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.