So my life outside of certification exams, trying to see if I qualify for Project Management Training, and Not Writing That Paper, has been consumed by what's being called the Alpha/Beta/Omega universe, and man, has it taken over my brain.
First the biology of it - Velvet Mace has done an amazing job fleshing out the physical biology of what an ABO universe might be like, but I've been eyeing the genetic side of it (WARNING: I am an arm chair geneticist. My background is not in genetics, and only generally in Biology.)
And then socio-everything side of it. Oh, oh is there a playground. theFrogg has done an...interesting write up. I don't agree with some of their conclusions, but that's based more of that fact I don't agree with the conclusions they got from the previous essay that the current one is based on. (Personal opinion, but I found both essays pretty interesting even if I didn't agree with them 100%).
The way I look at, the ABO has to be genetic, with B being the most common or dominant genetic make up, and A/O being a recessive genetic make up. I say that because in almost every ABO fic I've read to date (and I think I have perhaps read Way Too Many Of Them), is that there is always an emphasis on the fact Alphas and Omegas are rare. I'm choosing to think of it much the same way we think of Pea Flower Colors.
First - rambling genetic fun. So the fandom seems to be agreed on that ABO happens regardless of Sex. Ok! That means ABO isn't a sex linked chromosome right?
Another common thread is that in the ABO universe, Alpha females are rare, and male Omegas are rare. So perhaps it is. I'll get back to this thought later. Maybe.
If we look at ABO as being a Phenotype and not a gender (as most fic seems to be), then it's a dihybrid phenotype. I say this because it fits the classical Mendelian experiment! That experiment with Pink, Red and White pea flowers shows a 1:2:1 ratio, or if you cross a Red with a White, you'll get 2 Pink, 1 Red, 1 White. That leads me to believe that for every 2 Betas in the ABO universe there is 1 Alpha and 1 Omega. This would also allow for the fandom view where Betas can carry or sire young - they have both traits already there!
So what does that mean you say? Well here's a picture.
White is our Omegas. Red is our Alphas, and Pink are our Betas. Fun huh! This neatly solves the issue of how there are more Betas then Alphas and Omegas. So there's my spin off from what VelvetMace put forth - that the ABO is a separate entity from gender, and is a phenotype.
Now for what I disagree with theFrogg.
Consent is a tricky, tricky thing, and it's something that I've chosen to disagree with theFrogg on. I think their view is perhaps too narrow, to restrictive, and that sometimes you don't need to write intricate backgrounds for consent.
But then..sometimes you do.
One of the written (Published to boot!) series that is brought up is LK Hamilton's Anita Blake series. In this series, Anita Blake is effected through what in essence is pon farr, ie fuck or die. She's not capable of giving consent. She's really not. That's a fact LKH pounds way too hard on, is that she's out of control thanks to this outside force driving her actions. She's aware of what's going on, in some cases even coherent enough to demand a specific partner. But she feels that she cannot give consent when the ardeur is on her; in fact Anita even uses it (her feeling out of control) as a weapon to hurt the two people soul bonded to her on several occasion (Jean-Claude and Richard).
To me, Anita Blake's Ardeur isn't quite the same as an ABO's heat trope. For one, Anita often refuses to take control of her ardeur, tries to starve it, ignore it, pretend it's not there, until something happens that forces the issue. She blames, anyone else for the situation that she can. She's often emotionally abusive to the two people who help her control it the best (Jean-Claude and Richard), and then wonders why her ardeur is so out of control. She can only really seem to let herself feed the ardeur when her partner is in many ways, equally broken or even more broken, then herself.
It's really not the ardeur I think that's the real issue there - it's the sex. From the very beginning, Anita was always distant, almost asexual when it came to sex. She didn't like it, and was often emotionally abusive to the people she dated after having sex, even before the ardeur. And now she's forced to deal with every day of her life. I honestly don't think Anita Blake can consent to any sexual act - not with how she views sex, and her reactions after she has it. This is especially true before she gains the ardeur and only becomes more evident afterwards. She's just not capable of it. She doesn't seem to understand how the act of sex effects her and her emotional ties to the men around her - and this isn't taking into account her magical ties!
Frankly if LKH wanted to write a sociopathic, rather then psycopathic character, then I think she succeed, very, very well. Anita Blake comes across to me as someone who cannot relate to other people except in very specific, limited views. Anything outside that limited view is so completely outside her ability to respond to that she responds the only way she can - violently, abusively and cruelly. Looking back and re-reading those same books I devoured as a teen, scares me, and makes me think that maybe my parents ought to have been monitoring what exactly I was reading as a 14 year old.
However, I don't view the Omega/Beta Heat or Alpha Rut the same as I view Anita's ardeur. In that, I think an Omega in heat or Alpha in Rut could consent, and one might trigger the other. In the ABO sense I view it as more of how we in our society view women and reproduction, where women still in many, many cases aren't to be trusted with their own reproductive choices. Without Omegas and Beta carriers there wouldn't be any Alphas or Beta sires, and it's in their best interest to make sure that they stay in power, if they have that power.
What does this mean? It means I can see a society where being considered more of a phenotype Alpha or Alpha like is desirable, much the same way, that unfortunately, being male is still today. (This is NOT meant to be adding to that fire.) It means that unfortunately there'd be more to gain from promoting being Alpha like, or being able to sire the children, not bear the children.
That means things like Birth Control or Hormone suppressants would be, well, considered much the same way it is in our own society. That is to say, with a large degree of religious hate, conservative dislike, and societies even banning them. It means Omegas and Betas who choose to carry, rather then sire, would have a hard time getting those medications, much like we see today. They'd likely be incredibly expensive and often out of reach for the majority of the population. Insurance wouldn't cover them or if they did, there'd be a very low coverage rate, and there'd be tampering for the truely unfortunate.
It wouldn't be uncommon for the unfortunate Omega or Beta then, to go into an unplanned cycle. How many of us women who are currently on Birth Control discover what it's like to off those same medications? Our cycles get Fucked Up. Now imagine what would happen if some enterprising asshole Alpha or Beta tampers with someone's hormone meds?
An unplanned cycle.
It's also not unheard for for birth control to fail. It's not perfect. And as someone who has had their BC fail, trust me, you don't always know it's happening until the monthly agony shows up. Or you wind up pregnant. So that unplanned failure could happen.
Now yes, the above situations are rare, and fandom loves to use both those situations.
I can also see a situation where 'consent' is often a blurry line, as the biological imperative cuts harder for half the population. I do agree that a good ABO fic doesn't just gloss over these issues, but instead address them. There is a heartrendingly perfect fic over at the Xmen kink meme that address such a thing (and breaks my heart), where Omegas are treated much the same way as women in the dark ages were - sold and treated as little more then brood mares. The Omega is thrown into a world where suddenly he has rights, he has the right to say "No" and well, it certainly is eye opening. I find myself asking if the Omega (Charles in this case) is even capable of consenting as we'd know it - all his life has trained him otherwise. But then, most ABO fics rarely if ever goes into the depth as that one, and assumes that people know the basis of the ABO universe before reading.
But what truly disturbs me, and what I chose to disagree with, is that the ABO trope is incapable of consent. To me, saying that an Omega in heat or Alpha in rut, or Beta in either is incapable of consent, is...frustrating. Frustrating because we see in the wild where a female might refuse a male in her heat, so why would we assume that a human Omega would be incapable of the same? Or human Alpha/Beta?
I just don't buy it. Yes, it is the author's responsibility to establish that this isn't rape or non-con, but ABO by it's definition is not non-con! That's like me saying that all D/s stories are non-con or dub-con. They're not. While consent isn't always thrown in your face, it doesn't always have to be. Take one of the first ABO fills on the Avengers meme - Clint/Coulson, Clint goes into an unplanned heat cycle. No where in the story does Clint say, I consent to this act. Nor does Coulson. What is put forth, is that Coulson asks, what Clint wants. Clint says he wants Coulson, and it's Coulson who gets put on the spot. He has to at the point, listen to what Clint is saying (I want you, and just you, and consent) or he can refuse to listen, ignore what Clint's saying and determine that he knows better then Clint, which in essence is taking Clint's control over what happens to him out of his hands.
He listens to Clint. He listens to what Clint is saying.
I see equal amounts of this and flat out Sex Pollen/Pon Farr mindlessness. Is one better then the other? Well I prefer the first to the second, but neither is inherently wrong.
Because as I've said before, fanfic, good or bad, is a safe place for fantasy to happen, without happening in the real world. Kink-shaming, which while theFrogg doesn't actually do in either piece, but comes very close to doing so to my mind, is wrong.