Thursday, November 10, 2005

Strippers and Short Men

A recent paper entitled, Love, careers, and heights in France, 2001 makes me worried I might never marry.

Short men are less likely to be married or live in a permanent relationship than their taller counterparts. This pattern is not due to their social status. While blue-collar workers are shorter on average than managers, the effects of height on finding a mate are similar in the two social groups. Being tall is also economically advantageous for men. With identical educational attainment levels, tall men have better careers than short men as they are given greater supervisory responsibilities. In making a commitment, some women might take height into account as an anticipated indicator of future resources of the household. Choice of partner is also influenced by social norms – i.e., partners should be physically well-matched – which is more difficult for shorter men.

A simple inspection of match.com and you can't help but notice men tend to be shorter than average and women taller than average. Previous studies find that women prefer taller men, usually by about 4 inches or so. Making the now defunct marriage of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman an exception. Its pretty easy to understand this problem, if you picture two normal distributions with different means of about 5'9" for men and 5'4" for women. The distribution for women is shifted left by about 5 inches. So the upper tail of the male distribution can potentially match with the entire distribution of females, whereas the lower tail of the male distribution can only match with the distribution of females to its left, and left by about 4 inches, a much smaller proportion and therefore a much smaller number of potential matches.

So what does this mean for my research on strippers? Well, if one believes that men go to strip clubs to consume intimacy, intimacy they can't get from a relationship then it is likely that a disproportionate number of these men are shorter than average. Since taller men tend to be in a relationship, and at least some of them are presumably happy, then you would expect fewer of them to go to strip clubs. So why the hell do strippers wear those ridiculous boots?

I heard they think it makes them look thinner.

Anyhow, I suppose this goes for the consumers of porn as well.

Keywords: Height, Porn, Strippers

4 comments:

Mike Sheffler said...

Interesting. I guess we're vaguely aware of all these points, but I hadn't thought of actually trying to quantify the effects. Juxtaposing the two normal distributions near one another provides a great (and quick) mental picture.

Also, regarding stripper boots: While I accept your logic that typifies a strip club-goer as a shorter-than-average male, I would point out that the customers in a strip club don't do a lot of standing, so maybe the relative heights aren't as big a deal. I guess one's sitting height is usually indicative of one's standing height, but I have a friend that's like 9'6", but is all legs. If you follow his car, it looks like it's being driven by a small child, since his torso is so short.

giddings said...

In Blink, Malcom Gladwell also comments on the relative paucity of short men as CEO's of fortune 500 companies. He makes the analogy that they are similar to blacks or females in those ranks.

Timothy Horrigan said...

Why do strippers wear those boots? #1. because short men love tall women. #2. because the stripper needs to be able to kick the guy if he misbehaves.

msc said...

Seriously? About the boots. I'll tell you EXACTLY why - it's very basic. I spent about a year in that line of work when I was younger and I know this firsthand: Stripping is incredibly strenuous - the shifts are long - and they're spent standing and dancing in heels. Ouch! That's hard on the feet! When we wore the boots instead of the shoes, we could wear comfortable, squishy tube socks that would cushion our feet and make the shifts more bearable. Simple as that.