One of the more persistent questions I get asked about Hypergamy is if there’s a parallel to it in men. I’ve answered this in several comment threads both here and in other forums, but I’ve never really addressed it in a post. When I was considering this I remembered a couple of comments from manosphere luminaries Deti and Novaseeker who I thought summed up this (often deliberate) misconception. Deti was kind enough to provide me with his own observations which I’m quoting and riffing on here:
It’s often said that men and women are both hypergamous. This isn’t true. Both men and women optimize. But only women are hypergamous.
Hypergamy has become a term of art in the manosphere. It has a very specific meaning which differs from the meaning social scientists ascribe to it. In social science it refers specifically and only to marriage relationships. The term is used to refer to women marrying men who are perceived to be wealthier or of a higher social/economic standing or caste, usually observed in Hindu cultures on the Indian subcontinent but also observed in early American society. In the United States it’s often referred to as women “marrying up”.
F. Roger Devlin, himself having a social science background, appropriated the term in his essay entitled Sexual Utopia in Power when referring to his observation that young single women always seemed to be looking for the best man they can get at any one time, seeking the most attractive man or men for sex. Devlin observed modern Western women’s propensity to discard one man in favor of a better man, in serial fashion, always doing their best to “move up” and get a more attractive, better man with each successive discard and pairing.
Expanding on this, manosphere writers and bloggers noticed that hypergamy operates at a low hum, like a background operating system, in every woman. It is “satisfied” while she’s with a man of sufficiently high value. But if a man of perceived higher value or greater attractiveness shows interest, and/or her current man’s value is faltering, that low hum becomes a loud alarm. This can cause her, at the very least, to have feelings of attraction for the new man and feelings of dis-attraction for the current man. This can in many cases cause her to leave the current man for the new higher value, more attractive man. This doesn’t always happen, but it can happen. Hypergamy can operate in any combination – more attractive man showing interest; current man’s attractiveness waning or falling, and anywhere in between. Thus, the manosphere’s use of the term “hypergamy” came into being, to refer to a core aspect of female sexual nature which is unique to women.
If you do a Google search for the term ‘Hypergamy’ you’ll find The Rational Male and the topic category link for all the posts I’ve ever done on it is the second return you’ll get below the Wikipedia entry for the term. At the risk of a humble-brag, I’m not sure anyone in the ‘sphere has written more extensively on the subject than myself and I think Deti sums up the conflict in definition that both critics and the uninitiated have with their understanding why there is a need for a broader definition of Hypergamy.
I made an effort to address this in The Hypergamy Conspiracy, but this was some time ago. ‘Hypergamy’ serves well in a much broader capacity, but should the Feminine Imperative find that broader definition threatening to its purpose it will casually dismiss it as illegitimate, because the manosphere appropriated the term. Thus, we’ll see feminine-primary society embrace the larger ideas of Hypergamy (as in the embrace of Open Hypergamy) so long as it’s flattering to, and benefits most, women. Once it gets ugly, then it conveniently denies the legitimacy of the broad definition and it’s strictly about the “women having a tendency to marry up” sociology term.
People confuse “optimization” with “hypergamy“. Both men and women optimize; meaning they want the best they can get, of anything and everything. Men and women optimize everything: jobs, cars, houses, furniture, friends, even churches. Men and women optimize with each other. But men and women optimize with the opposite sex in different ways, and that’s where the confusion comes in.
Hypergamy in its current iteration in the manosphere means essentially “is attracted only to people who are more attractive than I am”. Women will be sexually attracted to men who they perceive as “above” them in attractiveness. They will be somewhat attracted to men who are at their rough SMV level, but that man must bring other things to the table, usually provisioning and commitment, before she will have sex with him. And women are never ever sexually attracted to men who are perceived to be beneath their own SMV level.
Example: A woman with SMV = 7 will be sexually attracted to males with SMV of 8 and up. She will pair with a male 7, if and only if he brings “other things” to the table. She will never be sexually attracted to male 6s on down. And she will be able to easily get sex with men above her in SMV. She can occasionally get relationships with male 8s. She can easily get relationships and sex with male 7s. Male 6s on down are her orbiters, with whom she’ll never have sex.
Female critics of the broader definition of Hypergamy often have a (contrived) problem with the distinction between optimization and Hypergamy. And, as Deti explains, a lot of this comes from the fact that women’s sense of their own sexual market value is largely overinflated. Women rate 80 percent of men below average in attractiveness. When you contrast, even loose, statistics like this against the broader idea of Hypergamy you start to see why women would want there to be some analogous kind of Hypergamy for men. Hypergamy in women is founded on three bedrock truths:
- Persistent doubt that a woman has adequately ‘optimized’ on Hypergamy with any man she has, or will potentially have, consolidated on a long term relationship with.
- Hypergamy never seeks its own level. Women are always looking for a better-than-equal pairing with men in respect to their own SMV compared to his. When 80% of men are (loosely) agreed to be below average in attractiveness to women, we must consider that this assessment is measured in relation to what women’s Hypergamous doubt might be optimized with in a man.
- Women’s Hypergamy is based in, and the source of, women’s dualistic sexual strategy. The manosphere euphemism for this is Alpha Fucks and Beta Bucks. This shorthand refers to Hypergamy seeking optimization in both short-term-sex breeding potential and (ideally) long-term parental investment, protection and provisioning security potential.
It’s important to review these principles of Hypergamy because, for all the protestations of women wanting an equal comparison, there are no parallels of Hypergamy for men’s sexual strategy.
Men do not operate like this at all. And that’s the difference. Men are not attracted only to women who are above them in SMV. A man can be, and often is, attracted to women above him in SMV, and to women at his SMV level and also to women below him in SMV. What is also different is the level of women he can get and how well his relationships will work out, based on his and her SMV.
A man will be unable to continue a relationship with a woman above his SMV. He is very sexually attracted to them, and occasionally lucks out and gets sex with one or two; but he can’t sustain a relationship with them. He can get sex from women at his SMV level but only if he goes all in and offers commitment. He can most easily get sex with women below him in SMV, many times no strings attached sex.
Example: A male 6 will rarely get sex with a 7 but can’t keep anything with her going. He’s not even on the radar of female 8s on up. He can get sex with a female 6 only if he offers commitment and provisioning. He can most easily get sex with female 5s on down.
And here’s the grand difference: A man is OK with having sex with women at and below his own SMV. In fact, he’ll be happiest in his relationships with women beneath his own SMV – a woman is “meh” about sex with men at her SMV, and she is positively repulsed and sickened at having sex with men below her own SMV. She’ll be happiest in a relationship with a man above her own SMV and she can tolerate a man at her SMV. And she’ll be miserable at best with a man beneath her SMV and will tend to blow up those relationships.
Men and women both have attraction floors. Men’s attraction floor is below their own SMV. Women’s attraction floor is either above her own SMV and sometimes at her own SMV, but never beneath it.
I explore the fundamentals of intimate attachments and how SMV status influences it here. That article might be worth reviewing because in it is a lesson about Hypergamy. Again, compare the idea that the most secure attachments between couples are ones where the dominant, man’s, SMV status is roughly 1-2 points above that of the woman’s and contrast that against the fact that women rate 80% of men’s attractiveness as ‘below average’.
Also, keep in mind the Cardinal Rule of Sexual Strategies: For one gender’s sexual strategy to succeed the other gender must compromise or abandon their own.
The other, minor difference is that men are polygamous, not hypergamous. A man’s imperative is not (necessarily) to get the best woman. It’s to get as many women as possible with as little investment and commitment as possible. If he can do it, he would love to get as many women as possible at and a little below his own SMV, and have sex with as many of them as possible for as long as possible, without committing to or investing in any of them. That’s spinning plates. Most men don’t do this, because they can’t, because they’re not attractive enough, but that’s a different post.
A woman’s imperative is to get the best one man she can get for sex and for provisioning. That’s why you don’t see many women “dating” (i.e. having sex with) several different men at the same time. Women don’t spin plates; they pick the best plate they can and take care of it as best they can. Instead of trying to collect plates, they just change out the plates, one for another, when a bigger, better one comes along.
This is why the best long term relationship is one in which the man outranks his woman in SMV. He should be at least +1 and preferably +2 in SMV. This makes both of them happiest in the long run.
On many an occasion I’ve fielded the question, “Well Rollo, if there’s a Feminine Imperative, there must be a Masculine Imperative.” People don’t usually like the answer, but from a strictly evolutionary and biological perspective, the Masculine (or male) Imperative is Unlimited Access to Unlimited Sexuality.
Deti summed this up adequately here, but the more high-minded of my critics will often think the ‘male imperative’ is setting the bar too low for men, but usually this comes from a want of something more than the visceral truth of what motivates us. And I’d agree with this for the most part, if men are to become something more than their base natures would have of them. But using the same reproductive metric I use in describing women’s Hypergamy I’ve also got to recognize that men’s drive for sex has been the incentive for our greatest achievements and our worst proclivities. If we are to be ethical in our judgements we must be amoral in our assessments. Sometimes those assessments will be unflattering for men and women.
The objective issue here is that men’s imperative is not analogous to women’s imperative. When we look at men’s approach to gratifying this imperative we see the stark contrast between women’s Hypergamy and men’s sexual strategy.
One of the most predictable responses I expect to hear from women when they chafe at various Red Pill truths is always the first presumption of false equivalencies between the sexes. Whenever I, or any Red Pill man relates some unflattering truth about the nature of women, without fail, the first reflexive response is “well, men do this too, and it’s worse,…” or there’s some other unflattering presumption about the nature of men that’s supposed to provide some counterbalance to the ugly truth about women that’s being related. Feminized men and White Knights will also adopt this tact in order to defend the honor of the Sisterhood so as to have there be no doubt that they ‘aren’t like typical men’ in their identifying with women.
This is to be expected though. The first impulse is to defend against anyone acknowledging that truth by distraction. “Ooh, ooh, men do it too!” is a distraction meant to refocus the intent of objectively (amorally) assessing what is otherwise an unflattering aspect of female nature, behavior and/or the motivators that prompt it. In order to do so we are expected to first presume a co-equal state between men and women, as well as a co-equal state of mutual goals. Thus, for women’s distraction to be effective there must be a presumed state of equivalency between men and women.
As such, we are, by default, expected to accept that if there is a female Hypergamy there must also be a male form of Hypergamy. This is a very useful illustration of the false equivalency principle women rely upon. Deductively it should make sense, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, but only in a mindset and a social order based on egalitarian-equalism is that reaction presumed to be the binary opposite of the original action.
If, as equalism would have us accept, men and women are functional equals, then it follows that there must be a male Hypergamy that is the reaction to women’s (often unflattering) Hypergamy. Women’s innate solipsism only reinforces this presumption because only an action that impacts a woman (positively or negatively) is deemed a legitimate truth to that mindset. I would argue that this is exactly why women’s first reflexive defense (to anything challenging her gender-defined ego-investments) will always be to presume some gender-opposite reaction for men. The belief is that while she can’t deny the proposed truth, at least (she) women aren’t as bad as men. From there the objective is to distract from that uncomfortable truth by indicting (functionally equal) men’s natures.
All of this presumption only functions in a social order that’s based on the idea of egalitarian-equalism between the sexes. When we look at things from a gender-complementarity perspective, and we accept that there are fundamental differences in the innate natures and motivators of men and women, those distractions become less effective. Just as Deti explains for us here, once we accept that men are not co-equal agents with women, we don’t even expect that there would be an equivalent to women’s Hypergamy in men.
The genders are different. We both have strategies for sex and life and fulfillment that are often not analogous to one another. Women only expect that there would be analogies because they presume that a female experience, female goals and contexts that benefit the Feminine Imperative will necessarily be what men mutually agree upon as what’s best for themselves. Only in a state of equalism, ignorant and intolerant of anything not agreed upon by ‘feminine correctness’, is there a presumption that men must have some parallel to the motivators and behaviors that prompt women. Only in a state of solipsism is this the subconscious assumption.
This is something to keep in mind the next time a woman bemoans how unfair double standards are for women. Men are not women, women are not men. Our strategies are often incompatible, or at the very least require a degree of compromise or total acquiescence to coexist in an ostensibly symbiotic relationship between men and women. It is only women (and feminized men) who default to supposing men are their functional equals.