Tuesday, October 19, 2004

So. You Get Laid. Then What?

Ah, Vincent forwarded me a site to piss me off. Sweet boy.

This is a damn funny little site. Let's just say that up front. I was giggling much of the time. What wasn't so amusing was going to the sites' forums and watching boys trying to learn how to "treat women like bitches so they'll respect you" game.

For those who don't know it, here's an introduction to Ladder Theory:

Every time you meet someone (let's talk purely about hetero attraction here, and working on the assumption that when we meet someone, they're default "straight" if we're straight), you rate them based on their fuckability. That is, men rate women like this.

Every time a man meets a woman, he puts her on his fuckability ladder and rates her by how much he wants to have sex with her.

To sum up:

1. The people men really want, who may even be out of their league, are on top (celebrities, models, etc)
2. Then come the people men like (that hot cheerleader)
3. Moving further down men pass the people who men would fuck if they were intoxicated and would admit to doing it later (the fat funny chick)
4. At the bottom are the people men would fuck drunk, and would lie about doing it later (the ugly ho-bag who sucks off all the football players)

We’ve all been beaten over the head this again and again - men are ONLY looking to fuck anything that moves. Their penultimate goal is to move their fuckery "up the ladder" - so a man’s goal is to always be banging a hotter chick than the one he was banging the day before.

(For the record, I’ve never met a guy who was having sex with one woman one night and another woman the next night. Except for maybe one of the theatre slut-boys back in highschool. And he has since retired. I think he works at a gas station now.)

Fucking lots of women will get men status points (hence the “up the ladder” analogy). Will this mentality get him peace and prosperity? Well, not likely. But other guys'll wanna suck his dick too, cause he’s so cool.

To sum up: men rate women based on how fucking that woman will move them up in social status.

and women apparently rate men like this.

"The first thing to notice here is that a woman has not one, but two ladders. This is becasue in addition the normal ladder, a woman also has a friends ladder. The friends ladder is where a woman puts guys that she considers "just friends". More to the point where she puts guys who don't get to have sex with her."

Um. Yea.

“Well most guys know that women dig guys with money. Would Donald Trump be fucking models if he wasn't rich? That question is rhetorical. Now I don't even believe this is wrong, I think it is just nature. But I also think women who are this way (and it is almost all of you) should be honest and admit that they are basically whores, and stop saying bad things about the so-called "actual whores" who are just trying to earn an honest living.”

AGAHAGAGAagagahaahhahahaa

To sum up: women will only have sex with a guy they believe will increase their social status. Because a woman’s social status is measured differently than a man’s, she’ll be more likely to sleep with a rich or powerful man.

Do I even need to add that this theory was concocted by a bitter guy, so it's a little loopy? He's trying really hard to understand women, and why some women won't sleep with him, but will sleep with Outlaw Bikers and Rich Guys, hence the huge Money/Power pie piece in the women's attraction pie chart.

There's some problems with this. Let me suggest something.

Men are always on the lookout for the "hottest" chick, right? Sure. Let’s go with that myth. But let’s owe up to what being with the “hottest” chick is really about, OK? It’s not biology. Let’s stop right there. If it was about biology, a guy wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about who was on his arm, so long as it was female. If sex was really all about procreation (ha), then guys wouldn’t give a shit about who they were screwing so long as she had the requisite 35lbs of extra body fat for the production of children.

I’m sorry? What’s that, you say? Women can’t get pregnant unless they’ve got 10% body fat? What? But, if fat women are more fertile, shouldn’t fat women be “the hottest chick”?

Shhhhhhh! Don’t tell people that beauty is a cultural construct! Keep convincing people to feel bad about being attracted to “imperfect” people! If we tell them it’s OK to be attracted to the people they’re attracted to, everyone’s going to realize that they can get laid and have really warm, cozy partners without investing in cosmetics and plastic surgery, and then where would the economy be?

So a man wants to walk into a room with a "hot" chick on his arm. “Hot” meaning our conceptions of “hot” as illustrated by Britney Spear and her clones.

A man with a hot chick on his arm gets big Alpha Male status points. Screwing better-looking women has to do with status points, not the viability of his sperm in her body. This is social. Not biological. See above reasons.

In order to perpetuate this lurid cycle, women in our society still often grow up believing that their bodies are their ticket to success. If women are already good-looking and not so great in school, they learn that their best ticket out of Nowheresville is to attract a rich guy to support them. Or a powerful guy who can drive them out of Nowheresville. Hence the Outlaw Biker. So all of a woman’s time and energy goes into “perfecting” her body so she becomes the “hot chick” ideal.

Men are told to consider women just bodies, commodities (which is reinforced by talking with these "hot" women and discovering that in order to stay "hot" their main topics of conversation revolve around the associated obsessions: diet, manicures, and makeup), and men respond to women in kind.

Lovely little vicious circle, isn't it?

And I'd argue that it's NOT inherently "natural" or "the way things are" or that "all women are bitches" and "nice guys end up being a woman's intellectual whore." Our narrator enlightens us on how poor, defenseless men are being "used" by women as "intellectual whores":

"Later in life I started encountering a certain breed of woman. To begin with they never wanted to sleep with me. Now, this by itself is okay--not all women will want to sleep with me. However, this particular breed wanted to have me around to talk to and to make them laugh, because I was so "entertaining" and "funny." Some of them went so far as to describe our relationship as that of "friends", and a few even had the audacity to talk to me about problems they had with other guys."

There's some whoring in there. But not much intellectualism.

Our narrator also believes that women can't be intellectual whores, because no man would be crazy enough to talk to a girl who would never have sex with him. This is a boo-hoo why-won't-women-have-sex-with-me rant (cause you're an asshole?). Men apparently don't like to keep women around who they won't have sex with. So if a guy is hanging out with you but appears to be sexually uninterested, he's gay, find you repulsive and is sober, or he "has someone higher on the ladder already. If you haven't read the ladder theory, then if the guy thinks you are beneath him."

Now, I'm not going to argue against the idea that we often estimate our sexual chances and/or interest in someone when we first meet them. But I will argue that women are a lot more keen on sex than anybody gives us credit for, and all men aren't dumb enough to cast off female friendships just cause she says "no." The ones who are, of course, women are better off without.

The problem is, women have a lot of other factors going into the sex-or-no-sex decision besides money and power (damn, this guy loves that money and power thing. He must be a poor college student). And we have the big divider, which is why I think there's so much confusion over sex between the sexes -

Men learn that if a woman likes him, she'll have sex with him. Women learn that if a guy likes them, they'll talk to them and hang out with them. Guys are expected to have sex with anybody. It’s no compliment to a woman for a guy to want to have sex with you.

I'm going to repeat that: I find nothing flattering about a man's wanting to have sex with me. I don't gain any sense of personal pride or fulfillment having sex with a total stranger or somebody I don't really give a shit about.

But men are taught that getting into bed with a woman is akin to "winning" something. They "score". They're somehow more macho, better, more "manly" (whatever the hell that is), and a man's status will almost always go up when he gets laid (even if it's the fat funny chick - the shame comes when he tries to start a relationship with the fat chick, but I'll get to that in a minute). Whereas a woman's status is more likely to go down depending on the number and type of her sexual partners. Meaning she's going to be a lot more selective. Otherwise, she's a "whore" and do I even have to talk about all the negative connotations of that label? How it’ll likely open her up to sexual assault, et al? Women have to worry about getting pregnant, and how well their chosen partner will support that should the time come. We have to worry about guys running around starting rumors about us and trying to screw up our social status. Sex is fun. All types of it. Not just the penetrative kind. Women love sex. It’s great.

But we’ve got a shitload more on our shoulders than guys do.

Let's take, for example, me (I'm a bad example, but let's just go there). I'm bad at casual dating, so pretty much all of the guys I meet get automatically slapped into the "friends" pile or "one-night fuckable" pile (that is, he's damn hot but there's no way he would date me, but if I ever got him drunk and had the chance, I'd totally have sex with him, because even if he does like me and thinks I’m cool, I view myself as physically inferior, and he won’t be able to take me home to meet the friends and family without getting a negative social reaction).

As a general rule, guys stay in the friends pile until they start indicating an interest in me that's beyond "friends." Most guys don't bother, because I don't give them much to work with. For those who do, I'll either respond in kind, or give that "kiss of death" line - hey, you're cool, but let's just hang out.

Now, why would I say this? Does it mean I don't want to have sex with him?

Not neccessarily (though let's not be hasty - women have the "repulsive slob I wouldn't touch even when drunk" category too).

What it means is that I'm not interested in pursuing anything long-term with him. I don't have sex with men I'm not interested in hanging out with in the long term (generally - see my rules above). I'm very bad at not getting attached to people, which means I have trouble with casual sex, so I don't do it. You're my friend (we hang out and laugh and there's no sex) or my boyfriend (we hang out and laugh and there's sex). And, to bust down this bizarre myth people keep building up around men - another big reason I don't screw around casually with guys (particularly guy friends, unless they've become boyfriends, meaning I want to form a longer-term partnership) is that guys I get intimate with are often looking for some kind of longer-term commitment from me.

Whoa. Yea. Imagine that. Men who want to be in relationships. Shit, we better not talk about that. About how men's dependency on sex actually has a lot to say about weakness. If my identity was so integrally tied to having a bazillion of female sexual partners, I'd be a virulent misogynist too.

Huh. There's that circle again.

I'd like to come back to the intellectual whore idea. Ladder Theory posits that men really hate talking to women unless they're going to get laid. The woman has to "pay" for his attention by allowing him to penetrate her body.

WTF??? Can you say, fucked-up male assumption of privilege, much?

I love talking to all sorts of people I'm not having sex with. Most guys don't have sex with each other, but they talk all the time. And I sure as hell would find it offensive if every time somebody listened to me or read one of my books, they expected to be able to punch me in the eye without reprecussions.

So, can only a man be an intellectual whore? No. I've made a living out of it. And I know a bazillion women who do the same. They're the one the guy calls to get "female advice" about his girlfriend. They're the one they call when they're depressed, angry, envious, scared, and sometimes, when they feel sexually incompetent in bed and want advice. If I had to tell you the amount of times I had to listen to Hot Guy #4 tell me about his problems with his girlfriend, I'd be here all night.

Here's the deal about guys and dating. Because for some reason, this ladder thing doesn't talk about dating. Just fucking. Which is way, way easier and less complex. What I want to know is, after a guy get's laid, then what? You take your "getting laid" points and move on. While some girls have to freak out about who he's gonna tell, and does a one-night-stand make her slut, and if she's a slut, will anyone ever treat her like a real human being ever again?

This is shit women shouldn't have to worry about.

I learned the weird part of intellectual whoredom really early. In the 4th grade, I lusted (as much as a 4th grader can lust) after a beautiful Aryan boy who quite literally must have dated every girl in our fourth grade class but me. Though I wasn't so sure what "dating" meant to him, because he was spending all of his recess and class time talking to me about the stories I was writing. We talked about religion and Stephen King. When he broke up with his next girlfriend, I was twitter-paited, and stood expectantly waiting in the wings.

Instead, he chose the next chick on his list.

Why?

Cause I wasn't a "real girl." He wanted to out with a “chick.” With the “proper” sort of girl.

What, exactly, is a "fake" girl?

Fake girls are the girls you like but can't date. And - they're the boys you really like but can't date because you're afraid of what everyone else will think.

I was a chubby little dork with glasses. Aryan boys might like hanging out with me, but they can't show up to dinner parties with me. I chose not to mold my body into a commodity, and chose to be myself instead. I’ve spent twenty-four odd years working on the sorts of commodities that’ll last me past middle-age, not the ones I’ll have to mold with plastic surgery. In part, this is because I managed to get out of the “I view myself as a commodity” mode.

In any case, it was all for the best, because I would later learn that Aryans were pretty, but not very interesting (I, too, was locked into the "people I'm supposed to be attracted to" mentality), and have since come to terms with my personal desires, as already discussed.

But most people have a bitch of a time with it.

Guys get into trouble for going out with fat girls, or for actually caring about "sluts." And gals get razzed for hanging out with "losers" and "dorks." Or, say, for being attracted to guys who are smaller than they are.

The social harassment net is already in place.

So, listening to this guy bitch about his ladder theory and all the Hot Chicks who wouldn't fuck him, I could certainly sympathize. Men get points for # of fucks, not oozy-relationships, even if that's what they really want. So what do we have to hear about all the time from the monstrously masculine? How much they wanna fuck women. Stay home and masturbate then! If it's all about ejaculation, stay home and get off my fucking porch.

Unless. It's. Not. About. Merely. Getting. Off.

Oops. Did I write that?

It's about Alpha Points. And, I think, the stuff that men refuse to owe up to - they want to be wanted. A woman having sex with a man means she *must* like them. They receive validation in the bedroom. They feel like "real" men instead of boys or losers or dorks. They want to be touched. Is it ever meaningless sex?

But I also saw that our narrator didn't understand that women's choices about sex are much more constrained than men's, and that because of the different gendered weight given to sex, we just don't get all of the same things out of it that guys do. And let me be clear - I think guys are getting gyped with the whole "must have meaningless sex with as many women as possible" mentality, too. As a woman, why aren't I encouraged to collect men like postage stamps and use them to give myself a sense of confidence and power?

Cause then we'd have to start talking more about sex and power. Go run around those intellectual whore forums on this guys’ site, and you'll find men who believe that women are in charge of the world, that rape is a myth and all women use their sexuality to emasculate men. I'm not sure what statistics they've seen, but I know bitterness when I read it. Why is the number one question among men: how can I get this woman to fuck me? and the number one question among women: how can I get this man to like me?

Because, I think, we're talking about the same thing.

We want to be liked. And we've been given different standards for what that means. Men like the fucking thing because they believe it gives them control over women. Women like the "emotional tie" thing because they believe it gives them some modicum of control over men (and the sorts of rumors they'll spread outside the bedroom).

So, no. I don't think women and men have different ladders. I don't think all women are Evil Bitches and all men are Sluts.

I think we're a bunch of people who want to be liked, and we have no idea how to go about it because we're locked in the messages being pushed at people of our sex, and having trouble putting ourselves into the shoes of the other sex, and seeing what's being shoved into their faces about what "true masculinity" or being a "good woman" really means.

And I feel that bullshit pop-culture sites like this perpetuate the "men and women are soooooo different that they'll constantly and forever hate each other and not get along!" myth.

And they piss me off.

8 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

shara said...

Oh man, just found you and I want so badly to sit and read but if I can't. Just got a paragraph or two and had to scoot right to the end so I could comment. Shit! I will definitely have to come back when the kids are in bed and the house is quiet and I can concentrate. I like what I've seen so far, though, so thanks for that.

Kameron Hurley said...

Yea. This is a long one. Sorry about that. When I get pissed off, I get pissed off...

Welcome. Enjoy.

Vincent Holland-Keen said...

Wow. I expected a rant. But that was a rant and a half. Maybe even two rants. In fact, I'm going to have to come up with a new word to describe what you do...

Kameron Hurley said...

:::laughs maniacally::

Yes. Yes, I know.

Bent Fabric said...

A good post that I'll have to read in increments (I'm at work). :)

Anonymous said...

I found this site a few years ago. I found that it worked really well if you replaced every instance of "man" with "dipshit" and every instance of woman with, uh, "dipshit".

Rather than agree with each separate point of your rant, I will simply say yes, I agree with just about all of it. And I think that as you move up the maturity ladder, you see less of that behavior.

I might've started out the singing-group meet-and-greet-dinner six years ago flirting with the cute blond alto, but I ended the evening flirting with (and, a few years later, marrying) the smart, witty soprano who could maintain an intelligent conversation and hold me joke-for-joke.

-Patrick

Kameron Hurley said...

I think altering perceptions about sex, and understanding the "women are people too" idea is also about having real relationships with people.

Reading this guy's rants, I'm seeing somebody who just doesn't have any real relationships with anyone - male or female. It's a really high schoolish me-centric view of the world.

And looking over his little photo album of "girls who wouldn't fuck me," it does look like he wrote down all of his major "theories" while in his freshman year of college.

jiri said...

Nice Blog!!! It looks like you've spent a fair amount of time setting it up and keeping the content fresh. I'll be sure to come back.

I have a online dating blog. It pretty much covers dating direct related stuff.

Thanks again and keep up the good work.