THE DEFINITION: ALPHA FEMALE, presumes two things. One is wrong: The definition somehow mimics that of the alpha male. The second is right: Alpha means ‘first’ or ‘predominant.’
The two presumptions compound together to imply that the male is predominant – that the alpha female is somehow an odd construction of character and a subversion on the ‘norm’ of the alpha male.
This is an extremely annoying manipulation of semantics that serves as the precursor as to why the alpha female is seen as somehow ‘odd’, or as a threat. If a woman doesn’t play up to an assumed weakness or decides bash out her weaknesses no less, she is alpha.
The Anna Wintours and Hilary Clintons and Germain Greers of the world – they are women who each possess an intelligence that is brash, that makes itself known and has an aloof aura from all that power and mythical lady-spunk. They are all fearless bitches, all-powerful, all alpha – and unfortunately all are derided.
Worse, The Daily Mail runs articles sabotaging her domestic status as the breadwinner. Apparently it is statistically accurate to claim Alpha Females emasculate men when they continue with their careers whilst being in a long term relationship with them. (The paper also assumes that most AFs are heterosexual, although I doubt they would seek experts to test whether this is a ridiculous generalisation or not.)
It should be noted that rather than being an imitation of the alpha male, the AF is better defined as an independent archetype of the female personality at its strongest or most extreme. This could be taken to mean the maternal instinct – of course, the alpha female does not have to take care of children. As is often portrayed in the media, and was a life choice made iconic by Elizabeth I, the AF doesn’t do breeding for broods. Instead, she becomes the matriarch of a bevy of staff, or an idea, or a cause.
It could also be taken, if you’re of a Guardian reader bent, to mean the role of the female as listener. Or as they put it, to be one of the women “who are consensus builders, who don’t lead from the front but push their teams forward…”
Ahem, what? So the AF prefers to not talk so much and prefers being at the back? Isn’t this just business-mush-talk which suggests women, again, cannot be at the front-line calling for action? Ugh. At least allow the AF some dignity. Though that’s easer said than done. Demonised as cold and heartless as opposed to shrewd and adroit, the stereotypical AF is not even human – she is an entire set of traits that has to be navigated carefully.
It is interesting that AFs are typically seen within patriarchal narratives as some kind of threat. They have to be dealt with, their demeanour negotiated with, their sexual behaviour learned about.
Askmen dot com, the online Cosmopolitan for blokes, even has a guide on how to approach dating the alpha female.
Not so funny, though, when it suggests that accepting the ‘typical’ AF in all her Wintouresque glory means actually viewing her as 2D, predictable, and then following this up by being her fallout (Beta) male. For example, the AF is:
“The alpha female is a busy woman, or at least she is very talented at making you believe that.”
Although, I doubt many women in my generation would neither put up with nor consider that kind of bullshit.
I love the Alpha Females. Even more so, I love the fact that they are perceived as cold and heartless because it is that very perception which proves there is still a case for feminism. Women with power should be praised for breaking through the man-made glass ceiling.