Monday, November 29, 2010

Dueling Banjos OR Venus vs. Mars

Do you hear banjo music? I do. Why? Because it’s Venus vs. Mars Day here at Three Wicked Writers Plus Two, and Brindle Chase and I are facing off! Brindle doesn’t particularly like banjo music—a leftover scar from watching the movie Deliverance, LOL, but I love these little critters, and well, I just couldn’t resist.

Now all of you have come to know me as a woman with as many opinions as she has hair on her head—and I have LOTS of hair. But I’ve found someone who has just as many opinions and probably just as much hair too. Brindle. A man who must have nerves of steel to have joined this almost all female club of erotic romance writers. Kind of like a lonely little petunia in a cabbage patch—or is that onion patch?—but in this case, he’s the cabbage and all us gals are petunias—sorry, Brindle, I can’t be a damn cabbage. That’s men stuff. LOL And I’m a pink petunia too!

Brindle is published with Loose-Id Books, Breathless Press, and The Wild Rose Press. He’s become a regular commenter here at Three Wicked Writers Plus Two, and I like his style. AND--I get tired of talking with women all the time. (Admit it, all you ladies do too. LOL) Plus, Brindle and I don’t always agree. But we DO always agree to disagree. So we decided it would be fun to pick a topic and see where it takes us. Visit his website here: So without further ado, let the games begin!!!!!

Why Men Don’t Read Romances

Tess: They don’t read them probably for the same reason they don’t eat quiche. It’s NOT very manly, now is it? Why isn’t it manly enough? Because there’s honest-to-god emotion in romance books. And we all know men are emotionally constipated, don’t we? Not to mention the fact that modern romances feature a lot of kick-ass women, and it wouldn’t do for a man to read about one of his own kind getting his ass kicked—metaphorically speaking, of course. (Well, sometimes they DO get their butts kicked physically too.)
Brindle: Makes a mental note to spank Tess later for the banjo music and…cabbage? How about a field of wild orchids and I’m the Canadian thistle who has taken refuge in the surrounding beauty? I like that better. Except by nationality, I’m Norwegian…A Viking Thistle?…Huh? Oh yeah, this is totally not about me. Onto the topic at hand.

Okay, in hockey, you know, that man’s sport, we have a saying, “Off come the gloves.” Men are not emotionally constipated. Well, not entirely. We do, however, process and interpret emotions quite differently. The main reason most men pass on the romance genre is the heroes within. These Greek God billionaires, that look like Adonis himself. Romances work for the female reader because she can relate to the heroine. If you can’t, then the story is much less enjoyable. However the male reader will try to relate to the hero but feel emasculated by the hero’s perfection. Not only are they super strong, super rich, super intelligent, super stable, and super gorgeous, but they seem to have received an instruction manual on how to push the heroine’s buttons, but all in the good way. The hero can piss off the heroine and be rewarded by the fiercest sex imaginable. If we mere mortal men try the same thing… we get a week on the couch. In short, we can’t compare, can’t relate, so for most male readers, there is little enjoyment in a romance novel. I like them but confess often the heroes make me laugh.

Tess: Note to Brindle—threatening an erotic romance writer with a spanking has no teeth. And thistle? Is that a flower—or something with thorns? Hmmm…now wild orchids I love. I remember the movie—Mickey Rourke—before his plastic surgery days, of course. What a hunk—great actor too—has this James Dean kind of quality. Saw him in something not too long ago and it looked like…wait, we’re talking about men not reading romance. Okay, back on topic.

When you’re right, you’re right, Brindle. Men DO interpret and process emotions differently. They interpret tears as meaning they might have to comfort, and therefore find something else to do real quick. They process a smile as an overture for sex and all of a sudden they sprout tentacles. Swat one away and another one latches on. Yep, lots of different stuff going on there for sure. Now let me see if I’m getting this right. You say men don’t read romance primarily because of the way the writers paint the hero. He’s not real, impossible to relate to by virtue of his super intelligence, strength, wealth, looks, etc. etc. etc. Interesting. Because almost all romance books are about women who don’t look or behave at all like real size twelve and up women. Do you honestly think we all have those Barbie Doll measurements? Hell no. Do you think we all just appear wearing just the right thing and meet just the right man by chance? That we always land these ab fab jobs and can identify with living happily ever after—and the house is ALWAYS CLEAN? Women, for some odd reason, seem to have NO trouble putting ourselves in the shoes of the heroine even though we’re nothing like the heroine. Do men not do the same thing when they read their spy thrillers? And when they read them, don’t they put themselves in the shoes of OO7? Is it any different than going to a hockey game and watching those dudes out there swing their sticks (just an extension of you-know-what) and getting INTO the game and feeling every swing, every slam into the wall? You’re NOT the player, yet you’re into the game—you ARE the player.

Brindle: Note to self: Tess likes spanking… Yes, we’re in agreement there, Wild Orchid was a hot movie. Of the Zalman King movies, Two Moon Junction was my favorite. Anywho…I think the reason men slink away from tears is they don’t understand them. I confess to not understanding completely, but I’ve never crept away. Making love to a woman, for the man, is not a sad occasion. So if she is moved to tears, he is not stricken with angst to get away from the crazy chick as you imply, but guilt for somehow hurting the woman he adores (At least I would and any man worth bedding in the first place should). I would feel guilt for bringing this beautiful woman, during this beautiful moment, to tears. Women understand why it moves the heroine in such a way. Most men would not. The emotions involved are not the same as he is feeling. His love, lust, adoration or whatever for her is expressed through his physical actions, so when hers are shown through emotional actions, he is at a loss. I concede that. However, 007 is different. We men can live vicariously through James Bond because his thoughts are similar to ours. When James happens upon Pussy Galore, we male readers are in tune to James’ thoughts. She’s easy on the eyes, sleek, mysterious and obviously, sexy. We connect with that, because when we meet a beautiful woman, wrong or right, we naturally appraise her in similar fashion. The romance hero, with all his unending reserves and excess of testosterone, does not. His first thoughts are sometimes how sexy she is, but his actions thereafter attune without any guidance, to the heroine’s emotional needs. He kisses her tears away. Holds her tenderly while she processes her emotional reaction to the lovemaking. A normal guy is terrified by her tears, let alone being clueless how to correctly deal with them. It’s just one example of how a normal male can’t understand or relate to the hero, let alone the heroine. Why is she crying? It’s rarely, if ever explained, because in the genre, it is assumed beforehand that the reader will be female and therefore, not need an explanation.

Tess: Did you know Zalman King starred on a soap opera for years and years before he got into making movies? I forget which one, but my granny watched and just loved his character. And you didn’t get what I was saying. Typical man. I was speaking of two entirely different scenarios. When a woman is reduced to tears, a man runs. Not talking about crying in the middle of sex here—just crying anytime. In other words, their ability to give comfort is seriously flawed. They can’t be bothered—so, of course, they wouldn’t understand and enjoy a romance novel. And men mistake the slightest smile from a woman as a come on. They turn just about anything a woman says into an invitation for sex. A simple look from a woman will get a comment from a man like: “Yeah, she wants me.” Uhhh…NOOOOOOOO. And men can identify with James Bond when the romance hero is far too unrealistic? OMG…I am cracking up here. James Bond. The man who jumps out of a plane with nothing for a parachute but a damn handkerchief, lands in the middle of the ocean, is picked up by a luxury yacht—probably JDepp’s—and his hair never moves? His clothes are never wet? And he’s never out of breath? Puhhhleeeze. You say James Bond’s thoughts are similar to the typical man and therefore men can identify. Okay, here we go. “The name is Bond. James Bond. I’ll have a martini. Whisper of vermouth please, stirred not shaken—don’t bruise the olive.” James flicks a piece of imaginary lint from his Armani tuxedo. “And by the by, is Pussy around? It would be a shame if she missed me this trip. I AM the sexiest man on the face of the Earth, after all. And, of course, if you shot me out into space I’d claim that title as well.” Oh yeah, Brindle. Identifying with James Bond, Mr. Conceit himself, the ultimate commitment phobe, is really the way for men to go. Face it! Men don’t read romance because they don’t want to know how miserably they miss the mark of being what a woman wants.

Brindle: Hmmm, I didn’t know that about Z. King. I remember when his Red Shoe Diaries first came out on HBO, where David Ducovney (sp?) got his start. Excellent little erotic shorts!

Typical man am I? Guilty in many respects, but I contest that I am typical. I think your allusions are warranted, but fall short in several degrees. You promote that men are shallow, but I disagree and contend that men are not shallow. Human beings are shallow. How shallow a person is, is not determined by their gender. I agree that James Bond is an impossible human being, but that is not what I was trying to convey. The romance hero and James Bond are both impossible human beings. But I was trying to show that 007 is who of the two, that men can relate too. Can we be him? No. Not even close, but just as the romance hero is the female reader’s illusion of a perfect man, James Bond is who men wish they could be.

I understand it is shallow to want women to swoon in a cascading wake as we pass through a room, allowing us to pick our flavor for the evening. That impossibly gorgeous women would throw themselves at us with no more effort than a perfectly witty opening line. All men wish this, except gay men and then the fantasy only changes the gender of those they wish would throw themselves at them. But is that any different or more shallow than what the romance reader wants in an hero? A super-alpha, mega-rich, sculpted with muscles, devastatingly handsome, who begs to wallow at the feet of the heroine (who the reader imagines themselves as)?

As for men not reading romance because they fear seeing what women wish they would be like? I agree. The bar is set so impossibly high, they feel completely inadequate for even the least demanding women. I forget who said it, but I contend there is a level of truth to the saying “Women marry men, hoping they can change him. Men marry women, hoping she will never change.” Or something to that effect.

And crying, well…yes. Men don’t understand how to react to crying. We were taught all our lives by our mothers, that big boys don’t cry. If a child dies, we cry. If we lose our wives, we cry. But if we cried because the toaster just won’t brown the bread like we want…the alpha-loving romance reader wouldn’t want anything to do with us. That’s why the alpha-romance hero works where a real man cannot. He attunes exactly to the needs of a woman. He is sensitive emotionally when it is exactly appropriate. Hard as nails, when that is what she wants. But I digress…

Therein should be our common ground. Readers don’t read romance for reality. They want an escape from the real men of her world, because if her man in real life was a romance hero, she wouldn’t have time to read, nor would she need the escape. As romance writers, we know we are casting a fantasy. Our heroes must appeal to the reader’s fantasy, before all else. The heroine must be relatable to the reader. The romance must carry the entire book and leave the reader with feelings of satiation and contentment. But the male reader is often left feeling inadequate and/or alienated, which is why the genre appeals only to a small minority of men.

Tess: I never watched Red Shoe Diaries. At the time I was way too busy to even watch TV. Careers have the tendency to rob you blind of relaxing evenings in front of the tube. So does writing and promotions—but that’s fodder for another blog. And I thought that old saying was “Men marry to get laid and women marry for love.” Lol Now, of course, you’re not typical, Brindle. I was referring to the male population at large. YOU could never be typical or I wouldn’t talk to you. Lol. I do have to agree that shallow doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with gender—although, I do think men have the edge—at least the men I’ve known. And that’s fodder for yet another blog. HA! But back to the subject at hand. You still have yet to explain to my satisfaction why men can read all kinds of books and identify with the men in those books---but can’t identify with the Alphas of romance. The heroes in those books that you do read and identify with are just as impossibly painted as those in romance novels. What I’m getting from you as to why men don’t read romance isn’t so much about the characteristics given to the men in romance vs. the ones you identify with—those rippling muscles, chiseled features, knows just what to say and when to say it, a sex drive to match a god’s, money out the ying yang, etc.—because the dudes in the books you CAN identify with are basically painted the same way. In essence, what I think you’re saying is it’s all about the failure of romance authors to write male POV correctly. Not about how they are painting impossible heroes. It’s a genre dominated by women—and I do mean dominated. In other words, we female writers are not thinking like men. I get that.

Brindle: I still think it stems from the confusion between real alpha males and romance heroes. But maybe I can explain myself more clearly if we look at motivation, rather than actions. An alpha would deck the villain in his way, as would a romance hero. Both want to get to the girl and won’t let someone stand in their way. But the romance hero is motivated by his undying, passionate love for her. The real alpha is motivated by his territorial defense. A real alpha male may not even give a crap about the girl, but he’ll be damned if anything’s gonna keep him away from his property! That’s his bitch and he’ll kick anyone’s ass that trespasses on that claim. A pimp is a textbook example of an alpha male.

So you see, when a male reader reads romance, he’s not seeing it by the actions of the romance hero. He reads an alpha and therefore the hero is a dickhead to the male reader. The alphas we, as men grew up with, were the bullies in school. The lying braggarts in the locker room, and the backstabbing, step on anyone to get a promotion at work, guys. It is actually very hard (I wouldn’t know how) to write it, so your hero would overcome this automatic assumption by the male reader, without detracting from the hero’s appeal to the female reader. I’m not saying women like jerks, but there are enough women who go for these cretins, as is evidenced by the sheer amount of battered women’s shelters across the nation.

But I think maybe we’re onto something here, that it is that the male hero’s motivation is not clearly defined, so the male reader knows right way, this hero is not an alpha dickhead. He’s a romantic James Bond. He resembles an alpha, but his motivation comes from love. A desire to protect the heroine. Not just bang her.

Anyway, I concede, that in general, men may seem outwardly more shallow than women. Where on the opposite side of the coin, I’m sure you’d agree that women tend to be more catty than men. By gender, we have distinct characteristics, but those attributes are also seen in the opposing gender as well, just at lower levels.

I think for men to start reading and enjoying romance novels, the alpha romance heroes need to be a little more like James Bond. 007 is a womanizer to be sure, which is not the quality you want to use in the romance hero. But 007 is a hero. He does good. Fights the bad guys. He is not a bully and does not beat up on defenseless henchmen, unless he has to. Getting to his woman should never be conditioned on having to rely on fist-a-cuffs. If she does, she’s high maintenance, and not appealing to the male reader. Remember, the hero’s actions must be justified to the male mind if you want to appeal to male readers. Fighting for a girl is dangerous. No one really wins in a fight. We men know the hard way, that even when you win, you hurt, you break, you bleed. So she better be damn well worth it!!! Hehehe. So in closing, I think it’s a very precarious endeavor to appeal to both male and female readers with a romance story, which is why it hasn’t really been done well. Movies are more successful in this because men are visual creatures and a well crafted romance plotline is easier for men to digest on the big screen. It’s simply that critical first introduction of the hero that does it I think. Because the audience is overwhelmingly female, the hero must appeal to the female reader, which in turn sends the male readers running.

Tess: So we write pimps, huh? And I don’t cry over toast. Maybe a broken nail. And yep, I think we’re onto something here. Definitions change with their usage. And that’s definitely the case with the meaning of Alpha in romance novels. Alphas are not as you describe them. They might have similar characteristics to the school yard bully you talk about, but by no means are they the bully—that’s the bad guy’s job—the common foe the hero and heroine must thwart together. The other thing that most readers may not understand with romance books—authors too—is that writing male POV can’t be just about the man. Just like that fairy tale happily ever after that we so often argue is not realistic, but is a MUST HAVE for a romance book---the way we write male POV has definite rules as well. Some of those rules are pretty subtle—not easy to get. But there are rules. We’re writing FOR women because that is the nature of the romance beast. Ninety percent of all our readers are female. So we must target those readers. It’s not enough for the hero to say IN POV, “The blue dress looked damn good on her.” Which is exactly how a man would think of a blue dress. Lol He has to say it in such a way that the female reader—our target audience—is entertained by what he says. So he needs to say: “The ice blue dress hugged her body and showed off her ample curves.” Now it wouldn’t work for him to say: “The cobalt-blue gown clung to her body, the shimmer of the silk fabric as it cascaded over her ample curves accentuating her every movement.” Why wouldn’t that work? Because a man would NEVER say anything like that—at least not an Alpha. So in writing good male POV—male POV that entertains the target audience (again, women)— and at the same time does its best to satisfy what a man really would say, authors walk a fine fine line in finding the happy medium. In some instances going for realism is what’s needed (so that first line could work dependent upon the scene) and in others, we simply have to fudge. And because of the fact that romance is basically by women, written for women, I understand why men can’t get into romance. They simply aren’t our target audience. However, with that said, it might do them some good to pick up a couple of romances and see what their lady is fantasizing about. Just sayin’. Lol

Hey! We gotta wind this up—and being a woman—a catty female—hee hee hee—I am NOT going to give Brindle the last word. HA! Take that Brindle! Lol You ladies, and any gentlemen who might be here as well, should check out Brindle’s books. He’s a very talented author with a promising future ahead of him. Download his free read at Barnes and Noble and his latest release from Loose Id Books
Gothic City Lights Stop by his website to take a look at other great reads.

And because Brindle is such a good sport and played along today, I’m going to make up for those Dueling Banjos and give him some “Alpha Music”. The chest-beating kind. LOL


R. Paul said...

An interesting topic indeed! One that I have certainly spent a good deal of time thinking about. Venus and Mars both had their moments here, but the note that I liked best is the final one...why men SHOULD read an erotic romance or two. Yes indeed. Guys, if you understand what your woman is fantasizing about, then your own everyday love affair with your wife or girlfriend can only be richer. As far as approaching things from the writer's standpoint, I have to say I enjoy hanging out with the strong, empowered woman writers/editors/publishers of the romance genre immensely. Venus may indeed be opposed to Mars at times, but I will forever contend that a real Alpha man cherishes and delights in his Alpha woman.

Natalie Dae said...

Lots of fun banter here. Great topic, and very interesting to hear a man's side of the romance reading equation.


Delilah Hunt said...

I loved this interview. I've tried to get my husband to read a romance novel before, but he looked at me like I'd lost my mind.

Tess MacKall said...

R. Paul Sardanas--another lonely onion in our petunia patch. You and Brindle should get together and form a group. Seriously. A group owned by male authors of erotic romance who write m/f pairings. Definitely a unique idea. (Ya'll just remember it was MY idea, hear? lol)

And YEP, men should understand what their woman is fantasizing about for sure. We definitely enjoy hanging out with you too, Paul. And for those of you unfamiliar with Paul's work, take a look at his guest post with us here at

It's more male POV and incredibly interesting. Enlightened Erotica. Paul knows how to write it too.

Tess MacKall said...

Brindle and I had great fun with this, Nat. And yes, it's interesting to hear all of this from a man. Paul has been my sounding board on male POV quite a few times as well. All in good fun. But great to know we have colleagues in the biz we can count on to answer a few questions.

Tess MacKall said...

Delilah...Don't know what kind of romance you're interested in or have suggested for hubby, but has he tried erotic romance? Maybe if you engaged in a little bedtime reading he'd snatch the book from your hands and finish reading it. lol

Erotic romance might just appeal to him more so than mainstream romance. You know how men are. Yep, they're visual, just like Brindle says---but they also have a strong pull toward all things sexual.

I'm thinking another way to engage men with romance reading is to ask for their opinion too--as writers at first. So writers???? Ask hubby's advice when you're writing male POV. You might be surprised at how willing he is to help--how interested in it all he gets. If I had a hubby, I'd definitely ask him.

Madison Scott said...

What a fun post. I'm always interested in male POV. I love hearing what they think.

I can tell you my husband wouldn't read a romance if I paid him.

Tina Donahue said...

Wonderful interview - in between laughs, I read many nuggets of truth. Loved the dueling banjo video. :)

Tess MacKall said...

Not even the erotic kind, Madison? Girl, try reading it to him at bedtime. lol (and report back to me, of course, might can get a book out of that. lol)

Tess MacKall said...

Brindle is fun to argue with, Tina. He never gives up and neither do I. Thankfully, I was in control of the post and got to have the last word. LOL

He's a real sweetheart for sure.

Brindle Chase said...

*nod*@R. Paul I definitely think Alphas are capable, but that particular trait, does not come from alphaness, IMHO. Observe the alpha lion. The huntress kills, but he eats first and his fill. The rest, even the babies wait and hope there is something left over. Classic alpha.

Definitely agree with Tess. If you want to introduce your husband/significant other to romance, try erotic romance. You may even ease them into it with erotica first. If he's really stubborn, try some F/F erotica. He may pretend its not what he likes... but he'll love it! *lol* We men are scandalous at our cores. Hehehe.

Tess MacKall said...

Aha! There you are, Brindle. lol

Yep, you and Paul will get along wonderfully.

And that bit about the huntress killing, etc etc? No different than the woman slaving away in the kitchen just to have the man of the house and the kids scarf it down before she ever gets to sit down to eat. LOL

God, we live in a jungle!

Brindle Chase said...

*lol*@Tess.. Yes, I noticed you snuck in the last word... oh there will be spankings later! Hehehe

Tess MacKall said...

Spankings? Did someone say spankings? Magic word. LOL

Sarah J. McNeal said...

What a delightful post. I loved the banter. I like banjos, quiche romance and men who don't. Love ya, Tess.

Tess MacKall said...

Hiya Sarah...banjos, quiche, romance, and men who don't. Well, that just about says it all. lol And I had a lot of fun with this debate. Brindle is a good sport. Of course, you know I took it easy on him. *snicker* Bet I get a spanking for that one!

Brindle Chase said...

*lol*@Tess. I'm beginning to think you just want me to spank you! Hehehe...

Let me just add, that I think men would enjoy romance if they gave it a shot. Remember, to most men, it symbolizes having to surrender their "Man-Card" to be caught reading it. You should see the looks I get on the bus when reading a romance, with an obvious cover. *lol* Romance has come a long ways from the traditional bodice ripper of the 50's/60's... but still has a ways to go for men to to become a major demographic for its audience. Hehehe.

Anne Rainey said...

Fun post guys!

Tess MacKall said...

Maybe I've been reading too many of my own books, lol.

Hey Brindle...just saw this on a group and I think it's the reason why men NEED to read romance.

"A real man is a woman's best friend. He will never stand her up and never let her down. He will reassure her when she feels insecure and comfort her after a bad day. He will inspire her to do things she never thought she could do; to live without fear and forget regret. He will enable her to express her deepest emotions and give in to her most intimate desires. He will make sure she always feels as though she's the most beautiful woman in the room and will enable her to be the most confident, sexy, seductive,
and invincible...

No wait... sorry... I'm thinking of wine...
It's wine that does all that...
Never mind..."

LOL LOL LOL Hey, it's all about perception.

Tess MacKall said...

It really was a lot of fun, Anne.

Brindle Chase said...

*nod nod*@ Anne... lotsa fun!!!

That's a great quote Tess. Not to bring a cloud over the thread, but in my personal life, it was many of those things that I failed to give my wife and I know I was integral in destroying the romance of our marriage. But never forget that a relationship is both 50/50 and a two way street. Remember to give all those things that a man needs in return. Each detraction lessens his desire to do so for her. But yes... he should not only give those things to a woman, but more importantly, he should WANT too!

C. Zampa said...

Go, Brindle! My hero! Thank you for pointing out that shallow is not a gender issue, but a human issue.

For every shallow man I know, I also know a shallow woman.

And in real life, if a man did the things heroes do in books? I'd run for the hills.

Alpha Shmalfa. Phht. LOL.

Tess MacKall said...

But women already do those things for their man, didn't you know that, Brindle. *snicker*

Love IS indeed a two-way street--so if you find it, you need to make sure the traffic is never congested.

Tess MacKall said...

Okay, CZ...that was spoken like a true Beta-lover. lol

And that's fine. You know I like Betas too---but the Alphas are what I love.

And I'd never run from one of the heroes I paint in a book. NO WAY. lol

Brindle Chase said...

I think there is a man between an alpha and a beta. And might be more like the romance hero. I understand that alpha appeal. As it is reflected in romance novels. But prisons is filled with alpha males... who took what they wanted. We call them rapists. Not funny, its true.

but there is something to be said for a man who knows what he wants and goes out and gets it. I'm not an alpha, but when I set my sights on my wife, I went after her. She was engaged to be married and it was then I realized she was the one. I had to win her away. I invited her to a concert I was producing. I took her backstage, introduced her to the bands and such. All gauging her interest in me.

When I received enough confirmation signals that she was indeed interested, I took her to a secluded area backstage (nothing creepy), grabbed the lapels of her collar and lifted her up onto her tip toes and stole a long, sensual, but tongueless kiss. The whole time, I was vigilant of any indication it was not welcome. There is a line that cannot be crossed, that some alphas forget, because taking for them, is a way of life. 2nd nature. Beta's are sensitive to that fact that maybe she doesn't want to be kissed. however, the beta, wouldn't even try what I did. So I am convinced there is a category between and I fall into that crack somewhere. *lol* Not that I'm like the romance hero, just not an alpha and not a beta either.

Tess MacKall said...

Here we go. We call them Alphas because they have certain characteristics. That take-no-prisoners-take what he wants attitude. But the Alphas of romance are not bound for prison. Their Alpha tendencies are tempered with reason.

As with all words, you take the definition closest in meaning to the chosen context.

In the case of Alpha male, its usage is a noun which basically means "first or dominant". But the only noun usage for Alpha that closely resembles what we intend is this:

"denoting the dominant person or animal in a group: the alpha male"

Now used as a descriptor we have a bit more room to play:

(esp. of animals) having the highest rank of its sex in a dominance hierarchy: the alpha female.
being the most prominent, talented, or aggressive person in a group: the alpha male of investment bankers.

And here's a definition from Wise Geek:

"the guy who seems most at ease with women and can essentially marry or date any woman of his choice. In this sense the alpha male is often good-looking, has a great build, and may have a relatively high socioeconomic status. These distinctions may be less noticed in human groups like high school settings. Generally the alpha male (or a group of alpha males) are the cutest guys, usually muscle-bound, sometimes the “jocks,” while beta males may be less assured around females and may participate in less “male” activities."

And actually, if you do a search for Alpha Male or What is an Alpha Male or any variation thereof--all the sites give pretty much that same description. The dictionaries may not have the perfect definition listed yet, but at some point in time they'll catch up to what romance writers and apparently men and women out there already know.

I can't find any definition for Alpha Male that portrays them as bullies. Bullies are bullies. Can a man with Alpha characteristics be a bully? Yes, he can. But can he be an actual Alpha? No, he can't. Not with the descriptions we find and not with the descriptions that we romance writers know to be true.

Brindle Chase said...

Well, there is no definition to it, but is not exerting/exercising ones dominance over others... bullying? Bullying is most definitely one form of alpha behaviour. Boys learn this at a young age. As do wolves and lions and many other predators. Pecking order, so to speak.

The male alpha act of your definitions, is often achieved through actual violence or by threat of physical violence. Trust me, if alpha males were actually like the romance heroes, there would be no need for the genre! And the world would be a much more peaceful place. And I'd have gotten in a lot less fights in school! *lol*

Let's look at it from a different perspective. Hockey. The greatest player to ever live was without question, Wayne Gretzsky. The Great One. God of Hockey. The most dominant player to ever live? NO... not even close. He was constantly man-handled and I even watched him throw a punch once. He missed by 2 feet and the momentum knocked himself into a pile on the ice at his opponent's feet. The guy, I forget who, just held Wayne to the ice and told him not to get up. He didn't want to be the guy who kicked Wayne Gretzsky's ass. By romance alpha definition, Wayne is a beta. Did he get the Playboy wife? Yep. Part owner of a natonal hockey league team? Yep. Greatest player ever to play the game? Yes!!! Domininant male? not even a little.

So I still content the traits which you attribute as alpha, are not alpha. They can be in an alpha, but not by default. Some of the most dominating, successful men on earth, are a far cry from an alpha. I see alpha attributes as those exemplfied by the alpha male lion or wolf. His dominance is through violent oppression of those weaker than him. Often it only requires the threat of violence to get his message across, but indeed, he is prepared to step on the throat of a weaker man to prove his dominance.

But we already agree that we disagree on the definition of an alpha male. Hehehe.

Brindle Chase said...

hehehe.. and yes peoples... Tess and I go back and forth like this! =oP

Regina Carlysle said...

HAHHAHA. What a great 'dueling post'. Funny stuff. I have to say my darlin' would cringe at the very notion of reading a romance. He DOES get off on Bond and all the macho antics but quickly turns the channel and groans loudly when anything remotely sexy/romantic comes on. Very frustrating. Of course I quickly yell...That's the GOOD part. LOL. I seriously think many men are uncomfortable giving voice to their emotions. Maybe they were taught it's not MANLY to talk about these things. I suspect that's a lot of it. Women are on the opposite end of the spectrum. We LIKE to talk things out, we need to hear the words. My husband's idea of telling me he loves me is to keep my car washed and serviced. I realize it's just his way and I appreciate it but, siiiigh, the words are nice too.

Debbie Gould said...

Oh, Tess, Tess, Tess. Yes, my dear your were WAY too easy on him, but, I am assuming we have other conversations to look forward to.
The tears. My God! Brindle, you automatically assumed the tears had to do with the aftermath of sex. Do all men believe that every action or reaction a female has, ultimately has something to do with the act of sex? "She woke up this morning and brushed her teeth because she want's me" the alpha thinks to himself.
Can a man and woman not have a conversation without it somehow always boiling down to sex.
Which begs the question can a man and woman even be friends without talk or the act of sex. My husband says no. He says no matter how much the male may agree to just friendship, sex is always in the back of his mind.
Is sex a mans ultimate goal?
LOL, slightly jaded in VT.

Debbie Gould said...

And, Tess, you nevermind about what's for dinner!

Regina Carlysle said...

Debbie, I recently talked with some very young guys (early 20's) who say they would have a hard time being 'friends' with girls they DIDN"T have sexual thoughts about. I didn't know quite what to think of that but they were sincere. Brutally honest.

Debbie Gould said...

Really??? Even though they know they could only have the friendship, or do they believe that eventually they will wear down their "friend"?

Brindle Chase said...

*nods* Regina. There is some truth to that. We are taught not to show our emotions, from the infamous, big boys don't cry, to man-up, shake it off you wuss! But I think that's changed much, even in my lifetime. I also believe that will always be a significant difference between women and men.

*lol*@Debbie. It was a poor assumption, but not my only one. Please don't make the same mistake I did and assume that's what I meant. Its not. It was an example.

I will state for the record though, we men do indeed, think about sex an awful lot. A LOT. Really, really a lot. Its a complication with testosterone. The instinctive need to breed. We are hard wired that way. However, no, we can have platonic relationships. Just because we think about sex, want sex and are motivated by sex, doesn't mean we let it guide our every action.I agree with your husband though. You cannot have a friendship with a male where he hasn't at least entertained the thought of sex with you. But, like I said, that's not a barrier to true and meaningful friendship. At least not for the male. I have many female friends and had many sexual thoughts about them, but they are just fantasies. Women are different. To know this about a man, probably freaks them out. Kinda like when a woman cries about something that to us, seems trivial and we men go WTF?

So, if it makes anyone feel better, I apologize on behalf of all men. We are dawgs... *lol*

I'm curious though, do women really not think about sex very often? Never think "I wonder what he's like..."

I have few female friends who've confessed that they think I have really nice hands (of all the things they could compliment me on... *sigh*)... and that they have on occasion fantasized how they might've felt, you, know, had I been single, they'd been single... etc etc... all the usual disclaimers. So I know some women do, and likely no where as often or intensely as we men do. But its there... isn't it? At least a little? Some of the time?

Debbie Gould said...

LMAO! Fine, all the usual disclaimers aside, hell yes, we think about sex, even talk about all you sexy guys with all our gal friends. But, it doesn't motivate our every action the way it appears to motivate our male counterparts.
I recall a conversation between a friend of mine and her husband. He asked her what the hell we woman found to talk about so much. She answered "The same thing you guys do, I'm sure." His comeback..."Pussy?" Funny guy.
Anyway. You men perplex me. I keep trying to find a deeper meaning to the male species and you keep telling me you are basic creatures. Food, sex and being made to feel needed (in no certain order) and you're happy as pet coons.
I look forward to more conversations between you and Tess in order to gain a smidgen of insight into the male mind.

Brindle Chase said...

Hehehe.. It's okay. I suppose we do seem very base and simple to women. Because women are more emotional and spiritual and men are more physical and visual, our depth is measured differently.

For example. If a hot sexy woman walks into the room. I wouldn't be the only guy to take notice, imagine a little or save the visual for later... I know, I am ashamed for myself, you needn't shame me.

But if she starts up a conversation that interests me... say, politics... oh damn!!! I can debate politics until I pass out from sheer exhaustion. I will cease to be distracted by her cleavage or long legs, even her plump inviting lips... no, now I'm deeply and intellectually aroused and sex is forgotten... for awhile.

We men talk about a lot of things. Pussy is definitely one of them... but not a major topic. If said hot chick walked into a room where we men were talking, it would come up. We'd make a few crude comments about what we'd like to do with/to her... but we'd quickly fall back into our conversation about how the 70 and 1/2 hemi Cuda is way nicer than the 69 Camaro... Sports, cars, mechanics, home improvement projects, religion, politics, warfare, WWII (most men love militaria to some degree. I know I do!!)... etc...

Surprisingly, we don't gather to talk about Megan Fox or even Jessica Alba. Unless it comes up and we'll make our crude comments, laugh and get back to regular non-sexual conversation.

Debbie Gould said...

This does make me feel a tad better. Still not totally convinced that your world does not revolve around sex 24/7, but I do have hope now.
By the way, I think the 69 Dodge Super Bee beats your Barracuda any day. Although I do have a special place in my heart for the 1979 TransAm Golden Anniversary Special sitting in my garage. Then again the 1969 Charger was my first car. Used but mint condition. Ahhhh, those were the days.

Brindle Chase said...

*lol*@Debbie.. at least you have great taste in cars! Anything Mopar from that time frame is solid gold muscle!!! See... we talked about cars and I temporarily stopped imagining you writhing naked in my lap!!!! I told you we think about other things!

*ducks for cover*

Well, its not 24/7.. but it is 7 days a week and probably about 15-20 hours of the day. (even when we're sleeping we think about it. Hence, morning wood) *lol*

Debbie Gould said...

Ya had to go an blow it, didn't you. Uh, the decent guy image you had going for a minute. LMAO!

Brindle Chase said...

*lol* I tried... Tess failed to mention I'm a notorious flirt!

Lisa Alexander Griffin said...

Only you, Tess. Only you. lol. Very interesting post, and I'm still chewing on the info. heh.

But, I have to agree, if men read what women fantasized about, they might have a clue what to do with us. :)

Totally awesome topic.

Tess MacKall said...

I haven't had my coffee yet, Brindle. And as you know I'm sick. lol So I'm going to let you have that last pass. lol

Tess MacKall said...

Awww...he washes the car and keeps it serviced. Definitely Alpha. So sweet. So macho. The strong silent type. Yeppppper. You can forgive him not liking the mushy stuff when he does it with deeds rather than words, etc, can't ya, Reg?

Tess MacKall said...

Hahahahahahaha...give him HELL, Deb. That's what I'm talking about. Automatically assuming that the tears were because some man had given her such world-altering SEX. LOL

Tess MacKall said...

And Deb...I KNOW what's for dinner--and it comes with SAUCE!

Tess MacKall said...

Regina, I happen to think that those guys are telling the truth. I've never believed that a male/female relationship can ever be strictly platonic. You might not act on it--but there will always be some sort of sexual tension there. Even if you're not physically attracted---it's there somehow. Just is.

Tess MacKall said...

Oh mean you dudes think about sex a LOT? Wow...and you admit it. Okay, man...tell us something we don't know about men.

Yes, men think about sex a lot--more like 24/7. Right now my fourteen-year-old boy is thinking about sex and he's sick and asleep. But he's got sex on the brain. Trust me. For the past year everything is about sex with that kid. You can talk about paint peeling and he'll make it sexual somehow.

When he grows up, he'll learn to hide it a bit better---but just better--not actually hide it. Like the rest of you dudes.

Tess MacKall said...

Oh Debbie. According to Brindle, all we'll be able to talk about are sex, making him feel needed, and food. We might just get bored. lol Wait a minute...he forgot something---sports.

Pet coon? LOL...I love it. We'll keep plugging away and see if we can find out more about the male species--at least for the purpose of writing him. Not sure we'll ever know enough to live with one in peace. LOL

Tess MacKall said...

He is definitely a flirt, Deb. Anything in a skirt for sure. Typical male. That's why I lovessss him. I love typical males. Actually? As you and I know, Deb, the typical male IS easy to read. Like he says:
sex, food, make him feel needed--sports.

But one issue I have is that needed thing. When you need them, are they ever really around? And if they are, in a way that makes sense?

Tess MacKall said...

Hiya, Lisa. Yep, if men read it, they might have a clue. But they won't because it's not something they need. They feel like no woman can teach them anything about anything and that includes LOVE.

Now I will have to say that Paul is a bit of an exception to the rule here. He's strong and male for sure--but enlightened.

Debbie Gould said...

I must say, Tess, that I thoroughly enjoyed this post and the playful banter. I love a man secure enough in his own skin who will take on us females and give it his all.
Many would stomp away with their ego bruised, but your Brindle takes it on the chin and tries to set us straight. Not an easy task that, lol. Looking forward to more.

Tess MacKall said...

He sure gave me a run for my money, Deb. He was truly easy to work with and I enjoyed every second of it. He definitely has his act together as a man for sure. Make sure you download that free read of his. Good writer too.

I'm sure Brindle and I will find something else we disagree on and it'll find its way to the blog here. lol

Thanks for joining in the discussion, hon. Loved what you had to say for sure.

Brindle Chase said...

Thanks Tess, and everyone else. The pleasure was truly mine. In the course of life that has brought me to where I am now, at least as it pertains to my becoming a romance author... I've learned that romance is priceless commodity. It is extremely difficult to gain and all too easy to lose.

Becky said...

I'm with Tess... guys are more apt to read things that have sexual content in it. I was able to get my husband to read "Carnal Weapon" by Peter Hoffmann due to the fact that it was about women who were hired by the French Government to use seduce American engineers and scientists in order to obtain their trade secrets. It was the first romance book I think he has ever read, but in his defense, it also had a great spy plot (with some sexual content) that made it more enjoyable for him to read.