Adam’s been called an “alpha male” pretty often in the forums and communities I frequent, as well as on my twitter feed. I do not like it. I’m not the only one who doesn’t like it, I’ve found, either. I’ve protested to deaf ears, but I maintain that this does not work for me.
One is simply biological – humans do not have alpha males. We are not organized in packs where only one male ever has the right to mate with the females. Droit de seigneur, where the feudal lord claims the wedding night of his female vassals, is about the closest we’ve come to it, and that’s not common. And it’s only the first night, too. (Still rape, still ugly, but not exclusivity.) Okay, maybe those huge polygynous families in the LDS fundamentalist compounds also approximates this, but there are very few such compounds that only consist of the one man and his wives – usually it’s a fair number of men with the harems. They do often discard young men who might otherwise marry the younger women, but it’s still not the same.
And, let’s be serious here. That mating thing? Isn’t going to happen.
Most would say they’re saying he’s a dominant born leader. Okay, I’m not going to argue about that. Adam’s absolutely a leader (want proof? Take a look at your twitter feed today, if you have one. It probably looks very different today than it did only a couple of days ago. And that’s true even if your twitter feed, like mine, didn’t really have many people using Adam’s face as their avatar. But Adam asked us to use our own pictures, so many of us are now using our own pictures. Even if, like me, they rarely tweet Adam at all. Because Adam asked, because Adam told us we were gorgeous even before most of us had a chance to change, we showed our faces to the world – or to those following our locked twitters. And if Adam asks, we at least consider it and often do it.)
So they’re right in part – Adam has a lot of the qualities of a born leader. He’s intelligent and decisive. He has a strong personality and a lot of charm. He’s highly charismatic. He’s loyal and inspires loyalty. And since he’s a good, decent, generous person, he makes people want to make him happy. Also, who wouldn’t move the planet for one of those smiles? Thank goodness he only wants to entertain us instead of rule the world, huh?
Here’s the thing that bugs me. Tell me, please, which of those characteristics, alone or taken as a whole, are at all masculine? Or feminine, for that matter? None, right? They’re gender neutral. Oh, society approves of leadership for men more than for women, unless it’s among women, but the qualities of leadership are the same for both. So, alpha, I’ll buy, even those this is NOT Huxley’s Brave New World and I don’t think anyone was allowed to be gay anyway. But alpha male…well.
I’m afraid it’s something a bit insidious, and probably unconscious. It’s why people are saying “male” – I also see people calling Adam “uber-masculine” in the same vein. They’re certainly commenting on his leadership abilities but they’re saying something else, too. They’re saying we know he’s gay but he’s not “gay-gay” – he’s all man, nothing but man, despite the hair and the make-up and the mannerisms and speech patterns. And most of them also say pretty much out there that they prefer him without the make-up and glitter, that he looks so more masculine and better without that.
I can think of a lot of reasons for this. They’re attracted to him, and don’t want to be attracted to someone who doesn’t fit their ideals of masculinity. There’s a significant part of our culture that believes attaching the word “feminine” to a man is an insult and they certainly don’t want to insult Adam. There is also people who do see leadership as a masculine thing, and female leadership is bitchy or diva behavior. If he’s such a leader….well. Which makes the epithet HBIC – Head Bitch in Charge – rather amusing.
And, of course, there is the physical thing. Adam is a big man – tall, broad-shouldered, strong, with powerful looking upper arms and thighs. Mighty-thewed, in fact. He also has a firm jawline, only partially blurred by the muscles he has from singing and the fact that bloating from exhaustion and weight gain go to his face. He therefore has a conventionally masculine silhouette and profile. His facial features are classic and strong, as well. He has body hair that he does not remove, large hands and large feet. And,well. Yeah. Blush. That, too. No one, not even those calling him “Madam”, doubt his maleness.
But he highlights his eyes with dyed lashes, eyeliner, shadow, and glitter. He covers his lips with gloss and sometimes even pale lipstick. He constantly plays with hairstyles. He gives major thought to his cologne. He sparkles with jewelry – it’s so much of a trademark that he got loaned pieces for his Grammy look. I don’t think that happens often for men. And he has a major love affair with accessories, too. In this culture, in the culture in which he was raised, this is feminine behavior.
Also feminine behavior in this culture – politeness. Deference. Tempering statements with compliments. High-pitched speaking voices. When I quote Adam, I can feel my vocal pitch rising. He CAN lower it. He did so, at least to my ears, when he did the summit meeting. Someone with his training both in singing and acting should be able to do that easily. He chooses to not do so, to remain in his comfortable level.
Oh, he’s a gentleman – he kissing hands, he opens doors, he hands his boyfriends into cars, he had his boyfriend hold his arm, instead of the revers (that actually makes staging sense, though – big Adam holding little Sauli’s arm looks like he’s dragging him around. The reverse looks, to American eyes, right.)
Adam himself has said that he embraces both sides of his personality – he’s both masculine and feminine and prefers it that way – he thinks that’s where sexiness lies. To deny his femininity because it makes one uncomfortable or ruins a fantasy is to deny an essential part of Adam. So would denying his masculinity, of course, but since that’s a positive, no one would do that.
And this is the other reason I don’t like the term “alpha male.” Not only does it deny women their ability to lead, to be alpha, but it also denies part of who he is and how he sees himself, and what is among the most compelling parts of a whole person. He is male, he is dominant. He is also beautiful and kind. And he’s feminine and strong. And above all, he’s proud of who and what he is, as we all should be about ourselves.