WTF Is Hypergamy, Really?

Across the manosphere, hypergamy is an oft-discussed meme. Based on my informal mental count, it’s second only to feminism as a catch-all explanation for dysfunctional female behavior. “Hypergamy unleashed” is a typical response to stories of the college hookup scene, harems, endless serial monogamy, the 80:20 sexual pyramid, apocryphal “rainbow parties” and other sexual dynamics driven by the use and misuse of women’s status as sexual gatekeepers.

While I agree the concept is an important one, I fear we’re getting away from a bounded definition, and thus hurting our ability to use it to describe and discuss the SMP. Hopefully this post will spark some discussion.

I see “hypergamy” used to reference three typical situations:

  1. The desire of women for a partner of higher social status than her and the alleged inability of most women to feel attraction to a mate she perceives as lower or equal in social status. (To this point, the role of media culture in teaching women to find most men unworthy and unattractive is a huge problem.)
  2. The instinctual desire for a woman to mate with the highest-status man she possibly can. (In my mind, this is no different from a man’s desire to mate with the hottest woman he can seduce.)
  3. The alleged tendency of women to “trade up” in the SMP, in violation of social mores if need be (this would include dumping your beta date when the quarterback asks you to prom, and more nasty things like frivolous divorce, cuckolding and paternity fraud). Dalrock has made such “choice addiction,” and fantasies thereof, a regular discussion item at his blog.

Female hypergamy is often paralleled to the male desire for sexual variety. What’s interesting about that parallel is that doesn’t tell you what women actually find attractive, it simply relays the female Body Agenda and unconscious mating strategy. That men find long hair and hips attractive is a non sequitur to the fact that the male hindbrain is optimized to find many women attractive so as to motivate him to be sexually ready to “spread the seed” when the opportunity presents itself. Likewise, the hypergamy strategy doesn’t tell you how a woman’s brain evaluates status, it simply says that given the choice, she should choose the higher-status male, and choose him exclusively.

Another way of saying this in a way a systems designer might put it: there’s two independent pieces of hardware – one evaluates attraction, and one decides who to mate with. The male decision algorithm will decide on multiple women at the same time if possible; the female algorithm will seek the most attractive man, to the exclusion of other suitors.

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “WTF Is Hypergamy, Really?

  1. (To this point, the role of media culture in teaching women to find most men unworthy and unattractive is a huge problem.)

    If hypergamy is a hardwired biological predisposition, then wouldn’t the media be completely ineffective in altering the perception of beta males as unattractive even if they started portraying beta males as sexually desirable? There’s a reason Michael Cera hasn’t become a romantic icon.

    The parallel is that for forty years, the media has been trying to convince men that older, professionally successful, “independent” women are attractive – and all we’ve ended up with is a lot of resentment and confusion on the part of men. Why do you think similar promotional efforts for the reverse scenario would be any more successful?

  2. “The parallel is that for forty years, the media has been trying to convince men that older, professionally successful, “independent” women are attractive – and all we’ve ended up with is a lot of resentment and confusion on the part of men.”

    Please…the resentful, confused ones are the women. The men are acting rationally and avoiding the ballbusters. (BTW, I know a lot of professional women with successful relationships or marriages. The ones I know who are failing in that arena are the ones who have unrealistic expectations and a marked lack of social skills.)

    “There’s a reason Michael Cera hasn’t become a romantic icon.”

    As if women’s only choices were Bradley Cooper or Jesse Eisenberg.

    You keep waiting for that Prince Charming, Haley.

  3. Thought experiment, Haley: What if the media taught women to think of themselves as broadly inferior to men? That all men are above women in social status, superior in the possession of all meaningful talents, and that a man without a woman is like a fish without a hook in its mouth?

    In this situation, a woman might consider herself fortunate to gain the affections of any man willing to take responsibility for her.

  4. Rum

    Agree that there are a range of meanings in the manosphere and that this will continue to cause confusion.
    I would suggest that the key part of all of these meanings is something really subversive: Most women will never be attracted to most men. Therefore, widespread monogamy will pair a female with a male she will never really want sexually.
    For a man, the message is stark. Never even think about marriage until the Game is strong within you. Of course, once it is, marriage will seem pointless in most circumstances.

  5. Another way to look at the problem, Haley, is that the media/government/academia Polygon has played the role of Emma Woodhouse to western woman’s Harriet Smith in leading her to forsake Robert Martin.

  6. If hypergamy is a hardwired biological predisposition, then wouldn’t the media be completely ineffective in altering the perception of beta males as unattractive even if they started portraying beta males as sexually desirable?

    A hardwired biological predisposition may still use some cultural components in the algorithm. For example, we all need to eat; this is hardwired. Yet the culture influences your choice of food. You will each pizza or chocolate, though they do not exist in nature. You will probably not eat insects (unless you are really dying from hunger) despite some of them may be tasty and nutritious, and our ape ancestors would consider them delicacy.

    The hardwired predisposition of hypergamy means choosing a high status male. But what is the exact algorithm for determining “status”? One part is your behaviour (you can improve this by Game). Other part is how others treat you. Part of others is media.

    If you are an alpha male, other people do not make jokes of you often, right? So if media often make jokes from some kind of men, these men will be unconsciously perceived a bit less alpha than they really are. By making fun of average males (many movies and sitcoms) media can remove a few alpha points from them.

    [I would add to this the original point of my comment about popular culture, which is that it tells women that men who are "in their league" and would make good long-term partners for them are not to be considered. That is much different than telling all women to find geeks attractive. This "don't settle" philosophy is telling women to not work on relationships that are rewarding when reasonable work is put into them, instead advocating that women chase the tingle and the "spark." That popular culture (and modern Christianity) betatizes men is a different but related issue.]

  7. Mister Lettuce

    So, since higher status helps to determine a womans interest in a mate, the accumulation of higher status (or rather the appearance of higher status) is key for men.

    I appreciate the clear-cut definition here.

    Curiously, is there ever a case where a man is ‘too higher status’ for a woman? Almost as if to say the man had statused himself out of her league.

    And I assume status is in the eye of the beholder.

  8. Badger–
    I mentioned Michael Cera as a type: the uberbeta. Even if every movie ever made had an uberbeta as its romantic lead, it would still not make women find such a man more attractive. Just like casting Renee Zellweger-esque women in Megan Fox roles would not make most men find the world’s Zellwegers more attractive. (Notwithstanding the fact that any actor receiving a lead romantic role in a movie is still good-looking relative to the general population, Zellweger and even Cera included.)

    Rum–
    Therefore, widespread monogamy will pair a female with a male she will never really want sexually.

    Not necessarily “never really want.” Just “not want as much as another guy.” It doesn’t mean that the woman won’t enjoy sex or won’t love her husband or be loyal and devoted to him. It just means that he probably won’t tap into her inner animal as much as another guy could. Just like a woman not being a 10 won’t preclude a man from loving her and marrying her – but in bed he won’t be as passionate about her as he would if she had been a 10.

    Eumaios–
    What if the media taught women to think of themselves as broadly inferior to men? That all men are above women in social status, superior in the possession of all meaningful talents, and that a man without a woman is like a fish without a hook in its mouth?

    Aren’t these the reasons that the feminist movement took hold in the first place?

  9. Haley, you’re avoiding the question in a way that betrays dishonesty or stupidity. You’re not stupid, so try being honest.

  10. Haley said: “Even if every movie ever made had an uberbeta as its romantic lead, it would still not make women find such a man more attractive.”

    Chick flicks frequently have lovable betas getting the girl. This seeming paradox is resolved when you understand that women identify with the social loser getting the hot mate. It’s sick.

    Even sicker is the attraction to women of films like Better Off Dead where the loser male wants the hot girl, but ultimately discovers that the wistful girl next door is both hot and a better person. Here we find women identifying with both roles in a sexual relationship.

    Observe and Report lampoons this film trope in a disgusting and hilarious way.

  11. “I mentioned Michael Cera as a type: the uberbeta. Even if every movie ever made had an uberbeta as its romantic lead, it would still not make women find such a man more attractive.”

    You are dodging the point on this one. From Michael Cera to Charlie Sheen there is a very wide spread of men, most of whom would be good matches for women of their grade if the culture wasn’t telling women that they needed to be overblown with dopamine on a daily basis or they should walk out of the relationship and not “settle.” Saying “well girls aren’t going to find a high-omega Cera-type attractive” is a dodge from the real issue, which is unrealistic expectations for LTRs.

    “Aren’t these the reasons that the feminist movement took hold in the first place?”

    The “submissive housewife” meme was an incredibly short period in time, and it was a media image itself. Feminism took hold because the country was in an unprecedented postwar prosperity, and women who could do the tasks at hand (as work became more white-collar and brawn-invariant) reasonably wanted a piece of the action. Business leaders were all about letting more qualified talent in the door, and driving down wages at the same time via the extra supply. The pill really moved that along even more.

  12. Badger, you responded to her diversionary tactic about feminism. The point of the thought experiment is to assess whether media can perturb hypergamy. IOW, don’t chase the hamster.

  13. The image of a badger chasing a hamster is nice, though.

  14. Langobard

    Haley said…
    “I mentioned Michael Cera as a type: the uberbeta. Even if every movie ever made had an uberbeta as its romantic lead, it would still not make women find such a man more attractive.”

    Badger said…
    You are dodging the point on this one. From Michael Cera to Charlie Sheen there is a very wide spread of men, most of whom would be good matches for women of their grade if the culture wasn’t telling women that they needed to be overblown with dopamine on a daily basis or they should walk out of the relationship and not “settle.” Saying “well girls aren’t going to find a high-omega Cera-type attractive” is a dodge from the real issue, which is unrealistic expectations for LTRs.
    _____

    This bears repeating -

    …THERE IS A VERY WIDE SPREAD OF MEN, MOST OF WHOM ***WOULD BE GOOD MATCHES FOR THE WOMEN OF THEIR GRADE*** IF THE CULTURE WASN’T TELLING WOMEN THAT THEY NEEDED TO BE OVERBLOWN WITH DOPAMINE ON A DAILY BASIS OR THEY SHOULD WALK OUT OF THE RELATIONSHIP AND NOT “SETTLE”.

    Back in pre-feminist, pre-Marxist days when Western man still had a Civilization, men and women generally paired off with their social and sexual (SMV) equals — and guess what, way more times than not THEY WERE HAPPY WITH EACHOTHER — most especially because each one brought a (roughly) equal amount of each gender’s bargaining power to the relationship — making themselves quite *compatible* to one another in their LTR’s and marriages.

    Haley, let me just say as one Christian to another please do not get taken at all in by what the Holly-weird Lame-Stream media portrays as male behavior — be it alpha, beta or whatever else — and as well do not take Game theory and its underlying belief systems such as Evo-psych too seriously as well.

    This is not to suggest that what they say is not technically factual on some or even many levels, just that we as Christians are commanded (not merely ‘suggested’) to struggle and fight against our sinful natures if we are ever to overcome them.

    And make no mistake about it — unrestrained female hypergamy, even the excessive, unfulfilled desires of such (and its partner-in-crime counterpart, male polygamy), is sinful — and a Civilization, a real Civilization simply cannot be built, and certainly not be made to endure on such a shaky foundation of moral quicksand.

  15. Brendan

    I would suggest that the key part of all of these meanings is something really subversive: Most women will never be attracted to most men.

    That is the key insight, and I think the most important take-away from an understanding of what hypergamy is, and how it differs from male patterns of attraction. And this is the key difference from this:

    The instinctual desire for a woman to mate with the highest-status man she possibly can. (In my mind, this is no different from a man’s desire to mate with the hottest woman he can seduce.)

    I don’t think it’s the same thing at all. Men will prefer 10s to 7s, but above all prefer variety. That is, men prefer hotter women, true, but they are *attracted* to some degree to pretty much all women who are at least 6. For women, it isn’t that they prefer alphas to betas, it’s that they are only attracted to alphas and, to some extent, higher betas and need to “force” or “bring themselves” to be attracted to any other men. In other words, for men it’s about optimizing among a relatively large group of acceptable mates. For women, it’s about not being attracted to most men, period. Hypergamy is not an optimization strategy among a pool of attractive men, it’s something that acts effectively as a very high “cut off” point. If male attraction were similar, it would be as if men were simply not attracted to any woman who was less than a 9 or a high 8, and we all know that isn’t at all the case. Men will seek to optimize among a pool of acceptable mates, whereas women have a much, much smaller pool of acceptable mates to begin with. It’s quite different, even though it may look superficially similar on the surface.

    Back in pre-feminist, pre-Marxist days when Western man still had a Civilization, men and women generally paired off with their social and sexual (SMV) equals — and guess what, way more times than not THEY WERE HAPPY WITH EACHOTHER — most especially because each one brought a (roughly) equal amount of each gender’s bargaining power to the relationship — making themselves quite *compatible* to one another in their LTR’s and marriages.

    Yes. There were a few things that made this happen, however.

    One was enforced monogamy. By that I mean social shaming for long non-monogamous lifestyles and extra-marital sex, and difficulty breaking marriages once married other than for cause. This tends to result in people pairing off with SMV peers fairly early on, because non-monogamy (which is required if hypergamy is to be truly fulfilled for all but the top-SMV women) hugely restricts partner selection. When you free up the market to allow for widespread tolerance of, and even promotion of, non-monogamy, extra-marital sex and easy divorce, you end up fueling hypergamy, because it behooves women to “give it a try” to get the higher status guy by deploying sex –> a guy who would have been unavailable, even as a long-shot try, to most women under an enforced monogamy regime, where he would be married to a high SMV woman.

    Another is the extended adolescence period we have now, where people are not ready to marry until the late 20s or around 30 if not later. This feeds into the same phenomenon I describe above, as most people are not going to be willing to be celibate until their late 20s, and therefore the women deploy sex to get one of the men they are actually attracted to (that all of them are attracted to, really), even if it doesn’t pay off for them. Again, in previous eras, more would be married a few years younger, but that’s not the case today.

  16. To PT Barnum:

    I’ll de-moderate your comment if you will explain what is “deceptive” about the post.

  17. Pingback: Linkage is Good for You: Close-Up Edition

  18. One endless source of confusion about the sexual market place is that although men and women engage in the same behaviours (sleeping around, cheating, “trading in” their partners, etc.) they do so with very different motives.

    The fall and original sin of many pundits is to assume that since the behaviour is the same, that the motives must also be the same.

  19. blogster

    Great post. Explains how the sexes come at coupling decisions at cross-wires as a result of these drives and view dimly the actions of the opposite sexes to fulfil these drives.

    One question that I have had for a while relates to hypergamy. I read many blogs such as yours, HUS, Roissy, etc and commenters on these blogs will write about how men and women are, “not exactly same, but complementary”, implying men and women are not equal, but stopping short of coming out and saying it.

    Can anyone clarify what is ultimately meant by such a phrase, according to the relatively agreed upon (at least in the manosphere) principles of male-female interaction, such as hypergamy?

  20. Langobard

    Back in pre-feminist, pre-Marxist days when Western man still had a Civilization, men and women generally paired off with their social and sexual (SMV) equals — and guess what, way more times than not THEY WERE HAPPY WITH EACHOTHER — most especially because each one brought a (roughly) equal amount of each gender’s bargaining power to the relationship — making themselves quite *compatible* to one another in their LTR’s and marriages. @Me

    Yes. There were a few things that made this happen, however.

    One was enforced monogamy. By that I mean social shaming for long non-monogamous lifestyles and extra-marital sex, and difficulty breaking marriages once married other than for cause. This tends to result in people pairing off with SMV peers fairly early on, because non-monogamy (which is required if hypergamy is to be truly fulfilled for all but the top-SMV women) hugely restricts partner selection. When you free up the market to allow for widespread tolerance of, and even promotion of, non-monogamy, extra-marital sex and easy divorce, you end up fueling hypergamy, because it behooves women to “give it a try” to get the higher status guy by deploying sex –> a guy who would have been unavailable, even as a long-shot try, to most women under an enforced monogamy regime, where he would be married to a high SMV woman. @Brendan
    __

    Brendan – you really elaborated upon and enhanced this understanding very well. Thanks.

  21. Leon Battista Alberti

    @ Blogster – You’re mixing ideas. The word “equal” implies a quantitative or qualitative measurement. Men and women are different but their differences do not necessarily infer such measurements. Two different things can work together in a system – compliment one another – without the need for one to be superior to the other.

  22. Doug1

    Brendan–

    I don’t think it’s the same thing at all. Men will prefer 10s to 7s, but above all prefer variety. That is, men prefer hotter women, true, but they are *attracted* to some degree to pretty much all women who are at least 6. For women, it isn’t that they prefer alphas to betas, it’s that they are only attracted to alphas and, to some extent, higher betas and need to “force” or “bring themselves” to be attracted to any other men. In other words, for men it’s about optimizing among a relatively large group of acceptable mates. For women, it’s about not being attracted to most men, period.

    Hypergamy is not an optimization strategy among a pool of attractive men, it’s something that acts effectively as a very high “cut off” point. If male attraction were similar, it would be as if men were simply not attracted to any woman who was less than a 9 or a high 8, and we all know that isn’t at all the case. Men will seek to optimize among a pool of acceptable mates, whereas women have a much, much smaller pool of acceptable mates to begin with. It’s quite different, even though it may look superficially similar on the surface.

    Well, a cut off point for fast casual sex without much guarantee of a relationship. And to be fair the cut off for cute and hot girls is at lower 8 unless she’s a 9; lesser alphas get casual sex too.

    Most white guys above the omega levels seem to have a cut off too, though a lower one. The cut off seems to be HB6, or at worst HB5 for some center betas. Because HB6’s can often get lesser alphas and sometimes alphas, or male 9s, looking for numbers if she’s dressed slutty etc.. Girls are able to set their thresholds higher, because guys are more polygamous/promiscuous – they want variety. Also the culture tells girls to. It also tells beta guys especially if they’re pretty smart and if they’ve got pretty good jobs, to expect 6’s at least.

    Are girl 4s just not attracted to the upper half of center betas, or male 6’s? I imagine they are attracted to greater betas, but not vice versa. Are girl 4s and 5s not having sex these days, or only relationship sex? Are white betas unable to get casual sex with 4’s and 5’s, or just uninterested?

  23. david

    the fallacy here is that there is anything ‘instinctual’ about who a woman chooses to mate with….’high status’ men are no more likely than the rest to provide a good-looking, smart healthy child who receives good care, grows up well….einstein’s parents were just folks…anyone claiming biological imperative here would need to show that ‘bad boy’ fucking is necessarily adaptive and it just ain’t…..given what we know of primate behaviour, mr beta caveman got just as much nookie as mr alpha while that poor sap was out chasing mammoths and left a comparable genetic inheiritance…..the only scientific/biological way to improve the gene pool is to go for heterozgosity by mating with somebody whose genetic expression is diverse from your own, ie from mongolia…..lol….all the confusion comes from trying to stuff rampant human sexuality into tiny little monogamy box

  24. Just stumbled on this older post. Brendan and Badger, do you have any thoughts on Doug’s post/points?

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