  6. Samuel - please change the font! Great content, but its like looking at at hologram to read. :)

  7. I like your insights! I have a blog covering many of the idiosyncrasies in San Francisco ( I haven't covered the female situation here yet, but it's been on my mind...

    I'm going to provide a link to WTANG. If you like SFIW (and opt to provide links), please feel free to reciprocate.

  8. Although height in itself is certainly a big factor in women's selection of males, perhaps you are missing a nuance: the (scientifically invalid) inferences about other body parts which women make based on a man's height.

  9. Samuel, while I'm enjoying this blog, and I find a lot of truth to it, I need to share a somewhat contradictory anecdote:

    My girlfriend and I (both above average in terms of attractiveness and intelligence) decided to have a night out on the town in pursuit of single men.

    We hit up a bar in the financial district which was PACKED with men-- good looking, well dressed men. The ratio was 5:1 at least. We ordered drinks and strutted around the bar, trying to make eye contact with the handsome fellows, but to no avail (and no it wasn't a gay bar). They all continued to talk to each other and ignored our coy glances.

    What is this?!? All complaining about no single women and there we are, ready and waiting, with not one taker. Actually, I think one drunk 45 year old overweight man ended up talking to me until I fled his advances. So that's all cute, personable girls can get in the city? Middle aged drunkards?

    Can you reconcile this story with your blog's concept? I don't get it.

  10. I'm going to have to commend Helena for her points here. This entire blog is based on the assumption, that given the opportune situation, you and any other guy would actually have the balls to approach a girl you are attracted to.

  11. Wrong Mr. Snodgrass. The one & only reason why there are no girls in SF is reason #1: all the hot guys are Gay. After gawking at hundreds of potential beaus & then (after much disappointment) realizing they are all gay, us girls take the first flight out of SF & get the hell outta dodge.

    However, don't get too down you shorties, you still have a strong chance with this miniscule population of Fembots in SF--as long as you're STRAIGHT, decent-looking, & humorous, us girls would love to have you around!

    -Former San Fran citizen (have just moved down to LA on account of the fact that there are NO guys in Sf)

  12. talk about anon#5 being bitter, haha

  13. or sorry, i meant anon#3

  14. Question for the ladies. If a guy is 5'8" which is basically the avg height around these neck of the woods, and say you're 5'6". Would you date him given the fact that say oh, just about every woman of sophistication these days are wearing 5" heels?

  15. I'm new to WTANGISF, so forgive me if this point has been covered in a previous posting's response.

    I am increasingly aware of an emerging breed of male in SF. Allow me to peel the onion:
    Age: late 20's to late 30's
    S/O: straight
    Not: hipsters, hippies, computer geeks, jocks, homies, exclusively, but a strong new hybrid.

    These guys are keenly aware that they are Renaissance men of sorts, and being straight, well-rounded, fun, and generally attractive*, they have no fear of rejection. Rather, this confidence wafts towards unsuspecting females like a cartoon pheromone mist.

    *being "outdoorsy" i.e. cycling, playing soccer, ultimate, etc. creates a certain lean physique.
    endorphins from all the exercise (and resulting sex) adds a healthy glow, and imparts a nonchalance about needing to get more sex (which of course, leads to more sex.) brilliant. and evil.

    Unless a lightning bolt turns me gay, I remain a slave to the cock. And therefore continue to date these Darwinian uberbeasts. At least they're interesting and hot.

  16. have you ever thought that most men in SF likes men, so why would a girl waste her time in SF?

  17. re: Question for the ladies
    I'm 5'4" and would date a guy who was only a few inches taller. I have a much bigger problem with hairy than short.

    I dated a guy who was about 5'8" (though he claimed he was 5'10") I ain't blind, honey. Anyway, he also had a receding hairline (pretty far back) but he kept his hair clipped short, was athletic, dressed well, and had confidence. He was very sexy.

    Dating is tough, people. As insecure as you are, or as much as you just got the shaft and have your walls up, so are most of us as well. Be patient. Be honest. People aren't mindreaders. Knowing what you want & holding out for the good stuff is very hot.

    p.s. what exactly are "women of sophistication"? hookers? have you tried walking in anything taller than 4" for more than 3 blocks? it's much sexier to be able to strut in a pair of 3-4" heels than gimp around in hooka heels.

    What women really think: Please stop wearing all that cologne! Just-plain-clean smells 1000 times better and is way sexier. Just take a shower, dude. A little speedstick & a clean shirt. Tell your friends. Seriously.

  18. Guess you haven't walked around downtown lately. 5" pumps are all the rage these days.

  19. ohhhh you POOR POOR MEN are always judged on your appearance! it must be SOOOO HARD.

  20. My theory is that height is to women what age is to men. Women want to be with a taller guy because for some reason, deep down, they feel safer, more protected. Maybe the guy comes across as more manly. Who knows? It's irrational, maybe even instinctive. Similarly, men in SF generally want to date younger women. Why? Maybe it takes the pressure off having to make a decision about whether they want to get married if the woman has more childbearing years. It's irrational, maybe even instinctive. But it happens on both sides all the time.

  21. Personally I'm a girl, and I'm in SF, and I'm 5'9," and I date short men-- even 5'5" if they have a rockin' personality.

    And, kudos to you Samuel Snodgrass" for figuring out a creative and entirely new way to pick up chicks, even virtually!! PS Is that you with the glasses on the home page, cuz short or not U are kinda hot!

  22. I read an interesting analysis in the New Yorker a couple years ago that said a man's success (in the general sense) correlated better with his height in high school than with his current height. The author ventured a guess that this was because confidence is formed early. Women like confident guys and height, for various reasons, conveys confidence.

    A lesson for us short guys? Maybe 5'3" conveys confidence. I, for one, have spent years trying to get beyond being 5'8". And like 5'3", I've had a fair amount of success, albeit in New York.

  23. There's a sense of male entitlement running through this blog that seriously rubs me the wrong way. Not every guy is entitled to date a hot girl. There are only so many around, you know? Supply and demand. It's like the panhandlers who just expect you to give them money. Screw that. I'll date the tallest, best-looking, highest-earning, smartest, funniest, charmingest guy I can snag... why would I settle for something less unless I have to? I think a lot of guys overestimate their own worth, they're 5s thinking they're 8s, and resultingly, are disappointed when they get 5s.

  24. replying to stan's comment,

    women are attracted to absolute height rather than relative height (relative to their own height), because in a primitive environment where resources are scarce, males compete with each other for survival. By aligning themselves with a male that can acquire the most resources, a female has a better chance of survival. Therefore, although relative height between the male and the female may have some effect on attraction, it is the height of the male compared to other males which is most relevant.

  25. Please can the evolutionary crap.

    Confidence is definitely the story with height most of the time. Very short women (5'1, say), for some reason like really tall guys almost as a rule (they probably are insecure about their own height and think breeding with the tallest guy they can find will help their kids or something). Otherwise, it doesn't seem to be much of an issue.

    Guys - If a woman is 5'9 and walks around in 4 inch heels she's letting you know that she's on a power kick. That's about impressing other women, not being attractive to men. I ignore these women and miss out on absolutely nothing as a result.

    SF's biggest problem with dating is the same general social problem the city has been dealing with for the past 15 years, namely that it's been attracting people who don't have much in the way of social skills. You can go to almost any American city and strike up a conversation in public with anyone you want. If you go to an explicitly social venue you are sure to have conversations all night.

    In SF so many people fail at basic social courtesy and then elevate all social interaction to a "will I be fucking this person for the rest of my life" status, thereby preventing them from actually enjoying anyone's conversation.

    You know what's attractive? Not being hung up on shit.

  26. Ironically, I hate heightism even though I'm 6'2". That's because I like dating the tallest women 6'+ but many of them want guys to be 6'3" or taller. You can't win. At least it is humbling to experience this outrageous selectiveness making me unlikely to be cruel to a short woman at any time.

    And that is where the difference lies. Men in SF are more likely to be nice to a non-ideal woman for lots of reasons including self-esteem (which leads to being kind to others) and the concept that a non-ideal woman might be ideal tonight.

    Women face selective pressure mainly based on her apparent age but many rude unfriendly women don't notice, as they grow older, that they no longer have a basis to be so selective. At, say, 25 a woman can be busy nastily rejecting perfectly nice 6'+ guys at the top of the food chain while not understanding that every one of these guys would ignore her in a heartbeat if they had a chance with the 19 year old sitting behind her.

    Arrogant and rude men don't have to worry too much about how many millions of other men are turning 18 next week.

  27. Although I really have enjoyed your blog and find most of your points both interesting and probably true, I have to agree with Helena.

    I am a woman from NYC and the surrounding area, who now lives in the city by the bay. Like Helena, I too am of pretty high intelligence and ambition (law school - but don't worry, my chosen field is in line with SF ideals) and would consider myself at least decently attractive, and I bring my nyc style when I go out (meaning, despite the ocean winds ruining my hair and turning me red, I still try to look hot). And I don't have a bunch of gay friends that I think are just so great and wish were straight or could at least encourage straight men to be more like them.

    I moved to SF because of half of the reasons you claim are female-deterrents. I like the people that like to do things during the day, ex-pats, intellectuals, wealthy businessmen (we're being honest, right?), liberals, stoners, everything that is San Fran, and I will talk to anyone that I meet - sober or otherwise. Ok, so I spend summers back east to avoid the horrific weather and do all the fabulous BBQing and what not that real summers entail. But when I go out in SF, even with a not-too-large-as-to-intimidate group of CUTE girls, in a bar full of sausages, I rarely meet guys. Where are all of you? I understand your woes, but seriously, we girls are out there! Don't hate me for saying this, but I think you guys might need to try harder. Approach us, or at least take a step away from your buddies, the sports game on TV, and the bathroom line (seriously, only city I've ever been to where the men's line is as long as the women's) and look at us. We're smiling, we're flirting, and we want to play. Thanks. I'll be at my table drinking my whiskey straight.

  28. Height is such a non-issue for me. I'm 5'6" and dated guys 6'2" and guys 5'5", there are lots of qualities that I find attractive in a guy that have nothing at all to do with height. My experience with heightism in SF were sort of reversed, I found that guys shorter than me wouldn't ask me out, but instead opted for shorter, Asian girls. That was all the rage in SF in the early 90s, it seemed, short white guys with shorter Asian girls. Maybe it still is... haven't lived there in a while. I married a guy who's half an inch shorter than I am... I still don't get why it's such a big deal to him, I don't really notice.

  29. Heh--height can be a toughie. I am a young, tall (5'10") lady, and for the longest time I didn't wear heels because I was so self conscious about being 2" taller than the average guy in flats. Eventually I got over it and now I rock whichever cute pair of shoes suits my mood and my outfit, whether that be a pair of metallic flats or some fierce 4" upfronts. Often times I get the feeling that guys of average height are uncomfortable around me. I wish it didn't bother them, because I don't mind. It doesn't matter how tall you are when you're horizontal, right ;)? However, all of that being said, I generally get hit on by THE SHORTEST guys in the room. I suppose they had to get over being shorter than average a long time ago and have grown (maybe overgrown :D) their confidence in other aspects of themselves in the meantime. Bottom line: I wish some of those cute average boys would come say "Hey" to the tall girl :).

  30. Your blog is pretty funny. I am a single SF girl on the other side. I believe there aren't many single dateable men out here (dateable is a word I made up); tons of guys, none that I would want to date.

    After reading a couple of the comments for this post, I would like to say a few things.

    1. The 5'3" guy must be RICH, like money coming out of his *ss rich.
    2. I agree with the person who believes many SF men overestimate their self worth.
    3. SF seems to have many sissy guys who do not approach women.
    4. Women generally like tall men. I might have seen something about this on the Discovery Channel. Something about evolution and protectors.

    I feel like I might have talked about many of these topics on my blog... adventuresaurusgirl @ blogspot

  31. I'm that straight short guy who seems (to some) like he might be gay. I'm 5'6" (aka short), from Central California, am in good shape, confident and sensitive, and love being in NY & SF because women actually notice me.

    Walking around in LA.. that's a different story. But, I have had more wonderful romantic trysts in SF than any city..

    The thing that is more concerning than my attractiveness to women (or lack thereof) is that there is (so Im told) a income gap between short people and tall people. I'm lucky that this statistic doesn't apply to me, but that doesn't make it right for people who it does effect. that's my 2¢.

    Regarding the awesomeness of this blog: we need more insightful, provocative, intelligent "post-PC" cultural analysis - not less. keep it up.

  32. Hello every one, I am from India and asked some thing about you The super Hit Bollywood Actor Amitabha Bachhan were married with Jaya have very smaller then Amit they have to child 1 boy and 1 girl this show that height is not matter in sexual activity and alsoBusty London Escorts intercourse have so I have agree with your recent post also master balater sachin Tendulake is only 4.9 feet but have buetifull wife and live life longer wiht her

  33. Proposition to end height-induced lonliness

    Part 1

    O tall girls, why do you insist on taking the tall men? Why will you limit yourselves to only 3% of the eligible male population? You are so rare, and lesser-heighted women are much more common. They will accept the tall man and the tall man will except them rather than save himself for a tall woman. They will take something in guaranteed supply rather than something in scarce supply. Us short men cannot win anywhere. The short women reject us for being too short. They say "I don't want my kids to be short," or "You're too short." The average women reject us for being too short. They say they don't feel comfortable dating a man who is the same height as them. The tall women reject us. They claim that they want a tall man to make them feel feminine and protected. And so you have high standards and expectations for the few men you allow to date you. They find that you are not as amenable to them as the abundant lesser-heighted women. And so they discard you for one who will acquiesce to them more readily. You tall women do not realize yet that only very few men are as tall as you require them to be. For every 6'0" and above man, you can find at least 33 men below that height. Your dating pool is enlarged more than thirty-fold. You now have more than a thirty times greater chance of encountering Mister Right.

  34. Part 2

    We short men are in a worse situation than you. Despite your variance from conventional beauty, you are of greater than average stature, and so you command respect with your mere presence. Us short men lack beauty and presence. And so we do the one thing that will get us the attention and respect we deserve. We go on the offensive. We will not be denied what is rightfully ours. Yet despite the victories we win because of our newfound ferocity, we lose our human touch and gentle graces. And so we are ostracized socially and maligned by the world. Nobody will be with us. Nobody will even consider us men. So the vicious cycle repeats itself to infinity. We short men and you tall women share a common bond. We are outcasts because of our statures. You make your lot worse through your obstinate insistence on a very scarce resource which you set yourselves as depend on. This resource does not need you. And so you condemn yourselves to futility. We make our lot worse in order to make a decent life and be seen as people. In the aftermath, we find ourselves surrounded by those who detest us now for what we have done rather than what we were. Thus we both are of troubled lots by nature and our own actions.

  35. Part 3

    You tall women and we short men are made counterpart by the treatment we receive. It is in our mutual interests to join together. You cannot find mates by choice. We cannot find mates by rejection. You tall women and we short men are in similar numbers in terms of population. You have a vast untapped pool of potential life partners and we have a vast unquenchable drought of partners. Therefore, let us come together, tall women and short men. Others will not accept us, so it is logical and right that we join each other in bonds created by shared suffering and cemented by shared love. May you not be alone from want of suitable companions and may we not be alone from lack of willing companions! It is natural and proper for the outliers to merge together to equalize and create a superior moderated organism. We belong together, tall women and short men. Let this unfair and unnecessary alienation and suffering be ended!

  36. Advice for short guys, don't be afraid, approach as many women as possible and strike up a conversation. Don't ignore the tall ladies too. Some of them will laugh in your face for trying, others will run for the exits the moment they see you approaching, and every now and then, you'll meet one good lady who's head isn't too far up her arse in conceit. This one will talk to you but make no love connection guarantees. She will let you know if her height bothers you by letting you down easy with a cheap excuse or she just might be a genuine, quality, mature woman who doesn't care about your height and take you on. Either way, the worst thing she can say is no thanx, but you'll never know until you try.

  37. I am amazed by the sexism, racism, heightism and other isms in this space. Why do men complain about heightism, and then, in doing so, engage in sexism. I am a short WOMAN(not GIRL). People, stop saying "girl" to describe WOMEN. It makes you sound like a PEDOPHILE. Anyway, the fact is: women have to deal with sexism, racism, heightism, ablism and more. Men, try and look at it from our point of view, FOR ONCE.

  38. I just wanna say this, I think the fear of rejection men have is what prevents them from approaching women and there's a lot of resentment from both sides because of it.

    People..just play the numbers if you really wanna find that someone. Only a few will be that someone but there's a lot a hay to go through to find it.

    As afr as the height issue goes some do and some don't and if they do it's probably an insecurity issue which you want nothing to do with anyway. I work with a girl that 4'11" and shes like a 3 or 4 at best because she has a big booty but that's it. She won't date under 6ft tall and she is a bitch and I know this from working with her and would never wanna be with her.

    So there it is guys. Dress well, freshen up, be well mannered and you will find a nice girl. I think most good guys agree with this.... I'd rather be in a relationship with a girl that's a 6 or 7 in looks and a 10 in personality because looks fade eventually.

  39. "People, stop saying "girl" to describe WOMEN. It makes you sound like a PEDOPHILE. "

    Typical feminazi BS. "Girl" is an abreviation, and an efficient and informal way to refer to women -- and it is a commonly accepted and understood usage pattern.

    If any of you deranged, wanna-be grammar nazis would watch some porn, you'd realize that there's a reason guys don't get confused when discussing "girls" -- it's because we guys actually have a separate category for the younger females -- they are called "teenagers."
    Outside of the porn world, we also have an abreviation for underaged children -- they are called "kids." Get a clue -- and a dictionary -- and stop harassing and libeling innocent male commentors.

    To get back on topic, anti-male, feminist hate speech is a major reason why women are so difficult to deal with in northern california. And frankly, I'd rather pay for a hooker than be in the same room as a feminazi.

  40. To the people trying to say "it's all about confidence, and evolution/science/etc has nothing to do with it..."

    The average height of the human race has increased dramatically, even over the past 4000 years alone.

    Explain that shit.

  41. The issue is employment discrimination. Major cities are full of foreign women under 5 feet tall who spent their formative high-school years dating men no taller than 5'5". So they know what they like. They like money first. And a guy who they can kiss without a stepladder is nice, but not nearly as important as money.

    American women already know that short guys usually have thin wallets. Short, foreign women? They're not sure, but they soon learn.

    So what's the problem?

    Employment discrimination. 100% of short men's problems result from the fact they seldom have good entry level jobs, and then are almost never promoted. Nearly 100% of management consists of tall men.

    And the issue has been getting worse in recent years. Nowadays, tall people explictly saying the issue with our careers is that "we're cute" and explain closed doors with by telling calling short people "shit." "No shit, sherlock" is a racist insult aimed at short races--Mexicans, Italians, Greeks, Southern Euorpeans, Central Americans, and South Asians. Pretty much anyone originating from a country near the equator falls vicitm to height discrimination.

    No woman is going to date a person who has a zero-percent chance of hitting management. Until height discrminination AT WORK is fixed--and short women KNOW its fixed, short men will hear all sorts of platitudes about how they are unattractive.

  42. As a 23 y/o 5'6 man of average wealth and attractiveness having dated women from 5'2 to 5'11, I can safely say that short men actually have it just fine. My height is an automatic screening process - It's a sign that screams "If you're a conceited arsehole, don't date me!" from afar. I'm happy; I know that if I was 6'+, I wouldn't have that filter, and I'd have to actually spend time with these women before I really how terrible they really were!

    Honestly, anyone who says "I simply won't date anyone below X height" (and follows through with that in real life, because many don't) probably isn't worth dating in the first place by someone of any height.