Alpha Females, Beta Males, and Everybody in Between

Debbie Bramwell-Washington is without question an Alpha Female.

Generally speaking, don’t generalize. This isn’t a rule so much as a modest recommendation. Sometimes, our generalizations can be fairly accurate (i.e. the weather tends to be hot during the summer months and cold during the winter months), but other times our generalizations are not even close to being fair or accurate (i.e. Chinese food is icky because all they eat are dogs).

Within the female muscle fan community – and believe it or not, such a community actually exists, albeit in the online world – the theme of “Alpha Female/Beta Male” consistently comes up. It’s become a cliché by now. Of course, just because it’s a cliché doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right or wrong. The truth is probably closer to it being an overgeneralization. We’ll get to that in a moment.

The existence of the idea of the muscular Alpha Female shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, leading the life of a professional (or dedicated amateur) bodybuilder isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires both mental and physical strength. It takes persistence, passion, guts, and unwavering self-confidence. It takes the ability to persevere despite inevitable setbacks. It takes the will to make tough decisions when the easiest choice is to say “I give up.” It requires you to take the path least traveled when no one will blink an eye if you were to instead take the road most traveled.

The type of person who would be willing to subject themselves to such a grueling lifestyle is most likely the most alpha among us. Professional bodybuilding isn’t for the weak or feeble minded. Even amateur bodybuilders, who don’t formally compete but still maintain an impressive amount of musculature year-round, cannot look the way they look without making sacrifices most of us wouldn’t even dream of doing.

Even though the very concept of “alpha” is subjective (and therefore, not an actual thing that can be quantified or narrowly defined), we’ll just assume its existence is – for the most part – real. Alpha Females are women who take control of their lives, pursue their dreams with absolutely no apology, and more often than not get what they want. Female bodybuilders should wholeheartedly belong in this category.

Alright, the other side of the equation is the concept of the Beta Male. Unlike Alpha Females, Beta Males are weak-minded, lack the will to get what they really want, and allow others to trample all over them. They are quiet, don’t assert themselves when faced with adversity, are perfectly willing to settle for less than they deserve, and aren’t prone to engaging in (as they see it, unnecessary) confrontation. Blah, blah, blah. Just take a few minutes doing a Google search of “beta male” and you’ll come across bloggers that range from idiotic “PUAs” to bizarre conspiracy theorists claiming the Illuminati is plotting to culturally emasculate men worldwide for the sake of implementing the New World Order. Rest assured yours truly doesn’t fall into either of these groups.

How would you react if you saw Isabelle Turell walk by you dressed like this?

Like the Alpha Female, the Beta Male is a socially-constructed stereotype that exists mostly from a pop culture point-of-view, as opposed to objective scientific standards. We can probably name a few Beta Males off the top of our heads, whether it’s from our high school days or the people we interact with at work (or maybe you can look in the mirror and point to yourself). No matter your perspective, it’s not difficult to surmise why this type of person would be attracted to women with lots of muscle.

As this line of thinking goes, Beta Males are too weak to take care of themselves. They have low self-esteem and would prefer if others could make big decisions instead of them. Alpha Females, especially of the highly muscular variety, perfectly encapsulate that missing puzzle piece. They are the complementary element that Beta Males find so darn alluring. They are strong – both emotionally and physically – and don’t hesitate to make bold decisions that they find to be empowering. Female bodybuilders are who Beta Males wish they could be, to put it in horrifically simplistic terms. This may or may not be true, but this sure represents the “logic” of plenty of people who are keen on following FBBs.

The Alpha Female/Beta Male motif looks solidly reasonable on the surface. Of course the type of guys who love FBBs are weak, feeble-minded man-children who sexualize an ideal they can never actually achieve in real life. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Well, maybe not.

No doubt this concept describes a portion of the FBB fandom community, but certainly it doesn’t represent everyone’s personal story. Many men who love female bodybuilders are normal guys who have wives or girlfriends, high paying jobs, families, and stellar reputations. Others are of more modest financial means…but they are still confident in who they are. Not everyone can be clumped into the same surface-level demographic, but we already knew that.

Kim Buck will buck the trend that women with muscles can’t be sexy.

When you boil everything down to its barest essentials, guys love female bodybuilders not just because of who they are, but because of who these ladies are. They’re strong, beautiful women who possess gorgeous bodies, captivating personalities, and inspiring biographies. We can scroll through Minna Pajulahti’s Instagram feed and say to ourselves “hot damn!” without that response being an indication of who we are. We see photos of a beautiful woman and we react accordingly. It’s as simple as that.

Or is it? Understandably, matters get murky when we’re dealing with nontraditional-looking women like female bodybuilders. If you like something that’s so far outside the mainstream, isn’t that an indication that there must be something a little “off” with you? Not at all, but it’s understandable why outside observers would think this way.

The truth is that female bodybuilding fans run the gamut of personality types. Some are meek, others are more assertive. Female bodybuilders themselves are also a diverse bunch; as they come from a wide range of countries, cultures, and backgrounds. Of course, the truth isn’t nearly as exciting as what dwells in our imaginations. We believe all FBBs are forceful Alpha Females not because we actually believe that, but because we want to believe that. We love imagining a strong gorgeous muscular woman dominating in the bedroom. We fantasize about what she’d do to us if we’re naughty…or if we’re completely obedient. We want her to ravage us, use us for her own selfish pleasure, and discard us the moment we become obsolete. We want to be denigrated like that because it makes her seem that much more powerful and us that much more irrelevant.

Is this a Beta Male way of thinking about sexual relationships? Maybe, or perhaps this is just a fun bit of “role reversal” where the FBB takes control of the situation while we’re the ones who are more passive and “just along for the ride.” Nobody wants to have to be in control 24/7/365. Every so often, we want to let go and allow somebody else to shoulder this burden. If a beautiful female bodybuilder is the one to do that, so be it. You won’t hear us complain.

Alright, so not every FBB is an Alpha Female and not every FBB fan is a Beta Male (or Beta Female, if that’s the case). So what? What’s the significance here?

Well, not much outside of the fact that these stereotypes exist and will probably continue to exist for time immemorial. But consider this:

The prevailing perception of the “Alpha Female/Beta Male” theme isn’t harmful, but it isn’t entirely productive either. One might presume that guys who love female bodybuilders would take offense to the notion that they’re weak and socially emasculated. That assumption is correct. But that’s not the only harm that this causes. The other is that it continues to make female bodybuilders appear “weird” and “fetishistic” instead of who they actually are: world-class athletes.

Monique Jones gets what she wants.

Often times, we tend to treat certain people or groups of people with suspicion not because of who they are, but because of who their fans are. It’s perfectly reasonable to like a certain TV show or singer but be completely annoyed by their fawning fans. It’s also perfectly reasonable to not like a certain TV show or singer for reasons that have nothing to do with the temperament of their loyal supporters. What isn’t reasonable (but isn’t a crime against humanity, of course) is disliking something purely because you can’t stand how the screaming fanboys and fangirls behave on the Internet. Yet, it’s difficult for many of us to make this distinction.

Along the same train of thought, some people might be turned off by female bodybuilders and the world of female bodybuilding because they find their fans a bit distasteful. They leave creepy comments all over their Instagram posts. They publicly announce all sorts of gross sexual activities they’d love to do to them. They appear to have no filter and don’t think all too much about who is actually reading these comments. These behaviors have a way of turning people off to whatever you love.

Female bodybuilders are already considered outside the mainstream. Their fans are also perceived to be outside the mainstream, despite the fact a vocal minority doesn’t speak for the entire group. Although to be fair, there really isn’t such a thing as a “vocal” delegation of the female bodybuilding fandom community. We don’t have lobbyists playing golf with members of Congress, to my knowledge.

One way to help FBBs enter into mainstream culture – assuming this is even a unified goal of ours – is to portray them as being perfectly normal women who happen to look abnormal. In many respects, that’s exactly who they are. But not everyone in our culture is buying that argument. They see videos of guys wearing leather masks with an FBB’s massive thighs wrapped around their heads and they think to themselves, “Um, that’s weird!”

To be fair, that sort of behavior isn’t something you witness every day. Yet, it does exist. But so do the countless number of people who love FBBs simply because they appreciate their unique beauty. FBBs are in fact uniquely beautiful, with the experience of “getting” their beauty indescribable. The experience of seeing a gorgeous confident woman with big muscles is so euphoric it can seem like a drug. It’s hard to articulate into words what this is like. Female bodybuilders are so damn beautiful it’s maddening to many of us why more people don’t feel the same way we feel. Shouldn’t FBBs be front and center on every magazine cover across the country? We think so, but the vast majority of our culture does not.

Stereotyping all female bodybuilders as Alpha Females and all fans of female bodybuilders of Beta Males is not only factually inaccurate, it contributes toward limiting our society’s understanding of this world. It makes us think that the two groups are somehow inextricably linked, that FBBs need weak men just as much as weak men need FBBs. This association cheapens FBBs as being a mere product of what certain guys want. Or that men who are perceived as being weak are that way because of women who are perceived as being strong.

Rita Sargo proving that muscles and femininity can go hand-in-hand.

These oversimplifications just perpetuate our dualist culture that puts people into two distinct categories (e.g. alpha/beta male, oppressed/liberated female, liberal/conservative, patriotic/unpatriotic, smart/dumb, educated/uneducated, poor/rich, abled/disabled, etc.) without recognizing nuance, individualized circumstances, and context. This harms the way we treat people whom we believe are “different” from us, even though they’re probably more similar to us than we realize. Imagine that.

When faced with something that’s totally out of the ordinary, the natural reaction is to try to put it into “proper context.” The logic follows like this:

  1. Female bodybuilders are unusual-looking women
  2. Guys who like female bodybuilders like women who are unusual-looking
  3. Therefore, guys who like female bodybuilders must be unusual themselves

Unfamiliarity breeds cognitive dissonance. We don’t like not being able to understand something, so we try to explain it away in terms that make sense to us. If we see weird Internet videos of guys enjoying being trampled on by a “chick with muscles,” then we must therefore assume every guy who loves female bodybuilders are into the same thing. And only “losers” enjoy being in a subordinate position. It makes perfect sense!

Except it doesn’t. The truth is much more complicated. The truth is that men and women from all walks of life comprise the world of female bodybuilding fandom. Some might in fact fit the stereotypes that we’re all familiar with. Others do not. This is not to play the “percentages game” and argue that a majority of us are not “like that.” Not at all. The only point to be made is that the Alpha Female/Beta Male concept is not inaccurate, but it’s also not comprehensive enough.

Perceptions take a long time to change. Many perceptions will never change. But there’s no use screaming at a brick wall that will not budge no matter what. That’s an exercise in futility. And if there’s one thing we can definitively say about female bodybuilders, it’s that when they exercise, they expect to see results.

Taming the Wild Beast: Giving an Orgasm to a Muscular Woman

If Jane looked like this, would Tarzan still want to be with her?
If Jane looked like this, would Tarzan still want to be with her?

There is a common belief out there that men who love muscular women also love (or fantasize about) being dominated by a muscular woman. While there is a close link between female muscle fetishism and BDSM, the two can be mutually exclusive. I would argue they can exist independently.

Nevertheless, the weak man/strong woman motif persists for good reasons. Men who pay strong women for sessions do so for the privileges of wrestling them or worshiping their muscles. Either way, they’re willing to shell out $300 to $500 of their hard earned cash because they love living out the fantasy of being physically and emotionally dominated by a stronger woman.

This fantasy goes a bit further, however. Deep down inside, even the most beta male secretly wishes he can win the upper hand against a stronger female opponent. While there are guys who fetishize the idea of being completely dominated by a woman, there exists other fantasies that go along with that. Primarily, the fantasy of “taming the wild beast.”

For as long as human civilization has been around, it has been commonly accepted that men are naturally stronger than women. This has led to men being the ones who’ve organized society’s political, social, economic, and religious structures. For better or for worse, this is still how things operate today, although that trend is starting to move in the other direction. There is no doubt women are gaining further traction in today’s world, but the way business has been done for thousands of years cannot be radically altered overnight.

Perhaps this “changing of the guard” where men and women are enjoying (more or less) “equal” footing in society’s power structures explains the popularity of men fetishizing being dominated by a woman. There are countless men in this world who are in control but do not necessarily want to be in control. Just as Spider-Man could tell you, with great power comes great responsibility. And great responsibility can be a heavy emotional burden.

Sexologists will argue that the male fantasy of being dominated by a woman is borne out of a desire for powerful men to be able to “let go” and be powerless for at least a few moments in his life. Heavy lies the crown, so the adage goes. This temporary abdication of power is a man’s way of releasing his inner burdens and allowing someone else to take control for once. So perhaps we’re looking at this in completely the wrong way. Guys who love muscular women aren’t necessarily beta males who enjoy submitting themselves to feminine power. Instead, they might just be “average, normal dudes” who crave momentary relief from their male “duties.”

We could go on exploring this issue, but let’s return to the main topic. The association of a muscular woman with a “wild beast” shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Pulp novels of long ago used to portray “jungle women” who would capture, torment, scheme against, and engage in steamy sexual relationships with their male counterparts. The jungle motif continues to be seen today in photoshoots involving female bodybuilders and models. Our pop culture associates a strong, muscular physique with keen survival skills, an animalistic personality, and fierce independence.

What if Jane looked like Dayana Cadeau?
What if Jane looked like Dayana Cadeau?

Tarzan wasn’t a weakling. Jane might have been, but certainly not her lover. If we turn the tables around and fantasize about Denise Masino or Alina Popa as modern-day female Tarzans, how many of us would put ourselves into the shoes of Jane? Would we be named James? Or John? Or Jim?

However, as much as we love to think of our favorite female bodybuilders as strong, sexy, independent creatures who can kick our ass at the drop of a hat, deep down inside our imaginations exist an interesting layer to this fantasy. We still want to be in charge. We may enjoy being pinned down, talked down to, and humiliated by a strong woman, but at the end of the day we want to assert our God-given dominance in one way or another.

So how do we do that? In this particular fantasy, the answer – of course! – has a sexual component to it.

If a weaker guy cannot physically dominate a stronger woman, he can assert his dominance in a sexual way instead. How is that done? Simple:

Giving a female bodybuilder an orgasm.

Obviously, not every female bodybuilder who offers sessions will allow that level of sexual intimacy to her clients. That’s not what I’m talking about. Instead, I’m referring to the fantasy of giving a strong muscular woman an orgasm. Let’s talk about this point in further detail.

There are many ways men can demonstrate their dominance over a woman. Not all of them are sexist or spiteful, although these behaviors could certainly be taken to those unfortunate extremes. A guy could show off his strength at the gym, flaunt his wealth at a fancy restaurant, impress his date by introducing her to his high-status friends, remind everyone how much influence he has at his job, and so on. Yeah, many of these things can make you out to look like an egotistical jerk, so I don’t recommend you exhibit these manners too often.

A jungle-themed photoshoot with Wendy McMaster.
A jungle-themed photoshoot with Wendy McMaster.

But…there is another way. It’s less public (at least, traditionally speaking), but it’s a certifiable way to prove one’s dominance. It involves pleasing her in the bedroom. How strange it is that the ultimate act of proving’s one’s manhood involves giving pleasure to a woman. Guys can brag all they want in the locker room about how many women they’ve slept with, but what’s less certain is figuring out how many of these women found the experience of sleeping with you pleasant. You can have sex with ten women in one wild weekend, but if every single one of them left your bedroom bored and unsatisfied, how much of a “Man” are you?

On the other hand, if a man makes love to only one woman – his wife or girlfriend, perhaps – during one eventful passionate evening, and she experiences a multitude of gratifying orgasms, is this guy more of a “Man” than the guy who slept with ten women who didn’t feel a thing while doing the deed with him?

Yes, of course!

This is why a man’s penis is nicknamed his “manhood.” It’s what makes a man a man. Not only does the penis biologically separate a man from a woman, it’s his way of showcasing his dominion over her. Contrast the guy who sleeps with ten women who can’t remember his name with another guy who spends the whole night with one woman who can’t get enough of him. Satisfying climax after satisfying climax, she’s sure she’ll never have it this good ever again in her life. Without question, this guy is much more of a “Man” than the first guy who should really see a doctor about getting an STD test.

A typical "jungle woman" cover from an old-school pulp novel.
A typical “jungle woman” cover from an old-school pulp novel.

Therefore, this explains the fantasy. A female bodybuilder may be leaps and bounds more powerful, confident, strong, and tough than her weaker male lover. However, in the bedroom, it’s a whole other story. There, he can validate his manliness. She may have bigger muscles, but he has a penis that can satisfy her like no other can. All the dildos and vibrators in the world cannot compare to his manhood. Through the act of sex, the tables are turned. During a passionate lovemaking session, he is the dominate one and she is the weaker one – regardless of the size of her muscles.

Women are different than men in regards to what happens post-orgasm. As one young lady I know once told me, when it comes to having multiple orgasms, women “can keep going until they decide to stop.” Good for them! Guys, on the other hand, are much different. We have one…and we’re as good as spent. There’s a reason why many of us like to get off right before going to sleep. It helps us get to sleep! Our energy is drained and it takes at least 15 to 20 minutes before we can get hard again. And if we do get hard again, you can guarantee our level of enthusiasm won’t be nearly as high as it was beforehand.

But let’s ignore this and assume a satisfying orgasm will sap you of all your energy. After successfully providing one’s sexual partner a toe-curling, scream-inducing satiating orgasm, isn’t it like taming a wild beast? The contrast of energy level couldn’t be starker. During sex, people can exert a tremendous amount of energy. Post-sex, it’s like someone took out your battery and flung it out the window. You’re completely and utterly drained.

Tamed, indeed.

This is the origin of this fantasy. Guys who love a wild and dangerous (whether she’s actually wild and dangerous is beside the point; it’s the fantasy that matters most) female bodybuilder feel the intense urge to “cut her down to size” and show her what a real man is like. It’s understandable for a normal-looking man to feel emasculated when in the presence of a muscular woman. Deep down inside, he yearns to be able to make love to her so passionately and so intently that she’s willing to submit to his every whim.

Perhaps submission is the name of the game. One could argue inside every insecure man is an ultra-masculine He-Man ready to jump out and take on the world singlehandedly. I may not feel that way, but I’m sure there are plenty of guys out there who do. I’m not passing down any judgement or trying to psychoanalyze their situation. I’m just trying to make sense out of a fervent fantasy a lot of female muscle lovers share – whether they know it or not.

Post-sex, the image of a strong, powerful female bodybuilder purring like a cat as she snuggles up close to me in bed is enough to get my heart rate going. If she were to whisper sweet nothings into my ear, I might just pass out. Come to think of it, I guess I do share this fantasy!

Taming the wild beast can come in many forms. One could physically show one’s dominance over a muscular woman…but that’s not nearly erotic enough. One could tie her up and play the part of a male dominatrix…but that’s kinky and doesn’t prove anything. Roleplaying is fun, but at the end of the day it’s two consenting adults creating a false reality for the sake of mutual erotic amusement. It’s not real. But having sex with a female bodybuilder and showing her how much of a Casanova you are…well, it’s not like such a thing could actually happen to me, but at least you could consider it an actual accomplishment.

Denise Masino is a wild beast who needs to be tamed.
Denise Masino is a wild beast who needs to be tamed.

Right, there, that’s at the heart of this discussion: showcasing an accomplishment to a woman who has her fair share of impressive accomplishments. Guys who love muscular women also want to “prove” to her that he’s a man and she’s still a woman. The differences in physical strength notwithstanding, guys still want to be the one in charge. They might enjoy being dominated by her for kicks and giggles, but when push comes to shove he still wants the opportunity to assert his masculinity. He doesn’t think he’s superior to her (or that she’s inferior to him); rather he desires to let her know who’s who in this relationship.

Giving an orgasm to a female bodybuilder is the premiere way to prove to her what kind of a Man you are. You deserve the capital “M,” no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And you don’t want to do it by fingering her or performing cunnilingus on her. That’s perfectly okay, but you want to show her you’re a Man the old fashioned way: stick your hard manhood inside her and ride her till she begs for more. And when she does beg for more (assuming your fantasy goes this far), you can choose to either fulfill her wishes or deny her what she wants.

And to make matters better, because it takes guys a little while to get hard again, she has to wait for you to be able to make love to her again. Imagine that!

That’s what this is all about. Whether you want to please her till she’s purring like a kitten or you want to deny her what she desires, it’s your choice. It’s fantasy, and you can definitely see how this could play out in reality. You are a Man. She is a Woman. You dream of demonstrating to her who’s who and leaving absolutely no doubt about it.

She’s still an incredibly strong Woman, but you’re a Man, and there’s nothing that can take that away from you. She is a Wild Beast and you must tame her before she gets out of control. You’re a Man. It’s what you’re supposed to do. She knows it, but she wants to know if you know it.

So there you go. You just want to send her a message. And have fun while doing it. That’s a win-win in my book.

“Taming the Wild Beast” is a fantasy that can be counterintuitive. A weak man who’s with a strong woman doesn’t have to feel emasculated. In fact, he can feel quite the opposite. She may be able to beat him at arm wrestling or deadlift more than him at the gym, but he can still satisfy her in bed and leave her begging for more. This intends to shift the balance of power away from her and toward him…where it rightfully belongs.

I believe this is Julie Bonnett. Can anybody say otherwise?
I believe this is Julie Bonnett. Can anybody say otherwise?

No matter how big she grows, no matter how large her muscles become, no matter how powerful she can be…she can never truly supersede his role as the dominant Alpha Male. A female bodybuilder can pretend to be the Alpha Female, but all that comes to a crashing halt the moment he successfully gives her a fulfilling orgasmic experience. Physical strength can be manufactured at the gym. Sexual prowess is innate. There’s nothing she can do to turn the tide on thousands of years of male/female biological reality.

At the end of the day, he has the penis and she has the vagina. In this fantasy, the vagina is unquestionably subordinate to the penis. Without a penis, the vagina exists in a vacuum. She can masturbate all she wants – and she could very well give herself fantastic climaxes – but there’s still a void left in her sex life. Who can fill that void?

You guessed it. The Man.

Even if this Man is smaller, weaker, and physically unremarkable. Even if the Woman is larger, stronger, and more dynamic. That’s irrelevant. The “Taming the Wild Beast” fantasy ignores those realities and puts the Man in the driver’s seat. This isn’t rooted in sexism, misogyny or even insecurity. It’s rooted in the desire to relinquish control, but not totally give it up. It’s based on the belief that women can be stronger than men, but a man is still a man and a woman is still a woman. Fetishes are often simple to understand. It’s not complicated.

The beauty of this fantasy is the fact that “taming” her doesn’t involve violence or dehumanizing her. That’s out of the question. “Taming” her instead involves giving her sexual pleasure. He gets pleasure out of it as well, but what’s more important is making sure she leaves the encounter happy and satisfied.

She may be a beast on the outside, but deep down inside she can be just as vulnerable as him. It just takes a single passionate carnal encounter to bring these vulnerabilities to the surface. He derives pleasure from giving her pleasure. That’s a win-win indeed.