Quit Shoving The Elephant In The Closet!

I’ve read several posts (read: rants) over the past few weeks regarding alpha males. General theme: Alpha males don’t have to be assholes!

And they don’t. I’m behind that 100%. There’s nothing that pisses me off more than a “romance” novel that reads like Domestic Violence for Dummies. Let’s see, an “alpha” male who’s testosterone-poisoned “dominant” to the point of pitching fits over every petty little detail, puts the heroine down at every turn, has absolutely no consideration for her, period … and we’re supposed to think this guy is a hero because he’s 6’+ and has a big dick? Oh, right, cause the heroine, in the end, loses her fucking mind, decides she wants to give up her career and life, settle down with Ye Olde Abuser, and pop out dozens of his spawn. (Note: I have nothing against heroines who want kids. I have issues with “epilogues” where the heroine who has vocally opposed kids earlier in the book changes her mind after marrying the hero. Gag me with a fucking porcupine.)

Yeah. Agree all the way on that.

But I’m very disturbed by the recent trend of calling alpha males who are sensitive and considerate of the heroine “gamma males.” I have a serious problem with it, because doing so misrepresents alpha males as abusive assholes. They’re not supposed to be and they don’t have to be.

Look, I like alpha males. A lot. When they’re done well — go read J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood novels or Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy for examples. To me, there’s nothing hotter than a strong guy who can take charge and lead, who is man enough to not be threatened by a strong, dominant woman. The heroine should be his
partner — not his fucking lapdog to sit on the sidelines while he Saves The Dayâ„¢.

Calling true alpha males “gammas” is, IMO, ignoring the entire issue altogether. “Okay, there’s too many assholes wearing alpha suits running around, so we’ll just call them gammas.” Uh. No. I don’t think so. It doesn’t help that I’ve seen several alternate definitions of “gamma,” so how the hell is anyone supposed to know you’re talking about a decent alpha male? Really, now. Shoving the elephant in the closet isn’t going to do anyone a damned bit of good.

Where do you stand on the issue?

(Note: A random person who comments on this entry will win a free copy of my e-book, Waking the Shadows.)

8 Replies to “Quit Shoving The Elephant In The Closet!”

  1. I tend to stay away from these debates — mainly because I rarely see the bad side of alpha males any more. Yes…back in the eighties they were the norm — but people have to get over it now. For the most part (there are a couple exceptions but everyone knows who they are and if you don’t like it don’t read it 😉 ) the abusive alphas are a thing of the past. At least in print publishing. I don’t read many ebooks so I’m not sure what the situation is like there.

    I think labeling the heros as one or the other is limiting in the first place. A well developed character will stand on his own and catch my interest whether or not he’s alpha, beta, gamma, omega, or whatever other greek letter some one feels the need to use.

  2. StormeRider said: I thought gamma was referring to the sensitive/emotional type of men who aren’t alphas… so really not a good term for use.

    You’re thinking of “beta” males there. “Gamma” is sometimes used to refer to a combination of the two.

    Amme, to my understanding, it can still be an issue with epublishing, esp. since most epubs are open to kink — and not all authors portray a dominant male worth a damn. As for print publishing — well, maybe it hits me hard because first several romances I read were published within the past five years and did have abusive heroes. (They weren’t by Bertrice Small, either, but a then-new author.) It isn’t as much the case anymore, true … but I don’t think that there would be as much protest against it if it never showed up these days. *shrugs*

  3. As for print publishing — well, maybe it hits me hard because first several romances I read were published within the past five years and did have abusive heroes.

    Well, another thing to keep in mind is that we all take our personal history into it and it’s possible what you see as abuse isn’t what others see. I know a lot of people find the Heros in Harlequin Presents as borderline abuse, but to me the majority of them aren’t either because I haven’t had any experience with abuse from a romantic partner or just because I put my own mental spin on what’s going on and that casts the hero in a better light, who knows.

    Once you put kinks into the mix…I can definitely see where writers could be crossing the line. Especially with the dom/sub relationship which just doesn’t do much for me at all as they feel borderline abusive even though to those in the lifestyle it’s not. This is, once again, where personal styles and tastes and histories come into play.

    Which is why I usually stay out of these discussions. 😉 It’s easier that way.

  4. Amme said: Well, another thing to keep in mind is that we all take our personal history into it and it’s possible what you see as abuse isn’t what others see.

    Agreed. That being said, if I feel very strongly that the hero is abusive, I’ll look up reviews — and if a significant number of people outside the author’s “groupies” think the hero is abusive, then it’s just not me.

    Especially with the dom/sub relationship which just doesn’t do much for me at all as they feel borderline abusive even though to those in the lifestyle it’s not.

    See, I’ve been involved in the lifestyle, and what pisses me the fuck off is when it’s misportrayed. The dominant is not actually the one “in control,” and when it’s portrayed as though it’s the case … *grr* But that’s a whole ‘nother rant entirely. 😉

  5. I agree. Alphas are not inherent assholes and I really hate that whole gamma thing. As far how the d/s community gets portrayed in some books, it’s best if I just don’t get started lol!

  6. Hmmm. I have used alpha/beta/gamma designations, but I don’t consider a gamma to be an alpha with a sensitive side. Why can’t alphas have sensitive moments? In fact, I love seeing an alpha hero metaphorically brought to his knees by love.

  7. Loribelle: Me, too. The whole d/s thing is a looooong rant.

    Lia: Yeah. This is why I have a problem with “gamma.” Hardly anybody can agree on what it means. >_<

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