The following passage is taken from my new collection of essays, Ruminations of a Low-Status Male, Volume 1, now available for a low low price from Kindle and in paperback.
I am not a successful man.
I don’t say this because I’m eagerly soliciting assurances to the contrary. I’m not courting your flattery. I’m merely reflecting upon an observable fact.
As always, refuge can be found in semantics. Yes, the question of what constitutes “success” is of course contingent upon how one defines the term. And yes, there are less successful men in the world than me. But I don’t claim to be below all others; I merely, and quite rightly, declare myself to fall well short of the “success” bar.
First of all, I don’t make very much money. (I will not go into specifics, but feel free to let your imagination roam free on this matter; your imagination is probably closer to the truth than you might suspect) I barely earn enough of a living to support my family. No, strike that. I require the supplemental wealth of another, namely my wife, to help take care of my family. I have frequently had to go to others for financial help, as well. None of these proclivities can be the hallmarks of a man labeled a “success.”
Secondly, I am a man with little prestige and no power. I am low-status. This is not to say, of course, that I am a pushover, or that I humiliate myself by truckling to those who dwell in higher spheres than myself. On the contrary, I tend to be quite the anti-authoritarian contrarian indeed (for better or for worse).
In this sense, I am perhaps not a “beta” man (if “beta” indeed equates to being a truckling follower of higher-status folk), but I am certainly no “alpha.” Perhaps, then, I am an “omega”? Or a “zeta”? Perhaps. I will confess to not entirely understanding this rather comical layout of Greek alphabet terms and their ostensible correspondences to types of men; the terms seem to mean different things at different times, and ultimately seem to lend themselves to little of absolute note.)
Regardless, my status is indeed low. For worldly men, status is something akin to what beauty is for women. For women, indeed, beauty to a great extent denotes status, or is at least instrumental in conferring it. For men, the origin of status is more elusive. Sometimes it relates to having money or looks, sometimes it relates to being “connected,” sometimes it relates to generally having a mindset or attitude that connotes ambition, scope, dominion, and confidence.
We live in a time in which males are all adrift at how to properly “become men.” Books are written on the subject, and seminars are frequently conducted by ostensible gurus of masculinity. But most of these books and seminars focus not on manliness per se, but on the achievement of “high status” manliness. The guys entering into this course of “study” don’t typically want to just become men; rather, they ache to transform themselves into high-rolling alpha male studmuffins—they crave, in short, to become the sort of men who are wanted by women and envied by other men.
What they seek is thus not really “manhood,” but rather a certain flavor of triumphant and triumphalist masculinity, the masculinity of “winning.” They seek to attain high status. It is status, more than money or even sex, that men covet the most in other men. That is to say, they covet the fact that other men besides themselves are the ones being coveted.
I, however, am low status. I am not troubled by this fact. (Or rather, I am, but not in the way you might suspect, as I will discuss in due time.) I don’t scorn or look down on myself for being low status. I don’t view my absence of status as a problem. I even take a sort of pride in it.
After all, part of being a man, properly speaking, is being free, is it not? Free, that is, from feeling the need to impress others. Free from being absurdly yoked to the expectation that one must live up to the quite arbitrary expectations of a perverse, immoral culture in decay, or else count himself worthless. Free from needing to prove himself to charlatans and harridans alike. Free to follow the consistent dictates of his God-given conscience, not the irrational and depraved notions prescribed by an empty excuse for civilization.
I am low status, and I’m generally copacetic about this state (again, I will elaborate upon that significant qualifier “generally” in a moment). That said, I don’t hate or resent high-status men. There is nothing bad about having high status. I’m sure it’s quite enjoyable to have status (though of course, to speak truthfully, I wouldn’t know). Nor is high status corruptive in itself. Possession of high status doesn’t automatically make a person cocky or arrogant or otherwise insufferable, as is often supposed. Many men of high status are sometimes able to remain quite grounded and humble, in fact.
Rather, it is attachment to status, as with attachment to all worldly things, that is corruptive. Yet paradoxically enough, one tends to grow more attached to qualities that one personally lacks. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, when one knows what it is not to be apart from the person or thing of which one is fond, then absence from a desired quality that one has never even known causes the heart to ache ever more acutely for it and pine even more fervorously to possess its ostensible glories.
Thus do coveters of status tend to grow even more attached to the perceived glories brought by the attainment of high status than those whom they covet: i.e., the high-status men themselves.