Warning! I’m jumping the shark here, going off in a direction that doesn’t fit the intent of our theme at all, but this has been so much on my mind lately that I need to vent.
I totally agree that men we might consider betas rather than alphas can be very appealing, but usually, I’m guessing, only when they‘re secure in who they are and not obsessed with ranking systems like alpha and beta.
It’s occurred to me before, and has become even more apparent with the alt-right/white supremacist/nazi demonstrations lately, that men who are drawn to these political groups are struggling to climb from an unwilling beta status to alphas, however they may define the terms. They feel victimized, unrespected, somehow oppressed even if they have to make up straw-man oppressors, and are easily convinced that their “white” status should qualify them as alphas. If they had any other source of pride, like skills, intelligence, good jobs, they wouldn’t have as much need to try for respect—including self-respect—on the basis of their color and ethnicity. The problem is compounded by the almost universal concern with hyper-masculinity, with what they think defines a “real man.”
This also applies to those few immigrants, almost entirely males, who are attracted to extremist groups and terrorism when they can’t manage to get the respect they crave in their new country and culture. I thought of this in connection with the Boston Marathon bombers. The younger brother was getting along fairly well, in college, with friends, but he was till under the influence of the older brother who hadn’t managed to get jobs that would provide respect.
There are plenty of other factors involved in these situations, like upbringing, cultural differences, psychological tendencies, and unfortunate experiences, but if there’s one uniting force it’s an internalized feeling of being unjustly deprived of respect. And to make things worse, they feel unjustly deprived of sex, which leads to misogyny and harassment and sometimes violence against women.
I don’t know whether it’s true or not, but I read that one of the enticements offered to get participants to join the goulish demonstration in Virginia last week was the promise that “chicks” would be attracted to men standing up for their “white” rights. In short, that the men would be alphas, no longer betas. One of the main organizers, the one who’s been most interviewed and quoted, was full of swagger and what he clearly thought was manly appeal, but later did the odd thing of filming himself whining and almost crying over the fact that he might be arrested, and nobody would give him a job. Then someone dug up his profile on a major dating website. Apparently he didn’t have a girlfriend, and strutting around preaching white supremacy didn’t seem to be helping his sex life at all.
I don’t see a cure for any of this. It doesn’t help to point out that the lack of good jobs these days is due more to automation than to immigrants getting the jobs. People who feel victimized need to identify victimizers, however wrongly. And young men who cant get laid—at least not by the blonde Hollywood types of girls they’ve been conditioned to think are the only ones desirable—need to claim some reasons apart from the fact that they themselves haven’t managed to be desirable to girls. Their desperate need for self-respect may be even more powerful than their need for respect from others. Doing away with our cultural ranking of men according to how well they meet strict masculinity requirements, among them alpha-ness as opposed to beta-ness, might help, but that’s not going to happen. I guess we should be glad that it doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone to go farther down the Greek alphabet in ranking men.
That’s enough wild speculation. I know we meant some entirely different definition of beta for this week’s theme, and I apologize for going so far afield. Chalk it up to news overload and far too “interesting” times, okay?