Again and again I hear this from editors—give us an alpha male hero! That’s what everybody wants these days! Ok. I’ll give it a shot. Just give me some time to figure out what an alpha male is.
In the animal world the alpha male is the wolf, hippo, baboon, elephant seal, etc. who can beat off all the other males, get the females and become the head of the pack. Apply that to the human race and things get a little more complicated.
For help I turned to an article I found on line (credit to Mary Carmichael, Newsweek Web Exclusive, March 12). The article started out to be about Elliot Spitzer, certainly not my type. But it went on to make some interesting points about alpha males—referred to here as “sensation seekers.”
According to the author, “Sensation seekers crave novel and intense experiences more than other people do, and, as part of that, they tend to have many sexual partners. They get a bigger kick out of things….Sensation seekers don’t just lust after things–they take them, often disregarding the risks that block their way. When you’re dealing with these high-level, in-your-face, go-for-everything guys, you’re dealing with people who take a lot of risks… For these types, the risk itself is part of the reward. Breaking rules is a thrill for them…Alpha males are high on testosterone, the hormone that underlies almost all the typical traits of the politico-sexual animal: high levels of testosterone make for a high sex drive, a love of risks, aggressiveness and competitiveness. These people have a strong need to win at games, which is obviously important in power politics. Success sends their testosterone spiraling up, while a loss brings the levels down—a phenomenon that’s been documented in the lab as well as in athletes and chess champions.”
Sound like anyone you know?
Alpha heroes can be compelling. Think James Bond or Rambo. Think of the characters John Wayne has played—pair him up with a little spitfire like Maureen O’Hara and you have pure magic. There’s Darcy in P & P—a quiet alpha but definitely an alpha. Matt Dillon, another quiet alpha. Earnest Hemingway—an alpha all the way, and not always a nice one.
I have mixed feelings about alpha men. They’re exciting, but I don’t know how long I could live with one. An all-out alpha man could get wearing after a while. Kind of like having a wild stallion in the house. After a while you’d get tired of cleaning up the mess.
For the record, my all-time fictional dream man is Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. Steadfast, tender, compassionate, a man of absolute integrity and courage. Alpha? Hmmm. Depends on your definition.
What’s your take on alpha-heroes? Who’s your favorite alpha hero from books or movies? Is your sweetie an alpha? I’d love to hear.