Response to Halley on Alpha Male

Halley Suitt recently responded to an old comment on Pete Kaminski’s blog, explaining that the Alpha Male series was intended ironically.
Trouble was, I’ve seen and heard enough un-ironic alpha male culture that I honestly couldn’t tell. Early in my career, I worked in places that ran on old-fashioned, quid pro promotion sexual harassment. Popular culture has plenty of serious retro “post-feminist” dreck about “real women” and “real men”.
I read some of the blog-link fan letters to the original Alpha Male posts, including posts from guys I otherwise like and respect. It was clear that a good number of readers took the series straight.
I hate the idea of admirable, delightful geeky guys missing the irony and acting macho in an attempt to live the alpha male fantasy. I remember one really depressing conversation during the boom, when a male colleague explained that he always wanted to be a teacher, but got an MBA because women would like him better as a high-paid corporate guy. Personally, I thought he’d be more attractive if he had less money and more commitment to his nature and values.
One way to read the series is 50s gender roles as a thrilling way to play with now-forbidden power dynamics. I have no cause to argue with anything that floats the boats of other consenting adults. But playing CEO-seduces-the secretary just doesn’t do it for me. Power relations among real humans are complicated enough without 50s gender-role drag.

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