The civilized Alpha man is not Beta

Ahh. Sigh.

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.

  • s

    This man, ‘David’, feels woman naturally lack self-confidence, because according to him, self-assurance results only from physical dominance. This man realizes the importance of ‘alpha’ to the point of dissing anyone who says alpha is unimportant, yet he assigns alpha qualities with masculinity. In his own words, he associates power, dominance, and rule with men, thus assigning women to an unempowered, subordinate, and ruled status.
    Alpha confers autonomy, self worth and dignity. Alpha is self-oriented, and according to this man, is also mature and considerate. Women must be alpha in order to have worth infused with conscience, so that their lives are infused with purpose and passion and are not reduced to doormat status. You know, the kind of status women have had UNDER men like YOU.

  • Kenny

    Susan Walsh is certainly a fucking moron but you really need to get off this whole “alpha”/”beta” male bullshit. There is no scientific evidence that alpha/beta dynamic with regards to certain species (like wolves or gorillas) is even remotely applicable to contemporary human social dynamics.

    You’re not a scientist or in the least bit of a scientific mind. None of the inane babble you prattle on about is scientific either. The alpha/beta dynamic with regards to humans was applied by chauvinist business men seeking to justify their douchebaggery and pop psychologists who don’t understand the first thing about thew human mind or social structure.

    Not all species follow the alpha/beta dynamic. In fact few do and humans certainly do not.

    • Socially Extinct

      The alpha/beta lexicon describing the continuum of male power expression is a convenient placeholder for assorting out men and women within the social structure of our culture in simple concepts we can comprehend.

      I’m not overly fond of the concepts’ usage in both mass media and in much of this blogosphere.

      Personally, I’d rather someone displays a little ingenuity and creates a whole new nomenclature that categorizes humans based on their level of participation, influence, charisma and social adeptness.

      Still, I cringe when I resort to alpha/beta concepts as applied to people, but that’s because I’m too lazy and not nearly ingenious enough to create this revolutionary nomenclature.

  • ski

    Great post. This extreme alpha/beta type thinking is sometimes juvenile, sometimes delusional. I can’t take it seriously anymore.

    Here’s an amusing delusional rant from in mala fide:

    “I’m not even sure that “letter from Tacitus to Rome” is even bonafide. But even if it was and it was taken in context, the western Roman Empire collapsed centuries later and long after beta Christians had taken over (who knows, maybe real men left Rome in droves after it was betasized, maybe Constantinople was a better place for alphas and that was why alpha Constantinople lasted longer than beta religious Rome).

    Also, as the world’s population grew, often because betas were raising the children of alphas unknowingly, Italy could no longer feed a power epicenter. It should have naturally shifted north to the breadbasket. The Romans had to fight many wars just to feed themselves. Americans at least don’t have that fundamental problem.”

    Who knew history could be so easily explained by such a simple, binary concept! It’s the betas, stupid!

    (NB Constantinople was more religious than Rome)

  • jynxi

    Incentivizing bad behavior gets more bad behavior. Take away the monetary incentives and the problem will solve itself.

  • Retrenched

    This is why it’s hard to have discussions on alpha men vs. beta men, because it’s damn near impossible to get everyone to agree on the definitions of the terms…

  • Indeed…

  • Susan Walsh is stupid and useless.

    • David

      Susan Walsh actually doesn’t bother me too much. When a leopard has spots, you forgive it, because it is, after all, a leopard. Now, that manboobz guy is a nasty piece of work. Benedict Arnold of the gender wars!

      • Oh yeah, he’s a sex traitor.

        What annoyed me about Susan Walsh was her pretending to be sympathetic, when it was fairly clear to many of us whe wasn’t in the least. It took Dalrock spelling it out to finally convince the many.

        There have of course been many women manosphere ‘groupies’ who have been like that. Some young and pretty, and no wonder they hoodwinked so many, and still do…

        But yeah, true enough, Susan and they are ultimately acting just as one would expect…

        • David

          Power and rule is men’s to lose and that is in fact what we have done, quite splendidly at that. Manboobz and his ilk have been at the forefront of surrendering masculinity by making excuses for it and demeaning it. When the reigning army loses its hold, who do we blame?

  • Amy

    Susan Walsh’s article is based on a specious argument. Not all Alphas are narcissists or douchebags. However, they can get away with it more easily, just as a beautiful woman can get away with being a narcissist or bitch.

    The Alpha/Beta dynamic is very subjective when it comes to men as opposed to gorillas or wolves. In the animal world an Alpha Male is the one who can beat up all the other males and thereby gets all the females or at least his pick of them. In the human world this is not enough.

    This has probably been discussed at length elsewhere, but I’m going to try to boil it down. (If anyone can link me to a good site with definitions of Alpha/Beta etc., I’d love to see it.) I think there are four basic areas of Alpha characterisics:

    1. Strength and bravery. Not as important in most of the modern world; there’s less need to literally defend yourself and your family when you can just call 911. But we’re not past this either, and probably never will be. A man’s still expected to get up and investigate when there’s a bump in the middle of the night, not just open tight-lidded jars.

    2. Looks. Both genders value symmetrical facial features and a healthy-looking physique, plus certain secondary sex characteristics—-for men, these ideally include broad shoulders, developed musculature, square jaw, deeper voice. If the woman only wants a hookup, looks can make up for deficits in other areas.

    Money/status—-being a good provider. In the modern world this often makes up for the lack of everything else. Money = power. You don’t have to go check out that bump in the night; you can hire a security team.

    Personality/social skills. This is the most subjective one. For one thing, different cultures value different personality traits. But humans are social creatures, and women arguably value these traits even more highly than men. Alphas must be able to “win friends and influence people.”

    I’m still mulling it over, but that’s where I am with it.

    • Amy

      Whoops, I flaked on number 3 and 4. There should be a word or a term for when you hit “post” or “send” and immediately see a misspelling, typo, etc. Probably already is!

      • David

        Or a feature in which there is a built-in delay (of your choice) which cushions each keystroke and is entirely reversible by a kill button for that “Ah, crap!!! moment of recognition.” :)

    • Amy

      The Alpha/Beta thing is also complicated by of the hookup culture (separating sex from reproduction) and the Welfare State (you can have kids and the State will provide for them).

      • Which is ONE of many reasons we need to END THE WELFARE STATE! Yesterday I watched The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (English one of course!) and there was a scene where the tatt gal was giving some fellow hacker money for something and he complained that he was on welfare and needed more money. YET, his I am certain government-subsidized apartment was full of computer equipment. Dependency on government is one way to beta the alpha in a man!

  • Matt

    You can be Alpha by being the biggest drunk asshole in a bar. You can also be Alpha by leading a group of men to success. The first is one who will destroy society and civilization, the second is one who will contribute to the long term prosperity for his children and grandchildren.

    • Which is why organizations like the Boy Scouts are more important than ever. To separate the negative alpha into a positive one.

  • “Judgement is harmless but timidity destroys”.
    Don’t tell that to the libertards! They “HATE” judgement. Unless it is their own, of course.
    I am not into this stuff. Remind me again. Alpha is the male, say like John Wayne? And beta is what, say the Dear Leader?
    If that is the case, I will tell you an area of beta crap that really pisses me off.
    Maybe you encountered this with your son.
    When kids are in sports and they don’t keep stats or scores. And EVERYONE plays.
    Really?
    Tell that to all major league sports. College too while we are at it.
    Poor kids, especially boys, are being taught at an earlier and earlier age to be, essentially, submissive.
    That is why there is a war against the Boy Scouts. Don’t buy the gay crap. It is because it is a vestige of a time long gone. Of teaching boys the Alpha AND the Beta. You know like helping the old lady across the street. And the ability to survive in the wilds (and when the disaster comes that the government WON’T be able to do anything).
    Actually, most women really do want an alpha. But they are being conditioned to think it is not cool or right. Liberal education. And yes, it starts in preschool!

    • David

      The TL;DR of the Alpha/Beta dynamic is indeed hard to come by.

      I’ll just say they are descriptors of an evolutionary holdover in which primitive human males (and males of many other species) self-sorted by ability to assert power over other males in the group. In the most elemental sense, it was the male’s ability to breed (get the chicks). This vestigial evolutionary social strategy still resides in our nature and exerts itself in the modern playing field. The question is, what exactly is Alpha male behavior and is it indeed relevant now? Many say yes, that the modern day Alpha male (who would have been the Alpha leader in the primitive group thousands of years ago) is endowed with the ability to rule men and get laid. PUA’s believe mimicking the Alpha protocol will get you laid.

      So much for TL;DR :(