John Greaves III

Exploring the art of written expression

Why No One Tosses Dwarves

with 7 comments

World Record holder David Buterbaugh squatted 625lb.  and benched 385lb. Can you say action hero?

World Record holder David Buterbaugh squatted 625lb. and benched 385lb.but they wouldn’t cast someone like him in the Hobbit!

I don’t mean to make light of a serious issue. What happened to Martin Henderson and others like him is reprehensible. I also recognize that someone has already googled all of the dwarf tossing stories on the web and is prepared to flame me in the comments section. But wait. I said, we don’t toss DWARVES, not DWARFS. That’s an important distinction I think because Dwarves are treated differently and viewed differently in our collective cultural consciousness than Dwarfs, who are sometimes referred to as Little People, or the worst name of all,  midgets.
Dwarves are heroes, they feature prominently in literature as craftsmen, explorers and fierce warriors who even if they may not be pleasant company are NEVER looked at with contempt.

disclaimer: I do realize that dwarves is actually bad grammar according to Tolkien, who coined the phrase. BUT since nobody ever says or hears the word dwarrows (unless you’re a Dennis McKiernan fan who can’t spell) I’m sticking with dwarves.

Back to my point. We look up to Dwarves and go out of our way to play as them in RPGs and movies.

Would you try to toss this guy?

Would you try to toss this guy?

Dwarfs on the other hand, are arguably the last demographic that it is safe to ridicule. As a member of a culture group that has endured its share of discrimination over the past four hundred years, I feel the rage and frustration that my brothers and sisters of less than average height feel.

How can someone see you and automatically assume based upon your physical characteristics that it’s okay to say and do hateful things to you? That it’s okay because since you’re laughing, you get the joke and you’re not uptight about it?
Perception I guess.

The divide between the Dwarf peoples of mythology and the dwarf we may actually encounter on the street is so  great that Peter Jackson digitally shrank tall actors rather than put real dwarfs in the hobbit and dwarf costumes! I suppose it’s a step forward that they used the bodies of Little People and just digitally imposed the faces of A -list actors on them for “Snow White and the Huntsman” but really? Again, perception.

Read the dictionary definition of Dwarves: In Germanic mythology, a dwarf is a being that dwells in mountains and in the earth, and is variously associated with wisdom, smithing, mining, and crafting.
Now contrast that with Wikipedia’s definition for Dwarfs or Little People, “Dwarfism /ˈdwɔrfɪzəm/ occurs when an individual person or animal is short in stature resulting from a medical condition caused by abnormal (slow or delayed) growth.”

According to the definition of dwarfism, only the guy who is 4'10" is abnormal in this picture.

According to the definition of dwarfism, only the guy who is 4’10” is abnormal in this picture.

So we begin by stating that people with dwarfism are abnormal.  Abnormal. Hmm.

When was the last time that a description of basketball star Lebron James began by discussing  the health risks that his height entails or how abnormal the Houston Rockets’ Jeremy Lin’s 6’3″ height is when his parents are 5’6″?

Before you say that doesn’t apply, consider that every member of the Baka people in Africa would probably be astounded to discover that they are all afflicted with a medical condition caused by abnormal or delayed growth. So would any of the other short stature people groups in Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Andaman Islands, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, Brazil for that matter. But here, they would all be able to apply for membership in Little People of America as would 4’10” bodybuilder Flavio Baccianini seen to the right posing against Lou Ferrigno.

Abnormal.

Geez people. How about we change perception and start by looking at people as people?

Want to read about a dwarf hero that’s not in a fantasy book? Check out Pit Stop on Amazon Kindle as Zac Matthews and Mya Rodriguez take on thugs in Alabama while riding a custom motorcycle!

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Written by John Greaves III

2014/01/17 at 2:01 AM

7 Responses

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  1. I like, very well done. The “M” word is of the past and is no longer acceptable. Actually never really was, maybe a hundred years ago or so. We as a society are much more educated now and less ignorant or at least I hope so. Great article John Greaves !! Thanks for checking in with me first !! Good job !!

    David Buterbaugh

    2014/01/17 at 10:58 PM

  2. John, great article. It always amazes me that treating people as people is not always a given.

    Anonymous

    2014/01/18 at 1:57 PM

  3. John, great article. It always amazes me that treating people as people is not always a given.

    Heather Saylor

    2014/01/18 at 1:59 PM

  4. I was unaware of the distinction between dwarfs and dwarves. Thank you John for your thoughtful article. My husband and I are dwarfs, as is our oldest daughter.

    Deborah Dagit

    2014/01/19 at 5:11 PM

  5. Hi Deb,
    I’m so glad that you enjoyed this! I think that the tragedy is that we make a distinction where none should exist! I tried an experiment on my own teens this morning: I asked them to describe mythological dwarven peoples and they used the words like skilled, good warriors, loyal and proud. When I asked them to describe dwarfs, they said,”their legs are bowed, not straight like people who are normal height, they can’t do a lot of stuff because they can’t reach stuff, they have health problems because of their condition”. I blame myself honestly for that one because I didn’t act until now to address the unnecessary dichotomy. Of course I recognize that some Little People have debilitating health conditions. But so do people my height and taller! Speaking from the perspective of a member of the black race, I can say that until blacks started collectively viewing themselves as equal to whites, no one else viewed them that way either. Do you think Jackie Robinson tried out for the majors because he DIDN’T think he could play? I think it’s time to start celebrating all of the areas in which Little People are equal to or outright superior in ability to people my height! I have a list of those areas already compiled and it grows daily in case you’re interested. Be proud! Become heroes!

    John Greaves III

    2014/01/19 at 10:56 PM

  6. Heather,
    I appreciate the kind words. Please tell others about it and (brace yourself for the shameless plug) if you’re interested in reading about the ONLY dwarf hero in non fantasy fiction, check out my book Pit Stop on Amazon Kindle. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HB7I8P4

    John Greaves III

    2014/01/19 at 11:00 PM

  7. Great article John. Thank you for showing the difference and educating people.
    You show great support and that is why I want to support your moves. Discrimination against short people is growing. I hope you don’t mind my shameless plug also: http://shortmen64inches.blogspot.com/

    Luke

    2014/01/24 at 11:41 AM


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