So-called “Alpha” male characters are all the rage. However, as icon after icon falls in the wake of #MeToo, maybe we should ask ourselves if that’s a good thing.
I had a reader tell me that they were annoyed by my novels’–BECKONED–polite, Danish hero Soren Lund because he wasn’t “Alpha” enough. I waved the comment away, after all, you can’t make everyone happy. However, in the wake of #MeToo, I had a thought about our society’s adoration of so-called “Alpha males” whom I would characterize as men who are: sexually aggressive, focused exclusively/primarily on their own needs, take advantage of women whom they have power over (either implied power or literal hierarchical power.) In order to distinguish these type of men/characters from benevolent Alphas, I will refer to them as Alphaholes henceforth (thanks Maria!)
Is Soren Lund a “Beta male”, or a less attractive male hero figure, just because he doesn’t force his penis on a woman without making absolutely sure that she wants it?
As a fiction writer of books that might be considered more “realistic” and less “fantasy,” I write about diverse, educated heros and heroines who share a balance of power both emotionally and sexually. In my opinion, just because Soren doesn’t touch his penis, or force others to touch it, without making sure that there is reciprocal desire on the part of the woman, does not make him a beta NOR does it make him less desirable as a man. On the contrary, it makes him a reflection of the society that I feel blessed to be a part of.
You see, most primates—humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, etc.*—exhibit high levels of sexual dimorphism with regards to size, meaning, on average, that males tend to be much larger than females. One explanation for the size differential is that non-human primate males need size in order to ensure the survival of their genes because they engage in high levels of physical competition for mating rights (access to females.)
I would argue that in many ways, humans are not so different from our non-human primates in that there are still many men who use their power advantages (be them size, wealth, position) in order to gain “mating rights”. However, the way that we differ from non-human primates is that we** have built a culture and civilization that have given us education, rights, and a legal system that our non-human counterparts don’t have.
In order to ensure that those rights continue for our daughters, and our granddaughters, we shouldn’t take for granted the subtle, unconscious ways our society promotes the cult of the Alphaholes in books, movies, television shows. GIVE ME MORE HEROS who respect and promote the rights of all humans.
So if you like men who respect a woman’s right to say “no”—as well as her right to say “hell ya”—then Soren Lund might just be the kind of hero you’ll love (and want to take to your bed). I know I do!
Wishing you love and romance,
*I’m not address Bonobos in this article. They are outliers.
**I’m addressing American society specifically since it is the one I am a part of and most familiar with