Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Depict Backlash To 'Height Privilege' -- It's An Art Piece About Seeing Literally Eye-To-Eye

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Depict Backlash To 'Height Privilege' -- It's An Art Piece About Seeing Literally Eye-To-Eye Conceptual Art

Did a feminist conference use platform shoes of various heights to negate "height privilege" and lobby to make such shoes mandatory on college campuses? No, that's not true: This post is from a satire page that mocks various social justice causes. The photo used to illustrate this made-up outrage over 'height privilege' actually shows a 1997 conceptual art piece from the German art collective Inges Idee. The gallery gathering depicted in the photo was called a "same height party" and the idea was simply to fit people with shoes so that everyone would be two meters tall. Along with putting everyone at the same eye level, the differences in original height would be visibly displayed in the thickness of the blue styrofoam platform shoes.

The claim about "height privilege" originated from a post (archived here) published and pinned to the top of the Facebook page "Anita's Hall of Social Justice & Intersectional Feminism" on July 12. 2019, under the title "HEIGHT privilege, yes straight white males, it's a thing!" It opened:

It's time we discussed height privilege and how it disproportionately affects transgender, people of color and fuels rape culture.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Mar 4 15:21:19 2021 UTC)

The post continued"

You see, although there are no physical or biological differences between men and women, because sex and gender are just social constructs pushed by the patriarchy, men are generally taller than women, so when a man is very tall, the proximity of his penis is closer to the mouth of nearby shorter women.
Women are then forced to "speak into the mic", every time they say something, and if they are educating a straight male by yelling at him, the mouth is open even wider which risks exposure to bodily fluids such as semen or perhaps even urine if they're from Sweden or Germany.
In fact women speaking to such tall men simulates oral sex in a variety of ways, but NONE of them are consensual. We feminists call this P.I.F.S or "Penis in Face Syndrome".
At a recent feminist conference, women were finally given equality, and height privilege removed by use of platform shoes, which we are currently lobbying to have made mandatory on college campus.
We are also intending to push thin privilege in future and force fit people to walk around campus wearing heavy weighted bags, so they know just how difficult it is for cellulite-diverse people.

The image that was used in the Facebook post has been flipped horizontally, this prevents some image search engines from identifying the original source. The real art installation had nothing to do with rape prevention or "P.I.F.S." (Penis in Face Syndrome), an idea the satirist appears to have made up, since the only instances of the phrase found by search engines are copies of the satire piece.

The original photo appears in the portfolio of Hans Hemmert on the Inges Idee website. The piece, which consisted of 50 pairs of styrofoam platform shoes of various heights, was titled, "Level" and was part of an exhibition called "Personal Absurdities" that was displayed in 1997 at Galerie Gebauer Berlin. This conceptual piece was part of a 1990s art movement named "Relational Aesthetics." A 2019 article about Hemmert's piece in somethingcurated.com explained the movement this way:

Born in the 1990s, the Relational Aesthetics movement saw a group of artists endeavouring to facilitate interaction and communication between artist and viewer through participatory installations and events. Relational artists rejected making conventional art objects, instead opting to engage audiences by creating situations that call for interpersonal interaction.

This conceptual installation was featured in artiholics.com on February 20, 2013, in an article titled, "Art Sometimes Imitates Life, This Time Art Imitates Height." The article explained:

The beauty of the art experiment is that the odd dynamic of larger people towering over shorter people, or shorter people looking up the nostrils of larger people would be completely gone. A lot of our personality might be based on our physical stature and the angle at which we perceive the world and people around us. Attending a party where every guest is eye to eye, could be a real eye opener, and could make for some very level photos (you would never need to adjust the tripod!)

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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