Xena, the alpha female icon

Stop Hating The Alpha Female

THE DEFINITION: ALPHA FEMALE, presumes two things. One is wrong: The definition somehow mimics that of the alpha male. The second is right: Alpha means ‘first’ or ‘predominant.’


The two presumptions compound together to imply that the male is predominant – that the alpha female is somehow an odd construction of character and a subversion on the ‘norm’ of the alpha male.

This is an extremely annoying manipulation of semantics that serves as the precursor as to why the alpha female is seen as somehow ‘odd’, or as a threat. If a woman doesn’t play up to an assumed weakness or decides bash out her weaknesses no less: she is alpha.

Let this be a compliment to you.

The Anna Wintours, Hilary Clintons and Germain Greers of the world – they are women who each possess an intelligence that is brash, that makes itself known and has an aloof aura from all that power and mythical lady-spunk. They are all fearless bitches, all-powerful, all alpha – and unfortunately all are derided. And they do not care what you think of them.

That’s where the power truly is.


getty images
wintour emerges//getty images

You know there’s power here because The Daily Mail seeks to destroy it. Although it’s intermittent, it seems to find some sort of pleasure in running articles sabotaging the Alpha Female’s domestic status as the breadwinner. Apparently it is statistically accurate to claim Alpha Females emasculate men when they continue with their careers whilst being in a long term relationship with them. (The paper also assumes that most AFs are heterosexual, although I doubt they would seek experts to test whether this is a ridiculous generalisation or not.)

It should be noted that rather than being an imitation of the alpha male, the AF is better defined as an independent archetype of the female personality at its strongest or most extreme. This could be taken to mean the maternal instinct – of course, the alpha female does not have to take care of children. As is often portrayed in the media, and was a life choice made iconic by Elizabeth I, the AF doesn’t do breeding for broods. Instead, she becomes the matriarch of a bevy of staff, or an idea, or a cause.

Read an incredible, curated book of speeches from history’s alpha females, here.


It could also be taken, maybe if you’re of a Guardian reader bent for example, to mean the role of the female as listener. Or as they put it, to be one of the women “who are consensus builders, who don’t lead from the front but push their teams forward…”

Ahem, what? So the Alpha Female prefers to not talk so much and prefers being at the back? Isn’t this just business-mush-talk which suggests women, again, cannot be at the front-line calling for action? Ugh. At least allow the AF some dignity. Though that’s easier said than done.

Demonised as cold and heartless as opposed to shrewd and adroit, the stereotypical Alpha Female is ‘not even human’ in most cultural assumptions – she is an entire set of traits that has to be navigated carefully, even ‘compartmentally’.

Xena, the alpha female icon
(c) xena: warrior princess/Renaissance Pictures

It is interesting that AFs are typically seen within patriarchal narratives as some kind of threat. They have to be dealt with, their demeanour negotiated with, their sexual behaviour learned about.

Askmen dot com, the online Cosmopolitan for blokes, even has a guide on how to approach dating the alpha female.


Not so funny, though, when it suggests that accepting the ‘typical’ AF in all her Wintouresque glory means actually viewing her as 2D, predictable, and then following this up by being her fallout (Beta) male. For example, the AF is:

“The alpha female is a busy woman, or at least she is very talented at making you believe that.” Clearly men were deceivers ever, women were deceivers only when talented. Take the compliment!

Although, I doubt many women in my generation would neither put up with nor consider that kind of bullshit.

I love the Alpha Females. Even more so, I love the fact that they are perceived as cold and heartless because it is that very perception which proves there is still a case for feminism. Women with power should be praised for breaking through the man-made glass ceiling.

Buy the book: Outspoken: 50 Speeches by Incredible Women from Boudicca to Michelle Obama for some serious inspiration today for a third of the price of a month’s worth of coffee.

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  1. gee willacure

    oh gosh HOW CATTY! A true lady doesn’t have to worry about Queen bee’s or Alpha females. These are people who falsely have cliques not friendship circles. These are people with low self esteems who try to bring other women down. Please grow up and truly look at your soul through your own reflection there are more true women than you. Good day!

    1. Jane Mc (Janey Liz)

      Thank you for your comment. I don’t know what is more tragic: taking offence at an article which is neither worried in tone, nor derogatory in any way; or using the post as an excuse to offend the writer personally.

      Just to clear things up, the point the article makes about ‘Alpha Females’ is that the term doesn’t actually need to exist: rather, it is better to take ownership of the term and ‘love it’, rather than allowing it to become a hostile stereotype. The article has nothing to do with a woman’s friendship groups or being like a ‘Queen Bee’- this would be more about social circles and the way they converge/diverge based on deviant or aggressive behaviours of said ‘bee’.

      My article, on the other hand, is about how we can still borrow ideas from feminism, and that every woman is unique and can define herself through her own definition of strength and ‘alpha’ qualities.

      If anything, my promotion of strong women through this article is an invitation for other women to feel the same – that we are all beyond male-defined stereotypes! And this is a really good thing!

      I wonder whether you have found offence with the ‘no children’ idea – in which case let me reiterate. The idea of not ‘needing’ to have children is taken from the concept of matriarchy as a female ‘energy’ – of course, it is a great and beautiful thing to have children – and I can’t wait to have children! The article I wrote, though, is trying to say that it doesn’t have to be the only defining factor of a ‘strong woman’. Many women physically cannot have their own children; so instead, ‘matriarchy’ in my article is merely an interpretation of something very simple: having empathy, dedication and passion towards a project or idea as a woman who is, actually, as strong as her ideas.

      But clearly you want to go personal, so I will entertain that. (I am a most gracious lady and host you see): I am happy with myself, I have an inspiring and beautiful mother who is strong and intelligent in so many ways that most people will never, ever understand; I have a few but very good friends in my life and blessed to have many acquaintances, great colleagues; and I am with a wonderful partner who makes my life twice as awesome.

      Furthermore, I believe that no-one is allowed to judge anyone else’s soul because we are all flawed; I believe I am a true woman, and I have good self-esteem because my entire life revolves around doing my best in everything can do realistically.

      However, I do agree, there are definitely stronger and ‘truer’ women than me out there, who live their lives to the full and empower others to do the same, and I like to seek them out as muses. The follwing:’Gala Darling‘; Beyonce, Ellen Macarthur, Sophia Coppola, Florence Nightingale, Kate Adie and Nina Simone are some great examples.

      Next time, think deeply before typing “HOW CATTY” and “Please grow up”. Turns out, I love cats, and I have one called Ricky; and I am a grown-up. The only catty thing about this blog entry is your comment, and growing up would be sending me a personal email for such a personal comment.

      You have a good day too!

  2. mike

    making a programme on maggie thatcher at the mo, couldn’t agree more. OWA. Ovaries with Attitude.

  3. Samantha

    Love it! I’ve been called an “Alpha Female” before, but I’ve never done any research on the term. I thought your post to be insightful rather than derogatory. I’d love to read about your views on “what type” of male would best suit an Alpha Female!

    1. Lisa

      Apparently, an alpha female is not suited to an alpha male because there is a higher chance of domestic violence and/or divorce. Alpha males can be abusive bitches who will bring an alpha female down to beta female status, especially when she wants to retain her success, independence, intelligence, talents, and hobbies. Plus, alpha males can be very clingy, (overly) emotionally attached, and possessive, not allowing an alpha female any space nor individuality at all and there also domineering, bossy, demanding, and feisty (like men are on average) as well, not allowing an alpha female to voice her opinions nor express her wants, including sex, etc. because the alpha male thinks it’s his job to wear the pants all the time and manage everything and that a woman should obey what he wants and needs only and not initiate anything at all. In other words, alpha males will want to be superior one hundred percent of the time, thus causing the alpha female to run for the hills.

  4. psipsinasays

    Amen. I’m tired of all the bullsh*t about Alpha Women no being ‘feminine’ or ‘caring’ or not real women (your first commenter kind of proves my point). Look at a Lioness – maternal, caring, team player, but a leader too. But I suppose when you’re queen of your life-Serengeti you gotta roll with the gazelles too. Great article- thanks. Looks like we still have a long way to go.

    1. Jane, Editorial Staff

      LOVE THIS.

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