Yo, dudes: Alpha males are a myth, according to actual experts on wolves

Manosphere misogynists like to tell themselves fairy tales about women. Their favorite such tale, repeated endlessly, is one called “The Cock Carousel” – sometimes referred to in expanded form as the “Alpha Asshole Cock Carousel” or the “Bad Boy Cock Carousel.” (Hence that Rooster-riding gal you see in this blog’s header about half the time.)

Despite the different names, the story is always, monotonously, the same: In their late teens and twenties, when they’re at the height of their sexual appeal, women (or at least the overwhelming majority of them) have sex in rapid succession with an assortment of charismatic but unreliable alpha males and “bad boys” who make their vaginas (or just ‘ginas) tingle. Then, sometime in their mid-to-late twenties, these women “hit the wall,” with their so-called sexual market value (or SMV) dropping faster than Facebook’s stock price. As Roissy/Heartiste puts it, in his typically overheated prose:

So sad, so tragic, the inevitable slide into sexual worthlessness that accompanies women, the withering tick tock of the cosmic clock stripping their beauty in flayed bits of soulletting mignons like psychological ling chi. A sadistic thief in the night etching, billowing, draping and sagging a new affront to her most preciously guarded asset.

While many women try to pretend they’ve still “got it,” even at the ripe old age of thirty, they inevitably have to either get off or get thrown off the “cock carousel.” At this point the more savvy women glom onto some convenient “beta male” who, while somewhat lacking in sexual appeal, will at least be a good husband and provider for them – and in many cases the children they’ve had with alpha male seed. Those women who don’t accept the new reality are destined to end up alone and childless, surrounded by cats.

To borrow the phrase South Park used in its episodes about Scientology and Mormonism, this is what manosphere men actually believe. Not only that, but they claim that this fairy tale is based on real science.

So who are these mysterious alpha males that get the women so excited? As one guide to pickup artist (PUA) lingo puts it:

In animal hierarchies, the Alpha Male is the most dominant, and typically the physically strongest member of the group. For example, in wolf packs, the “alpha wolf” is the strongest member of the pack, and is the leader of the group. This position of leadership is often achieved by killing or defeating the previous Alpha Male in combat. Alpha wolves have first access to food as well as mating privileges with the females of the pack.

Social status among human social groups is less rigidly defined than in the animal kingdom, but there are some recognizable parallels. Although people don’t often engage in physical violence to achieve dominance, there are still recognizable leaders in different fields who have wide access to material resources and women.

Because the qualities of the Alpha Male (such as social dominance and leadership) are attractive to women, many PUAs have adopted these ideals as models of emulation. In fact, the term “alpha” has come be shorthand for the qualities of an attractive man, and it is a common refrain among PUAs to be “more alpha” or to “out alpha” competitors.

There’s a certain logic to all this. But unfortunately for the PUAs and other manospherians the notion of the Alpha male is based on bad science. The notion of Alpha dominance, as the definition above notes, came originally from studies of wolf packs. Even if we assume that wolf behavior is somehow a good model upon which to base our understanding of human romance  – as manosphere men and evolutionary psychologists tend to do – the science behind the Alpha male wolf has now come completely undone, with many of those who promulgated the theory in the first place decades ago now explicitly repudiating it.

The problem, you see, is that the studies underlying the notion of the alpha male wolf, who aggressively asserts his dominance over beta males in order to rule the pack, were all based on observations of wolves in captivity. In the real world, wolf packs don’t work that way at all. Most wolf packs are basically wolf families, with a breeding pair and their pups. When male pups reach adulthood, they don’t fight their fathers for dominance — they go out and start their own families.

As noted wolf behavior expert L. David Mech, one of those who helped to establish and popularize the notion of the alpha wolf in the first place, explains on his website:

The concept of the alpha wolf is well ingrained in the popular wolf literature at least partly because of my book “The Wolf: Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species,” written in 1968, published in 1970, republished in paperback in 1981, and currently still in print, despite my numerous pleas to the publisher to stop publishing it. Although most of the book’s info is still accurate, much is outdated. We have learned more about wolves in the last 40 years then in all of previous history.

One of the outdated pieces of information is the concept of the alpha wolf. “Alpha” implies competing with others and becoming top dog by winning a contest or battle. However, most wolves who lead packs achieved their position simply by mating and producing pups, which then became their pack. In other words they are merely breeders, or parents, and that’s all we call them today, the “breeding male,” “breeding female,” or “male parent,” “female parent,” or the “adult male” or “adult female.” In the rare packs that include more than one breeding animal, the “dominant breeder” can be called that, and any breeding daughter can be called a “subordinate breeder.”

So the dominant male wolves – those whom manosphere dudes would still call the alphas – achieve this position not by being sexy badasses but simply by siring and taking responsibility for pups. To use the terminology in the manner of manosphere dudes, alphas become alphas by acting like betas. That’s right: alphas are betas. (For more of the details, see this paper by Mech; it’s in pdf form.)

Also, they’re wolves and not humans, but that’s a whole other kettle of anthropomorphized fish.

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Posted on August 22, 2012, in alpha asshole cock carousel, alpha males, bad boys, beta males, evo psych fairy tales, heartiste, MGTOW, misogyny, PUA, worst writing in the history of the universe and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 577 Comments.

  1. I don’t consider myself an alpha male nor a beta male but a normal human being because I don’t consider women as a piece of meat but I will never let a women walk all over me. I don’t need to surpress women to feel masculine because I sure don’t care about women unless its the women in my life whom I love.. :) alpha males by definition are assholes and beta guys by definition are doormats.. so I can safely say I don’t belong to both groups.. I live for myself and don’t care a shit about what women or feminists think about me nor so I need to “assert” my dominance because I know what I’m capable of and don’t need to prove it to everyone unless its nessasary.

    I’m a Man.

    Why did you need to tell us this

  2. Because nothing says “feminist ally” like “I sure don’t care about women unless its the women in my life whom I love.”

  3. @katz I don’t really care about other men or women.. Not because I’m a misogynist but a bad human being ;) But I do care about all the people in my life-male or female.. So I stand for their rights and if it means being an MRA or a feminist.. I won’t hesitate.. :D Besides.. I did state that I’m an ally and not a pure blood feminist… :P

    @auggziliary I posted this here because the whole post seemed like stereotyping MRA.. Which is the same thing that you oppose.. Hypocrisy.? I’m an MRA and as rational as they come.. I have posted on many MRA websites about stereotyping feminists and why that is bad for the MRM.. And here I come here to find MRAs stereotyped as the privileged cis white male.. (I’m a brown South asian)..

    We have to get rid of stereotypes and fight towards a common goal..
    Many MRAs hate feminists and many feminists hate MRAs.. But both movements want the same goal- equality…. There are people on both sides who hate the other gender.. Lets not give them attention.. They are just shitty human beings.. :)

  4. MRAs are “stereotyped” as misogynists just like the Klan are “stereotyped” as racist.

    In other words, it isn’t a stereotype. It is exactly what they are. No, their goal is not equality and if you believe it is, I’ve got a bridge to sell ya.

  5. I posted this here because the whole post seemed like stereotyping MRA.. Which is the same thing that you oppose..

    Dude, if you don’t want to be treated as a walking stereotype, try not acting like one. (Hint: it’s the two-dot ellipsis.)

    We have to get rid of stereotypes and fight towards a common goal..

    The goal of rights for your friends only and nobody else? No thanks, I’ll still pass.

    Not because I’m a misogynist but a bad human being

    Lets not give them attention.. They are just shitty human beings..

    Presented without comment.

  6. O_o

    Anand Jain, have you actually read anything MRAs say?

    And are you really saying that you only care about the rights of your family & friends?

    Cause, I care about everyone’s rights. Everyone has rights, not just the people I like or am related to.

  7. But both movements want the same goal- equality….

    *spit-take*

  8. The third dot of your ellipses is lonely. Look at him!

    .

    Such a sad dot, all alone. What he doesn’t realize is that a couple phrases over, there is another dot who’s been abandoned by the other pair of dots as well. And a couple other phrases over, yet another, lonely, abandoned dot.

    .

    .

    Such sad lonely little dots, unaware of eachother’s mutual despair. We should start a support group for lost dots. Meanwhile, there’s an extra dot partying with the ellipses after equality, and a dot just hanging out next to a question mark. What does ‘.?’ even mean? Is it a new way of indicating a rhetorical question or something, which totally defeats the purpose of a rhetorical question?

    As for the actual substance of your post (I’ll stop with bemoaning the fate of the poor, lonely, little, lost dots) I think Sparky and Katz make a good point.

    If you only care about the rights of the subset of people you know, you’re kind of a cruddy human’s rights activist.

    Seriously. This is what you sound like:

    I want equality, but only for my friends! The rest of the world doesn’t matter. Why should I care about people I don’t know? That’s just silly. But of course my friends should be equal!

    How dare you say that my rights movement has a lot of jerks! It’s really only a few of them that keep saying women are only worthwhile for sex and other nasty things!

    What do you mean those are some of the ‘leaders’ of the movement? And what’s this about the leading organizations webpages being misogynistic? That can’t be! Lalalala! I Can’t HEAR you!

  9. I’m an MRA and as rational as they come.

    Pardon me for not believing this.

  10. The third dot of your ellipses is lonely. Look at him!

    .

    I almost laughed my coffee out!

  11. Argh, it took many moons, but the blockquote monster finally got me.

  12. And here I come here to find MRAs stereotyped as the privileged cis white male.. (I’m a brown South asian).

    Just because you’re a man of color, doesn’t mean you don’t have male privilege. Male privilege exists across all races, all classes, and so on.

  13. Rights aren’t custom made for individuals. Either you care about human rights or you don’t. I’m truly baffled that people think caring for friends and family makes you a good person. Pretty much everyone cares for their friends and family. Anyone who doesn’t is a monster. Not a monster is a pretty low bar. IMO, if you can’t muster up empathy for people who aren’t fucking you or buying you a present on your birthday, you’re not a good person.

  14. I’m truly baffled that people think caring for friends and family makes you a good person. Pretty much everyone cares for their friends and family.

    Even the most hardened mafioso loves their mamma.

  15. alpha males by definition are assholes and beta guys by definition are doormats.

    Objection, assumes facts not in evidence (the existence of either). It’s also bullshit because, “by definition” you have begged the question.

    . I don’t need to surpress women to feel masculine because I sure don’t care about women unless its the women in my life whom I love.

    So you’re an asshole (which fails to make you “Alpha”, it just means you are lacking in empathy, and basic human decency).

    -an MRA and **feminist ally**(those few who really believe in equality)

    Null-set. MRA and “feminist ally” can’t coexist in a coherent worldview. That you try to have your cake, and eat it, with that “argument by definition” (i.e. women who agree with your MRA views of what makes the sexes “equal” are feminists, and the rest are something else) merely shows how inane the things you believe to be true actually are.

  16. I missed the discussion of sapience (and I must say I am so happy to see it being used, rather than the common [misuse] of sentient, but I digress, because the people here are so clever).

    I’m moderately certain that crows are sapient, as well as some other corvids. Some of them pass the mirror test, others can count to six, and it’s obvious from the speed of some behavior changes (e.g. overnight changes in flight paths to rookeries, by hundreds of crows, when one was shot in the flyway) that they have some means of conveying information about things they didn’t directly observe.

    What level of sapience they have, and what that means, I don’t know. I think the largest hurdle to people accepting “lesser orders” being sapient that it moves it from a complex emergent property; requiring a massive brain, to a less complex emergent property; requiring no more than an evolutionary pressure.

    Also, it means the defining aspect of language becomes a bit fuzzier.

    For all that it’s a form of, “just so story”, I happen to rather like the forms of question Elaine Pagels asks in “The Descent of Woman” and “The Aquatic Ape”. I like them, in part, because they provide some interesting lines of investigation for seeking sapient behaviors in other species (as well as punching a lot of holes in the “man hunts, humanity becomes smart” line of bullshit evolutionary popularisation… yes, Desmond Morris, I’m looking at you).

    Harry Turtledove wrote a series of stories, collected as “A Different Flesh”. They’re alternate history of a sort; the point of divergence is the absence of the Bering land bridge. The Americas have a population of Homo erectus, but no H. sapiens.

    And this is one of those sorts of thing. The Land Bridge is almost certainly tangiential to the populating of the Americas. The gap from the Kamchatka Peninsula to the Aleutians is a lot smaller than that of New Zealand to Australia, and people made that hop. Further, the Laurentian Ice Sheet was too wide to make passage overland, to the interior, possible (modern evidence is strong that it wasn’t open enough until well after H. sap appears in the N American fossil record). The only best route (and perhaps only viable) was down the Inland Passage of the Pacific Northwest.

    It’s more plausible too. Boats are faster, the climate is moderated on the coast (and improves rapidly; from an anthrocentric point of view), food is plentiful, etc.

  17. I’m an MRA and as rational as they come.

    I’m willing to grant that, but it’s not exactly a compliment to say you are as rationalist as an MRA can be.

    Many MRAs hate feminists and many feminists hate MRAs.. But both movements want the same goal- equality

    This, my dear, is why we don’t think “rational” and MRA go together. The MRM (as detailed in hundreds of examples in this blog) is about “putting women in their place.” If you think you can find example of declared MRAs who are “moderate”, or seeking actual equality, feel free to cite them.

    We’ve been waiting for them to show up (sort of the same way lots of peope have been waiting on The Messiah… I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that’s a more likely thing than the MRA who actually seeks equality).

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