Pages

Monday, November 29, 2010

In Defense of Short Guys Who Like French Women


I recently read [an article in the Chicago Tribune] that was lambasted by about every Feminist group I've seen on the net, but particularly by [Feministe].

To me, this is a classic example of people misunderstanding a poor guy's situation. Unfortunately, the critics are self-righteous, and so unable to see their own misandry. As for those who support the writer, Nick Pederson, they are few & far between.

However, for my part, I support him and his op-ed piece that utilizes the Very Long Sentence (VLS) along with a classic nice-guy rejection scenario that highlights a regular problem for young men in the dating scene. The impossible standards of many women make it difficult for guys like the one in the article to have a real chance at romance. But many of the critics only saw objectification followed by rejection, not realizing that the character was the one being rejected for not fulfilling the objectified standard of beauty that vertically-challenged men can't always live up to.

Below is a copy of the piece, so you can make up your own mind.

"Don't you guys hate it when … you actually, for once, muster up the nerve to talk to the pretty French girl sitting next you in a hipster coffee shop, who has that delicate French beauty, the Audrey Tautou kind, but not in such overwhelming quantities that she is clearly off-limits for the likes of you, and you two are talking, and she seems remarkably at ease with you despite the fact you've met only moments before, and she is giggling, always aligning your irises with her own, and she's saying how she noticed you laughing earlier, which strikes you as good sign, and then you share what you were laughing about earlier, and she laughs at it, too, and you ask where she's from and she says her family's from the south of France, right near Monaco, which means that now, for the first, precious time in your life, you actually have an opening for your amazing story about the prince of Monaco, and you can slide into it with ease, without having to awkwardly cram it inside the conversation the way you usually do whenever you tell it, and so you, of course, take this opportunity, and as you're going through your performance, she's giggling and saying "shut up!" in that cute, incredulous way, and hanging on your every word, until you finish, and she tells you what an amazing story that was, and you tell her you know, and then, with the end approaching closer now, you both start to get up to leave, and in your head you start anxiously pondering just how you are going to collect her number from her, even though you know you have nothing to worry about because this is as sure a thing as they come, and you're thinking to yourself how wonderful it will be to date your own auburn-haired Audrey Tautou, someone elegant, smart, sophisticated, someone you wouldn't hesitate to take home to your family if things were ever to get that far with her (which deep down you know they won't, but deeper down you still hope they will), and then, after all this, as the scoreboard is up in flames from the baseball you've hit into it and you are rounding third base, savoring each stride, with only a few short steps separating you from the glory of your destiny — after all this, you both stand up, and it turns out she's 3 inches taller than you, and both of you, surprised and saddened, look at the floor, and then back at each other (you up at her, she down at you), and then she awkwardly, pre-emptively says that it was nice meeting you, and you smile and agree, but before you're even done agreeing, she is turning away and walking out of the coffee shop on her own?

I confess I do."




Cheers

26 footnotes:

Eurasian Sensation said...

Yeah I didn't see what the fuss was about that article. I didnt' read it as the guy objectifying her in any real sense. Honestly, it actually sounds like something a woman would write about meeting a tall handsome stranger with whom everything just clicked.

I have a real problem with the strand of feminism that finds that article so incredibly objectionable. What it does is give ammunition for all those men who resent women's empowerment. "Those zany feminists are at it again, yada yada..."

Natasha W said...

Are you short? I don't think you are... I think I remember Jasmin saying you were 6'0" or close to it.

Anyway, I like tall men. I will date a shorter guy though, and I don't decide who is dateable or not based on their height. But I find this piece quite timely given the remarks we've both seen by a few persons who say that short men accept their "place" in society.

Zek J Evets said...

@eurasian: i call the branch of Feminism that seems to oppose men on general principle gender-feminism.

but as for the article, i'm glad not EVERYONE thinks it's somehow misogynistic =)

@natasha: i'm not short myself, but i am short compared to the men in my family, and i was pretty damn short for a long time till puberty (which came late). i'm 5'11", sometimes 5'10" after a long day.

and yes, the piece is rather "timely" ; )

Jasmin said...

I skimmed the article over your shoulder the other day, and I skimmed it again (albeit more carefully), and I don't understand what's so bad about it. I didn't read the criticism though--no time for all that at the moment. He described her as "elegant, smart, and sophisticated", and, unless I missed it, he didn't say anything specific about her looks, so charges of him objectifying her seem pretty unfair. To me, it's reminiscent of one of those "can't-quite-put-your-finger" on it situations, like when you call for a job, all goes well, and then when you show up for the in-person interview, the employer goes cold and you can't help wondering if it's because you're Black (or some other racial/ethnic/sex orientation minority).

I wonder what the reaction would be if the roles were reversed, meaning a tall woman (I would guess the one in this story is at least 5'9'') was rejected by a short man?

Zek J Evets said...

@jasmin: i wonder much the same thing. it seems much of the criticism ignores an obvious double standard that they hold that men can't apparently be affected equally by standards of beauty as women are.

if the roles were reversed i suspect much of the current criticism would flip accordingly.

Natasha W said...

"it seems much of the criticism ignores an obvious double standard that they hold that men can't apparently be affected equally by standards of beauty as women are."

Men aren't affected as equally as women are by beauty standards. :)

Just like women aren't as affected by pressures to have a high-paying career.

Both genders are affected, but not equally.

I will say that, although I like tall men, most women think the men I like are too tall (and thin). Many women are shorter than I am, so for them, the men I like are giants. For instance, Michael Phelps or a bit taller would be an ideal height/body type for me, but many women seem to like shorter men -- around 5'10-5'11, which is around the average height for a man in the U.S.

Zek J Evets said...

@natasha: average height for a man in the US is actually around 5'9", but it seems as long as the guy is taller, most girls will play along.

however, i disagree that men and women aren't affected equally by standards of beauty. i think they are affected differently (make-up versus working-out) but it is no less equally a societal/cultural/personal pressure that individuals have to deal with.

Jasmin said...

Natasha,

Yes, Michael Phelps is way too tall! My last boyfriend was 6'1'', and he was too tall for me. (I had to stand on my tippy-toes to kiss him.) I have reach up to kiss Zek too, so I think 6 feet or taller is too tall for me.

There are a lot of short guys I find attractive, but it's almost impossible to find one my height or shorter, so my opinion doesn't really count. :-P

however, i disagree that men and women aren't affected equally by standards of beauty.

I disagree with your disagreement. :-) An ugly man is still better off than an ugly woman, because his looks aren't taken as a reflection of his competence/intelligence/worth. People with blatant physical deformities may be a different story, but since most people are average (so we are generally comparing people in the 4-8 range), they are outliers.

Zek J Evets said...

@jasmin: iunno... i've seen/read about many examples of men who were ugly and consequently were less able to socialize in their workplace and missed many opportunities for advancement. people just didn't want to associate with them merely because they were ugly.

hell, we see this at work in classrooms too. how many times does someone volunteer to work with the ugly kid? even if they ARE good at science!

i can't say whether this happens more or less than with women, but i do know that it happens regularly. many guys don't often complain about it however because it seems un-masculine.

but whatevs -- we'll disagree to agree and agree about our disagreeing with the disagreement ; )

Jasmin said...

Haha, you know I always have to have the last word. ;-)

i've seen/read about many examples of men who were ugly and consequently were less able to socialize in their workplace and missed many opportunities for advancement. people just didn't want to associate with them merely because they were ugly.

See my comment above--ugly and average are two different things, and most people are the latter, so when people say ugly they are generally speaking comparatively, not in absolutes. But even so ugly man > ugly woman (even when "ugly" is truly "average"). Compare the number of ugly/average men on television to ugly/average women, for starters.

i can't say whether this happens more or less than with women, but i do know that it happens regularly.

No one said it didn't--you were the one who set up comparison...regularity says nothing about the extent (or "damage") of the effects, and it's ultimately more damaging for women. Just like you can be discriminated against for being White regularly, but it's unlikely that the effects are more damaging than they are for a non-White person, because the odds are already in your favor.

Zek J Evets said...

@jasmin: well, since it's my blog, i think I'LL have the last word =P

i'm not sure how we're defining ">". i think it's difficult to quantify whether one is greater than another in a workplace where both are considered less than.

there are surely differences between how ugly men are treated compared to ugly women, but that says nothing to the extent of that treatment. i think the extents are different, and so measuring which is "worse" is impossible because neither gender can be swapped out in a situation like an absolute.

the average number of ugly men on television is an interesting route to take though, since most shows only have good-looking men who are actually not what real men look like. (i'm thinking specifically of waxed chests, waxed backs, carefully toned muscles, no irritation from shaving, perfectly tanned skin, etc.) so in this instance, men are portrayed at an impossible standard of beauty, just like women.

but this isn't a tangent to say, "it sucks for guys too!" or "it sucks worse for guys!" my point is merely to show that when talking in aggregates the point is obscured by generalizations and loses its meaning.

which was why i brought up my comparison speculating over the extent that ugly men suffer socially/professionally. mostly because i don't think anyone knows because nobody has put hard research into it. so all i've got to go on are case-studies taken from my own life, and the lives of people i/we know.

Jasmin said...

LOL, what shows do you watch? King of Queens? Modern Family? Community? Still Standing? Everybody Loves Raymond?

Zek J Evets said...

@jasmin: you know i don't have cable! haha.

Jasmin said...

No Google? :-P

Zek J Evets said...

no need ; )

Mira said...

Ok, let me get this straight: the GUY was accused of objectifying the woman?!? WTF????
But he did nothing wrong. I mean... I don't get it. What criticism? We can argue whether she was less than enthusiastic to give him her number after realizing he was shroter than her (maybe he was imagining things? ... riiiight), but it's unfair to say HE was objectifying her.

Or am I missing something? Are people criticize something else. I don't get it.

Now, about the situation. Yes, women like tall men. Some like "tall" tall men, others like men who are taller than themselves. But it's safe to say most women prefer their men to be taller than them. It's not a secret.

However, it's not as much of a deal breaker, not as much as some men think it is. I am only 5' 2" and I've never met a guy shorter than myself so I don't know (I admit, I like tall(er) men). But even with pure physical appearance, there are things I pay more attention to, such as hair and voice and eyes. I find them to be more important in deciding "who's hot", than the height alone.

On the other hand, this issue does matter to women more than they sometimes like to admit. Let's face it, many women do discriminate against short men, be it openly or by simply ignoring them.

As for the another topic ("is the same to be an ugly girl and an ugly guy"), I'll write about it in my next comment.

Mira said...

Ok, now about the double standards.

Men and women are not equally affected by beauty standards. That doesn't mean they can't both (equally) suffer from disctrimination based on physical appearance. To try to measure someone's personal pain or problems they face is impossible and it leads to the Opression Olympics.

Natasha W said...

Zek,

"average height for a man in the US is actually around 5'9", but it seems as long as the guy is taller, most girls will play along."

I know. That's why I said "around" the average height for a guy. ;)

"however, i disagree that men and women aren't affected equally by standards of beauty. i think they are affected differently (make-up versus working-out) but it is no less equally a societal/cultural/personal pressure that individuals have to deal with."

Keep dreaming. :D

The average guy doesn't even work out. Most women don't like a very muscular guy; it's actually men that put the pressure on other men to be extra fit.

Jasmin,

"I disagree with your disagreement. :-) An ugly man is still better off than an ugly woman, because his looks aren't taken as a reflection of his competence/intelligence/worth."

Precisely.

A guy's worth as a human being isn't questioned because he is ugly. An ugly guy will have many prospects, granted he is bringing other things to the table (money, fame, intelligence, and/or success). Meanwhile, no matter how smart or successful a woman is, people will still try to make everything about her appearance. People just don't think she's as valuable or important as a "beautiful" woman. There's a reason why plastic surgery is far and away more common amongst women than it is amongst men.

Ugliness does not affect a guy to the same extent it does for a woman. Period. Even our racist, righteous male advocate "friends" will tell you that. I can't even sit here and debate this because it seems so obvious.

Zek J Evets said...

@mira: i have no idea the "real" reason so many people/feminists were criticizing the article, but the stated reasons seem a bit... weaksauce.

anyhoo, i don't want to play oppression olympics, and while i can't "prove" that men suffer equally-yet-differently from being ugly (anymore than women can "prove" that women suffer from being ugly) because it is a personal thing that is difficult -- if not impossible -- to measure. however, in my (albeit limited) experience, men who are ugly have had just as "hard of a time" as women who are ugly.

@natasha:

average guys DO work out actually. have you seen the 24-hour fitness lately? ; )

but seriously, even though guys don't talk about it that often (at least not in public) it's there you can tell from the industry of muscle-building, obsessive work-outs, guyliner, male-makeup, spray tans, axe body-spray, etc & so on. i've seen these things increasing year after year, and the pressure is doubly intense in the gay community. (at least, so my gay acquaintances tell me.)

however, i can clearly see how beauty standards affect/afflict women, especially women who can't live up to them. it sucks!

but nonetheless, the fact that ugly men are often stigmatized at work, and in social arenas, seems to me evidence enough that it happens. still, as mira pointed out, making definite aggregates of this is kind of thing is impossible.

so you don't have to debate it if you don't want to, because to me my side seems as obvious as your's does to you.

Jasmin said...

Mira and Natasha,

We talked about this the other night (the comments right before yours go back and forth in a short time span--we were on the phone), so I haven't had anything else to say, but I'm popping in to cosign. :-P

Jasmin said...

but nonetheless, the fact that ugly men are often stigmatized at work, and in social arenas, seems to me evidence enough that it happens.

Once again, no one said it didn't happen. You were the one who set up the comparison--Natasha, Mira and I have just pointed out it is false.

Scientifically, you aren't supposed to be able to "prove" anything--that would require infinite replications of experiments, and no one has time for all that. But there are studies about women, men, physical appearance, and success. Plus, if you actually considered general anecdotal evidence, not just that which fits your assumptions, you would contradict yourself (e.g., ugly women vs. ugly men in high-paying positions). But we talked about this 4 days ago and you said something totally different so I'll pass on repeating myself further. The only thing new I have to add is that this

but seriously, even though guys don't talk about it that often (at least not in public) it's there you can tell from the industry of muscle-building, obsessive work-outs, guyliner, male-makeup, spray tans, axe body-spray, etc & so on. i've seen these things increasing year after year, and the pressure is doubly intense in the gay community. (at least, so my gay acquaintances tell me.)

not only doesn't contradict Natasha's point (men putting pressure on other men), it actually supports it (the part about pressure among gay men). At this point (given that I actually know you), I'll say with certainty that you are arguing just to be stubborn, not because you actually believe what you're saying (otherwise you wouldn't make such obvious contradictions). But all this doesn't really need to be published--for your eyes only and all that.

P.S. This MRA shit bugs--promise me that you aren't a Warren Farrell Jr. in the making.

Zek J Evets said...

@jasmin:

yes and no. i'm saying it happens differently yet equal. that's the key problem, i think, here -- prevalence, extent, etc.

maybe i'll do a post on the numbers side of this issue (once i've got some more time on my hands after finals).

however, what did i say that was different?

also, i never said that men don't put pressure on other men, but i think the systemic part of it is societal/cultural.

P.S. This MRA shit bugs--promise me that you aren't a Warren Farrell Jr. in the making.

really? really? i mean, in my post i certainly took issue with a number of feminists and a branch of feminism, but i did not demonize the entire movement of Feminism. am i not to expect the same courtesy with my beliefs in MRA? on the internet there are a shit-ton of shady characters who support it, but just like with socialism or christianity, the idea is more important and compelling than the people who adhere to it.

as for warren farrell, i think he brings a lot of interesting and rarely spoken points about men's rights issues, particularly the demonization of masculinity. it's only regrettable that such good ideas have to sit next to such bad ones. (such as his arguments about male-to-female interactions in the dating scene.)

and as for my contradictions, if i am making any i certainly don't see them. my fundamental point (stated above) is that standards of beauty effect men & women equally yet differently, and that while how it affects women is well-known, well-documented, and well-discussed, i think the male side of beauty standards and how they affect them is not.

which kinda leaves me with only one more thing to do... blog about it! =)

Mira said...

Zek,

What do you mean by "equally yet differently"? If you're arguing that the pressure and discrimination hurts equally, that I can buy. Being discriminated hurts, no matter who you are, even if you are a member of a privileged group.

However, it still doesn't mean men and women face the same sort of societal pressure.

Take the somewhat opposite example: career success.

Many women fight for their right to have great careers and they put a lot of energy into it. Hey, you could say they face a lot of pressure when building their careers... Oh, and even if they chose not to pursue careers, there will always be other women ("feminists") who would call them backwards for choosing family over career.

Does that mean there's an equal societal/historical pressure for men and women to be successful?

I don't think so.

Same goes for beauty.

Zek J Evets said...

@mira: by equally yet differently, i meant that the pain/suffering/psychological/physical/emotional damage is equal, or equally valid, equally real.

however, i can't say that it is equally prevalent, or that it functions in the same way.

what women go through under beauty standards is definitely not the same as what men go through, and being men they can fall back on male privilege to ease the pain... at least a little. (however, a lot of people have some kind of privilege, especially in the US, to fall back on when life is a hard on you.)

but for me, i feel that a lot of things i'm talking about are only newly being discussed or studied. such as standards of male beauty. historically, it wasn't necessary for a guy to be good-looking to succeed. (take sir lancelot for instance.) but the plethora of billboards and actors and clothes and magazines and other outlets of our culture that seem to have one physical definition of manliness is a little bit depressing when you don't feel like you fall in line with it.

at least, it does for me, because on this blog i mostly speak from my own (albeit flawed, and limited, and understandably uniquely personal) experience.

Mira said...

@mira: by equally yet differently, i meant that the pain/suffering/psychological/physical/emotional damage is equal, or equally valid, equally real.

Actually, I agree with this. The pain is individual, and has nothing to do with historical and societal conditions. The fact women were oppressed and are still more opressed than men doesn't mean a guy can't suffer badly for being discriminated based on physical appearance. The fact he belongs to a privileged group doesn't mean anything if he's been harrassed- just like the fact most of the rape victims are female doesn't mean much to him if he happens to be the one who is raped.

But it still doesn't mean ugly men and ugly women face the same problems or that are equally discriminated. Ugly men still have their male privilege, and ugly women lack both this privilege and privilege of being pretty (which is an imperative for females).

historically, it wasn't necessary for a guy to be good-looking to succeed.

I am not sure if I agree with this here. Standards of male physical appearance always existed and were important. However, strenght of character and sucess were always more important, and, arguably, are still more important for a man than his beauty.

but the plethora of billboards and actors and clothes and magazines and other outlets of our culture that seem to have one physical definition of manliness is a little bit depressing when you don't feel like you fall in line with it.

I agree. Seeing all those waxed muscular macho guys (or whatever) while not being "conventionally handsome" yourself IS depressing. But uh, being an ugly guy is still not the same as being an ugly girl. Just think about all those less than handsome men who are in relationships with gorgeous women. Her friends might be surprised to learn she found him attractive instead of Mr Sexy Alpha, but she can always answer her guy makes her laugh, is charming, intelligent and a great person. Those are all considered valid answers.

You can't say the same for men who date women who are not attractive (especially if they themselves are attractive). Saying: she is intelligent and a great person is not considered a valid answer. (Saying: she agrees to do everything in bed might be a valid answer, though).

Also, I know many women who genuinely DO care more about a guy's charm and intelligence than the mere physical appearance (sure, if this great personality is packed in a hot body, the better). Almost all women claim they are like this, but they are not: women do pay more attention to physical appearance than they are willing to admit. Still, many would pick a charming and intelligent guy than a stupid hottie (and it's not just because women are not shallow- we do know pretty well that most of the stupid hotties are not interested in pleasing our emotional and sexual needs).

On the other hand, I know only a few men who are truly attracted to a woman's personality. All of the guys I know claim they are attracted to intelligent and charming women, but many still dream about a generic looking hot girl and would approach (or want to approach) any girl who fits this criteria, regardless of their charm or intelligence.

(Anecdotal evidence, I know, but still...)

Natasha W said...

Zek,

"i can't say that it is equally prevalent"

Well then, we agree.

Cheers!