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  • Writer's pictureEmily Ainscough

On 'Leagues'

When I hear somebody say, "they're out of my league" my blood boils. Not because they're putting themselves down (that is very much a separate issue) but because it perpetuates a dangerous lie. It implies that some people are more attractive than other people, objectively. It implies that there is an absolute scale with 'hot' at one end and 'not' at the other, a ladder, a league, a pecking order.

As a social animal (and pretty insecure ones at that), it isn't surprising that our chronic herd mentality has pervaded into our sex lives. As a people, we have let each other's standards affect what we find beautiful. I think Sahid is hot, Sahid thinks Kate is hot, so Kate must be hot. Barry is pretty hot and he finds Sophie hot, Sophie and Kate share some common characteristics so they must be the 'hot' characteristics. We don't even know that we are doing it, but as we grew up our minds were making these erroneous inferences which were in turn affecting who we found attractive. Then people that found us attractive noticed these false preferences and adopted them themselves. And so the belief spread.

Our vulnerable little minds squirreled away this list of 'hot' characteristics deep inside us and created a scale to judge ourselves, and each other, by. We don't even really know for sure what we find attractive anymore, because at least some of the time we are letting it be clouded by what 'people' find attractive. We want to be with someone from the 'upper leagues' because we believe that will tell us that we are part of that league too. But it's madness! We are breaking our backs trying to win at somebody else's game and we don't even want to win it! Really winning at life and love is to say 'No! Fuck that! Fuck this random hierarchy!' Winning is knowing that different people have different tastes and nobody's subjective taste tells you anything about your objective worth. Winning is knowing that your exact combination of real human body and mind is the stuff of so many people's fantasies. Winning is letting go of your insecurities long enough to actually ask yourself what you find attractive, rather than just opting for the highest 'achievable' league. I mean fuck, how twisted is that! Like, 'I'm a 6 but I could probably stretch to dating an 8 but I might have to change myself and put up with some nasty shit to do that'. It's dystopian.

Now, you might be reading this thinking 'nah, I'm not guilty of that, I know that everybody is equal', but take some time to really introspect. Even if you want to think that way, it's probably the case that there are still some lingering embers of that herd mentality hiding in your heart. We see it in our language. "Isn't she out of your league?", "you're punching", or the ostensibly sweet (but actually just as twisted) "you are so hot, you can do so much better than him". When you hear somebody say 'they are a 10' stop to remember what that implies. So call them out on it! (kindly). Call yourself out on it, call your train of thoughts and your behaviour out on it too! This toxic rate-culture is teaching people to hate themselves and hate each other and I have no time for it anymore! I am sick of our bodies getting promoted and relegated like West Brom and the other yo-yo clubs. (My ex would be so proud of me for that footy reference).

And the answer is easy! Instead of 'he is so attractive', how about 'I find him so attractive'. Instead of 'am I hot?' ask 'who appreciates my hotness?' When we start to let go of these objective ideals, the road ahead is really exciting. We get to go on a fabulous journey of self discovery, working out what we find sexy. We get to be curious with ourselves and our bodies. We get to be free. Then we can look down at our own miraculous shape, colour, texture and function and appreciate the wonder in them. Then we can gaze unfiltered by shame at the wonder of each other.

Do me a favour this week sex bombs, listen out for attitudes like 'punching' and softly remind the speaker that it's meaningless. Deep in their heart and in yours, the little children of your soul will be smiling.

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