Monogamy, polygamy, bigamy – these are all terms that have always been on my radar. The -gamy suffix comes from the Greek for “marriage.” I had never heard of hypergamy, though, until a month or so ago when I started to browse sites written by men about the modern dating scene. Basically hypergamy is marrying up – in status, wealth, prestige. Pick-up artists insist that women are innately hypergamous, that in terms of evolutionary psychology, many women will fight over one alpha male, often accepting fleeting or polygamous relationships rather than mate with men they deem less impressive. Marriage as a social institution evolved in order to more fairly assign mates, increase population, and protect and raise progeny to adulthood – or so goes the theory.
My first reaction was to scoff. After all, I know lots of married people and most [actually none of them] are not married to alphas. So where is all the alpha scrambling? The scuffles between women?
Then I happened to catch a couple of episodes of Rock of Love with Bret Michaels, and realized this was hypergamy in the field.
20 young, nubile, reasonably attractive women all willing to completely debase themselves on camera for the opportunity to fuck an aging, presumably balding, diabetic, mid-tier rock star – that’s hypergamy.
What’s he got? Not dignity, that’s for sure. And money seems iffy if he’s willing to do this show, although perhaps he just can’t stand the spotlight moving somewhere else. He does, however, have that special something women apparently gravitate to – that alpha quality, the ability to make women think he’s a hot commodity and come running.
What say you – hot or not? Look at the picture and tell me, your panties feel just a bit looser, don’t they?
Okay, maybe not. Mine sure don’t. But there have been three seasons of Rock of Love, so what do I know?
The funny thing is, romance novels are all about hypergamy. All about it. Dukes, billionaires, vampires, Navy SEALs – really, really alpha guys. Hot commodities. Powerful dudes. The kinds of guys you could introduce your girlfriends to and they would all have aneurysms in envy. And as we know, this is fantasy written by women for women.
Interestingly enough, all of the above types we as women would probably rank as 9’s or 10’s on a scale of 1 to 10. In real life, these kinds of men date supermodels – young and sexy, very, very beautiful and polished women (not Bret Michaels, but he’s not romance novel material). They date 10’s because they are themselves 10’s. 9’s date 9’s, 8’s date 8’s, etc. There’s some leeway; a charismatic ugly guy might date a prettier girl, and a mean beauty might find it hard to get a gorgeous boyfriend, but it does sort itself out fairly efficiently.
In romance novels, though, the “10” guys don’t date “10” women. They date women who are attractive or pretty with small breasts but who are very nice and kind to animals. Or women who are successful in opening their small floral shops, yarns stores, or cafes. Nerdy or bluestocking heroines pull in marquises or independently wealthy businessmen. The women are a bit older too, maybe in their thirties. And do you know why? Because there is something very, very sexy about the idea of a regular woman nabbing an alpha and taming his roguish warrior heart, teaching it to love only her. That’s power. She doesn’t have to be powerful. She doesn’t have to be anything special. She just has to crook her little finger, and he will make it happen for her. In a world where you have to jump through hoops just to make an old traffic ticket go away, that’s a very seductive thought.
On the flip side, you really don’t see very many “9” or “10” heroines in romance at all. Want to know why? Because a “10” heroine has no option for hypergamy. She can only marry equilaterally or down. And that’s not sexy at all. Think Prince Philip or every guy Madonna’s ever been with. Nope. Not sexy.
I find that interesting.