• Courtney Thompson

I dated a guy who was shorter than me and (unfortunately) the patriarchy didn’t crumble

I’m a tall lass. I’m one pair of slightly-wedged boots away from the six-foot mark. As a result, I’ve been the beneficiary of the standard How to Talk to a Tall Girl™ starter pack for most of my life.

“It must be hard for you to find a man being so tall!”

“I bet your boyfriend doesn’t like it when you wear heels!”

“Do you play basketball?”

(I do not play basketball and, when I can find a pair that fit my gigantic feet, I love wearing heels.)

As a woman who dates both men and women, it has been impossible to ignore the gendered nature of my own attitude towards those I’m attracted to, and theirs towards me. In fact, dating women has made me question every single problematic aspect of my relationships with men. One of those being an unhealthy fixation on height.

If you’re a Tinder user who has their settings set to see men, then you’ll know that a solid 80% of them have their height announced on their profiles (disclaimer: I am bad at maths). This, I assume, is due to the stereotype that, in heterosexual couples at least, the man is expected to be taller than the woman. If not, the entire balance of the earth is endangered.

I get it. I understand the biological attraction to a tall, handsome man who looks like he’d be able to reach the bulk 48-pack of toilet paper that they keep on the top shelf at Coles that I once took out an old lady trying to reach (a story for another day). However, there are obvious patriarchal implications behind this assumed height pairing. It’s a power play, a symptom of toxic masculinity and it’s one of those prescribed gender roles that fuck us all over.

I feel for the bubs. I really do. Despite being privileged in every facet of society, men are so starved for power that they are immediately emasculated by a woman who is taller than them.

Until recently, I also subscribed to the shitty “I have to date a man equal to or taller than me” view.

“He’d be heaps hot if he was taller” is a sentence to come out of my mouth more times than I am proud of. When I started dating women I wondered if my being taller than them meant I was expected to be more masculine than they were. I was stupid.

So, when it was revealed that the funny, smart, handsome Brit I’d been talking to on Tinder was about 2 inches shorter than me, I think we both thought it was game over. He told me nervously one night in response to me slyly referencing my own height and, while I responded with nonchalance, I did snap my fingers and say “Oh man” like that creepy fox from Dora the Explorer.

However, we went out, I enjoyed myself thoroughly, his height did not affect how much he made me laugh and, unfortunately, the patriarchy didn’t crumble around us as a result.

"There are obvious patriarchal implications behind this assumed height pairing. It’s a power play, a symptom of toxic masculinity and it’s one of those prescribed gender roles that fuck us all over."

It wasn’t awkward to kiss him, it wasn’t awkward to have sex with him, he was still paid more than his female colleague with exactly the same job role...the world as we knew it remained intact. In the end, it wasn’t meant to be for us, but I am pleased that this was due to timing and location rather than my dismissal of him because he was shorter than me.

What I learnt from this experience is that gender roles are fucked and if you cut yourself off from people based on height you’re probably going to get laid a whole lot less. Also, don’t date foreigners because they’ll eventually go back home and then you’re back to square one, fending off Brett, 26, who is “6'5 and just up for some banter”.

So, the next time you stop yourself from hitting on a slamming hottie because of their height, just make sure that you’re suddenly not attracted to them anymore because they’ve just announced they don’t like the Shrek Soundtrack and not because the patriarchy has snuck up to mess with your sex life.

Who knows, if we break down one shitty gender stereotype at a time maybe one day we’ll break 'em all down.

Courtney is a creative writing student at the University of New South Wales. She enjoys proclaiming her love for her local street cat, drinking gin and pretending she is funnier than she really is. Her go-to karaoke song is "Don't Go Breaking my Heart" and she is always Elton. This is non-negotiable.

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