Ladder Theory: Revised and Revisited
Before the hodgepodge of blogs now known as the manosphere sprung into existence, Dallas Lynn drafted an explanation of why some men get laid while others get nowhere. Dubbed “ladder theory,” it’s the funniest analysis of human sexuality to date.
“Ladder theory” is documented on this site, complete with bizarre diagrams and goofy clip art. So, I won’t bother getting into its intricacies according to the original author. Instead, I’ll describe its basic premise then reveal my own spin on it.
According to Lynn, men and women have different ways of mentally categorizing potential sexual partners.
Man’s single ladder
A man’s selection map is visualized as a ladder, hovering over an abyss. It’s a hierarchy structure with the most desirable females at the top of the ladder and the least attractive at the bottom. Women he won’t have sex with (even while inebriated) or rejects, slip into the dust bin (“the abyss”).
Woman’s dual ladder
Women use a similar hierarchical ranking system but have two ladders floating over an abyss instead of just one. Friend-zoned men she won’t have sex with are placed on one ladder. The guys she is genuinely interested in romantically are put on the “real ladder.”
Although some claim it’s entirely satire, “ladder theory” is very close to hitting the mark. At the very least it’s an accurate depiction of sexual selection through the male lens. A women’s “friends ladder” is a construct that helps us delve into the female psyche. Women themselves will deny its existence, as friend-zoned men hold very little mind share for them. I reckon that the “friends ladder” is legitimate but unconsciously formulated, while the “real ladder” is something they’re aware of. This makes sense when you consider that women have male friends that obviously want to bang them, but are deluded enough to believe otherwise. They have no sexual interest, so they feel more comfortable assuming he feels the same.
Variations on “ladder theory”
A blogger that posts under the name ‘Badger’ wrote a great critique, finding the single ladder an inaccurate representation of how men rank women. He argues that men actually have three ladders:
Like women, us men may be categorizing partners more than we’re consciously aware of. One ladder doesn’t account for the separation of those only suitable for a roll in the hay and those we’re driven to nest with.
Women that are placed on ML1 and ML2 are judged on vastly different criteria. The woman you desire most sexually may be fun to party with, but is incredibly high-maintenance, has a nasty cocaine habit, etc. (ML2). The top girl you deem wife (or at least relationship) material, needs to be agreeable, have some sense, and display characteristics that make her a good potential mother (ML1). Whether you want to reproduce or not is irrelevant, it comes down to biology. In this case, attraction alone isn’t enough.
Although women are known for their initial discretion, men have prudence when it comes to pair bonding and commitment. It’s not in the best interest of the species for men to settle down with a crazy, irresponsible bitch, no matter how good her genes are. The men that make this mistake do so because of a perceived lack of options or laziness.
For laughs, my version introduces edge dwellers.
Why bother with a third ladder when you have the abyss analogy to play with? Undesirables and those deemed off-limits sit along its rim. Here there is little need for hierarchy (thus no ladder), as these women aren’t sexual prospects. Many aren’t poorly regarded. They’re plutonic acquaintances out of principal (ex. best friend’s sister, co-worker). Admirers men won’t even screw while drunk are in a sort of limbo-land of their own design as they’re not on a ladder but aren’t in the abyss either. The man is doing very little to keep these admirers around, if anything.
The abyss itself is reserved for one-night-stands, and ex-girlfriends who were either pushed or let go of the ladder.
Men typically don’t latch on to women they’re not attracted to in order to leech emotional support. For this reason men don’t have a friend zone ladder like women do. It’s not because we’re any less cruel. It’s because we can’t be bothered. An occasional ego boost isn’t worth all that hassle. Additionally, the time could be spent with a lady we want to bang, which are plentiful.
This guy must be as hungry as I am
I’ll close with a neat little analogy from the Badger, explaining why men are more accepting of sexual partners. It’s not because our standards are lax. It’s because we crave variety.
I’m thinking he meant surely and not Shirley… Freudian slip?