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Monday, June 29, 2015

Tall Privilege (Social Justice Metaphor)

I should get all the component pieces of a regular week of blogging up this week, but due to a sore knuckle (typing with a sore forefinger base knuckle is a bit harder than you might imagine after a while--I really need to stop masturbating so much [but I guess it beats going blind]), an extra robust round of kid watching this week, and trying to recover from pretending I was a vampire on Saturday night, things might be out of order. So today I'm dropping a social justice metaphor that was an insta-hit on FB earlier today.  

If I tell you that I'm short, and there are things I can't reach and rather a lot of women who will never date me because of the "three inch rule" and certain high powered jobs that I am statistically VERY unlikely to get due to my stature, that doesn't mean I expect you to feel guilty about being tall. You were born that way. You can't help it. I don't hate all tall people. Don't be ridiculous.

But don't tell me about all the things you'd do if you were short--like wearing platform shoes or saying everything in a loud voice to compensate. Don't try to tell me that because you had to reach for something once or once you know what it's like to be short or because you got turned down for a date because you were TOO tall that you've basically lived my life, have gone through the same trials and tribulations, and know my struggle. And if I tell you I can't reach your cheese grater on the top shelf without a step stool, don't be a jerk and tell me I'm just lazy and I need to learn to *really* jump. Or that I should just be enterprising and pull myself up onto your counter top because that's what a plucky go-getter would do. Especially don't explain how enterprising and not lazy you are as you effortlessly grab it from the top shelf using the unearned advantage of your physical characteristics.

And if I do get up there, the plucky go-getter that I am, and all you do is complain about how I'm getting my feet all over your counter or that I'm presumptuous and rude and "that's not the way to go about getting what I want." (even though I know that if I had asked for help nicely, I'd be subjected to the "plucky go-getter" condescension), I'd quickly realize there was not actually any way to handle it that you weren't going to be an asshole to me somehow.

If I point these things out, or if I say that this comes from a toxic culture that favors tall people, I am not "attacking" all tall people. (Just pointing out the toxic ones.) If tall people race to inform me that this behavior isn't about being TALL but that short people sometimes do it too, they are ignoring the messages about tall people affect us all. If they insist that the whole thing is a total wash because short people live longer and I should just get over it and never mention my experiences living as a short person, they are trying to derail and erase me with a salient point that isn't actually germain.

And if, everywhere I went, tall people just kept doing and saying that shit all the time and acting like total dillholes, I might eventually come to NOT give all tall people the benefit of the doubt for being cool. I might think that generally tall people fell victim to an all-too-typical societal view that their tallness equaled some kind of moral superiority until/unless I'd met them and knew for sure they weren't going to pull that shit. I might even feel comfortable not trusting tall people, even if they self-righteously informed me by way of guilt trip that not all tall people were like that.

I promise that I only look up to you literally.
You don't have to apologize for the advantages you were born with or feel guilty about them. Just acknowledge them. Just listen when people tell you that differences in their experiences exist and try to have some empathy about how certain advantages make your life a little easier and that not every criticism of the dominant culture is an attack on its every member. Try to HEAR THEM and understand what life would be like if you lacked that advantage. And if they take the time and energy to tell you what they need to be able to reach the same things you do without undue hardship that you do not experience, don't tell them that they're wrong.

Follow up: Someone who was "Just Asking Questions" asked a few about this post and the results were probably not what they expected.

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