Back to the business of being extremely shallow
Luckily, I have Salon to help me out with an article about women dating shorter men. I thought that the celebrated Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman marriage would be the death blow to the notion that the man has to be the taller one in a couple, but it only seemed to reinforce the notion that Tom Cruise is gay, as if a real straight man would never marry a taller woman, even if she were Nicole Kidman.
With our without the ever-present image from the past of the lovely Kidman towering over her husband by a head on red carpet after red carpet, I would still think that this idea should have died a quiet death, but no. I'm taller than average so many of my boyfriends have been my height or shorter and still I get asked by people if that bothers me. (Even if it did, what am I supposed to do about it?) But every person they interview for this article has clearly put more thought into it than I have, and not just the straight women but the gay men which caused me to think that if all gay men insisted that their partners be taller than themselves, no one would get date ever.
Anyway, the article is a gas. It's funny how defensive everyone they interview is about dating shorter men. They pick on taller men for taking up too much space, argue that it's easier to meet nice short men because all the nice tall men are taken or are just embarrassed. The people who need to defend themselves, it seems to me, are those who are unabashedly shallow enough to eliminate even talking to someone because he's not tall. Perhaps the writer interviewed people who said that, but didn't find any usable quotes, but I doubt it. People are generally defensive if they buck the prevailing standards, even when those standards are stupid.
Towards the end of the article, they finally get to the real reason that most straight people insist on men being taller--it's really more about women being small.
The desire for a big, strong boyfriend or husband who will in turn make a woman feel feminine and dainty permeates our culture so thoroughly that it's rarely called into question -- but, as Skurnick the Baltimore editor points out, it's a little absurd.
"It's a lot to expect men to be huge and manly just to make us feel better," she says. "It's depending on men too much, and I don't even mean that in a self-righteous way. It just feels ridiculous to hang the whole idea of your attractiveness on someone being bigger than you." Besides, Skurnick adds, "A man could never be big enough to take away my insecurities. What am I supposed to do, have some 9-foot boyfriend?"
This woman is right. It's hard enough worrying all the time about keeping thin to suffer the standard of always being shorter than your man as well. Though I suppose the two tend to go hand in hand--I remember my mom cracking once to a friend that you might need to go on a diet if your ass is bigger than your husband's, which caused me a lot of anxiety because there was no way I could diet until my ass was smaller than that of my skinny, ass-less boyfriend at the time. (Yes, it was ridiculous to think of that. Give me a break. I was 17.) To this day, I have no idea what she was talking about. Maybe she meant hip size. Or maybe it was just that skinny men are hard to come by in the steak-and-beer-and-football world of West Texas.