Height Centered Unity
by Geoffrey Arnold
February 2002


Table of Contents

Abstract
1: Origins of Modern Height Discrimination
2: The Status Quo
3: Stature Identity
4: Barriers to Height Centered Unity
5: "The Network"


Abstract

If capitalism represents the gears that operate the national machine, then institutional discrimination is the lubricant that helps the cogs turn smoothly. The United States is one of the most capitalistic societies on Earth, and so institutionalized discrimination is quite commonplace. One might ask, "Why would discrimination be purposely fostered? And how does this relate to capitalism anyway?"

Discrimination is the status quo and the status quo is discrimination. The status quo sustains a predictable national state (or condition). And a predictable national condition then fosters capitalism. So it's not actually capitalism that needs changing. It's the status quo that needs to change so that capitalism will have no need to be fostered by the current national state, which is the perpetuation of notions of small stature inferiority. Confused yet? Read on.

This essay is not really even about capitalism. Capitalism is a beautiful tool that represents the best and most efficient economic model known to man. Plus, America's and the industrialized world's success depends on it. The problem is the status quo that capitalism is currently supporting. It is being used to manipulate the masses by causing a controlled state of distrust and alienation. Historically, women, minorities, and homosexuals have been degraded in the name of capitalism - to support the status quo. The status quo then supports capitalism by fostering a predictable economic environment.

But now a fourth group has been added to the hunting lists of bigoted opportunists. This fourth group (or non-group) is varied across racial and social lines. Divided by history and scattered by fear. I am of course referring to the short man. We face discrimination due to a factor beyond our control. This discrimination is perpetuated and nourished by large corporations who degrade others in order to uphold the status quo, and peddle their meaningless merchandise. This essay should serve as a call to action for all short men, because we all have faced discrimination.

People who suffer from discrimination often form groups. It is a well-known fact that a group of people can better combat discrimination than single autonomous individuals. In order to utilize strength in numbers, women and minorities often acknowledge a common goal and fight together for that goal. We as short men must learn and foster this technique, if we are to transform the status quo.


1: Origins of Modern Height Discrimination

"Taller is better than shorter" is the mantra uttered in every part of the world in which humans inhabit. The degree to which this belief is pushed onto others, in the form of discrimination, varies from nation to nation. Height discrimination is about one part biological and nine parts social. The one part of biological influence is rooted partly in evolution and its affect on the human mind.

It could be argued that some aspects of height discrimination come from the fact that we all start out as smaller children. Because all children are relatively short, the illogical conclusion can be reached that short is equal to childlike. Most of us then become a lot taller in adulthood, while others do not. All peoples around the world realize that children do not have the same physical or mental capacity as adults. So this vague idea that smaller people are similar to children, on some level, might foster a fraction of height discrimination.

Discrimination is, at least in part, rooted in individuals' inability to see other human beings as equals. Unfortunately, a biological function of the brain might prevent discrimination from ever ending. There are some who believe that the entire notion that humans are capable of seeing things equally is an allusion. A philosophical idea, often known as hierarchy theory, says that humans have a need to contrast objects that are not identical. It also says that in contrasting objects, humans automatically create a hierarchy between those objects. For instance: If a person wakes up in the morning and finds himself/herself hungry, that person might decide to eat a piece of fruit. Suppose the person sees an apple and an orange on the table. Automatically, the person assumes that the apple is better than the orange or the orange is better than the apple in that moment in time. Remember, time is important because in the next instant the person could change their mind, thus shifting their opinion of superiority to the other fruit for that moment in time. If the person chooses the apple, then he/she believes that the apple is a superior snack to the orange. If the person actually does believe that the apple and the orange are equal, then the person would chose neither because making a choice would prove one to be superior for that moment in time. Some would say that, "perhaps the person just felt like eating an apple that day, but he/she really had not preference". According to hierarchy theory, this is impossible. The preference is observed in the exact instance that one fruit is chosen over another. So the only way that a choice does not lead to a hierarchy is by not making a choice at all. By this same logic; if a human observes two people, he or she will (on some level) see one of those persons as superior to the other. And height is one of the first things that most people notice when contrasting people.

But remember, height discrimination is nine parts society. And much of society (at least American society or "non-culture") is generated by the media and thus - capitalism. Make no mistake, capitalism and the media go hand-in-hand and contribute to every type of discrimination within these fifty states. Products have been sold, and people have been entertained for two hundred years in the United States at the expense of different races, religions, sexual orientations, and nationalities. While great strides have been made to eliminate discrimination of the prior groups, there is another sect that faces growing prejudice and condemnation. Honda ridicules short men in television advertisement in order to sell "roomier" SUVs. Milk ads from the mid 80's depicted a growing, milk drinking, teenage girl standing split screen across from a young man who never became tall enough to get the girl due to his lack of lactose consumption. And now Flintstones Vitamins, taking a cue from the dairy industry, plays on the fears of parents by saying that their children might not "grow", literally, into their full potential without the correct supplements. Television sitcoms, in a bid to sustain laughter in a post civil rights movement America, aim their jibs at easy, unorganized targets - overweight women, short men, and any other "random" physical abnormality. Movies, battling for box office bucks, cast taller men for lead roles and shorter men for villains or comical sidekicks. All of this discrimination helps to uphold a predictable social state, which strengthens a status quo, which then hurts short men.

A predictable social state is the key to healthy capitalism. For advertising and industry to thrive, consumer taste and ideals must remain relatively constant. The status quo helps to maintain a predictable social state. The majority can take comfort in the fact that they are not short men, and so capitalist can take advantage of this status quo by using "us-them" advertising. By "us-them" I mean to say that capitalism (and thus society) creates an opposing duality. For example: I am A. A is good. He is A. He is good. B, C, and D are not A. So, B, C, and D are not good. So, if a firm wanted to sell a given product to "A", the firm would show the product as beneficial to "A" and/or harmful or in-spite-of B, C, and D. And because the firm wants to sell a lot of the product B, C, and D will always be (a) unorganized and/or (b) the capital holding minority.


2: The Status Quo

The status quo is simply the way things currently are. And the way things are in the world of the short man often deals with the word "discrimination". A study was conducted that showed that men who are shorter tend to earn $600 per inch per year less than their taller counterparts in the business world. In the political world, the taller presidential candidate has won the majority of the elections during the last century. Short men also tend to suffer when it comes to the romance world, but this falls outside the scope of this essay.

We are often perceived as less intelligent, less capable, and less significant due to a factor beyond our control. And to make matters worse, we are put in a position that makes us socially defenseless. If we try to overcome these notions, then we are perceived as aggressive and hostile. If we conform, then we are seen as weak and ineffectual, if not harmless. We all know the other negative side effects of a society that despises the short man; so the nature of the status quo will not be expounded upon further in this essay. But know that the status quo is upheld through many different aspects of society and human nature.


3: Stature Identity

How should we go about changing the status quo into one in which the short man has a fair chance and equal footing in society? One important concept must be considered before an understandable solution can be put forth. This concept is called "Stature Identity".

In order for short men to share some degree of unity, we must first identify with each other. Social groups often fight for the same issues in a political arena because they all share a common bond. It can be skin color for African Americans, gender for women, and sexual preference for homosexuals. It can be argued that, on the whole, all of these attributes are quite capricious in nature. But still, these few attributes have been the catalyst for much legal and social change.

Why then are short men not unified in fighting for the rights and societal equality of other short men? Shouldn't the shared attribute of being smaller than average height prove to be enough of a catalyst for men to come together for change? There are many complicated reason why this does not happen.

One less significant reason could lie in the same social classifications that were discussed earlier. Can a man who identifies himself with/as/and in relation to "rich", "poor", "White", "Black", "Latin American", "Homosexual", etc. also identify himself as short while being concerned with other men who are short, even if they are not of the same social division? One would think that a man could see himself as one social group and also as a short man at the same time. That a man could fight for what is best for all short men, even if he has to fight along side a short man with a different religion belief, skin type, or nationality. Unfortunately, many will not be able to overcome their own deeply imbedded bigoted ideals

The more important reason for the disunity of short males lies in the function of the machine (society). Society causes a hostile environment that hinders the development of stature identity, and thus height centered unity. Society hurts stature identity by making height an issue for insults instead of a physical description. It also hurts stature identity by introducing the idea of the inferior shorter male into the psyche's of young children through movies, TV shows, and fairy tales (see my Shrek commentary). Society throws the biggest blow to height centered unity by pretending that short male image issues are not a worthy problem in society. Society tricks us into believing that "short" is a problem that can never be solved, but needs to be overcome through "patience" and "good humor". One should find it odd that only short men are asked to take discrimination with "patience" and a friendly grin. We need to realize that our height is not the problem. The problem lies in other people's perception of our height.


4: Barriers to Height Centered Unity

Society works to put the short man in a place in which he cannot identify with others like him; even if he knows the other person is also of small stature. These barriers to height centered unity can be divided into these three categories: denial, fear, and psychoanalysis.

The first category is denial. This is the denial that some short men face in admitting that they actually are short. These men will live in society like any other man, but they will ignore a big part of their "selves". All men exist in society on many different levels. Take the following example for consideration: a short Asian American male who earns $90,000+ a year. He might see himself as a human being first, a man second, an American third, a person of Asian descent fourth, and a wealthy person fifth. The order of each description will vary from person to person. Why didn't this man add a sixth level of "short"? The reason is that the word and the idea of "short" has been demonized. Now, to identify with being "short" would be considered an insult to his very "being" or "self". This causes some men to deny this "level of being", thus denying part of themselves as whole individuals. Others will still see him as short, but if he does not see himself as short, then he is denying a part of himself because it has been deemed by others to be wrong.

Fear is the second category. It is the fear that short men have in identifying with others. Many men understand that there is strength in numbers, and they actually want to talk to other men who are dealing with the same issues. But to talk to other short men about height, outside of cyberspace would be seen as comical. They are afraid of what might happen if their coworkers, friends, family, or lovers discovered that they were trying to help others deal with this discrimination. They fear ridicule, reprisal, and a loss of any portion of remaining respect from others. The sad part is that these fears are very justified. If you did bring up the topic to another short man, many would put up a fence of machismo and pretend that they have no idea what you're talking about. A guy might also put up his fence because he genuinely has been blinded by society, but sometimes it is because he only fears the same consequences that you fear.

The last category is psychoanalysis. This refers to any psychological or layman advice given to a short man from a non-short man about height related issues. In the case of laymen, this advice usually involves making the short man feel as if he is responsible for the way society treats him. And in the case of the psychologist, this advice involves making the short man feel like discrimination is all in his head. The psychologist's treatment is actually one of the biggest barriers to height centered unity. A doctor can prescribe medication to curb depression or ease anxiety. Unfortunately, this can be detrimental to the cause of height centered unity, because many short men do not need medication - they need justice. If psychology was as advanced during the infancy of America as it is now; Africans would work southern fields in bondage, under a drug-induced daze to this day. If an enslaved person was dissatisfied with his place in society, then the slave master could just dispense some Prozac and tell him to get back to work. Though the example is obviously facetious, the point still remains. Prescription drugs can reduce the pain that some short men face, but it can never better society and permanently reduce the pain of all short men.


5: "The Network"

In order to reduce the negative affects of the current status quo on short men, I propose the following plan. Men who read this essay should band together in cyberspace in order to communicate regularly with each other. After a network has been established, the message should be spread clandestinely to people who are short and who are able to understand our plight. If enough people join this "movement", chapters of an organization can form across the Untied States. The "movement" needs to grow with quiet caution if it is to be effective. If we rush into demanding rights or trying to change the status quo before we achieve at least a basic level of unity, then we will surely fail. The status quo insures that we will not be taken seriously if we do not fight in large numbers. After enough men are unified, the chapters of this organization can form outside of cyberspace and actually meet in person during meetings or conferences. It will be those chapters of this organization that will lay the foundations of change. We must first believe that the status quo can be changed. If we feel that the situation is hopeless, then it will only be perpetuated in future generations. These individual chapters of the organization can fight height discrimination on many fronts. Height discrimination can be fought on legal, political, monetary, and social fronts. This idea of a "Network" dedicated to height unity has already seen its infancy in www.shortsupport.org. We must expand on this and continue to nurture unity and equality. I will dedicate an essay to the idea of this organization in a future writing.

Copyright 2002 Geoffrey Arnold
Comments, Questions, Concerns? Send them all to geoffreyarnold1980@yahoo.com. The feedback can be positive or negative; I'll try to respond to everything.