Climbing Your Way Through the Patriarchy

or, The Horrible Sexist Shite That is Ladder Theory

Hey kids! Want to play a game? Try and see if you can spot the age-old sexist bullshit within the *New* and *Inspired* way of looking at relationships between men and women!

It’s called Ladder Theory and is purported to explain how women and men relate to each other and fail to communicate. Cuz, you know, there’s a “war” going on between the sexes (both sides are equally cruel, violent, oppressive, etc) and if we could only just figure out how we miscommunicate then all will be well!

This is how it works: when you meet someone you put them on a “ladder” of how much you like them compared to everyone else. Women have two ladders and men have only one. Guess what it entails! Yes, that’s right, women have a friend ladder and a sex ladder when meeting men, and men have only the sex ladder when meeting women. Women’s sex ladder is of course predicated on how much money he has, and maybe his looks, to a lesser extent. Men’s sex ladder, however, is only about her body. It gets better! Please note how it completely ignores same-sex relationships, romantic or otherwise. Well, maybe not for women, completely, I guess, as they have that friend ladder. But men! pfft. Men only want sex with women. No friendships with women, no friendships with other men. No sex with other men either! Good god. *clutches pearls*

Okay okay, so maybe this theory is specifically about romantic relationships. However, is does flat out say that men have no friend ladder with regards to women.

So. Interest piqued? Already nauseated? Wait! Here’s an example of the theory in action:

Scenario 1: Tom meets Jane. She’s pretty and seems interesting to talk to. Tom and Jane start hanging out and talking more and more. Tom develops an attraction to Jane, and one day tries to kiss her. Jane tell Tom she doesn’t think of him that way and she wants to remain friends. The next few weeks contact between the two falls off. Jane starts fucking an outlaw biker. Ladder Theory Explanation: Tom met Jane. Tom was immediately placed on the friends ladder. Tom didn’t know this. Tom tried to jump ladders. Jane kicked Tom in the head rather than let him on and sent him hurtling to the Abyss below. The outlaw biker was not on her friends ladder (they never are) but rather on her good ladder.

Did you notice how it slams the woman for just wanting to be friends? She kicked him in the head instead of “letting him on!” What a bitch! Did you notice how the sex ladder is automatically the “good” ladder? Also notice how it doesn’t address why contact between them falls off. Certainly couldn’t be because the man is clearly too emotionally immature to continue with a friendship when he’s no longer able to get into her pants. Hell, it implies he was only friends with her because he wanted to get into her pants. Not because he, yanno, liked her as a person or anything. So this theory at once reduces women to objects being judged only on their fuckability, thinks of women who do just want to be friends with a guy as cruel cold bitches, renders male/female friendships as immaterial and impossible, completely denies any same-sex romantic interests, and, finally, reduces men to sexually adolescent immature douchehounds.


Despite what the guy who created this theory would have you believe, this is not exactly a new idea. Mainstream western culture has long believed that men and women could never be friends – or rather, that men can’t just be friends with women, because they always want to fuck you! I mean, really. Why the hell else would a guy want to hang around an icky girl if not to bang her? Remember When Harry Met Sally? That movie came out in the 80s and the entire plot is based on that very idea. It’s kind of a Nice Guy’s wet dream movie: she just wants to be friends, they are friends for a long time even though he secretly wants more, and finally, in the end, at some beautiful party, she realizes that she’s been in love with him ever since she’s met him.  Harry even has a speech wherein he expounds on Ladder Theory while not calling it that. Bleh.

But what of the men for whom this Ladder Theory isn’t true? Those that have no problem being friends with women? Or those who don’t think about sex constantly, 24/7, with every (attractive) female that’s around them? Are they afraid to speak up, lest they be seen as not Real Men™ ? Will they be called fags if they talk about wanting/needing an emotional connection for sex? I tell ya, from what I’ve seen, no one polices male behaviour more voraciously, more stringently, than other men.

And isn’t it funny how much mainstream thoughts and ideas are so insulting to men? If I was a guy I’d be insulted to be constantly told that my sexuality was stuck in some kind of puerile adolescent stage, and that I was incapable of forming platonic relationships with the opposite sex based on mutual respect. It’s like the world constantly tells us that men are stupid and immature and violent (but it’s apparently feminists that hate men!), but then it turns around and says that they are better than us.

Essentially, the Ladder Theory is just the Nice Guy™ mindset as a sociological theory. Mmm barftastic.


6 Responses to Climbing Your Way Through the Patriarchy

  1. Eng says:

    This…this cannot possibly be real.

    (I’ve been reading this blog for a while now, but nothing ever really shocked me out of my comfortable lurking till now.)

    I’m looking at this “LadderWiki” thing (google-searched the scenario, hoping it wasn’t real) and it is so insane that I can’t believe that anyone would write this while actually believing it. As a guy who makes friends with girls more easily than guys, I’m near sickened by the implication that it is because of some sort of conscious or unconscious sexual drive. (Also how does it explain why I am friends with lesbians?)

    But yes. I can only hope this is satire. Because I kept laughing while reading it. Though mostly in shock.

  2. Crowfoot says:

    Hi Eng 🙂

    Glad to see you posting! I’m quite the notorious lurker as well (except when I’m blogging heh) so I totally get the “comfortable lurking” thing.

    Yeah, it’s pretty dreadful eh? How does it explain why you are friends with lesbians? You secretly want to fuck them!! Come on! Men are always only interested in sex- no substantial emotional human contact for youse :-p (erk, haha well sex can involve “substantial emotional human contact” too, duh! But I think you know what I mean)

    You’re right too – it is kind of funny in that “omg that’s so horrible and ridiculous it must be a joke!” sort of way. I actually think it’s believers do think of it as a kind of joke, but only in that “hur-hur we just hang out for women for sex” kind of Beavis and Butt-heady way, not because they see it as a satire on the men are from mars, women are from venus thing. I think they think more like Homer: “it’s funny cuz it’s true.” Blerg.

  3. eloriane says:

    Eng, you’re friends with lesbians because you are aware of how completely rubbish this is!

    Although I’m friends with plenty of people who couldn’t get it even after I tried to explain… one of many reasons I get frustrated by my circle of friends offline.

    My “favourite” part is this guy’s obsession with the outlaw bikers and unemployed alcoholics who actually do get on the “good” ladder. It’s just so transparent that the whole thing is written by some angry, lonely Nice Guy (TM). And yet people take it seriously?!

  4. […] sexist, according to the Goggles: some newfangled “Ladder Theory” of […]

  5. Dolly says:

    Wow, I’ve been missing a lot recently. Great analysis, Crowfoot! And glad to hear there are guys out there who don’t buy into this BS, Eng. 🙂

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