Tuesday, April 17

Give me an alpha...

I was rather interested in today's RTB post, a topic that I always enjoy--The Alpha Male debate. That was until I reached Kimber An's comment that included the following...
Big, Bad Alpha Heroes annoy me because in Real Life I’ve never seen one settle down to being a good husband and father. More often than not, they knock up the woman and leave her to raise the kids in a trailer park by herself while he chases a perkier set of boobs.
This isn't a description of an alpha hero, it's the description of an immature moron. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Is this a stereotype I've somehow missed over the years? Being a controlling blowhard doesn't make a man an alpha--being strong, independent, take-charge, protective that will make one.

Obviously readers have preferences whether it's alpha or beta or a combination. I may lean toward alphas, but I like the character type to fit the storyline. I wouldn't be able to belive the HEA if I thought "Big, Bad Alpha Heroes annoy me because in Real Life I’ve never seen one settle down to being a good husband and father." Not that all hero's must pass the good father test, not all men and women want children, but I have to believe that the HEA works.

13 comments:

Jenster said...

I find that comment a bit irritating. I totally agree with you. Alpha doesn't necessarily mean jerk.

Bev (BB) said...

Don't even get me started. I hate the use of the term alpha in romance discussions. I really do. It muddies the issues about what it means to be both a hero and heroine so much.

Rosie said...

Alpha I associate with take charge. In fact I think you can be a take charge, natural born leader and know you are emotionally flawed or not fit for a long term committed relationship. I lurve those types of heros.

Wendy said...

The problem is that (for years) the line between Alpha and insufferable jerk has been crossed too many times by authors. How many books have we read where the author is trying to tell us the guy is "Alpha" when in actuality all we really want is the heroine to find a very dull knife to take to his privates. It's this poor characterization that led me (for years) to say I didn't like Alpha heroes. I actually like them just fine, it's the assholes I have no patience for. It took reading some books with "good" Alpha heroes for me to figure this out....

Tara Marie said...

Jen, you can probably tell I was irritated too--LOL.

Bev, it's not that I have a problem with the discussion, but the connection between ass and alpha isn't that realistic.

Rosie, me too.

Wendy, I don't think anyone has patience for AHs. :D I realize that some authors do cross that line, but there are enough who don't that we can see the difference.

Jaye said...

Tara I'm with you all the way on this. I lurrv me some Alpha, and I hate to admit it, but ::whispering:: I even like reading the jerk/assholes (no matter how high they send my blood pressure.)*g* Guilty pleasure, I'm afraid.:-P Having said that, the last 'jerkosaurus' hero I read was Roman in Sarah's Child. Before him I can't remember the last A-hole Alfa I read.

Jaye said...

I came back to add that I think (and I know this might sound weird) that Alpha's are caregivers, or have an element of that aspect to their character. That is, they are protectors, they do what needs to be done and take the sh*t for it. They have to be confident, and decisive because of the leadership role they often step into when others are reluctant to. I think one problem with the portrayal of the Alpha male in romances is that their vulnerabilities are rarely shown.

Bev (BB) said...

Yes, but the reason it isn't realistic is because it's based upon a false premise - that the alpha, beta, gamma paradigm works in the same way for humans that it does for animals straight across the board. ESPECIALLY in terms of romance novels.

Which is a big stretch to begin with given the number and variety of romances out there.

Couple that with the genre's fascination with pure jerk heroes and it's a recipe for quite a bit of miscommunication. Even when people believe they know what they're talking about, I get confused by what they're saying. Or trying to say.

See the thing one has to keep in mind at all times is to forget the science. Do not be fooled into thinking science because we talk in mating metaphors all the time. This is not about animal behaviors. It's about human behaviors.

And why is that an important distinction? Start thinking in animal terms and it becomes one big EXCUSE for those very jerk behaviors those metaphors are based on.

And that's why I don't like using the term.

Think about it.

Ann(ie) said...

I like gamma heroes because nobody seems to know what the hell that really means, which means the guy can be anything. :D

Tara Marie said...

Jaye, their my guilty pleasure too--I think it goes back to an old Catherine Coulter series :)

Bev, I agree there is a problem relating it to science and the animal world, but I do think it fits personality traits, I also don't think any man is all alpha, beta or gamma, but a combination there of with one being more dominant.

Annie, They are hard to pigeon hole and I think that comes from most being not truly one type of personality or another but a combinations (like I said to bev:))

Zeek said...

Yeah those comments ticked me off too. I've known quite a few men who were total alphas, self starters in sucessful businesses, leaders without being oppressive, people just intuitively followed them!

For me, an alpha doesn't have to use force to lead- they just naturually do so. Those using force are just pretenders ...

Zeek said...

And I agree with Wendy, poorley written alphas are part of the problem with the misunderstanding of what an alpha truely is!

Tara Marie said...

Zeek, your "alpha" description on RTB yesterday was absolutely perfect, if I'd seen it before I posted this I would have included it.