Daily Archives: November 20, 2012

The Existential Horror of Betaness

Question from e-mail, relating to the “Notes on My Personal Feminism” post:

Wait, there are guys out there who think that calling you a beta male is going to insult you in some way?

Yes, apparently. I would note as a matter of clarification that I think they are less concerned about insulting me than they are reassuring themselves that there is no possible way they could ever be beta males, whatever their definition of ‘beta male’ is. By all indications their definition is something along the lines of “a man who sees women as something other than a mute dispensary of sandwiches and boobies” and/or “a man who does not live in fear of everyone else not continually affirming his internal assessment of personal status,” gussied up in language that allows them not to have to deal with these essential facts of their own nature. But inasmuch as insulting me is part of the mechanism of reassuring themselves, I am offered the insult.

I’m not insulted because, a) I consider the source, b) I don’t mind being seen as someone who does not view women through a tangled bramble of fear, ignorance and desire, c) when I step into a room, I don’t neurotically spend my time tallying up who in the room has higher status than I do, and who doesn’t. I am a grown-up, for God’s sake. Paranoid status anxiety is tiring. Also, you know. I’m pretty happy with my life and who I am, which makes me rather less vulnerable to the presumed snipings of others, particularly those who don’t have any notable participation in my life. Yes, yes, I’m a beta male, the worst of all possible males. Fine. Moving along.

Bear in mind that none of this either here nor there about the fundamental correctness of describing people as “betas” and “alphas” or whatever. This is partially because from an ethological point of view these terms are being used stupidly anyway, and why argue from the basis of stupid. But it’s also partially because I don’t actually care. Again, none of this burbling about betas has an impact on my life; I’m going to do what I do regardless.

And again, this isn’t much about me, anyway, it’s about the dudes trying to insult me. As Mur Lafferty recently noted, “people who insult you are giving you a blueprint as to what makes them insecure.” We know what these dudes fear.