I know that most women prefer to date tall men (or at least men that are taller than them), and I have to agree that for some reason it is kind of sexy when your significant other is physically larger than you. But where does this need to be smaller than your love interest come from? Is it un-feminist and counterintuitive to refuse to date and have sex with any individual who is smaller in height or who weighs less than you? Or is wanting your significant other to be larger than you just some innocent preference?
My friends are physically larger than I am, but they are normal heights and have healthy body weights. They say they would never date a guy smaller than them or the same height as them. I've told them that they don't need to date a taller man just so they can fulfill that weird outdated need to feel like they are protected by a male, but they tell me that I'm not allowed to have an opinion on that because I am small and have never had to worry about being "big" as a female. It's true that I am on the shorter spectrum, so I've never really felt what it's like to be bigger than my male peers, but I've always figured that I wouldn't have a problem with being bigger than my boyfriend (according to my feminist tenets). But I don't truly know, because I've never experienced that kind of feeling.
I guess I'm just wondering what physical size says about the relationship between women and men, if it says anything at all. What am I supposed to tell my friends?
What a great question! And I will not make a joke about keeping my answer short!
OK so, human males, (or, humans born with XY chromosomes) are approx. 15%- 20% larger than human females (or, humans born with XX chromosomes). Women in the US are, on average, around 5’4” while men in the US are, on average, around 5’9”. So, statistically, bi/heterosexual women are more likely to encounter and to date men that are taller than they are.
That’s just fuckin’ math.
Taller than average men are privileged in numerous ways: they are more likely to be rewarded with white collar, rather than blue collar jobs where they earn more money, become CEOs at higher rates, and are, as you said, preferred by women.
Evolutionary psychology suggests that bi/heterosexual females are programmed to be attracted to males that appear physically strong.
Like, when the first knuckle-draggers started standing up, all the hetero knuckle-draggirls were like, “YeEEeeAAsSS! Stand for me, Daddy!!!!”
And we’ve all be DTF ever since.
Clearly, strength, respect, and intimidation are factors. The phrase “looking up to someone” didn’t come from nowhere. We look up to tall people, so we look up to tall people.
And maybe we are, as a species, literally that stupid and this is the answer.
Female arousal is often cited as mysterious as far as collecting data goes (maybe because the scientific method was invented by Enlightenment thinkers who fetishized perfect, objective rationality as though it were even possible within the human experience, which has basically been disproven by quantum mechanics, but for some reason we are still allowing a false dichotomy of “rational” vs “irrational” to dominate our contemporary cultural and political landscape, and to obscure and mark as "mysterious" valuable information about the feminine I’m looking at you, you muppet-ass, piece of shit-ass, fake intellectual-ass, Jordan Peterson).
REGARDLESS, the claim that female sexual arousal is often wrapped up with the fantasy of being desirable, seems to be a pretty viable one.
While gender and sexuality are indeed distinct categories, it stands to reason that for many heterosexual women, feeling feminine in contrast to her partner's masculinity is a big turn on, it's part of the whole thing.
That's not anti-feminist nor problematic. It just is.
It is possible that your friends, Good Feminists as they might be, have inherited via biology or internalized via culture the message that “tall is better” when it comes to males. It is also possible that your friends, Good Feminists as they might be, have inherited via biology or internalized via culture the message that “small is better” when it comes to women.
Males tend to be larger than females, and someone who is attracted to men will have an attraction to that which denotes maleness.
Certainly, women are being bombarded-- overtly and covertly-- with diet culture and a (perhaps widening, but still) narrow standard of beauty. A man that can make them feel physically smaller makes them feel desirable, and therefore they desire that man. It makes sense.
It is, like most things, natural in many ways, and problematic in many other ways.
On a symbolic level, I understand why this triggers your internal feminism alarms, and I think this phenomenon is definitely worth interrogating and discussing with your friends. And then! Maybe you can listen to “Flawless” by Beyonce. And really chew on that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quote together.
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man.”
Nothing wrong with challenging your girlfriends to run their sexual preferences and attractions through an Adichie test, of sorts.
But ultimately, people’s physical types are their physical types. Everybody’s got a cup of tea. And nobody has to fuck anybody if they don’t want to (I’m looking at you, you clown-ass, garbage-ass, Edvard Munch-ass Jordan Peterson). It’s worth examining and thinking about.
In the re-appropriated words of Lil' Wayne, “I think people need to mind their own business… It’s MY cup [sic: of tea].”
While short men do face real discrimination in the workplace and in dating, one can only politicize what gets one’s pussy wet so far, you know? If your friends want to date men who are taller than they are because it makes them feel more feminine, sexy, desired, beautiful, secure, whatever, that’s what they’re gonna do.