The downside of rating women

by GK on November 27, 2009 · 7 comments

Before I step on my high horse — with its Gucci saddle — I’ll admit I’m a repeat offender on this one. I think it’s an innocent game much of the time: two guys see a gorgeous woman walk by, and as soon as their eyes return to their sockets, they feel a need to rate her looks.

“She’s a 10!” “No, she’s a solid 9 but no more!” I’d joke about decimals being inserted into the debate, but they’re often a part of it. And of course, were the guy to actually hook up with such a woman and tell his friends about her, I’m pretty sure the first number he’d use to describe her wouldn’t be her grade-point average. If you’ve read any online “field reports” detailing men’s endeavors with women, you’re likely to have read the term “HB 10” somewhere. Even though so few of us would actually use a term as corny as “hot babe.”

I’ve heard some call this a sexist habit, but sexist isn’t the word I’d use. For one thing, I’ve found that women judge other women’s looks much more harshly than with a 1 to 10 system (at least we don’t use negative digits). Also, like many people, I love rating things — whether it’s the best “Rocky” movie (“Rocky IV”), the best novel (“The Great Gatsby”) or the best pie (pumpkin). So it’s no surprise that where sex appeal is concerned, the whole “Ginger vs. Mary Ann” debate lasted for decades.

Then again, “Ginger vs. Mary Ann” kinda gets to my point: just what are we rating? If it’s sheer hotness, or which one I’d rather take back to my tiki hut for a night, I’d say Ginger wins easily. But Ginger always struck me as more than a little unstable — as hot, cast-away actresses go — and if I’m thinking beyond one night, I have to vote for Mary Ann. She’s probably the better cook.

And there lies my biggest complaint with a rating system: consciously or not, we’re letting other people’s standards for women define our own. This can be a tough habit to break.

I see much in my Charisma Arts students that I saw in myself during my 20s. We’re turned on to this new, bolder way of living, where we can have any woman any time. At least, that’s what we think before we learn better. But it’s true that beautiful, high-quality women ARE an option we can choose, which is inspiring.

But many of these guys are still learning what kind of women and relationships they want — it’s a vulnerable point for them. Add to this the mixture of a rating system and the male ego, and you have guys who are living not to impress themselves, but to impress friends and strangers. I think it’s sad to hear them lament how they “haven’t had that 10 yet,” as if they’re Captain Ahab searching for a White Whale in a mini-skirt. It’s the same reason why I loathe the idea of sharing my “score” for how many women I’ve had, which other guys do. I suppose the “archery of pee” contest can’t be far behind.

The more experience I got with women, the harder it was for me to pick out a 10 on looks alone. Even  the celebrities who men lust for don’t count as 10s for me because they’re just images, and often airbrushed ones. (Except for Aishwarya Rai, the Indian actress to the right. She’s a 10.) Although I have my physical type, I’ve alternately been attracted to women who were curvy, thin, brunette, blonde, white, dark and even tall. Often, I disagree with my buddies on who the hottest girl in the group is (a great trait to have in your wingmen, by the way).

The thing is, I like flaws. Certain ones, anyway. I’m definitely in the Sir-Mix-A-Lot camp when it comes to women’s posteriors. And I’ve witnessed plenty of hot-looking women who were downright unsexy — just about any trip to the hip-hop club is bound to reveal them. (Suggestion: don’t wear 3-inch heels if you can’t walk drunk in them.)

And before I can declare any woman to be in the uber-attractive category, I need to see what she’s about. Is she witty? Does she carry herself with a certain confidence? Stylish? Friendly to people when she doesn’t have to be? And do we just plain get along well? I am a picky, superficial male, but these factors matter a lot to me. If I have a choice between a  7 who has those qualities — heck if I know what a 7 looks like — and a 10 who doesn’t, I’ll take the 7, thank you very much.

Of course, maybe you’ll meet a woman who looks like a 10 to you and does have those traits. Lucky you. The problem is, if you treat her like she’s the perfect representation of womanly beauty right away, you just might come across as needy. And no, I don’t think asking if her nails are real will help.

Because of all this, I like the idea of ditching the 1 to 10 system and rating women a simpler way: she’s either a 1 or a zero — a yes or a no. Some of the same variations apply, but at least it should help those Captain Ahabs stop worrying about how hot she is versus every other girl on the street, and it won’t put women on any undeserved pedestals.

Bow chick-a-bow-bow!

Bow chick-a-bow-bow!

Using this system, I’m going to reveal my celebrity crush to you: it’s the hilarious Kristen Schaal of “Flight of the Conchords.” She of the cute-and-quirky-yet-strangely sexy persona, whose stand-up routine I attended in San Francisco this month. Kristen, no man short of six beers will call you an HB 10, but you’re definitely a 1 for me. Look me up the next time you’re in town. Seriously. I don’t care what my friends say. You’re a hottie.

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1 Alive November 27, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Great idea! I don’t remember where I first heard that from (it was described to me as the “binary scale”, so clearly some very cool people), but I liked it instantly and have been using it since. 3, 7, 10, whatever — it all gets boiled down to the only important factor….would you get with her?

2 GK November 27, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Yes, I was trying to remember what they call it. Binary scale, check.

3 Beider November 30, 2009 at 3:20 am

I must say I have mixed feelings about this, on the one hand it is bad if you start thinking more about what others will think when you consider if you like a woman or not.

But on the other hand when I talk with my friends and talk about some girl I met or talked with, is it really that much difference if I tell them “she was hot” or “she was an 8 at least”, different wording but similar meaning. Only difference is that the later scale is a bit more exact and allows for the other person to more accurately understand your feelings when you see the girl. As he can imagine how he feels when he sees a girl that is an 8,9,10… (Let’s not lie to ourself, most guys treat girls differently depending on their looks, not to mention that some get a little stupid around the ones they find really hot).

Now the reason I think the 1-10 system is getting a lot of criticism is mainly because there are a lot of people with (serious) issues who use the system.

So personally I think it is not the system that is the problem, it is more the way it is used. What needs to be avoided is thinking more about what others will think when looking at a woman, rather than ones own opinion. If she is called a 10, super hot or incredibly sexy does not really matter.

PS. Personally I usually avoid talking at all about the looks of the women in my life as the only reason I would do so would be to feed my own ego.

4 GK November 30, 2009 at 1:53 pm

The system isn’t necessarily the problem, but I think it’s a very limited system because it’s so subjective. Unless we’re both there looking at the same girl, what if your idea of a 7 is my idea of a 9? But if you simply tell me you think she’s cute, hot, or drop-dead gorgeous and describe her a little, that does enough for me. I honestly don’t know what the difference is between an 9 and a 10 without some detail.

But hey, it doesn’t stop me from using those numbers sometimes when I’m out, though I definitely don’t use it with women I’m seeing — I just don’t think it’s healthy.

5 John April 14, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Interesting article. I stumbled across it looking for Ginger vs Mary Ann pics, but I liked the content. You’re right that a lot of people are living for other people’s expectations and don’t even realize it. I also agree with you that fantasies aside, a woman’s personality is much more of a factor in attraction than her looks. I am so much more attracted to a mousy girl who’s really nice than a gorgeous girl who’s stuck-up and mean.

And, FYI in binary the rating scale is:

0-10 = 0000- 1010

To convert from the scale to your scale, just take any number greater than 0 as true, and 0 as false. So true means you want to date her.

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