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July 13, 2015

No Kiddin': Salon Writes In Praise of the Beta Male

I'd say the Rise of the Beta Male, but they don't really rise, do they? They just sort of puddle. Sufficiently prodded, they might ooze half-heartedly.

My husband will occasionally tell me a story -- about apologizing to someone who was in the wrong or a tense email exchange that he ended with a smiley face -- and wryly conclude, "That’s how beta I am." Personally, I would prefer to call this "sensitivity, emotional intelligence, and peacemaking." But, sure, if we're to crudely categorize men as either alpha or beta, leaving zero room for nuance, and if we define kind, nurturing behaviors that cannot be categorized as stereotypically, defensively masculine as "beta," I suppose my husband is a beta. And thank goodness for that.


Lisa DePasquale is meanwhile less enamored with the breed.

She recounts stories of men behaving as cowards, and men behaving in passive-aggressive crowd-shaming ways rather than just confronting the person they have a problem with.

America has finally built the man of the future, and, surprise, it's a woman.

And not a daring sort of woman at that. Sort of a wallflower of a woman, a gossip, a mirror-gazer.

Acculturated wants to know where the manly journalists have gone.

Well, if I were to guess, I'd guess that journalism is now, for some reason, an occupation requiring both college and Finishing School for Inquisitive Young Gentlemen, and as those two institutions strain to squeeze every last drop of testosterone from a boy's nugs and replace it with #Caring, I'd say the only likely avenue for men getting into journalism is some kind of rare, outsider's path.

In March 2012 the faculty at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, together with an Honorary Committee of alumni, selected the "100 Outstanding Journalists in the United States in the Last 100 Years." Some of the notables:

James Agee, Russell Baker, James Baldwin, Ben Bradlee, David Halberstam, Pete Hamill, Ernest Hemingway, H.L. Mencken, Gordon Parks, Ernie Pyle

In April 2015, the social analytics firm Stat Social released a list of “the most influential journalists on Twitter.” Among the top thirty-five:

Anderson Cooper, George Stephanopoulos, Ben Smith, Chuck Todd, Brian Seltzer, Nate Silver, Christopher Hayes, Dave Weigel, Matt Yglesias, Don Lemon

The NYU list includes men who faced real danger and often spoke uncomfortable truths--even about themselves. As for the Twitter list--well, it's not exactly the cast of 300, is it?

I don't know much about anything, but one thing I remember from English lit classes was the constant theme, in Modernism, of alienation. The Modern world had alienated humans from their true natures, which was more adventuresome and sweatier with animal vigor.

I know that two major political philosophers spoke about alienation a lot. Abraham Lincoln spoke of the institution of slavery alienating men from the idea that Labor was power, and Labor was noble. And Karl Marx spent many words claiming that factory-work alienated the worker from the product of his work.

I'm not a psychologist, but I do think that this basic forcible/trained alienation from our actual biologically-authentic selves produces hatred, misery, unhappiness, and passive-aggressive drives for vengeance. For these Beta Males are no more fulfilled than their sexually-confused, sexually-deserted Feminist Sisterpartners.

The rage they feel at their lives -- at themselves -- and, hidden from even they themselves, the rage they feel at their Lunatic Teachers who filled their heads with this horseshit -- must flow somewhere.

Rage, unlike Beta Males, does not puddle. It surges, it launches.

They attack everyone without them; they attack Society.

The bitterness, the desperation of the attacks of the Beta Males and Un-Women is driven by their strong suspicion that None of This Is Actually Right, but they can't actually form that thought, they can't question the self-annihilating anti-philosophy they've accepted without question, because of their essential cowardice.

Their teachers have taught them too well to never question their anti-philosophy.

Testosterone Might Have Permitted Big-City Civilization: Makes sense -- you can't have a bunch of rabidly-territorial pack mammals barking at each other, and stabbing each other, and shooting each other when they're forced to live cheek-by-jowl in cities.

But let's not forget, testosterone is the hormone of aggression and initiative -- in women as well as men.

What happens when everyone decides to just be a puddle? What happens when there are no sweaty hands pushing on the mill-wheels of history?

Men Without Chests: I was a coward, and I'm proud of that.

I forgive cowardice, because none of us knows how we'll act when those terrible seconds come.

But you should be ashamed of it. Cowardice is a perfectly understandable failing -- but it is, indeed, a failing.

For these Self-Esteem Participation Trophy collectors to show no shame about their cowardice is itself a second cowardice.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion...


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posted by Ace at 05:35 PM

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