The persistent drumbeat of the Alpha/Beta dichotomy that pervades this blogosector reared its nasty head the other day on Susan Walsh’s “Hooking Up Smart” wherein she outlines 10 reasons why women (putatively) should exclusively date Beta males. The dastardly confusion and ruckus that accompanies such discussions of the Alpha-Beta dynamic in modern acculturated humans is nothing short of a pure din of unregulated white noise. As always, we naturally seek the most direct and polarized explanation of reality because it is the one we can comprehend most easily. I’m there, too, quite honestly. It’s easier for me to think of men in terms of Alpha versus Beta, but one thing Walsh’s praise of male Betaism proves is that the hierarchical and evolved dynamic of power and submission is an eternally successive and shadowy gray range of behavior such that no male human can possibly embody and display just one set of behaviors representing either extreme of the duality.
Ultimately, all men display a nuanced blend of Alpha and Beta through their character, and perhaps, depending on the situation, are quite capable of shifting from behavior set to the other depending on the emotional and physical needs of the specific situation. Perhaps some men have an easier time shifting from the Alpha role at the workplace to the Beta role in the nursery. Alpha traits are useless when your 4-month-old infant is crying to be fed.
Along with every other guy in the world, I often wonder where I fall on the Alpha-Beta spectrum. Sometimes I feel very Alpha. Other times I’m just a lil’ ol’ Beta. In fact, for most of my adult life I was mired in a slow Beta simmer and I repressed my Alpha urges because I had integrated the modern mores of civilized and maternal society which castigates all Alpha behaviors as dangerous and destructive. Alpha tendencies are shamed and unless you develop an awareness that lifts your above the communal toolbox of short-sighted complacency and shame, you will drink the Kool-Aid as well and be ashamed of all urges you feel of an Alpha nature.
I’ve noticed that in most portrayals of the debased Alpha archetype, the image is one of a sensually gluttonous, emotional, aggressive, impulsive man steered entirely by his testosterone and unchecked by any self-control. Walsh’s post does this as well by posing the Beta male as a “civilized, responsible, sane” alternative, while painting the Alpha as its antithesis. You know the “Alpha” guy that doesn’t shut up or turn it off. Brash, dangerous, irresponsible, violent…the popularized Alpha archetype is not a man, he is a caricature of a teenage boy. It behooves women and feminized culture to propound this type of Alpha concept. Why don’t they suggest the possibility that a civilized 21st Century Alpha specimen is possible and that what they are romanticizing as a “Beta” is in fact a socially evolved Alpha. Who said Alphas can’t be evolved? Why must Alphas be “backwards” and act like primates? The Beta male they are talking about is not Beta at all but merely a mature incarnation of the Alpha specimen. Not all Alphas act like clowns. It destroys the paradigm to admit this. Not all Alphas wear tight t-shirts, are coated in tattoos, and wear half a bottle of hair product at any one moment. Not all Alphas believe vulnerability is an antonym to strength.
I wish feminists and male self-haters would get off the Alpha-as-a-fratboy bandwagon and instead entertain the daring possibility that Alpha men can be mature and considerate. I view Alpha’s as possessing an unflappable sense of masculine strength and self-assurance that women can never approach because such a state of stoic self-assurance is engraved in the primal nature of male physical domination.
The popular Alpha miscreant who strengthens this outdated paradigm is not Alpha. He is weak and scared and he compensates by acting strong. This is the worst sort of man. I’d much more respect a weak and scared man who in fact was honest about his insecurities and attempts to overcome them. The only way for such a man to accomplish such character self-improvement is to stop drinking the Kool-Aid and not worry about offending the feminists and the HR departments and his overly large circle of Facebook “friends.” Perhaps it’s time for men to overcome their fear of judgement. Judgement is harmless but timidity destroys. This is a good place to start.