The Alpha Female

A study detailed in the Daily Telegraph today has explored the way in which couples make financial decisions; it has discovered a fierce and revered creature – the Alpha Female.

Apparently, these “modern women”, not content with furthering their professional development and edging out their partners as the main breadwinner, are determined to preserve their grip on the family purse strings. How dare they. The bastards.

According to James Hall, Consumer Affairs Editor for The Telegraph, these women are insistent on bringing home the bacon and deciding exactly how it should be cooked as well. They are making “traditional male household decisions” such as choosing the family car, pensions providers, utility firms and even, where the family should holiday. I mean, my god, what is the world coming to.

You have to question where humanity went wrong, when women are exercising their right to work and still juggling with relative ease, decisions about what car they should drive, where they should invest their financial future, how much they should spend on running the family home, and even, where they get to spend their precious fortnight off every year. Surely this is the eighth sign of the apocalypse?

I’m sorry; I always get a little carried away with the sarcasm when it comes to these kind of outrageous reports. I never understand why people appear quite so shocked by the blatantly obvious.

Perhaps the Alpha Female is not a regular occurrence in Daily Telegraph land, but where I grew up it is very much a matriarchal society. My mother has always been the breadwinner in our house. She is the only driver in the family (and as such, designated taxi-driver), she is the mortgage holder, the accountant, head chef, chief dog-walker, sole holiday-planner, house-cleaner, grocery-shopper, clothes-washer, in fact the only thing she doesn’t have complete control over is the TV remote, that is where my dad puts his foot down – he is the keeper of the remote and TV pages.

The report appears to confirm that control of what’s on the box seems to be the modern “male household decision”, as the women surveyed attempted to interrupt the evenings’ viewing to discuss where the couple should invest their financial future. The men surveyed felt they had “an important role to play at the final stage” of such financial decisions – in other words, when their partners had done the legwork, researching their options, double checking estimates, stretching household budgets, then, and only then, did these men  feel ready to play their part, which we can only assume when faced with a weary, financially-fatigued wife already steaming from the ears about how little the current economic climate is willing to cooperate with an already battle-worn family budget, at that point, the husband’s important role is simply to agree, and shut up. That is, assuming, in other households, the Alpha Female bothers to consult her partner about financial decisions at all. I’m entirely convinced that the earliest my dad ever knows (or remembers) about financial decisions such as a new car is when it pulls up in the drive and confuses the dog. Certainly, I’m sure the morning of a holiday is always a little unnerving for him when, finding his bag packed by the front door he has to tiptoe around the question “Are you kicking me out? Or are we going to Donegal?”

I am also sure my mother takes a few seconds to consider her answer.

Poor dad, he does spend a great deal of time being the butt of family jokes. But it’s his own fault, if he’d produced a son he might have had a fighting chance, but as it stands he is entirely outnumbered, 3 to 1. And since we castrated the dog he’s really held his tongue. Not that Reilly’s allegiance was ever in question. That is always the clearest indicator of an Alpha – who does the dog regard as pack-leader?


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