Sunday, August 27, 2017

Vice-Captains

I read an article in 2016 about the value of the beta-male. It praised all the qualities of that particular breed of dude, and celebrated the way he works as part of a team rather than trying to break that team apart just to reassemble it to his own specifications.
While the article was almost certainly written with an agenda, I found it an enjoyable read not so much for any new information it imparted, but more because of a feeling of justification. For my own beta-male status, and for the status of nearly every hero Willsin Rowe has ever written.
(I phrase it that way because, as Abi Aiken, I've co-written a few Alpha males. And as a whole other pen-name, I've solo written several others.)
My story "Playing House" features a male lead who is quite simply too even-tempered and understanding a guy to be the quintessential Romance Alpha Male. I wasn't trying anything smarty-pants, like "breaking the genre" with him, I was simply writing a dude who I'd like to be friends with. I did actually expect to get marked down in reviews for making him a beta-male. Turns out the blisteringly-negative reviews all came from a hatred of my heroine. I don't think Mark even got noticed in those cases, but then that might simply be more evidence of his non-Alpha status. If he didn't annoy any of the readers who disliked the story, then he definitely wasn't Alpha enough!
I am, in fact, planning to release several other stories which are unrelated to Playing House but which will also feature a more measured and adaptable hero than Alpha Males tend to be. They'll all be under a loose heading of something like Beautiful Betas.
I do believe my attraction to beta-males is more than just the fact I can see myself in them. It also has a basis in the fact I don't particularly enjoy the company of most men. I didn't form good relationships with other males in childhood, due to moving around a lot and having only a sister as a constant companion, among other things. I find myself too globally-logical to make the usual macho assertions about my place at the top of every single food chain I've ever seen. While male relationships are far more complex than just that, it seems they all have to pass through that stage in order to become complex. I simply don't have the stamina to get through the metaphorical cock-measuring.
I'd rather spend my time with women, and a quick check of my Facebook friends list would add weight to that concept. I don't know the numbers but I'd be surprised if dudes made up more than 10% of that list.
One of my other little bug-bears about it all is actually an odd complaint. From late primary school onward, people have seen in me the qualities of Alpha. As soon as they possibly could, they'd install me as captain of whatever team I was in. I say it's an odd complaint because surely one of the elements of being an Alpha is that people recognise you as one. Of course, an even more important element is seeing that trait within yourself. If you need to be TOLD you're an Alpha...you ain't one, in my opinion.
I've always seen in myself the qualities of being an excellent vice-captain, deputy, lieutenant...essentially, I'm a brilliant 2IC.
Anyway, back to the article.
Finding that piece was interesting in and of itself, but it inspired me to go searching for something more scientific. After all, it was more of a human interest thayng than hard evidence or data.
The first thing I found was a website which took a drastically different approach.
It's actually rather difficult to sum up, but essentially, it revolved around how the Alpha Male gets it all. Lands all the jobs. Drives all the cars. Fucks all the pussies (or all the asses AS LONG AS THEY'RE WOMEN'S ASSES, BECAUSE GAYS ARE, LIKE, TOTES NOT ALPHAS AND SHIT AND YOUS DON'T WANNA BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE NON-ALPHA HOMOS AND SHIT LIKE THAT, RIGHT, YA PUSSY! AND NOTICE HOW IT WASN'T A QUESTION! AND NEITHER WAS THAT...IT WAS AN ORDER TO NOTICE IT WASN'T A QUESTION!)
Ahem...
That second site was not content to simply define in the narrowest sense exactly what an Alpha Male is, it also took the time to point out in strong, derogatory terms, exactly why it was that beta-males were just no damn good. I don't recall it mentioning gammas or omegas or...uh...lambda males. The overall tone of the website was haranguing at the very least. Urging all men to get on board and learn the traits and behaviours of Alpha Males (I'm starting to feel I should put a ™ on that).
I digress, though, so let me bring it back around to where I started.
That article I first mentioned was written by a woman, about her husband. About the many and varied ways his beta-male behaviour complemented her own needs and wants, and how they were a team working toward a similar goal. Paying their bills, feeding their children, striving for a fulfilling life. Each of them taking turns being strong because the other needs time to be weak. It's not the stuff of Romance novels, but it certainly doesn't go astray in real life.
The website I mentioned later? Well, there would be no prizes for guessing it was not only written by a man...it was the website for his Alpha Male Training Course. The ol' "give me tons o' cash and I'll show you how not to be sucked in by people like me telling you you're no damn good" trick. Do Exactly As I Say, Every Day For The Rest Of Your Life And You'll Never Have To Take Orders Again!
Alpha Males definitely have their place. And despite my own tone throughout this blog, I do respect the true Alphas in our world. They're not always likable, and that's part of the point.
But my heart will always be with the betas. We're the world's vice-captains...and we're often excellent captains of vice! Fnarr fnarr...

7 comments:

  1. My husband (a wonderful non-alpha if there every was one) has always been much more comfortable with women than men. The few male friends he's had have also been the non-alpha type.

    Meanwhile, women *love* him. Really. Whenever he's dealing with a female, whether it's a waitress, a store clerk or a government functionary, he get VIP treatment. That's because he respects women while still desiring them... a true winning combination.

    Before I came along, he had dozens of lovers, even though he's short, not athletic and not classically handsome. So it's not at all true that only the alphas get the sex!

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    1. I do seem to get more than my share of attention from women, too, and possibly for the same reasons. The only people who actually want us to believe the alphas are getting it all are the ones who want to sell you something!

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  2. One thing that alpha site misses is that not every man has what it takes to be an alpha.
    What the site promoter is actually creating are deluded wannabes without the wherewithal for the job. I'd think a true alpha doesn't have to be told how to be an alpha.

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    1. Absolutely. That was the point I was kinda trying to make, though I think I got distracted while trying to make it. Genuine alphas can be essential. But if you have to go around TELLING everyone you're an Alpha then you probably ain't one. And as Sacchi pointed out earlier, someone faking their Alpha-hood can be an intensely dangerous creature.

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  3. Very true. I suspect most lone-wolf violence (mass murder without a political agenda, violence against women and children) is committed by wannabe alpha males who blame some external obstacle for their lack of rewards. (No one understands them, women are two-faced, children have no respect for authority.) Men--people in general--who can co-operate with others are the ones who make progress.

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    1. I have no stats to say one way or the other...but that certainly FEELS true. Constantly searching for an external source of their woes etc. Definitely not true Alpha behaviour.

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  4. I have also had at least one of my books criticized not because the hero was too beta, but because the heroine was too alpha. One critic said she couldn't warm up to the heroine, because she was too self-reliant. She didn't need anyone. I figured that was the whole point. She thinks she doesn't...then in classic romance-landia style, she meets "the one", and thinks she's seducing him. It's a mutual thing, and there of course, is a HEA. But I was upset when that critic said that because I'm the alpha female she doesn't like. I put a lot of myself into that heroine and I felt rejected. Boo hoo. I'd feel a whole lot worse if many critics said that, but then at least I'd have my royalties to keep me warm. As an unknown and generally ignored author, all I have is my family who loves lil' ol' alpha me...and you guys and gals here.

    And I agree that much of the hyper-masculine raging that we see in the news, is due to the alpha-wanna-bees, who blame everyone else, but especially women who won't put-out for their alpha-ness, for their general feeling of unhappiness. Which proves how un-alpha they are, since alphas say, "the buck stops here," and accept the blame for whatever...

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