Erika Shevchek: The Alpha Female - Part I

Monday, October 23, 2017 - 1:34pm

I’m writing this from the Law Library, where every seat at my table is filled by a girl. Different races, ages and majors, various laptop stickers and textbooks –– all of these girls are intensely studying and focused.

I’m empowered by this sight. Never at my time here at the University have I sat at only a table of women, with no words shared, but just studied and learned independently. They look tough and determined, and they make me want to be the same.

As an advocate for female empowerment and feminism, I’ve dabbled with the idea and definition of “the alpha female.” Seemingly, based off context clues, the girls around me sure look like they would be in this category. Those type of women exist, because the alpha male exists as well, so I could not help but soak up the divine feminine power around me and do some research.

From Dictionary.com, the definitions for alpha male and alpha female remarkably different. The alpha male is defined as both “a male animal having the highest rank in a dominance hierarchy” and “the leader of the pack, being the most dominant, powerful, or assertive person in a particular group.” Despite the word in terms of the animal kingdom, I found this definition to be appropriate for the human alpha male, with a nice use of characteristics like “highest rank,” “leader,” “dominant,” “powerful” and “assertive.” I had no suspicion in this definition, but it wasn't until I searched my sex’s definition when things got frustrating.

The website gives two definitions and terms for what I was searching: alpha female and alpha girl. Alpha female is defined as “the dominant female animal in a pack,” meanwhile alpha girl is defined as “the dominant or primary girl within a group, esp. one who bullies.”

This boils my blood.

What is it about an alpha female that can’t be defined, like the alpha male, as “highest rank,” “leader,” “powerful” or “assertive”? We get two adjectives (dominant and primary) and a noun (bully), and they’re all crap.

In silence, I watch the women surrounding me, punching away at their keyboards, vigorously highlighting and memorizing, that are powerful and contain glimpses of qualities of alpha females. It’s these actions that demonstrate hard woman at work in a space that once did not allow women at all. Collectively, we paint a glorious image of taking back what is ours: the right to an education and the right to sit where we please.

It’s important to notice, also, the energy difference between a table of all woman and a table with all men and one woman. That one female is still strong in her own, being the representative for all of us in her scenario. But in most cases, that position can feel lonely or uncomfortable.

Yet the idea of these women and I sitting here, together, is evidently compelling –– we are dominant because we are together. I am comfortable, I am focused, I am invigorated by the idea that we’ve all sat here enriching our education and working our asses off for about four hours.

There was an unspoken supportive energy that was shared among us. It’s the same feeling I got when I used to practice with my women’s swim team, the same feeling I got when I walked through the Diag for the Women’s March and the same feeling I get every day when I come home to my house with six other female roommates. I believe women, especially those that are alpha females, emit an energy that is best received by other women. It’s those women that bring all of us together, reminding us of our place and our value.

If a boy sat down next to me, it wouldn't make me or any of these women less of alpha females. We wouldn't glare at him with hatred or disgust. We’d embrace it, recognizing that he belongs here equally as much as we do and vice versa.

No, maybe not all of these girls at the table are alpha females. They might not all lead their groups or are socially adept or rule with an iron fist.  But who am I to say who is an alpha female and who is not? Clearly, there isn’t even a valid definition to prove any of this (thanks, Dictionary.com). I know one important thing, however: every female and every individual identifying as a female is strong in her own way. We sit here, individually in our own worlds and our own focus, but this table alone represents the future of supportive and successful females.

Author Vanessa Van Edwards gives her own definition of an alpha female: “Female alpha-hood is not like pregnancy (you are or you aren’t). It is more of a spectrum. Some women have a high tendency to be alpha. They enjoy social conducting, being the leader and/or the center of attention. Some women only like being female alpha’s in their home, but not in the business environment. Some women are only social alphas around certain groups of friends.”

One of my fellow female students at the table gets up to leave, when quickly, another girl replaces her spot. Hopefully, regardless of her alpha female-ness, she’s feeding into and receiving this same powerhouse energy that I feel. She replaced the seat of those before her, and she represents the future of strong women to come.