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March 13, 2023

Alpha Men ~ a guest post by Rose D. Patruno, author of HIDDEN HEIR

Je pense des femmes comme Vauban, des citadelles. Toutes sont faites pour êtres prises. Toute la question est dans le nombre des jours du siège.

[I think of women as (Military Engineer)Vaubans thought of citadels. All are made to be taken. The issue is the number of siege days.]

—Victor Hugo
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book cover of fantasy novel Hidden Heir by Rose D. Patruno
March 2023; Indie; 9782958598808
ebook, print (450 pages); fantasy

"Inga woke up late after pulling another all-nighter cramming for her finals. In the kitchen, breakfast was ready, as usual, and dishes were done and put away, as usual. Once, Biagio told her it was normal to share the load of their household. So Why did she feel something was wrong?"

For a long time, I considered the Alpha Male toxic and set a terrible example for impressionable young girls. The strong, confident man, who will choose for you, is something I'm afraid someone like Andrew Tate would imagine. an Alpha man, doesn’t that sound more like a sci-fi villain from Star Trek or a Marvel movie? On the other hand, we're conditioned to think of a sensitive, intuitive, and respectful man as a Beta man; I prefer to think of them as a "better man."

We take it for granted that little girls dream that one day their prince will come, just like it's normal to wish for someone to take care of you, even if it's just to build your brand-new IKEA Billy bookshelf because you've got two left hands—sometimes it's better to leave things to an expert. But if you've followed the British Royal Family, then princes aren't what they used to be. 

The media know it and thus delights us with the Bad Boy who redeems himself thanks to the Heroine or the micromanaging hot Zillionaire CEO whose heart melts for her only. Otherwise, we would miss all the "I don't blame Disney for my high expectation of men" memes. When you think about this, it's like a used car dealer advertising a "fixer-upper with two flat tires, no brakes, and a family of raccoons living under the hood." So why should you celebrate all that hard work? Can't you get a handsome prince who works and has a new car smell?

I find many romances very masculine and aggressive, even when written by women. A woman's heart or hand in marriage is a citadel to conquer. Maybe like a sports match or a fantasy battle. Your Heroine shouldn't be a goal with muddy footballs kicked at her, nor is she a dragon defending the treasure of her heart from a rapacious knight. When you read romance, you’re often reading about the Heroine you’re rooting for being defeated, and you’re supposed to cheer?

At the same time, we must remember that we deal with people rather than fictional heartthrobs.

What would some of these men be like in real life? Would the dragon-slaying prince let you pay half the bill if you got a bonus (or generous royalties payment)? Would the usually excellent and aloof billionaire philanthropist be a buzzkill at your work Christmas party? And would a confident man in charge be genuinely scary in the bedroom? 

These guys are a trope, and that's all. In the same way, your boyfriend can read about a heroic knight dueling for his lady's honor without getting into a barfight. Or play Grand Theft Auto without getting shot by the police.

Of course, as a grown-up woman, you can roleplay it as part of a healthy relationship. Imagination is the most sensitive erogenous zone in the body.

On the other hand, this can be very harmful for an impressionable young woman if she’s unable to make reality from fiction . Just like we, for good reasons, don't glamourize smoking, drinking and doing drugs for the sake of children; why would we romanticize destructive relationships? During adolescence, a time for firsts experiences, feelings are felt at their most extreme degree, and relationships are considered exclusive. The girl has not yet enough life experience to see the forest for the trees or the red flags hanging from them. And that someone professing Love for you can sometimes be a warning sign.

This is why the Alpha Male stereotype is so dangerous. It romanticizes the red flags of an abusive relationship; it gilds the possessiveness and control, normalizing the desire to keep the girl in a depending, child-like condition. It throws smoke into the girl's eyes, twisting the emotional, psychological, and eventual financial abuse into proof of affection. We still have the cliché that little boys hurt girls because they secretly like them.

As someone on Reddit said, "if *Alpha Male* lived in a trailer park, this would be a horror story." Indeed, couldn't Silence of the Lambs be read as a romance between Clarice and Hannibal?

It's a dangerous cliché; it should be viewed carefully. But, even if it's more dramatic and passionate than the "sensible girl and the suitable guy," that may be what most women are genuinely looking for.

I've found too many negative relationship examples in books and movies but not enough positive ones, and we desperately need these. Funnily enough, Disney seems to be leading the way with, for example, Kristoff in Frozen.

I prefer to think romance could be like Music. There is no "winner" or loser": in an orchestra, the goal is not to be louder than the other, but to play in harmony to make beautiful music together. Indeed, it's a better metaphor for Love than winning a battle. When you are two musicians, you create something beautiful together by working together and listening to each other to become one wonderful symphony. You can create something unique and new, both becoming creators. 

Indeed, the Grand Romantic Gesture is meant to sweep us off our feet, but how many times is it proof that Alpha Male has become someone who is still strong, confident, and protective but listens and cares about his partner's opinion and treats her as a peer? If it were in a book aimed at guys, the grand romantic gesture would probably be a Professor Evil device to be foiled by James Bond before it annihilates the defenses of the UK.

As they say, write the book you want to read if you can't find it.

I wanted to offer a positive alternative to show that a more balanced and respectful relationship can be just as exciting and dangerous in a different way.

I won't hide behind my fingers. Biagio started as the classic Male Lead; however, he slowly evolved into the person Inga needed the most at that point of her life and somebody I might not avoid at parties (or talk Inga into dumping). Someone who stands by her side, listens to her needs and desires and believes in them. Someone who respects her choices and watches her back while she faces the world's dangers instead of locking her in a gilded cage "for her own sake." If there's a dragon to be slain, they'll do it together.

Moreover, his being the love interest only affects the romantic subplot: he could have stayed the guy who tutors Inga or becomes a friend, which would have changed little to nothing. He would have been cool if Inga chose someone else or none. He respects and loves her, but they're not the same.

Is Biagio perfect? No, and I'm not referring to him choosing one of the fugliest cars ever constructed. However, he does his best to help Inga nurture her potential and become who she wants to be. Even if she may feel more valued and accepted if he picked her up in a cooler ride, like a Peugeot 306, but not a Bugatti, those are for little boys.

"So why did she feel something was wrong? It was because she wasn’t living in one of her best friend’s romances, and being conditioned by the Alpha Male trope; she felt guilty about being respected as a person.

Buy Hidden Heir at Amazon

About the Author Rose D. Patruno

From her youth spent in Puglia, a wild region in the south of Italy, Rose D. Patruno has retained a love for the culinary preparation of beautiful natural products. And when still a teen, she decided to become a writer without knowing anything about this world; Rose never imagined for a moment what her path would be. At the age of twenty, she defied the path laid out by her patriarchal family and escaped, leaving her family and this region behind, to follow her own passion - that of art and literature to discover Paris. There she took art classes, immersing her creativity between anatomy morphology and the art of watercolor along with Theater, which sharpened her sense of observation and her art of human portraiture - two skills she offers in her writing. Later, she developed her knowledge of pre-Christian myths, a passion she shares with her husband. Her life as a writer comes from a well of decisions and encounters: “A novel may begin life as an anecdote, but sharing is where it is truly born. It is not something that we premeditate. But the desire to have amusement and excitement can only stem from our original creations for which the inspiration flows from our own memories - the surprises of life".

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