Hypergamy: How the harebrained notions of white nationalist F. Roger Devlin took the Manosphere by storm

Hypergamy in action?

How manosphere doofuses think the world actually works.

Another in an ongoing series of posts on seminal works in the manosphere canon, as it were. At some point, I’ll make a page for these.

Like Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power, F. Roger Devlin’s 2006 essay Sexual Utopia in Power (downloadable here) is a kind of Manospherian urtext, an original source of many of the terrible ideas that are now accepted as gospel wherever misogynists gather in large numbers online. Though the name of Devlin is hardly as well known as that of Farrell, many of his ideas, most notably his reworked notion of “hypergamy” — which we will get to in a minute — are omnipresent in the manosphere.

Among misogynists with intellectual pretensions, Devlin’s Sexual Utopia is considered a must-read. Originally brought to the attention of fellow manospherians by PUA pseudointellectual Roissy — now Heartiste — in 2007, the essay has received lavish praise on such familiar sites as The Spearhead (where WF Price praised Devlin’s “critiques of feminism” as “some of the best out there”) and A Voice for Men (where one post described the essay as “supremely indispensable.”)  It’s listed in the sidebar of The Red Pill subreddit as “required reading.” And Norwegian MRA Eivind Berge gushed that the essay was

possibly the best article I have ever read. My blogging against feminism is almost redundant after F. Roger Devlin has put it so well.

So what exactly are all these guys falling over themselves to praise so highly? To put it bluntly, a strange and sprawling compendium of ideas that range from frankly abhorrent to merely silly, motivated by misogyny and racism. Virtually none of the essay’s many gross generalizations about women (or men) are supported by any sort of evidence.

And did I mention that it originally ran in a white nationalist journal?

Yes, “Sexual Utopia in Power” originally ran in The Occidental Quarterly, an explicitly racist journal that described its mission as protecting “the civilization and free governments that whites have created” from the rise of the evil non-white hordes. Indeed, Devlin is on the editorial advisory board of the journal, which currently features an article on its site praising Disney’s Snow White as “a White Nationalist classic.”

While the bulk of Devlin’s essay deals with gender, not race, it is framed — in the very first sentence — by his concern over what he calls the “catastrophic decline” of “white birthrates worldwide.” In other words, no one who has read his article, even if they don’t know what the Occidental Quarterly is, can possibly miss Devlin’s fundamental racism (which is spelled out even more explicitly at the end of this piece).

There is so much in Devlin’s essay that is so objectionable that it cannot fit in a single post, so today I will focus only on his reworked notion of “hypergamy.”

The term was originally a technical way of saying “marrying up” — that is, “the act or practice of marrying a spouse of higher caste or status than oneself,” as Wikipedia rather unromantically puts it.

In Devlin’s hands, the term comes to mean something entirely different:

It is sometimes said that men are polygamous and women monogamous. …

It would be more accurate to say that the female sexual instinct is hypergamous. Men may have a tendency to seek sexual variety, but women have simple tastes in the manner of Oscar Wilde: They are always satisfied with the best. By definition, only one man can be the best. These different male and female “sexual orientations” are clearly seen among the lower primates, e.g., in a baboon pack. Females compete to mate at the top, males to get to the top.

This may sound vaguely familiar to you. Brian Eno once said of the Velvet Underground’s first album that only 30,000 people may have bought copies of it, but “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.” Similarly, everyone who has read Devlin seems to have started a blog or YouTube channel.

Women, in fact, have a distinctive sexual utopia corresponding to their hypergamous instincts. In its purely utopian form, it has two parts: First, she mates with her incubus, the imaginary perfect man; and, second, he “commits,” or ceases mating with all other women. This is the formula of much pulp romance fiction. The fantasy is strictly utopian, partly because no perfect man exists, but partly also because even if he did, it is logically impossible for him to be the exclusive mate of all the women who desire him.

It is possible, however, to enable women to mate hypergamously, i.e., with the most sexually attractive (handsome or socially dominant) men. In the Ecclesiazusae of Aristophanes the women of Athens stage a coup d’état. They occupy the legislative assembly and barricade their husbands out. Then they proceed to enact a law by which the most attractive males of the city will be compelled to mate with each female in turn, beginning with the least attractive. That is the female sexual utopia in power.

And yes, we are rapidly moving towards the manosphere myth that virtually all women are having sex with the same tiny number of men.

Although there may be only one “alpha male” at the top of the pack at any given time, which one it is changes over time. In human terms, this means the female is fickle, infatuated with no more than one man at any given time, but not naturally loyal to a husband over the course of a lifetime.

From here, it seems, comes the widespread manosphere myth that women are inherently amoral creatures who will instantly dump whatever man they’re with whenever an alpha strolls by.

Devlin is also the apparent source of the related manosphere myth that most men live lives of quiet celibacy.

An important aspect of hypergamy is that it implies the rejection of most males.

Indeed, Devlin is so convinced by this notion that he simply hand-waves away all data to the contrary.

Survey results are occasionally announced apparently indicating male satisfaction with their “sex lives” and female unhappiness with theirs. This creates an impression that there really is “more sex” for men today than before some misguided girls misbehaved themselves forty years ago. …

It is child’s play to show, not merely that this is untrue, but that it cannot be true. … What happens when female sexual desire is liberated is not an increase in the total amount of sex available to men, but a redistribution of the existing supply. Society becomes polygamous. A situation emerges in which most men are desperate for wives, but most women are just as desperately throwing themselves at a very few exceptionally attractive men.  …

Sexual liberation really means the Darwinian mating pattern of the baboon pack reappears among humans.

And …. scene!

Devlin is sometimes described as an “independent scholar,” but even aside from its misogyny and racism “Sexual Utopia in Power” is anything but scholarly. There are only a relative handful of footnotes, which don’t come close to backing up Devlin’s numerous factual claims. Most of the footnotes refer to the writings not of scholars but of conservative and far-right journalists. One links to an article on the racist hate site VDare.com; another favorably cites this article by Henry Makow, an early Men’s Rights Activist turned conspiracy theorist who literally believes that feminists are in league with an evil Satanic-Illuminati cult that rules the world.

Devlin offers precisely zero evidence to back up his claims about hypergamy — aside from a couple of surveys, whose conclusions he rejects, and several quotes from literature, including that one from Oscar Wilde. The rest is, to use the formal term for it, assdata.

Nonetheless, the manosphere has adopted Devlin’s new-and-not-improved version of “hypergamy” with enthusiasm. I won’t even bother citing examples; a Google search for “manosphere” and “hypergamy” brings up 17,700 results. Hell, there are several dozen articles about hypergamy on A Voice for Men alone. And of course I’ve written about the manosphere obsession with hypergamy many times before.

But so far essentially the only people who have picked up on this particular definition of hypergamy have been misogynists, pickup artists, MRAs and others vaguely associated with, or around, the manosphere. The only academic I know of who has ever even addressed Devlin’s peculiar thesis is libertarian economist Tyler Cowan, who wrote about it briefly, and I think accurately, on his blog several years back.

This essay is not politically correct and at times it is misogynous and yes I believe the author is evil (seriously).  The main behavioral assumption is that women are fickle.  So they are monogamous at points of time but not over time; Devlin then solves for the resulting equilibrium, so to speak.  The birth rate falls, for one thing.  The piece also claims that the modern “abolition” of marriage strengthens the attractive at the expense of the unattractive.  Some of you will hate the piece.  I disagree with the central conclusion, and also the motivation, but it does seem to count as a new idea.

As an actual idea, new or old, this is probably all the consideration  Devlin‘s version of “hypergamy” really deserves. But as a case study in the history and sociology of bad ideas, the strange story of Devlin’s hypergamy is a bit more interesting, and I no doubt will return to it in future posts.

There is also a good deal in Devlin’s essay that’s a good deal worse than his discussion of hypergamy, and I’ll be coming back to that as well.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon, Time.com, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on May 16, 2013, in a voice for men, a woman is always to blame, alpha males, antifeminism, eivind berge, evil sexy ladies, evil women, evo psych fairy tales, f. roger devlin, heartiste, hypergamy, men who should not ever be with women ever, misogyny, MRA, oppressed men, oppressed white men, playing the victim, racism, rape culture, reactionary bullshit, warren farrell and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 863 Comments.

  1. Things I am actually obsessed over — anyone got ideas how to kill my feral algae for good, without killing the plants in the tank? Cuz I got nothing and it’s fucking absurd how fast that shit takes over.

    Plant update! My sundew is growing beautifully, to that point that pecunium’s sundew will be delivered the next time I see him; his African violet cuttings are also still looking good (well, 3 of the four, lost the fourth)…killed the damned ivy, idfk, and pecunium, remember the might be an annual? Killed that too so it’s moot. Meanwhile the orchid is all “air root over here, air root over there, roots everywhere!”

    And my cactus is in bloom again.

  2. The crassula is starting to root. The late dill is in massive leaf, the nasturtia are in bloom, and only one of the orchids we bought because they were dying is actually dying (so we saved one).

  3. W00t for the crassula, and I’ll take a look at that orchid, probably pointless, but no harm in another set of eyes. And maybe I’ll get to see the nasturtia, assuming we don’t have another scheduling nightmare.

    Also…wtf do I do with a 2′ diameter mum? Cuz my mum bought a mum. And either I let her put it outside until it freezes, or I take it in as one of mine. And seeing how it’s a living organism…yeah, I have a mum now. And no room for a plant that size. How little light can they survive on? Cuz I can rearrange and find shelf space up top, but indirect light, at best, up there.

  4. if MRa’s and PUA’s are ==so== unimportant and ==so== wrong….. why are you obsessing about them?

    Double equal signs for emphasis. Totally not obnoxious at all.

  5. Alice Sanguinaria

    Mums are pretty good houseplants. They were happy when my mother left them sitting on my computer table in between two windows. They were underneath a house light too.

    Does that help?

  6. It’s dead. The center has rotted out. I’m going to baby it so long as it has pseudobulbs, but I have no real hope.

  7. Pecunium — oh, yeah, it’s probably gone then.

    Alice — sorta, yeah. Should be fine in most of my room then, since the fish tanks all have full spectrum daylight bulbs and the rest is either windows, or my bed. Thanks:)

  8. My co-workers gave me a lovely orchid when I finished grad school, and even though in the past I have been able to kill IVY (which is supposed to be unkillable) I have now kept this orchid alive for nearly 9 months through a combination of really good light and benign neglect. I know there are more important things in the world, but I am REALLY proud of not killing my orchid.

  9. Alice Sanguinaria

    Argenti – no problem. Don’t forget to water them and they should be fine.:)

  10. Oooh, ooh, are we talking about what we really obsess over?

    … Everyone already knows what I do.

    ::retires disconsolately to corner::

  11. Nobody puts Kittehs in a corner!

  12. Besides, one day the Furrinati will reward us for our devotion. We will be Head of the Human Staff!

  13. I thought men wanted monogamy to make sure the children they produced were in fact their own. It was wasteful evolution-wise for a man to raise the children of other men. Not to mention, if men are unfaithful and women are not, then are all these unfaithful men sleeping with the same woman?

  14. Ok, I know this is an old post, so I don’t know if anyone will still read this or not but…I actually love the idea of hypergamy. Here’s why: because it is where the MRA’s actually show their Achilles heel and hand women ALL the sexual power.

    I am not saying hypergamy exists. What I am saying is that since they think it exists, I say everything I can think of to make it appear like it is a real thing when I am writing in a space I know the PUA’s will read. I enjoy knowing that they constantly fear that no woman will ever really be faithful to THEM. They already believe this about women, so I like just using their own theory to put it back in their faces and say “thank for handing me all your power, you are right, every woman you are with is eventually going to dump you for a BBD”.

    Men who aren’t MRA/PUA fanatics don’t take offense to the idea of hypergamy or they don’t think about it at all. They simply overlook it with a “what? that’s a thing?” Only the MRA/PUA pool of guys seem so worried about it or think it is real.

    On the flip side, I believe a case for human beings being naturally non-monogamous is easily made by many sources, so it is easy to weave in the idea of hypergamy because really, it is just saying that “women are naturally non-monogamous”. And women of course also have to accept and acknowledge that men are naturally non-monogamous, too. As far as being non-monogamous, yep, we all are.

    But the MRA/PUA guys, well they are just OUTRAGED by hypergamy specifically…so I figure…um…yes guys…it DOES exist. In your case, you really *are* likely going to get dumped for a better human being.

  15. In your case, you really *are* likely going to get dumped for a better human being.

    I like your definition of hypergamy there:nothing to do with money or power or any of the nonsense they make up. But better human being means they really are in deep shit, because So. Many. People. fit that description.:)

  16. Zactly. The only guys who are running around worried about it, are the MRA’s/PUA’s.

    They know inside that they are going to be dumped…they fear it constantly. They see it happen to their friends-of-a-feather. Their own confirmation bias is driving them insane with the idea.

    Mwah ha ha!

  17. Sebastian Ecke

    A thought on an old post on an even older thread, but still…
    The consequences are rather not funny of accepting “hypergamy” to exist…. messed up grammar but anyway:
    What qualities does a supposed “alpha male” have? It actually doesn’t really matter as sooner or later it must be something others have while those sprouting said idea lack. As they see themselve superior to others, either in part or in whole, the thing lacking becomes an outdated biological thing. Once it made sense in an animal survival thing but now it hinders the social progress of the human race (it must, or else the “right” kind of people would be getting laid).
    Women are thus either a slave to a biological urge or in other words stupid, or willing participient which means evil. Welcome to California.

  18. right-wing-nut

    The data on hook up culture do not support Devlin’s theory on the redistribution of sex. For his theory to be true, the virgin rate of males would have to be higher than the virgin rate of females. The data show that this is not so. The same percentage of men and women are virgins — approximately 25%, and this percentage has been steadily increasing. (note: the data was sourced from college campuses.)

    Interestingly, the virgin rate is increasing. Why?

    Perhaps it has to do with the pervasiveness of hot people and sex. Hot people having sex, talking about sex, and insinuating sex is everywhere. From the televisions shows to the ads in between the television shows. And because this is all happening in the age of entitlement, perhaps average people feel entitled to sex with hot people?

    But nature dictates that this cannot be so. Average people cannot have sex with hot people.

    So perhaps average people, in their belief that they are entitled to “hot people,” are holding out on sex, waiting for their due “hot” sex.

    So the effect of this is average people refusing to have sex with one another because they think that they are entitled to hot people — and thus the virgin rate is increasing.

    I think this theory is pretty good, and i would be interested in other’s thoughts.

  19. Hi! Well, I like how you are attacking this piece (hopefully you came back to it as I am reading this anew), but I think you have the main intellectual might here (the concept of hypergamy) from the rest of the piece that is most insidiously dangerous. I agree with Tyler Cowan that the man is evil. I want an eviscerating critique that basically tears this piece apart, paragraph by paragraph with hard science. He’s little known and for good reason but this shit paper is enough to get a huge smack down. It’s ill informed and deep in untrue concepts not backed up by evidence or fact. It’s straight evil shrouded as intellectual.

    The ideas behind it are absurd yet many men have fallen prey to its glitter of intellectual satisfaction. Science and the data do NOT support it. I read this crap article and felt intellectually raped. I want this thing thrown to the fire. As far as I’m concerned he committed intellectual suicide by publishing this piece.

  20. ParadoxicalIntention

    “Women are fickle and will constantly move on to better men!”

    So…are you saying that you are, in fact, a terrible human being and admit that there are better men than you?

    I swear, my favorite things are when MRAs and PUAs become self-aware, and the less intentional the better.

  21. In re “And did I mention that it originally ran in a white nationalist journal?”, please stick to debunking the central premise of Mssr. Devlin’s article. Any departure gives Misogynists an opportunity to say, “Ya see? People have to resort to fallacies like attacking the Messenger because They cannot find an actual flaw in the actual reasoning.”

  22. The “manosphere” wasn’t birthed in a vacuum. Manufacturing hate: “Libertarians get medieval on women” (Ron Paul’s Ludwig von Mises Institute’s hate literature):

    Scratch a white supremacist – invariably one finds a “Libertarian” underneath.

    Meet the tea partying “New Right” (same as the old right): F. Roger Devlin, Cato Institute, Ludwig von Mises Inst., Buchanan, Rev. Chuck Baldwin, et. al.: Political Cesspool Radio guest list, alphabetized: http://littlegreenfootballs.com/PoliticalCesspoolGuests/index.html

    Political Cesspool guest list, courtesy of Little Green Footballs: research.

    Libertarians and the “Christian” Right – peas in a pod, always have been. A short history: http://thepoliticalspectator.com/tag/ron-paul/

  23. So, the libertarian idea of religious pluralism is an idea of the “Christian right”? That doesn’t make sense.

    Plus, how is the libertarian idea of “no state mandated slavery” consistent with white supremacy?

    Is it possible You have been fed a charicature and/or inaccurate view of libertarianism?

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