This last week I was involved in an interesting argument. While the discussion started out talking about the evolution of the alpha heroine, that kick ass woman who not only saves the day but gets the man, it digressed. Women are all about celebrating their forward movement, the right to vote, the right to serve in the military and the right to star as our own knight in shining armor. I’m all for a great alpha babe kicking ass and taking names, my favorite books feature teams of the hero and heroine saving the day together.
In books, the alpha hero has been a staple, especially in romance. Since I write romance, I’m only going to talk about that, and since the discussion that spring boarded this conversation was about the romance genre I’m sticking to that.
I don’t understand why readers would be upset about the predominance of alpha heroes. Sure, I can understand not having a taste for the super strong male types, but what I don’t get is why the feminist types hate that role of masculinity. Why, at times, this staple of the genre is crucified for being exactly what you want of a hero.
Heroes are supposed to be strong, leader types, able to take charge and single handedly save the day. It is a bit of a stereotype, I know, but it’s what we celebrate.
During the discussion this was brought up as an issue. I love seeing heroes that break outside of the typical mold, I think it’s fun to read and engaging.
What I think is unfortunate is that heroes have been shoved into a box. They have to fit within certain parameters. The group as a whole had some interesting ideas, that men should be something other than the cardboard cut out alpha. They should be funny and silly and intelligent and amazing. They should be everything we allow our heroines to be.
But don’t let that be confused with the beta hero. The beta hero can be a hero, but he’s not going to be the person who single handedly saves the day. When it boils down to the base argument, there isn’t anything wrong with the alpha hero. He celebrates that old idea of masculinity, and that’s great. Celebrate him. Don’t villainies him.