Sometimes (but not often) I’m wrong about things. In my comment on the post “In Hopes of Fair Politics,” when I called some of my friends who post comments alpha males, I thought I knew what I was talking about, but I felt I really should go to the Internet and research the alpha male before I expound on the expression. I found out that my take on the expression was quite wrong.
I thought the Alpha male meant the kind of guy who thought of himself as the center of things and wanted to be seen that way. I thought it was something that could transfer into many areas of expertise. You might say I thought that all men are alpha males.
I checked it out on Wikipedia, which told me in our brethren primates, the alpha is the male in the pack whom all the others defer to. He is the acknowledged leader, and as a result, takes all the risks in moving the pack forward.
I went to another site, fastseduction.com, which contends that alpha is the guy who gets all the sexual action. The other males defer to him either until he dies of natural causes or one of them knocks him off. The writer went so far as to say, Being the alpha male is all about attitude and projecting the image that you are fun to be with and the woman should want to be with you. The writer’s mission is to help his readers become the alpha by acting the part.
Nothing basically wrong with that, but if that’s what alpha is, I had it wrong. This was not what I was getting at. I was trying to pinpoint the male behavior of trying to change people (women) into their own image of themselves – “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” – through the repeated and hammered suggestions that they do so. Talk about beating your head against the wall! But I’ve known very few men who don’t do that; I can’t think of one, as a matter of fact.
If the alpha is the male whom all the others naturally defer to, then it doesn’t exist in the human male. In the human male there is a constant battle for first place, even when it’s been won. It’s Al Gore hiring a consultant to tell him to let his shirt-tail out once in a while and grow a beard in pursuit of the alpha image. It’s Russell Crowe throwing a telephone at a desk clerk when the connection to Australia fails. It’s Anderson Cooper in Prada sportswear (as alpha-female comedian Kathy Griffin says) up to his ankles in mud from Katrina, confronting the governor of Louisiana. It’s every man doing that guy thing – whether he’s terrified of women, passive-aggressive and proud of it, cerebral and soft spoken, sensitive and sexy, or combative and brutal. I am wracking my brain to think of a situation in which a whole group of males just naturally defers to the leader. I’m sure my readers will help me out here. I just can’t say I’ve ever seen it, except in temporary circumstances as when the election results are just in. To defer just because they’re not alpha and some other guy is is something I’ve never run into.
There’s another thing I noted from my blog comments. The guys, while protesting wildly, clearly like being considered alpha. Who wouldn’t? And I reserve the right to stick to my definition. Either no man is an alpha, or all of them are.