New Year’s Resolution for 2016: Have White People Slap Each Other

2016 has arrived and with it the promise of new opportunities to change and improve ourselves individually and collectively. Something that we could all work on is combating racism in all its nefarious forms. There are way too many examples of how racism functions currently and how it changes depending on who is on the receiving end of the racism (for example, I don’t have any concerns about being sexually assaulted by an overzealous, power mad and racially biased cop like Daniel Holtzclaw – but Black women do have that concern), but since this is our annual rebirth of the new year, why not imagine what life could be like if white people in America acted like a Romanian man did when a friend of mine visited Romania for the first time. She’s a Black woman in pharmacy school, but she was extremely surprised when there was heightened attention seemingly across the country because a Black person was there. They hadn’t seen many if any Blacks, and she was even interviewed on the news (presumably to help the city she was in see what a real life Black person looks and sounds like). While enjoying this newfound position as Black ambassador to Romania and having a couple of drinks with some locals, a semi-drunk guy ambled over to her and made a joke in poor taste (at best), saying that my friend is a descendant of Kunta Kinte and laughing drunkenly.

At this moment, she’s only got a handful of options – laugh it off awkwardly to avoid an international incident; tell the drunk man how he’s being offensive with his poor joke (especially if he wasn’t trying to be offensive); or set it off in the tavern and hope to slide out safely amidst the chaos. Turns out there was another option that she couldn’t choose but was chosen for her: a friend of the drunk man SLAPPED the drunk man and told him it was rude to say that to my friend. Flat out slapped him like Charlie Murphy and Rick James. The drunk man got slapped and corrected and then APOLOGIZED to my friend for his error. Had she slapped him, it could’ve set off a dangerous course of events for all involved. Because it was one of his own that challenged him to do better, his response was temperate and appropriate, though it’s still doubtful that he learned not to say that joke in general, just not in front of Black people.

Imagine a world where white people slap the shit out of each other when they see or hear one of their own making anti-Black racist statements or espousing false, damaging, racist beliefs about Black people and Black culture. Wouldn’t that be a grand place where socially damaging behaviors are corrected within the society as opposed to legal means? We can see it now….

At the family picnic:

Bob: Those fucking nigg…

(SLAP)

Joe: Bob! Do better!

Bob (holding his face): You’re right, Joe. Sorry about that.

At the dinner table:

Sue: Daddy, a Black person was our substitute teacher.

Bob: Those fucking nigg…

(SLAP)

Jill: Damnit Bob, can’t we go through one dinner without this?!

Bob (holding his face): Sorry, Jill. Didn’t mean it?

Sue: Daddy, you have work to do.

At the office:

Dale: Bob, have you seen Johnson? I thought he went on break over an hour ago but I can’t find him and have a project I need his help with.

Bob: You don’t need the help of a fucking nigg…

(SLAP)

Johnson: Who the fuck you calling a nigger?

Dale: Wasn’t me, but I slapped him for his rudeness.

Bob (holding his face): Alright, I said it. I SAID IT! You happy now?

Johnson: I’d be happier if you didn’t need to keep getting slapped, the rest of the office has been slapfree for months now.

Dale: Gonna have to report you – you know the rules, if I had to slap you the boss finds out.

Bob: Dale, you don’t have to…seriously. You know the boss will fire me! I’ve learned my lesson! After 6 slaps over the past 2 months, I can’t take another hit to my record!

Johnson: You mean you can’t take another hit to your face. You know if the boss keeps you, you get vengeance slaps right?

Bob (still holding his face):……….

Dale: I’m going to ask the boss not to fire you but let him know I slapped you for your racism.

Bob: Dale, just have him fire me. The vengeance slaps that Justin got give me nightmares.

Johnson: Nah, nah patna! You’re not getting away that easily. Tell the boss that Johnson, the guy Bob got slapped over, has no problems with him staying on provided he’s qualified for vengeance slaps.

2 weeks later at the office:

Johnson: Bob, how’s it going?

Bob:………

Johnson: No response? You don’t feel like talking much today?

Bob:………………..

Johnson: Those vengeance slaps were a motherfucker, weren’t they?

Bob:……………………………..

Johnson: Ah, the sweet sound of silent racism.

(Bob gets up and walks out the room).

I know this isn’t the reality of 2016, 2017, 2040, or 2100 (but wouldn’t this be an incredible Black Mirror episode?). But the idea of self-correction is what many people of color are calling for when they tell people to go do their research. Go self-correct rather than living obtusely thinking that because it’s not illegal to be racist you haven’t done something wrong or that Black people are whining when they claim racism manifests in a host of different ways. If Black people had to slap white people every time they overstepped the racist line (and white folks have been habitual linesteppers) our collective arms would have fallen off by now. To be sure, Blacks and many white people have been offering verbal slaps (and some physical ones) for a long time now in the face of this problem, but Black folks’ arms are tired (and like Killer Mike recently said, white folks seem to be rather hard-headed regarding these issues) so now it’s time to make the call for all white allies and supporters of ending anti-Black racism to do something brave that’ll help everyone out:

Slap your buddies, family members and colleagues when they cross that line. If you don’t know what it takes to cross that line, stop and make sure you’re not the habitual linestepper referenced earlier. If you do, then get that equality pimp hand strong and put it to good use. The world can’t wait on you not to slap someone.

Happy New Year, folks.

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All Lives Matter Doesn’t Make Sense

Picture this scenario – Anytown, U.S.A., which has a small population of Black and Brown people who generally try to live by the same rules and regulations that everyone else around them abides by. These are folks who go to work, pay their taxes, try their best with parenting, and even participate in their community. By and large, these are people any community would be lucky to have.

Black and Brown community members are regularly harassed and dismissed (simultaneously!), however, by the white people around them. The same people who are solidly doing their jobs and being good citizens remain in constant fear that some event will befall them that ends their life prospects, their economic future, or their lives themselves for no other reason than being Black or Brown. Some of it is because there are stereotypes associated with being a person of color, such as being historically made out to be a threat or a menace. Some of it is because of pure, irrational racism that drives home unfounded (and normally proven to be untrue) assumptions and beliefs about people of color ranging from them being international terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda to being domestic terrorists associated with the Crips. These Black and Brown folks have become accustomed with this manner of living, with a regular worry that something needlessly oppressive will occur and that they will have no recourse to avenge any wrongs or injustices.

Over time, there was a buildup of these injustices and no reckoning. Black and Brown people (and even some white ones) noticed the pattern of injustice, who it continued to follow and negatively effect, and the policies enacted to maintain and protect oppressive institutions. Rather than remain resigned in their collective disappointment of their local government and community, they decided to engage the public at-large via massive demonstrations and a media campaign to re-educate the masses regarding the plight of Black and Brown people. The best method of quickly explaining that mantle, they decided, was to scream out with all of their souls, “Black Lives Matter!” They were met with a heavy police presence despite the largely peaceful protesting (an oxymoron in itself), something considered appropriate since there were a lot of Black and Brown people who were (justifiably) angry at the continued oppressive state they lived under. Quite frankly, when Black people get mad, white people get nervous.

One way they responded to the nervousness was to claim that “All Lives Matter” in defiance of “Black Lives Matter.” Fortunately, in Anytown, U.S.A., bad things can happen to anybody, and a young white woman met her unfortunate demise in Anytown as a result of police misconduct – she was gunned down needlessly while unarmed and not resisting or posing any danger. One might expect that there would be a response, since she was a victim of injustice. Perhaps a march down Main Street shouting, “All Lives Matter,” holding signs with pictures of her. But in Anytown, U.S.A., there was no march down Main Street. There were no signs with this young woman’s picture on it. There was a news report and a quiet firing of the officer, with rumors of a civil suit emerging in the aftermath. Anytown continued with business as usual, unconcerned with lives mattering as justice has been done (to some degree).

Business as usual in Anytown included regular dismissal and hostility towards homeless people and the poor. It included dismissals of women’s claims of sexual abuse. It, of course, included regular discussions behind closed doors regarding the problems of Black culture and ways to capitalize off of it. But this young woman’s death ended up a quiet nonstory in Anytown, a simple reminder that All Lives Matter only when people yell out Black Lives Matter.

At a recent Democratic Presidential debate, a fan question came in that asked, “Do Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter?” The candidates responded, some saying the former, others the latter. Nobody stopped to address the elephant in the room – doesn’t this question sound like it has to be one or the other, not both? Is it impossible for Black lives to matter…precisely because all lives matter? Better yet, doesn’t all lives matter sound trivially true and practically false? Let me explain what I mean.

All lives matters seems to be obviously true. Everybody matters. Everybody’s special. Everybody’s got a place in the world, right? That really all hinges on what we mean by “matters.” What it means to matter can go a number of different ways based on what kind of criteria it takes for a life to matter, and what kind of mattering is being discussed. Here are a few examples of ways you could matter: to your family, to God, to your community, including your country, with respect to rights, and with respect to justice. This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but should give a pretty good example of the many ways we all could matter in some respect. Some of these collapse upon each other, since rights are usually conferred or protected by governments – so if you matter to your country, the protection of your rights matters as well, being one of the ways a country can show that someone matters to it.

Let’s assume that in matters of justice in the United States, all lives matter. Then Black lives have to matter in terms of acquiring justice when confronted by something unjust, such as voter suppression tactics (which intimidate Blacks from using one major application of being a citizen and participating in the democratic process), a mass incarceration program that is directed towards Blacks (which, again, limits their ability to vote among other rights), and institutional racism that prevents many Blacks from accessing the resources and opportunities needed to flourish. There’s no way to slice it – if all lives matter in terms of justice, then Black lives (which HAVE to be a subset of all lives) matter with regards to the injustices that have happened and rectifying the injustices that have occurred. This claim doesn’t hold up if you have a different view of what All Lives Matter means.

Giving a charitable read of the All Lives Matter argument, I’ve come up with something like this:
1) Everybody deserves justice.
2) By focusing on the perceived plight of Blacks, it ignores that everybody deserves justice.
3) By focusing on the perceived plight of Blacks, it ignores that everyone is the same – color and race don’t matter in terms of justice.
4) Since everyone deserves justice and color and race don’t matter, Black Lives Matter doesn’t make sense.
Conclusion: All Lives Matter, not Black Lives Matter.

If this is the view, then Black Lives Matter doesn’t work at all for a number of reasons, chief among them its divisiveness in a country that is beyond color and race politics. This assumes that this is a country beyond race, which seems to be patently false. The call to be beyond race is often made by those who would stand to benefit from the end of race because it ends any form of historical guilt or those who think they will benefit from the end of race because it ends any form of contemporary discrimination. But if All Lives Matter, even from this particular stance, why hasn’t there been any marches for the dead white woman? Because from this particular viewpoint, there isn’t any systemic problem of police violence, it was one bad agent who happened to be a police officer. This is how any issue such as racism or sexism is viewed – one bad actor who may be in a position of authority.

Crucially, All Lives Matter is a position of critique and, in and of itself, critique isn’t a bad thing. It’s necessary to refine crude ideas into diamonds that our culture live by. Critique done with the purpose of undermining a status quo shaking position, however, doesn’t serve to strengthen our culture…unless you believe strongly that the status quo is effective. As many say, America is the greatest country on Earth, which assumes that because you’re the “best” that you’re not above improvement or that you don’t have to improve until the competition improves. LeBron developed a three, after all.

Here’s another problem with saying All Lives Matter – do mosquitos lives matter? Or the cow and pig that we ate today, do their lives matter? Plants are alive – do their lives matter? It strikes me that if their lives matter, they matter only relationally to ours. Plants should be afforded independent lives as long as their existence is needed or if we can turn them into paper. Bees’ lives matter only because of their relative importance to pollination and creating honey. All lives on this planet don’t matter, even if we said strictly human lives, as there would be much more concern for global politics and deplorable living conditions. All lives certainly still don’t matter if we say humans in the US, as the local homeless person you step over does not matter in terms of their justice claims. These latter two problems can be viewed without a racial lens, which prompts the question: do All Lives Matter or Some Lives Matter?

Without a question, some lives matter. It’s much less illegal to say you’ll kill me rather than saying you’ll kill the mayor of whatever city you reside in because political figures matter more to the community than Joe Schmo’s like me. Rich people’s lives, presumably because of their necessary existence for the success of the capitalist market, matter more than poor people’s lives, who suck on the teat of the rich for their existence according to some. A less abrasive example would be your interest in justice for your loved one or friend if he or she were a victim of an injustice compared to your interest in a stranger across the country being a victim of injustice. Some lives hold more perceived value than others; our decisions regarding who deserves justice are informed by their perceived value to us, our community, or our culture. Assuming this, hollering Black Lives Matter actually makes sense as a program to change the negative perceived value of Black lives. Hollering All Lives Matter is more like yelling, “The world is flat,” something that seems trivially true and yet actually false.

When Life Goes A-Blaze

Blaze asleep

Discipline is a funny thing. It comes when we most need it, but when we want it…well, that’s where the comedy lies. This blog has been all but dead for months when it comes to new material during a period when I had the most time to write. And boy, was there was much to write about. George Zimmerman‘s trial happened while I was in Chicago and the verdict came in as I watched the Cardinals lose to the Cubs at Sluggers, a nearby bar to Wrigley Field. Riley Cooper got caught on video and 2 weeks later it’s released that he’d called someone a nigger at a concert with mostly white people around. After his 4 day breather during training camp (while everybody else continues to take a physical beating), he returned to his starting job at wide receiver when people have been fired for saying or doing similar things. Robin Thicke had naked women in his Blurred Lines video and got shocked by the uproar when the defense was that a woman directed the video so it can’t be objectifying. Syria allegedly used chemical weapons and we’re about to go into World War III. Dr. Sanjay Gupta said weed isn’t necessarily bad (and that he tried it), prompting another national conversation about getting blazed. But I never seemed to muster up the discipline to write. Continue reading

My White Conversation About The N-Word, Pt. 1 – An “Ask Mr. Philosopher” Special

It was a brisk spring evening and after class, a buddy and I were hanging out at a local bar.  Usually when he and I talk, things inevitably come to some sort of race discussion.  And no, I’m not the one bringing it up (usually).  And yes, he’s white.  He’s also the kind of white guy that’s aware of the social boundaries but does want to push them, at times just for the sake of argument.  He’s also second generation immigrant on one side of his family so he offers a unique perspective on cultural issues.  He’s never offended me even though we’ve had some very good back-and-forth on contentious issues (such as his claim that African-Americans is not the right name for the current group of slave descendants – claiming simply American would be more accurate because the connection to Africa was, unfortunately, severed.  I responded that ancestry is enough – Korean-Americans trace their ancestry back to Korea, Filipino-Americans to the Philippines, etc.  Due to the severed connection, African-Americans might not be able to claim a certain country – hence Kenyan-American designating someone born in Kenya, not in America – but both on good faith because of the severed connection and ancestry, the title still fits.  We went back and forth about this for awhile).  This particular repartee was no different, as he took a swig of his beer and asked me, “Why can’t white people say the N word? Continue reading

Pissed Off Pontification: Lazy B!tch Syndrome

I’m tired of it.  There is a mentality that’s growing among us all and it threatens to ruin the fabric of everything good about human life.  Much like a rotten apple, those purveyors of the…condition infect others with its allure of a better life for others.  Nobody is immune to its charms, much like the devil convincing a poor soul to do his bidding.  Truly, this condition is like a plague – if it is allowed to continue to spread, we will be overrun by these wasteful fools and life as we know it will end.

What could cause all of this calamity, you ask?  Why, it’s simple…

LAZY BITCH SYNDROME.

Yes, Lazy Bitch Syndrome, or LBS for short, is everywhere and spreading.  People of all shapes, sizes, colors and creeds are becoming lazy bitches.  What exactly is a lazy bitch, you ask?  Someone who refuses to work themselves into independence and prefers to rely mooch off of another person or persons.  Here’s an illustrative example: Continue reading

Ask Mr. Philosopher – Dating in the Technological Era

Welcome to a new addition to the blog – “Ask Mr. Philosopher,” where your favorite philosopher answers your questions about ethical situations that we all find ourselves in.  I know, philosophers don’t actually have much use in this scientific and techie society, but science won’t inform you about what you ought to do.  Technology can help you find answers to questions but it won’t help you develop your moral values.  What technology can do is get you into trouble if your partner doesn’t share the same moral values, also known as “what’s right and wrong.”  So here’s a commonplace situation:

Your significant other left their phone on the bed and left the room.

How many of you would pick up that phone and start “playing” with it?  You know, looking around to make sure you have nothing to worry about?

The answer, I think, is a ton of people would do just that if presented with that situation.  They don’t find anything and they don’t get caught doing it, so the moment passes.  We all know, however, that if the same situation popped up and you DID find something, all hell would break loose and you’d feel justified in addressing your significant other about what could be foul play.

For many people, this is the reality of dating life in the technological era.  Privacy continues to be eschewed in favor of catching criminals in the act, prior to the act, or finally, after the act on the assumption something illegal MIGHT be happening.  In the tech age, everyone’s guilty of doing something they shouldn’t have been doing even before they do it.

With stuff like this, whoever is doing the searching really is acting like the police – looking for evidence to nail your ass to the wall with.  Unfortunately, everybody’s watched Law & Order so they think if I find evidence, then you’re guilty.  Even in the case of phone searches, there’s still a right to an illegal search because, and I quote, “It’s not your damn phone.”  Even if you do find something that may be wrong, the searcher is also in the wrong because you went snooping and invaded the searchee’s privacy.

So the question is: Are you ever justified in going through someone’s phone?  The answer is rarely, but we will find a way to justify any action so long as we stand to benefit from it.  The justification just won’t be strong, and here’s why:

The searcher’s argument looks something like this;

1) If my significant other is doing something s/he shouldn’t (according to me), I have a right to know,

2) My significant other is likely to do something s/he shouldn’t do (according to me),

3) My significant other is likely not to tell me if s/he did something s/he shouldn’t have done (according to me),

HENCE, I’m justified in looking through my significant other’s phone (on a regular basis).

This is the most basic argument for why it’s ok for me to look at the phone, through Premise 1 could have a 1a that explains why you have a right to know.  Even though it’s predicated on being in a healthy, successful relationship, that doesn’t necessitate that you have to know A) everything your partner is doing, or B) that something your partner shouldn’t do, according to you, is a wrong action.

In fact, I should say that I’m not sure you can make a good case of having a healthy, successful relationship if you make this argument because it’s clear that searching a phone displays a lack of trust.  That’s effectively what Premises 2 and 3 are for – my significant other is going to do something wrong and not tell me.  Granted, there may be a moment that could give one legitimate pause as to if foul play is occurring that could shake your trust in your partner.  A swaying branch in the wind is far different than a broken tree limb on the ground because the branch still has life.  The moment phone checking becomes a norm, without a shred of evidence of foul play, you’ve become like a wiretapper following the PATRIOT Act, invading privacy in service of your own greater interests, including correcting your partner’s behavior!  Incredibly, there are people out here treating their significant others like children, figuring that if my partner knows I go through their phone, my partner won’t do things I won’t like because my partner knows I’ll find out about it.  As though that model works wonders with adults, who are much more resourceful than children, on average, and give many fewer fucks than children, on average.

If the trust is so broken that you feel the need to search through someone’s phone, then the relationship wasn’t doing well to begin with.  There’s a paranoia that must set in when somebody goes past the point of no return with their phone search, because you don’t read a phone like you read the news – you’re looking for something.  Anything that will validate and justify what you’re doing because flat out, you wouldn’t want it done to you.  And that’s why the justification struggles; it’s looking for evidence to convict without evidence of a crime.

There are three main reasons, aside from the “it’s not your damn phone” argument, that phone searching should be considered tech taboo –

1) What’s next?  My email password, my Facebook password, my blog password to check my comments and make sure I’m not flirting there?  This is a slippery slope for the relationship – the searcher will always assert, “if you have nothing to hide, you should give me the password.”  Even if there’s nothing to hide, there’s still something to preserve – my privacy!  You don’t need to see the email my Dad sent me about his time at Freaknik, that’s not for your eyes!  He sent it to me, not you!  Similarly, any text messages, Facebook messages, Twitter DMs, and emails were all sent to me, not you, so why are you trying to see what is literally not meant for your eyes?  Privacy means trust, and generally trust implies both giving it and receiving it – this is not a one way street.

2) You wouldn’t want it done to you because of the slippery slope from #1 and the invasion of privacy.  We all have things we don’t want our partners to see, with good reason (at times).  You go into my email, I don’t want you to see that my boss kicked my ass on a project I didn’t do well on!  That’s not a conversation I want to have with you, otherwise I’d have it with you.  You, the person searching, have those same emails and texts that you would rather your partner didn’t see, even if they present no threat to the relationship.  You can say, “I don’t have anything to hide” but it’s bullshit and we both know it.  It might not be an affair, but we all have things we’d like to keep to ourselves and you would feel just as violated as your partner does, checking your phone on a regular basis.  And quite frankly, it’s disrespectful and can feel like a slap in the face.

3) Even if you find something that’s potentially problematic, how you found it won’t help matters – your “rightness,” because you found the evidence of wrongdoing was done via a wrong act yourself, invading your partner’s privacy (whether or not it’s done regularly doesn’t diminish that it shouldn’t be done).  As #1 and #2 explain, by revealing that you found the forbidden fruit, you also reveal that you went through the phone.  Even if you find potential evidence of an affair, your partner will have a claim that what you found doesn’t matter, it’s how you found it.  You hurt your partner before you found out your partner might have hurt you…and thanks to misunderstandings (see below), potential problems get blown out of proportion as false evidence of wrongdoing.  Ultimately, the chances of productive conversations for your relationship arising out of you searching your partner’s phone are slim to none.

———————–

SIDEBAR: All of this is so far based on a committed relationship between two people.  If no exclusivity commitment has been made, all of this is moot.  There isn’t any justification other than “he told me he was making death threats” or something like public or personal safety.  Trust is still being built at that stage – if you’re concerned that the person you’re dating has somebody else, think about making the commitment rather than going on a witch hunt.  Witch hunters don’t yield good partners; they’re always looking for another witch to burn.

———————–

The greatest fear I have is that these events are predicated on people assuming their partner is keeping something from me, as though it’s a bad thing.  Right to privacy is important for a reason politically as well as romantically.  This is part of the problem of dating in the technological era, which is that boundaries are being disintegrated.  Thanks in part to the boundless (literally and figuratively) Internet, privacy is not what it was just 15 years ago.  The concept of privacy was rocked when Facebook became the go-to social networking site and we collectively placed our lives on the boundless Internet for everybody to view, comment, and poke.  Not to say that these technological advances were bad – rather, they’ve been incredibly useful (especially for people who like to snoop around without being caught).  People feel less restricted in invading your privacy – “you put your business out there,” they’ll say.  “Facebook stalking” exists as a term for a reason; it’s an accepted behavior that we chalk up to the amount of content you put out there.  Still, with the amount of misunderstandings (“She’s not your friend, don’t lie to me!”  “He’s not your coworker, don’t give me that!”) that are easily possible by reading conversations that don’t pertain to you, and with such a huge downside of getting caught in the act, this particular action just doesn’t seem to be the best way to alleviate your concerns about foul play.

I get it though, you don’t want to be played like a fool in case your partner is doing something wrong.  Trust need not be blind, you say.  That’s true, but it also doesn’t need to have one eye open.  While unfortunate, there are people out here who will abuse your trust and it behooves all of us to be on the lookout for those people.  If something does indeed seem out of place, ask about it.  But know this – whether you follow your partner to make sure s/he is where s/he said s/he would be, go through their Facebook posts, look at their Twitter mentions or go through their phone, you have opened up a can of worms of distrust on your end that can’t be easily closed.  Distrust in a relationship leads to poor decision making and regrettable events daily.  Snooping starts you down a path that doesn’t end well.  I’m not saying be naive about your partner, but I am saying that snooping should be considered an equivalent of arming a nuclear weapon in your relationship.  It’s not a button I would push unless the circumstances are dire, and even then nobody enjoys the nuclear fallout.

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?