I have been enjoying posts from Marriage Sex and More recently. His take on being a man in a successful marriage is refreshing and I like it. Plus he posts great photos. A post I read recently spawned some thoughts of my own that I would like to share with you.
My friend posts about many things but a recurring theme is his frustration at the decline of masculinity in our modern world. I find myself agreeing with many of his ideas. Particularly some that are expressed in a post in which he describes his learnings from years of dealing with sex traffickers as a law enforcement officer. Warning, the post does describe the effect of the sex trafficking industry on women and is not for the faint of heart. In his reflections he explains that many women are drawn to the pimps of this world because they are tired of the beta behaviour of their current partners and find the Alpha behaviour of pimps alluring, before they get caught in the spider’s web, so to speak.
I agree with his ideas that women are tired of men who don’t embrace their masculinity and are seeking the stronger more decisive type of man but it isn’t as simple as all that. I am a Biologist, I believe that the way we act is driven by our basic function of reproducing successfully. As I tell my students, everything in Biology is about sex and food. Men are programmed with the scatter gun approach. Their goal is to get their DNA into as many females as possible. Over his lifetime a man could, theoretically, impregnate hundreds of women. Women are not able to take this approach. In an extreme case a woman might successfully birth twenty babies in her lifetime. Of those twenty maybe half would make it to adulthood. IF she is healthy and able to carry and birth them. IF she has a tribe around her to help raise them. IF, and this is the kicker, she can find a mate to PROVIDE for her.
In a caveman scenario, which is where our programming and instincts come from, a woman is looking for a man whose genes are sound and will give her offspring the best chance of success. Enter the Alpha, strong, confident, resourceful. She will try to mate with him because, clearly, his genes are going to give her offspring the best chance. But here is her conundrum; while the Alpha has the best genes he is not likely to stick around and bring her food while she is incapacitated and caring for the offspring they have created. His attention is going to be on the next conquest and the next woman who is looking for his genes. Without support and a provider the offspring, and probably the woman, will die.
Enter feminine wiles. While seeking to acquire impregnation from the Alpha the woman may seek to bind a less Alpha or beta male to her and convince him that he needs to care for her and her children. This guy is less desirable from a sexual point of view; he is possibly weaker and may have some weird characteristics but he will be around to build a shelter, hunt for some food and brandish a weapon at any wild animals that might try to attack her and her baby.
The animal kingdom is full of examples of females who birth offspring that are not genetically related to the male to whom she is bound. There are a wide variety of examples of social arrangements that allow for females to mate with the Alpha while enjoying the support and protection of other males, and/ or females, in their community.
So what does all this have to do with men and women and relationships in the 21st century? Well, the programming is still there. We may have progressed culturally and socially but we are still the same species that lived in caves and wandered about hunting mammoths and digging up roots. We are still in the words of Douglas Adams “Very clever apes”. So women still want to mate the Alpha and the Alpha still wants to fuck everything he can. Other men, and women, created this culture that values monogamy above all else as a way of negating the fascination with Alpha and decreasing his power. Marriage could be viewed as an institution that allowed beta males to capture a mate and lock the Alpha out. The idea of purity and chastity could be seen as tool men used to control women and keep the Alpha out until the beta had a chance to lock her up with his nice house and good job.
Deep down the woman still desires the Alpha and deep down the beta is still submissive to his dominance. Can a beta become an Alpha? In some cases yes. But honestly it is unlikely. The traits that define an Alpha are not entirely learned. They come from within and are not always conscious. The beta may learn to mimic some Alpha behaviours and this will gain him some success. A quick Google will unearth any amount of material claiming to help men “Become more Alpha” but it is a slippery slope. Without some limitations men who engage in Alpha behaviour just become an arsehole.
Enter the pimp and honestly, any men who commit domestic abuse. These men may have started life as an Alpha or they may have been betas who converted. Whatever the case, their Alphaness is out of control. They have power and are, by all accounts, very, very charming. They possess that thing that draws women in. The women sense that their genes are strong. But these men are addicted to their power. They are incapable of owning it against a woman who is strong enough to question it and so they enforce their power by engaging in degrading and abusive behaviour.
Life is about balance. A good relationship has balance. A marriage survives because the partners work as a team to ensure that each party becomes their best self. There is definitely room for a man to be a man and own his masculinity but it cannot be at the expense of his partner. Being more alpha is not a license to act like an arsehole. It does not give you the right to hold a good woman (or man) down.