Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Real Alphas

What exactly is a macho man? Probably the biggest tip-off to me that a man isn't is when he bellows and struts. To me, true machismo is internal, reserved dignity, contained strength. 

Even macho as we think of it in the wild isn't. Carl Safina enlightens the animal lovers in "Tapping Your Inner Wolf," which explains that contrary to popular and mistaken belief, alpha dogs aren't full of posturing bluster. Instead: 
“The main characteristic of an alpha male wolf,” the veteran wolf researcher Rick McIntyre told me as we were watching gray wolves, “is a quiet confidence, quiet self-assurance. You know what you need to do; you know what’s best for your pack. You lead by example. You’re very comfortable with that. You have a calming effect.”
The point is, alpha males are not aggressive. They don’t need to be. “Think of an emotionally secure man, or a great champion. Whatever he needed to prove is already proven,” he said.
For survival purposes, it just makes sense. The tribe that makes it is the one with effective leadership and team skills. The alpha male is top dog because he gets the job done. 
McIntyre spent years observing wolves. The one labeled "super wolf" fought his enemies like heck to protect his kin, yet was the most affectionate to the little ones. He even pretended to lose in their wrestling games. 
Strength impresses us. But kindness is what we remember best.
Human males and wolves are oddly similar in their roles, although wolves are more reliable as fathers. Wolf packs, also, are not patriarchal; there are also alpha females in the group who call equal shots.

So alpha males and alpha females work together, as partners. Cool. 

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