8.21 Alpha Dogs

There’s a phenomenon happening in our progressive society. Alpha males are realizing that being aggressive and generally terrible is becoming less and less tolerant in our society. But a new persona has emerged which I usually call the Alpha Feminist. On the one hand, I think it’s great that a man being a feminist is becoming more mainstream. On the other hand, I’ve noticed some people using this as a way to mask their behaviour and ideals without actually changing them.

First, to all the alpha males out there: relax, guys. It’s okay, not everything anyone says is directly challenging your masculinity. It’s not all about you. Your masculinity is firmly intact.

Some of my favorite experiences with alpha males:

A few weeks ago, I was on one of my epic bike rides along the lakeshore. Around Dufferin and the bridge from Roncesvalles Avenue, there is quite a large hill. It’s not a bad hill, just a long hill. I’m building my speed and there is a couple - a man and a woman - up ahead of me. They’re going a little too slow for me and will only get slower as they hit the hill. I don’t like hills, I mean: who does, right? Me, especially. So, I just wanted to pass the couple instead of having to deal with them in the middle of the hill. I increased my speed and went to pass them. The alpha male immediately regarded this as a challenge to the very core of his masculinity. As bikes started coming in the opposite direction, instead of letting me pass, the alpha male sped up. So, now we’re riding side-by-side, in a race I had no intention of being a part of. I laid on the breaks, letting him ‘win’ and fell in behind the female of the couple. But he kept going faster, leaving her way behind. So, basically, to ‘win’ our ‘race’, he left his girlfriend in his dust and basically took off on her just to show me up. I hope he enjoyed his ‘prize’.

Walking down Dundas Street West, I came upon a situation that had started much earlier than when I arrived. There was a long line of traffic at a stand still. A bike rider zoomed by a SUV, turned and gave the driver the finger. The alpha male behind the wheel jumped out of his SUV and started running down the middle of the street after the biker. As the cars moved forward and the SUV stood idle, the woman in the passenger seat sat with her head in her hands.

Okay, one more. I met a woman online and we were meeting in person at Three Speed, a bar where nothing good ever happens. As soon as I walked in, she didn’t like what she saw. She was sitting with a friend of hers and soon, an Alpha Male joined us. Her friend and the Alpha Male were making out most of the time, but when they came up for air, I had another situation where I was unintentionally challenging another man’s masculinity. Whatever topic came up - travel, work, etc. - the Alpha Male needed to one up me. I’d say, “Yes, last year I went to Jordan and swam in the Dead Sea, it was fun.” To which he said, “I was in Jordan too! I went to the Dead Sea too!” I could barely get a word in edge-wise without him saying that he had either also done that thing I just said or come up with something better he had done. Again, he 'won'.

Now on to the Alpha Feminist. I used to have more empathy for the Alpha Feminist. I’m in a lot of situations that demand honesty, the expression of feelings and being vulnerable. It’s never easy, but I’m just used to it. I had sympathy for people who struggled with this and perhaps didn’t have a lot of spaces to explore these things. Not so much anymore, I mean, get with the program already.

I met the ultimate Alpha Feminist at a discussion group that was specifically about vulnerability. Let’s put aside the fact that I think a better way of exploring vulnerability is to actually be vulnerable rather than just patting ourselves on the back for being vulnerable. That's another story.


Beside me sat a guy that looked just like Don Draper from Mad Men, which was perfect. Late in the discussion, he launched into a bizarre speech about how tough it was to be a feminist like him. That when he thought of himself as a feminist, this image came into his mind about him riding on top of a white unicorn with his wife and daughter leading the way. As he rode along on the unicorn, other men kept coming by and tried to knock him off the unicorn. But with his strength, he was able to be a role model for his daughters because they could see that no one could knock him off the unicorn.

Yes, I’m as confused as you are. There is a lot to unpack here. Why a unicorn? Why was he higher than his wife and daughters and not more equal with them? I mean, this was his phantasy. Why were other men trying to knock him off his magical feminist unicorn?

All I know is this: it’s great that our Canadian Prime Minister identifies as a feminist. But, we still have a long way to go.

Paul Dore