Saturday, 30 January 2010

A Quite Interesting Fact About Me

Isn’t QI brilliant? Not only is it funny yet informative, reverent of facts while cocking a snook, calmly reassuring with an irritating klaxon - it has informed me that I am a victim of social prejudice while tuning in with a glass of wine and apple pie.

It turns out, I’m a victim of heightism. I don’t have to admit to this you realise, I’m sat at a computer screen. I could save myself the humiliation by hiding behind my anonymity. But no, this issue needs to challenged and championed! I will stand up and be counted. Albeit as a half.

Actually, this isn’t news to me, nor I daresay to anyone else who’s short. I knew that it was recognised by psychologists, that short people are treated as infantile and self esteem issues can follow - and boy do I know it. But I was surprised to discover the discriminatory aspects, such as pay gaps that can match those of sexism and racism.

Heightism, at least according to the brief bit of blurb I’ve just read about it, seems to be more of an acknowledged problem for men but I’d say it’s swings and roundabouts. Short men may get fewer jobs as CEOs and are less of a hit with the ladies than their taller rivals, but I’ll put money on them hearing “aw bless” a lot less than I do.

I’m not sure if this is totally relevant but I have long had a real thing about the perils of walking down the street when you’re short. Two people walking towards one another, not enough room on the path. Assumed etiquette would suggest that both move, both give equal space to the other - a 50/50 job. Not so. I’m left having to step, leap or dive roll out of the way, lest I get smacked sideways which I have been many a time. And it is ALWAYS considered my fault despite the fact that I’m the only one who moved.

The same principal applies to trains, planes and cinema seats. It's a matter of personal space, and in these 3 cases, leg room. I sympathise with people with long legs who have to endure crippling agony for the duration. I sympathise because often I have to go through it on their behalf. I have many a time had to give over my comfort and space to someone who feels they have the right to stretch out and occupy my leg room. After all, it's not like I was using it anyway. Well actually I was using it, enjoying it and was perfectly happy in it, not to mention paid for it as well. I have never agreed to carry a Leg Room Donor Card stating that I happily donate any leg room I don't need to strangers who do.

So, proof, were it needed, that tall people are a menace to decent society.

Anyway, the trouble is, I don’t really know what you do about it. It’s true that the fight against other prejudices have made significant progress and the lives of millions improved. But their success I feel largely boils down to people running out of reasons, once challenged, to pick on a member of these groups. Women become doctors, black people become Presidents - you can no longer claim they’re not capable, you’d appear illogical.

Not all forms of bullying would respond so well to the same treatment. Tall people aren’t better people, but they are very often stronger or more intimidating. It’s a simple reckoning and one that people make unconsciously. If push came to shove, they surmise, I could beat this person up, ergo, I can patronise or jokingly insult them without fear of consequence. It may be very basic, but there IS a kind of logic to it, it‘s following nature‘s law. I’m certainly not condoning it but let’s face it, we’ve been trying to tell ourselves that it’s what is on the inside that counts for God knows how long and we still reject ugly people. Ingrained or hardwired, I am not fit to judge but some things seem impossible to stamp out.

You may wonder at why I’m so unsympathetic to the plight of the little person given that I am one. The truth is I’m not, being treated like a twelve year old is the bane of my life. I don’t recall being a victim of heightism in the workplace but have seen enough machismo and posturing to know that such a bullshit reason for exclusion like a person’s height would fit in a treat.

It may be because jokes about short people are considerably funnier than jokes about tall people and I’m secretly proud of that. It may be because I just read this guy’s essay on his experiences and winced at his blatant bitterness and impotent rage (he’d literally kill me for saying that, particularly as I actually agree with half of what he said). Or it may be that I would miss the benefits of being able to manipulate people and not having to take full responsibility for my actions like a proper grown up.

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