Pedophilia study yet another slight to the short

Pedophilia study yet another slight to the short

Lynda Hurst      
Feature Writer     

Consider, if you will, the world of shorter men:

They’re more likely to be bullied as children. Just ask one of them about what the pecking order was like for a “squirt” in the playground. But they’re also more likely to have poor self-esteem, earn lower incomes and have less rewarding careers, develop high blood pressure and coronary disease; oh, and to remain childless, because they’re more likely to lose out in love, women having an evolutionary predilection for partners taller than themselves.

And if shorter men get mad and fight back – try to make their mark in a world that is widely if unwittingly biased against them – they get ridiculed as aggressive little Napoleons.

The last thing they needed this, or any other, week was to read that short stature is being linked to pedophilia. That had all the characteristics of a final straw.

But a new study by Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has found that men who are sexually attracted to children tend to be shorter than the average male height, which in Canada is five-feet-10 inches.

“It’s ridiculous,” groans Christopher Hamre. “It’s also dangerous. To equate short men with pedophilia is painting with far too broad a brush.”

The study stresses that the vast majority of short men have zero sexual proclivity toward children, but Hamre knows that won’t mitigate matters. He’s vice president of the media watchdog and education group NOSSA (the New York-based National Organization for Short-Statured Adults), and he’s seen enough overgeneralizing studies and the headlines they generate to last him a lifetime.

This one is almost as bad, he says, as the study last year by two Princeton economists. Then he corrects himself. No, being linked to pedophilia is worse.

The Princeton study found a correlation between height and intelligence. On average, it said, the taller earn more money than the shorter not only because of workplace discrimination against the latter – which has long been demonstrated – but because they are actually smarter.

And they’re smarter because they received better prenatal care and good nutrition in the critical birth-to-age-3 period.

Hamre, who is 5′ 3″, doesn’t buy it. He believes stature is 95 per cent genetic; the rest, okay, good early nutrition. But his parents are short, therefore so is he. End of (short) story: “If you’re taller than Einstein (5’9″),” he scoffs, “would you be smarter?”

Ah, the injustices of diminished longitude. The old Napoleon complex business, for a start.

That all began in 1912 when Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler came up with the idea of the inferiority complex. He cited Napoleon as an example of someone driven to aggressive extremes to compensate for a perceived lack. In other words, he picked a fight with the rest of Europe to counteract his diminutive stature. Just one problem: Napoleon was 5′ 6″, not especially short for his time.

Politically correct researchers now prefer “short man syndrome,” and at least one believes he has debunked it. In research conducted this spring for a BBC program titled F— Off, I’m Short, English psychologist Mike Eslea had 10 men of average height and 10 shorter men duel with wooden sticks.

One of each pair was instructed to deliberately provoke the other by rapping him across the knuckles. Heart monitors tracking physical reaction revealed it was the taller, not shorter, men who lost their temper faster and hit back.

“The results were consistent with the view that small man syndrome is a pervasive myth,” said Eslea. “When people see a short man being aggressive, they’re likely to think it is due to his size simply because that attribute grabs their attention.”

Do we really venerate the tall and stigmatize the small? Yes, in spades.

We’re infinitely more likely to make thoughtless, disparaging cracks about short people because nobody gets pulled up short for doing it. Except for Randy Newman, who went too far with his “Short People (got no reason to live)” song, which he has apparently regretted ever since.

Take the infamous 1970s New York magazine piece which used a grid to determine how short Robert Redford actually was, seeing as he refused to give his height and the editors suspected for good reason. Comparing photos of him with actors whose height was known, they mathematically concluded he was 5′ 9″, just.

Small wonder that 5′ 6″ Dustin Hoffman is said to have spent years in therapy. Or the best way Nicole Kidman could get back at Tom Cruise for ending their marriage was to say on TV that, happily, she “can wear high heels again.” Princess Diana said the same thing in private.

Research has shown that height prejudice exists in politics (taller candidates tend to win), business, sports, of course, and earnings potential. An inch of height is said to be worth $789 a year in salary, about $5,525 more per year. Compounded over the course of a 30-year career, that’s literally hundreds of thousands of dollars more. Because of your height.

The findings are replicated time and again.

Tall men are regarded as natural leaders. They’re looked up to, figuratively and literally, while shorter men are looked down on, or just overlooked. And it’s universally true. Since 2004, China, never loath to interferfere with its citizens’ lives, has had a policy restricting government jobs to those deemed of sufficient height.

The famous survey of CEOs at America’s Fortune 500 companies found that 58 per cent of them stood 6′ tall or more; only 3 per cent 5′ 7″or less. Which seems to reflect the findings of a 1987 study which asked people to rate the qualities of men of varying heights. Whether short or tall themselves, participants rated shorter men as less mature, less positive, less secure, less masculine, less successful, less capable, less confident, less outgoing, more inhibited and more passive.

And it’s true that women, responding to some primeval need, consistently select men taller than themselves. Height translates as strength and good health, traits they want to pass on to their children.

Only two of 79 women in one U.S. study said they’d date a shorter man; the rest wanted someone at least 1.7 inches taller. In a survey of married couples, less than one-half of 1 per cent of the wives were taller than their husbands.

“The universally acknowledged cardinal rule of mate selection is that the male will be significantly taller than the female,” write two U.S. psychologists, Leslie Martel and Henry Biller, in Stature and Stigma. “This rule is almost inviolable.”

Which is short-sighted, theorizes Nicholas Herpin at the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies in Paris. In a study of 2,000 European men, he found that the tall did indeed enjoy all the predictable rewards, but the fact that shorter men remain single longer could be a plus: “They have shown they are hard workers and therefore look like reliable providers; they are in a position to compensate for their physical handicap.”

Indubitably true. But, to the diminutive out there, cold comfort in a big, mean world.

Therefore, it may help to know that the sexual deviance study also found that pedophiles are three times more likely to be left-handed. But that’s a group no one, short or tall, wants to tangle with.

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