What is a sigma male? There is a new toxic masculinity on the Internet

In addition to the "Incels" and "Alpha Males", the so-called "Sigma Males" are going viral. And they are more than just a TikTok "trend".

Not a day goes by without the social media platform TikTok producing a new trend that goes viral in no time. While some of these "trends" are quite entertaining or even generate positive attention for important socio-political issues, TikTok is coming under increasing criticism for providing space for people with questionable, if not dangerous, thoughts and sharing them millions of times.

The most prominent example is Andrew Tate, leader of the Alpha Male movement. Tate, who is now on remand in Romania for human trafficking and rape, was last year considered the most famous man on the Internet. In his videos he encouraged his followers, among other things, to use violence to make women more "obedient." In addition to these Alpha Males or Incels (involuntary celibate men), an Internet community that also propagates mental and physical violence against women, there is now another grouping of heterosexual men that is going viral: Sigma Males. And they should also be taken seriously.

What is a Sigma male?

Sigma males are the lone wolves among misogynists. Like Incels, they consider themselves too smart for the rest of the world, especially women. But instead of commiserating, crying and radicalizing online like the Incels, Sigma males isolate themselves in a highly idealized arrogance, locked in a self-created reality where they cultivate the toxic-capitalist values that have come with an outdated image of masculinity. Sigma males seek perfection, power and superiority, both in their appearance and in their economic situation.

Sigma male: meaning and characteristics

Another important distinguishing feature of Sigma males is emotional coldness, whereby they not only isolate themselves from the outside world, but it also leads them to manipulate the people around them. According to their own reading, because of all these characteristics Sigma males fascinate especially attractive women, but they are not interested. Sigma males smile at women, look down on them, and literally don't need them in their lives. Just as they generally don't need anyone. 

  • Lonely and arrogant with a feeling of superiority.
  • They take care of their image and pursue professional success.
  • They belittle women to the point of considering them insignificant.
  • They suppress any feelings which can lead to outbursts of anger or explicit violence.
  • They blame the feminist movement for their loss of privileges.

Sigma male role models

The great reference of a Sigma male is the fictional character Patrick Bateman, from "American Psycho", played in its film adaptation by Christian Bale. Bateman reaps great success as an investment banker on Wall Street, likes to exercise in his spare time, drinks a lot of water, is a great fan of self-care and one small detail: he sadistically murders women. He is a psychopath who, over the course of the film, delves deeper and deeper into his violent fantasies and makes them come true.

The fictional characters Jordan Belford, from Martin Scorsese's film The Wolf of Wall Street, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and Nate Jacobs, from the series Euphoria, are also models of Sigma males. Like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, Nate Jacobs also has sadistic tendencies, which he externalizes with his girlfriends. All the characters that Sigma males admire embody their main characteristics: they are loners, they feel superior not only physically but also intellectually, they are very successful in what they do and supposedly never show emotions. Here it is necessary to emphasize what is supposed because all the characters mentioned suffer in one way or another, but they know no other catalyst than violence.

"Sigma Males" vs. "Alpha Males": toxic masculinity and misogyny

Sigma males are the quintessential lone wolves. They place themselves at the top of society with questionable arrogance and yet completely isolate themselves. This affects not only their ideology but also their emotional spectrum. They are the epitome of the "strong man" of yesteryear. This is toxic masculinity at its finest. If we look at the numerous videos with "Sigma Male" content, we realize relatively quickly that women, if they appear in them at all, serve as a means to an end. If they talk about them, it is only to distance themselves from them and their "weakness".

Compared to the content coming from the Alpha Male movement, which gives women a permanent place, namely below the male, it seems as if women play no active role for Sigma Males. They are too unimportant to be paid attention to, at least that is the impression one gets when traveling through TikTok. If we look at the Sigma males' role models and their treatment of women, we get a skewed picture of hatred and indifference.

That's how dangerous Sigma males are

For all these reasons, Sigma males should not be laughed at or ignored. They should be taken as seriously as "alpha males", "incels" and other groups of misogynistic men. What they all have in common is a claim to their loss of privilege and, therefore, the loss of their supremacy in society. Their image of masculinity and, therefore, their identity is in crisis, provoked by the emancipation of women. That is why they also declare women to be their enemies. This may seem ridiculous in the context of the poorly edited clips from "American Psycho," but the basis is misogyny, and it is real.

"Sigma Males" are also an example of how toxic masculinity hurts men as well. Not just those who don't fit the ideal of the dominant breadwinner, Sigma Males are incapable of having a social life. They feel lonely and become increasingly isolated in their ideology. In the process, they suppress any feelings and thus lose access to the outside world. This is a potentially dangerous combination that can lead to aggression, unrestrained anger and violent outbursts. Just like their great role models.