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Alpha Males and Alpha Females

sexual abuse photo The term “alpha male” comes from studies of animals. The dominant male animal in a particular group is called the alpha male. Alpha males are able to compete with other males and rise to the top of a tribe. They can then have just about any female they want, and because of their position of power, they can exploit these females. Recently the term has been applied to humans, and the human alpha male, like the alpha males of lower animals, tend to use their positions of power to exploit women.

The recent rash of accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior, sexual harassment and sexual abuse by males in high places can be seen from the woman’s side, but there is also another side that has been shut down. The other side contends that in reality this is an attack on alpha males by alpha females and the people who are dominated and influenced b them.

One of the recent celebrities to be accused of sexual harassment was Charlie Rose, a television personality known for his gentlemanly interviews. Nine women have come forward and described various improper behaviors on his part. The Washington Post first reported on eight women had charged him with “unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd phone calls, walking around naked in their presence, or groping their breasts, buttocks or genital areas.” Rose apologized for his conduct, saying he didn’t realize his behavior was harassment. He was immediately fired by CBS and PBS and assumed guilty without a trial, without a verdict, without a sentencing by a judge.

The focus in each case is on the man or men. It suddenly appears that women all over the media are expressing criticism about and suspicion of men. The spate of accusations makes it seem that men in general are sexual predators that can’t be trusted. They make it seem that all men in high places, men with positions of power, need to be monitored. Indeed there have been some notions that have been floated around that men are innately sexists and that white men are particularly sexist as well as racist.

Although feminists have contended from the inception that their goal is equality between men and women, their emphasis at present is entirely on the feminist interpretation of equality. For example, the present outcropping of accusations of noted men by women has been almost always reported from the women’s side. It is assumed by most that each of the men is guilty, whether he denies it or not, and there is a rush to judgment about the men. Often, like Charlie Rose, the men lose both their reputations and their jobs. One of the slogans of feminism is that “women should be believed” when they report sexual abuse. Hence there is a tendency by people, both male and female, to accept the accuser’s version of the events they describe without question and to shut down anybody who expresses an opinion that is different from theirs.

This occurred when Geraldo Rivera took to Twitter to complain that “News is a flirty business & it seems like [the] current epidemic of #SexHarassmentAllegations may be criminalizing courtship & conflating it [with] predation.” Rivera’s employer, Fox News, made him apologize for his tweet, and indeed we have had a plethora of apologies over the last few weeks by men.

However, just as there are alpha males, there are also alpha females. Males are not the only ones who get into power positions and use their power to exploit women. Women also engage in inappropriate conduct, harassment and sexual abuse of men. However, while male sexual misconduct and abuse has to do with exploiting women’s sexuality, more often than not alpha females use their power to psychologically castrate men, which means they dominate men by taking away what feminists call their “cock privileges.”

In fact, the ways in which alpha females castrate men can be seen in the manner such women have recently gone after male sexuality. There seems to be a lynch-mob mentality among such women, an “off with their heads” attitude. Alpha females are unable to make distinctions and they classify men who come on to women in a clumsy way (“misconduct”) in the same category as men who rape women. Misconduct is not a crime while rape is, and a distinction needs to be made.

Garrison Keillor, the elderly humorist who for years distributed a folksy show called, “A Prairie Home Companion,” was fired after a woman accused him of inappropriate behavior. Minnesota Public Radio didn’t explain (which has been the case with many of the recent firings), but Keillor addressed the incident by immediately saying, “I put my hand on a woman’s bare back,” he wrote. “I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.”

This may be a kind of mass hysteria, which throws out the baby with the bathwater, and is in itself an abusive kind of behavior. The tyranny that shuts down and punishes men like Rivera who have an alternate opinion of events (rather than a political correct opinion) is another form of abuse. It is easy for women to point the finger at men, but it is not easy to point the finger at themselves. Sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse isnot just about men. After 40 years of being a psychotherapist, I can say that there is an equal amount of men who hate women as women who hate men. Neither sex is entirely guilty or innocent. A slew of female high school teachers have in recent years been caught having sex with teen-aged boys. This has become public. But many day-to-day abuses of men by women are never reported because men don’t report them.

I’m talking about women who lead on and then reject men; alpha females who put down men’s sexuality as an innate kind of sexism without any empathy for the difference in men’s and women’s sexuality; women who have taken over many parts of our culture, such as the educational system from nursery school to college. Almost all elementary school teachers today are women, and they may be presenting a biased attitude toward boys, which may be the reason why today two-thirds of college undergrads are women. And, incidentally, two-thirds of television hosts are also female.

We need to have a truly equal relationship between the genders in which there is a real dialogue between them and a real agreement on how to accomplish the resolution of the divide between males and females. Ordinary men and women, not alpha males and alpha females, need to be in charge of this dialogue.

Alpha Males and Alpha Females

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D.

Gerald Schoenewolf, Ph.D. is a licensed psychoanalyst in New York and has been practicing for over 37 years. He works with adults, couples, families, adolescents, and children. He has graduated from three psychotherapy institutes and received a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Washington Square Institute in 1981. He has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor of psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College since 2002 and has authored thirteen books on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as four novels and a book of poems and drawings. More recently he wrote 20 screenplays (winning four first-place awards at festivals) and produced and directed two feature films.

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APA Reference
Schoenewolf, G. (2017). Alpha Males and Alpha Females. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 13, 2018, from


Last updated: 3 Dec 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Dec 2017
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