On Writing

Divas On Writing: Why Do Women Love Alpha Males In Romance?

The question has been asked before many times: Why do women love alpha males so much? Good question, I say. One I have even asked myself from time to time. Given our day and age, many women (myself included) would rather drink gasoline then have a man tell her what to do. But when it comes to entertainment, especially the romance genre in literature, alpha males get a pass. Is it a step back in feminism or a step forward in sexual liberty for women who enjoy reading these male characters in fiction?

Let’s get acquainted with alpha male traits in order to better understand why women and some men (can’t leave out the guys) love them.

  • Domination: This, in my eyes, is the primary characteristic of an alpha male. I’m not talking specifically BDSM themes, although, that can be a factor. In general the male protagonist must feel he can dominate the relationship, the woman, or the situation the characters are in. The male feels the need to control all situations involving the female protagonist or the scene. This can be attractive to the female because essentially no matter the mentality of the women in this genre, they tend to need the domination in order to feel accepted by the male. Which in turn makes them feel attractive and wanted either sexually or emotionally.  There are times the female protagonist will fight the alpha’s domination creating a sometimes witty and very solid sexual tension between the pair. Ultimately, like Katherina in Shakespeare’s  The Taming the Shrew, the woman gives in in the end.
  • For Her Own Good: Male protagonist, either alpha or just a plain old Joe, have been setting women straight about their personal safety and emotional well-being for hundreds of years. Thank God for that (insert eye roll).  The whole human race may have died off if males let females walk off into the throes of danger. Many male protagonists like to point out to the females they know what’s best for them more so than they do or their knowledge is far more extensive than the females. Basically, they are the weaker sex. A little rude, don’t ya think? I have read it so many times, it’s become more of cliché and a joke. Why don’t these male characters think women can do something on their own? It is a inherent need to protect or is it another control issue? It really depends on the character, but oftentimes the male doesn’t think the female is either smart, capable, or responsible enough to do something on their own. If they do think they are capable, they ended up having a hard time admitting it.
  • It’s All About The Money: If you read one billionaire playboy, you read them all. Well, not necessarily, but the characteristics don’t change much. Many playboys flex their internal alpha by means of their wallet size. They have cash, homes, land, cars, planes, no spending limit, and no worry about limits in general. What woman doesn’t want to swept off her feet and provided for by a handsome and wealthy man? It goes back to the most archaic traits of the female gender that no one can argue ever really goes away: The need to find a male to be a good provider. I’m not saying all women search for a man who can provide for them financially, but it’s an ingrained mentality for women to be attracted to the strongest male. Which means the rich playboy is one of the hotter alphas in fiction.
  • Who Doesn’t Want To Be Saved: Alpha males are the best protectors whether  women like it or not. I love reading a hot male protagonist flinging himself into harm’s way in order to protect the damsel in distress. So manly and chivalrous! The knight in shining armor comes to save the day. What woman doesn’t like to be saved especially if it’s a good-looking marine or swashbuckling pirate. Some can argue it’s an extreme form of alphaism when the male protagonist is teamed with an equally physically strong female who can obviously take care of herself. Take Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft for example, she can kick some butt and doesn’t need a male to save the day, but it doesn’t stop Gerard Butler from trying to save her once or twice.
  • Body Types Matter:  Can you name a alpha male you have read that didn’t have rippling muscles, was tall with broad shoulders, maybe tattoos, perfect hair, or an impeccable sense of style? Yeah, didn’t think so. You don’t find many alphas who are short, balding, overweight, and poorly dressed. Where’s the fantasy in that? Heck, even small imperfections with these males can be hot. Hello scars! Women love a scarred or broken man they can fix. Which leads me into the last tidbit.
  • Emotional Past: An alpha can’t be all testosterone. They need to be emotionally scarred or hiding from their past; a past they’re either ashamed of or a past that deeply wounded them. For example, they were abused, cheated on by another woman, they did horrible things they feel deeply ashamed of, or have something or someone from their past who could reveal secrets to their present female protagonist. The point is that alphas need a crutch. They need a vulnerability in order to make them human, forgivable, loved, and redeemed.

So there you go, having one or two of these traits in a male protagonist makes him an alpha. To answer my question in the beginning of the article: Is it a step back in feminism or a step forward in sexual liberty for women who enjoy reading these male characters in fiction? The answer isn’t really simple and it depends on the women who enjoy reading these books. My logic is that it can be a little bit of both.

Women love these men for a lot of reasons. But mainly, they love them because it’s a fantasy. In reality, you would be hard pressed to find a man who had all these traits listed. In return, woman put higher expectations on men in real life.  Call it a form of escapism for women. They escape into the pages of a book to quench their thirst for something they lack at home, something that lacks in real life. These men represent the strongest of the pack, in a way. Women are attracted to power or a man who knows what they want. Is it wrong to read about these males? Nope! In fact, even though I’ve read the same alpha over and over again, the appeal is still the same.

Unlike the trend of vampires, I won’t see alphas leaving anytime soon.


Comments

  1. Love this article!

  2. Thanks for your blog! Those are fascinating questions to pursue. I’ve been wondering about them myself as this type of fiction is so popular. I came to similar conclusions–personally, I’m a Lisbeth Salander type of girl when it comes to my favorite reading, but I imagine no matter how readers differ in their favorite escapsim/fantasy, in them, we have some sort of control, contrary to many real life situations.

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