In Praise of Alpha Males

Cassandra has often raised some objections to the use of the term, but let's roll with it this once.
In both my personal and professional life, I’m a woman who spends most of her time in the company of alpha males. I grew up very close with my two hyper-masculine brothers who habituated me to the ways dominant men think, act, emote, and feel; with a father, stepfather, and grandfather who also all fit the Alpha mold. Competition, well-articulated debates, and robust humor characterized nearly all of our interactions. As an adult, between my involvement with combat sports and my work with members of the military and Special Operations communities, much of my daily life is characterized by interaction with men who embody the traditional traits of Alpha Male dominance: strength, competitiveness, courage, assertiveness, decisiveness, intelligence, aggression…

Alpha Males are men who value strength (an undeniable gift of their testosterone-fueled biology); they embrace their capacity and desire for physical, intellectual, and even material dominance. While our politically correct culture has trained me to hesitate before making the assertion that these qualities are somehow innately strong in their sex, as a mother to a young son, I do feel strongly that biology plays a part in this. Strength, courage, hard work, and athleticism are paramount to the Alpha Male identity, which I feel is really just the full realization of the masculine spirit. Some scholars of the warrior archetype, such as Dr. Angela Hobbs, author of “Plato and the Hero: Courage, Manliness and the Impersonal Good,” and Leo Braudy, author of “From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity,” would agree, and take this one step further by suggesting that success in warfare is historically central to the masculine identity, as the ability to protect and defend one’s community has been fundamental to human existence since the dawn of time.
"Conan, what is best in life?" Success in war, if you were to summarize the famous remarks (which were apparently originally attributable to Genghis Khan).

The other goods flow from that, though. Success in war provides the protection of a space in which a stable society can flourish. It's hard to flourish if you aren't successful in war -- and, to cite the same Sun Tzu dictum again, you're never more successful than when you're so dangerous that no one wishes to fight with you. That mastery, attained only by careful devotion to the arts of war, depends on all of these qualities that the lady cites.


Texan99 said...

Now, now, we like alpha males unless they're toxic.

I agree with you, of course. I'm pretty sure I could get along with Genghis Khan a lot better than with anyone wearing a uterus hat.

E Hines said...

So, does this mean I can't self-identify as a cisnormal, heteropatriachical, alpha male? Would such a self-identification expose me as dangerously aggressive just from the self-identification?

But what about my Gaia-given right to be what I want to be, just from the claiming?

Eric Hines

Tom said...

The only problem I have is with the term "alpha male" because it is pseudo-scientific. It comes from some research done on wolves, but later research debunked that initial research. As it turns out, the "alpha male" of a wolf pack is just Dad. If you're not procreating with the alpha female and raising pups, you're not an alpha male.

We used to just call such men "manly". But no, everything has to sound super scientificish today, so we adopt these pseudo-scientific terms for ideas that have been around millenia longer than science. Plus, the PUA community has adopted it, so it's kinda icky now.

Anyway, yes, I agree with the post. Just quibbling with terms again.

Eric Blair said...

Terms are important.

Grim said...

You're largely tracking Cass' objection, which has to do with the inapplicability of the term to human biology. I was just going to let it go this once. :)

Cass said...

It's been a while, so it's hard to recall what bothered me so much about the ubiquity of the "alpha male" thing online. I suspect it had a lot to do with Tom's comment about pseudo-science and the PUA community (who seemed to me to act and talk more like annoying 13 year old boys than men) going on and on and on (and on...) about how "alpha" they were and how "beta" and "gamma" other men were. If you have to constantly remind others you are the alpha... :p

When I was dating, it was important to me that boys/men I went out with were secure in their own right. I didn't want someone I could push around - a relationship where partners are fairly evenly matched seemed healthier to me (and still does).

I suspect another part of my issues with the term alpha had to do with how often it was used to excuse or justify bad behavior ("He's not afraid to act like an inconsiderate jerk/to treat other people badly"). Strong men I've admired in my life have always been balanced (able to assert themselves when that's needed, but also to be gentle/kind/protective).

When I see someone of either sex act like an arrogant jerk, that usually makes me think they are insecure rather than strong/confident.

Ymarsakar said...

The A for Alpha on the Greek Spartan shields.

Just means first amongst equals. Humans have utilized patriarchs as first amongst equals for awhile now. Abraham. Moses. David/Saul.

The West, specifically English people, needed a way to create hierarchy in the language now that medieval hierarchy has been discarded. Cannot talk about things that exist without the words. In Japanese, they already have a hierarchy to denotate superior and inferior. So does the US military with ranks.

By breaking the Western conception of families and the authority behind bottom up organizations like family, this created a power vacuum for the Left's Gramsci March through. For a strategy that needed a hundred plus years to bear fruit, it wasn't that bad. It worked after all.

It is sad that humans have to go to wolf packs to figure out human mating and authority issues in the family, but then again, that's part of the Flat Earth Model resurrection as well.