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.

Source: kokofifi.blogspot.com

Source: kokofifi.blogspot.com

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:

  1. Being taller does not guarantee you attention.
  2. You can be as nice as you think you need to be, you might still not get rounds.
  3. Offering to buy me a drink in the club may just mean you had an extra R100 you wanted to blow.
  4. We do not all find your “compliments” flattering.
  5. 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.
  6. 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)


5 thoughts on “#WOMANDLA: Learn Me Hard, Learn Me Right

  1. Interesting read,however it started to sound like an anti tall men bashing article halfway as I read.As a tallish man myself say abwt 1.78 m tall,unfortunately nt earning above average…I have enuf self confidence in myself,my capabilities and I’m well aware of my limitations at the same time.I know of guys with the “I get what I want” kind of attitude.My gut feel tells me these kinds of man are the inspiration behind some of the points in yo article.
    It’s also interesting to note that,some tall men can have all the looks,the height and maybe the moola and still be humble enuf to acknowledge those blessings do nt guarantee a conquest with every gal,this type of man is the one some ladies will paint with the same brush with the heartles insensitive banger or player if you like,hence in some quarters you hear utterances such as all men are the same.
    Clearly we as human beings tend to form false perceptions in our minds about complete strangers,who had absolutely no bearing in our past experiences with the opposite sex.
    Are we being too judgemental or are we just being plain naive about God’s ability to create diversity of the highest magnitude ?
    Thank u Nthabi,I enjoyed it.
    Monwabisi Lee Masok (facebook)
    MrLee_072 (twitter)


    • I know I replied to you personally, but maybe putting it out here will clarify terms for anyone that is still coming onto this page in the future.

      I am not bashing tall men, am I saying (in a sort of intelligent kind of way) that I am not bothered by height, unlike has been expectation from my daily runnings. This mere example of expectation is then generalised to a few other cases of looks, earnings, “nice guys”, etc.

      There is a general concept that men with certain traits deserve certain women, we have to bear with this every single day.

      I am also troubled by the “but not all men” allusion in your response, because that is not what we are talking about. And even if we say that there are tall, pretty, rich men that are actually humble, their humble trait does not make them deserve me more, my vibe with them is my choice, no matter how nice you are.

      So, no, I do not hate all tall men, that would be silly of me. I get irritated when certain people assume they are worth my energy simply because they are who they are, especially if they treat me as if I do not deserve a choice on who enters my love/sex life.


  2. I wonder if this all comes from a truly impartial mind, or if it rises simply from an angry heart (I note the direct address towards the end of the note, despite the structure having begun with a far less direct and more theoretical tone… which seemed to have been directed more at a female audience).

    Nevertheless, it would have actually been so much more crispy to have the point of the matter be applied to the defence of sexual diversity IN GENERAL, as opposed to having singled out a particular trail (in this case, Height) as applied to and as observed by a single gender (in this case, Female).

    Additionally, very little actual evidence is proposed in support of or against any single claim (and I note there having been several noteworthy claims). One example of such a claim is the supposed classification of females being attracted to tall men as a “stereotype”. In many western psychological works, this supposition has been shown to be invalid (although it should be stated that all such works only submit statistical inclinations and do not rebut the premise of sexual diversity).

    But all in all an excellent read 🙂


    • I am troubled by this comment, because again, as with the race debate where the oppressed need to validate their right to tell their story, I have a man asking me to validate my daily story.

      I need us not to get confused between my intention and what you read. I will never claim that I am being completely impartial, I’m being partly impartial and the rest is a defence for women who experience funky treatment at the hands of males that feel deserving of us, as if we have no sense of agency.

      Perhaps I am a bad writer, in which case I have to work on my writing, but the height thing was an example. I could have spoken generally and having had the audience unable to relate, and that worried me more. The idea of male privilege is complex, but somewhere along the line a fairytale informed men that if they slay the dragon they will get the girl, hence people feel entitled to us, which in turn results in the ugliness of patriarchy which informs rape culture, etc.

      I am also very scared about this insistence that I provide “actual evidence” or “statistical inclinations” to support my opinion. As if everyday living experiences of street harassment, expectations to fulfill “traditional” gender roles, getting paid less than a male colleague in the same position, glass ceilings and being labelled for moving away from patriarchal expectation is not evidence enough that women are daily treated as subhuman.

      I will not have women being asked to justify themselves like this. Denying the oppression that accompanies patriarchy will not do anyone favours, in the same way that denying oppression of black people will not get us anywhere in our bid to redress.

      Respect our agency, understand that we enjoy the opportunity of choice. unless we are freed from this oppression, no man will quit enjoy freedom either, because then you must be a superman, and I can imagine that sort of sucks too.



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