Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Alpha Female - In MorganO's View

So Jmo had his say on Alpha males. That makes it my turn to voice my opinions on the Alpha Female. He even helped write the check list, or half of it anyway. Keep in mind, this is personal opinion and written without hours, days and weeks worth of research.

Alpha female check list: smart, independent - to the extreme, feisty, can hold her own in any situation, tender but doesn't let it show, doesn't take shit off anybody including the hero, especially the hero, and, according to Cousin Kennedy, if you disobey, she will pee on you.

Research on the net has added – High levels of confidence, knows what she wants and looks for those things which challenge and provide meaning to her. When it she seeks a mate, she looks for a man who is equal, provides intellectual stimulation and brings out the best qualities in her. High self-esteem allows her the safety to surrender to the man worthy of her.

So how does all this translate to the modern heroine? She makes for a layered character you can’t help admiring, even if she isn’t always loveable.

What? A heroine be not loveable? Seriously, the world has spent centuries teaching us that strong women are essentially, well, bitches. And not in a good way.

Romance takes on that subject time after time. The tough exterior, almost without exception, covers a soft, very loveable interior. The reasons for the tough shell vary, but invariably are a protective coating.

Therein lays the fun in writing an Alpha female. The layers must be peeled away like an onion, slowly, and tantalizingly revealing each increasingly tender layer. This is why alpha females drive males to tears….

So, am I an Alpha? Let’s start with Smart. According to IQ tests, yes. On the street? Hmm, certainly not a fast intellect. I have to stop and think things through. Which would probably get me killed were I to meet vampires in a dark alley. Intelligence depends on where you’re standing at the moment. In a dark alley? Dumb. In the grocery store? Brilliant at finding the best bargains. In the kitchen, when I cook, I do pretty fabulous at improvising and inventing. Hey, you gotta work with what you got.

Independent to the extreme? Ah well… again, in context, the answer is yes and no. I really like being at home. Not because I’m a domestic diva, no, I gave up that crown years ago. The smell of bleach does not turn me on like one or two of my relatives by marriage. But try to tell me how to spend my day? Think again. I don’t need my husband telling me how to write or how to promote my writing. As I told him recently, I don’t wander into his office and tell him how to engineer his projects. That led to the silence I was seeking, so I guess I won that round.

Feisty. Um, may I plead the Fifth on that? I’m almost afraid of what my friends - or family *shudder* - would say if asked to supply their opinions.

Can hold her own in any situation? Mostly. But there are times I let my hero do it for me. After all, he needs to feel needed. Which is where the tender emotion comes in. Yeah, I let my tender side show when I feel like it or when my son does something so adorable I just can’t stand it. Or when my husband dropped $500 on my laptop and told me to have some fun at RWA. That melted me… for a day.

Doesn't take shit off anybody including the hero, especially the hero, and, according to Cousin Kennedy, if you disobey, she will pee on you. Okay, so I don’t actually squat and pee on the being offending my command, but I can come up with a deadly list of horrifying chores. Clean the bathroom is right on top. BTW, Cousin Kennedy doesn’t really pee...but if you look like you are going to squat on her turf, watch out.

As for the rest, my confidence has highs and lows, just like anybody else. Do I let them know it? Only if I think letting it show will gain me sympathy and less opposition. I do know what I want and I do seek out things which have meaning and will enrich my life. I don’t waste time on fools, unless I’m feeling foolish. I generally have low tolerance for anyone who cannot make a choice and will step in with a command decision when I see we’re not making progress. I leave room for discussion, but when it becomes stalling, I cut it off. There is always time for apologies later on; a nice bottle of tequila can sooth ruffled feathers.

So, I guess I am an alpha female. There are times people would call me a bitch, but my friends and family know the real me, the deep down, melt into goo, tender-hearted me. Even when they get the rough side of my tongue and temper, in the end they know there’s a good reason for me going off. Usually because they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain and I have to call them into line – again. And yet, stroke my soft belly with love and tenderness, and I’ll roll over and play loving woman to the hilt.

After all, isn’t it a woman’s prerogative to be strong and yet soft? Alpha and bitch? Alpha does not equal bitch and bitch does not equal alpha, but neither are they mutually exclusive. Sometimes we can do both and still be loveable in the end.


Adriana said...

Great blog, Morgan! And you've got quite the alpha female in Frozen, well done! I think the tricky part about writing the alpha female in romance is finding a hook for the reader to like her when she starts out showing only those tough outer layers - something to say come along, she's gonna be worth getting to know. Hmm, maybe that's true in life, too!


jj Keller said...

Interesting. I personally like an alpha female but when writing--I tend to let the soft, southern belle ring through. How do we determine when our female is too malleable? I believe a few alpha characteristics are great for all females, heroine or secondary characters as well.

I enjoyed your blog. Keep writing.

jj Keller
Fantasies with spice and humor.

Piper Denna said...

Heh. Spoken by a woman who knows how to write her alphas! And not just the females, right? I seem to recall more than one alpha male with plans for the heroine in Frozen. Alphas add interest to the story. For me, the more prickly the heroine (as long as she's still likeable!), the better.


Morgan O'Reilly said...

Thank you, ladies! I was nervous about writing this one. I know people have strong views and opinions on topics such as this one. Ah well, it is what it is!

kristybock said...

What a great blog!

Lesli Richardson said...

Bitch, alpha, same thing. I am a bitch and proud of it, because the alpha female will fight for her, family. *LOL*

When writing, I like to go for realistic in terms of personality, even if that means taking one aspect of an alpha female's character to the extreme, like an irrational need for control or something. I don't write soft heroines. *LOL* Soft heroines are bad-guy bait (ie chum *LOL*). I prefer realistic, and in reality, a "soft" woman is pretty damn boring.

At least, that's my my husband says. *LOL*

Jacquie Rogers said...

Good article!

I love reading a good, strong heroine. But I do think there's a difference between being assertive and being snotty, and that's the problem I see with lots of contest entries when I judge. No matter how strong and assertive the heroine is, she still has to give us a reason to root for her, and to invest in her character for 350 pages.