It’s the alpha female who really runs the show

This op-ed from the NYT triggered a memory for me. When I was studying science at Lehigh University – there was a local bookstore where I spent hours and hours browsing and dreaming and imagining a life post grad school. One day I came across a book – not sure of the exact title, but I think it was something like feminist approaches to science. The core idea that startled me was that I had been raised to believe that science was objective – and that observation was “truth.” Yet this book suggested that observations were influenced by beliefs and biases. Of course that seems obvious now – but it was a revelation for me then (circa 1986 or so).

For years I mused on the idea that different people could observe the exact same thing and their factual observations could be vastly different. I think the topic was male vs female observations of primates – that part I don’t remember – the part I remember is how vividly it struck me that the truths I had been taught about men and women based on observations of primate behaviors were no longer truths. That idea opened up worlds and universes of possibility for me. That idea rocked my world and forever changed me.

So this op-ed – isn’t a world rocker for me – but it is a quiet affirmation of a deep truth that I know in my own life.

Doug Smith, the biologist who is the project leader for the Yellowstone Gray Wolf Restoration Project, said the females “do most of the decision making” for the pack, including where to travel, when to rest and when to hunt. The matriarch’s personality can set the tone for the whole pack, Dr. Smith said.

Or as I often muse to myself – if mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy. There is a wisdom in putting on our own oxygen mask first, feeding our own need for sustenance so that we can be firm fair leaders and good decision makers. Then when we set the tone for our pack – it is one of gentle contented nurturing and safety.

If you are local to Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, VA, and the metaphor of the wild woman intrigues you, perhaps you will join our next gathering.