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Đánh giá về What the hell is the Omegaverse, and why is it all over TikTok?
Welcome, dear reader, to the Omegaverse.
The phrase has been part of fanfiction communities for the better part of the last decade, but it gained mainstream traction on TikTok in the past month. The tag #Omegaverse has over 357 million views on TikTok, and corresponding keywords like alpha, omega, and beta have racked up views in the millions as well.
It’s garnered enough online attention that, in a recent video with 66,800 likes, TikTok user 420sadbtch69 forewarned their followers, “One of these days, BuzzFeed or Vice or something’s gonna come up with an article being like, ‘Alpha, Beta, Omega: Here’s a guide to Gen Z’s Secondary Genders.”
With excruciating self-awareness, here is an explainer on the Omegaverse for a hapless millennial trying to understand yet another TikTok trend.
The Omegaverse, explained
The Omegaverse is an alternate universe (AU) of speculative erotic fiction that started in the Supernatural fandom. Smut fics are notoriously nonvanilla, and beyond being extremely graphic, Omegaverse fics have been criticized for depictions of assault and sexual violence because much of it revolves around nonconsensual mating and forced birth. Fics within the Omegaverse often depict feral sex scenes between two male characters, whose “secondary sex” is assigned as “Alpha” or “Omega.”
Within this universe, characters are categorized as “Alphas,” “Betas,” and “Omegas,” which is why stories within the Omegaverse are also known as A/B/O fics. Per this thorough guide by Wattpad author Velvelyami, Alphas are the highest ranking in this fictional universe’s lupine hierarchy, and whether male, female, or any other gender, are typically characterized by dominance and aggression. No matter their gender, Alphas impregnate others but cannot be impregnated themselves.
Betas are essentially humans and are subject to the same biological functions like menstruation, but typically are not paired with either Alphas or Omegas. Some fics characterize them as “peacemakers” between the two, according to online encyclopedia Fanlore, and others exclude them from storylines entirely.
Omegas are the lowest in this fictional hierarchy, and can be impregnated regardless of gender. The genre often crosses over with internet subculture “mpreg,” which revolves around male characters getting pregnant. They’re typically characterized as submissive to Alphas, and in many stories, have little to no agency in A/O relationships. Some fics that take place in the Omegaverse also include “Deltas” and “Gammas” who fall somewhere between Alphas and Omegas in sexual aggression.
If you think that’s a lot to take in, then you may want to take a break from reading before we get into the mechanics of A/B/O mating.
Most of the themes in the Omegaverse take from mating habits of pack animals, and typically portray a primal need for sex. Desire is cyclical; Alphas experience a “rut” sometimes induced by the scent of an Omega in “heat.” And yes, that pained me to write as much as it hurt you to read it.
As Wattpad author loveforpreserumsteve explained in “So, You Wanna Learn About Alphas, Betas, and Omegas: Handbook to the Omegaverse,” an Alpha will mark an Omega by biting them to mark ownership and “mix scents.” Again, regardless of gender, Alphas impregnate Omegas via a phallic external gland referred to as a “knot,” the structure of which is often described in thorough detail.
Within this universe, characters can experience “omegapause,” a menopause-like end to their fertility, and “rut leave,” a personal leave from work or school to go off and fulfill their insatiable desire to mate. Some fics will include “heat suppressants,” birth control-like medications that prevent characters from experiencing the need to mate or emanating a scent.
Again, it’s a lot.
Why is the Omegaverse big right now?
Staple concepts of the Omegaverse originated in an early Star Trek episode about Vulcan mating practices: If a Vulcan male didn’t mate during this biological cycle, he’d die. That inspired Star Trek slash fics between Spock and various members of his ship’s crew, and nearly 50 years later, inspired the Omegaverse trope in Supernatural fanfiction.
It’s been applied to a multitude of fandoms since; there are nearly 20,000 Omegaverse stories on the fic site Archive of Our Own, over 1,000 on WattPad, and countless discussions about it on Tumblr. The popularity of the Omegaverse — and the largely crowdsourced world-building applied to these fics — even sparked a legal battle between two writers who both published books adapted from A/B/O fics over similar storylines.
Videos referencing the Omegaverse began appearing on TikTok as early as spring 2020, and while those videos gained hundreds of thousands of views, they stayed within the fanfiction community that was already familiar with the concept.
Many TikTok users were likely first exposed to Omegaverse fics when enthusiasts posted videos referencing it, like TikTok user latocino. In a November 2020 video that now has 472,600 likes, latocino recommended a gay manga (known as yaoi) called “12 Zodiac Boys,” and tagged it #omegaverse. Despite narrating the video in Spanish, latocino’s enthusiasm for the genre transcends language barriers.
“I have no clue what is being said but I have never been so sold to watch something before,” one TikTok user commented.
“I cant undertsand (sic) but she literally has me sold on reading this,” another replied.
Outside of fanfiction and manga enthusiast accounts, a video posted around the same time as latocino’s reminded TikTok users of the Omegaverse fic copyright lawsuit.
“If you’re having a bad day, just remember that real judges and lawyers had to learn the ins and outs of wolf erotica,” TikTok user godofsparklingwater said in a video that now has 115,500 likes. “So that they could determine whether or not a particular piece of wolf erotica was copyright infringement or not.”
The trope took over users’ For You Pages by force during Ramadan in 2021 when Muslim creators jokingly questioned the practice of mating during the holiday, since sex is forbidden while fasting. In what appears to be the first video about the subject, creator omarsbigsister posted a TikTok captioned, “when it’s Ramadan so you can’t breed your favorite omega anymore.”
Thanks to TikTok’s algorithmically generated For You Page, which queues up content related to videos you’ve already engaged with, TikTok users’ For You Pages were flooded with Omegaverse content.
“I kid you not when I say my For You Page has been riddled with Muslim…Omegaverse TikToks,” user kireiparks said in a stitched video to omarsbigsister. “I’m not Muslim and I don’t know what the Omegaverse is. I don’t know how I got here. I’m lost.”
And as with most memes du jour, the more absurd the concept, the more likely it is to go viral. Since omarsbigsister posted that video, content about the Omegaverse has boomed on TikTok.
Some creators frame Omegaverse discourse like social justice discussions, from advocating for Omega autonomy to asking for more Beta representation in media. In a call out video barely holding back laughter, user cancatcan reminded another TikTok user that Betas don’t “understand the struggle that Alphas and Omegas have to go through every month just because they were born a certain way.” In another video, user xiaostrophywife poked fun at religious conservative’s disapproval of birth control, but with Omegaverse heat suppressants.
Ok, but isn’t the Omegaverse kind of problematic?
Anne Jamison, who authored the 2013 book Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World, described the Omegaverse as both “pure porn without plot,” and also a collection of stories that “develop very complex political worlds with tension around issues of passing, hormone suppression, consent, and Omega rights.”
Before it blew up on TikTok, fanfiction writers and readers did have genuine discussions regarding consent and bodily autonomy within Omegaverse fics. A 2016 Tumblr post described a legal system within the Omegaverse that punishes Alphas for mating with Omegas without consent, but, much like in our world, non-consenting Omegas are still subject to shaming.
“False claims are extremely rare, but some lawyers like to use the false claim theory to defend their client,” the OP wrote regarding forced mating.
Another Tumblr post from 2018 emphasized the importance of consent when marking a mate within the Omegaverse, describing the act as an almost sacred ritual. To bite someone against their will, the Tumblr user wrote, is a “serious crime” that can be punished with life imprisonment.
“Some people in-universe would be even capable of arguing that mating is an immoral act on itself because of its intrusive nature,” they said.
Despite some enthusiasts trying to shape this fictional universe to be more progressive, explicit, violent stories within the genre prevail. Still, responses to those fics may open up larger discussions about power imbalances and the ability to consent.
A paper written by Milena Popova for the Digital Cultures Research Center at the University of the West of England uses the Omegaverse to analyze the impact of power structures in intimate relationships. Popova uses three Omegaverse fics to analyze the ways partners with innately less power may communicate (or not communicate) their non-consent to sexual activity, and the discussions that followed the fics’ publications.
“They clearly problematize issues of power and consent and offer ways of negotiating meaningful, consensual intimate relationships within wider abusive social structures,” Popova wrote.
Beyond discussing consent, Omegaverse fics also provide a platform to explore aspects of gender and sexuality. One Tumblr user, irate at the fact that the Omegaverse has become the butt of online jokes, posted that the genre is particularly popular among women and trans people because of the way it plays with gender norms. The canine dynamics are a metaphor, they wrote, for “navigating identity and sex and relationships in a world where the people you desire and the kind of sex you get off on are part of a system that oppresses you politically, and your own biology is at once the instrument through which you live and achieve sexual fulfillment, and a weapon that can be used against you.”
As foreign and strange it may be, the Omegaverse’s popularity — and the fantastical, smutty fics written within it — is sure to endure through another decade of the internet.
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