thefrogg: (Genesis)
[personal profile] thefrogg

A few weeks ago, I got sucked into the vacuum that is the Avengers fandom, and, as I always do when entering a new fandom, started reading everything I could get my grubby little hands on that looked at all interesting. In the process, I stumbled over a rather new trope in fandom at large - Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics, or to paraphrase a very loose and incomprehensive description stated in feelschat, 'the application of wolf behavior to human beings by people who'd never studied wolf behavior.'

It's a trope that has the potential to be amazing when handled properly. It's also...been handled in such a manner that the collective fandom squee over it totally squicks me out.

In the five fandoms I've found on AO3 that regularly dip into it (Avengers, where I found it; X-Men: First Class; Teen Wolf; Sherlock Holmes (mostly tv versions); and SPN/J2), I've found exactly two pieces of fanfiction that don't make me want to hit the back button for one reason or another (usually multiple reasons) and I'm writing one of them. The other is borderline. Granted, I've only read Avengers (every piece posted on AO3 with the tag), a handful in X-Men, and some SPN/J2, but it's a large enough body of work, and I've talked to enough fans that read in the other fandoms, to be willing to guess at the rest.

This is why I’m deliberately choosing not to use the inclusive we when discussing fandom treatment of the trope. The vast majority of A/B/O fic out there right now is not something palatable to me, and I’ll explain why:

It's not that I don't find the trope compelling, or sexy, or whatever.

It's because the way it's being handled makes reading it feel like writing rape-for-entertainment just got a free pass.

What happened to informed consent? What happened to sober consent?

Yes, there are other tropes out there that involve fuck-or-die (or fuck-or-suffer) mechanics.

A/B/O Dynamics aren’t equivalent to sex pollen, or pon farr, or ardeur (a la Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake novels). But fandom slaps an A/B/O tag on a story and assumes it’s okay not to take into account the fact that there’s no underlying framework to build upon.

Sex pollen is a one-off, a single incident (however long that incident lasts). It’s canon in enough fandoms for there to be a collective understanding of what it is, and characters involved have the tools to deal with the fallout, whether it’s transferring, or counseling, or starting a relationship or continuing one - in situations where it’s used as a weapon, it can be prosecuted, or whatever. There are stories out there that deal with the issues of consent inherent to sex pollen (or the equivalent) and do it with a thoroughness and delicacy that blow my mind every time I read them.

Pon farr is arguably the closest in comparison to A/B/O dynamics, but here, it’s firmly based in a non-human population, and it’s given the foundation of a society that learned to deal with it. Likewise, shapeshifter populations evolved with Alpha dynamics and heat cycles as part and parcel of their society. A/B/O doesn’t have that foundation - if that foundation is there at all, it’s because the author builds them into the fabric of their story.

As for ardeur in the Anita Blake series...one of the reasons it’s palatable at all is because there IS a struggle with consent, not just in yes or no, but in consenting to what and to what degree and does she have the control to--? But there’s no pheromones involved in it, and the person(s) involved aren’t being effectively drugged into saying yes when legally speaking they’re unable to give consent at all.

The closest canon setup I’ve seen to A/B/O dynamics is in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega werewolf series, and even that is--not permission to have an omega effectively raped (or in some situations, gang-raped) by one or more friends/allies/lovers/whatever. The Alphas in that series are more or less what the trope uses, but the Omega in Briggs’ novels is, to paraphrase the heroine’s words, “a very zen Alpha,” as in, they are outside the dominance hierarchy and can mouth off to the Alpha(s) with impunity.

The consent issues inherent in the A/B/O trope go right back to my first essay on dub-con. The problems arise when we don't establish the boundaries in which our stories are set. And we aren’t establishing the boundaries for a trope that just plain does not exist in any canon (as of yet), so slapping an Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics tag on a fic is just plain not enough to excuse a lack of in-story background support for why someone who’s plainly impaired (because they’re in heat, or because they’re under the influence of pheromones given off by someone who is) is capable of giving consent at all. Social norms will be different. Laws will be different. HISTORY has to be different, because a human population subject to pheromones like those present in A/B/O fic is not going to be able to exist in dense populations without mechanisms to deal with them.

Let me repeat the important part of the last paragraph, because fandom just is not getting it:

Slapping an Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics tag on a fic is just plain not enough to excuse a lack of in-story background support for why someone who’s plainly impaired (because they’re in heat, or because they’re under the influence of pheromones given off by someone who is) is capable of giving consent at all.

Right now, there is no collective understanding of consent mechanisms in a population like our own, in modern-day society, given A/B/O tendencies. This is something that boggles my mind, because fandom collectively seems to think that it doesn’t matter, that appropriate consent mechanisms just plain aren’t needed, when fandom not only assumes but demands them in other tropes.

Okay, so we’ve established that there are consent issues with A/B/O.

What exactly are they?

I mentioned earlier that I wrote an essay on fandom tropes and consent issues; the following is taken from that essay.

These are based on my personal views, legal precedents, and Western social norms; your milage may vary.

Consent Issues:
  1. Orgasm is an involuntary reaction to direct stimulation - in both genders. Just because someone has an orgasm, doesn't mean the sex is consensual. Physical pleasure doesn't automatically equal the mental or emotional equivalent, and it can be playing with the victim's head, or using the victim's body against them.
  2. Characters A and B could have had consensual shower sex, or fluffy sex, or kinky sex this morning. That doesn't necessarily mean that the sex they have tonight will be consensual. Consent given in the past doesn't imply that it will be in the future. If one partner objects, and the other doesn't respect that? Noncon.
    1. In some jurisdictions, marriage contains the concept of 'implied consent'; however, many such cases of spousal rape have been successfully prosecuted as assault
  3. Consent given after the fact doesn't make noncon 'okay'. Any relationship that starts with noncon will remain noncon, because you can't start an equitable relationship without being able to draw boundaries and trust they'll be respected.
  4. Consent given under any kind of chemical influence or biological imperative - whether internal, as in pon farr, or external, as in sex pollen - is not valid.
    1. Do I really have to explain something that can be reduced to 'date-rape drug'?
    2. In the case of biological imperative, this goes for both partners, even if only character A is affected. In most situations, the more A is suffering from the condition/influence, the more guilty character B would probably feel, and the less likely to be willing to let it continue, even if A and B are not sexually attracted to one another. This is particularly true if A would die or come to serious harm if B doesn't give in (see #5).
  5. Consent given under duress is not valid. In its 1998 judgment, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda defined rape as: "a physical invasion of a sexual nature committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive." Whether this is through blackmail, threats of force against a person or persons (whether it's to the prospective partners, or their friends/loved ones/whomever), or some other pressure, any consent given can't be considered given freely.
  6. Characters have the right to change their mind, no matter how far the sexual situation has progressed.
  7. Lack of verbal protest (i.e. character A not saying "no") is not implied consent. I would include such things as: non-participation, fighting, being forcibly restrained, etc. Conversely, in the absence of other consent issues, consent can be implied through active participation/enthusiasm.
The problem with these is primarily a symptom of not worldbuilding enough to support the A/B/O trope. Civilization has to change in order to support it. A story doesn’t have to have everything, but it has to have enough for the reader to know that consent issues have been taken into account.

Here’s a breakdown of some things to think about:

Societal Issues

A human race subject to A/B/O dynamics is not going to have the freedom to develop the same way ours has. Simple population density is going to prevent it, either because of omegas going into heat in public, or because of too many alphas in a limited area. Without coping mechanisms (or extremely low percentages of alphas and/or omegas in the population), cities like New York City won’t be possible, much less the kind of massive populations that China and India now boast.

Will developed countries have classes dealing with cycles, a la sex ed or health class? Manners? Will dynamics and cycling be included in sexual harassment seminars, laws, discrimination?

Will Omegas be treated as equals, or treated as second-class citizens? How about Alphas?

Will there be human rights campaigns to educate third world countries? Equal rights campaigns in countries where Omegas or Alphas (or Betas for that matter) are treated as second class citizens? Political platforms including dynamic rights (or lack of same)? Are Omegas or Alphas be expected to act certain ways?

What happens when an Alpha is abusive? Are there mechanisms for an Omega to escape? To prosecute? Will third parties be allowed to intervene on the Omega’s behalf? What if it’s the Omega that’s abusive? What if the Alpha’s trying to ‘do the right thing and not take advantage’? What happens if lifebonds are possible and one partner’s abusive?

If an Omega is in public and they’re going into heat (see Biological/Medical Issues), do Alphas (or anyone else who might notice) have an obligation to say something? To the Omega, to authorities?

Does society develop ways to minimize the trauma of going into heat in public? Are large companies required to maintain properly equipped (ventilation, soundproofing, not just bed/lube/food/water) rooms for employees? Are there companies that build/maintain public rooms that people can rent in, say, strip malls/shopping malls/etc.?

What happens to the kind of prejudices we have? Homophobia doesn’t make sense in an A/B/O society. What about homodynamic relationships? Is there a stigma against Alpha/Alpha or Omega/Omega partners? Is there a broader acceptance of polyamory?

Will there be dynamic communities? Will Alphas have reputations among Omegas as someone that can be trusted during a heat cycle, or someone to be avoided?

Will there be a taboo on people going up to a stranger and saying, “Hey, I don’t know you, but you smell really good right now, and I’m getting a little uncomfortable. Just thought you might like to know.”?

How does society deal with puberty? Do high schools have facilities on campus? Do teachers/staff have a responsibility to pull students suspected of cycling out of class and send them home?

Biological and/or Medical Issues

I’m not going to be going into mpreg, self-lubing asses, or knotting in this essay, much less this section.

Most A/B/O fic I’ve read deals with an Omega going into heat unexpectedly because of a lack of some kind of suppressant, a fictional drug used to modify someone’s cycling schedule, suppress pheromone output, provide behavioral modification benefits, or, basically, to stop someone from cycling unexpectedly.

The problem with this is - why is it unexpected?

Why wouldn’t an Omega know they’re going to cycle? If their suppressants are stolen, or they’ve been kidnapped, they’re going to go into heat when the level of drug saturation in their bloodstream drops below a certain point (or, if they’ve recently had a cycle, the next time their body would have gone into heat naturally). If there’s a possibility of drug interaction that makes it ineffective, there’s going to be warnings to that effect. Even if it’s a brand new drug and the interactions aren’t known? Or if their suppressant stops working because some kind of biological compatibility?

Why wouldn’t an Omega know the signs they’re going into heat? Wouldn’t there be signs? There’s symptoms for PMS, pregnancy, menopause, puberty, disease, practically any and every metabolic function. Why wouldn’t there be symptoms when someone’s entering a heat cycle?

Why wouldn’t an Omega know their cycle? Most women I know know at least approximately when they’re going to have their period. Being forced to have sex or be really uncomfortable for a day or two is a lot more reason to know exactly when not to go to work or be around someone who’s particularly attractive. Once an Omega’s had a few cycles, their schedule should be known - and they should know their own pre-cycle symptoms well enough to prevent a cycle from being unexpected.

Why does an Omega go from 100% not in a heat cycle to 100% in heat instantly? (Hint: It doesn’t work that way.) Metabolic processes are just that - processes. It’s not flipping a switch. There is time for symptoms to develop, there is time for an Omega to notice they’re going into heat, and quite probably time for Alphas around them to notice a spike in airborne pheromones and say something. There is time for precautions to be taken.

On completely different topics:

What about STDs? Is the transfer of bodily fluids necessary or helpful enough in the cycling process that protected sex isn’t ideal? Is the loss of control enough to preclude safe sex at all?

How does a female Alpha get a male Omega pregnant?

Do gender roles affect Betas?

Personal Issues

What, exactly, can be considered consent in a society where everyone’s affected by A/B/O dynamics?

Would Omegas have a ‘permissions’ list of people and/or sexual acts they carry around just in case? Would Alphas? Would either have an emergency contact person to be called in case of...?

Is taking suppressants like getting a flu shot? Does the widespread use of them protect the handful that don’t?

Does Alpha dynamic mean Alpha personality? Does Omega mean submissive? A lot of stories I’ve read use A/B/O dynamics as an excuse to write characters acting very out of character.

If the worst does happen, who gets blamed? The Omega for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the Alpha/Beta/whoever for responding to pheromones?

I know, it’s a lot to think about, and a lot of roadblocks. But I’m hoping that fandom would rather be known for intelligent, thoughtful writing rather than perpetuate the image of ignorance and obliviousness that has been thus far painted with this trope.

The thing is, it doesn’t take much. Just enough to make it clear that the issues have been thought about, that consent hasn’t been hand-waved because of the existence of something new and sexy.

But there has to be some groundwork done in establishing the foundation of this trope - and that has to be done by the fanfic author. It’s not canon - fandom can’t point to a series, or a book, or a movie, and go “This is what it is.”

Think about it. And put that thought in your A/B/O fic.

Date: 2012-07-09 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kat8cha.livejournal.com
All of my issues and questions about ABO summed up in one essay.

Date: 2012-07-12 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thefrogg.livejournal.com
*wave* Hi and thanks for the comment!

Date: 2012-07-10 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mamamia1964.livejournal.com
See this is one of those reasons that I know I'll never be a writer. I don't think these things out so clearly! I know that I've read stories where the holes were pretty big and had a few choice thoughts regarding said holes. I understand the whole idea of artistic license and etc. There are times, such as you pointed out, that the premise is beyond overlooking or being swept aside.

I've never read any of these ABO stories before since I read almost exclusively in the NCIS fandom. But there similarities I. What you comment upon here to some of the BDSM stories I've also encountered. I feel like authors such as blue raccoon and Xanthe have taken the time to think out how their dynamics would play elsewhere. In xanthe's au universe she has tried to make it plausible, if not always addressing some of the issues. In other words, I can read , enjoy, and not nitpick.

So returning to your actual theme....those are the stories that make me get all squirmy and annoyed for their expectation that I completely suspend all belief.

I hope I made sense in my comments here. If not, chalk it up to the parenting issues I've been suffering g through today!

I really enjoyed reading and thinking about what you had to say on the topic.

Date: 2012-07-12 02:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thefrogg.livejournal.com
Thanks for your comments!

I really hate reading stories and then two days later remembering and going 'Wait, that didn't make any sense, and oh, ugh.' and want to reach for the brain bleach because I didn't see things that squick me out in the rush of squee over new fic/trope.

Date: 2012-07-12 03:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] etothepii.livejournal.com
I've been seeing this linked around a couple times, so I was just wondering:

Is this just a note addressed to authors who are doing the things you're talking about, or were you looking to start a dialogue/discussion on the trope? I don't mind not butting in if this isn't an open discussion invite. :)

Date: 2012-07-12 01:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thefrogg.livejournal.com
A little of both?

I would very much like a polite discussion on the topic. That's one reason why I tried to write so much of it in the form of questions. I don't mind being disagreed with.

There are things in this essay that in hindsight I wish I'd either left out or said differently (or added). At the same time, I don't want to make discussion...not match the essay by changing it at this point.

But feel free to jump in if you like.

Date: 2012-07-13 02:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] etothepii.livejournal.com
Okay, well, I'm sure fandom's dogpiled on you plenty about your tone and kinkshaming and not actually reading any of the myriad of Omegaverse fics that actually do spend time on worldbuilding, so I'm not really going to bother rehashing any of that, since I'm sure you're already aware of it now.

And I'm not really sure how to phrase this but I feel like you're approaching fandom, tropes, and the idea of writing-porn-to-turn-people-on from a fundamentally different angle than many other people are.

You assert Slapping an Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics tag on a fic is just plain not enough to excuse a lack of in-story background support for why someone who’s plainly impaired (because they’re in heat, or because they’re under the influence of pheromones given off by someone who is) is capable of giving consent at all.

But I feel like you're missing a couple key points here, which I'd like to assert:

1. The A/B/O tag is being used as an implicit tag for dubcon/consent issues/noncon and that oftentimes, it is the assumption that the impaired person isn't capable of giving consent and that is part of the point of the fic.

To some extent, I don't personally agree with this -- I'd really prefer people slap an additionally dubcon/consent issues warning on their fic to go with the A/B/O tag, but that's really a matter of "are authors warning enough to make me satisfied with what I read" and kind of a confusing area for people since the underlying premise of A/B/O is dub/noncon.

2. Fics written as PWPs are not under any obligation to worldbuild.

Obviously, authors should be able to write fanfics with as much or as little worldbuilding as they want, because they should be allowed to write what they want. But I think even more than that, if the author of a fic is writing something that is entirely kinky porn, for an audience that is just looking for kinky porn, I don't really understand why you think they'd be under any obligation to worldbuild. If they don't want to and their audience doesn't care, then I don't really understand the problem.

Even if the people who prefer more in-depth kinkfic are left unsatisfied, that's really the choice of the author, and I think it can be assumed that they know they're writing for one particular audience (the "porn plz, extra kink" crowd) at the risk of not appealing to a different one (the "yes, but WHY does he have a knot?" crew).


Like, I'm reading your essay and I'm not really understanding what you're trying to say here.

This is what I'm getting out of it:

1. A/B/O is inherently full of a bunch of consent issues.
2. The small set of fanfiction I've read using this trope is almost all dubcon or noncon.
3. To write A/B/O fics that aren't dubcon/noncon, you must worldbuild better.

And the thing is, you're not wrong in any of those statements. But I think you're mistaken about the implicit statement, which is that the set of authors who are writing the fics you don't like want to be writing dubcon/noncon fics, and are happy with what they've got.

So what are you trying to say?

Date: 2012-07-13 05:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bobrossanon.livejournal.com
This was very well said.

Date: 2012-07-13 07:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] peeveee.livejournal.com
Very nicely put.

Date: 2012-07-13 05:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bobrossanon.livejournal.com
I wasn't going to say anything in response to this, because i) everything important re: kinkshaming, tone, knowledge base, audience, et cetera has already been said; ii) I don't have a lot of tolerance for meta in general; and iii) I don't have any tolerance for condescending language.

But I do want to mention that I've seen many (if not most) of your worldbuilding questions/comments addressed in various fics, and they don't necessarily need chapter upon chapter of explanation. Some of the best worldbuilding I've seen has been subtle, in the form of one-off sentences and dialogue exchanges.

In short, I'd recommend that you read more Omega!verse / A/B/O fics before forming an all-inclusive opinion on the trope and its writers.

Date: 2012-07-13 09:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arabwel.livejournal.com
Applying critical thinking to kink is always a good thing and does NOT equate to kink-shaming. Raising questions is a good thing

For me the thing is, A/B/O doesn't HAVE to be chock full of consent issues, reproductive coercion and female erasion so the attitude that "Well duh it's implied" bothers me a lot. Because to me that smacks of buying into the bigger issues of rape culture and reproducing them in fic with just changed labels.

Besides, people. Tone argument? Seriously?!

Date: 2012-07-14 03:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] etothepii.livejournal.com
I actually didn't find any underlying questions in the essay itself, aside from a lot that were more world-building prompts and less discussion points -- unless the essay itself was meant to be more along the lines of "let's have a worldbuilding brainstorming party", but it really doesn't come across that way. There are a lot of interesting questions that the existence of the whole A/B/O thing brings up. But I haven't actually seen people genuinely ask them in the open, though I have seen them be implied and even even answered implicitly.

As far as "A/B/O doesn't have to be full of consent issues", I think that really depends on what you're referencing when you refer to A/B/O. If you mean "A/B/O as an abstract concept", sure! That's true. That's entirely possible. There are fics that don't touch on several problematic elements of the universe. But they are in the minority and they have always been in the minority.

If you take into consideration the original prompts from the SPN fandom and the general trend of the A/B/O works base, the underlying themes have in the vast majority of the time been those of consent issues, with further worldbuilding usually incorporating rape, sex pollen, internalized and biologically encouraged sexism/misogyny (with emphasized rape culture being an element of this), and some degree of slavery. And of those themes, they do tend to be written in a fetishized/eroticized way.

That is how the universe has developed in its infant stages, guided in that direction by its earliest prompters and writers. This is the core aspect of the universe that differs it from other alternate universes. I'm not making a moral judgment here, but the A/B/O universe is very fundamentally about rape, rape culture, and the fetishization of quite a few elements of misogyny.

To acknowledge the strong trend that A oftentimes contains B (often by definition, as in the cases where the prompter specifically requests B), so strongly that when the average person sees A they expect to also see B, does not imply anything about about those who are aware of that pattern, and I'm... not really sure where you're getting that from?

The question is, then, and the question that I want answered is:

What is your argument? What are you saying?

Are you saying that when people expect an A/B/O fic to contain dubcon/noncon, or when a writer writes an A/B/O fic and expects their readers to assume it's going to contain consent issues, they are buying into rape culture?

Why?

I mean, I think it's pretty annoying and a little rude that people don't also tag their A/B/O fics with dubcon/noncon when appropriate. Sometimes people don't know what A/B/O is and sometimes people want to write or read A/B/O without dubcon/noncon. For the latter group, it seems pretty ridiculous that there's no way to easily tell (aside from the summary, but those are hardly standardized) if an A/B/O fic doesn't contain dubcon/noncon.

But I don't really see why that means the author or reader is buying into rape culture.

Also, if you're interested in talking about it, I'd love to know why you think there's a problem with writers writing about or including rape culture in fics! If someone wants to write that (or read that), especially in a kinky or otherwise eroticized context, is there a reason they shouldn't?

Date: 2012-07-19 03:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arabwel.livejournal.com
Sorry for the dealy in replying, I as out in the wilds with no real internets for a while!

Ok so - First off I have to admit that I have zero experience witht he Supernatural origins of the trope because SPN has never been my fandom. I have, however, read it pretty extensively in a lot of other fandoms so I've seen a lot of things done with it.

Basically, from my point of view making the assumption that anyone reading A/B/O will automatically know there willbe consent issues and even more so, recognize those consent issues is propagating rape culture. A bit like Twilight - those of us who already know better see it as a horrible abusive controlling mess, but a lot of people romanticize the hell out of it. By writing eroticized/romanticized descriptions of acts that lack consent without a frame of reference where this is noted, the lack of consent is given an air of normalcy. As much as we'd like to think everyone in fandom is a well-read feminist, etc, that is simply not the case.

I am definitely not saying that people should not want to write or read such things. I am not a hypocrite, after all. But I think these things should come with the acknowledgement that there are issues within. Literary equivalent of don't try this at home. Does that make sense?

Date: 2012-07-20 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] etothepii.livejournal.com
NOTE: OH GOD I'M SORRY I TYPE SO MUCH I JUST LIKE WORDS AND THIS IS AN INTERESTING CONVERSATION AND YEAH. :x


I'm not saying there aren't people (writers and readers alike) who aren't, uh, confused (to put it lightly) about what constitutes consent and what doesn't, because I've definitely had my share of "WHOA HEY SURPRISE GRAPHIC RAPE SCENE OUT OF NOWHERE WTF" moments. But I don't think that's a problem inherent only to ABO fics as a genre, so much as it is "this is something that happens in fics, and ABO fics are not an exception to that". It happens a lot in non-AU fics and it happens an appalling amount in BDSM fics.

It's still pretty discourteous to not warn your ABO fic if it's going to have explicit dubcon/noncon. I'd really like people to stop being bad about labelling things with warnings (or explicitly choosing not to warn).

I think another point I'd like to bring up (I'm not sure how I feel about it, but I think it's worth considering anyways) is that ABO verses with overt dubcon/noncon scenes (as these are the ones we're talking about) often contain enough worldbuilding such that it's overtly dystopian ("In an AU where Xs are considered property..." or "In an AU where Xs are required to go to suchandsuch for breeding...") as opposed to subtle ("And I realized he truly loved me, because he broke my car and told me never to speak to my male friend again"). And I feel like that change (the fact that the rape culture is basically turned up to dystopian extremes) is overt enough that the reader knows that the societal structure displayed is not normal/acceptable and is basically used for worldbuilding/exploration concepts or kink.

To throw in a real-world analogy, I guess, this would be something like a sketchy porn shop stocking "XXXTREME BACKDOOR SLUTS 9" vs a mainstream magazine in a grocery store with the headline "Women, here's how to not act too smart! You won't get a husband if you're too smart!"

However, I do agree with you fundamentally in that there should be a tag or warning or something, somewhere on fics just to be like "hey, fyi, I'm aware this is totally an eroticized rapefic" ("NC-17, noncon" usually works just fine, it's not even hard, guys) because otherwise sometimes you do come across moments where you're reading something and suddenly you have that moment in your head where you're like, "uhhhh does the author know she just wrote a rapefic? A warning would have been nice, thanks!"

But I don't think in this case that it's a propagation of rape culture or that it serves to normalize rape culture. I just think it's lazy, discourteous, and inconvenient for other people who might want to write in the verse without making it, you know, all about the dubcon kinkfic. But then, that's also not 'cause they're writing ABO fic. That's because they're bad at warning things that should be warned for.



tl;dr:

I don't think it propagates rape culture for ABO fics to be considered inherently about dubcon because a) ABO is really just fandom shorthand for "dystopian rape culture AU with a lot of dubcon and always these kinks and sometimes those kinks" and fandom/fans know this, contrast with twilight where it's known as "a love story" instead of "a creepy story about some stalker guy" and b) no really, it's a massive dystopian AU, no one has ever said they (reader or writer) didn't see it as somewhat dystopian/fucked up, so there's less room for "oh i wish my boyfriend was like edward". So I think there IS the innate "don't do this at home, kids" assumption around its very name.

But I totally agree that people get confused sometimes and seem to think (in a meta, outside the scope of the fic universe context) that something coercive and rapey isn't actually coercive and rapey (BDSM fics, whyyyyyy), and to separate the "this is about rape but it's sexy so i read it anyways" group from the "this isn't rape, it's ~romance~" group, we should just make everyone warn for noncon and dubcon even if it's implied, because seriously guys, wtf, it's not that hard to have good warnings.

Date: 2012-07-14 11:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluffnutter.livejournal.com
To be be sure, A/B/O is an evolving trope in fandom. I admit I haven't read much of it, simply because every time I come across such a story, I'm turned off by the bad writing. I'm further hampered by the fact that I'm only interested in certain fandoms and pairings. Alas.

That admitted, anyone who's read my writing knows I'm attracted to issues of consent, but I ultimately try and establish that the sex/relationship IS consensual. I do love to play with the line, though, and I enjoy writers who play with it. Frogg and I disagree on this (we've known each other for a few years), but we agree to disagree.

I think it's important to remember that she's just expressing her opinion. It's her blog - she's allowed. First Amendment, remember? Some people have mentioned "kinkshaming," but what about "metashaming" or "squickshaming"? No one has to agree with her, nor is she demanding that writers agree with her. She's just expressing her ideas.

Date: 2012-07-29 10:34 pm (UTC)
ext_6437: (Default)
From: [identity profile] dmarley.livejournal.com
Sorry for the extreme late reply, but my computer had to be sent in for repairs and I just got it back (with this tab still open when I restarted Firefox). So, my belated response.

I agree that consent issues and world-building and realism can be problems in writing. I also agree that sometimes writers appear to be completely unaware that what they're writing even has consent issues. I wish very much that there was more awareness that rape is rape and that it's harmful and hurtful in fiction when a non-consensual situation is glossed over in the service of "true love."

What I disagree with is that every story has a responsibility to world-building and realism above and beyond the needs of that story. If the story doesn't need a treatise on the cultural history of that society, but instead just needs a sentence about how an alpha is expected to move in with their omega's family, then there's no need for the author to describe every metaphorical rifle over the fireplace.

I also strongly disagree that the above problems are in any way unique to A/B/O stories. Frankly, this type of argument is one I've seen many times before with tropes or genres a reader doesn't like; namely, you've assigned Horrible Flaws to the A/B/O trope and pretended that those flaws happen only in A/B/O stories in order to make A/B/O stories look bad.

The truth is that these are issues in each and every genre of fiction, including professional fiction, and I feel that you've singled out A/B/O stories to pick on because you don't like A/B/O stories, not because A/B/O stories are inherently more flawed than any other genre. It's fine to not like a genre. Goodness knows there are plenty of sub-genres that are auto-skips for me. But don't pretend that the A/B/O trope is the supervillain of fanfic when the problems you have with it are problems that cross over all the genres, including ones you probably like.

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