Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Letter To Young Beta Males

Hey there,

In the past few weeks after that horrible shooting in Oregon, I've been seeing a lot about the big reservoirs of resentment against women in online forums by self-professed "beta males."  The killer there, like a few others, appeared motivated in part by hatred against women fed by feelings of rejection.  I know most beta males aren't violent or hateful, but being a hetero beta male can lead to some distorted and messed up perceptions about women and gender.  (I know plenty of gay men who are betas too, but the gender dynamic is obviously different for them. This letter is more for hetero betas, but gay betas I feel your pain, too.)

I was a teenage beta male once upon a time, but people didn't use that phrase back then.  Wimp, nerd, geek, dork, pussy, fag etc. tended to be the nomenclature.  Trust me, at that time the phrase "nerd culture" did not have any positive connotations.  Playing video games and Dungeons and Dragons and reading comic books pretty much marked your status as a social outcast.  It was so intense that by my senior year I intentionally affected a different persona, wearing black and reading Kerouac and Nietzsche by myself in the hall during lunch hour.  I still couldn't get a date.  Then again, I never asked because my opinion of myself was that low.  In any case, I didn't kiss someone romantically until I was 22 years old.

It pains me to think about this, but I used to lament my condition, and wonder why girls didn't like nice boys like me.  Why did they go out with jerks and assholes?  What was I lacking?  Sometimes this lead into some bad territory, wondering what was wrong with girls.  Were they too stupid and shallow to not realize what they were doing?

These thoughts were really damaging, and let's face it, misogynistic.  I'd be willing to bet that you may have had similar thoughts yourself.  But you should not and don't need to think like this.  In the first place, to be a little stern, you aren't owed any woman's affection.  Women aren't pawns or status symbols.  I know that sounds preachy, but it's the truth, and you need to internalize it.  I remember when I had a little epiphany and started thinking about myself from others' points of view.  Would I want to go out with someone who was resentful, lacking in confidence, and always expecting me to make every move?  Of course not, so why should I expect someone else to do that?

Okay.  I know that can prompt some hard self-reflections, but don't worry.  It's a good way to think of girls and women not as strange and inscrutable creatures, but your colleagues in the game of life, potential friends and cherished collaborators.  When I was young I used to lament that I would be romantically attracted to a young woman, who would then become my friend rather than my lover.  These days your generation has a term for it, the "friend zone."  This phrase contains soft violence.  It implies that you're not really interested in women as friends, or that a woman should be bending to your will.  Instead, you should cherish your friendships with women.  That came home to me in my younger days when I was very attracted to a woman who became my friend.  I still silently burned a torch for her, then her boyfriend abruptly broke up with her, making her despondent.  I remember her literally crying on my shoulder, in intense emotional pain, and thinking that my feelings of romantic affection were pretty meaningless.  She needed me to be there for her as her friend, not her friend who secretly wanted to bone her.  I dropped the romantic illusions and developed an intense and deeply rewarding friendship.  From that point on I began to develop a lot of friendships with women, friendships that I still value and cherish.  Sometimes romance blossomed out of those friendships.

I know these years of your life can be tough.  I know that it is hard to be a walking bag of hormones and romanticism and feel like nobody wants to go out with you.  Most of this will pass pretty fast.  In the meantime, don't resent or hate women for your situation.  They are not inscrutable creatures, they are people like you, many going through similar struggles.  A lot of them also like comics, games, and Star Wars, and they might even feel more lonely than you do.  Get to know them better, be their friends and comrades.  Not only will it make your life a whole lot better, it will make society a lot better, too.

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