If you follow me on Twitter, you would have seen that I scoffed at this recent article on HuffingtonPost.com written by Lisa Copeland on why Katie Couric was not married. I must confess that my scoff was premature. Upon reading the entire article, Lisa hit a nerve that really got my feminist brain thinking.
Let me backtrack a little bit to give you folks a foundation upon which to generate an opinion on this piece. “Alpha” and “beta” are the terms our culture commonly associates with gender-related personality types. It comes from the animal kingdom, actually. “Alpha” animals gain preferential access to food and other desirable items or activities. Alphas typically achieve their status by means of superior physical prowess up. “Beta” animals often act as second-in-command to the reigning alpha.
You can see how this was a simple translation to how our genders relate to each other.
The major point Lisa Copeland makes in her article is that because women are becoming increasingly more alpha in our society. This is a recent phenomenon, and our society is trying to catch up. We are the presidents of our companies. We run the show. We graduate more often from college. We are living alone and having children older. Go us.
However, as a result, the heterosexual romantic relationship is suffering. Women are still trained to seek out alpha males. These are the men who are marketed to us as the most attractive. They have money, power, influence, wisdom. You see them in movies, commercials, TV shows. They are the men we are supposed to want to be with and have a family with.
(See: The Bachelor)
But, with women more often taking on the alpha, dominent role in our society, do our perceptions of what is attractive in a man need to change? Lisa asks us (and Katie Couric in particular) to consider the “beta” male.
These are the guys who are looking to become stay at home dads. They want to cook dinner, do the dishes, spend time with the kids. They support their wife’s career and goals and play a more domestic role. They may not be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and they may make less money than us.
As a woman, there are so many options open to me. I can be a chameleon because of my gender. I can rise to the top of a company as I wish, but am free to leave, bear children and stay at home with them with very minimal societal shame. Our men, on the other hand, have no such luck. They are suck to squeeze into one archetype There is no real place for a “beta” heterosexual male in our world yet. They just might be the most under appreciated and misunderstood group in modern America.
So what’s a girl to do? I wish we lived in a magical world where we just loved the people in our lives and didn’t expect them to meet a standard set of criteria. But, let’s face it, that’s never going to happen. Instead, we need to realize that the choices we as women make in our life influence every facet of our future. And, as Lisa points out, we (and Katie Couric in particular) seem to be ignoring the choices we make. As highly successful, busy, self-sufficient women, we may want to consider rewriting the criteria that our partner needs to meet. We need someone nurturing, respectful, supportive.
We need a beta male.