The downside of rating women

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.

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. 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). Suggestion: When a Woman’s Age Matters

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 doeshave 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!

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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