Office Supplies and Dominance Hierarchies

When I started my first corporate job, two of my mentors who had a tendency to contradict each other, gave me the same piece of advice “Don’t dip your pen in the company ink”. This is a piece of very simple advice that helps protect a man who is about to enter a corporate environment for the first time. Back when I finished college prior to the Victorian Moral Panic that has swept across Universities in the last few years, you got used to mixing business with pleasure on a near constant basis. This is actually a major difference between school and work, as throughout your schooling there is really no clear-cut distinction between work-life (school) and private life (outside of school).

The distinction between work-life (corporate) and home life (outside of corporate) was a very clear-cut distinction for many years, that grew from the industrial revolution. Back when most people worked in agriculture, or hunting/gathering prior to that, there was no real split between “work” and “leisure”, because most days would be a mixture of both. With the industrial revolution came the factories, you came in the morning, left when the bell rang and came back the next morning. This was also the structure of more “white collar” professions, you came in at a set time in the morning, left at a set time in the afternoon or evening.

However, with the advent of the computer age, this has gradually changed. As constant connectivity has become ubiquitous, the line between work and not-work has been slowly worn down. Most modern corporations expect the employees to go the extra mile, for instance coming in on weekends, evenings and even to pull all-nighters in order to make deadlines. When you add in events such as Christmas parties, team-building events, conferences, travel schedules, and various other things, many employees may spend 50 – 70 hours a week in the office in some capacity, plus work from home, spend time together outside of normal work hours and normal work environments, therefore its unsurprising that the personal and business bleed together over time.

It’s also no great surprise that 38% of workers who were surveyed admitted to dating someone they worked with at some point of their career. 28% dated someone further up in the company hierarchy, and a whopping 18% admitted to dating their boss [1]. Women were more likely to date their boss with 35% of women who had dated someone at work (compared to 23% of men), dating up in the hierarchy.

The Monolithic Dominance Hierarchy

When I first heard the term “dominance hierarchy” the visual in my head was a pyramid, a huge stone monolith on which men sat on every level, numbers dwindling as one approached the top. It’s actually a very simplistic way of viewing a dominance hierarchy, because in reality it’s far from a simple monolith, it’s composed of many dominance hierarchies that interact to varying degrees with each other. The high school quarterback and head cheerleader are often depicted as the respective king and queen of the high school dominance hierarchy within a single school, however as one views a region, there is likely to be a hierarchy among high school quarterbacks within a region, then on a state level, and on a national level. This is true for any hierarchy, among wealthy people, there are the richest in a city, the richest in the state, the richest in the country and the richest in the world.

Within one sphere of activity, there is a dominance hierarchy, that can be broken down into “sub-hierarchies”, which themselves can be broken into more sub-hierarchies. All of these are part of the “grand dominance hierarchy” that encompasses all domains of human activity.  In some cases such hierarchies are domain-specific, meaning that your position in the hierarchy doesn’t greatly affect your position in the general hierarchy. In other cases their are non-domain specific, meaning that your high status in one hierarchy affects your status in other hierarchies as well. For instance, famous actors and musicians gain high status in the general hierarchy from their status within their own domain, as do people who wield power in the political or financial sphere.

In a corporate hierarchy, the CEO is on top, has a lot of status and wields a lot of power in a company. Underneath him or her, comes the executives, that also hold high positions within the corporate hierarchy, then middle managers, then the rest of the workforce. This is a classic structure within almost all human domains of activity, be it the military, government, or old Feudal kingdoms.

There is also a sexual market hierarchy, I would be inclined to make the argument that this is not so much a building block of the general hierarchy, but rather a separate, but  an overlapping and intersecting hierarchy. The reason for this is that there is not a 1 to 1 correlation between status in the general hierarchy or domain specific hierarchies and sexual market status. The reason should become clear in the next section.

Conditional Dominance

Rollo wrote a comment on Aziz Ansari [2] that I thought serves very well as an example of what happens when attempting to utilize domain-specific hierarchical position in a generalized domain

First and foremost is the fact that Ansari is a consumate Beta. Looking at the guy he resembles any number of Indian computer programmers frustrated by a want for the secret formula to make a gorgeous American blonde with big tits fall in love with him. [2]

This touches on a concept that was covered on The Rational Male [3] back in 2012, that of the contextual Alpha. When Aziz had a room full of people hanging on his every word during his act, when he walks up the red carpet with paparazzi shooting his picture, or when he’s being interviewed on late night TV, he has all the trappings of the Alpha male. However, when those are removed, it is revealed that the emperor has no clothes. This is also the case for many of the other stories that have been the focus of various media outlets in the past months, men who are alpha within their specific domain, however when removed from it they are beta or worse.

Old adages such as “Nice guys finish last” and “Women want bad boys” serve to illustrate the very point that sexual market value and social market value are two different things. A man can be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation, sit on the boards of charities, be recognized as a pillar of the community and a leader of men, but still be a beta male as far as sexual market value is concerned. On the other hand, a man can be a drug dealer, who has done 2 stints in lockup, still lives with his mother, has no property to speak of, be wanted for domestic violence, and have women lining up to become the mother of his 11th child with 11 different women.

Men who are high status within their domain specific hierarchies, or even across multiple hierarchies, have the trappings of alpha within context, but once removed from context the only thing that remains is the man behind the curtain. The women perceive them as Alpha within their domain, but this vision is rapidly shattered by interacting with them outside of their domain.

If one were to theorize how this would sort itself out in nature without the many dominance hierarchies that litter our modern social climate. One would have to conclude that the many trappings that we may view as alpha today versus what would have been viewed as alpha in the past, there is one very important distinction, the source of alpha. This is related to formal and informal power, in that some people have a low level of influence despite a high level of formal power, other people have a high level of influence despite having little formal power. In the same way, a man who gains his “alpha” status purely from external sources, such as a uniform, has gained “formal alpha” status, but once the uniform is removed, as is the alpha status. A man who gains his alpha status from internal sources, meaning his own mental and physical state, could be stripped of all external trappings of alpha and retain his status.

In short, what other’s have bestowed upon you they can also take away, but that which you have claimed for yourself by your own power can never be taken away.

Summary and Conclusions

There is an old movie called “The Tao of Steve” that has some very clever insight into the male mind. The protagonist of the movie (Steve) has figured out how to get laid regularly and often with many different women. Steve is a highly intelligent man, well versed in philosophy, literature and the arts, but since he figured out how to get laid outside of “the system”, he sees no reason to finish his degree, get a job, have decent clothes and lives out of his van. While men are motivated by other things than sex, there is little sense in denying that sex is a major reason for men doing a lot of the things we do.

The problems arise when there are mixed messages of what women actually want and what society needs to function. This is the foundation of the blue pill illusion, where men are presented a road-map to finding their soulmate, that strangely enough follows the exact pro-social path that also greatly benefits society. Society needs a lot of not overly extroverted men, who are highly conscientious, agreeable and smart enough to do their job, but not so smart that they realize they are a cog in the machine. The dominance hierarchy as outlined by the old books is a classic example, be dutiful, virtuous, god-fearing, loyal and self-sacrificing.

However, studies that I used for an earlier essay, points to that men who are extroverted, narcissistic and disagreeable have much higher mating success. Thus, there is a disconnect in the model. If attraction followed the model outlined by the blue pill dominance hierarchy on a 1 to 1 basis, meaning that as you climb the pro-social dominance hierarchy, your mating success increased, then increasing those variables that are conducive to rising in the pro-social hierarchy should correlate with mating success. The opposite is the case.

There is a reason why Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez and Charles Manson got hundreds of love letters and marriage proposals while in prison, but Bobby Beta who has a stable job, earns $80.000 a year, and has 2 advanced degrees can’t get a date. Which is what I’ll cover next week.

Sources:

[1] https://brandongaille.com/19-unbelievable-workplace-romance-statistics/

[2] https://therationalmale.com/2018/01/23/thoughts-on-aziz-ansari/

[3] https://therationalmale.com/2012/03/05/the-contextual-alpha/

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5 comments on “Office Supplies and Dominance Hierarchies

  1. Johann R says:

    Which is what I’ll cover next week. —- Brutal cliffhanger!

    Great article, please keep posting.

    Like

  2. Termos Reais says:

    Excellent text as usual.

    The explanation about hierarchy and the differences between alphas types were incredible.

    But this phrase really was the summary of the essence of the article:

    “what other you have bestowed upon you they also take away, but that which you have claimed by your own power can never be taken away.”

    Like

  3. […] In last week’s essay, I began an analysis of dominance hierarchies, that I will continue in this essay. I recommend reading last week’s first. […]

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  4. […] has been the underlying theme of my past two essays “Office Supplies and Dominance Hierarchies” and “Of Lobsters and Serial Murder“. The individual as an individual and as part […]

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  5. anonymous says:

    Somewhere I heard that not all hierarchies are ‘dominance,’ that many are better described as ‘competence.’ I think this was in the context of attempting to dismantle some CultMarx arguments, and the idea was to avoid oversimplifying and effectively ceding larger points about how everything may be reduced to power in what is clearly a more complex discussion. Power and dominance are certainly expressed in most hierarchies, but these are rarely the only things going on.

    Like

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