On a scale of 1 to 10

Standard

“What do you rate that on a scale of 1 to 10?”
“How annoying is it to be asked to rate something on a scale of 1 to 10?”

This is a question I have never asked, and will never ask. But it is asked frequently enough that I am used to it and respond to it.

An American friend recently told me that his Swedish ex-girlfriend constantly berated him for wanting everything to fit into this 1-to-10 rating scale. He felt fairly sure that this was a cultural difference – maybe non-Americans did not care for this stick-to-simple-numbers scale. I interrupted, “It’s not a Swedish thing; it’s a man thing.” Not that I know very many Swedish – or non-American – men who go straight to the 1-to-10 scale, but almost every American man I know uses this meaningless shorthand. He argued with me, “But women do take part – they always answer.” Again, I put a stop to it. “Yes,” I said, “They answer. They are conditioned to participate. It’s polite. The answer is something they know you will understand and expect. But think back: has a woman ever once asked you this question? Has a woman ever asked you to give anything a rating on a scale of 1 to 10?” No.

I have never asked the question; I have never met another woman who has or would ask this question. I know this is a sweeping generalization; I have no hard, scientific data backing up this claim, but women generally need more information, more detail, more nuance and more shading when they receive a value-oriented evaluation of something. Men always initiate this question, and even if women will humor them and participate by providing an answer, they don’t usually (in my experience) pose the question.

Take note.

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