“Be honest: we all love the sexist alpha male.” – India Knight, Sunday Times, 28 Sept 2008
Finding myself newspaper-less in Barford, (I used to get The New York Times delivered to my apartment every weekend…sniff, sniff.) I started flirting with The Times (same name, different paper). In it I discovered a very intriguing weekly column by India Knight.
Far be it from me to deny anyone the right to have their opinion; and be it even farther from me to agree with one such as this. Oh, India, India, India. How wrong you are!
There is no way that India Knight has formed her conclusions based on personal experience. If she were, surely, her brutish Alpha Male would have her chained so tightly to her cooker, it would be impossible for her to produce her engaging weekly column.
No, India must be dreaming. Fantasizing about someone dragging you by hair into a cave is one thing – living with a Caveman is quite another. Take from me, India, love in “Neanderthal Land” is not all that it is cracked up to be!
Reading this piece, I began to wonder how my opinion could differ so markedly from India’s. We are roughly the same age, have similar education and life backgrounds (Thank you, Wikipedia – how did we live before Google?), so we are generationally, educationally and socially similar.
Could this be yet another US-UK cultural difference? Quite possibly. I don’t mean to suggest that the US holds exclusive rights on the Neanderthal man – certainly bone-headed oafs come in all national varieties. What I mean is, well, the grass is always greener, and we often hold in disdain things with which we are most familiar.
An example. My junior year of college, I had an English friend, Meggie, who grew up in what she described as a “very English” household. Every morning, her father would get up, and make cups of tea for everyone: Meggie, her brother, her mum and himself.
He would then take tea to each person’s room, and leave it for them on their bedside table. What a lovely way to start the day! I was so fascinated by this ritual. So tender, loving and domestic.
Then, I will never forget, I spent the weekend at Meggie’s parents’ house. Early each morning there was a light knock on my door, and after I answered, Meg’s dad came in, and brought me a cup of tea. He placed it gently on my bedside table and whispered softly, “Good morning.”
What’s not to love about that?! That was a pivotal moment for me. I have no doubt that that experience shaped my attitude about men, and Englishmen in particular, and although I had no intentions towards Meg’s dad (!!!) I knew that he was the kind of man I wanted to eventually find.
By contrast, though she loved him dearly, Meg viewed her father, and men like him, as “wet,” and avoided them like the plague. She preferred what she called “the rough, tough, silent types,” and thus began her countless tales of “love-'em-and-leave-'em” woe. Maybe it’s a matter of what you are used to, what you grow up with, &etc.
“Mister Rogers." That is where my love of the Beta Male began. (PBS has a lot to answer for.) He was neat, caring, tidy (always took off his outdoor shoes, hung his coat up neatly on the hook, and put on a fresh cashmere sweater/jumper every time he came into the house).
He shared. He was loving, and personified gentleness: “Won’t you be my neighbo(u)r?” Brainwashed at the age of 5. Mister Rogers and cashmere. My life would never be the same.
After years in the wilderness, I have finally found this sort of man in real life, and now that I have, I could never, ever be without him!
But, it is more than the fact that he wakes me each and every morning with a kiss, and a cup of tea on my bedside table. Or, that he brings me flowers when I’m feeling “poorly” or ‘just because’; or, that he still thinks I’m sexy, even when I’m wearing Vick’s Vapor Rub instead of Victoria’s Secret; or, that he confidently wears pastel colo(u)rs and makes them look masculine (and hot); or, that he cuddles me, as I cry during the sappy part of the chick flick I’ve chosen for us to watch; or, he when I knows that I have waited until the very last possible minute to meet a project deadline, he rushes home from work, cooks dinner, walks the dog, and does the washing-up, so I can type my way through the night – it is all these things, and more. Much more.
No, India, no! We shall honor and celebrate the Beta Male! That sterling gentleman, with his heart of solid gold. We shall crown him King, and revere him as our lord and master! And I know I am not alone in thinking this way. I’m not the only woman out here who spent a better part of the 1990s with Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity” on continual play loop, as I cried into my beer, doubting that my Prince Charming would ever come along.
Poor India, you have no idea what you are missing! Incredible passion comes from great sensitivity. The Beta Male, that you coldly dismiss as a dear soul who quote, “sympathises when you have period cramps and offers to make you a nice cup of camomile,” but, whom you’d overlook “when picking a boyfriend rather than a friend,” in favo(u)r of a more primitive primate, has so much more to offer.
And besides, a nice cup of c(h)amomile is just thing one needs -- after one has been playfully dragged into a very tidy cave.