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‘Alpha males’ and the Manosphere: Stop listening to these scammers

Misogyny on the internet isn’t new, but with the rise of influencer Andrew Tate and other creators of the “manosphere,” it’s reached scary yet idiotic new heights. While these men boast about their success with women, the reality is, the “alpha male” is a facade.

Those in the manosphere(opens in a new tab), meaning interconnected misogynistic, anti-feminist communities, claim that men should dominate women. “Alpha males” and “tradwives,” who seek to revert to a time when women were confined to the home, are opposite sides of the same coin. The former and its inverse, the “beta male” (among others, like “omega male”) are derived from descriptions of animal behavior, in particular dominance hierarchies(opens in a new tab) among social groups. Alpha animals(opens in a new tab) are the most dominant, and at the top of the hierarchy, while betas are lower. For humans, however, “alphas” and “betas” are a myth(opens in a new tab). Studies have shown that people are more attracted to men who have a combination(opens in a new tab) of traditionally “male” characteristics, like assertiveness, with qualities like kindness and empathy.

Not only do manosphere influencers such as Tate and podcasters Fresh&Fit(opens in a new tab) believe in archaic gender norms, but they also claim to have incredible game with women(opens in a new tab) and have slept with a lot of them(opens in a new tab).”Alpha male” influences sell their supposed expertise to an audience of (usually) teens and young men(opens in a new tab), who sign up for online courses, buy products, and pay for access to private online communities, all in the service of trying to become an “alpha male,” too. The branding can often feel like a hyper-masculine version of self actualization. But the actual lessons learned in these spaces can endanger the safety of the women these men learn to target.

In the case of Tate, he is allegedly abusive towards women. Three women in the UK have come forward(opens in a new tab) to say he raped and psychologically harmed them. Earlier this year, Tate and his brother Tristan were arrested in Romania(opens in a new tab) for rape and human trafficking charges from six other women(opens in a new tab); they were released from jail(opens in a new tab) and put under house arrest in April. They are still under house arrest as of publication. In late April, Romanian prosecutors said they’re investigating Tristan Tate(opens in a new tab) on an additional charge: inciting others to violence.

While Tate’s case is extreme, it demonstrates one way that the concept of an “alpha male” — who is hateful towards women yet somehow beloved by them — is a lie. Men who say they’re alpha and display their skill with women online often use tactics that are deceitful at best, and nefarious at worst, to gain followers.

The alpha male influencer grift is easy to copy, which means that figures like Tate have inspired other would-be alpha males to become misogynist micro-influencers themselves, repeating variations on the same techniques and myths in order to build followings of their own.

Take @shadesofgame,(opens in a new tab) an account with about 4,500 followers, and run by an aspiring alpha male influencer who identifies himself as a 40-year-old man named Ben. On Twitter, @shadesofgame recently went viral for saying that he doesn’t date women over the age of 18-24. This is common in the manosphere; Tate has said that 18-19 year-olds are better than women over 25(opens in a new tab) because “they’ve been through less dick.” In @shadesofgame’s case, he said women have “too much mileage and baggage when they’re older than” 24, and to trust him because he’s “tested extensively.”

@shadesofgame posted this take along with photos and videos of him with younger women in a club. Some Twitter users say that these photos are AI-generated, citing the HuggingFace AI image detector(opens in a new tab) — but even if they’re real, they’re part of an illusion that @shadesofgame is run by a “high status” man,(opens in a new tab) a key component of how microinfluencers like him gain attention and followers. He himself tweeted his scheme(opens in a new tab): Get a VIP table at a club, invite women and a photographer to document it all to post on social media. “Your reputation will skyrockets [sic] after a few times,” he said.

While not speaking about @shadesofgame (opens in a new tab)specifically, Twitch streamer and stripper Ivy Wylder quoted his tweet and shared her thoughts on the “alpha male” archetype(opens in a new tab): “The guys behind these accounts hire us (sex workers) to hang out with them and take pictures.” Wylder recounted an experience where she and other women were paid to go on a boat with men, one of whom posted on his “alpha male” account that these women “flocked to him.” The truth was, he paid them to be there. Mashable has reached out to Wylder for comment.

When Mashable asked about Wylder’s tweets, @shadesofgame replied with a link to a tweet(opens in a new tab) saying, “fake news” and that he hasn’t met Wylder. “Look how she says ‘these accounts’ but doesn’t mention me. [N]ot me,” he said.

Bait-and-switches aren’t unusual with “alpha males.” A woman who appeared on the Fresh&Fit After Hours podcast(opens in a new tab) (in a clip on a now-deleted TikTok account) said that host Myron Gaines found her on Seeking Arrangement, a dating site for sugar daddies and babies, but never paid her. Instead, he told her to come on the podcast. Gaines denied these claims in the clip. Sex workers(opens in a new tab) have appeared on the After Hours(opens in a new tab) podcast, but none appear to make similar claims about the host finding them on Seeking Arrangement.

Men like Tate and Gaines sell the myth of the alpha male in order to sell their own products. With Tate, it was his Hustler’s University online course; with Gaines, it’s the Fresh&Fit brand(opens in a new tab) of merch and a Patreon. On Twitter,@shadesofgame claims to “teach the game,” and links to his Telegram for people to subscribe; it currently has around 750 subscribers.

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