NY Times gets into some knotty legal issues around fanfic tropes
May 23, 2020 10:23 AM   Subscribe

A Feud in Wolf-Kink Erotica Raises a Deep Legal Question (NY Times, possible paywall, possibly NSFW depending on how your work feels about sexy wolves)

"The dispute between Ms. Cain and Ms. Ellis is a kink-laden microcosm of tactics at play throughout the fanfic industry. As the genre commercializes, authors aggressively defend their livelihoods, sometimes using a 1998 law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, to get online retailers to remove competitors’ books. When making a claim, a creator must have a “good faith belief” that her ownership of the work in question has been infringed.

But what does that mean when the ultimate source material is a crowdsourced collective?"
posted by betweenthebars (73 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
knotty legal issues

*inappropriately loud snort*
posted by cortex at 10:28 AM on May 23 [87 favorites]


She was supposed to be working on a scholarly book about her research, but started writing intensely erotic Batman fan fiction instead.

Story of my life.

The fact that I think this stuff is silly does not mean its safety is not very important in the wider world of copyright disputes and fandom.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:36 AM on May 23 [15 favorites]




What a mess. There's such deep tension between the gift economy of fandom communities and the larger intellectual property ownership regime in the rest of society. They're fundamentally just incompatible and whenever people try to transition works between them it seems like the legalities end up creating really sad, toxic situations like this.

On a different note, I never thought I'd see the day that I'd read about mpreg fic in the New York Times. 2020, you are weird.
posted by potrzebie at 10:47 AM on May 23 [41 favorites]


“‘Some Bunny to Love: An M/M MPreg Shifter Romance,’ an improbable tale involving an Alpha male who can transform into a rabbit.”

I love how, far into the article, this was the first plot that the New York Times journalist felt was “improbable”.
posted by Kattullus at 10:51 AM on May 23 [44 favorites]


They also found mundane AUs weirder than slash as a general concept. I strongly suspect the journalist is, in fact, in fandom, because tbh I feel the same way.

I'm on Ms. Ellis' side in the legal dispute, but "whoops I was supposed to be working but I wrote erotic Batman fic instead" is a deeply relatable mood.
posted by nonasuch at 10:54 AM on May 23 [27 favorites]


Sometimes I miss the old fandom days, when it was a major faux pas to bring up fic/art to the cast/creators of the canon, when everyone put "I own nothing, please don't sue" in the headers, and fandom feuds took place in locked Livejournal posts instead of on the pages of the New York Times.
posted by lovecrafty at 10:56 AM on May 23 [46 favorites]


I find it hard to believe that there are only 70,000 omegaverse fics on AO3.
posted by mogget at 11:10 AM on May 23 [10 favorites]


Oh wow! Turns out we just missed the ten year anniversary (it was May 17) of the origin of the Omegaverse [NSFW, text-only], a fanfic concept suggested by an anonymous individual that doesn't even use the term "Omega".
Source: fanlore.org [also NSFW].

Incidentally, before I saw this post I saw that @NYT_first_said had tweeted "omegaverse" and I actually decided I didn't need to look into it. Guess that was a mistake.
posted by What is E. T. short for? at 11:11 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


Same Lovecrafty. These days even remembering reading fic on LJ marks me out as an Old.

But the Omegaverse case is likely the first time these legal arguments have been invoked in a dispute over works that grew out of a corpus of fan fiction generated informally by thousands of writers.

It appears to me that the obvious legal analogy is fairytales. I'm not infringing copywright if I write a book about seven short people and a girl living together, am I?
posted by Braeburn at 11:12 AM on May 23 [8 favorites]


I miss them too, lovecrafty. I think fandom was a better world when nobody thought there was money to be made off the labors undertaken there.

I think the idea that anyone can own the concepts that define a/b/o fic is ridiculous, ftr. The author claiming she does is the fiction equivalent of a patent troll. But it only takes one judge to rule in her favor...
posted by potrzebie at 11:14 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]


The fact that I think this stuff is silly

Self-indulgent silliness is one of the great gifts of fandom. It might not be my thing, but everyone's baffling story ideas and weird kinks make fandom fun.

But really, this story is something that people have been concerned about ever since the passage of the DMCA. I remember when it was still controversial and there were still protests - to no real effect, of course, because corporate interests have captured the legislative process.
Like Cockygate, the Omegaverse case reveals how easily intellectual property law can be weaponized by authors seeking to take down their rivals. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, individuals or companies can send takedown notices to retailers as long as they have a good faith belief that their work has been infringed. Retailers are protected from being named in related litigation if they remove the material, and many websites comply with D.M.C.A. notices without even investigating the claims. Legal experts say the system is easily abused.
I think this is the bigger story here. I mean, the mainstreaming of fanfic (or fanfic-derived works) is a story too, but this exact scenario has also played out in "purely original" works as well. An author feels like they own certain ideas, even though they don't, and are enabled by a deeply flawed law to get other works using those ideas taken down.

There are no quotations in the news story that support the argument that Ellis wrote an infringing work. It seems that Cain accuses people of plagiarism for using similar ideas and plot points - which are not covered by copyright. And it's particularly telling that she can't mention any specifics because, as she says, she was too upset to actually read Ellis's books.

fandom feuds took place in locked Livejournal posts instead of on the pages of the New York Times.

I wouldn't call this a fandom feud. It's "original" erotic fiction that draws from fandom tropes. Similar feuds have played out between authors of more mainstream works too. The DMCA has been abused in this way for as long as it's existed.

The new thing is that the word omegaverse has made it into the NYT... and I feel kind of ... weird ... about that....
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:27 AM on May 23 [10 favorites]


Such works are legal as long as writers post them for free and don’t try to sell stories based on copyrighted material.

Wow, it’s just that simple! Thanks, NYT! Who knew that the definition of Fair Use, with its particulars defined over countless court judgments over the years, could be boiled down to that simple dictum?
posted by Monochrome at 11:33 AM on May 23 [9 favorites]


Sometimes I miss the old fandom days

I recall a costume contest where one woman went up in a strange dress. It turned out to be a white sheet which she unfurled to show a nude Kirk and Spock in a very sexual pose. She was thrown out of the convention. This was in the early 70s.
posted by Splunge at 11:37 AM on May 23 [23 favorites]


These days even remembering reading fic on LJ marks me out as an Old.

So I suppose remembering reading K/S stories on paper marks me as an Ancient?
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 11:49 AM on May 23 [22 favorites]


Sometimes I miss the old fandom days, when it was a major faux pas to bring up fic/art to the cast/creators of the canon ...

Sometimes I miss those too. My eyes pop when I see young people buying and presumably wearing clothes or bags with shipping stuff on them, or getting ship tattoos. I wish to say: can we please keep our enthusiasm under our big, ugly hats.

But I think that overall it is a much better day for fans, especially because creators and actors have begun to shift from fear, disdain, and anger to delight and active engagement with fans. Some of the younger ones, such as Noelle Stevenson, came up through fandom, and they understand.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:50 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]


Splunge, my favorite on your comment is not approval of that action, but approval of that woman's absolute nerve.

I once read that in the early '70s, the discovery of K/S slash in a woman's possession was used against her by her ex-husband in their custody battle, which she lost. I wonder a lot about that woman and how things went for her.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:53 AM on May 23 [16 favorites]


All I know about fandom/fanfic/etc is what I've picked up here from comments and posts. But as an outsider to it all, I really enjoyed this article. It managed to highlight many of the peculiarities of the situation without just going for the easy lulz.

I strongly suspect the journalist is, in fact, in fandom...

I also got that sense; if they aren't, they did a deep enough dive into it to be able to talk about it from a point of some knowledge and empathy.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:58 AM on May 23 [4 favorites]


Pretty related, get ready for even MORE abuse of this type:

"U.S. Copyright Office Says It's Time to Update the DMCA—Mostly in Favor of Rightsholders"

Shocker.

"The Copyright Office report, however, goes the other direction. It identifies the problems as primarily affecting rightsholders—and while it is “not recommending any wholesale changes to section 512,” it recommended adjustments that would make it easier for corporations to issue takedown notices."

Emphasis mine. As if this article doesn't show that it's already trivially easy to send a takedown notice.
posted by deadaluspark at 12:15 PM on May 23 [13 favorites]


Really fascinating article! I've come across these books on Amazon and always wondered what "Omegaverse" was, because it was clearly a shared 'verse but not one I was familiar with or that was associated with a known fiction universe - it seemed to have popped out of nowhere into fictionland. It makes more sense now that I know it was derived from fanfic, because yeah, fanfic does that with constantly mutating shared tropes and 'verse elements that somehow become genres of their own.
posted by Hold your seahorses at 12:17 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]


I know one of the experts interviewed for the article; the writer is not, in fact, in fandom.
posted by suelac at 12:23 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]


I wonder how much the Alpha and Omega tropes owe to Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson and "Alpha and Omega" novels (2006 and 2007)? They're the werewolf/vampire novels set in Washington State that are OK to like.
posted by 445supermag at 12:25 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


It’s hard to imagine that two writers could independently create such bizarrely specific fantasy scenarios. As it turns out, neither of them did. Both writers built their plots with common elements from a booming, fan-generated body of literature called the Omegaverse.

Hmmm. To quote Guy Debord:

Ideas improve. The meaning of words participates in the improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It embraces an author’s phrase, makes use of his expressions, erases a false idea, and replaces it with the right idea.

I mean, honestly, this whole thing strikes me as a farce, and people should just be able to enjoy writing and not worry if they accidentally cribbed someone else's idea, but no, we gotta get all fucking CAPITALISM on it and get it all confusing and stupid with intellectual property laws involved because MONEY.

Ugh. Glad this is cheering everyone else up, it's just reminding me how completely and utterly broken our copyright system is. Like... how could anyone with a shred of decency or self respect spend time contributing to something like the Omegaverse and then turn around and be like "oh no, but I own THIS part. I need money for it. Way more than that other person who did the exact same thing as me does. In fact, I'm gonna sue them over it to keep my cut."

It's an artistic collective, and capitalism, as usual, is ruining things.

Inb4 "how can it be ruining things if people are making money?"

Just remember, statistically, writers generally do not make enough money to live off alone. Writing has been massively devalued as an art, and this is basically a gig economy job where you're trying to push out as much content as possible as quickly as possible to make some money on the side, and maybe enough to live a modest lower-middle class lifestyle if you do well enough.

And to keep making that money, they're freaking suing each other.

Also, jeeze, did Addison Cain really have to look like the probably-already-moderately-privileged white lady who decided it was her turn to profit off the backs of a collectives intellectual works?

Fanfic is fine, I'm down with fanfic, but whoa this whole thing makes me ill. It feels like the overarching American trajectory of commodifying absolutely everything in existence just ruins every single, little, positive thing.

There's a pandemic going on, people like this should be building each other up and building community (you know, like they did in the Omegaverse before they decided they wanted to get some moolah), not suing each other to try to bilk one another out of profits. What's worse is our copyright system is literally designed to incentivize that behavior, because if you don't use money to protect your copyrights in court, you lose them.
posted by deadaluspark at 12:53 PM on May 23 [10 favorites]


I wonder how much the Alpha and Omega tropes owe to Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson and "Alpha and Omega" novels (2006 and 2007)? They're the werewolf/vampire novels set in Washington State that are OK to like.

Omegaverse was going strong in Supernatural fandom around 2011-ish, and already starting to break out into other fandoms as the pan-fandom tropefeest it is at that point, so before the Patricia Brigg's books.
posted by blithers at 12:56 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


My favorite article about the beginning of A/B/O fic is this one: The nonnies made them do it!

"Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics" (also known as "Omegaverse" and often just abbreviated to "A/B/O") is a genre combining a series of tropes, creating a shared universe, which originated in SPN / SPN-RPF fandom in between the Summers of 2010 and 2011, very much as a product of anon activity, whether taking place in fic communities that relied on anon participation or in more general anonymous discussion comms.

The present text aims at providing an account of how it arose, or at least make a decent stab at it. Because, as someone at fail_fandomanon said, "half my impetus for getting into a/b/o was because I just wanted to know how it happened. How does fandom build an entire trope basically from the ground up? It's fascinating to me." And they're not alone in this sentiment, as it was fascinating for those who watched it happen too.

posted by blithers at 12:57 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]


Inb4 "how can it be ruining things if people are making money?"

Just remember, statistically, writers generally do not make enough money to live off alone.


I've definitely had this conversation with some of the younger generation: "You just don't realize that these days people need to make money!!!"

(a) people need to make money? for real??? I never knew; but (b) from basically every modern example and precedent we have seen to date, introducing late capitalism in particular to this ecosystem means that maybe a tiny handful of creators will get comfortable; the vast majority of the money will go to middle-man rentseekers presiding over miserably exploited creators; and if you don't understand that, you're frankly too ignorant to be talking policy and should stick to the erotic fantasies.
posted by praemunire at 1:03 PM on May 23 [11 favorites]


creators and actors have begun to shift from fear, disdain, and anger to delight and active engagement with fans.

Yes, it's horrible.
posted by star gentle uterus at 1:06 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]


Applying this argument breathlessly to erotic fanfiction like it is a problem unique to the genre makes for good newspaper copy but if the lawyers involved can't come up with any good case law on how to apply scènes à faire doctrine, they should hire better lawyers.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:10 PM on May 23 [9 favorites]


Omegaverse was going strong in Supernatural fandom around 2011-ish, and already starting to break out into other fandoms as the pan-fandom tropefeest it is at that point, so before the Patricia Brigg's books.

Wow, I just looked at those dates again, and got them totally reversed so... maybe?
posted by blithers at 2:16 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]


I kind of want someone to write a fanfic about the two authors resolving this through an AU realization of their own roles in an omegaverse where their collective fans are the alpha, but fanfic about lesbians is virtually nonexistent. Ah well.
posted by bile and syntax at 2:20 PM on May 23 [11 favorites]


Turns out we just missed the ten year anniversary

UGLY CACKLING THANK YOU FOR BEING ONE OF THE FEW PPL WHO ACTUALLY REMEMBERS THIS
posted by poffin boffin at 2:23 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]


oh wait no i deeply regret to inform you that there was something earlier than that, where someone wanted to see noncon btwn jensen and one of jared's dogs.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:25 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]


There's some strange parallel here in the Alpha/Beta/Omega scheme.
On the one hand, a lot of (mostly) women writing this fanfic over the past decade or so.
On the other, at the same time, a bunch of men creating their pickup schemes.
posted by doctornemo at 2:38 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]


... I could have gone my whole life not knowing that Poffin...
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 2:39 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]


yes but on the other hand now you can spend the rest of your life sharing that fact with others who will instantly feel the same way.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:41 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]


did I just wander into Metafilter After Dark
posted by roger ackroyd at 2:58 PM on May 23 [16 favorites]


Oh, SPN fandom... the focus (if not source of) of so many tropes and strangeness of current fandom in general. I'm always a little bemused when I meet a Supernatural fan (usually male) who doesn't have all the automatic associations and references I do. A/B/O, RPF vs. Wincest, tinhats that creepily pore over every actor interaction at the many--MANY--conventions...

SPN was supposed to finally end this year, but the pandemic has postponed filming on the last few episodes. I am interested to see if another similar megafandom rises that heavily influences all the others, even wildly unrelated fandoms, or if the death of LJ/mailing lists/blogs has Balkanized fandom too much.
posted by lovecrafty at 3:06 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


I kind of want someone to write a fanfic about the two authors resolving this through an AU realization of their own roles in an omegaverse where their collective fans are the alpha, but fanfic about lesbians is virtually nonexistent. Ah well.

Robert Anton Wilson faked his own death so that when he publishes this as a sequel to Illuminatus! no one will see it coming
posted by cortex at 3:14 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]



I kind of want someone to write a fanfic about the two authors resolving this through an AU realization of their own roles in an omegaverse where their collective fans are the alpha, but fanfic about lesbians is virtually nonexistent. Ah well.

Robert Anton Wilson faked his own death so that when he publishes this as a sequel to Illuminatus! no one will see it coming


*shudder*

I do not know how you managed to pick one of the people I would least like to see write this, but wow. Thanks for the reminder that when lesbians are in the media, it's because straight cis men think we're a fetish activity.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:39 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


There are very distinct roles in Omegaverse, revolving around decoupling gender from genitals and reproduction, and using concepts of heats, soulmates, scent, and hormones to explore gendered assumptions and expectations.

It's also about improbably huge penises, men and women alike (if alphas), and very accommodating orfices (omegas).

An informal survey I read suggested Omegaverse is more about size kink than any actual gender exploration (mpreg, everyone has genitals but not mapped to gender), or the animalistic elements (heat, knots, scenting). The alpha and omega aspects of Briggs' work is seemingly unrelated, given the focus differences.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:25 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]


Oh the stories I could tell... :)
posted by Splunge at 5:17 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


about dog dicks and magically lubricated buttholes
posted by poffin boffin at 6:25 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]


Today I learned that hetero A/B/O porn is a thing writers make money from. I really hate this timeline.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 6:34 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]


poffin boffin: oh wait no i deeply regret to inform you that there was something earlier than that, where someone wanted to see noncon btwn jensen and one of jared's dogs.

Oh god so the best?? part of that is that I think the dog died and then people decided it was disrespectful to write it so they started requesting only stories featuring an original male dog character and now Original Male Dog Character(s) is a canonical tag on AO3.
posted by capricorn at 7:31 PM on May 23 [21 favorites]


ugliest cackling
posted by poffin boffin at 8:00 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]


I have a friend who I found out writes A/B/O and I realized very quickly that people into A/B/O don't actually care how breeding alpha socialization functions in wolves, and that some people are very vehement about the distinction between cosplaying semi-anthro plush lycanthropes and furries, and are very insulted that you could confuse the two.
posted by klangklangston at 9:37 PM on May 23 [7 favorites]


Oh god, I forgot how weird the SPN fandom got. Thank you Capricorn!
posted by Braeburn at 12:04 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


As someone who has had to deal with weird bad understandings of how wolves wolf in my gaming (thanks White Wolf for W:tA and Gangrel) I feel for people annoyed about how wolves don't work like this.
posted by gryftir at 12:24 AM on May 24 [6 favorites]


Is any explanation given for how M/M impregnation works, or is it the sort of thing that we don't inquire about?
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:11 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I am pretty sure this kind of story is why comics' Matt Fraction had his twitter name as 'Werewolf Butt Stuff' for ages.
posted by taterpie at 1:33 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]


is it the sort of thing that we don't inquire about?

the primary focus is on the dog dick going into the magically lubricated butthole a lot
posted by poffin boffin at 3:11 AM on May 24 [6 favorites]


no one really agrees how the impregnation happens. accepted/trendy convention changes every six months it felt like. at some points there's a loop back to how the outside conversation in fandom queer spaces especially as trans representation built up some kind of mass, so you can actually feel how queer or straight (of the ciswomen hetero kind) the conventions are approached by the writer. even when the part of this kink is to dwell on the pregnancy, no one's really come to an agreement how exactly.

(tbh i get the impression tht part of the popularity is how ciswomen hetero the original seed of the idea was - lubricated passages seemed like such an insurmountable issue* in m/m slash fiction until this caught fire and it's just lubricated assholes as far as the eye can see, because the only intercourse that matters is the penis-in-vagina kind, and being fertile)

*i did learn a lot about lubricants or what could serve as one.
posted by cendawanita at 3:37 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


I will stop giggling for a second to riff on an earlier question: why aren t
these works public domain?

I think that question has been answered (the Supernatural show is copyrighted, and no one wants to poke that bear)

But I thought of another reason, besides the fact that you might not have many judges that want to deal with this, why you wouldn't want these works as public domain:: public domain is the go to IP for breaking writer's strikes.
posted by eustatic at 5:48 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Is any explanation given for how M/M impregnation works, or is it the sort of thing that we don't inquire about?

A lot of women have issues around their sexuality but also a lot of internalized self-hate and other weird issues, so they basically feminize one of the male characters but won't acknowledge that that's what they're doing, even though nothing they write about has anything to do with how two queer men would interact.

I've long since had to block "mpreg" on tumblr.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:46 AM on May 24 [8 favorites]


why aren't these works public domain?

Why would they be?

Most fanfiction writers don't think much about the copyright on their works. Everything they write is automatically copyrighted (in countries following the Berne Convention) and putting their works into the public domain would require taking extra steps. And of course, maybe they don't want their works in public domain. Many would like to have control over where it is posted, receive credit for it, etc.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:52 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]


oh god, for a second just now I went 'wait what year did she get into Batman fandom?' because I was very active in DC Comics fandom on LJ in the mid-to-late 2000s, and it was not a huge community so we would have likely crossed paths. thankfully the article says 2012, which also probably means it was movieverse.
posted by nonasuch at 9:24 AM on May 24 [4 favorites]


Did she find Bane arousing? Of course! He's a big guy. For her.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:22 PM on May 24


The wolf elements are irrelevant in terms of wolf-ness, for what it's worth. It is very much more about animalistic qualities chosen to highlight whatever it is that the author wants to emphasise. Scents, nesting, giant dicks, possessiveness, soul mates, it's specifically fantastical rather than based on wolves.

Omegas are often just...someone with a womb and a vagina, sometimes also a penis. Also the mpreg works like a regular pregnancy, just someone gendered as male. The reproductive abilities are delinked from our model of gender and patterned onto another - having a womb, scent patterns, hormonal patterns. Sometimes it's changeable, in that one can switch those genders (omega-alpha) but the gender we consider (male-female) remains the same. So a female alpha may have a big clit which she uses to penetrate a partner and a vagina that may or may not be penetrated, a male omega has a vagina and womb and probably a penis. Everyone lubricates everything. Every where. So much.

That said, the omega-gender is often patterned onto femininity and is either represented through extremes of femininity, or is subject to the patriarchal bigotry about femininity and femaleness. It is often extremely binary in that way, even if gender switching occurs. There is an enormous element of cis and hetero sexual convention applied to whatever pairing is chosen, and Omegaverse fetishising that hetero-ness through the explicit binary model - mpreg or not.

(The assumption that writing fuckfic about two men fucking is being queer or about them being gay leads to a whole lot of weird bullshit, complicated by the oft repeated refrain "everyone in fandom is a bottom"; making the receptive partner oft indistinguishable from a woman is a manifestation of heteronormative sexuality created with the male default media landscape, primarily focused on the sexual pleasure fulfilment of the cis and hetero (maybe bi) female writer within a community that rewards it)

But seriously, the alpha stuff is not about wolves, it's about fantasy role designation. I've seen Omegaverse patterned on clownfish! It's got more in common with werewolves than wolves. It's not really meant to be wolves? Even with the dog dick knot, since that pretty much size kink with a side of soul mate and perfect magical genitals.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:43 PM on May 24 [12 favorites]


You can see the mapping of traditional gender roles in how common it is for the omega to be naturally a housewife, often for a whole pack of wolves, doing the cooking and shopping and sometimes the cleaning.
posted by Orlop at 6:45 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


I'm hearing a lot of talk about As and Os here but where does the B in A/B/O come in? Do I even want to know?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:17 PM on May 24


B is for beta. At leadt in Teen Wolf fic, they’re mostly represented by pack members who aren’t the main couple. They aren’t Ruled By Their Libido and often provide comic relief, heat care packages, and critical expository freakouts. “Stiles, your heat is going to start ANY SECOND!! Where is Derek?!?!?”
posted by epj at 8:04 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


There's a fandom-famous tweet that I can't recall enough to find, but I can paraphrase thus: "The real fantasy in fic isn't the sex, it's grown men addressing their mental health and working through their feelings." I can see through geek anachronism and epj's comments how the a/b/o verse, however weird it may be, is in part another way of imagining how men would handle sexual and emotional relationship responsibilities if they were expected to do so.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:27 PM on May 24 [9 favorites]


Pretty much, yeah. It cements a form of care and aftercare into the universe and expectations for the people in the fic.

Like I read one story where haircare was part of home ec lessons. For the alpha to care for an omega properly.

Similarly I've never read an omega as a housewife for a pack of wolves. I mean, I read fairly random stuff and not the romance versions, but in fanfic the omega has feminine and feminised traits, within the male body. Alpha's in fandom are also often written with "caring for" as a dominant trait.
posted by geek anachronism at 10:41 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


Now I may be crazy, but back in the days when usenet was still a thing < 2000, I could've swore that there already was such a thing as alpha/omega fanfic, not necessarily the same thing as it is now and from what I hazily remember, based on some sort of kinky science fiction series?

Anybody know what I'm talking about?
posted by MartinWisse at 12:35 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


lubricated passages seemed like such an insurmountable issue

... because they're wolves, and don't have opposable thumbs to operate a bottle of lube?
posted by atoxyl at 4:25 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


because most of those writing were ciswomen and vaginal sex is a thing we like.
posted by cendawanita at 6:28 AM on May 25


I was just making a dumb joke off the phrasing I get what you're saying.
posted by atoxyl at 12:15 PM on May 25


oh man, i'm sorry, my tone totally didn't carry. i was really riffing off your joke.
posted by cendawanita at 6:02 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


I did miss that but I didn't take your original turn of phrase to be without intentional humor.
posted by atoxyl at 5:08 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


And anyway if I'm picking up stuff correctly these wolves may in fact have opposable thumbs? At least, sometimes?
posted by atoxyl at 5:13 AM on May 26


I found it odd that the writer kept using the phrase "lupine sex," as if there were literal wolves in typical A/B/O...
posted by trillian at 6:18 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


these wolves may in fact have opposable thumbs? At least, sometimes?

yes, mostly because they're only sometimes wolves (if the a/b/o involves them being werecreatures). but rly, before the human characters had this opportunity to express some lupine heritage, the 'what can i use for lube' plot point tended to be a hallmark of a well-considered authorial mind and thus, fic. with a/b/o, it's in their genes, not... you know, in their jeans.

sorry sorry i'll go now.
posted by cendawanita at 6:25 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


(Although I've only read fic in a couple of fandoms, so... who knows.)
posted by trillian at 6:25 AM on May 26


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