Friday, March 26, 2010

The Crisis of Modern Masculinity

Ok, that titles a little too broad for the scope of a single blog entry but the questions sits at the crux of a lot of my thinking since about 1999. What does it mean to be a good guy these days? Must he always finish last? What's so great about bad boys if all they do is break your heart? And why do you then run to your gay best friend for support but you refuse to date the hetero version of him?

50% of the world's population seemingly breaks down into one of three categories:

alpha - the dominant and domineering personality, callous, self-interested, in control, successful, aggressive competitive

beta - the alpha's subordinate, inferiority complex, just trying to get by, conflict-avoidant

omega - checked out of the system, the failure or never even tried, arrested development

The online magazine recently ran an article classifying the various sub-species of omega males through an analysis of Greenberg, the oeuvre of Judd Apatow, and basically any role featuring Jason Schwartzman.

The thrust of the article? Take a look at the title: women hate omega males. Or at least we are supposed to believe. Das man has pronounced it into the echo chamber of the idle talk engine. continues this assault on the unrugged alpha male in its review of the book Undateable (if you're interested in it, google it).

Wow. Who the heck meets those criteria and the other 318 not mentioned in the article. Perhaps the Brawny Man? I'm pretty sure he doesn't eat salads or wear dress shoes. He also happens to be an advertising fiction but who's counting when we can pile on about all the superficial things we don't like about men.

And then there's this article published by researchers at my alma mater. The take away is that a working mom's self-esteem can take a significant hit when her hubby also does a bang-up job of taking care of baby. But, wait, don't you always complain that he's not... but when he does and he doesn't screw it up you feel... aaaaarrrrrgggghhhhh!

What's a guy to do? Ladies (supposedly) want a bruting alpha. But an alpha doesn't love you, he only loves himself. He's going to break your heart one way (sleeping with your best friend) or another (he just doesn't give a damn about you). So can you go beta? NO! Dress nice? Show some empathy? Be supportive? Who wants to date a wuss? Danger is what we crave. Danger hurts and so it's exciting. The Sword of Damocles is dangling, when will it all come crashing down?

Cro-mag or metro... You sleep with one but you hate him, you love the other but won't invite him into the bedroom.

And thus every man is faced with a choice: alpha or beta? Winner or loser? Is it any wonder in Japan guys are beginning to check out of the game? They're called grass eating men (they even denigrate salad eaters in Asia). For a country experiencing a population crunch, they are a crisis.

What's a modern man to be? Alpha, beta, or omega?

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