OPINION: 5C students should ditch the 1-10 ‘hotness’ scale

A drawing of three women talking on a couch. Their faces are crossed out. In the background is a collage of photos of eyes.
(Sasha Matthews • The Student Life)

Rating a woman’s appearance on a 1 to 10 scale isn’t solely a practice of the alpha male podcasters and street pick-up artists of the internet manosphere. Such shorthand is now shockingly common — even celebrated — among young adults around the world. As a teenager, you’re very likely to hear a crude “nah dude, she’s a 6 at best” in everyday conversation, even at our very own 5Cs.

That’s right — at the elite Claremont Colleges, you’ll uncover a host of important world truths, like whether that guy from your media studies class prefers tits or ass.

While seemingly trivial, the 1 to 10 scale’s popularity should be a cause for concern within our community. Try as we might to dismiss it as meaningless gossip, it is impossible to ignore its insidious repercussions on the way we perceive the female body.

To begin with, the act of slapping arbitrary numbers onto human beings is undeniably degrading, encouraging us to base someone’s value on their ‘hotness’ to us when people clearly have more to offer to the world than their bodies. The scale is therefore another way in which we tie a woman’s value to the male gaze, mandating that they climb the social ladder by tailoring their looks to the tastes of men.

These tastes reinforce the sky-high Eurocentric beauty standards that have crushed female self-esteem for decades. To be the ever-desired 10 out of 10, it’s likely you’ll have to follow these antiquated conventions to a religious T. Fall out of line and your value might plunge down to the unthinkable single digits. Either way, you remain an object to be dissected and judged and you lose ownership over your own beauty. By being visible, your body is no longer your body but rather a product that others will evaluate, probably using this trusty old scale.

The ranking’s revered conclusion becomes foundational to the way people treat you, legitimizing disrespect, misbehavior or worse. After all, your value to the world is nothing but how hot you look. Can you blame a guy for shit-talking a low 4 or stopping at nothing to bag that 9?

Tolerating this language sets the stage for a violently misogynistic way of thinking where women become vessels of either male desire or ridicule. The 1 to 10 scale leaves no room for women to exist outside of a hypersexual microscope, synonymizing the acts of being seen and being objectified. In 2023, this means performing for the male gaze with every outfit you wear, picture you post and conversation you join.

At the 5Cs, I’ve seen multiple “Batch of 2027” Instagram pages become breeding grounds for “hot or not” conversations, even when students shared these get-to-know-you posts with the intention of making new friends. Witnessing arguments over whether a random freshman from Shawnee, Oklahoma, was a 5 or a 9 instilled fear in me that still lingers today. Are they judging me like that, too?

Such anxieties should have no place within the Claremont Colleges, especially considering their emphasis on open-mindedness and community. People should be able to live life without their value being boiled down to a single number.

So, as the semester continues, I hope the 5C student body realizes it would be better off without assigning women random numbers to decide if they’re hot or not.

Vaidehi Srinivasan is a first year at Pomona.

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