There are a lot of things you can quantify on a numerical scale. Pain. Job satisfaction. The latest Inbetweeners film.
But female beauty shouldn’t be one of them.
I’m talking about the infamous ‘1-to-10 hotness scale’, popularised by Barney Stinson and truelad.com. Recently, as the only girl on a lads’ night out, I learnt how prevalent this rating system actually is. So many figures were being passed around, it might as well have been a stock exchange floor rather than a nightclub.
Women can be just as shallow as men…but I have never stood with a group of gal pals giving our male counterparts numerical scores.
And here are my thoughts on why men shouldn’t, either:
1) The Hotness Algorithm
First and foremost, how is ‘hotness’ calculated? Do you get +3 points if you have no obvious deformities, but -2 points for each superfluous chin? Or is it a more meritocratic system…for instance, I went to the gym this morning; do I gain +1 point for effort?
Sean Lind, writer-in-residence at LAD bible ‘Real Men Drink Whiskey’, explains:
A 2/10 is a morbidly-obese woman who ‘clearly has hooves’, whilst a 9/10 is ‘hot enough to make a living out of modelling, or gold-digging’.
Flattering as this description is, it is hardly prescriptive enough for Sean to claim, as he does, that hotness is a ‘science’. Nor was my curiosity satisfied by the numerous websites, videos, forums, and detailed infographics that Google comes up with.
What I like about Western society is its capacity to appreciate diverse beauty: the same society that deemed ethereal, waif-like Kate Moss ‘perfection’ back in 1990 also accommodates beauties like buxom, flame-haired siren Christina Hendricks.
Which is why this ‘scale’, which attempts homogenise beauty, makes me sad. I’m not sure how Kate Moss or Christina Hendricks would fare on this rating scale, but I fear neither would fit its criteria; Hendricks would be deemed ‘fat’, and Kate flat-chested.
2) The Shagability Line
The ‘hotness scale’ presumes that a woman who scores low on the spectrum would be particularly inclined to engage in a one-night-stand, whereas a high-scoring woman would be almost impossible to get into bed. There’s an inherent sense of judgement within this system: a 2/10 is implied to have loose morals compared to an out-of-reach 10/10.
What troubles me about this is, not only does it impose an insulting ‘desperate’ label on women who are deemed to be less attractive, but it also reinforces a sexist double standard. Essentially, the myth of ‘shagability’ demeans a woman who engages in ‘no strings attached’ sex, suggesting that they have some sort of defect.
At the same time, wherever a girl falls in the ‘hotness scale’, it should not affect the level of respect she merits from men. She should be able to enjoy her evening without being harassed by men who won’t take no for an answer because they think she should be grateful for their attention.
3) Love At First Sight?
‘I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity and her flaming self-respect. And its these things I’d believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicious that she wasn’t all she should be. But of course the real reason, Isabelle, is that I love her and that’s the beginning and end of everything.’
Or so F. Scott Fitzgerald described his wife, Zelda. Nor was this a means to divert his audience’s attention from her appearance; lithe and splendidly-dressed, Zelda Fitzgerald was a remarkable beauty in her time (10/10, gentlemen).
Now I’m not suggesting that inner beauty is easy to spot amongst the nightclub hordes…realistically, you only have half a chance of hearing someone’s name correctly. Nor have I ever heard of someone who experienced ‘love at first sight’ in a dingy Oceana franchise.
However, by habitually issuing every girl you come across with a numerical value, you inevitably form a close-minded, prejudicial opinion which might be difficult to overcome. Not to mention that it’s up there with the least romantic concepts I’ve ever heard of. Women are individuals, rather than numbers. And however simple it might be to objectify and categorise them, it’s detrimental- if not ruinous- to the cultivation of true love and respect.
4) Mob Mentality
From what I’ve seen, the numerical rating system is predominantly used as a social tool. Often, on nights out, the ‘hotness’ of a particular girl is debated and a mutual consensus agreed. There’s one problem with this: you are not all going to sleep with her.
So why is it necessary to agree on a woman’s attractiveness? This is a male phenomenon in itself. As a rule, women are too busy worrying about marking their ‘territory’ than trying to ascertain if the rest of the female population shares their romantic interest.
Speaking pragmatically here, not every man is god’s gift to woman, and vice versa (aesthetically speaking, at least).The girl they can only justify a one-night-stand with, because she is a ‘4/10’, may in fact be the most attractive woman they can ever hope to marry, let alone charm into bed. But assigning her a less-than-flattering numerical score- which is agreed by the general consensus of the ‘LADS’- is probably not the best beginning to a budding romance, nor is it a means to open up to other positive qualities she might have underneath this exterior (and in this case I mean a shining personality, not great tits).
5) Let’s Talk About Love
The hotness scale also serves as a comment on how men communicate in the modern age. For instance, I was interested by one man’s suggestion that men will describe a woman with a ‘score’, rather than a descriptive word like ‘beautiful’ or ‘hot’, because it prevents them from coming across as overly sensitive. Is this because of our modern perception of what it is to ‘be a man’? Once, Shakespeare wrote sonnets, Sinatra wrote love songs and Gene Kelly pranced around in tights with Cyd Charisse- and not one of them was considered less ‘masculine’ (or, heavens forbid, ‘gayyyy’) because of it. Now, rather than ‘she gives me butterflies’, men will say ‘she’s a 9/10’. Rather than ‘I’d love to date her’, it’s ‘she’d get it. Right in the –’
In our current culture, homosocial (ie, man-to-man) conventions dictate that, if there’s one thing more emasculating than falling for a woman, it’s owning up to it.
6) Men Wear The Trousers
Here’s my theory: perhaps the ‘rating’ system just a means for men to assuage their own insecurity. Behind the masculine bravado, the calculations and the ‘clunge’, maybe there’s a man who would crumble if his own self-worth was reduced in the same way. Yet, with this ‘system’, men assume a position of control, making them akin to a panel of judges at a swimsuit competition.
Clubbing culture may be second nature to some men, but others resent the expectation to have to approach women, only to receive a string of rejections. It’s ego destroying. By justifying their efforts as a simple numbers game, where they call the shots, men retain a sense of order.
7) How To Fall In Love With A 10/10
As I suggested earlier, women are guilty- just as much as men- of dating misconduct. And I acknowledge that, for many, the hotness scale is a light-hearted game.
However, the idea of reducing someone’s worth to a number is particularly troubling to me. Not only does it deprive women of an identity, but it also perpetuates a masculine discourse which further perpetuates a lack of understanding between the sexes.
Not to mention that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the idea of your friends having ‘rated’ your girlfriend might one day seem abhorrent to you.
Lastly, take a second to consider that the woman you are rashly scoring ‘6/10’ in a club may ultimately be the woman you fall in love with, maybe even spending the rest of your lives together — and, in retrospect, everything about her will seem unquantifiable. So put down your scoring cards, throw out the rule book and go find your own personal 10/10.