Watch Oprah, mostly

In which a decades-old question is answered:

In her own writings, Mosher was acutely aware of her foresight, and of the possibilities that lay ahead for women once sex became less of a secret and gender less of a burden. “Born into a world of unlimited opportunity, the woman of the rising generation will answer the question of what woman’s real capacities are,” Mosher wrote in 1923. “She will have physical, economic, racial and civic freedom. What will she do with it?”

My suspicion is that the men of my generation and the following one have a far lower opinion of “woman’s real capacities” than the men of Mosher’s generation did. Mostly because we have the advantage of seeing what women have done with the physical, economic, racial, and civic freedom that Mosher anticipated: Twilight, Oprah, Girls Gone Wild, Prohibition/War on Drugs, and the current debt/GDP ratio pretty much covers it.

No amount of male cynicism could possibly have anticipated a post-patriarchal world in which female professors would utilize their astrophysics degrees in order to teach lesbianism in Hindu film as part of a Women’s Studies program. The moment of that fortuitous discovery, for which I will always be deeply grateful to my interlocutor at the time, Mr. John Scalzi, was the precise one at which my loathing for feminism transformed into a genuine appreciation for the vast amount of intrinsic humor it offers. And the more I have learned about the history of feminism, the more I read about the optimistic hopes and dreams of its antecedents and activists, the more amusing its absurd reality has become.

Explaining sigma. Again.

I find it remarkable that so many men here have demonstrated such a difficult time understanding that being a social outsider, for whatever reason, does not in itself have anything to do with the social category I describe as sigma. It’s really not a difficult concept once you understand that the Game theoreticians, with their binary score/no score perspective, would consider sigmas to be a sub-category of alpha. Remember, their whole goal is to a) educate men about the realities of female behavior and b) teach betas to simulate alpha behavior in order to have a better chance of achieving their goals, whatever those goals might be. So, the more refined categories are unnecessary for their purposes even though a few of the synthetic alpha techniques they recommend are more reminiscent of sigma behavior than alpha dominance.

Perhaps an image of a social scene might help better illustrate the categories in a manner everyone will comprehend.

Alpha: The tall, good-looking guy who is the center of male and female attention. The classic star of the football team who is dating the prettiest cheerleader. The successful business executive with the beautiful, stylish wife. All the women are attracted to him, all the men want to be him or at least his friend. At a social gathering like a party, he’s usually the loud guy telling self-flattering stories to whom several attractive women are listening with big, interested eyes. Alphas are only interested in women to the extent that they exist for the alpha’s gratification, physical and psychological.

Beta: The good-looking guys who aren’t as uniformly attractive or dominant as the Alpha, but are nevertheless confident, attractive to women, and do well with them. At the party, they are the loud guy’s friends who showed up with the alcohol and who are flirting with the tier one women and pairing up with the tier two women. Betas tend to genuinely like women and view them in a somewhat optimistic manner, but they don’t have total illusions about them either.

Deltas: The normal guys. They can’t attract the most attractive women, usually aim for the second-tier women with very limited success, and stubbornly resist paying attention to all of the third-tier women who are reasonably in their league. This is ironic, because deltas would almost always be happier with their closest female equivalents. When a delta does manage to land a second-tier woman, he is constantly afraid that she will lose interest in him and so he will, not infrequently, drive her into the very loss of interest he fears by his non-stop dancing attendance upon her. This is the vast majority of men. In a social setting, these are the men clustered together in groups, each of them making the occasional foray towards various small gaggles of women before beating a hasty retreat when direct eye contact and engaged responses are not forthcoming. Deltas tend to put the female sex on pedestals and have overly optimistic expectations of them; if a man talks about his better half or is an inveterate White Knight, he’s probably a delta. They like women, but find them confusing and are a little afraid of them.

Gammas: The outsiders, the unusual ones, the unattractive, and all too often the bitter. Often intelligent, reliably unsuccessful with women, and not uncommonly all but invisible to them, the gamma alternates between placing women on pedestals and hating the entire sex mostly depending upon whether an attractive woman happened to notice his existence or not that day. These are the guys who obsess over individual women for extended periods of time; gammas supply the ranks of stalkers, psycho-jealous ex-boyfriends, and the authors of excruciatingly narcissistic doggerel. In the unlikely event they are at the party, they are in the corner muttering darkly about the behavior of everyone else there… sometimes to themselves. Gammas tend to have have a worship/hate relationship with women which is directly tied to their current situation.

Omega: The truly unfortunate ones. The losers who were never in the game. Sometimes creepy, sometimes damaged, often clueless, and always undesirable. They’re not at the party. It would never have crossed anyone’s mind to invite them in the first place. Omegas are either totally indifferent to women or hate them with a borderline homicidal fury.

Sigma: The outsiders who don’t play the social game and manage to win at it anyhow. The alphas hate sigmas because they are the only men who don’t accept or at least acknowledge their social dominance. (NB: Alphas absolutely hate to be laughed at and a sigma can enrage an alpha by simply smiling at him.) Everyone else is vaguely confused by them. At the party, it’s the guy who stops by to say hello to a few friends accompanied by a tier one girl that no one has ever seen before. Sigmas often like women, but also tend to be contemptuous of them.

So, hopefully that makes everything a little more clear. To me, it is lunacy to attempt to describe yourself in some manner that you think is “better”. No one cares what you think you are and your opinion about your place in the social hierarchy is the one that matters least. There is no good or bad here, there is only what is observable social interaction. Alphas seemingly rule the roost and yet they live in a world of constant conflict and hierarchical testing. Sigmas usually acquired their outsider status the hard way; one doesn’t become immune to the social hierarchy by virtue of mass popularity in one’s childhood. Betas… okay, betas actually have it pretty good. But the salient point is that you can’t improve your chances of success in the social game if you begin by attempting to deceive yourself as to where you stand vis-a-vis everyone else around you.