A few weeks ago, one of my best friends, knowing I am in a relationship with a shorter man, sent me the following excerpt from an outdated manual on kissing:
It is […] necessary that the man be taller than the woman. The psychological reason for this is that he must always give the impression of being his woman’s superior, both mentally and especially physically. The physical reason, with which we are more concerned, is that if he is taller than his woman, he is better able to kiss her. He must be able to sweep her into his strong arms, and tower over her, and look down into her eyes, and cup her chin in his fingers and then, bend over her face and plant his eager, virile lips on her moist, slightly parted, inviting ones. All of this he must do with the vigor of an assertive male. And, all of these are impossible when the woman is the taller of the two. For when the situation is reversed, the kiss becomes only a ludicrous banality. The physical mastery is gone, the male prerogative is gone, everything is gone but the fact that two lips are touching two other lips. Nothing can be more disappointing.
– The Art of Kissing, 1936
This paragraph definitely riled me up and became the inspiration for my latest post on Diaspora @ chinaSMACK, “The Art of Kissing a Shorter Man.”
But before launching myself into a writing frenzy, I decided to talk to someone in the same boat as me. Jocelyn Eikenburg is the blogger behind the immensely popular Speaking of China, where she writes about love, relationships and family. I absolutely adore Jocelyn — not only is she kind, patient, and always willing to answer any of my questions, she’s also in an intercultural relationship with a shorter man! I definitely wanted to hear what she had to say. I used some quotes from our brief email interview for the chinaSMACK post; the full transcript is below. Thank you Jocelyn for sharing your thoughts.
Christine: Whoa! What’s your first reaction to that Art of Kissing excerpt about guys needing to be taller and physically superior?
Jocelyn: My first reaction is, this is as out of date as “close your eyes and think of England.” Why should the man’s height/physical superiority somehow make a difference in how good the kiss is? As my husband would say, it’s very unscientific. And when he mentions “the male prerogative” in this context, it’s as if kissing is sort of a “man’s job,” like we’re supposed to be some “Stepford Wife,” having to wait around for him to kiss us. Seriously?
C: Not to pry too much, but how do you kiss your shorter man/how does he kiss you? Any tips about angles of bodies, etc.?
J: I’m all about the standing kiss. I figure, if you’re woman enough to be comfortable in yourself and be inches taller than your man, embrace that difference by kissing in the way everyone would NEVER expect you to love kissing — standing face to face. Sometimes I have to angle my head down a bit, but I think it’s actually super-sexy. That’s because my man always holds me tightly around my waist — and, well, sometimes loves to let his hands go a little “South of the border” (which might even be easier for a guy who is shorter than you to do).
C: It’s a common complaint that Asian guys are badly stereotyped in Hollywood, as short, emasculated, etc. But I’m starting to realize that short guys of all races are media victims too, and taller woman/shorter man couples are usually the butt of bad jokes. Can you name some movies demeaning short men or taller woman/shorter man couples off the top of your head?
J: I do know it happens in TV. Did you ever see the episode of Sex and the City called “Politically Erect” in Season 3? Samantha ends up sleeping with a guy who is shorter than her, and here’s how they describe it: “That night, Jeff proved to Samantha that he more than made up for his shortcomings. Samantha told us later it was like having sex with a horny smurf.” I also remember growing up, when I used to watch this one show called “Evening Shade” and one of the guys was short and a bit idiotic — one time he ended up with this tall glamazon type who must have been 1 foot above him, as a punch line at the end of the episode.
C: What do you feel about these shows now that you’re with John?
J: It feels weird. Why is it that my relationship isn’t good enough to get more positive portrayals in the media? Why should it only be a punchline? It’s almost like taller women shorter men are one of those few areas where it’s still socially acceptable to ridicule us in the media. It’s too bad, because if that wasn’t the case, maybe more of us would be more open-minded about it.
C: Are we really able to dismiss the notion of wanting a physically superior male?
J: I’m guilty as charged in this area. I was shocked by just how much taller I was than John — I had no idea until I asked him for lunch. It did make me feel a little uncomfortable at first. And even though I was a little attracted to him initially, part of me didn’t know if I could deal with the height difference.
C: Do you ever miss being in the arms of a taller, larger man, and being able to rest your head on his shoulder when you’re walking together?
J: Do I miss it sometimes? I don’t know. I honestly never really think about what it would be like, and maybe that’s because John and I have been together for so long?
Well, I did think about it once, during our wedding. In China, the man often will carry his bride in his arms — which is pretty much impossible for us. Still, John can lift me up and even carried me down seven flights of stairs when I sprained an ankle, which is why I always tell people that John’s stature is misleading when it comes to strength. The greatness of a man isn’t measured in inches.
Read Jocelyn’s own post about loving a shorter (Chinese) man here.
My chinaSMACK post on kissing a shorter man here.