On some of my other blogs, I have a tag called #Wolf mode, and after running across a comment from someone wondering why Dominant leaning people tend to do the wolf thing, I thought I’d write a bit on how I’m approaching this.
I’ve tried to rephrase this opening to not sound Like That, but really, I can’t avoid the werewolf lit in my younger years. When I hadn’t realized I was trans yet, the physical strength of the women characters (on par with or stronger than the men) and capacity for the women to ‘outrank’ men was appealing. These weren’t women who were fragile damsels in distress who needed a strong man to rescue them, you know? Though problematic in some areas about how the roles were still gendered, the Alpha/subordinate dynamic did make some allowances for w/w and m/m ships, and the fledgling queer that I was, I needed some place to look for that.
Lunar transformation as metaphor for menstruation also provided a way to alter how I viewed my relationship to being a menstruator. These were often big women (not dainty) and often hairier than the smooth, practically prepubescent images of conventional media and porn. As someone trying to deal with social messages about what was appropriately ‘womanly’ (and hated shaving), I found a little relief in a character who didn’t have to get rid of their body hair. Add in lycanthropy as metaphor for HIV (most well known example is Remus Lupin), and I was pretty solidly in the werewolf camp. Being turned and experiencing a second puberty of sorts that seemed awfully similar in some ways to transitioning? Cherry on top.
(But wait, a reader may be thinking, you’ve also got vampire shit in #Wolf mode? That’s not being in the werewolf camp?) Despite what some franchises would like you think, you don’t have to split yourself solely among vampires or werewolves. Especially when you start browsing romance or erotica, they’re often shelved in close proximity to each other, in a manner of speaking. I view the animalistic, feral, and more Predator aligned aspects with both groups, but depending on what you’re trying to read, some stories focus on that more in the vampire category.
True, it depends on where you’re getting your romance and erotica stories from, but some writers can split kink distribution differently between the two categories. I attribute blood, knives, scratching, biting, leaving bruises, Marking, Claiming, and quite frankly a lot of sadism with either, but for example, a fair number of people default to vampires for biting and blood. (Maybe I’ve gotten a little jaded from a segment of fanfiction, but you don’t have to turn the character into a vampire in order to have blood play. Really.)
(So you’ve got a thing for sadism. How is this any different from other dominants connecting to their inner Predator in this way?) Keeping in mind that I’m not a wolf expert, I’d say pack dynamics and how they are commonly portrayed in werewolf and wolf-shifter stories. Ah yes, the Alpha route that takes inspiration from outdated wolf pack dynamics (notably, Alpha Men™ looking for their submissive mate, who is commonly a woman). Now, it does work for some people in terms of Dominant/submissive and top/bottom, or I imagine it wouldn’t still linger in storytelling and irl roleplay. There can be something satisfying about clearly defined hierarchies and group dynamics, but sometimes, the determination of who falls where leaves something to be desired. (At the person opening with “looking for bitches / females to breed”: Yikes.)
(Not everyone does Alpha/beta like that. You just have to look past the posturing.) My gateway was wolf related fiction (and research for fic), not preexisting D/s or top/bottom roleplay. Packs where humans don’t throw random wolves together in captivity are mostly family units, which means the alpha pair are typically the main breeding pair (mother and father, if you will). In the smaller, one family packs with only one breeding pair, the ‘betas’ and ‘omegas’ are different generations of siblings. Alpha starts to seem like a moot descriptor, since “calling a wolf an alpha is usually no more appropriate than referring to a human parent or a doe deer as an alpha. Any parent is dominant to its young offspring, so alpha adds no information” (source). And honestly, after exposure to A/B/O aka Omegaverse in fanfic, bringing out ‘beta’ and ‘omega’ doesn’t have a wolf / pack dynamic aspect to me.
(I think you might be overcomplicating this. I just want to be a Dom referred to as an Alpha, and I want to call my sub a beta.) You do you. When someone starts bringing in wolf stuff, I have to cycle through what they don’t mean: Wolf/human, Tamer/wolf, Alpha/Alpha (top/bottom/switch factoring, but not necessarily involving D/s), and wolf/wolf (related to puppy play, more or less, with both participants being pack members). One person’s pack is a D/s couple, but another person’s pack can be an Alpha/Alpha pair with each Alpha having at least a sub, cub, pup, etc. Den Mother/Father may not be involved if Cg/l isn’t combined with puppy play, it’s entirely possible to have non-sexual puppy play, the submissives don’t have to be “shared” by the Alphas, etc.
And that’s why the ‘you’re just another ~Alpha Wolf~ dom’ thing feels like we’re on different pages. I’m not necessarily an Alpha looking for a beta, and inhabiting Wolf mode doesn’t always mean I’m a Dominant looking for a submissive. Sometimes I need to let my inner sadist and Predator out to play, but other times I have a strong caretaking urge to be Den Leader taking care of a cub.