Rise Of The Beta Male

Interesting article in last week’s Shortlist discussing the demise of the 'Alpha' male and rise of the 'Beta' male.
In a nutshell, the article was discussing recent culture changes in male behaviour and attitudes which has contributed to the emergence of the Beta male.
Beta males are smart sensitivity men who invest in their appearance, they are said to have turned their backs on the old Alpha male ways of male domination, aggression and exploitation, instead they embody intelligence, charisma and are liberal thinking. According to the article beta males are changing the way we do business!

I was pleased to see that the article had made a connection with this new male attitude and behaviour to the adaption (for the better) to the feminist movement and the study's of masculinity, since the process of women demanding and slowly achieving gender equality has encouraged many men to relieve themselves of the emotional castration once promoted as the alpha male image of masculinity.
The article began with discussing the emotional distress all Alpha male primates (yes man and baboon) feel maintaining a lifestyle built upon bullying, intimidation and gender domination; quoting American masculinity sociologist Eric Anderson the article went on to say "men are emotional creatures...we like to cry, we like to bond with our mates, we enjoy physical tactility. So all these hyper-macho tropes are highly unnatural; it's the 'beta' male that's the true version of masculinity."

The article mentioned Beta males from various disciplines and industries such as Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates and Barack Obama, all of whom emit a less aggressive public image of successful and powerful men, with Obama deemed the 'ultimate beta male' as he is a far cry from typical political leaders who are usually old(er), power mad, womanisers (think Silvio Berlusconi or John F Kennedy).  Instead the article summed up Obama as a humble, emotionally balance, metrosexual male (for his good dress sense), who is a great speaker and embraces equality of the sexes.
This ability to embrace equality is said to be changing the attitudes in the boardroom to the bedroom, Beta males are not interested in dominating women or other men and are said to understand the important's of encouragement and motivation over demanding and dominating.

It must be said that while ShortList's 'ultimate beta male' title went to Barak Obama, a black male, the argument of how race defines gender characteristic was sadly missed.  Like with feminism, the conditions of masculinity is also defined by class and race status, which makes black masculinity more complicated.
The resonance of modern black malehood is that of Hip-Hop and of life on the 'streets', which ties the condition of being black with being of working class status, masses of black (and white) males frustrated with little to no access to social mobility are drawn to the idea of masculinity offered by Hip-Hop which encourages the assertion of white middle class patriarchy power and privileges (now being retired as 'Alpha' male) in their everyday lives.
Obama like the other Beta males identified in the article are middle class and in positions of power, therefore he doesn't need to buy into black masculinity offered up by Hip-Hop; though having said this there are elements of the black male condition Obama can be seen playing into as a way of authenticating himself as a black male such as not knowing his father, being raised by his grandparents, financial hardship growing up, love for black expressive music genres like Hip-Hop and Motown.

While Obama and the rest of the Beta males can see the benefits of relinquishing Alpha male qualities such as a better quality of life, the concept of a 'Beta' masculinity model while progressive in theory is very class specific and therefore will benefit the working class males very little since they have little power to give up in the first place! 
I would argue more critical thought could have been applied to this article to make it more thought provoking and relevant, though I'm pleased to see another positive critique of modern masculinity in ShortList magazine since it brings the discussion of masculinity into the hands of a varied demographic. I am a strong believer that the future of the feminist movement is in the hands of male particaption through masculinity studies/dialogue and the evolution of modern masculinity.

Article Link:
The fall of the Alpha male, Shortlist.com

Reference Link:
Gender and Men's Studies: Peril or Promise? at LSE,


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