Beta male (slang)

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Beta male, or simply beta, is a term for men perceived as weak and emasculated. The term has been frequently used in manospheres and was later adopted by alt-right activists who question feminist views on gender roles, masculinity and manhood. Beta frequently applies to men who are associated with feminism or men who are not assertive, particularly with women.[1] Andrew Marantz wrote for the New Yorker that conspiracy theorist and blogger Mike Cernovich believes that his opponents were "beta males, losers, or 'cucks' — alt-right slang for 'cuckolds'".[2] The Huffington Post columnist, Benjamin Davis, wrote that the "Caucasian male ... had to play the role of beta male to Obama’s alpha male for eight long years".[3] Tracy Clark-Flory, in Salon, wrote she prefers, instead of "beta", to call it "sensitivity, emotional intelligence, and peacemaking".[4]

Beta males have become an onscreen archetype of a villain and also have been portrayed on shows such as Broadchurch.[5][6]


The term was used almost solely in animal ethology prior to the 1990s. Using the term "alpha" and "beta" in reference to humans originated in the mid to late 1990s after media outlets introduced the term. A 1996 article in USA Today wrote "take a powder, sensitive guy". An Esquire article mentioned the term saying "alpha males were putting the 'man' back in manhood". In 1999, Naomi Wolf, political advisor of Al Gore and Bill Clinton, according to Time "has argued internally that Gore is a 'Beta male' who needs to take on the 'Alpha male' in the Oval Office before the public will see him as the top dog".[7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roy, Jessica (16 November 2016). "'Cuck,' 'snowflake,' 'masculinist': A guide to the language of the 'alt-right'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2017-04-18. 
  2. ^ Marantz, Andrew (31 October 2016). "Trolls for Trump". The New Yorker. Retrieved 18 April 2017. 
  3. ^ Davis, Benjamin (2017-04-14). "Trump and the Myth of the Invincible White Male". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-04-18. 
  4. ^ Clark-Flory, Tracy. "In praise of the "beta male"". Salon. Retrieved 2017-04-18. 
  5. ^ Michael Hogan (18 April 2017). "Broadchurch season 3 finale recap: this series was about modern masculinity gone horribly wrong". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-04-18. 
  6. ^ Crucchiola, Jordan (2017-04-13). "Toxic Nice Guys Are Hollywood's New Favorite Villain". Vulture. Retrieved 2017-04-18. 
  7. ^ Dowd, Maureen (1999-11-03). "Liberties; The Alpha-Beta Macarena". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-04-21. 
  8. ^ Singal, Jesse (2016-05-18). "How America Became Infatuated With a Cartoonish Idea of 'Alpha Males'". New York (magazine). Retrieved 2017-04-18.