Saturday, July 1, 2006

Alpha Dog

Sybil mentioned this blog post by author Lori Foster about Alpha heroes. describes "Alpha" as being "the highest ranked or most dominant individual of one's sex."

Please note, it does not say “being a jerk.”
Foster is right of course, so then how come so many authors get the Alpha male so bloody wrong?

I used to claim that I didn't like Alpha heroes in my romances. Then I quickly realized that I was fine with Alphas, it was assholes I had a problem with. Some authors (and I've read many books to back this statement up) I think go out with the best of intentions of creating a strong male character. However "strong" does not equate raging asshole determined to push back the cause of feminism 100 years. Here's a simple test. If instead of wanting to take your panties off for him you start thinking that maybe you should own a gun - that's an asshole. Since I personally feel there are enough assholes roaming around in the free world, the last thing I want to do is read about them in my leisure time. Color me crazy.
Yep, yep, I’d say Alpha Heroes are very much in control, and controlling.
NOT because they want to take away from anyone around them, most especially the heroine, who they hold in high regard.
I'm a girl with control issues - which is one big reason why I never experimented with a variety of drugs in college. Side rant here: I always get annoyed with girls who say something like, "I was drunk, I didn't know what I was doing!" Puhleeze. You knew exactly what you were doing. Now would you have done it if the alcohol hadn't lowered your inhibitions? Probably not. But if you didn't black out - you knew. Stop hiding behind an excuse and just say, "Yeah, I did it and it was frickin' unbelieveable!"

The problem with the controlling Alpha male (as opposed to the one who just likes to be in control) is that there is a line that so often they gleefully go sprinting across. In order for these fellas to work for me, they need to be paired with an equally compelling adversary. I need a heroine who can go toe-to-toe with these guys. Call them out should they go tip-toeing through Asshole Territory.

But you'd be surprised how many authors will give you the Wet Dish Rag Heroine instead. I suspect because some think that the hero is the show. That romance readers don't really care about anything other than a hunky hero with fabulous man-titty. Not true. Most of us are there to read about *gasp* the relationship. And if one half the relationship is annoying the hell out of us? Not going to work.

So there you go. I like me the Alphas, hate me the assholes.

Oh, and still sick and hating every minute of it.


Alison Kent said...

Jane Porter has the best discussion I've ever heard about alpha males in a workshop she does for various RWA groups. I have the tape and I don't think I've ever heard it analyzed better. I may ask her if I can do a post on it!

Rene Lyons said...

Sorry you're sick!

Now...I like me the alpha too. It's the asshole who ruin the term for the true top dogs out there! lol

Nonny said...

TOTALLY agree with you. It's why I adore JR Ward's novels. Strong *true* alpha males and strong heroines. I love the mix. :)

I've seen a tendency around the Net for people to call alpha males who aren't assholes "gamma" males. I have a serious problem with this, because it sets the precedent that alpha males MUST be assholes. I'm not sure how some women find a case study of domestic violence sexy, but apparently they do, or else they wouldn't sell. *shakes head*

Hope you feel better soon. :(

sybil said...

awww poor wenndy feel better! And read much!