Alphas

After reading through Caroline Calloway’s Instagram account today I’m baffled. What in the world is an “alpha female”?!

It seems Calloway thinks being an “alpha female” is essentially employing overwrought Machiavellian tricks constantly in order to gain “money, power and fame”. Manipulation? Deception of the public and eventually everyone close to you (you can’t really compartmentalize actual reality)? Totally normal for an “alpha (female)”. Life’s meaning is apparently almost entirely materialistic and all the so-called high-minded virtues are fluffy nothings? And what’s almost nauseating is her insistence over and over that despite making what she calls “smart alpha moves” someone can be “good”.

No. No Caroline. Natalie as you describe her (one of the alphas in her narrative today) is not a good person. Are you?? (She’s obviously fascinating regardless.).

Also, you can’t truly “fake it till you make it”. That’s not a real winning strategy, despite what Calloway seems to insist and believe about herself. AND no. If she’s struggling to pay her rent (that’s under $3,000 a month) she’s not “rich” yet. Even with the media firestorm and her upper-class education she’s not yet part of the upper-class. That’s not how class quite works… She’s upper-middle class unless her father left her millions. She’s upper-middle class unless her family background dictates otherwise (Does it?? I once thought so.). She’s upper-middle class unless she either earns those millions or marries them. It doesn’t come from fame. People have been famous for swallowing goldfish. Period.

*sigh*

But truly, what even is an “alpha female”?! It sounds like a term used by someone who thinks $5,000.00 for one article in The Cut is a big deal. Please! That’s more like a really nice Christmas gift in a truly wealthy family for a 16 year old with generous parents…

Anyway, in the patriarchy (that Calloway often refers to) there are very few true alpha females the way there are “alpha males”. In the patriarchy “alpha females” if they exist are most often killed sooner than later or have relatively short, sad lives. Or they’re lesbians or bi. It’s exceedingly difficult and rare to be alive and be an “alpha female” and be cis and straight (although it happens). Or if they are straight alphas they’re often not obviously alphas (ie they aren’t just women who act like morally messy straight men pretending to be alphas)… The archetypes that exist in the world right now still, still don’t truly and fully allow for cis straight women (especially white women) to be genuineness alphas… And if you try to be truly alpha as a woman (strong and brave and not weak, narcissistic and pathologically self-obsessed) you’ll likely find yourself torn apart at some point by someone who finds you threatening or you’ll be very lonely in some way…not widely admired and praised. Sadly, feminism didn’t alter things quite that much.

Alpha females (when they exist) are the little girls who’s father died young and so they grew up and sent themselves to college; graduated top of their class and then worked and paid for their siblings to finish college too. Alpha females are the brave women who flew bombing missions in Iraq and then came back and worked as pilots everyday quietly in a male-dominated industry. They are not conniving, privileged teenagers who float about from sunny Sicilian coastlines to New York City cafés carrying Staud bags (or whatever); trying to figure out how to “be rich and cool” like their neighbor David Mamet only to find themselves making relatively paltry sums of money for a temporary bit of public attention every year or two alongside a middle-class wage in their late 20’s.

I think a very specific group of people who believe in and reference things like “alphas” (and misuse the term as far as I’m concerned) endearingly or with seriousness must imagine themselves permanently living on the set of the 1980’s sitcom “Dynasty” or they have waaay too high an opinion of things like fame. Real power and real success and real money are terrifying on a certain level. People are vicious indeed. Not just the occasional alphas… And most often non-alphas are the most vicious. The most hot-headed. It takes actual courage and “alpha” to be calm enough, altruistic and therefore genuinely good enough not to destroy yourself and everything in your path when you have real power in your grasp. But I guess such obvious truths aren’t obvious to a lot of people anymore.

No. My family friend Robert (who I wrote about earlier) was a true alpha male. He was deeply heroic. Imprisoned and tortured; losing his father to a Marxist revolution before 18 then escaping from a prison, fleeing secretly to America, and earning his doctorate before going back home and starting a mission (He lived in Ethiopia but visited the US for a month or two every year at most to raise support from his American friends for his mission; almost every missionary or aid worker to an impoverished country has financial aid from a wealthier country in some form. That’s just how it works. This is also why he died there in Ethiopia from malnutrition – he only took what he needed and sacrificed beyond when it came to himself.). Then, of course, he died alongside his people (for heroic reasons) who loved him, respected him and depended on him. People admired him because he was good and because people want to actually live…if they’re sane. And, again, in order to live you have to keep your wits about you and live well with other humans. Leaders grow healthy, sustainable, stable and humanitarian environments. Alphas are leaders or alphas don’t exist. He was an alpha. And I know from what my parents have told me, as his friends for decades, that he wasn’t Machiavellian although he was shrewd and smart. Smart does not equal evil (or conniving).

…I’m reminded of something one of my friends from high school said to me at a Starbucks in 2009. Actually, we almost dated back in high school. He was finishing his doctorate then, in 2009, and now he’s a professor at a fairly prestigious university in New York City (ironically given Calloway’s Instagram pieces today). But he had been such a good guy in high school, and he was and still is an actual friend/acquaintance of mine, which is something males and females don’t often do well (especially over time). Still, “I’m not a good person.” he told me with a laugh that day over coffee at Starbucks. “Oh! Yes you are!” I protested out of loyalty to the kind and tough young man I once knew. “No!” he insisted finally. “I’m not.” And, I couldn’t argue with him anymore. He was positively sure he wasn’t… Maybe, it’s a testament to his previous goodness that he knew he was no longer good. Or maybe he decided that being good wasn’t “alpha” enough. We never did date in high school after all and perhaps he had decided to “better himself” by becoming more of the “asshole-alpha male” who gets…chicks? The male counter-part to Caroline’s narrative of her “alpha female”. ? Oh dear… We never we did date though.

Complex leaders (alphas with issues) are Machiavellian sometimes. Sure. But…as my grandmother used to often love say, quoting Lincoln, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Betas (or otherwise) who call themselves Alphas should be warned. Maybe…maybe…they’re just not good people and should stop labeling themselves otherwise? (I hope not for Calloway.) Maybe they’re just unfortunately ordinary in being (the stereotypical) spoiled, starstruck upper-middle class young ladies-who-lunch who decide to “go to Hollywood” and be Marilyn or Ava “when they grow up”; an iconic golden girl frolicking at the alter of Dionysus. “I know I could be famous. They just need to see my picture! Wait until they hear my voice!” At least, that’s what her description (not necessarily her actual deeds) reads as to me… Time will tell. Time will tell if Calloway and Natalie are actual alpha females.

And yes, I still find Calloway brilliantly intriguing. She is brilliant. Regardless of her “domination” or lack of it…she just is. (Sorry Natalie?)

%d bloggers like this: