Saturday, September 6, 2014

What is M-Preg?

Mpreg is the acronym for male pregnancy. It is a plot device where males, usually homosexual and cis, can be impregnated by their partners. Many examples of it can be found in actual television shows like Star Trek: Enterprise, Farscape, and Alien Nation.[1] In these particular cases, mpreg is usually explained away through ‘alien biology’ or the use of futuristic technology. However, in fanfiction, there are many different explanations used for the occurrence of mpreg (including the ever popular ‘it’s just a thing that happens’). Medical experimentation, magic, or the existence of an Alternate Universe, are the most common explanations used. Recently, the Alternate Universe explanation has given way to the Omegaverse and its A/B/O hierarchy where male pregnancy can occur through Omega and/or Beta males.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Gender Fluidity, Transgender, and Intersex used in Fiction

Gender Fluidity;

Fluid: “not settled or stable; likely or able to change.”

Gender: “the state of being male or female.”

To go by these terms, gender fluidity is an interchangeable state of being male or female. However, it must be noted that gender and sex are not the same thing. Sex is biological. It is determined by genetics and characterized by physical attributes, an X or Y chromosome, sex hormones, and reproductive organs and genitalia. Gender, however, is psychological. It is the mental state of being male or female without correlation to the individual’s sex. Now that we know this we can determine that the exact definition of Gender Fluidity is when a person’s mental state of being male or female is able to change.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A history and overview of the A/B/O trope.

[This article can also be read on Ao3]

First of all, what is A/B/O?

The acronym A/B/O stands for Alpha, Beta, Omega; a term that originates from animal behavior research and describes the biological hierarchy inherent in the trope.

The Alpha, Beta, Omega hierarchy was first coined by Rudolph Schenkel in 1947 in his paper Expression Studies on Wolves, which was based upon his study of captive wolves in Switzerland’s Zoo Basel and was the prevailing theory on inter-pack dynamics until 1999.[1] Although the theory has been disproved for some time, the Alpha, Beta, Omega hierarchy has long since become a cultural myth similar to Freudian psychology[2].

In fact, much like Freudian psychology, once it was introduced to the human population, the notion of an A/B/O hierarchy was quickly taken out of context and soon became a popular way to infer the “primal dominance” status of the human male. While it has never been a true or even accurate way of defining someone’s personality, the descriptor terms Alpha, Beta, and Omega have had resurgence of late, most likely due to the push for changes in current social dynamics. As many on know, third wave feminism[3] (which seeks the social, political, and economical equality of the sexes) has become much more prevalent over the past three to four years due to the rescindence of many woman’s rights.

Unfortunately, since every action has an equal and opposite reaction, this has lead to many men seeking new ways to define themselves in the face of a social upheaval where their identity as ‘real men’ may no longer be assured. Instead of moving forward as one would hope, these particular men have decided to move backwards and cling to the A/B/O hierarchy as a way of defining their dominance level without having to assure those who may care about their lack of traditional feminine or homosexual qualities.[4] Ironically (or not), many gay men have taken to these descriptors like ducks to water, using them as synonyms for ‘true tops’ and ‘perma-bottoms’ within the gay community.

The reason I bring up these social nuances is because the A/B/O trope that we know today took off in the fan world roughly around this time. Although it is not clear where exactly it originated[5], it is clear that the original intent of this trope was to play upon this pseudo-hierarchal system and make it into a true, biological phenomenon. In so doing, it has created a flexible, yet steady set up for fanfiction writers to explore the human biology, gender equality, social structures, as well as what it truly means to be a dominant or submissive personality despite one’s biology.

While the Omegaverse (another term for the A/B/O trope) is inherently problematic in that it takes these outdated notions and turns them into a fully developed world where this hierarchy becomes fact instead of fiction, it has also become a safe space in which to refute not only this hierarchy, but actual gender-based oppression as well. As lierdoma writes, “Omegaverse is really a fascinating fandom invention. 50% of it is totally problematic and reinforcing a lot of fucked up patriarchal, rape culture values. The other 50% is some of the most insightful, subversive social commentary I’ve ever read on gender identity/gender roles/queer oppression.”[6]

Others have a less flattering view of this trope. Norabombay’s take on the trope seen in the ever popular Alphas, Betas, Omegas: A Primer[7] is tagged on Ao3 as a “dogfuck rape world” due to the fact that many fic writers who use this trope combine canine and homo sapien reproductive organs and responses in order to include heats and knotting during intercourse. The rest of the introduction goes on to illustrate norabombay’s contempt for potentially-clich├ęd erotic themes. Although not all of the primer is so cynical and does offer a lot of questions and potential solutions (in later chapters) as to the plot holes common within the Omegaverse’s world building, I would recommend doing your own research into the trope before making any judgments.