You Either Will or Won’t – The Binary Scale

One of my best friends went to Miami recently and he brought back a revolutionary concept that I’ve been meaning to introduce you all to.  Traditionally, when we consider someone’s attractiveness we utilize a base 10 scale, with 1 being “ugly as sin” and 10 being “chop a leg off to hit it fine.”  While I’ve certainly got more experience with guys using the base 10 scale, do not be fooled – everybody has the concept of 10 is hot, 1 is not, or at the very least they categorize people into “hot” and “not.”  Since both “hot” and “not” are relative terms, they provide a level of comfort for everybody.  We all know what it means when Jimmy calls Kathy a 9 and when Beth tells her friends that Joe is a 2 – Jimmy is attracted to Kathy and Beth doesn’t think that Joe is all that attractive.

What do we mean by attractive?  That’s why the scale exists – I don’t have to necessarily know what everybody means by attractive because I can generally ascertain what they mean by attractive through their use of the scale.  It’s usually physical attraction that’s being rated, but even the base 10 scale can be about the overall package of the person (attractiveness, potential future, emotional availability).  It’s a great way to quickly categorize the people around you, and categorization is a human function for understanding the world around us.  Like I said above though, do not be fooled – 9 times out of 10 this scale is used for general attraction but more specifically physical attraction.

The problem with the base 10 scale (in terms of its use, not whether or not it objectifies the person being rated) is that there are murky waters in how we actively use the scale.  One question to ask to focus our use of the scale is, “All things being equal, would you engage in sexual activity with this person?”  Basically, if all of the requisite needs for you to get loose with this person would be there, would you get it in?  For the higher and lower numbers, it’s an obvious answer – if you’re 8-10, the answer is yes and if you’re 1-3 then the answer is no.  But some people have no problem with getting it in with 7s.  I know people who, when drunk, let the beer goggles control their vision and they’ll find 5s and 6s more attractive.  There’s no judgment here about how you work with your 1-10s, but it is hard to find the common ground in determining actual physical attraction.  So how about a simpler scale that gets right down to the heart of the matter?

Either You Will or You Won’t.

That’s the basic premise of the binary scale.  Again, remember the question, “All things being equal, would you get loose with this person?”  With the base 10 scale, you have the “maybe area” of 4-6 (or 7, depending on the standards of the person).  With this scale, there is no more maybe.  Either you would get loose or you wouldn’t, all things being equal.  Some people might object to the idea of “all things being equal” as a realistic way of determining if you would or wouldn’t get it in with somebody.  Think about how we usually categorize the people that catch our eye – we picture some imaginary scenario in which you and the person you’re trying to put a number to would hit it off – that’s the exact same thing as “all things being equal.”  Even though things never are always equal (people carry hidden baggage, for example), when we use any sort of scale we’re already using an “all things being equal” approach, so taking it to an extreme approach like 0 – I wouldn’t hit it, 1 – I would hit it, shouldn’t be problematic.  Quite frankly, you do it already so don’t even deny it.

Think how much simpler things are now when the conversation comes up.  No more having to think hard about whether or not she’s a 6 with pants on but a 7 with a skirt on.  No more pondering if he’s a 7 if he’s broke or a 9 if he’s not.  You can wrap it all up in one big package, or you can even use a different question for the scale.  Remember, I focused the binary scale earlier on would you or wouldn’t you be intimate with this person.  Technically, you can put someone into a full package and utilize a, 0 – I wouldn’t be joined at the hip with this bastard, 1 – I’d happily date this person, kind of scheme.  There’s no more grey area, and we use the grey area at times as a crutch so as to avoid making determinations about these kinds of questions.  When we’re rating someone’s prima facie attractiveness, even if you wanted to rate someone higher, sometimes you’ll avoid putting a higher rating on that person because you don’t want others to think that you find the “questionable” person attractive.  Get rid of the crutch, it’s either a 1 or a 0.  It’s a yes or a no.  Don’t give me no damn maybe.

Well, wait wait wait.  There are legitimate maybes in this world.  Those drunks I mentioned earlier that have their beer goggles on are dealing with what I call “sober maybes.”  Everybody has them – when you look at them sober, you think “maybe.”  But take a second look after a few shots of Patron and they look like they could be fun, even if only for a night.  How does this factor into the binary scale?  It’s a universal – if you’re willing to give them a 1 once, that’s a 1.  Somebody can change from a sober 1 to a sober 0, but if a sober maybe turns into a drunk 1, then that person is a 1 in your scale normally.  In terms of this scale, those would be .5 people.  Remember your math rules, however – .5 rounds up to 1.

Now, I love this scale, in case you couldn’t tell.  I don’t even use the base 10 scale anymore.  Some of you all might take umbrage with the usage of a rating system to categorize people’s attractiveness.  It certainly smacks of objectification, but I honestly don’t see it as an objectifying system any more so than our usual manner of determining who’s attractive to us and who isn’t.  The only difference is there’s a number attached, which, in this instance, is used as a means of comparisons between the people we interact with in this world.  When we see someone we find cute, we think to ourselves that this person is cute.  If you’ve seen 200 cute people today, they’re not all going to be equally cute.  One might be extremely cute and another just kind of cute, but both fit squarely inside the “cute” category.  Rankings and scales are used implicitly.  At least with the binary system, it’s explicit and can be adapted for other questions.  But quite frankly, being able to strip down the secondary questions (“why do you think she’s a 7 when her ass looks weird?  Why do you think he’s a 8 but his face looks busted?”) and be able to simply have a stance of you would, all things being equal, or you wouldn’t, all things being equal, cuts through the extra mess that we go through to justify our base 10 stance.  So cut through the bull and ask yourself this the next time you find yourself gazing at somebody, wondering how attractive they are to you:

Would you….or wouldn’t you?