Joe Krausman, Monkeyshines, and heightism

UnknownMy friend Joe Krausman is a truly amazing fellow. Everywhere I go – whether it’s a lecture, open mic, party, whatever – Joe is there. Maybe he’s stalking me. But, among his many talents and accomplishments, he’s a very droll poet. Now he’s finally got a little book of poems, titled Monkeyshines.* It’s great.

One poem I particularly enjoyed features a hypothetical, enticing personal ad:

ATTRACTIVE VIBRANT ENGLISH PROFESSOR, 35, INTERESTED IN
CANDLE LIGHT DINNERS, BICYCLING, GOOD BOOKS, SEEKING TALL
GOOD LOOKING PROFESSIONAL, FINANCIALLY SECURE, UNDER 40 . . .

images-1The poem goes on to lament all the ways in which its author (Joe) would fail to make the cut – height being one of them. I myself had noticed, back when I was working personal ads, that women do often toss in that word “tall,” perhaps almost unthinkingly.

I’m 5’4” but shortness doesn’t actually figure in my self perception; I’m surprised when anyone else sees me that way. Like the law professor who began a letter of recommendation saying, “Frank is a little bit of a guy, but . . . .” That seemed bizarre to me.

Nevertheless, when dating, I couldn’t avoid being aware of the height factor. Most women want it. Or believe they should. Even short women. Men below a certain height tend to be sexually invisible to them.

Unknown-3This is a product of biological evolution. Throughout our long prehistory, bigger really did mean fitter; a bigger man could better protect a woman from marauders. That preference got coded into our genes. That’s why, even absent any marauders today, short men still get short shrift.

Gals wouldn’t always put it baldly in a personal ad, yet still it lurked. One who didn’t use the T-word in her ad nevertheless ended what had seemed a very simpatico date with, “Well, I’m really looking for someone taller.”

But this is not just about sex. That evolutionary history favoring height also affects men’s attitudes. They too have an unconscious heightism. A taller man is imagined to be an abler man. So, while I did alright in my professional life, I can’t help wondering how my career path might have differed had I not been seen as “a little bit of a guy, but . . . .”

Unknown-1Our society is much concerned about racism, sexism, discrimination based on religion, sexual orientation, you name it; even fat people are recognized as victims of bias. But even here short men** are disregarded. We can’t get any respect even in the victimhood game.

Anyhow, Joe’s poem contains another personal ad, more promising for guys like him, yet in some elusive way perhaps less alluring:

FRUMPY WOMAN, GOES SHOPPING WITH CURLERS IN HER HAIR,
TENDS TO PUT ON WEIGHT WHEN BREATHING, INTERESTED IN
WATCHING DAYTIME TV, LOOKING FOR SHORT MAN TO ANNOY.

Unknown-4*Published by Rootdrinker Institute’s Benevolent Bird Press. (Their website is unfortunately not kept up to date!)

** “Vertically challenged” is, I believe, the politically correct term.

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One Response to “Joe Krausman, Monkeyshines, and heightism”

  1. Roger Green Says:

    My sister is about 5’9″, and I used to chastise her heightism.

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