Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Still dancing!

Thanks to everyone for their thanks. I promise I'll at least post a link here when the webpage and new journal are up and running.

I mentioned a few days ago that I had a discussion with Elizabeth Bear that I thought was interesting. And it touched on the subject of alpha males in romance.

She was trying to understand the appeal and have them explained. She's not a romance writer, and had heard about them and didn't get why they were used in the genre. I'm paraphrasing, and I'm not sure I gave her the best answer. What I said was that I thought it fell into the realm of reader fantasy. That romance readers like to read alpha males because they like to see strong, unbending, dominating and maybe even sexist males being shown that his new partner/interest does not belong only in the kitchen or delivery room, but that she has a brain and deserves respect and to be an equal partner.

She thought that perhaps that translated to the heroine being content to be the special one while other women still suffered the brunt of the Alpha's bad behavior and chauvenism and didn't feel all that comfortable with the idea, herself.

There was a comment in that discussion made that perhaps the concept of "changing" the alpha male fed into dangerous illusions about romance that might be translated to the real world, too.

So how do you feel? Do you like alpha males? Do you feel they do a disservice to the genre or to our readers?


Nonny said...

It depends on how the alpha male is written.

I can't STAND domineering assholes who are depicted as "alpha" males. HATES THEM, YES I DOES. ;)

An alpha male is supposed to a strong, independant man who knows what he wants -- or thinks he does -- and is unrelenting in his pursuit of it. He is NOT supposed to be an abusive prick.

Not to say that alphas are supposed to be perfect paragons of something-or-other, but there's a pretty big difference between a good man who's acting like an ass and a complete asshole that you want to pummel into the ground.

J.R. Ward writes some of the best alpha males I've ever read. While they are strong, independent, and definitely "on the edge" -- they respect the heroine, even though their instinct is to protect her. Is everything perfect? Hell no.

IMO, an alpha male is supposed to respect the woman -- usually an alpha female these days -- as an equal. A true alpha female wouldn't put up with the shit that you see in some romances -- she'd deck him six ways from Sunday.

An alpha male shouldn't need to be "changed" ... though some do change slightly as a result of their relationship, and that's not always unrealistic. When it's the woman who changes him, it is, but when the gestalt of their relatioship allows him to change something he wanted to but could not do alone ... that isn't unrealistic, IMO, although unusual.

... and I'm gonna stop blathering now.

Lyric said...

I agree with Nonny, it depends on how he's written. I don't like domineering a-holes either..don't try to run my life, tell me what to do, thing everything you say is gospel...kiss my ass with that. But a strong, independent guy who'll protect you, love you, and won't put up with your shit...that's my kind of guy.

Jodie said...

Nonny knows all about the blurred line between alpha and dominant ijiots. She pretty much summed it up for me.

M.E Ellis said...

What Nonny said!