Monday, January 24, 2005

My Take on Ladder Theory & Intellectual Whores

I've been holding off on a follow up post on Ladder Theory (first mentioned here) because I've been trying ot organize my thoughts and reactions. At this point, I'm just going to let loose and see where it goes since I'm still pulling it together.

I know some people are confused about the theory and/or applying it. I don't really have anything else to add on this specific point. Really I just wanted to link up THL's posts and make fun of her for taking the whole thing so damn seriously.

The thing is, I like the theory on its most basic level. Guys and gals having two different scales (1 ladder vs. 2, respectively) makes sense and appeals to me on a very deep level. Soup's post was spot on, guys are interested in women and rank them on their ladder. Accurate statement no. 1. In this regard, specifically about the one/two ladders, the theory is good.

What bothers me are all the other minutae thrown in with the theory on the web site. As a male, I don't have insight into the women's rating system or its suggested breakdown. I simply have no perspective on that.

However, I do have perspective on the most controversial syllogism: Yes Virginia, They All Want to Bang You. Therein, the Ladder Theory author states: "IF A MAN FINDS YOU ATTRACTIVE YOU CANNOT BE FRIENDS." After considering this point, I have to say I disagree. Personally, I'm friends with many women I find attractive. Yes, given the chance/opportunity I would sleep with them, but that's not the exact point of this ism and is where it fails. Just because a guy finds a woman attractive does NOT mean they cannot be friends. I see no precise reason why attraction must necessarily negate friendship. Attraction can complicate, confuse, conflate and destroy friendship but not necessarily rule it out. If that were the case, then, according to The Theory, I would have (almost) no female friends. Since I consider some females I know not only attractive but also friends, I offer this as evidence of the statement's failure.

As Poon put it: "Ladder Theory simply explains why your friends would bang you if they could. It does not mean that they're trying to bang you -- just that they would, if you gave them the opportunity." As I mentioned in a follow up comment to Poon's, "guys will 'take it to the house' barring a few, specific intervening situations (e.g. gay, seeing someone else "higher on his ladder," etc.). Do women think that their 'guy friends' wouldn't?" Therein probably lies THL's confusion (not to mention other women's confusion). Given the chance, your guy friends would probably sleep with you (barring the few exceptions). Q.E.D. Probably the most succinct, and accurate, corrollary to the theory.

[/End Ladder Theory Discussion]

At first I rather liked the explanation for intellectual whores. Now, I'm not so enthusiastic. The concept is predicated on the theory that men and women cannot be friends if the guy finds the woman attractive. Throw that out the window and the intellectual whores concept is gone too. What do you call someone with whom you like to converse and hang out? A friend. Do you "use" them for their mind? Enjoy bouncing ideas off them and discussing topics both of you find interesting? Of course! Does this make them an intellectual whore? Of course not!

I think the intellectual whore concept is only applicable if the guy honestly feels like he's wasting his time since he hangs out with the woman out of interest (i.e. sexual or relationship) knowing full well that she is not "interested" in him (i.e. he's on her friends ladder). In that case, they are not friends. The guy is there for a single goal that does not entail some sort of mutual, beneficial relationship. In that sense, their relationship is more parasitic than mutual and the guy is probably better off ditching things. HOWEVER, if the guys is cool with being friends (and JUST friends) then why not? Why must he be deemed an intellectual whore and feel like a friendship is not enough? That he should forceibly not be friends due to the disparity?

Speaking as a would-be intellectual whore, I can honestly say that if I feel like I can handle being friends with a woman whom I'm interested in but who is not interested in me, then fine. I'll hang out with her and be friends. Friendship is the antithesis of intellectual whoredom. And therein the intellectual whores theory dies a gruesome, but necessary, death.

[/End Intellectual Whores Discussion]

All in all, interesting theories. They certainly spark discussion and criticism. I think they also, in their own way, help illuminate various aspects of male behavior. Not every male acts in accord with every theory suggested but enough do that the theories are noteworthy. I encourage women to at least read and thoughtfully respond to the theories. Chances are, if you don't do so consciously, you'll do so later on when you encounter the theories' counterparts in your life. And you will.