By Basee Saka
Firstly, where did the term ‘Alpha Male’ come from? What is the definition of an ‘Alpha Male?’
The Alpha Male was first used to describe the leader of a pack within the animal kingdom. It wasn’t specific to any particular species, just particular animals who lived in packs. As with any group, there has to be a leader, how that leader goes about its role varies, but there has to be organisation and that organisation needs to be co-ordinated. The role is assumed, vied for or given.
The other members of the pack have to feel secure that the leader is confident and competent in their role, this is vital to the existence of the pack. This security comes from the leader maintaining the safety of the pack by fighting off predators, protecting them from other packs, finding food, etc. If at any point another animal feels that the leader is not capable of fulfilling its role or has become too old and weak; it will vie for the position.
If the contender should wins, he takes the position and the previous leader leaves – often to wander alone until it dies. If the contender should lose, he leaves the pack and starts his own. He may or may not be accompanied by females. If he isn’t he may challenge another pack leader and take over that pack if successful. Loyalty doesn’t seem to figure too much, ‘the best man for the job’ gets the respect.
The position of Alpha male is a prestigious one that has many benefits. First pick of the food and first pick at the females being the most important. Although this sounds fair, there is more to it. Often the biggest in the pack, he needs to be fed well in order to keep up his strength; a fit healthy animal is more likely to produce fit healthy offspring; much like being a thoroughbred. This cycle ensures the existence of the species.
So what of the Alpha Female of a pack?
She will be the one that organises and keeps order among the females and the young. She will lead the hunt in the Lion kingdom, she will be the lead teacher for the young. She will bear the young of the Alpha Male, depending on the species of animal, ONLY the Alpha Male will mate with the pack females. The rest have to find other females to mate with.
The Alpha Female will chase another female from a pack if that female is a risk to the safety of the pack. Again, depend on the species, the Alpha Female will tend to the young of females who have died or been captured. This role takes, strength, skill and the will to survive. She doesn’t need to challenge anyone for her role, in many of the pack animals, the role will be passed down or assumed. The other females instinctively know their place.
So how does this compare to the human world?
Again, let’s start with the Alpha Male. In society we see the ‘alpha’ role as one that takes being ‘cut throat’ in the boardroom, bully-ish in the home, fiercely competitive in sport and be keen eyed in business. Academic intelligence is not a factor in the alpha male, however, the application of knowledge for financial gain is.
Being a father is not a factor in the alpha male, however having an heir is. Personal achievement comes first, being at the top of his ‘game’ by all means necessary is what is coined as ‘the alpha male’. This is where the confusion starts with the Alpha Female in the human world. It is assumed that the alpha female is simply a female version of the male.
I think historian Professor Joanna Bourke puts it best when she said that some women become “men in drag”?
Where does the survival of a pack come into all this? Where does, nurturing and protection come into this? A perfectly good term used to define the leaders of the animal kingdom, has become a label to justify, selfishness, arrogance, destruction and other traits used to trample over others to satisfy self. We hear of survival of the fittest, yet humans are at the top of the food chain, we are not being hunted or slain by others for food or territory. We hunt each other, kill each other mentally, emotionally, financially and in some cases physically. If the alpha male in the animal kingdom killed off his pack, how would the species survive?
This writer believes, rather than aspire to justified genocide, people need to regroup and look at what is the REAL role of the Alpha Male and Female.
What say you? Enquiring minds what to know. Leave your comment!
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