Sex in fanfiction part 9 – Return to the Omegaverse – Gender and Sexuality

This week I got a request from a friend to explain the concept of the Omegaverse to her in more detail. You may remember that I wrote a general outline of it all the way back in August which you can read here: https://clairewriteswords.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/sex-in-fanfiction-part-3-trends-omegaverse-and-knotting/

But this week I wanted to talk about the roles of gender and sexuality in the Omegaverse.

I have to admit that I’m a little uncomfortable in general with Omegaverse, partly because of the element of dub and non-con that tends to exist as a result of the rules of the Omegaverse, but also because of the role that gender and sexuality play.

Gender in Omegaverse is generally not about being male or female – these tend to be secondary characteristics rather than a definition of gender. Gender instead tends to be Alpha, Beta or Omega. In most fics Omegas tend to be the ‘breeders’ and are usually rare and are either very precious and sacred, or are considered to be unworthy and unsavoury. Usually male/female has no bearing on whether an Omega can produce children, and so Mpreg is very common in Omegaverse.

In terms of Betas – generally they tend to have some fertility issues etc, don’t suffer from uncontrollable ‘heat’ which leaves them with no control over their bodies, sex or, very often, choice of partners.

There are two issues that I want to address here before I go any further. Firstly the notion of ‘heat’ which is, in itself, quite alarming. The concept that the ‘female’ (ie. Those who can bear children regardless of whether they are male or female in terms of physiology) having no control over their bodies, being driven so intensely by hormones that they are basically nothing more than a sex crazed, lust fuelled half crazy begging to be shagged by any Alpha that comes along is a worrying thought. To lose control over ones body, especially in a sexual way, is not a pleasnat experience and the elements here of non and dub-con make that equally disturbing. The fact that it only applies to the child bearers (ie. ‘female’) is horribly reminiscent of misogynistic thinking of the past. Esentially one can consider an Omega to be a sort of sex slave, both to Alphas and to their own bodies and hormones.

Fertility is another issue. Often Betas tend to have fertility issues – and strangely only the female Betas can usually breed, when they can breed. But they don’t suffer the same ‘heat’ as Omegas and so one can assume that the child bearers (ie ‘female’ roles) are divided into two groups – those who can’t reproduce and those who are breeding machines. Not much of a middle ground and again says more about how we think about women than it does about sex in general.

Sexuality is an interesting concept in Omegaverse, and strangely it’s one aspect of Omegaverse that I actually really like – physical gender tends to have nothing to do with sexuality and instead it’s about the Alpha/Beta/Omega genetics, which means that whether you have a penis or not really has no bearing on who you are with. That said, in terms of reproduction a penis is generally still necessary, and Alpha females tend to be pretty rare because of the Omegaverse’s general need for a ‘knot’ as part of the reproductive part of ‘heat.’ Obviously male slash tends to be very, very common in Omegaverse, and, well, you all know how happy that tends to make me.

Generally though I can’t shake the unhealthy aspects of Omegaverse and what is says about societies attitudes towards traditionally female roles, and while I welcome the idea of ‘males’ filling those roles in terms of bearing children etc, it’s still a pretty degrading role to fill and the traditional and undeniable way it reflects on historical (and often modern) concepts of womanhood, ferility and child bearing, not to mention traditional gender roles in terms of sex and sexual dominance (ie. The ‘man’ is in charge and the ‘woman’ will just lie back and think of England because she’s nothing but a massive bag of uncontrollable hormones anyway) make for some pretty uncomfortable reading at times.

And that’s before we even get into the concept of Bonding – which is basically when and Alpha and Omega forge some sort of deep connection that binds them together. Which is a nice idea, but the fact that this generally happens during sex, and usually during a heat when the ‘female’ has basically no control over the situation or themselves, again adds to the non-con element and is horribly reminiscent of the old notions of taking someone’s virtue and them belonging to you and HAVING to be with you / marry you etc.

This then raises the issue of an Omega (‘female’) becoming property of the Alpha (‘male’) which is again a very worryingly misogynistic standpoint that I thought modern society was moving away from. Women as property? Hmm. You can surely see why I have issue with that.

Let’s consider for a moment the two popular sides of Omega – firstly the idea that Omegas are special and sacred because they can do something like breed and that means they need to be looked after and protected in case something happens to them. And secondly the idea that Omegas are a lower sort of species, almost like a pet (and yes, there are a LOT of fics out there wear Omegas wear collars to signify that they ‘belong’ or are Bonded to an Alpha)and not really something you want in your family. Either way it shows the fear that we have when it comes to reproduction and how we fear those elements of gender that are specifically female.

In all there are many elements to this Verse that relate to sexuality and gender roles in a way that make me pretty uncomfortable and forced me to take a much deeper look into the Omegaverse than I really wanted to.

No matter, you are all able to make up your own minds.

I’m curious to see what others think.

Until next time.

Love, etc

C

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Sex in fanfiction part 9 – Return to the Omegaverse – Gender and Sexuality

  1. Omegaverse gives me the creeps, especially when it turns up in LOTR or the Treks. Because to me, there’s plenty of ways to explore MPreg without it. At least in those two fandoms there is. Coupled with other points you’ve made, that I most certainly come across myself? Yea, creepsville city limits have just been entered.

    Not to disrespect anyone who writes it, that’s their choice after all. But I still think it’s creepy, along with RPFs.

    • I kind of get it, but yeah, it tends to freak me out a little bit too, but that’s more because of the dub and non-con elements than anything else. I guess I just rebel against the concept of lack of choice in sexual relationships.

  2. I usually think it’s creepy as all get-out, too, and tend to avoid it when I see it in original published m/m work. However…one fan writer on AO3 made me look again, at least with her take on it: the author is Venusm, the Avengers fic is ‘Born From The Earth’, and every update just floors me. Venus makes it work, without excusing or romanticizing the creep-factors of most Omegaverse cultures. In fact, the exploitation and challenges against it are a main plot point.

    Back to lurking now.

    • I’ve read a couple of pretty good fics, and some interesting takes on it. I’ll certainly come back to it later on in this series as I really think there’s more to say about it. And the more I read, the more I think it goes a lot deeper.

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