- Gender and Relationships
Midget Dating: How Difference is Becoming Sexy
Other inane rants by ilmdamaily...
This is probably the most unusual topic i’ve written about, or ever will write about.
Writing for the internet can send you down many unusual back alleys, and it’s easy to just skip over the ones that are either uninteresting, too challenging, or that you hold no empathetic interest in.
But ever since I saw the term “midget dating” pop up in the course of my keyword research, I haven’t been able to let it go.
What goes through the mind of someone who types this into a search engine? I need to know. And it doesn’t come from a place of judgement, but pure curiosity.
This then, is as much an exercise in indulging curiosity and strengthening empathy as it is an attempt to provide real, useful information.
Here goes. I’m going to do my best.
Note: It occurs to me that this is a touchy subject, and that there’s a great chance i’m going to upset someone just by writing about it. Acknowledging that, then, i’m not even going to try to be politically correct. I tried writing this once already without recourse to humour – and it sucked. Seriously.
So from here on in, it’s a blend. I don’t take myself seriously, so there’s really no chance i’m going to take you seriously either – no matter how tall, short, pretty or ugly you are. We all need to be able to laugh at ourselves. And as someone who’s kind of partially blind, I just can’t see the point (see? I can’t help myself) in taking everything so seriously.
So, how do you date a midget?
- Cut them open and count the number of rings.
- Send them to the lab for carbon dating.
- Ask them.
- Have Sean Connery or Harrison Ford recover them from an ancient temple while being pursued by Nazis, dust them off and examine them with a magnifying glass by comparison to an ancient text.
- Get them on Antiques Roadshow for an appraisal.
Oh wait, you meant dating – like flowers and romance and stuff.
Well, that’s an altogether different story.
Note: Yes – that is an utterly terrible joke. But keep reading if you can, it gets better. Really.
Would you date a midget?
It’s a serious question, and it goes to the heart of attraction, and what we as a society regard as beautiful and acceptable. More than that, it goes to the heart of what we should find beautiful and acceptable, and how we decide on that.
That’s what makes this so tough to write about. I think the best way though, is to just jump right in, and attempt to answer the question above.
To be fair, i’ll start.
Would I date a midget? To be brutally honest: I just don’t know.
On the one hand, I tend to look beyond appearances and physical qualities into the person themselves – and being vision impaired, it’s not that hard (ha!). I like to think i’d be “the better man” and date somebody irrelevant of their physical qualities.
But is that the right attitude? Isn’t that sanctimonious patrimony of the worst kind? To regard your romantic attentions for another – irrespective of their physical characteristics as some sort of charity – an exercise in moral superiority?
How utterly egocentric and unattractive. Not to mention unfair.
But on the other hand, I need to be honest and open – how could I rationalise feelings of sexual attraction towards someone who is in many physical ways not so dissimilar from a child? Can such an attraction ever arise? What will the rest of society say about it? What inferences will they draw?
Should any of that even matter?
To be fair, small people don’t ask to be born that way.
To be fair, nobody asks to be born the way they are. We just are.
So how is it fair that people can be forced to grapple with questions like this through no fault of their own?
I don’t think it is fair. Not at all. But nevertheless we are faced with these issues, and by keeping them quiet – by treating people who are “different” – whatever that actually means in a universe of infinite diversity – with kit gloves, we inadvertently accentuate the isolation, inequality, and difference.
This, I think, is my principle criticism of political correctness. By neutralising language and the public discourse around disability and difference, we make it a bigger issue than it actually is. I think most people – most reasonable, rational people – couldn’t really care how tall another person is. What they do care about though is the sensitivity of this person to their own condition – and so we begin the game that everyone loses: the dance around the issue. It always ends with embarrassing silences: when someone who is “different” enters a room, of excessive hyphenation and “smoothing” of language used to describe or address them, and increases their isolation and “otherness.”
Maybe the concerns i’ve just raised are my own alone. But I don’t think so.
And so the question I guess is, are we better off – as a society – brushing them under the rug, or just coming out and addressing them? (The questions, not small people. You monster!)
I want to say disability.
In pondering about this subject, the word “disability” floats around in my mind a lot. Is that right or fair though?
On what basis do we have the right to regard something as a disadvantage? Does being small come with advantages? I’m sure it does – and they’re not ones i’d ever find out about until I was in that situation. I know that being vision impaired comes with certain advantages, (which I will go into another day), and that although many people regard me as having some sort of “disability”, it really doesn’t register in my mind as such a thing at all.
And as an aside, I resent incredibly the desexualising of “dislabelled” (misspelling intentional...and clever!) people – why the f*ck are there separate toilets for dislabelled people? Aren’t they men and women – human beings! – first and foremost? Why does their “disability” have to be the publicly defining factor of their identity? Just make normal toilets larger – no-one’s going to complain about the extra room.
Difference is not disability.
Too often, difference is associated with disability – or undesirability. Perhaps it’s a genetic hangover that causes us to go for the most “socially acceptable” mate, in the interests of propagating the species – maybe it’s completely socially constructed. I don’t know.
Small people have – for large parts of history – been fringe dwellers. Either excluded, ridiculed – and in the worst cases exterminated (think nazi eugenics) – to be small is to have your place in the world pre-determined. They have in the past found homes in circuses and freak shows, even being regarded as property – signs of status and wealth by European Royalty of the middle ages onwards. In fact, an entire gallery at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain is dedicated to portraits (I believe by Velazquez? Maybe it was Goya...) of small people from the courts of various European monarchs. Tellingly – and very obviously unfairly – they are grouped with “buffoons and idiots” – themselves a bizarre status symbol.
What to do then with a personality like Bridget the Midget – a prolific adult actress who has made a name for herself simply because of her size. (For those concerned: I came across Bridget the Midget through a friend who works in advertising, and was seeking her out for a project. I believe it was to promote an energy drink. God bless the bottomless morass that is the advertising industry).
What to do with a person who embodies specifically the apparent conflict or unease that society projects onto issues of difference and sexuality?
I’m going to be controversial here, and say that people like Bridget the Midget probably represent a shifting collective attitude towards – not just small people – but difference in general.
Through a conflagration of the internet, with its ever-evolving long-tail (think: increasingly fractured sub-interests, nestled among sub-interests), difference is becoming not just cool – but normal. That we should have a highly sexualised symbol of this in the form of Bridget the Midget is – to me – not really surprising at all. For it represents not only a flourishing of the counter-culture, the underground that can be hidden in the long-tail, but the normalisation of that counter-culture to the stage where it is sexualised – and on an industrial scale.
Although in many ways embodying the archetype of “the freak” – Bridget the Midget inverts (and i’ll never know if she does this intentionally – though kudos if she does!) this dynamic by sexualising it, thus bringing it ever-closer to the mainstream. By sexualising difference we make it more “normal” – insofar as sexual drive is so utterly universal.
What does this mean then for Midget Dating?
It’s hard to say for sure. But i’d like to think we’re headed towards a future where difference is the norm. Where diversity is the accepted average. Where this notion of a social bell-curve has disintegrated to the point where Midget Dating is no longer a counter-culture or in any way taboo.
Maybe we’re heading towards a world where even the word “midget” will drop out of the term altogether – and it’ll just be dating?
Perhaps you saw the title of this article, and felt an instant reaction. Maybe a gut reaction, and maybe a strong one.
The important thing is not only to identify exactly what that feeling was, but to ask yourself why you had it in the first place: what provoked it.
Answer that question, and we’ll be on our way to better world.
So, to everyone else out there – small people and “normal size” (what the hell does that even mean in the midst of an obesity epidemic?) people: What are your opinions about dating? Small people: would you date a “normal size” person? Do you even want to? “Normal size” people: would you date a small person? What issues would come up in a relationship like this – and how would you address them? Should any of this be societies business?
A (not so) serious note: As much fun as i’ve had writing (and I hope you’ve had as much fun reading) about this incredibly un-mainstream topic, I do hold small people at the same level as everyone else (...until my arms get tired: then i’ve got to rest them on a phone book or something. Gah – sorry). If, after reading this you seriously think that small people are in any way actually inferior to others, then i’ve really only got two words for you: f*ck you.
Let fly below...