Geek Goddess - Dating and Relationship Advice

Advice from the Geek Goddess.





Please send your questions about dating and relationships to [email protected]

I'm now on Twitter. Follow me there



Dear readers:


The following is an exchange I have been having with one of our members.


Dear Geek Goddess,


This may not be typical of the kinds of letters you get, but I wanted your opinion about something. I just came across an article saying that tall people earn more than short people BECAUSE THEY'RE SMARTER!


I don't buy it.
The #1 thing women lie about is their age.  The #1 thing men lie about is their height.
I'm not proposing that the statistic they offered, taller people tend to be smarter, isn't true.  What I'm saying is that as a society, we value height as a marker of dominance business/cooperate/leisure and culture in general (in all but horse racing). 
Naturally, with a dominance in society there is confidence, prestige, power, opportunities, class, and other benefits offered to those at the top of the hierarchy of social order.  The taller, I would argue, exploit their position of power by seizing upon these opportunities regarding their status in our culture & therefore have gained more chances to 'become' smarter than those who are shorter, and offered less opportunities in our culture.
Just as men traditionally have argued that women = nurturing and men = dominant in our culture, which stems from this whole hegemonic view of gender that assumes there are more than just biological differences between men/women, so to are we assuming that there are differences between tall/short people that are built into us genetically.
It's not to say that this doesn't produce effects such as the statistics presented above.  We buy into these notions & we assume them to be correct.  What I'm presenting here is that maybe this statistic is built up on assumptions of the genetic differences creating social order & in reality the tall capitalize on the benefits they receive, which in turn make them indeed more apt to be smarter because of their access to things like education, better jobs, higher pay, etc. 
The same way that our culture offers more opportunities to men.  Men have been able to seize benefits and work to keep these benefits because it allows them dominance.  It's institutionalized thought that keeps the strong acting stronger and the weak acting weaker.
Okay, PC enough for you?  I'm up for debate. What do you think?
My Response:

I kind of buy it, though I've noticed that a lot of presidents of companies, CEOs, etc, are extremely short males.  Because they're smarter?  Nope, it's because they all have a Napoleon complex with something to prove.  But there is something to being tall, and that is that people don't look down on you and make you feel inferior, instead, you look down on people and make THEM feel inferior.  And our culture doesn't offer more opportunities to men – I completely disagree with that.  They may have higher salaries, etc, but women have historically put themselves in a position not to advance – they feel more of an obligation to their families and personal lives to advance far enough in their careers and it is completely their own choice, because men have never taken it upon themselves to put their family before their careers, historically, at least. 

So, be honest, how much did you use the thesaurus for that?  :-P  I just don't hear people using the word "hegemonic" in an ordinary conversation, even if it is a debate.

He wrote back 


It's up for debate, honestly...

But, you are assuming that Women are genetically superior to men when it comes to nurturing / family.  It's making a tie from Sex to Gender & this is a what I'm trying to say may not actually be fact (I'm not 100% convinced of this, but I'm going to offer an argument below clarifying). 

Men have put themselves in positions of power & want to maintain this power.  Maybe even men have encouraged the notion that Women=nurture Men=career in order to maintain their heightened opportunities to money (Marxism).  This would explain why men traditionally don't put family before career & why it men encourage, maybe even enforce, women to be the nurturer as a survival technique while they take the cake with all the $ - and yes there is a slight argument/reason for monogamy you're detecting here.

So the argument above looks at genetics as the excuse to maintain power for the male.

Thank you University SCS class - hegemonic is officially a word in my dictionary :-)

My reply:

Women are not genetically superior to men when it comes to nurturing, but there are certain things that make them feel that way.  For nine months they get to nurture while men can basically stand around and not have to do anything, enjoy a good beer and a smoke, etc, and so they are basically genetically put in that position from the start.  Plus history dictates that they are in a better position to do so – while men have the strength to operate the homestead, women are expected to stay at home nurturing and making cookies or whatever, so yeah, sure, historically that's always been the case.  Women put themselves in the position of power in the home, men have on the field.  I'm not saying that it's genetics, but it is that way for convenience sakes.  And one could argue that the way men's brains work (and I do believe that there are strong genetic differences here) make them more capable of maintaining a position of power.  In business, men tend to pretend that they know how to do everything while women are more honest and reveal that they may not know how to do something and go for help, but to a client, etc, this makes men appear to be the more capable.  Who would you rather deal with, someone who always says "I'll get that done for you" or someone who always says "I'm not sure how that's done, but let me check and get back to you"?  I'd take the former.

And now, this whole debate has absolutely nothing to do with height. 

Another member wrote:

1st time I ever heard of hegemony is when i played the game hegemonia (kind of slow long RTS you can waste HOURS on) as for the taller = smarter I tend to believe this isn't true.

1st strange thing about tall people (I'm 6'3" I would know ^_^) and when I say tall I mean 6+ft many of them don't really hangout together because they are tall,usually you can see group of people for every type, but u never see like 4 -5 tall guys standing around.

Also form the tall perspective, you don't really see other people as very short, most of my friends are 5'5" and shorter and I really never notice how tall anyone is until I'm standing near anther tall person, and even if I'm taller by a few inches I always thing, damn he's tall. also of the 8-10 tall people I have known, most of them were not more than average intelligence, 2 of higher intelligence and 4 of lower intelligence.

For instance one of my friends in high school, Rook, I hadn't seen for 2 years, one day I walked into Menards (hardware store) and as I was looking for connectors for my water cooling system he was there stacking plungers, he noticed me and did the one thing that was the most annoying in high school, yell my last name @ the top of his lungs and raise his arms like an attacking wookie, we got to talking and I found out he had dropped out of some community college and was working fulltime at Menards.

But getting back to the point, yes a lot of men are in places of power because they are tall, but this doesn't make them actually smarter. But when you say "the MAN is keeping us down!" with the women are nurturer and men are dominators, really, this is the LEAST of the problems I have with the ideologies pop culture is impressing upon the populace.

But then again I have also noticed most of my friends who are real geeks tend to be tall and lanky like myself, whilst the pseudo-geeks (talk a lot of being a geek but can't actually DO anything with computers) tend to be In the higher weight classes, but also a geek is not made by his height, he is made by his environment.

So it's not so much that taller people ARE smarter, but everyone expects them to be. And some are because of it.

Yet another member wrote:

You are correct that many of those in power are indeed short instead of tall.

However being in power does not make you intelligent, it means you are aggressive and willing to take risks to get what you want.  A good example of a person who is extremely powerful but not too bright is our very own President.  

Intelligence has more to do with genetics and the environment in which you grow up in.  A child who has the genetic potential to be a genius, is challenged and offered oppertunities to learn, will naturally have a greater chance of being considered intelligent.  However take that same child, put into a situtation where he/she is malnurished, never offered educational oppertunities and/or never challenged, the outcome is completely different.

It has always been my solem belief that a great deal of intelligence comes from offering a child the oppertunity to excel by seeing to thier nurishment (a brain needs food to operate,) interaction with others(socialization is a means of teaching and learning,) education, and offering challenges (clallenges forces a child to advance and to achieve.)  This is what I believe takes a person from having potential to be intelligent and realizing that potential.  As a society we need to recognize this and act to provide that possible outcome.

Considering the differences between men and women, there are powerful men and there are powerful women, potential intelligence is equal across the bored, so why do wemon take on the role that is more nurturing, the answer lies in what we as a society expect of each sex.  For generations we have pressed women into the role taking care of the home, and forcing men into being the workerforce of this country.  However in the two most recent generations those roles have become muddy with either gender taking on either role within the structure of the family.  This will increase until there really is little that can be argueed about a man's verses a woman's role in society or within the structure of the family.

In this country the courts are slowly recognizing that a man has as much ability to raise a child as women does.  On a regular basis in divorces  men are now being granted primary custody of the children, although not on an equal percentage as the women in these cases.   Additionally women have now shown that in the military they can successfully take on combat roles where they were previously limited to support roles.  Genetically, women may not be stronger in general, but that is a mute point as our world has evolved to a point where we have assistance in many of our tasks that maintain our daily lives.  The amount of strength to contol a fighter jet is not too great for a woman.  Women in fact have a faster reaction time so some combat roles in particular as fighter pilots could actually done better by women.  

That said, equality lies within the individual and how we choose to treat others.  The potential for a high intelligence come down more to genetics of the brain, the environment in which the child grows up in and the challenges presented to that person, and not the height of the individual (keep in mind Einstein was not very tall!)  Lastly powerful people regardless of height are individuals who are willing to take risks, so then they earn the right to reap those rewards.

Just my 2 cents,

Readers, if you would like to add your comments, send me an email (). I'll post all responses here. I'm expecting a lively debate on both the height and gender issues.

Previous letters