Are You Ratchet?

Sometime in the past year, I realized just how old I am. A term showed up describing a subculture, and I had no clue what it meant. Yes, ratchet. Urban Dictionary has a few definitions, but frankly I’d avoid that unless you’re cool with 13 pages of white boys using the words “slutty” and “ghetto.” Google images helped a little more, but it still didn’t completely clear things up. I believe it was Helen Keller who said that ratchet “cannot be seen or heard, but must be felt with the heart.”

Here’s my take on it: a “ratchet” person is an outspoken and possibly brash young woman who favors ostentatious or eye-catching “urban” fashion and other facets of hip-hop culture. She displays marks of conspicuous consumption, but is associated (correctly or incorrectly) with urban areas of lower socioeconomic status.

However, that definition is kind of boring. In case you’re trying to work through whether you, yourself, are ratchet, please consult this handy guide instead:

(1) Did you learn the definition of ratchet from Urban Dictionary?

The ONLY ratchet definition from Urban Dictionary that was fit to print on our website.

  • You’re probably not ratchet.

(2) Okay, did you learn the definition of ratchet during a conversation about a Miley Cyrus video?

  • You’re probably not ratchet.

(3) In the past year, have you had a conversation about a fact you learned from the John Tesh radio show?

  • You’re probably not ratchet, and may be my mother. Hi, mom.

(4) Did you learn how to twerk by watching a YouTube tutorial?

  • You’re probably not ratchet.
  • Or, you are ratchet, and are just really tenacious about developing your skills, like a ratchet Hermione Granger. I get you.

* In my mind’s eye, Ratchet Hermione Granger has bucktoothed grills and wears a Gryffindor-colored bustier under her dress robes — but also, “ratchet” seems more Slytherin.

(5) Do you care at-freaking-ALL about whether or not I think you’re ratchet?

  • You’re probably not ratchet.

(6) Within recent memory, have you lamented the decline of panty hose in women’s fashions?

  • You’re probably not ratchet.
  • Or, you are ratchet, but have to wear professional attire for work and always feel a little less-than-polished every time you wear a skirt without hose.

(7) Was Sean Combs still going by Puff Daddy the last time you were at the club?

  • You’re probably not ratchet.
  • Or, you are ratchet, but are really more of an introvert, which is fine.

(8) Did you learn the definition of “ratchet” by writing a question in to Yahoo Answers?

  • Trick question. You’re not ratchet, but that’s only because every Yahoo Answers question is written by the same confused but well-intentioned 14-year-old girl who doesn’t quite know how to use Google.

(9) (a) If someone referred to you as “nasty,” would you be offended?

  • You’re not ratchet.

(b) Is the reason you’re offended because you’re assuming they mean “nasty” in terms of being unkind, rude, and unpleasant?

  • You’re not ratchet, and seem like an old lady.
(10) (a) Do you own hoop earrings with your name written across the middle?
  • That doesn’t mean you’re ratchet.

(b) Do you own earrings with “Ratchet” written across the middle?

  • Now you’re ratchet. Unless that’s your name.

(10) Last one: are you Miley Cyrus?

  • Oh, honey. You’re not ratchet. Your dad wrote Achy Breaky Heart.
    (note: Noah Cyrus… Maybe)