We recommend this article by Jorge Ferrer which describes the tendencies and behaviors of two significantly different types of male sexual identity. Which type do you identify with most strongly? It’s important to take into account that many men will feel identified with some aspects of each type.
Jorge’s contribution is an especially important step towards the new consciousness and change which is needed both on a personal and social level. It has possibly never been expressed in such a clear and well-structured way before!!
The Alpha Male versus The Omega Man:
A Polemic [i]
Jorge N. Ferrer[ii]
It is likely that the ongoing evolution of gender and intimate relationships will gradually transform not only human sexuality but also sexual identity. I leave the task of discussing such changes in the female gender for discerning women attuned to the spirit of the times. Here I focus on exploring one possible shift in male sexual identity: the movement from the traditional Alpha Male to what I name the Omega Man—not to be confused with the so-called Omega Male, often described as a kind, sweet man lacking self-esteem, initiative, or ability. In contrast, as I conceive it, the Omega Man is a confident, creative, and sexually potent person who is often successful professionally or finds himself in leadership positions, even if he tends to stay behind the scenes and not brag about his talents or accomplishments.
Before proceeding, a few caveats. The following descriptions of the Alpha Male and the Omega Man are prototypical or archetypal. In other words, in order to clearly differentiate these sexual identity roles, the following account is blatantly essentializing and will not thus capture the lived reality of most modern males. As should be obvious, “to be Alpha” or “to be Omega” is not an either/or affair: Whereas some men are very Alpha and others very Omega, most contemporary men are hybrids who combine Alpha and Omega qualities in various degrees and fashions.
In addition, my account is deliberately polarizing and polemical. Perhaps due to my own personal dispositions, I tend to cast the Omega Man in a far more favorable light than the Alpha Male.[iii] However, there may be situations where Alpha qualities might be useful, for example, taking a non-cooperative decision in a critical situation calling for immediate action or even taking certain romantic or sexual initiatives. Thus, although I believe that many Alpha sexual attitudes and behaviors are obsolete, not constructive, and should be thus overcome, the following controversy should not be read as an absolute critique of the Alpha or an unconditional vindication of the Omega. In contrast, as alluded above, my sense is that many integrated men (both present and future) might well be shaped by a selective blend of Alpha and Omega qualities, as well as enjoy the ability and freedom to flow between such modes of masculinity depending on what may be most appropriate in each situation.
Lastly, it is important to disclose that I write as a cisgender, mostly heterosexual, self-identified Omega Man with some Alpha qualities (e.g., I tend be the “life of the party,” can be self-centered at times, and my ego still pumps a bit with social recognition). Also, unless otherwise stated, the following account seeks to reflect traditional heterosexual relationships between males and females. In any event, it should be obvious that my predominantly Omega and heterosexual nature biases this essay and that a more complete or balanced picture of these sexual identities should incorporate other perspectives. That said, I trust that this somewhat playful polemics will raise awareness of these two male sexual roles, as well as contribute to the ongoing transformation of both male sexual identity and gender relations.
♦ Alpha Males instinctively seek to conquer females and dominate males in the context of power-over relationships. Omega Men foster the cultivation of harmonious relationships with and among males and females in the context of mutually empowering relationships.
♦ In social interactions, Alpha Males are like the Sun: their dazzling brightness eclipses the light of all other stars in the sky. Omega Men are like the Moon: their subtle glow allows the beauty of all other observable stars to be appreciated.
♦ Alpha Males build their confidence through ranking highly in social/sexual hierarchies and seeking constant approval. Omega Men are confident men who neither accept social/sexual hierarchies nor need social recognition to pump up their egos.
♦ Alpha Males are usually unapologetic and believe to be always right. Omega Men sincerely apologize when they “fuck up” and gracefully express gratitude when shown to be wrong.
♦ Regardless of sexual orientation, Alpha Males display conventional “masculine” traits in their social self-presentation; however, the “suave” Alpha Male (prevalent in New Age circles) is a gentle and even “feminine” man who uses these qualities to perpetuate Alpha supremacy. Omega Men often combine “masculine” and “feminine” qualities and can easily be mistaken as gay, even if heterosexually inclined.
♦ If self-identified as heterosexual, Alpha Males tend to be homophobic, speaking and acting in ways that do not leave any doubt about their sexual orientation (despite how bi- or even homosexually prone they might actually be). Omega Men are often “queer straight men” who appreciate all sexual orientations; they can also be openly bisexual, homosexual, metrosexual, or omnisexual.
♦ Alpha Males treat women as their possession: No other man should approach “their” mates with a sexual or romantic interest without their explicit permission—with this attitude being at times displayed even toward their ex-partners. Omega Men treat women as autonomous agents with the right and power to act freely without having to be accountable to their sexual mates or romantic partners.
♦ Alpha Males are strongly driven to have progeny (ideally sons) to socially prove their virility, propagate their genetic seeds, and continue their patriarchal family legacy. They usually do not get too involved in raising children (except to inculcate Alpha traits) and can easily leave their mates to procreate with other women. Omega Men may want to have children but are not normally compelled to do so, as they understand that there are many ways to materialize their primary creative energy. If they become parents, they consciously choose to do so to foster the constructive evolution of humanity, fully supporting the individuation of their sons or daughters beyond their own belief systems.
♦ Alpha Males use their own wellbeing as a primary reference for the success of intimate relationships; if they are not enjoying a relationship or do not feel it is (egotistically) beneficial for them, they walk away. New Age Alpha Males insidiously disguise this modus operandi through (pseudo)spiritual tenets such as “living your truth” or “following your bliss.” Omega Men are able to make decisions based on the wellbeing of a wider ecosystem of relationships that includes their partners and larger community. They understand that living their truth entails the negotiations and compromises that inevitably arise when relating to other whole persons whose truths may be different.
♦ If self-identified as monogamous, Alpha Males tend to display a mate-guarding behavior, feeling uncomfortable about their partners’ male friendships (especially if new or attractive) and jealous of their interactions with other men, who are often perceived as potential competitors. If cheaters, they often feel entitled to do so (because they are real men, after all) as they shamelessly apply the typical patriarchal double standard that simultaneously forbids the same behavior in women. Monogamous Omega Men support their partners’ interactions, friendships, and even affective connections with other men. They do not usually have sex with other women out of either their commitment to sexual exclusivity or the understanding that they would naturally have to tell their partners and accept that they too could then have sex with other men.
♦ If self-identified as polyamorous, Alpha Males (mis-)use poly rhetoric to build a harem of females whose intimate contact with other males they monitor and control; in poly circles, this phenomenon is known as polyhegemonic masculinity. Polyamorous Omega Men fully respect the autonomy and freedom of their mates, not just tolerating but supporting and even celebrating females’ loving and sexual connections with others.
♦ Alpha Males approach sexual encounters as conquests aimed at boosting their confidence, self-centered pleasure, and hooking females; sexually pleasing women is thus essential and they tend to fall into depression if their sexual power or talents are questioned. Omega Men approach sexual interactions as creative encounters with the other and the mystery of Eros as it spontaneously flows through and between sexual partners.
♦ Alpha Males are sexually potent men whose force tends to dominate, subjugate, control, or even energetically “rape” their women. This tendency eventually creates or reinforces women’s impulse toward the energetic castration of men, as well as inner blocks and conflicts in women who are minimally emancipated from patriarchy. Omega Men are sexually potent men whose force offers a respectful and assuring presence that allows women to fearlessly “surrender” to sexual pleasure, as well as to open to and fully receive (non-aggressive or degrading) strong male energy without fears or conflicts.
♦ Alpha Males tend to connect with their inner animal’s instinctive sexuality in rampant and often unconscious ways, which often leads to the (gross or subtle) tendencies to harass or dominate women as described above. Omega Men, even if honoring the possession codes of the primary world, tend to display an instinctive sexuality free of aggression (unless playful or mutually agreed), in a context of love and respect for their companions, and normally accompanied by the presence of the heart and the light of consciousness (except in possible intentional explorations of purely Dionysian sexuality).
♦ Alpha Males have a phallus. Omega Men have penises.
♦ For Alpha Males, erection is imperative and the lack of phallic arousal during sex is automatically translated as a “failure.” Omega Men fully trust their bodies, appreciating the many passionate and tender forms of connection that can emerge with both an erect and a languid penis.
♦ Alpha Males display a genitally centered sexuality where penetration and orgasm are essential elements. Omega Men enjoy a full-body sexuality that can take many different forms and is normally free from orgasm compulsion.
♦ Alpha Males usually have a large sexual organ and do not miss any opportunity to boast about their endowment. Omega Men have sexual organs of miscellaneous sizes and understand that, except in some rare extreme cases (micro- or too big penises), size does not really matter.
♦ Bottom line, Alpha Males are fuckers, Omega Men are lovers.
[i] I want to express my gratitude to the following people for offering me valuable comments that have helped to expand or give nuance to the ideas presented in this essay: Ramón V. Albareda, Virginia Almarcha, David Barba, Karina Bertolotto, Sandra Bravo, Joan Garriga, Francesca Hector, Maria Rossi Sideri, and Lucia Telechea. Obviously, the author is solely responsible for any errors or atrocities the essay may include.
[ii] Jorge N. Ferrer is professor of psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), San Francisco, author of several books, and writer of several articles on sexuality and intimate relationships. For more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jorge_Ferrer.
[iii] It is very likely that this is the most acerbic essay I have written in my entire life. It should go without saying that my intention is not to disrespect men who identify themselves as Alpha Males. That said, I firmly believe that there are things that need to be said with some strength (always valued by Alpha Males) and, above all, without ever losing the sense of humor both in relation to the subject matter and to ourselves.