There’s a new(ish) man in town. A stereotype called the beta male is roaming the streets.
Unlike a former holder of the post, the alpha-hole, Mr Beta is not cruising to pick up a one-night stand. Mr Beta has likely got a leash in his fist with a yappy toy poodle attached to the other end of it and dragging him along.
Where the alpha-hole—he of the chiselled jawline and sculpted body—inhabits bodice-ripping, historical or Mills & Boon novels, Mr namby-pamby Beta mostly inhabits clean and wholesome/sweet romances. A genre that allows maybe the odd kiss, but not kissy-kissy. So, hands-off, no foreplay. Kinda reads like a children’s book, no? And yet, this genre is growing in popularity. Do lots of modern women want chasteness restored? Are women wanting to grow back their hymens?
Sorry, it’s like saying sex is unnatural; like saying sex is a dirty word (and you can’t use any of these either in clean and wholesome).
Well, I say, gimme dirty, baby, baby! You know, like in the movies. Go ahead and leave a trail of clothes strewn here and there—jeans, T, bra and panties discarded haphazardly; go ahead and knock the tchotchkes off the side table en route to the bedroom. But …
When you remove my bodice, would you mind very much not ripping it? And can you please make sure that the stuff you knock off the furniture is unbreakable? I’ve probably forked out a shitload for the threads and knick-knacks, so can we just leave them intact?
These demands rule out the alpha-hole, who probably already lost some gravitas when female protagonists grew balls and started wearing power suits.
It would have been around this time that beta-man gained a foothold. With woman on top, she needed a counterpoise. So, exit, alpha-hole; enter, beta male.
Oh, beta-dude might drag ballsy chick off to the bedroom, but he’d likely stop and pick up and fold each item of discarded clothing along the way. Before long, he’d become pussy-whipped, and it follows that she’d get bored with him.
The logical solution, then? A middle-ground approach. That would be the alpha male. He’s a nice balance between the two aforementioned male stereotypes. Or is he?
There are some variations in what constitutes alpha and beta-blokes. Here’s the thing, though. They’re constructed along the lines of the fairy-tale framework with its cardboard cut-out characters. And that’s the trouble with stereotypes. They’re continually revised and cleansed versions of a former poster child, with the original buried under it all. And the new and ‘improved’ versions can lack substance, or don’t display much of it.
Beta doesn’t do it for me. I don’t want the kind of male character I feel the need to breastfeed. And alpha-male? Warrior. Stand-up guy. James Bond-ish. Knight in shining armour. Probably doesn’t fart. Well, I do, so I’d feel un-alpha and inadequate against him. Anyway, I don’t need someone to rescue me.
Some of the male characters in my books are alpha-holes, alpha and beta males. But they’re caricatures to draw attention to the idiocy of defining people by a limited bunch of traits. My male lead, on the other hand, is so much more because, like in the earliest uncut stories—the Greek myths—I want a complete person. Not a barbarian, who acts on all raw thoughts, feelings and impulses, of course. But one who can admit to these aspects of character that moralism has shamed us for even having.
So, you can keep your alpha-holes and your alpha and beta males. I want the whole bloody alphabet. Give me an alpha-beta-gamma-delta-epsilon-zêta-êta-thêta-iota-kappa-lambda-mu-nu-xi-omikron-pi-rho-sigma-tau-upsilon-phi-chi-psi-omega man!
Complicated? Maybe. But real, and that much more interesting.
Paula Houseman was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing.
She found she was a natural with the double entendres (God knows she’d been in enough trouble as a child for dirty wordplay).
As a published writer of earthy chick lit and romantic comedy, Paula gets to bend, twist, stretch and juice up universal experiences to shape reality the way she wants it, even if it is only in books. But at the same time, she can make it more real, so that her readers feel part of the sisterhood. Or brotherhood (realness has nothing to do with gender).
Through her books, Paula also wants to help the reader escape into life and love’s comic relief. And who doesn’t need to sometimes?
Her style is a tad Monty Pythonesque because she adores satire. It helps defuse all those gaffes and thoughts that no one is too proud of.
Paula lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. No other creatures. The kids have flown the nest and the dogs are long gone.
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Odyssey in a Teacup
Encounters with a pair of supersized Y-fronts; a humourless schoolmarm with an unfortunate name and monstrous yellow incisors; and a tut-tutting, big-breasted, modern-day gorgon are the norm for Ruth Roth. She’s used to crazy.
Her mum squawks like a harpy and her dad has a dodgy moral compass. Add in daily face-offs with a relentlessly bitchy mirror, and Ruth’s home life feels like a Greek tragicomedy.
She hankers for the ordinary. But blah is not a good fit for someone who doesn’t fit in. And isn’t meant to.
Ruth’s vanilla existence is an issue for her besties—her hot-looking, obsessive-compulsive cousin and soul mate (who needs to do everything twice-twice), and her two closest girlfriends.
With their encouragement and a good homoeopathic dose of ancient mythology, Ruth embarks on an odyssey to retrieve her spirit. She’s confronted with her biggest challenge ever, though, when one of these friends sends her spiralling back into a dark place.
The decision she must make can either bring her out or launch the mother of all wars in her world.
Purchase: Amazon UK
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As part of the blog tour I had the honor to have Paula as a guest in the blog. It’s an amazing post that I’m happy to share with all of you. Thank you Paula for being a guest!
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