The Social Complex

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A Blog dedicated to the exploration of height bias and discrimination.


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TSC HEIGHTISM CARTOON


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  • February 15, 2014 8:32 am

    Hasn’t the media gone to far with shorties? Reply to blog…

    TSC: Just saw this in my inbox.  I corrected a few spelling errors (and left one), but that’s it.  Thanks for writing in.

    I think the article is completely irrelevant as it’s just another tall person showing his jealousy or super ego inflate over his dislike for short people and although statistics were done to try and prove the editors point, generalization is not particularly fed into the argument along with the view that women generally have quite bias views and have been media manipulated into thinking that short guys are bad, have small penis, are paranoid, less fit or whatever. I noticed a few light comments were made but nothing to criticize the fact that Radio 4 was being completely out of order and quite discriminating towards short people which could be quite a large majority of people… Did it not pass their minds that back in the 80’s terms like giraffe, lanky leg, giant, freaks of nature and other derogative words were used against tall people? and that it was statistically written that people who are taller are generally more clumsy, perhaps thicker, walk slower, develop back problems more rapidly and a lot of other things that could mark them down as being not fit for the human race? Its generalization I agree, but these views have never been matched against the slander that tall people tend to write about short people. In my view the research, criticism and other evidence is irrelevant and not valid. Once again the media have been brainwashing rubbish to people who believe it and they need to wake up to the realization that they should be focusing on more important matters in life or talking about literature in a way that doesn’t socially divide the population in so many bias ways.

  • December 15, 2013 12:42 pm

    Notes From “The Tall Girl”

    I’m not sure if this article is relevant to this site, but I think it’s interesting and important to acknowledge the difficulties faced by tall women in society as well.

    http://www.xojane.com/relationships/being-tall-girl

    TSC: Meh.  Notice how the author here doesn’t say that she wants to weaken heightism in any way.  She just says that tall men have social privileges that tall women don’t have.  And she would like some of that tall male privilege. 

  • November 24, 2013 2:22 pm

    Perceptions and Language of Heightisms

    I am 5’ 3.5.  Serial Master’s degree graduate, PhD student in business, full-time business professor in Amerikca.  Hardworker, effective in non-profit leadership — but I have been fighting heightism my whole life in paid industry.   In business, it has shut me out of certain management positions — people have outright said it.  

    I like the idea of a wide-scale change to values against short people.   I think, however, the name of your blog perpetuates the idea that when people feel they have been disadvantaged because of their height, they have a “complex”.

    It means we can’t even talk about the problem without being labeled as having some kind of disorder of perception about ourselves.  This needs to change — heightism IS a  problem, and people who draw attention to the problem are NOT suffering from a “complex”.

    I also think there is a need for a new language to describe people who are short.  In some countries, people are disabled are called “physically challenged” to get away from the idea that they are not able.   Everyone in that society corrects others who use the word disabled, and shortness.

    I think an an alternate label needs to be generated for people who are of lower height.   Words such as short, contain a value judgment.  Lower height, implies lowness of status.  Other words I have heard are “diminuitive”  or “vertically challenged” which are also unacceptable.

    I am not sure what the word should be to describe a person of below average height.   But I think training people to use a language of equality when describing a short person would do much to help fight heightism. 

    What name would you like to use to describe a person who is not average height?  One that preferably implies equality and capabability, while capturing the fact that our height is in one of the tails of the height distribution?  Could we even consider partnering with very tall people who also face discrimmination for their height?  Or do we need to do this on our own to prove to the world that short people have as much of a voice on their own as do very tall people?

    I would love to hear answers to these questions….

     

    TSC: First of all, thank you so much for your comments.  

    I like the idea of a wide-scale change to values against short people.   I think, however, the name of your blog perpetuates the idea that when people feel they have been disadvantaged because of their height, they have a “complex”.


    So, I came up with this blogs name and it isn’t meant to imply that short men have complexes.  The name is supposed to be a play off of the “Napoleon Complex” myth.  As I’m sure you know, the Napoleon Complex is the idea that short men are quick to anger in order to “compensate” for being short.  Well, I happen to think that the “complex” doesn’t sit with short men, but with society itself.  It’s our society that has a height complex, not the people who are stigmatized by those social norms.  So, that’s where the name comes from.  I’m saying that society has a complex about height.  Hence, “the Social Complex”.

    It means we can’t even talk about the problem without being labeled as having some kind of disorder of perception about ourselves.  This needs to change — heightism IS a  problem, and people who draw attention to the problem are NOT suffering from a “complex”.

    I totally agree with this.  The public is encouraged to shame short people who say anything about heightism (unless critical or humorous).  Anyone who speaks against heightism in any serious way will face a significant amount of personal ridicule and assumptions.  Coincidentally, I got this message in my tumblr inbox a couple of days ago: “If Prince can get laid all the time, so can you. Quit blaming your problems on fictional bigotry”.  Notice that the anonymous commenter attempts to shame me about something which I never mentioned.  Anyone who reads my blog knows that I’ve never made any assertions about my personal life in regards to sexual relationships (I haven’t revealed my marital status, sexual orientation, or living arrangements), and yet this person assumes that challenging heightism means that you can’t find a date because you’re short.  Furthermore, he completely ignores the core argument presented against heightism.  Heightism isn’t wrong because people can be influenced by it when they make choices in romantic relationships.  Heightism is wrong on its face.  It’s immoral because it’s a type of prejudice based on an immutable physical trait which limits the opportunities of others through irrational stigma. You don’t have to use any evidence about dating (which is just a symptom of heightism, not the cause) to know that heightism is wrong. 

    I think an an alternate label needs to be generated for people who are of lower height.   Words such as short, contain a value judgment.  Lower height, implies lowness of status.  Other words I have heard are “diminuitive”  or “vertically challenged” which are also unacceptable.

    This is an interesting idea.  However, I’m not so sure that the word “short” has an inherent meaning that conveys a negative value judgment.  No more than the word “black” implies a negative value judgment.  I think it’s just that the word is so stigmatized that we develop negative associations to it.  I know plenty of people (men especially) who take the word “short” as a pejorative in itself (even if they themselves are short).  Frankly, I haven’t thought of an alternative word to use.  But I don’t think it’s necessary because our message should be that height is meaningless without heightism (or height bigotry, if you prefer).  There is nothing inherently wrong with being short.  There is nothing inherently wrong or right with being any height.

    What name would you like to use to describe a person who is not average height?  One that preferably implies equality and capabability, while capturing the fact that our height is in one of the tails of the height distribution?  Could we even consider partnering with very tall people who also face discrimmination for their height?  Or do we need to do this on our own to prove to the world that short people have as much of a voice on their own as do very tall people?

    I don’t think the semantics are that important.  Again, it’s an interesting concept, but it doesn’t change the substance of the problem.  But, I do think that the only way we can successfully challenge heightism is to get “buy-in” from other short people.  No effort for social change succeeds unless the people who are disadvantaged from the status quo band together.  The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of people to get the ball rolling. 

     

     

  • November 8, 2013 9:12 pm

    When talking to people about height prejudice, its possible that the persons listening might bring up the issue of being too ‘politically correct’ or ‘oversensitive’ (I’m referring to people who bemoan current western cultures as being too politically correct, in order to justify name calling and people-shaming in general)

    How would you counter this without coming off as frustrated? I realize that some people will not acknowledge height prejudice as a significant issue, but how do you keep your cool, without coming across as angry and bitter? Hope this question made sense…

    TSC: This is an excellent question.  So, heightism is a very taboo topic because people do not like to be reminded of their prejudices.  Additionally, heightism is systemic in a way that challenging it also affects other widespread cultural ideals which are important for social cohesion.

    So, the best way to discuss heightism with others is to do so with objective facts.  Try not to make it personal because others will get defensive (“I don’t think of short people that way”).  Make it about society as a whole, instead of the individual you are talking to.  It’s also better to use statistics than to talk about events in your personal life.  If you use personal examples, it’s very easy for another person to attribute the scenario to variables other than height.  But it’s much harder to explain away a statistic like “males in the United States are paid $800 less, per inch than their taller coworkers - on average”.

  • October 29, 2013 7:14 am

    "If history has taught us anything, it’s that badasses come in small packages."

  • October 19, 2013 9:09 pm

    Reader Submission: Beer Commercial

    Hi, 

    I’m a long time reader of this blog and thought you might like to see this. It’s nothing special, but there’s a commercial for the French beer Kronenbourg 1664 that briefly shows a couple where the woman is significantly taller than the man. Like I said, it’s only for a few moments, but it’s certainly good to see a break from the “norm”.

    Here’s a Youtube link, they appear within the first 10 seconds of the commercial.. 

     

  • September 12, 2013 3:20 pm

    Thank you for having the courage to explore and challenge issues relating to height and heightism. I never knew such a bias existed until recently despite being very short and I have to say, I felt better not knowing such a prejudice existed. I guess ignorance really is bliss. I hope you find success in your endeavours.  

  • September 6, 2013 9:12 pm

    Exposing Heightism on Twitter

    Hello. Just want to say that I appreciate your blog and everything you’re voicing out for the “shorter” males like me (I’m a 5’6 Asian). So I’ve decided to spend about a 1/2 hour of my life (and that’s time I’ll never get back) reading up the tweets that Exposing Heightism retweeted. Why? I really want to see how some people in the world actually view shorter males, and sadly enough, the cold hard truth came to me within that 1/2 hour…

    I was extremely shocked and appalled; my jaws literally dropped to the ground reading all those tweets. I read them all earlier in the day, it’s the evening now, and I don’t think my brain really processed everything. This is honestly one of the biggest surprises I’ve ever experienced. Like really??? There’s an absolute HATRED towards shorter males? Wow, it actually makes me feel like I’m a Jewish person in the Nazi revolution. The tweets are along the lines of  ”short men f*cking PISS ME OFF, and should DIE!”, “short men, you have no reason to be confident, just sit the f*ck down”, “short men, you’ll never ever amount to anything, you should just quit at life”, “I laugh when I see short men happy, because in reality, they don’t have sh*t to smile about”, “short men is proof God doesn’t exist”, “short men are a curse to this world”, “SHUT THE F*CK UP YOU F*CKING MANLETS, YOUR OPINION DOESN’T MATTER!” Andddd the list goes on. Every tweet is more or less along those lines in minor variations. One of the worst ones that I’ve seen that hit me hard is someone who said “They should reuse the concentration camps again, except this time, round up all the short men of the world and kill them off.” From that point on, I just had to close the window.

    You know what’s funny? I’ve looked at some of these people’s Twitter profiles, and some of them are about social activism, and promoting gay and animal rights, or trying to spread the word of God; you name it. Acting like goddam saints when they’re nothing but hypocritical bastards. 

    So let me get this straight…people can’t talk about weight, or race, or sexual orientation for that matter, but it’s ok to do so with height? What if I said “oh they should kill off every fat person in this world, they’ll never amount to anything”? Or “Why do girls with small boobs exist? They should be exterminated!”?  It boggles my mind that we’re considered a nuisance. Like the sight of us can actually “piss someone off.” What did we do wrong? It’s not like fat people or people of another race make me mad. They’re just people in my eyes living life like the rest of the world, nothing more. What is it about us short people that caused so much hatred? I know many people my height who are genuine people and don’t have the “Napoleon Complex”. So why can something as small as height make people’s veins boil?

    Help me explain

    image


    TSC: Thanks for your comment.  I’m actually working on a post about the exposing heightism twitter feed, and so I’ll post my full thoughts there.  But, it’s a mixed bag.  I too was completely shocked when I first saw these tweets.  But, I think that it speaks more to the social acceptability of height bigotry than its severity.  Actually, I suspect that a lot of these people “know not what they do”.  I don’t think they take their own tweets seriously and our society says that it is O.K. to denigrate short people, and so they post these horrible things to be “funny” or “shocking” in a socially safe way. 

    It’s still very sad, but I’m not sure that we can say that these tweets are proof that heightism is a serious social ill (though it is - I’m just saying that tweets aren’t good proof of this).  But, it does tell us that heightism is a broadly accepted form of social currency. 

    And in some cases, these tweets are meant to increase the social status of those who post them by preemptively denouncing an entire class of people that most of society already regards as inferior.  Soooo brave. 

  • July 13, 2013 5:24 am

    Not a good article or person

    TSC: Received this bit of criticism from TPD (I don’t know if further identification is appropriate).  So, I’ve re-posted it here in its entirety.  The criticism is well taken, and I should really read all of the articles posted on this blog - even if I got it from another anti-heightism source. 

    My apologies.

    Edit: Wait a second.  I just realized that this criticism was aimed at At Eye Level and was sent to TSC as an FYI.  I never actually posted the article on this blog (which explains why I couldn’t remember even reading it).  But still, the point is valid and I will try to be more careful with what goes up here. 

    image

    Originally submitted to At Eye Level, I wanted you to see it too

    You posted this link http://ilsa-aida.blogspot.com/2013/06/what-about-short-men.html  awhile back, and just no. 

    While other men get increasingly confused/burdened by the ways of a woman, the short man has nearly mastered the art of getting a woman in a controlled state.

    Do you not see the blatant misogyny in this at all? Yes, the author is a woman, that doesn’t change the fact that the whole “women need to be controlled” trope is misogynist.

    Short men were the boys who were small in school and bullied by bigger boys. Some became bitter and hateful. Some others assessed the situation, noted their perceived disadvantages and did something about it.

    They learnt the art of sweet speaking & complimenting (something no woman however hard is immune to), egoistic (where the need arose), pressuring when ignored. They obtained additional lessons from books, male gist, the roving Internet and women whose opinion they revered.

    This is so goddamn heteronormative it hurts, just to begin with. Not like that should be surprising, considering the author is blatantly homophobic, albeit under the air of “oh I don’t hate them, I just think what they do is wrong and they’re on the wrong path and ‘choosing’ to be gay even though God says they should be straight”. Vomit.

    It’s fine if you personally want to shill the whole narrative of “I was bullied for being short and so found ways to ‘make up for it’” but neither you nor the author of this piece should be painting all the “good” short men with the same brush. I thought the whole point of anti-heightism was to simply bring equality, to show that it’s not better to be tall than short and short people are just people and deserve respect. What if you were a bullied short man (or male-perceived person) and you didn’t do all that stuff, while not bitter or hateful you were shy* and didn’t want to be a part of “male gist” (whatever the hell that is)? Are you suddenly “not making an effort” whereas someone of a taller stature would just be being themselves?

    (*And not the passive-aggressive NiceGuyTM “shy”, in case that needed to be stated. Looking at any d-bags who use terms like “friendzone” and “girls just like bad boys/alphas.)

    You need to be careful who you link to and really think about the content of posts. Heightism affects me, and I don’t want it to get dismissed because people can take a look at blogs like yours and come away with the impression that it’s mainly a bunch of straight dudes whining about not getting dates and acting like it’s the last frontier of discrimination (major hint: it’s not). Especially this whole “but would they dare say such blatant things about women/PoC/gay people in this day and age?” thing. The answer is yes, yes they would. And there are also more subtle ways of discrimination which I would hope that you could also appreciate. If someone doesn’t actually say “I don’t respect short people” but then goes on to ignore a short person’s contributions, laugh at them when they try to take charge, make “awww so cute, no, I respect you, really” comments, don’t you think that’s just as bad if not worse than a singular “urgh short people are so annoying” comment? At least with the latter you can actually directly address what they’re saying.

    Anyway point is I like to keep an eye on both yours and The Social Complex’s blog to make sure that you’re not stuffing up on other axes of discrimination, and I just felt that this really needed to be said. I don’t think you’re doing too bad (and TSC is doing quite well for the most part) but after reading that link I wanted to go over some stuff that doesn’t seem to get too much airtime (posttime? tumblrtime?) over here. I’ll also be submitting a copy of this to TSC, just so they see it about the same time as you.

    Thanks

    -TPD