I had a conversation with a colleague about preference regarding romantic partners during the earlier days of 2014. It all started after we spotted a beautiful tall woman on campus and my 1.56m self was green with envy. I went on to say how I would walk around with my nose in the air if I were that tall, and how I would wear shorts to showcase my legs that would go on forever. Then my colleague asked: “But who is going to date you when you are that tall?”
Naturally, I was confused. I do not understand that people that interact with me on a daily basis still do not understand that what I want to look like is never considered to make men on the streets feel romantically comfortable with me. I gave my colleague the chance to explain where he was coming from, and then I was told: “Women prefer partners that are taller than them. I mean, you cannot be walking around with a shorter guy. Would you date a shorter guy?”
There are probably people reading this going: “Ja, but he has a point. I’m not up to walking around with a shorter guy.” But can I just tell you that your preference is not necessarily mine plainly because we are both heterosexual women? Let me explain.
I am still not sure who came up with relationship rules of thumb (subscribing to these rules of thumb is totally your choice). But somehow, somewhere, it became a rule that men in heterosexual relationships are taller, they earn more, they take initiative, they pay for the first date, they are the protector, they are the leader, they shape the course that the relationship will take.
I have to indicate that I am no contrarian. I am, however, a fan of the diversity of preference. In an ideal world, acknowledging the diversity of heterosexual women’s preference when it comes to men is the first step to smashing the patriarchy – we have to start with realising that women are not a big homogenous group. Noting individuality will stop anyone from thinking they can approach all of us expecting the same reaction.
After indicating to my colleague that I would date someone shorter, which he clearly didn’t expect, I got a question to verify that I was being serious: “Like, the one guy that you are spotting right now, is he taller? What if the guy comes up to your shoulder?” To which I answered: “My current crush is a guy I know from Twitter, I don’t how tall he is, I didn’t ask, it doesn’t really matter.” To which the reaction was a shocked face painted with you-are-not-what-I-thought-you-were confusion. It seems to have never occurred to my colleague that women have varying preferences.
I started thinking about the times when I have been called names by men whose advances I was not here for. Is it possible that people plainly look at themselves and simply think we are out here for them? So tall heterosexual men that earn more than average (and are assumed to be good leaders and decisive people because they own a penis) are always confused when women do not like them back? That must really suck.
Let me help you, then. I hate to see you suffer because you thought you had it all but Lerato can’t seem to get what she is missing out on. Here is a short list, write it down and carry it in your wallet:
- Being taller does not guarantee you attention.
- You can be as nice as you think you need to be, you might still not get rounds.
- Offering to buy me a drink in the club may just mean you had an extra R100 you wanted to blow.
- We do not all find your “compliments” flattering.
- Persisting may not always get you rounds. Some of us may find it cute that you are not giving up on getting us, some of us may find you extremely annoying.
- There is no way we all find you physically attractive, even if you fit the good looks stereotype (whatever that is).
NOTE: Every point on the list is written as a possibility. This is Diversity of Preference 101.
I am so sorry to tell you that what your boys taught you about what women want might not be entirely true. I am also not watching Steve Harvey trying to explain all men to me like you guys do not have a sense of self. Learn us hard, and learn us right.
Nthabiseng Nooe (@NthabyNooe)