by Laurie Schnebly Campbell
We all have a mental image of the alpha male, right? The strong leader who looks out for his team at all costs. The top dog, the one with the most money or skill or muscles or smarts whatever represents "power" in the world he occupies.
But what makes an alpha female? That's not as quick an image as the testosterone-driven warrior cutting a swath through the enemy to preserve the tribe he (gulp) loves.
Some writers and readers think of the alpha female as a woman who's not afraid to show physical strength.
Or a woman whose mate is the leader of the pack, whether that pack is an empire or a soccer team or a multi-national corporation or a rock band.
Or a woman who brings exceptional skills to her group, whether those skills involve healing, breeding, mentoring, navigation or magic.
Remember that phrase about how well-behaved women rarely make history?
Women who challenge boundaries might be considered alpha females -- yet history is equally full of women who pushed lightly (if at all).
I came across this dichotomy when looking for a title, of all things. Naming a class on alpha MALES "from Abe to Zeus" was a piece of cake, so which A and Z names would exemplify an alpha female?
Athena, maybe...goddess of wisdom and battle. Or along those same lines, maybe Aphrodite or Artemis. But what about real-life women?
* Abigail Adams, White House's first First Lady and mother of six.
* Agatha Christie, Amy Tan and Alice Walker, making readers think.
* Agnes DeMille and Anna Pavlova, choreography and ballet stars.
* Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of an international church.
* Alexandra and Anastasia Romanov of the last Russian royal family.
* Alice Paul, a leader in the struggle for women's voting rights.
* Amy Alcott and Althea Gibson, renowned golf and tennis athletes.
* Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany since 2005.
* Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren, with decades of advice columns.
* Anne Frank, whose diary inspired millions.
* Annie Oakley and Anne Bonney, gun- and sword-wielding adventurers.
* Aretha Franklin, demanding r-e-s-p-e-c-t in full voice.
* Arianna Huffington and Ariel Durant, observers of their society.
* Audrey Hepburn and Ava Gardner, legends of the silver screen.
And that's just the A's!
Looking at those names, though, some strike me as more Alpha Female than others. Yet I suspect we'd all choose different women, or different goddesses, for different reasons.
So that's my question for you, and I'd love to quote you in the class coming up next month...what traits do YOU think of when you envision an alpha female? Do you know any such women in real life? What's she (or you, if you're one yourself) like? What says "alpha female" to you?
I'm getting ready to <theme alert> celebrate <got it?> an intriguing variety of answers. And if 20+ people reply, somebody will win free registration to my October class on "The Hero's Journey, For Heroines." All kinds of fun stuff coming up!
Laurie, now in a very celebratory mood!
© 2012 Laurie Schnebly Campbell