The 20-Year-Old-Alpha*

Posted by JSYL on Thursday, August 16, 2007 in ,
I am an Alpha female. That is, if Frank Furedi of the Daily Mail is to be believed. In nine short questions about the way I prioritise my career, family and friends, a quiz titled “The Rise of the Alpha Female” had targeted me as a ‘well-focused Alpha Female’. If you’re not familiar with the term, try to think of wolves. Yes, wolves. “Each pack has an alpha or top male and an equivalent female, and each top wolf keeps order among the pack members of its gender,” says the Dog Owner’s guide. Not so sure I wanted to be likened to a bitch, I decided to investigate a little further into this so-called phenomenon.

On the surface, the human Alpha female doesn’t appear to stray too far from her canine friends. While the Alpha male is often described as the eligible, career-minded, charismatic guy, us Alpha females belong, apparently, to a totally different breed. Common traits include good looks, an almost unhealthy hunger for success and power, an aggressive nature, and that something extra that sets them just a few steps away from plain old crazy. They are revered, but also feared. Why? Because unlike the Alpha male, it’s implied that it’s somewhat unnatural for a woman to ‘have it all’.

This might be why the most talked about Alpha females are unmarried- Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue magazine- or have enjoyed success following the demise of a high profile relationship- Nigella Lawson , celebrity chef, and widow of John Diamond, Nicole Kidman, Academy Award winning actress and ex-wife of Tom Cruise.

Consistent with the irony that comes with being a woman, their success is often marred by whispers that they’ve slept their way to the top, or only been able achieve their monumental success by neglecting, or choosing not to have, a family. “I would describe the Alpha female as a strong, intelligent, assertive and confident woman. Maybe a bit too preoccupied with their careers and not enough with their families,” said Kevin Ko, 22-year-old University of New South Wales student.

So where does that leave me? Man-eating, career hungry, poor excuse for a woman me? When you get right down to it- an Alpha female holds some mysterious power- and the mystery lies in the patronising fact that she is a woman. But like any self-respecting woman, I could use a bit of power, though, I must ask myself, at what cost? Is it a recipe for success- or disaster?

Perhaps I came into the ‘Alpha spotlight’ by accident. I was probably destined to become a Beta female at best. When I was seven, my teachers worried that my long division wasn’t developing as quickly as the other seven year-olds. Like any parent would, mine worried. A lot. And to overcompensate for this self-consciousness I became pretty good at maths, and started getting decent grades in high school. With a close group of friends, and academic success under my belt, my confidence soared. I went from being worried I’d be an unpopular high school student to pointing fellow students in the direction of the school hall where they could vote for me in the school prefect elections. Now.

I chose to study Law in university partly because I had loved legal studies in high school. But admittedly, my parents’ admonishment that I shouldn’t because of its competitive nature, spurred me on just as much, if not more. These days, I find that I am more likely to achieve things others have told me I cannot, or will find difficulty, in doing. I’m stubborn and strong-willed- I don’t like my ability to be questioned before it’s had a chance to be proven.

But, as I was warned early on by my fellow University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) student, Minji Jeong, guys, especially of Asian descent, tend to be intimidated by just such qualities. “I think a lot of the problems with guys is their egos- if you bruise their egos, in any way its like…’you’re trying to rain on my parade’,” Jeong said.

Jeong defines herself as an Alpha female, “If its in relation to knowing what you want and going for it, then yes I’m an Alpha female.” But when it comes to being proud of her Alpha-ness, she too, hesitates.

“I’ve never come across a guy who goes against what I’ve said…Every now and again you wonder if its because you’re a bit strong, you scare them [guys] a bit,” she said.

James Myint, Jeong’s 21-year-old boyfriend is quick to jump to her defence, “She’s too nice to be an Alpha female,” he said.

But for others, ‘Alpha’ means just the opposite- in fact, for some an Alpha female encompasses the universal qualities deemed attractive by men. “When I see one, I think – wow… I like! I think for the majority of people, myself included, confidence is a turn on, and Alpha females generally express confidence,” said 21-year-old business student Joven Demonteverde.

Gasp! Could it be that wit and charm have finally won the endless battle over bimbo beauty? Could there be- dare I say it- hope for us girls who aren’t afraid to be just as smart and ambitious as any man?

“Two words- Hell Yes. Why? That spark of independence set with deep intelligence sees all and misses nothing. It's in the eyes- there's this something in them that a man can lose his heart in very easily, as opposed to simple lust,” said 20-year-old law student Wai Kaey Soon.

Perhaps being an Alpha female is not so bad after all! But before my fears could be completely assuaged, I was harshly informed that while us Alphas are hot stuff, we shouldn’t count on being snapped up by a deserving partner any time soon, because, in short, we are ‘too hot’.

“Alpha females…are the girls that have hundreds of chasers going after her, meaning that if someone were to go for her, he’d have to…set himself apart from the rest of the hunters. This means added work…” said Demonteverde.

Damn that glass ceiling- it seems to cover everything, doesn’t it? I must admit, at this stage I begin to identify more and more with the plight of the Alpha. Without being too obnoxious, of late I’ve noticed that I have no patience for the average early 20s male suitor. He can be sized up in my books, in about five minutes as belonging to one of three stereotypes:
• The Alpha: walks around with a swagger inherited from either his work colleagues or his wealthy father, and chuffed up with a false sense of self-importance.
• The Beta: cannot and will not share any intellectual interests with you, and is therefore boring to talk to and boring to be with.
• The Gamma: too lacking in self-confidence to approach you, and thus, to bother with at all.

For the sake of cynics everywhere, let’s assume for a moment then, that an Alpha female is, for want of a better word, stuck- desirable, but unapproachable and difficult to please. Surely her ‘Alpha-ness’ will guarantee her (if not love) success in the workforce, which is male dominated, to provide her some solace? Some might argue that only Alpha females can hope to compete with men, particularly in climbing the proverbial corporate ladder. “One needs to be a go-getter. One needs to be continually improving themselves to make sure you always have a competitive edge,” said 22-year-old finance student, Tim Wong.

But any woman can be a ‘go-getter’- to insinuate that this sets an Alpha apart from the rest of her gender would be to assume that women are genetically predisposed to fail.

“Today, any person can go as far as they want, but…the Alpha female has that clarity of vision and intelligence to use any natural ambition wisely and to understand the risks and tradeoffs that a person must make in life, any person, male or female,” said Soon.

And therein lies my epiphany. The Alpha female is not such a phenomenon after all. It simply tries to ‘decode’ the mystery surrounding the increasing emergence of powerful women against difficult odds. To say that all women do not have the potential to become in this way powerful in their own right is a gross underestimation. As for the cost? Will I be single forever? The human, male or female, is a social animal- and I am no exception. But long before I knew who Wentworth Miller was, I had pages filled with lists of all I wanted to achieve before the age of thirty. Perhaps its because a quiz tells me I’m an Alpha female, or because I’m 20 and filled with the idealism that comes with it, but frankly, I think its because I want it, that I think I will, eventually, have it all.

* Yeah this was written 'back in the day' of my 20-year-old youth. But it's still somewhat relevant. =p



even back in the day you write some incredible stuff


aw thanks man...I still think this is Don...can you give me a hint? =p

Hey all that pain with Minji, and I only got one lousy reference. I thought the article was going to be about me me me me me.

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