Back in the year of our Lord’s incarnation 2011, Theodore Beale, under his pen name Vox Day, posted his selectively famous socio-sexual hierarchy (famous in some corners of the internet). It was, in those places, hailed as a revolution over the far more reductive alpha-beta hierarchy of males that had dominated those sorts of conversations before. I got into a conversation about it recently and want to relay a few things that came up in that conversation, but I suspect I need to go over a little background, first.
Why do such things exist? Well, we live in a culture where a great many young people aren’t raised past some basics like being trained to eat with tableware or washing their hands after going to the bathroom, so people don’t have any sort of operating model of the opposite sex—or even of their own. Yet they still have basic human desires, such as finding a mate and having a family and fitting into the society in which they live. How are they to go about these things? All that’s on offer (outside of traditional homes) are non-answers such as, “you can be anything that you want to be,” “you are special just the way you are,” and “just be you.” (For the record, I don’t think that these things are as much based in trying to raise children’s self-esteem as much as they are in the fear of telling things to children because children believe what they’re told, which means that you need to be very confident in what you say to them; people who don’t believe in anything have nothing, therefore, to say to children. But silence is awkward.)
So for a young man, if he concludes that finding a young woman to pair up with is part of the path to happiness, how is he to go about making this happen? Even if he happened to come across traditional answers, they tend to only work with women who have been raised traditionally, and women who were raised traditionally won’t be interested in men who weren’t because of the deficiencies in character caused by the deficiencies in their upbringing. (Note: young men can learn and improve themselves and make up for the deficiencies in their upbringing, just as young women can. It’s just not the statistical norm for these victims of Modernity.)
So what are these poor souls to do, given that they literally haven’t heard of the good options? How is someone who was raised to believe that genitalia are for fornication and pregnancy is a type of cancer supposed to navigate male-female interactions, especially when they were also raised to believe that there are absolutely no differences between males and females except purely accidental ones that shouldn’t be talked about lest anyone mistake them for essential differences?
As a side note that is relevant, it’s helpful in understanding a lot of the frustration that one sees that given the modern assumptions about how fornication is a meaningless act which is only about pleasure—as binding as shaking someone’s hand or riding a roller coaster next to them—the phenomenon where women say ‘no’ to offers of sex from most men makes absolutely no sense. There’s no way, under these assumptions, for refusing sex to be anything but selfishness. If it is rude to refuse somebody at a dance, why should it not be rude to refuse a quick trip to the lavatory? Yet women, for some reason, are not considered rude for saying ‘no.’ The real answer, of course, is that people cannot become as completely debased as their theories, so they cling to some shreds of reality, but this cognitive dissonance must be painful, and that pain explains a lot.
So, from the secular male perspective, women are basically defective, since they constantly don’t do what—according to the generally accepted theory—they should be doing. (Generally accepted except among traditionalist Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and other religious wackos.) One can cry out to the empty heavens about how unjust the world is, of course, but there is no one to hear these wails, so it does no good. The alternative is to figure out how to work around the defects of this broken world, which is most of what one has to do anyway. Hence is born the Pick Up Artist.
Pick Up Artistry is best understood in theory as an attempt by broken males to deal with the few bits that aren’t broken in broken females. In practice, it consists of a sort of practical psychology for figuring out how to manipulate women into wanting to fornicate with the man in front of them. Unless the man has STDs and intends to fornicate without using a condom, there is precisely no reason for her to not want to do this, which is the key to understanding why PUAs do not understand themselves to be predatory. PUAs are not, however, the really interesting group, here.
There are people who are not quite so far gone—that is, not quite so secular—who still think that there could be something more than the sum of its parts in a man and a woman sticking with each other for a prolonged period of time. They typically were raised in the same way as the pick up artists, but just didn’t believe it quite as much. In consequence, they have no idea how to make their goals happen. Looking around for some ideas, PUAs are nearly the only people who aren’t religious wackos who are willing to make definite claims about the nature of reality, rather than give nice-sounding non-answers like “do what brings you joy.” (Parenting tip: if your life lessons could be the slogans of credit card companies, rethink your life and do it quickly before your child grows up and it’s too late.)
It’s true that the PUAs are secular wackos, but that’s much better than being religious wackos, so maybe they have some insights, and that’s better than nothing.
The problem is that the PUA model of reality is more than a little… anemic. PUA models vary with each person writing a book or blog post (much as gnosticism varied with each gnostic teacher), but there are some broad strokes that are very common: according to the PUA model women have one trait, physical beauty, and it can be rated on a scale of 1-10. (Some permit the use of rational numbers (fractions), turning this into a continuum, while others reject that individuals are so unique.) Men also have one relevant quality, attractiveness, which is not quite the same as beauty, but its distribution is simpler: men are either attractive or unattractive. The former is called alpha, the latter called beta. (This is in somewhat explicit reference to the well-known characterization of feeding patterns among unrelated wolves who are strangers to each other but forced to occupy the same place, such as a pen in a zoo.)
Women want to fornicate with alphas and not with betas. This is presumably for the superior genetics for their offspring which alphas offer. (Secular people always make up evolutionary just-so stories when they need to explain anything about human nature.) Since the invention of contraceptives, sex is no longer about reproduction, so this is only relevant insofar as it gives insight into how to be attractive to women: the key is to identify the external traits by which a woman identifies alphas, and then to mimic those. (Again, it’s important to realize that since the woman isn’t going to have any offspring, this is a maladaptive trait and so fooling it is more akin to how glasses fool an eye with an astygmatism into presenting an accurate image to the retina. Women come in only two varieties: hoes and unhappy women, just as men come in only two varieties: players and unhappy men. The goal of the PUA is not to make a woman do what she doesn’t want to, but to make her want to do what the PUA wants to do. Pick Up Artistry is 100% about obtaining consent.)
As I said, this world view, even in the dim vision of a mostly secular person, is more than a little bit anemic. It obviously leaves a lot of even the secular world out of account. Still, when it’s the only thing on offer, beggars can’t be choosers.
Into this near-void comes Vox Day’s socio-sexual hierarchy. Instead of dividing males into just two groups, he divides them into six. Right away, we can see that this is at least three times better. His groupings still use Greek letters (though not in alphabetical order): alphas, betas, deltas, gammas, omegas, and sigmas. (Technically there is a seventh classification, lambas, but that’s for men who have no interest in women, so it’s irrelevant to his audience.)
In Vox Day’s description, alphas are the most attractive, but betas are men who are also attractive, but not enough to be alphas. They tend to hang around alphas. Alphas get 10s while betas get 7s, 8s and 9s. Deltas are ordinary men and make up the bulk of males, and can only get 6s and below, but frequently do get them if they’re not fixated on getting 7s and above. Gammas are socially inept men of typically moderately above average intelligence who aren’t able to be as attractive as ordinary men despite thinking that they’re above them. They don’t tend to get women because they are too much in their own head to be attractive. Omegas are ugly, socially awkward men who either can’t get any kind of woman or maybe luck into an ugly woman who will deal with them. Sigmas are exceedingly unusual—men who are uninterested in society but who end up with 10s anyway. (I suspect that this is mostly just Vox Day himself, who was a semi-nerd who got wealthy at a young age and who has a wife of noted beauty; he may possibly be over-generalizing from his own experience, rather than taking this counter-example as a defect in his approach.)
This is vastly more satisfying to a secular man who wants to figure out how to get a girlfriend than is the PUA model, since it’s got more recognizable parts. It’s not as easy to think of exceptions (in the very limited experience of a secular man) and these exceptions will be closer to one of the categories, if for no other reason than that there are more categories.
As a side note: there is probably an optimal model sizes for superficial plausibility, where any smaller and it seems too reductionist and any bigger and it’s too hard to keep track of. If so, I suspect that Vox’s socio-sexual model is near to that ideal size.
The problem with this model, of course, is that it still leaves out most of life. It carries over from the PUA model the idea that a woman can be rated on a scale of 1-10, though it expands the male side to a scale of 1-5 from a scale of 1-2. Even if we stick to numerical scales which oversimplify things for the sake of simplicity, though, there are still far more traits to a human being that are important in a wife, or even in a girlfriend, and these traits tend to be uncorrelated with physical beauty (I mean that they can be coincident or not, I don’t mean that they are negatively correlated). There are traits that matter in choosing a mate such as honesty, loyalty, courage, prudence, wisdom, temperance, piety, etc. The idea that an alpha male should choose a woman who is a 10 for physical beauty without any regard for her other traits is absurd on its face, even if secular people will leave off piety. Further, since these traits are uncorrelated, and if we assume that the alpha can attract the best mate, he might well have a mate who is only a 6 for physical beauty but a 9 for honesty, a 10 for temperance, an 8 for courage, a 9 for prudence, etc. But this will depend, to no small degree, on his own wisdom, prudence, and temperance.
There is a further issue that if you read the original, he describes each group with an estimated number of lifetime sexual partners. Alphas have 4 times the average number of sexual partners or more. Betas have 2-3 times the average number of sexual partners. Etc. But the only way for a man to have more than one lifetime sexual partner is via tragedy—either the tragedy of his first wife dying or the tragedy of sin.
The entire thing is predicated on going about life all wrong. It’s a bit like a guide to golf that measured success by the number of spectators that the golfer hit with a golf ball. It could give tips on how to lull the spectators into a false sense of security or how to aim out of the corner of one’s eye. Someone who followed it might really hit quite a few more spectators than someone who didn’t. Such a guide would be internally consistent, but it would be missing the entire point of the game.