Comments on: Alpha Malaise /2010/12/15/alpha-malaise/ A feminist pop culture adventure Thu, 16 Dec 2010 12:04:52 +0000 hourly 1 By: wererogue /2010/12/15/alpha-malaise/#comment-325 Thu, 16 Dec 2010 12:04:52 +0000 In reply to Sarah Cook.

I see your point – objection withdrawn ;)

By: Sarah Cook /2010/12/15/alpha-malaise/#comment-324 Thu, 16 Dec 2010 11:24:52 +0000 In reply to wererogue.

Hey wererogue,

Thanks for that – much appreciated and great links. When I put in order to “win” the female must “lose” I was thinking in terms of mf sexual-social relationships, the stereotype of the woman submitting to the overpowering dominance of the man. What I wanted to say, and perhaps did not express myself especially clearly, was that those sorts of relationships can be damaging for both parties because they express sexual relationships as a permanent and non-negotiated (non-consensual) power-exchange which is normalised, and in many instances, validated and supported, by mainstream societal prejudices and media. The whole “ug caveman!” thing.

Yes, women also could be seen as competing for alphas, which isn’t something I touched on much in the article, although female/female competition is an issue I do want to write about.

By: wererogue /2010/12/15/alpha-malaise/#comment-323 Thu, 16 Dec 2010 05:07:44 +0000 In reply to Rob.

There’s a great interview about the (non-) existence of Alpha males among Wolves in nature here:
From an excellent article about the folly of dominance methods of training dogs, here:

I really like this article, and support its message and intent. The one phrase I’d dispute is “In order to “win” the female must “lose”” – as I understand it, the woman is also competing for a high-status mate. But our societal ideas of status (including “Alpha”-status) are really messed up (prizing features that don’t provide value equally) which means that the competition is too, especially in a society that supposedly values emotional connection over biological imperative.

By: Jenni /2010/12/15/alpha-malaise/#comment-322 Wed, 15 Dec 2010 15:12:27 +0000 In reply to Rob.

Love this article, S. Especially the conclusion.

As Rob mentioned animals, I’m mention something I’ve been thinking about for a while…

I really want to do a post on gender as it relates to animals and humans. So much of our ‘common knowledge’ about the animal world is wrong, and/or interpreted through the eyes of a patriarchal society. Just this week a guy tried to tell me about how ‘scientists observed monkeys inventing prostitution’. Feck off. Sounds like some scientists don’t know what the term ‘anthropomorphism’ means.

See, some see lion prides and think ‘oh hey look, the females do all the work and the ‘alpha male’ gets to sit at home and have sex with lots of females, it’d be great to be a male lion’ like the lion with the mane is a guy whose many wives keep him and bring him his dinner in front of the TV every night. Truth – no-one would want to be born a male lion. They have very little chance in the world, thrown out of the pride before they mature, many of them die, some never find a pride… whereas the female get to live with their family group and chase and kill furry things (er, cats LIKE to do this).

Also, compare the way we view, say, a queen bee, where we almost view HER as a victim, being made ‘fat’ and pregnant all the time. Er… what’s the difference between her and the lion, (both the waited-upon sole sexually active member of their group who take no part in childcare) except that we as humans seem to believe that females don’t like to have sex…

Also the people who imagine that dominant men are ‘monkey’ men have clearly just decided to ignore the matriarchal primates out there!

And don’t forget matriarchal elephants, dolphins, hyenas, killer whales, buffalo and horses, there goes ‘stallion’ as a synonym for ‘alpha male,’ then…

Possibly some kind of pun on the animal ‘kingdom’ or ‘kings’ of the jungle’, for a BadRep series. Hmm.

Feel silly doing it though as most of my knowledge about animals comes from books I had as a kid and watching animal shows on TV… anyone know any friendly zoologists?

By: Rob /2010/12/15/alpha-malaise/#comment-321 Wed, 15 Dec 2010 12:27:32 +0000 Interestingly, the whole alpha concept mostly seems tied to wolf packs when people think of alpha animals in nature, but they don’t actually have anything like that heirarchical structure naturally. If I remember some old books right, wolves only do the whole alpha thing when they’re held in captivity and not allowed to walk away from each other; in the wild they live in family units and bud off to form new groups instead of squabbling over dominance.

So yes, the alpha male concept is a mistake in animals too, arising from us messing with their lifestyles.

By: fishandsteak /2010/12/15/alpha-malaise/#comment-320 Wed, 15 Dec 2010 11:17:19 +0000 I am very proud to not be an Alpha-male! I’m hardly the strong and silent type, more the round and laughing type. Added to that, I work in a profession where asserting dominance over your colleagues means that people might die (I’m training as a nurse) and I have no interest in being the alpha male or anything else of my social group.

The fact that there is a strong “male dynamic” that wants us to be Alphas is disturbing, as you rightly wrote above. I find it more disturbing that so many men want to believe in this ideal, not realising that it’s the characteristics found in the victims, not the bullies, that will ultimately come out on top. I think it was Glee’s Kurt who told bullies “one day you will all work for me” just before being thrown in a dumpster. For some reason men still think that to be the bigger man is a literal, not metaphorical, term.

By: Russell /2010/12/15/alpha-malaise/#comment-319 Wed, 15 Dec 2010 11:08:42 +0000 Thank you so much for saying this. I probably should have more to say but I don’t, so just… thank you.