Beta male (slang)

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Beta male, or simply beta, is a term derived from the designation for beta animals in ethology. The term has been frequently used in the manosphere, along with its counterpart, "alpha male", designating males that are not beta. The term has been used to describe men who are associated with feminism or men who are not assertive, particularly with women. Tracy Clark-Flory wrote for Salon that she prefers the words "sensitivity, emotional intelligence, and peacemaking" to "beta".[1]


The term was used almost solely in animal ethology prior to the 1990s, particularly in regard to mating privileges with females, ability to hold territory and hierarchy in terms of food consumption within their herd or flock.[2] 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".[clarification needed] In the animal kingdom beta refers to an animal who is subordinate to higher-ranking member in the social hierarchy thus having to wait to eat and having negligible or no opportunities for copulation.[3]


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".[4][5]

Andrew Marantz wrote for the New Yorker that blogger Mike Cernovich believes that his opponents were "beta males, losers, or 'cucks' —  slang for 'cuckolds'".[6][7] The common caricature of a beta male, first perpetuated within alt-right circles, is that of a weak or emasculated man who often follows left-wing or far-left politics.[8]

The March 7, 2018, issue of the Hollywood Reporter has as its cover the cast of the TV show Silicon Valley, together with the title "The Triumph of the Beta Male".[9] The term beta is sometimes used by other manospherians as a pejorative term levelled against incels.[10]

Beta Uprising[edit]

Caricatures of beta males and incels sometimes includes suggestions of a "Beta Uprising" or "Incel Rebellion", wherein men who are unsuccessful at courtship rebel against mainstream or what they view as privileged members of society.[11][12][13] Members of beta communities may sympathize with individuals such as Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech shooting)[14] and George Sodini (2009 Collier Township shooting).[15]

Beta Orbiter[edit]

A beta orbiter is someone, especially a male, who invests time and effort into mingling with others in the hope of eventually getting into a romantic relationship or acquiring sex. The term can be used interchangeably with the terms involuntary celibate or incel.[16] Some figures in popular culture have been described as elucidating beta orbiter traits, including Game of Thrones character Jorah Mormont's affection for Daenerys Targaryen despite the auntcest between herself and her nephew Jon Snow.[17][18] Some concepts related to beta orbiting have been criticized, including a game called Super Seducer, later banned by Sony, which aimed to help men escape from being in the beta orbiting role.[19]


In the manosphere, the term betabux is an antonym of the word alphafux. Whereas the former refers to beta males who give financial favors to women, the latter refers to alpha male men who don't but nonetheless procure sexual favors from women. The term presupposes a sexual strategy among women whereby they favor the alpha male, and engage in sex with him, but that they can't get him to commit and as such settle for less attractive betas primarily for financial purposes as a secondary option.[20][21][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clark-Flory, Tracy. "In praise of the "beta male"". Salon. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  2. ^ Gese, Eric M., Robert L. Ruff, and Robert L. Crabtree. "Foraging ecology of coyotes (Canis latrans): the influence of extrinsic factors and a dominance hierarchy." Canadian Journal of Zoology 74.5 (1996): 769-783.
  3. ^ Davies, N. B. "Cooperation and conflict among dunnocks, Prunella modularis, in a variable mating system." Animal Behaviour 33.2 (1985): 628-648
  4. ^ Dowd, Maureen (1999-11-03). "Liberties; The Alpha-Beta Macarena". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-04-21.
  5. ^ Singal, Jesse (2016-05-18). "How America Became Infatuated With a Cartoonish Idea of 'Alpha Males'". New York. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  6. ^ Marantz, Andrew (31 October 2016). "Trolls for Trump". The New Yorker. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  7. ^ Lerner, Kira (2017-04-04). "Donald Trump Jr. says Pizzagate conspiracy theorist deserves a Pulitzer". ThinkProgress. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  8. ^ Roy, Jessica (16 November 2016). "'Cuck,' 'snowflake,' 'masculinist': A guide to the language of the 'alt-right'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  9. ^ "The Hollywood Reporter 'Triumph Of The Beta Male' Cover Is A Bad Sign". The Federalist. 2018-03-08. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
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  11. ^ "What is a beta uprising? • r/OutOfTheLoop". reddit. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  12. ^ Dewey, Caitlin (7 October 2015). "Incels, 4chan and the Beta Uprising: making sense of one of the Internet's most-reviled subcultures". Retrieved 19 January 2018 – via
  13. ^ Makuch, Ben. "Exclusive: Toronto van attack suspect Alek Minassian was a member of the Canadian Army". VICE News. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  14. ^ Pennacchia, Robyn (2016). "'Beta Males' Want To Kill Women Because They Can't Get Laid". Bust. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  15. ^ Woolf, Nicky (May 30, 2014). "'PUAhate' and 'ForeverAlone': inside Elliot Rodger's online life". The Guardian. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
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  18. ^ Muno, Wolfgang. "“Winter Is Coming?” Game of Thrones and Realist Thinking." The Interplay Between Political Theory and Movies. Springer, Cham, 2019. 135-149.
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