Alphas, Male Hierarchy and the Form

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by Jack Donovan on December 6, 2009

There are a lot of competing definitions of alphas and betas out there. I’m going to build a model here for my own purposes, and I’m open to constructive criticism. A model is just a model, a way to think about something.  When thinking about humans, models are useful renderings but never perfect mirror images. They are blurry and inaccurate at certain levels of detail, and they break down in lights and shadows. Those areas are important to consider. But the value of a model is that it can give you a general idea of a thing, or a more complete understanding of it than you had before.

Men push down and look up.

A man establishes his own position by applying pressure on the men around him. The men who succumb to that pressure fall beneath him. They may resent him or covet his status, but in some way they are always looking up to him. Those men, in turn, apply pressure on the men around and ultimately beneath them. It is not a linear order, but a pyramid of dominance. In relative proportion to the size of the group, multiple men can claim comparable levels of dominance. Their highest task is to compete with each other, but they also have to apply a certain amount of downward pressure to stay where they are.

Well adjusted men tend to have a sense of humor about all of this jockeying for position.  I offer that humor about hierarchical competition is one of the most popular forms of everyday male humor.

How do you like me now?

Men are hierarchical but hierarchy requires a group. Men in complex societies move through many groups. Depending on the composition and the values of a given group, a man may achieve a greater or lesser status within it. In a room full of men who are rarely dominant, there is hierarchy.  In a room full of naturally dominant men, there is still hierarchy.

Most men will experience many levels of dominance over and deference to other men throughout their lives. One of the major benefits of the patriarchal system is that a man with low status in the male hierarchy still enjoys the highest male status at home. He is “the man of the house.”

This brings me to the word alpha. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and it has been used in the natural sciences to designate dominant male animals like apes and wolves in group or pack situations. When the word alpha is applied to men, it should likewise refer to status or dominance among men. Alphas often get preferential access to pack females, but as a benefit of their dominance over males. Being alpha means being alpha among men. This is the only alpha status that actually matters. Being able to manipulate or dominate women doesn’t make you an alpha. Being able to dominate men makes you an alpha.

What does it mean to dominate men?

In our complex society, this becomes confusing, because otherwise weak and submissive men—and women—often wield authority over men who in feral circumstances would naturally dominate them. But while we acknowledge that men who lack certain qualities have power, through the accumulation of wealth or some other form of status, we hesitate to refer to them as “alpha males.” There is a difference between power and manliness.  Power is gender neutral.

Alpha is not merely power or dominance but manly power, manly dominance, and dominance over other men. Alphas dominate men as men. They are better men, or better at being men, but not necessarily better people. Alphas are not necessarily even good leaders, though they often have leadership qualities and a specifically male version of “star power” that makes men want to follow them.

Alpha is a zoological reference, and it refers to a wilder, more primitive masculine norm. Non-violent, artificial forms of social power can only exist because some men somewhere back those power structures with a threat of violence. Violence is golden. Laws and money mean nothing without law enforcement and other forms of “protection.” Masculine men secured the peaceful, protected space in which other forms of power can exist. And if the security is breached and the system fails, it will inevitably be manly men—led by alphas—who will step in and take charge. Forms of power not backed by the threat of violence will be meaningless. The threat of violence is implied by strength, and strength is the metaphor that defines manliness.

I have said that men push down and look up. What do alphas look up to?

In my model, the pinnacle of the male dominance pyramid is not inhabited by the alphas. Like the cap of the pyramid on the dollar bill, above the alphas floats The Form.  I mean this in the metaphysical, Platonic sense. Above the alphas is the unreachable ideal of MAN. The form is idea of man we keep creating over and over again in every culture and civilization. The ideal varies from culture to culture, but even across boundaries of time and race and religion the key qualities of the masculine ideal overlap. The Form of man is not any one man, but an amalgam of those key qualities that the best example of a man would ideally have.

Legendary god-heroes are our approximations of The Form, but even those men are rarely perfect.

In male hierarchies, the alpha is dominant but also closest to the form. Beyond him is the unreachable ideal.

Someone recently mentioned the “NFL Quarterback” as the alpha ideal, and while the masculine ideal is not really a football player per se, the comparison works. The quarterback is not the strongest or the fastest guy on the team, but he’s an exemplar of many desirable masculine qualities. He’s strong, he’s fast, he’s dominant, he’s decisive, he’s a leader, he’s charismatic, he’s likeable, he’s probably smart and he’s usually good looking. He may not be the best at any one thing, but he’s the guy other men can and will look up to. He’s got it. He’s close to The Form. He’s going to be near the top of any natural male hierarchy. He’s going to assert himself confidently, and he’s going to be the alpha in almost every room.

When I think of what I mean by alpha as a type rather than a position, I’m not thinking of guys who are never betas or guys who must dominate every male group. Alphas are close to the form, and they will dominate most of the time. Other men will step out of their way most of the time. And when they push their way through, most men will let them. This is due in part to an implied threat of violence, but that’s only one aspect of it.

Now…what about the rest of the guys?

I don’t find the way the term alpha is used nearly as confusing as the way beta is employed. To me, true betas are the cornermen for alphas. They are also close to the form, but less dominant than the alpha for whatever reason. Most betas can step in for alphas in most scenarios. They are alphas in the minds of many other men. They look up to the alpha, but it’s easy for them to push down on most others. Most alphas probably shuffle back and forth between alpha and beta roles depending on which men they’re interacting with.

As you move down the pyramid, you get more specialists, and you get men who for various reasons are further away from the form. They’re men in their own right, and they still recognize and look up to the form. They have their own value and they bring something to the table. They’re part of the team and they understand their place in it.

The gearheads and tech-heads mentioned recently are a good example of men in the middle or toward the bottom of the pyramid. They aren’t alphas or betas by type, though they will still create their own hierarchies and one of them will dominate. It is worth noting that many of them revere The Form through video games. They are often avid consumers of comic books, science fiction, adventure tales, sword and sorcery stories and what have you. They know they are not the alpha heroes, but they look up to them. In some sense they still want to be more like The Form. These men might be ζ, η, θ, ι, κ, λ, μ or even ψ. Some near the very bottom get picked on and pushed down all the time. But they revere The Form, and being pushed down to the bottom of the male hierarchy is still better than being outside of it.

The real omegas in my model are the men who reject The Form completely. They may be naturally challenged in some way, but so are many of the men who stay part of the team. Males who reject the form completely have ressentiment. They hate The Form, and the alphas and the whole hierarchy. They seek to undermine or reorganize it. They often want to remodel The Form in their own image, making their own attributes the most highly valued. Sometimes they are bitter, effeminate, socially inept or physically challenged intellectuals. Often, they are fags. Gay culture is omega culture; it’s an overt rejection, perversion and mockery of masculine culture. Its proponents often see it as a more enlightened or more evolved version of masculinity, or simply a “different kind” of masculinity, which also subverts the order of the unified pyramid of male hierarchy.

Wait, we get to make up our own rules where we can all be alphas? Sweet!

True omegas are pushed down and out of the group because they reject The Form—what everyone is looking up to.

Women have traditionally recognized and respected The Form and the male need for hierarchy, even though I’m sure it frustrated them at times to know that they couldn’t be included. However, they did gain social status among women as their husbands gained social status among men…so sometimes the system worked to their advantage.

Feminists make direct attacks on The Form.

Men can push omegas down and out, but they don’t know how to combat feminist attacks on The Form—which disrupt order and capitalize on the frustrations of men at the bottom of the pyramid.

Without a unified concept of the form and some sense of order, it’s every man for himself.  And that’s about where we’re at now. That’s the real “crisis in masculinity.”


Jack Donovan is the author of Androphilia and the co-author of Blood-Brotherhood and Other Rites of Male Alliance. He lives in Portland, Oregon and works in the fitness industry.

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

POIUYT December 6, 2009 at 05:31

A good starting point would be to recognise that there are no longer alpha, beta or epsilon minus males, at least not in this land with its inverted femaleist social model.

All status measures of maleness have increasingly become obsolete, to the point where today the only valid measure for all males is “proletarian stooge !”

Why is “proletarian stooge” a valid measure of status for all males in femaleist countries and genderised societies ?

See the following reasons if you are male. Bear in mind that by procedural and cultural machination, they do not apply in the reciprocate if you are female.

If you are male:

1
You cannot hold posession of, without a females’ adverse rights and privileges against you, property, income, or pensions.

2
You cannot hold posession of, without a females’ adverse rights and privileges against you, arms or weapons.

3
You cannot hold posession of, without a females adverse rights and privileges against you, certain classes of office or employment requiring certain security clearances.

4
You cannot hold posession of, without a females adverse rights and privileges against you, professional, vocational, motoring, driving or other licenses. You cannot even hold a passport.

5
You cannot hold posession of, without a females adverse rights and privileges against you, your very own inheritances and heirlooms.

6
You cannot even hold posession of, without a females adverse rights and privileges against you, your very own flesh and blood in progeny.

7
You cannot even hold posession of, without a females adverse rights and privileges against you, your very own life and liberty.

So if you are male in this society, it is in order to realise that you have become a proletarian stooge literally without autonomous or independent status. You are no different in standing to the most embiggened male leaders of the land nor lower than the most humbled male loosers and bums.

It makes no sense to talk of alpha males or differentiations of status and rank amongst men. Such smak-talk was of a different age and a byegone era. Wake up to the different period you’re living in.

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codebuster December 6, 2009 at 05:40

Women cannot attain The Form because they are creatures of collective (group-think), whereas men are creatures of ideal and individualism. Defining the world in terms of collective means not venturing too far beyond the status quo, it means proper behaviour and rules, political correctness, wanting what everyone else wants and shunning what everyone else shuns. But The Form requires the very opposite… the need to test the status quo and to venture beyond it. Both are essential to existence, because without the The Collective, there can only ever be chaos, while without The Form there can never be evolution. These are the essential elements of how culture evolves.

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Bob Smith December 6, 2009 at 05:50

I find it amusing Mr. Donovan lives in Portland, one of the epicenters of the feminist assault on men and one of the most politically correct places you will ever set foot in.

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Welmer December 6, 2009 at 05:57

I find it amusing Mr. Donovan lives in Portland, one of the epicenters of the feminist assault on men and one of the most politically correct places you will ever set foot in.

-Bob Smith

And I live in Seattle, which is just as bad. Washington state, with two female senators and a female governor, is possibly the most gynocentric state in the Union. Oregon, being slightly more rural, may be a bit better, but I’m not sure.

It’s no coincidence that some of the first and most effective men’s rights organizations came from the Pac. NW. Men here have had their backs up against the wall for decades.

However, I think I can speak for both Jack and myself in saying that it is a beautiful place to live. Nothing quite like the forests and mountains here.

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Advocatus Diaboli December 6, 2009 at 06:08

The musings of a pathetic half-ape species..

Honestly, what use is your current system if it maintains status quo- just another species on this planet? If you cannot evolve (past what you currently are) extinction is an absolute guarantee.

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anoukange December 6, 2009 at 06:24

This is much needed, good post. As a woman, I associate good things with both alphas and betas. An alpha guy doesn’t talk about being alpha however, he just is. He has accomplished achievement and brings home the bacon, and leads, and steps back when needed. He instills, he implies. The mis-understanding of what constitutes an alpha male has gotten me into some trouble both here and when I stick it to raging feminists on their blogs, sites, etc. By my definition, many betas are actually alphas, just quieter forms. And many alphas, are not. If one in obsessing over and shouting from the windows how alpha they are, odds are they are not. Same with the ladies…when they talk about themselves, they often talk about what they THINK they are or what they WISH they were, but are, in reality, not. Old school alphas did it with class, style and when appropiate, with kindness and tenderness, due to wisdom. An alpha is a man who has been tested and tested himself and it shows in his carrying of himself.

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Kevin K December 6, 2009 at 07:24

As a spent almost all of yesterday watching college football (Cinn-Pitt, Ala-Fl, TX-Neb, all good games), I can say The Form and the male hierarchy is still in fashion within the realm of Red State spectator sports. However, Tim Tebow needs to learn more about The Form and stop crying every time he sees a camera.

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Form vs. Idealism December 6, 2009 at 07:24

This is a good framework with much to offer. All I would have to ad is that many alphas maintain a status quo that keeps them in charge, rather than a status quo that represents any kind of ideal.
The dudes at the very top will happily march us into a 1984-style dystopia if it is the best way to maintain their place at the top.
The easiest way to stay alpha is to keep the game rigged in your favor, not by pursuing any kind of ideal.
Example: the free market capitalist zealots that happily gulped at the teat of blatant socialism when their own irresponsibility ran them off a cliff.

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Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 07:35

Bob Smith – I find it amusing

“I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”

Mr. Donovan lives in Portland, one of the epicenters of the feminist assault on men and one of the most politically correct places you will ever set foot in.

Can’t argue with you there. Can’t throw a rock downtown without hitting a chunky feminist dressed like Pipi Longstocking or a full-fledged dyke. Smart cars, bike nazis, vegans, herbs and commies everywhere.

That said, as Welmer noted, it’s a beautiful fucking place to live. I can see two volcanoes on my drive home from work, and I’ve stood near the summit of both. Portland is small. Oregon is big. I can drive 40 minutes in one direction, pull off the road, and shoot guns in an un-officially designated space. Oregon is “God’s Country” and once you get outside the cities, you’re dealing with the salt of the earth…as close as Oregon City the men you meet are often only a generation or two away from being loggers. They drive jacked up 4x4s and shoot elk. I’m not from here and I may not live here forever, but I’ve never enjoyed living somewhere more. If I have to kick a hippy or a gay mayor out of my way every so often…whatever.

Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 07:51

Form vs. Idealism –

All I would have to ad is that many alphas maintain a status quo that keeps them in charge, rather than a status quo that represents any kind of ideal.

Sure, but was it always this way? You have to have a proper group for The Form to hold sway, and right now our culture hates nationalism and hierarchy. Globalism and feminism and multiculturalism free individual men who succeed from any obligation to the guys in the rest of the pyramid who would look up to them. As a result, everyone’s just bitter and dead inside and out for whatever they can get–men can rationalize anything . Virtue and honor are like laughable cliches that men push out of the way when they become inconvenient.

All of the alphas I know have heroes of their own and some idea of what a man should be that they reach for. My redneck alpha buddy knows most of the words to all of the important John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies.

This is the way the hierarchy works naturally, but when no one gives a shit about the form–because they are taught that the form is actually BAD, and no one cares if they are good men or not–shit falls apart and men balkanize.

Phoenixism December 6, 2009 at 08:24

I find sports incredibly boring, especially football with its incessant time outs.

And I find sports analogies a stretch, especially football analogies, rah rah go team, QB sticking his damn ass in the air.

I’ve often wondered whether my disinterest in team sports leaves me in the beta dust, cause you know…we are all alphas, and would we admit otherwise?

Nah, the alpha and beta dynamic is real, it is there, and very accountable and delineated in the animal kingdom. Unfortunately for the human animal, it is blurred and lost amidst the bullshit we bring to the table with our ostentatious displays of conformity and attempts to fit certain models that are valued as “desirable.”

Question: if the ratio of self-described alphas amongst readers of The Spearhead is, say double, the ratio for the same trait’s self-appraisal amongst the male population at large, does that mean an active interest in The Spearhead’s interest matter makes us alpha in and of itself?

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Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 08:35

Question: if the ratio of self-described alphas amongst readers of The Spearhead is, say double, the ratio for the same trait’s self-appraisal amongst the male population at large, does that mean an active interest in The Spearhead’s interest matter makes us alpha in and of itself?

Heh. Definitely not.

Form vs. Idealism December 6, 2009 at 10:15

History is written by the conquerors, and I think it likely the past Form was not as Ideal as we look upon it now. Not too long ago, the Internet was only a sparkle in Al Gore’s eye and world travel was limited, so any read on “what’s going on” was limited to a very privileged class.
I do not see a globalized/multicultural world as much of a threat as I do social conditioning of the masses by shitty people. Within every culture we can find mythologies that can inspire people to be effective and self-reliant.
We can agree it very important that the Form reflects advantageous morals and values.

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Gx1080 December 6, 2009 at 10:54

@Phoenixism
No it doesn’t. Awareness of a system don’t imply superiority on it.

About the form, in the Feminist-LGBT ghetto the guys closest to it would be the cads, players, Roissy, Mystery and Tucker Max for example. Since its a purely social hierarchy, just like aristocracy, social dominance is the only thing that matters. Everything else is unimportant.

Of course that means that thugs, who are socially dominant, succeed in this system, although in a balanced one they would suffer because they only are good in one aspect of manhood. And people say that the world is stacked in favor to males.

Yeah right.

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Michael Byc December 6, 2009 at 11:25

“Often, they are fags. Gay culture is omega culture; it’s an overt rejection, perversion and mockery of masculine culture. Its proponents often see it as a more enlightened or more evolved version of masculinity, or simply a “different kind” of masculinity, which also subverts the order of the unified pyramid of male hierarchy.”

I would have to disagree with this statement. I know many gay men who are closer to the Form then heterosexual men. Maybe our definitions are different, but I do not believe the Form has anything to do with sexual preference of your partners. I will agree that where I currently live (Washington DC) and where I’m from (N.Y.C.) the gay men you do see are effeminate and seem to reject many attributes of what we consider masculine, however there are many gay men (many of them close friends of mine) that don’t advertise and stay extremely masculine.

One of my gay friends lent me this book and its arguments are very interesting.
http://www.amazon.com/Androphilia-Rejecting-Identity-Reclaiming-Masculinity/dp/0976403587

As a 20 year old male at a 75% female university where males are looked down upon, I would like to say it is refreshing to find websites such as these. Growing up in Queens, I learned what it meant to be masculine thanks to the older generation around me and my male friends and their parents who came from places where feminism doesn’t exist in its toxic form. Many of the men around me haven’t and I doubt they will since they’ve been so brainwashed. Thank you either way for putting out the argument and discourse out there for my generation of males to find.

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Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 11:44

Michael Byc -

I would have to disagree with this statement. I know many gay men who are closer to the Form then heterosexual men. Maybe our definitions are different, but I do not believe the Form has anything to do with sexual preference of your partners.

Neither do I. I specifically said gay culture, and I also said fags. There are homosexual men (I know several) who are cops, in the military, firefighters and what have you. A lot of them have serious issues with gay culture, which enshrines effeminacy and feminist attitudes. Many gay males like to look like masculine men, but their behavior and attitudes are omega. The ones who are able to hold their own in male hierarchies–as men–are in the minority.

I’m a homo, and I’m a solid beta most of the time, according to my definition above. No delusions of alpha-hood. My best pal is a straight alpha, and a guy who I talk to on the phone a lot is probably alpha. I’m a cornerman. Alphas like me because I understand the form, and push them in that direction. Likewise, I increasingly play a mentor role with guys (homo and hetero) who are lower in the pyramid and looking up.

Welmer December 6, 2009 at 11:46

One of my gay friends lent me this book and its arguments are very interesting.
http://www.amazon.com/Androphilia-Rejecting-Identity-Reclaiming-Masculinity/dp/0976403587

-Michael Byc

Hmm, wonder what kind of fellow wrote that book…

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Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 11:47

Oh shit, I didn’t even see that.

HA!

Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 11:49

Michael Byc -

To clarify, I wrote Androphilia.

http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/bio/

Michael Byc December 6, 2009 at 11:56

Thank you for the clarification Mr. Donovan.

I find it quite amusing that I posted your own book to try and back up my argument. I wasn’t as vigilant as I would have liked when I read your post, I completely glossed over the “gay culture” point. Live and learn.

Also would like to say, huge fan of that book. I’ve shared it with almost all my male friends.

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Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 12:01

Thanks, man. I’m glad you enjoyed it. And it’s always nice to see a guy stand up and say “wait, not all homos are like that…”

Pro-male/Anti-feminist Tech December 6, 2009 at 13:05

What this proves is that we need more categories than just alpha, beta, and omega. There are plenty of letters in the greek alphabet. Let’s use them.

In the animal kingdom a “beta” (in species where there is alpha/beta behavior) a “beta” is simply an alpha who doesn’t control a pack. An “alpha” is a beta who successfully overthrew the previous “alpha”. While “wolf pack” behavior does not provide enough metaphor to describe human behavior, using terms like alpha and beta a bit closer to their zoological meanings would be a step in the right direction.

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Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 13:15

Pro-male/Anti-feminist Tech -

I agree. Alphas and betas are close in animals and should be considered so in humans. They’re one step down, not 10, which is how they seem to be portrayed in the game community.

At the same time, getting into the rest of the Greek alphabets means coming up with a lot of “types.” Any ideas fro what those would be? Or does it get too fluid at a certain point to get into precise letter-naming?

piercedhead December 6, 2009 at 13:18

As usual, an interesting and thought-provoking piece.

I have to admit to being still unconvinced of the utility of terms like alpha,beta and omega, but I’ll settle for leaders, followers and outcasts as approximations.

What strikes me about discussions concerning ‘alphas’ is the lack of consideration given to context. It seems an alpha is being considered an alpha in some intrinsic, absolute way, no matter what the situation. This strikes me as a little simplistic. For example, for those of us who have worked in corporate environments that are predominantly male, there is a clear hierarchy of dominance and it closely matches salary levels. The man at the top often has an easy way with people, is confident with his position, is often at the center in any social gathering and is deferred to by all the rest. However, take this same group of men and place them in an entirely different context – say, a week roughing it in the woods, or on a fishing trip, or volunteering to work at a building site for charity, and the hierarchy changes quickly. The former alpha loses his sense of mastery over his environment, because the environment changes. Other men, formerly lower in the chain, who may have had prior experience in the current situation show a new confidence that the former has lost, and all other men notice this rapidly. Those men who are quicker learners, or have a natural talent for their new challenges, find themselves in an elevated position. The mutual recognition of a man and his peers that he is now recognized as more important to the success of the group results very quickly in an ease in that man’s manner and a greater social fluency. He has suddenly become an alpha, and the former alpha has become a beta.

Anyone who has felt very much at ease in his home country and high in the relative status stakes, will be familiar with that same depressing feeling of losing position when transplanted into a different country where emphasis is placed on entirely different things, and everyone else knows what those things are except him.

I’m reminded of a story I once heard about the pecking order of chickens. Apparently, if chickens are introduced one-by-one into a coop, the first chicken put in finds itself at the top of the pecking order, and the last one put in finds itself at the bottom. But if you transfer the same chickens into another empty coop, lowliest chicken first and so on until the former coop is empty, the pecking order is reversed. I’m not sure how (or even if) this story has been verified, but its point is that position in social hierarchies cannot be considered without reference to context.

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Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 13:37

piercedhead –

I think I accounted for context above.

Men are not chickens, and among men, there are certain “alpha” personality types. An omega usually isn’t going to become an alpha. But men with qualities closer to the form will rise and fall in different contexts. That’s why I said that alphas are sometimes betas, and vice versa. Other guys close to the top can ascend in circumstances where they can excel. It depends on the group of men and the situation, but there are some constants in the way men evaluate each other outside of artificially imposed structures–especially mixed gender structures.

Corporate structures are artificial. They come from patriarchal systems and are based on male hierarchies, but corporate ranks don’t always satisfactorily correspond to “alpha” typing. To begin with, women can be higher than men, and women are not part of the male hierarchy system. Corporate hierarchies are about power and rank and money. Positions in middle-to-upper management can be attained purely through passive-aggression and manipulation. Sometimes guys get more alpha toward the top, sometimes they don’t. On another thread Bill Gates was mentioned. Wealthy, successful man, but in the traditional male hierarchy, he’s somewhere in the middle of the pyramid.

As I noted and Pro-male/Anti-feminist Tech reiterated, the term alpha comes from zoological sources. Alpha status is not not about who wins American Idol or the Nobel Prize. Its a specifically male form of status with roots in primitive societies. We’re still for the most part the same monkeys, so even though an accountant might make more money than a martial arts instructor, there’s a good chance the latter is going to be “closer to the Form.”

Paul Elam December 6, 2009 at 14:02

Mr. Donovan,

In keeping with your openness to constructive criticism, the missing components for me in the alpha model are the effects of accomplishment and utility. And you may have considered those elements in your model, though you did note the quarterbacks skills, but I am not getting that fully in your piece, even between the lines.

Males ascend to power much more based on what they produce than in stepping on males around them. Concurrently, they usually out compete each other directly through the utility of their skills, not through downward pressure put on other males. In that way I propose that their upward mobility is facilitated by the men around them. And of course this now crosses the gender line fluidly.

As an example, I was in the counseling field in chemical dependency for 21 years. The last 8 of that I was fully active as an MRA. You can imagine how popular that made me. In fact, there were many men and women who sought to undermine me, who wrote complaints about my “misogyny” and who literally tried to have me ousted from my job.

I countered this effectively by making myself very skilled at identifying and intervening on other alcoholics and drug addicts that were family members of people I was already treating, and subsequently getting them admitted to the facilities where I worked. That brought in the factor –MONEY– that trumped all models of behavior and upward mobility. Even the very powerful feminists in that field could not get rid of me and they tried constantly.

While I was pariah with many of my “peers,” including a lot of men, I was quite literally untouchable as long as the money was coming in.

I think this plays out in a lot of professional environments. Financial advisors are made and broken on their books of business, the same for all sales people and the like. It all speaks to personal performance and really doesn’t fit any model that relies on competition in the same way a wrestling match does, or a football team.

And even on football teams, the guys that do their individual jobs the best, therefore providing the team with the most utility, emerge as the leaders. There are many football teams that have real leaders that the entire team “looks up” to, and it isn’t always the quarterback.

So I am thinking that this stuff is not ever really a function of downward pressure. Probably the best models of that type of hierarchy are the military and politics, and even then I think that some men “lift” other men over them vs falling behind those men after they are pushed.

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Red December 6, 2009 at 14:27

Outstanding article.

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Harry December 6, 2009 at 14:44

@Jack

I think I understand what you are saying with regard to the (unattainable) Form.

But, are you suggesting that this Form is, more or less, unchangeable, because of our biology?

Or could this Form change hugely over time?

Thus, could it be, for example, that, in the future, let us say, a nerdy type could be an Alpha, whereas, and for example again, a good footballer is deemed to be a Beta?

In other words, are men able to change their attitudes, long-term, about what they see as important in making up the Form?

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adan flores December 6, 2009 at 15:07

Ressentiment, eh? Ain’t Nietzsche peachy. And Welmer, as a fellow internal exile for over a generation in the Soviet of Washington (the Gyno-gulag, if you prefer) keep those spaying tools sharp!

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BillWallace December 6, 2009 at 15:15

Very Nietzschean. I enjoyed it.

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Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 15:21

Harry –

I don’t think so. Or at least not much. Societies value different qualities, yes. But we’re still the same monkeys.

Our ideas about The Form really haven’t changed that much in the last few thousand years. We create codes to keep masculine tendencies from getting out of hand, but just like the average Roman and the average African tribesman and the average high school kid…

…The Form, the “ideal man” is still locked in at a fairly primitive level. He’s strong, effective, good-looking and charismatic (but never to the point of being weaselly). He prefers action to careful planning, because he trusts himself and can fly by the seat of his pants. (When my alpha pal does this I refer to it as “Lucky Jackass 101″) He prefers authenticity to artifice. He is more practical than abstract, but he would die for an abstract ideal (like justice, or his people, or freedom). He’s competitive and spirited; he has “gameness.”

He’s Maximus, Officer John McClane, Bruce Lee, Teddy Roosevelt, Sir Richard Burton, Burt Reynolds in Deliverance; he’s Achilles, Caesar, Alexander, Ghenghis, Conan and Han Solo.

A society may value different things, but The Form doesn’t change much. These are the kinds of men that men hero-worship. They are men who are good at being men….not necessarily men whose skills are more valuable at a given time. And yeah, I think that’s biological. Maybe not in the genetically hard-wired sense, but in the “flows naturally from being human” sense. These are the most distinctly male characteristics, and men who have them are heroes to other men.

null December 6, 2009 at 16:22

I don’t care about this kind of a hierarchy at all. I regard it in much the same way as a human regards a colony of ants. People will play their little hierarchy games and assign others arbitrary labels like alpha, beta and omega in order to artificially elevate their meaningless lives, and I will ignore them. If there are a bunch of men in a room I don’t care which of them thinks he’s the resident alpha. It doesn’t mean anything to me.

As for The Form, that doesn’t mean anything either. The comically misguided conception of manhood that most men have revolves around meaningless and unrelated activities like drinking and fucking. Actual manly qualities are routinely pissed on or ignored by this part of the blogosphere.

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Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 16:33

I don’t care about this kind of a hierarchy at all. I regard it in much the same way as a human regards a colony of ants.

That’s OK. This system operates without your approval. The alphas are still the ones other men look up to whether you care or not. Your disdain means nothing.

Actual manly qualities are routinely pissed on or ignored by this part of the blogosphere.

And “actual manly qualities” would be…

Let me guess. YOUR qualities. Right?

chic noir December 6, 2009 at 16:54

null Actual manly qualities are routinely pissed on or ignored by this part of the blogosphere.

I’m curious, do you mind listing what you deem manly qualities. I have a few in my head but I wonder if we’re thinking some of the same things.

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Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 17:24

Paul Elam –

I’ve made the point about corporate structures already. They have very little to do with natural male hierarchies. As you said yourself, all that matters is money, and if you can make money you move up, and it doesn’t have anything to do with your status as a man among men. It has to do with your ability to make money for a legal entity. Women can do it. Men can do it. Alphas, and betas and omegas can do it. Power is gender neutral. Manliness is a different thing, and male hierarchy is about manliness.

I think you’re missing my point when I say that it is better for men to be at the bottom of the group than outside of it. Everyone inside of a natural male hierarchy gets something out of it. The guys at the top often DO help or carry the guys at the bottom. They don’t help the guys they are competing with directly. It’s no problem for a man to help another man who isn’t a threat to him. In fact, it’s a demonstration of strength to show that you’re not threatened by a particular man. If he gets out of line, it’s easy to apply enough downward pressure to keep him beneath you. But you can help him and he can help you. Alphas and betas do this, and it happens all of the way down the chain–though not necessarily between every individual. I agree, I didn’t explain this in my original post. Perhaps I will take it into consideration for the next time I develop and present the idea. I am always refining these things.

Regarding achievement, a good friend of mine and I had a running discussion for about 2 years about strength vs. achievement as the defining quality of manhood. I considered achievement for a while but strength ultimately won out, with some qualifications and a controlled definition that kind of flows into achievement. Strength is rooted in a defining physical characteristic of males, so it makes more sense as an element of manhood without which manhood cannot be.

epiclolz December 6, 2009 at 18:15

Being alpha means being alpha among men. This is the only alpha status that actually matters. Being able to manipulate or dominate women doesn’t make you an alpha. Being able to dominate men makes you an alpha.

Isn’t dominance over women a super set of dominance over men? As in if you are dominant over women, you are intrinsically dominant over other men if the end goal is access to females. However if you are dominant over men, this does not necessarily mean that you are also dominant over females… This of course assumes that the reduced currency of winning/losing is measured in reproduction.

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null December 6, 2009 at 18:30

“I’m curious, do you mind listing what you deem manly qualities. I have a few in my head but I wonder if we’re thinking some of the same things.”

Honour, courage, strength, patience, discipline, moral standards… these kinds of things. Going out peacocking with your bros so you can get your dick wet (whether the bitch wants it or not) is hardly related to being a man. Success with women has nothing to do with being a man. Superficial displays of “domination,” like being the center of attention at a party, have nothing to do with being a man.

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Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 18:48

epiclolz –

Isn’t dominance over women a super set of dominance over men?

Interesting point, but I don’t know that access to women is the only or primary goal in most male systems. Before women’s liberation, you got married young and got on with the more challenging business of dominating men. Access to females may be the ultimate cause of some displays of manliness, but I don’t believe that it is the proximate one or even the most satisfying one. Men compete with each other for other reasons–women don’t even value the same things men do in many cases.

I would say the guy who goes around the hierarchy is the human equivalent of “the sneaky fucker”.

Yes, they get the girl, but they haven’t really gained status among men, and they aren’t really alphas. They’re like that Twilight actor or any number of faggy rockstars who can bang any girl they want. Most men won’t respect them no matter how much pussy they get–though some hopeless men on the bottom of the pyramid will probably emulate them out of sheer, pathetic desperation.

Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 18:58

null –

Success with women has nothing to do with being a man. Superficial displays of “domination,” like being the center of attention at a party, have nothing to do with being a man.

Success with women probably has something to do with being a man for most men, but I agree that it’s not a defining quality.

As for honor, courage, strength and discipline are all values I’d associate with the form. Actually, they are all derivatives of strength. Moral standards and codes of chivalry and honor are socially constructed values that encourage men to be good men. Being a good man and being good at being a man are not necessarily the same thing. Alphas are good at being men.

Going out peacocking with your bros so you can get your dick wet (whether the bitch wants it or not) is hardly related to being a man. [..] Superficial displays of “domination,” like being the center of attention at a party, have nothing to do with being a man.

Your tone is a bit bitter here. This may be all that exists of the remnants of manhood in some frat-boy circles, thanks to feminism’s gender-neutralization of all positive values once associated with manhood. But in my daily dealings with men in groups, there’s a lot more going on than “peacocking with your bros.”

piercedhead December 6, 2009 at 19:20

As for honor, courage, strength and discipline are all values I’d associate with the form. Actually, they are all derivatives of strength.

Are you speaking of physical strength Jack, or strength of character/resolve? You’ve mentioned strength several times and it’s not quite clear to me which you’re referring to (or even if you consider the distinction material).

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Jack Donovan December 6, 2009 at 19:23

When I talk about strength I am always referring specifically to the way I defined it and argued it here:

http://www.jack-donovan.com/axis/2009/10/strength/

I usually link to it, as I did in the original post–but I don’t assume that everyone follows every link so there is no harm in asking for clarification.

Pro-male/Anti-feminist Tech December 6, 2009 at 21:28

At the same time, getting into the rest of the Greek alphabets means coming up with a lot of “types.” Any ideas fro what those would be? Or does it get too fluid at a certain point to get into precise letter-naming?

Jack, I think it may get a bit too fluid. I was thinking about this and one thing I realized is that the terms, “alpha” and “beta” are used as proxies for r-selection and K-selection reproductive strategies respectively. This probably should be completely separate from determining alpha, beta, etc. because we don’t really know if one reproductive strategy is better than the other. Also, this shouldn’t be used a proxy for getting laid because an “alpha” might get laid with a lot of different women, but Jim Duggar has 19 kids beating out any “alpha” by a long shot.

Unfortunately, I can better describe the problems rather than what the answers may be.

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Max December 7, 2009 at 09:53

@POIUYT:

It makes no sense to talk of alpha males or differentiations of status and rank amongst men. Such smak-talk was of a different age and a byegone era. Wake up to the different period you’re living in.

This is an idiotic statement. You honestly believe that the world is run by women? That men have no legal rights, that we’re so terribly oppressed?

The thing that bothers me about “men’s rights advocates” is that they are very often little more than embittered, paranoid men who smell conspiracy around every corner. Stow your delusions of persecution long enough to grow a pair, take some agency for yourself, or maybe read a book and quit blaming others.

If your life is really so terrible, so oppressed, it isn’t anyone’s fault but your own. Alpha males exist, and if you don’t want to accept this then very likely you are not one.

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chris December 7, 2009 at 10:55

“Smart cars, bike nazis, vegans, herbs and commies everywhere.”

Ugh. I live in Portland, and use a bike as my main form of transportation (and one of my main forms of recreation). As a cynically apolitical person who dislikes both the far left and far right, I hate the fact that cycling has become associated with left-wing politics in the eyes of most. I cycle because it’s fast, fun, cheap and good exercise. Even if cars emitted nothing more than the scent of strawberries, I’d still ride. I wish people would recognize that there is nothing inherently PC, left-wing, environmentalist or even anti-car about bicycling technology or the act of riding a bicycle! It’s an invention of the modern world that relies upon modern engineering and manufacturing, just as much as a car.

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Paul Elam December 7, 2009 at 12:13

Mr. Donovan,

Accepting the possibility that I missed something in your piece, I am still on unsteady ground here with the premise.

I am not so sure that the “man among men” thing really exists. Perhaps in preindustrial times. Certainly in the modern applications of attracting sexual partners and on fields of sport. But the latter involves downward pressure on other men who are opponents,

not team mates.

And the former is more akin to cold betrayal, aka cockblocking.

I just don’t think we can ignore that the preponderance of men, sans competition for sex and money, relate to each other with either non competitive cooperation or with relative indifference. The latter more common.

That being said, I could still be failing to grasp something. Your an incisive thinker, and it wouldn’t be the first boat I’ve missed.

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Novaseeker December 7, 2009 at 12:29

Ugh. I live in Portland, and use a bike as my main form of transportation (and one of my main forms of recreation). As a cynically apolitical person who dislikes both the far left and far right, I hate the fact that cycling has become associated with left-wing politics in the eyes of most. I cycle because it’s fast, fun, cheap and good exercise. Even if cars emitted nothing more than the scent of strawberries, I’d still ride. I wish people would recognize that there is nothing inherently PC, left-wing, environmentalist or even anti-car about bicycling technology or the act of riding a bicycle! It’s an invention of the modern world that relies upon modern engineering and manufacturing, just as much as a car.

I would say it’s associated with SWPL, and SWPL is, in turn, associated with PC and the left. Cycling in its modern form (with full gear and so on) is very SWPL, and pretty far removed from what I remember as “riding bikes” when I was a kid.

Having said that, the biggest cycling enthusiast I know personally — someone who actually used to race semi-professionally — is a right-winger former Israeli military type. Of course he has some SWPL tastes (some SWPL stuff tends to infect everyone over a certain pay grade I think), but he isn’t a lefty.

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Mrs. Pilgrim December 7, 2009 at 14:33

Mr. Donovan, despite that I don’t agree with your lifestyle, I am very grateful that someone has AT LAST remembered what “alpha” means in real terms. And you subtly classify the Roissy set as omegas…PRICELESS!

Enjoyed this article indeed.

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Jack Donovan December 7, 2009 at 15:48

Paul Elam –

I’m not sure whether you’re being exceptionally literal or we’re having a “worldview disconnect”–because I’ve noticed from some of your other comments that there seems to be a fundamental difference in the way we perceive men, the world and human nature (though I could be wrong about that.)

Other people seem to be seeing what I’m talking about.

Would it help if I got a little Jungian with it and said that, socially speaking, men evaluate other men against an archetypal male (The Form, in this essay) and in social groups men tend to fall into fairly predictable patterns. Artificial structures create values of their own, but I see the way men respond to certain kinds of men socially and that’s what I’m talking about here.

One of the main reasons I think any of this is important is because I think that wherever you encourage men to go, whatever you want them to be, it has to have a measure of that archetype in it, or the majority of males won’t respond to it.

epiclolz December 7, 2009 at 16:05

Interesting point, but I don’t know that access to women is the only or primary goal in most male systems.

This is true, I was just simplifying the goal for illustrative purposes, and since our own deep motivations tend to be a bit opaque to us there is definitely room for a wider array of goals. So point taken.

It is interesting that 2 of the things that Machiavelli mentions that you should not mess with when you are a ruler is (women and right to property). Since many of our goals are so tightly infused I guess you can’t really dis-aggregate them cleanly.

I guess you could say that the bounding condition for ‘sneaky bastards’ is other males shunning/beating up them for their out of color behavior.
So freedom to be sneaky is balanced by justice (aka the equivalent of female shaming is male violence). The extreme versions seem to be the only ones that get damped though.

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Paul Elam December 7, 2009 at 16:13

Mr. Donovan,

After reading your last post I think it is a little of both. One of my overarching faults is that I tend to be concretely literal. I am pretty sure that explains part of the disconnect, but not all of it.

For instance, when you frame it in Jungian terms, the picture gets a lot more clear, but I honestly don’t think you translated that particularly well to common behavior in groups of men. But I say that fully aware that perhaps I just didn’t plug in to your intent because I was looking for a literal, real world analogy. Something to give it an identifiable punch as I glance around at the world.

I agree wholeheartedly that men won’t follow anything that doesn’t pair up in the subconscious to a common archetype. But for whatever reason, the remainder of your text didn’t take me there.

Call this one my bad. As you said, clearly there were others that “got it.”

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Jack Donovan December 7, 2009 at 17:58

I think the easiest real world example would come from observing groups of boys. Think Lord of the Flies. The natural hierarchies are easier to see before things become muddled in our extremely complex society where, as we both know, the post-feminist roles of men are confused and in flux. Even so, I still believe men evaluate each other socially along alpha, beta, etc. lines related to an ancient heroic (or sometimes anti-heroic) archetype. That’s still the guy they revere in movies and video games, and the real life guys who give off the same vibes find themselves in group leadership positions.

Matt Moody December 7, 2009 at 18:12

Well written, Mr. Donovan.

This article made me think about the kickboxing gym I joined a month ago. Within your model of alphas, betas, and omegas, I think that the Muy Thai, MMA, American boxing, and Jiu-Jitsu gym I attend is a great tangible context to which we can apply your model. Applying it to generalized society can get somewhat amorphous and hazy, as you alluded to in your metaphor about the model itself.

At my gym in San Diego, the trainers and MMA / M.T. fighters are the alphas. They teach the men at the gym how to do the moves and get into the physical conditioning to eventually spar or fight. The people who attend the gym are the betas, in my estimation. Classes involve learning various fighting skills from 7-combo moves to effective parrying, and from strength conditioning to cardio-vascular endurance and pliometrics.

The fighters are looked up to as the standard for alpha behavior, because they have sponsors, execute fights, and train others into the craft. The betas are content learning the craft and trying to work their way into alpha status, or, simply staying betas as they have professional careers outside of the gym and don’t want to break any bones.

Omegas (and I know I’m going to get flack for this) are the men with the 24-Hour Fitness membership. The guys who simply pump creatine in to their blood and look at themselves for hours on end in the mirror as they do boring isometric exercises to satisfy their bigorexia and body dysmorphia. Those are the boys who are simply lifting to “get big” as opposed to lifting to develop a craft. They want to get big as a fashion statement.

In my opinion, if they are simply lifting just to get big, then they are not really alphas, or betas, they are omegas. They are lifting for aesthetic, which is about as noteworthy as ab or ass implants purchased from the plastic surgeon down the street in La Jolla.

The real alphas and betas are at the fighting gyms. Everyone else is just a fucking poser.

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Angry Harry December 7, 2009 at 18:50

@Matt Moody

“They are lifting for aesthetic, which is about as noteworthy as ab or ass implants purchased from the plastic surgeon down the street in La Jolla.”

Maybe they’re playing Game!

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Jack Donovan December 7, 2009 at 19:01

Ah…Mr. Moody, that gave me a chuckle for several obvious reasons.

I don’t think average guys who join an average gym are omegas by any stretch of the imagination. Omegas are way further down the male food chain than those guys are.

But I do agree that bodybuilding after a certain point becomes a bit precious. Weightlifting can be about strength and health…or it can be about getting pretty. For most guys, it is a little of both I think.

I agree with you that training for something is better, and more manly–closer to The Form–than training just for looks. Fighting is one thing–a great thing to train for that I still want to do again, finances permitting–but there are also guys who use gyms to train for things like races and climbing and all sorts of other functional things.

Phoenixism December 7, 2009 at 23:03

Now that the corporate, whitewashed context has been unveiled a few layers back, I’d like to mention something.

…about the corporacracy.

You know…”Alpha” and all that it entails. It has evolved side by side with the human race for millions of years, as well. What did you think, Alpha would sit back and watch us march away??

Good, bad, I don’t know.
Depends much on your gender-value system.

I vote Bad.

Alpha 2009 most likely resembles nothing of Alpha 5,000 BC, much less Alpha 1713. If anything, I would say the only “being” whose Alpha level has sharpened in the last thousand years is that of Mr. Technology. And by default, all those that ride on his big Industrial Revolutionized, silicon-based coattails.

Alpha 1713, Alpha 1952. They will miserably liquify, just like a snail in a salt bath, in 2009. If I’m reading you correctly Jack, you seem to argue for a more absolutist and rigid Alpha paradigm. I disagree. The tools an Alpha needs to fill his chest with today weren’t even molded a few hundred years back.

In much the same way you do, I relish the olden era. I suspect my view of the “Form” synchronizes with yours; unfortunately, I believe that has “evolved” as well. As much as I’d love the Form to resemble and accommodate a club-wielding, bug-eating Paleo man, I think I’ve resigned myself to the latte-sipping BMW-driving V.P. The same guy sipping the most expensive vodka martini and doing some bullshit boot camp cardio workout at the priciest gym in the neighborhood and assuming the role of Man’s Man.

That’s our Alpha, Jack.

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Jack Donovan December 8, 2009 at 07:31

Phoenixism –

In much the same way you do, I relish the olden era. I suspect my view of the “Form” synchronizes with yours; unfortunately, I believe that has “evolved” as well. As much as I’d love the Form to resemble and accommodate a club-wielding, bug-eating Paleo man, I think I’ve resigned myself to the latte-sipping BMW-driving V.P. The same guy sipping the most expensive vodka martini and doing some bullshit boot camp cardio workout at the priciest gym in the neighborhood and assuming the role of Man’s Man.

Heh, I think you’ve just spent too much time in LA.

Your Patrick Bateman is probably an alpha. Before he learned about lattes he was probably one of the smarter high school jocks. Every so often, when I argue this with truly bitter Omegas, I like to needle them by reminding them that that guy is still winning. He wasn’t some socially inept nerd shut in; he was probably masculine, gregarious and well-liked by his male peers.

However, don’t get too caught up in the changing skills, tools and accoutrements of manhood. You’re right. They change. But this doesn’t validate an extreme relativism when it comes to manhood. The key qualities that make up The Form are fairly constant. D-bag latte guy probably would have been an officer in Her Majesty’s Navy.

The other thing to think about is that we have a complex society and there is no ONE masculine ideal. There are a collection of qualities held by men in vastly different social hierarchies.

To level the playing field and show you what I mean – put Chuck Liddell, and D-Bag BMW guy in the same room. They’re both rich, so that’s a wash. A lot is going to be different between them. But what do they have in common?

Max December 8, 2009 at 15:20

Both of them think Chuck Liddell will beat D-bag’s ass.

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Cannon December 8, 2009 at 15:43

They were both on Dancing with the Stars? :-)

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Jack Donovan December 8, 2009 at 17:11

There’s a correct response to that comment, but it’s now a federal crime.

Felidaeus December 9, 2009 at 19:31

An excellent post, Donovan, but your point is much better exemplified by your later comments.

I find all too often that SOCIETY defines alpha in a highly social setting. High school is an excellent exemplar. In high school, the ones that would be alpha as per your comments/post are quite often not RECOGNIZED as alpha. These are the ones who have say, excellent grades, are sociable, an important part of the team in sports, a well rounded, capable, charismatic individual that is popular (but not idolized). More often than not however, society boxes them into a solid beta slot, because right over there is say, glittery Edmund with his perfect pecs. The alpha in these situations is generally selected by the females. I would argue this is why one subset of people I would declaim as being DECIDEDLY beta define themselves as alpha by the amount of women they score.

If you want to see the alpha/beta dynamic as you describe in your comments, you need look no further than an engineering department/university. The pyramid in this hierarchy fluctuates ENORMOUSLY. At parties there will be one set of alphas, the heavy drinkers, the next day in elastics another set, ONE HOUR LATER, another set in statics. This is largely because engineers segregate themselves from society. We don’t really care WHO is alpha, but finding the alpha in each situation is VITAL. In part this is because furthering an alpha in a group project scenario results in better and faster results.

In fact, I would argue that the desire to be alpha in all situations and completely avoid beta is an omega attitude. As you state, it is impossible to reach the ideal. The animosity that many of the people on this site show towards betas is ridiculous. It is impossible to always be the alpha, and is in fact dangerous to attempt so. I have been alpha in some situations, but am always willing to go beta in certain situations where I recognize that my limitations will hurt those around me.

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Jabherwochie December 11, 2009 at 14:35

“…The Form, the “ideal man” is still locked in at a fairly primitive level. He’s strong, effective, good-looking and charismatic (but never to the point of being weaselly). He prefers action to careful planning, because he trusts himself and can fly by the seat of his pants. (When my alpha pal does this I refer to it as “Lucky Jackass 101″) He prefers authenticity to artifice. He is more practical than abstract, but he would die for an abstract ideal (like justice, or his people, or freedom). He’s competitive and spirited; he has “gameness.”

He’s Maximus, Officer John McClane, Bruce Lee, Teddy Roosevelt, Sir Richard Burton, Burt Reynolds in Deliverance; he’s Achilles, Caesar, Alexander, Ghenghis, Conan and Han Solo.”

Damn! I just got to this article and comment section (I’m erratic in both absorbing and spewing forth information). Its been a busy week. Just wanted to say great article. (And Bruce Lee and Alexander the Great are personal heros of mine.) I would say my understanding of Apha through Omega people is far more nebulous and nuanced then what your article gets into (which I’m sure your full analysis is a bit more complex also), but for a basic structural analysis, it is pretty spot on and invaluable.

What would you consider more Alpha, a ninja or a samurai?

I think I know the answer, but my point is, I’d rather be a ninja. An Alpha ninja.

Take David and Goliath. Who is more Alpha?

Obviously, most would rather be David, but was Goliath not more traditionally Alpha?

And as far as leadership, I’d rather be the number two guy who pulls the strings of the number one guy (for many reasons). Not that I like the guy I’m about to use as an example, because I believe a true Alpha has his ego in check so that it doesn’t interfere with his logic, even if it is massive, but say like, Dick Cheney.

You say being weasily isn’t Alpha. Are con-men Alpha? To me they can be. But this might be where we diverge some, I’m not sure. I think I might place more emphasis on intellectual vs physical and personailty abilities, mainly, because intellect is my primary strength and my intellect allowed me to achieve physical and personality traits quite successfully despite my natural deficit in them. In fact, being and underdog, can that not help you be an Alpha. I feel like it did for me. Is the ability to overcome weakness, or circumvent obstacles, not the greatest strength, as even the greatest of men will run into problems eventually. An Alpha who has always been an Alpha won’t know how to handle adversity. The struggle is important to character development. Ceaser came from moderate means and status. Nopolean was not liked early on because of his background. Bruce Lee was a street punk who went from outsider to leader. Alexander had a dysfunctional family. Etc.
Happy, shiney people, as I like to call them, people born good looking, smart, and wealthy, to me, often seem weak when push comes to shove.

Just rambling. Got my thought juices all a stir.

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Jack Donovan December 12, 2009 at 09:33

Jabherwochie -

Here’s something to consider that may make things make more sense . We use Alpha in a variety of ways, and I really should have noted that in the original post.

In different contexts, Alpha can be a position, a type or a behavior.

I don’t really think it should be used as a synonym for “who’s winning at the moment” because I think that creates confusion and distorts the meaning of Alpha.

At the risk of passing a certain threshold of nerdiness…

In any group of ninjas, there would be a ninja who holds alpha status socially among male ninjas. Same for samurai. I think that’s truer to the discussion of what Alpha means than using the samurai and ninja as idealized “types” and arguing which is more Alpha.

The reason Alpha qualities tend to be more direct is because directness–while not always advisable–is fearless. Fearlessness is a demonstration of strength. Subterfuge is useful, and Alphas might use it strategically to win, but as policy it is not particularly manly. Manliness is bold, because it is confident. Assassins are probably not the best exemplars of manliness, even though they might be successful–they might win.

What I’m really talking about with Alpha, as I mentioned to Paul Elam above I think, is men measuring men against an atavistic standard of manliness. The alpha is not just a man who is winning (Bill Gates) but a man who embodies a very old but still potent masculine archetype (Dirty Harry).

Alpha qualities are archetypally male qualities, which was what I was trying to get at with “The Form.” ALL or MOST men have some Alpha qualities. They aren’t exclusive to a certain type. The Alpha type simply possesses more of those qualities. Welmer’s post on “Feeling Like a Man” overlaps with this one on that point…I would say that when you “feel like a man” you are behaving/feeling closer to The Form.

Lady Raine December 12, 2009 at 10:14

Um, “Alpha” means “leader”.

Nothing more, nothing less. It is also not a “male” term.

What people need to understand is that you are either born a leader, or you are not. You can “pretend” to be a leader, you can try to mimic the leader, …..but whether male or female, if you were born “Alpha” you will always BE Alpha and likely have no idea WHY people follow you.

That’s why so many of you want to make the term “Alpha” so much deeper….because you don’t understand why you cannot attain “Alpha Status”. The fact is….you either are one, or you are not.

The closest you can come to “learning to be a leader” is typically just a pale interpretation of what the “original” has already done effortlessly. I’m so sick of hearing Alphas being described as “manly men” and “Casanovas”. Those things have nothing to do with the word “Alpha” or even the male gender specifically.

Making something you will never be more complicated will not bring you any closer to being one. It’s like the book-nerd in high school who can psychologically profile the school-jock down to nothing but a pile of testosterone and arrogance……he can mentally shame him….he can study him….understand him better than he understands himself….and yet…..

…..that nerd will always be a nerd and that jock will always be Alpha. It’s nature. If you are older than 5 years old and are not already Alpha, you never will be. Male or Female, doesn’t matter. Stop picking apart something SO simple.

If you don’t understand “Alphas” it’s because you aren’t one. If you have to work hard at “leading”, it’s because you weren’t meant to. Period.

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Jack Donovan December 12, 2009 at 11:50

Why does this woman keep talking as if her opinion is relevant, desired, of value and authoritative when it is none of these things? Curious.

Patr December 12, 2009 at 12:32

Lady Raine, while “Alpha”, may be a misunderstood and overused term, I can assure you that it applies only to males. The concept of female alpha is absurd. I can’t really agree with you that alphas are only born to be so. I think this just fits into what I consider a typical female fantasy: that of women and “alphas” enjoying the planet while “betas” function as a slavish support system. The problems with this being that women want the “beta” contribution for free, as well as the presumtion of every female deserving an “alpha”.

Your post seems dismissive, which is what a lot of women seem to be these days. If you think people are born to be betas or slaves, which is what your really mean, you can think that; just don’t be surprised when none of those “betas” want to voluntarily maintain the very society you wish to exclude them from.

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Lady Raine December 12, 2009 at 15:21

Patr–

No offense, but go read the roots of the actual word “Alpha”. Whether in nature, animals, humans, etc. it is not a term used for males-only as you claim. That is fact.

You are attempting to undermine anything that is female by implying that only a male can be a “leader/alpha” and present it as something other than “biased opinion”. Nice try, but your misogyny doesn’t trump actual fact.

Alpha is a term attributed to both male and female “leaders”. Period.

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Lady Raine December 12, 2009 at 15:25

Why does this woman keep talking as if her opinion is relevant, desired, of value and authoritative when it is none of these things? Curious.

Why do you mistakenly think that I care what anyone’s “wants or needs” are? Have I somehow given you the impression that my opinion changes based on people’s reaction to it? Or that people “liking or disliking” what I say matters to me? If so, you weren’t paying attention.

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Gx1080 December 12, 2009 at 15:41

@Jack Donovan

Because she has decided to make her hobby trolling the fuck out of whatever male’s site that get her attention. She moved shop in here because there’s more people than in Roissy’s, or at least more variated.

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Patr December 12, 2009 at 16:28

LR

I’m sure it is used in biology, etc. but I don’t put any stock in the idea of human female alphas. It is a fact that most women look for men, “at the top” so if a woman is at the top, what will she do? I believe that women want to move up hierarchies to gain increased access to the “alphas” they want.
I don’t care if you hate betas, or anybody else; there is nothing I can do about that. I am just saying that you should not expect the betas to respect you, as they receive no respect themselves.

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Jack Donovan December 12, 2009 at 16:59

Gx1080 -

It must be lonely, hurt and dead inside.

I have a lot of critical things to say about many different groups, but I’ve never wasted a substantial amount of time bitching at them on their own sites or message boards. That’s so…desperate and sad. I’ll throw in an alternative perspective somewhere every so often, or get involved when I see some common ground, but simply making a nuisance of yourself accomplishes nothing.

If you’re in control, if you really have something interesting to say, you make the audience come to you.

Jack Donovan December 12, 2009 at 17:09

And as far as debating with it goes…I think it is a perfect example of why I wrote this post:

There is no honor in competition with women.

Seriously. Complete waste of time, and always a net loss of honor. Always.

by_the_sword December 12, 2009 at 19:11

History is full of examples where innovative “betas” use ingenuity to overcome strong alphas.

Any beta has always been a sling stone’s cast, a well place thrust or a well aimed gunshot away from making them self into an Alpha.

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Gx1080 December 12, 2009 at 19:42

Perhaps. But her behavior is unacceptable, no matter the reasons. Pity isn’t going to change whatever Welmer decides to ban her or not. You know that.

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Jabherwochie December 14, 2009 at 08:21

@Lady Claim-

As always, you have a fierce grasp on the “elephants trunk”. Indeed, sociopaths are often enough natural born Alphas. I see your singular perspective, one-dimensional understanding, again, prevents you from looking wider and deeper. Keep taking pride in your evil, although you don’t call it that, as you believe it is strength. Typical female. So lacking in depth and nuance. You display your lack of intellectual capacity, like a beautifully arranged set of dinnerware absent of food, for all of us to witness. I try to not to come off as pretentious, despite actually being brilliant. You aparrently aim for it, despite being able to little more than parrot the ideas you’ve embraced from common culture.

“Pride will have a fall; For pride goeth before and shame cometh after”.

Except you are incapable of shame, so dishonor, as honor is externally granted, will be your fate.

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yourWriterSucks January 22, 2010 at 20:28

“The real alphas and betas are at the fighting gyms. Everyone else is just a fucking poser.”

Actually, the ‘real men’ are emplacing IEDs to blow the legs off your manly Coalition-of-the-Billing soldiers as they try to figure out how to steal Iraqi oil.

But the guys in the fighting gyms are gammas, at least, and Tillman was an alpha until his own countrymen filled him full of lead.

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Highwasp June 5, 2011 at 22:14

the reason the Male Dominance Hierarchy exists at all is so that heterosexual men can be found appealing to women. so we can have sex with them. it’s simple. women don’t participate because they are the prize to be won if/when a man wins or ranks somewhere appealing in the Male Dominance Hierarchy. men compete with each other to establish rank which is then evaluated and defined by the women who agree to sex with them… the more beautiful and numerous the women any one man can have sexually the higher his status in the Male Dominance Hierarchy. types of ranking systems; social intelligence, height, facial symmetry, health, stature, sense of humor, confidence, competitive determination, valuable possessions, money, command over other men… all just so we can have sex with beautiful women. or if you prefer to commit to just one then have her exclusively, but first you have to convince her of your worth. no cheating is allowed. ever. any form of cheating the Male Dominance Hierarchy will be dealt with harshly and immediately. let the games continue…

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GermanGrrl July 5, 2012 at 21:05

My English is very bad but I find your concept of manhood, especially in context with homosexuality very interesting.
I think the whole Alpha stuff is also because humans, in this case men, were hunting in packs in the early years of the human race. So there had to be a leader to coordinate them.

“the more beautiful and numerous the women any one man can have sexually the higher his status in the Male Dominance Hierarchy.”

I’m not sure about this. What does the number of shagged girls help when you are in prison, on the street, on a battlefield or anywhere else where manliness or hierarchy status is detached from stuff like “My car is bigger, so I’m more man than you” or “I’ve fuckes 50 women, you’ve only fucked 10. So I’m more man” etc.

Although I’m a woman I think the “real core” of manliness is “untouched” by Feminity. I think thats why women are not allowed in male fraternities.
That’s the reason why I don’t think that homosexual men have always problems with her male identity, because identity and sexual orientation are different things to me.

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Its always been Me October 5, 2012 at 19:56

“The real omegas in my model are the men who reject The Form completely. They may be naturally challenged in some way, but so are many of the men who stay part of the team. Males who reject the form completely have ressentiment. They hate The Form, and the alphas and the whole hierarchy. They seek to undermine or reorganize it. They often want to remodel The Form in their own image, making their own attributes the most highly valued. Sometimes they are bitter, effeminate, socially inept or physically challenged intellectuals. Often, they are fags. Gay culture is omega culture; it’s an overt rejection, perversion and mockery of masculine culture. Its proponents often see it as a more enlightened or more evolved version of masculinity, or simply a “different kind” of masculinity, which also subverts the order of the unified pyramid of male hierarchy.”

I feel there is a value conflict here with your homosexual nature, in the form of internalized homophobia. I think that you’re correct in identifying “different kinds” of masculinity, not just the very outdated heteronormative definition you’re based your essay upon. Here are a couple of background articles for you to enlighten yourself:

http://stopracismandhomophobiaongrindr.tumblr.com/post/18107395091/heteronormativity

and

http://stopracismandhomophobiaongrindr.tumblr.com/post/17986307085/internalised-homophobia-a-definition

I think John said it best in this quote:

“Ultimately, in my opinion, this emphasis on masculinity in gay culture is just plain sad. It’s like pounding on the doors of a clubhouse that we’ll never be let into – or, to put it in more “masculine” terms – competing in a sporting event that we’re, by definition, unable to win because we’ve already been disqualified.”

excerpted from:
http://community.feministing.com/2012/04/29/the-masculinity-olympics-were-playing-a-game-were-never-going-to-win/

In this sense, where do you put the gays, faggots, queers, etc? You have placed them at the bottom of the bottom, as the omegas of the omega male. Now, what does that say about your self image as a gay individual? How about your derogatory use of the word “fag” (like people in the South would use the word n*gger to describe blacks). I’ll buy part of your argument that many homosexuals are victims of current masculine regime, to an extent, however, one day you need to wake up and go from victim to survivor. You scoff at the notion of different forms of masculinity, but really I feel you’re being very narrow minded in your definition. One way to overcome being a victim of societal standards of “THE FORM” is like you’ve identified, rejecting the form, because just like the bible and its prescriptions of how to be a good man or woman (with a hidden agenda to privilege one group and silence others), this “THE FORM” was also written to keep the power for one group of individuals and silence the masses. Do you not see the hidden agenda? You’ve already preached it, homophobia. You’re confirming what society wants you to believe, down to the “T”.

I’m very uncomfortable about this kind of misrepresentation of homosexuals in public, that they are naturally omegas. Have you really been spoonfed this crap by society, gulped it down with gusto (however vile and bitter it is), and thought to yourself, hmm, definitely an acquired taste, I must be refined and cultured; now, lets start feeding this to other people and make them feel insecure so I don’t feel all alone and ashamed of what I see in the mirror? All this to look better in the eyes of straights?

I don’t know what Paul Elam thinks of gays, but I know from his other works I have read, he went easy on you with his responses.

I felt that the original quote I quoted needed some regulation. I don’t appreciate bullying in any form. It stems from ignorance and insecurity. If nobody speaks and calls people out, the cycle continues and so does the abuse. I considered reading your book, however, I’m judging your book by its cover and if this article is any indication of how the rest of your book goes, I’ll pass.

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