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Fanfiction Explained: Omegaverse

WARNING: This post discusses a very porny, homoerotic fanfiction trope with seasonings of bestiality, BDSM, and male pregnancy. This is INCREDIBLY NSFW.

Imagine a new version of society. In this version, sexual interactions aren’t just influenced by sex organs, gender identity, or sexuality, but by your status as an Alpha, Beta, or Omega. Betas are like the humans you know today–people with penises getting people with vaginas pregnant, with the usual influences involved. But they’re the exception. In this society, a large percentage of people are either Alphas or Omegas. Alphas are aggressive, dominant, and can impregnate others, regardless of their own sex organs. Omegas can become pregnant regardless of their sex organs–and in the case of men, often have secondary sex characteristics that aid in pregnancy, such as a self-lubricating asshole. Omegas also go into “heat” on a cycle, putting off waves of hormones that drive Alphas to seek them out, releasing their own hormonal need to mate. Both Alphas and Omegas are highly driven by their hormones, and in this society, most sexual interactions are ruled by this–by the push and pull of who a person is versus their status, their desire for kids or independence versus the inborn need in them to have children. It’s sexual drama, but not as we know it. And it’s one of the biggest tropes in fanfiction.

A/B/O, Alpha/Beta/Omega, Alpha/Omega, or Omegaverse, are all names for a type of fanfiction that first emerged in May 2010. Fanlore cites the first instance of this trope coming from a kink meme. Kink memes are neither memes nor intrinsically kinky; they are instead a name for communities where people are allowed to request certain fanfiction they’d like to see, and writers can choose to fulfill those requests for everyone to read. The idea started with people pairing up Supernatural actors Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, but it exploded in popularity, and now can be found in just about any fandom. Part of its fame is in its infamy; people react strongly to this trope, whether positively or negatively.

To me, this trope is fascinating because, when you look at the history of fanfiction, it seems like an almost inevitable extension of how fanfiction has increasingly explored taboos and sexual behavior. While fanfiction has a history intrinsically tied to the long history of literature (Fic by Anne Jamison has a great explanation of this), fanfiction as we know it largely emerged after Star Trek was cancelled in 1969. Science fiction fans started making fan magazines, writing the continuing adventures of the Enterprise and its crew. While at first these stories closely resembled existing episodes, the magazine format was increasingly popular, and increasingly niche fan publications started, and before too long…porn started cropping up. And then someone, somewhere, likely a queer person, decided to put it out there in the universe: maybe Kirk and Spock wanted to touch each other’s butts.

Even when fanfiction wasn’t gay, it increasingly began to address the taboo. After all, Spock is a Vulcan, and his species goes through a seven-year sexual cycle called pon farr, famously addressed in the episode “Amok Time.” Spock’s uncontrollable sexual desires was a rich minefield for speculation–what would it be liked, to be loved so overwhelmingly and passionately? What would sex with an alien look like, and what would the ramifications be? Would Spock even have a penis as we know penises? (Common fan knowledge holds that it has ridges, but I once came across an early slash fic that decided that it might bloom like a flower.)

Fanfiction obviously moved beyond just aliens and Star Trek, but it never stopped experimenting with taboo sexual concepts. Around 1983, examples started popping up of Mpreg, or male pregnancy. From pon farr it was easy to make the leap to just about anyone having something happen to them to create overwhelming, mind-altering sexual desire, whether from a biological imperative or sex pollen. There are also more predictable sexual tropes that share a lot in common with commercial romance literature: characters being forced to share a bed, hate transforming into love, arranged marriages, etc. In more recent years, especially with properties like Twilight, Teen Wolf, and Supernatural, werewolves have become increasingly popular in both fanfiction and romance novels; in romance, the “shifter” genre has become massively popular in and of itself, with were-lions, were-tigers, and were-bears. Oh my.

I mention commercial romance is because fanfiction’s sexual ideas are not come up with an isolation; they are reflective of the sexual desires of society. Omegaverse is, in fact, hugely reflective of society. I said it was inevitable because all it really is is a mash-up of some of the greatest fanfiction hits. But the way they’re combined says a lot about where we are as a culture. With characters becoming overwhelmed by hormones, consent is a huge factor; can they abide by what they meant to do when they were rational beings, or will they succumb to the need to fuck their brains out? Gender is both essential and a non sequitor, since neither sex organs nor gender identity are involved in whether people can make babies or be attracted to each other. And the writers who write Omegaverse fic can either choose to play these ideas straight or to subvert them. Each writer’s choices say a lot about how they are dealing with society, and how their own sexual mores are affected by it.

Pornographic fanfiction is often reacted to with disgust or revulsion, even by fanfiction devotees; taboos are, well, taboo. While that’s understandable, I think it’s more interesting to discuss why these sorts of things appeal to people, what factors cause their popularity. Kinky things don’t exist in a vacuum; we humans are beings with a complex interplay between our psychology, biology, and sexual desire, and what we are aroused by is always a reflection of that. Our reaction, whether it is positive or negative, should only be the beginning of how we discuss sexual fanfiction.

You can talk to the writer in the comments, which I do moderate, but it’s my fucking party, man, be chill about it.

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