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.