In late 2006, Dr. Mark Jenkins of the Beauty Rating Institute of La Jolla, California, made a stunning announcement to a surprised and frankly skeptical world; starting January 1 2007, the old 1-10 system, used by three generations of males to assign a relative beauty value to female passersby, was officially obsolete. Yes indeed, there would be no more "Perfect Tens", lamentable "sixes", and even the occasional unspeakably hideous, palsied "twos" lurching to and fro (ones being nonexistent as it denotes a state of lethal ugliness). No more late-night drunken debating as to whether Jennie Tomlinson was a 7 or an 8 (7.5 consesnsus pick), and how many points must be deducted for slightly lopsided breasts. One To Ten, as Dr. Jenkins emphatically announced, was dead; useful for over seventy years in the service of female objectification, but towards the end laden with too many problems and contradictions to remain relevant in our new high-speed, details-eschewing tech environment. A new rating system which reflected these values was needed, and with this in mind, Dr. Jenkins and his team of researchers at the BRI spent three years developing and field-testing a comprehensive new method which has swept the twentysomething world ever since - 1-0.
"What is 1-0?" Dr. Jenkins chuckles, as we sit in his spacious office on the fourth floor of the BRI's offices in Southern California. I made the trek to La Jolla, California in late summer 2010 to interview this giant of objectification, a man in his late 50s with wire-rimmed glasses and a close-cropped salt-and-pepper beard, before the busy 2010-11 research season began. "It's deceptively simple, really. Say you're walking down the street in some leafy college town, minding your own business, when suddenly a voluptuous brunette wearing skin-tight yoga pants jogs past you. You want to copulate with her, right?"
I nod. "Who wouldn't?"
"Right. So. Under the old system, you would try to apply all kinds of mathematical formulae to determine her exact 1-10 number, and arrive at some precise but nonexact value. But under 1-0, she is, quite simply, a 1 - someone you want to fuck." I'm beginning to understand this now.
"So a 0 is-"
"Someone you don't want to fuck. Simple, isn't it?"
I sat there, nodding in silent comprehension. He leaned back in his ergonomic office chair, hands behind head, and rang his personal assistant/secretary/nurse to bring him a margarita.
Although the 1-10 System was seen as somehow sacred and inalterable, as time passed it accumulated a series of glaring problems that defied ordinary tweaking. First, although at face value its versatility seems to be an asset, it didn't allow for variations in sexual attraction; one man's six was another man's eight-point-five, which snowballed after the legalization of miscegeny in the South. Splitting the field into .5 decimals was an early attempt to correct this (initiated by Dr. John Robarts in 1972), but expanding the field of potential enumeration to twenty discrete states of hotness in effect just intensified the problem. Indeed, Dr. Jenkins' doctoral thesis (Metric Decimalization of Objective Attraction: A Dissention) strongly argued against expanding the 1-10 System to include all decimals 1-9 inclusive, an abortive 1993 attempt to yet again tweak the system past its best before date, as it would be simply fine-tuning each individual man's sexual preference without offering some objective evaluation of the hot female at hand.
Second, was what Dr. Jenkins terms the "Girlfriend Corollary": g = x(≤ 8) +1, where g is your girlfriend and x is the female in question whose hotness she asks you to rate so long as x equals eight or lower. While the Corollary works where x≤8, an obvious quandary (where x≥9) presents itself fairly quickly which defies ordinary resolution. Dr. Jenkins elaborates:
"Say Scarlett Johansson appears on the episode of Entertainment Tonight which your girlfriend has roped you into watching, and she asks you how hot she is on a scale of one to ten. IF, and this is a giant if, your faculties are straight and you know what you're doing, you'll rate her an eight."
"Why eight?" I ask.
"Because seven is objectively ridiculous, an obvious lie, and nine or more leaves precious little wiggle room for the equation."
"But you screw up. You say Scarlett's a nine or, God forbid, a ten, then you're toast. Saying she's a nine leaves your girlfriend with little option but to assume she's a Perfect Ten, which, by virtue of her asking in the first place, she knows she isn't. Hence you lied. And if you just come out with it and say Scarlett's a Ten, then your girlfriend's pained facial expression means you have to crack some kind of joke about the hotness scale going to Eleven, which it patently doesn't. Either way you've lied, and you'll pay for it."
I think about this scenario playing out countless times in the past, and understand why Dr. Jenkins is is considered truly visionary in his field. His secretary, Ramona, comes in wearing an incredibly revealing nurses' outfit with white stockings while holding a silver tray with two perfectly mixed margaritas. He picks one up, kisses her on the cheek, and slaps her lightly on the bum while she walks away. She titters playfully, and I take a big sip of the best margarita I've ever had this side of TJ.
"So the question became, what now? We were receiving field reports from across the Western World about One To Ten's failings, and it quickly became apparent that yet another tweaking would not do. A paradigm-shifter was called for - but what? How would we disengage ourselves from the received wisdom that One To- Ten brought?"
I sipped the last of my margarita. "That's exactly what I was going to ask you."
As it turned out, the 1-0 rating system was not created out of thin air. Rather, it was adapted, a portmanteau if you will ($50 bet won), of an earlier system used to describe a gay male's sexual proclivities. A one equals the penetrator, and a zero the receiver, as applied to such scientific criteria as weight, comportment, and fagginess (where 0=f(≥7)-2w). Upon watching an episode of Project Runway, Dr. Jenkins suddenly realized that this same rating system, adapted to heterosexual lust, could prove revolutionary and ultimately destructive to the old One to Ten system that was by then running on fumes. And indeed, by that point other websites (most notably hotornot.com) had already started using absolute values to evaluate hotness. The entire Tinder empire has been built on this zero-sum attractiveness index.
What Dr. Jenkins realized in that moment, before anyone else at the Institute, was that the One to Ten scale was, in fact, merely approximating an absolute value that could be best expressed as a whole. That ultimate value wound up being not the relative hotness of any given female, but the ultimate fuckability of one. By assuming that h=f, as was done these last seven decades, a critical error occurred which failed to account for the vast range of sexual proclivities which males apply daily to unaware passersby. With the refutation of h=f, the rest came quickly as Dr. Jenkins explains:
"This really represented a conceptual shifting of priorities. It occurred to me, then, that ultimate fuckability is what represented an ideal female, not hotness which is strongly correlated with but not necessarily linked to the former. Hence, appeared a way to reconcile all the problems which One to Ten had accrued over the decades. Instead of g= x(≤8) +1, unwieldy at the best of times, it could be simplified to just g = 1 (QED). "
"Wow", I nodded. "Brilliant."
Dr. Jenkins said nothing, but hit his buzzer indicating he'd like more margaritas and T & A.
The 1-0 Rating System did not roll out evenly. Such notable authors as Neil Strauss (The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists) chose to cling to the One to Ten system even after its obsolescence, and many Southern college campuses like Bob Jones University refuse to acknowledge it for its homosexual overtones. However, the trendsetting Ivy League (particularly Rutgers) adopted it early on, and it quickly spread throughout North America; today using a 1-0 Rating System is the same as having an iPad or G4: showing that you're a person receptive to change, in the know, and affluent enough to to adopt it.
One of the major strengths of 1-0 lies in its versatility of use; where the One to Ten had tried to pigeonhole every possible variety of attraction in twenty discrete slots, 1-0 simply assumes fuckability as a given, and operates from there. Hence, the black girl with a wicked ass is a 1 to both the blackophile and the ass-lover, the reasons differing but desired outcome the same. All varieties of the rainbow are condensed into one details-eschewing, user-friendly icon based on the objectifier's preferences, and dovetails well with the modern era's reliance on general ideas and gists in lieu of substantive fact. But what sold it, most likely, was its reversal of the time-honoured g= x(≤8) +1 equation. Is Scarlett Johansson a 1? Yep. But is your girlfriend also a 1? For sure. How does she know? Because you fucked her. Hence - g = SJ. The elegance of this Fermatian solution is not lost on Jenkins.
"By reducing attractiveness to its crudest expression, you reach a situation - thanks Dear (*slap* *sip*) where equivalent outcomes equate objective reality. There is no 'act' which goes beyond a male thrusting his erect penis into a willing female - save bestiality, which acts as a controlled outlier in our experiments - which can be usable in objective quantities. Therefore, a shy male who takes a drunk "Four" home from the bar can rate her the same as the Alpha Male who takes home the platinum blonde "Ten" from said establishment, 1-0 being a function of reality and not corporate magazine fantasy."
Another advantage of the 1-0 system is its easy communicability between male peer groups through the medium of hand signals; a female walks by, and either an extended index finger or loop formed by a closed hand on thumb can be silently deployed for instant situation analysis. That said, this system is not entirely without its faults. Although it represents a generational shift in the way males objectify females in their visual range, the 1-0 system tends to weed out males whose standards are lower from their larger peer group, which in itself denotes lower socioeconomic status, lower confidence, or smaller genital presence. As well, it encourages homogenization of group beauty standards, typically calibrated to the desires of the group leader. I raised these concerns with Dr. Jenkins over my second margarita.
"Every system is going to have its faults. I mean, we are trying to categorize every single female on Earth here, so for a project this ambitious it's bound to have some negatives. And that's assuming you see social stratification based on acceptable fuckability as a bad thing."
"Is it?" I asked.
"Well, that's a whole other conversation. What's important is that we addressed a lot of failures and greatly streamlined the whole process. Is it perfect? No. But is it a lot better than before? I think we can all agree the answer is yes."
I raised my index finger. "Actually, it's a one."
Dr. Jenkins chuckled and mumbled an order for yet another margarita. "Yes, it sure is."