According to alpha male YouTubers, simping is dead. In true heteronormative fashion, many of these YouTubers claim that ladies aren’t attracted to men that kiss the ground they walk on. Instead, ladies want the complete package: a dominant man with purpose, a great physique, and wealth–right?
Today, dating is harder than ever. Quarantine has forced people inside and into swiping across dozens of faces on dating apps like Tinder. Consequently, many young men are looking for advice to stick out from the crowd and 'get the girl.' Alpha male dating YouTubers like Rich Cooper, FreshandFit, and The Roommates have risen to the challenge with books, programs, podcasts, and countless YouTube videos.
To those around in the '90s and 2000s, the popularity of hypermasculine dating coaches and gurus is a familiar scene. The ideas supported by the coaches have made a cyclical return to the public consciousness. Jessa Lingel, an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and core faculty in the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's studies program notes the familiar return of these themes.
"In the 2000s there was a book that made a big splash called The Game. It was written for straight men by straight men, on how to become a pick–up artist. This is where the idea of negging came from. These pickup guidebooks had a huge cult following with TV shows and specials. Some things that can be traced from that cultural moment to this cultural moment are very heteronormative ideas on relationships, on masculinity and femininity" says Lingel.
The ideas touted by pick–up artists in The Game still exist today, and the concerns associated with pick–up artists are making a resurgence as well. But not only this, the unrealistic standards of the coaches are heavily based on traditional values harkening back to past decades.
"There has been a strong, reactive push to reattach to old ideals. Some of the concern is political, some of which is also based on anxieties over social change of ideals of maleness that existed … [These ideals] were more dominant decades ago and supported the idea that ‘men are men and women are women'" says Murali Balaji, a lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication.
Due to their emphasis on traditional gender roles, a pressing concern about these coaches is their treatment and views on women. The man is expected to be traditionally strong and dominant. Correspondingly, the woman has to follow the traditional path of being pure, submissive, and feminine. These views completely disregard women who don't fit into traditional standards of femininity.
Women that subvert the traditional standard by having a brazen, independent personality and multiple sexual partners are demonized by these coaches. For instance, single mothers and women with multiple former sexual partners are seen as "damaged goods." To that end, this terminology shows how alpha male coaches often see women as objects—not people.
"Every generation, at least in the United States, faces a double standard around women’s sexuality. Women are supposed to feel liberated, and there’s the expectation that they should feel confident and comfortable during sex. However, if they have too much sex then the woman is undesirable. It’s called the virgin–whore complex and often circulates pop–culture," Lingel explains.
While some may say that the advice given by alpha male coaches are merely useful goals for those striving to gain a traditional definition of success, the misogynist and domineering attitude promoted by these coaches are dangerous to both men and women alike. Because of this, the advice often touted by alpha male dating coaches should be taken with a grain of salt.
Similarly, another issue with these coaches' treatment of women lies in their absolute certainty about what all women want—the so–called "perfect man." But the preferences of women are diverse and should be treated with nuance. There are women that prefer the opposite of the alpha male touted by the coaches. Women can like skinny men and not want them to devote a large chunk of their time to changing their natural bodies. Some women don’t prioritize wealth when choosing to enter into a relationship. Many women would prefer a man with a supportive, kind personality over a more assertive, dominant one.
Viewing women as if they all hold the same dating preferences can cause many men to feel resentful. Instead of viewing dating mishaps as a result of mere incompatibility, these men will often blame their pitfalls on the women themselves and the unrealistic dating standards that alpha male coaches say that women hold. In short, what's problematic about these coaches is that they think all women want the same thing: a rich, built, domineering man. But this view couldn't be further from the truth.
Aside from the false belief that all women hold the same dating preferences, the existence of alpha male coaches raises another question: is the status of a high–value, alpha male man even attainable? For most, the answer is no.
Often the coach's suggestion to achieve "purpose" is for young men to become a dominant force in their lives. This is usually attained by cultivating lucrative personal passions and finding their own paths. Similarly, coaches also tell eager listeners that the ideal physique is achieved by hitting the gym and building muscle. Additionally, even though some people work all their lives and never achieve millionaire status or even financial security, there is no compromise for the alpha male—he needs to be rich as well. He must achieve wealth and have a perfect body—all while having time for his own personal, profitable hobbies—to enter the top tier of men.
From this, the presentation of the coaches' advice about physical looks can dabble into unrealistic beauty standards for men. Behind the seemingly supportive gym bro atmosphere cultivated by the coaches often lies body shaming. According to these coaches, the alpha male has a strong, muscular physique while the beta male is weak and skinny. Naturally, skinny men face the underlying assumption that they are lesser than men with muscle and must "fix" themselves through extensive training that often manifests in eating disorders.
According to Balaji, the alpha male preoccupation with physique has much to do with a fear of losing societal power.
“There’s been a rise of relinking the idea of male identity with certain physical traits. As in, you’ll never get a date if you don’t [work out constantly]. And that again goes back to this idea that many men fear that they're losing their societal power. Some of this is linked with race. Some of this is also linked with class privilege. A lot of this alpha maleness is not actually coming from men in lower economic strata. It's actually coming from men who are from middle and upper–class backgrounds” Balaji says.
Contrary to what alpha male coaches say, young men shouldn’t have to change their entire being in a quest for perfection just as women shouldn’t have to change themselves to fit a perfect standard. Rather, people should strive to be the best version of themselves by developing their own identity and engaging with other perspectives.
Balaji says, “My broad suggestion is don't use the internet to develop your social identity. Instead, engage with others and you will learn perspectives and you will learn more about yourself through that trial and error than you ever will from getting advice from an online dating coach.”