The reference to ‘dig[ging] deeper into ideas and present[ing] the not so pretty injustices’ makes a clear link between the affective reactions Slick produces in its readers and a much more intellectual level of analysis of the story which readers engage in simultaneously. The strong affective reaction blends into other forms of reading shaped by expectations generated by western sexual scripts. Several comments, for instance, referred specifically to how the generic conventions of the A/B/O subgenre provide constraints to characters’ agency and ability to seek, give or withhold consent. Viewed through the lens of sexual scripts, these comments clearly show how expectations generated by familiarity with western sexual scripts, including what a loving romantic relationship between equals looks like, are read side by side with the Omegaverse sexual scripts presented in the story.
This is a paper by Fanhackers contributor elmyra. I’m not going to talk about myself in the third person because that’s silly, but I do want to say a couple of things about the research. A/B/O is a relatively recent phenomenon in fanfic, as documented brilliantly by netweight. Fan studies scholarship on A/B/O is still in the very early stages – there have been a handful of conference papers, and a very high-level introductory chapter by Kristina Busse in Anne Jamison’s book Fic. The existence of A/B/O is part of the reason I did my PhD. While there’s a significant chunk of fanfic fandom who would argue that A/B/O is basically “dogfuck rapeworld”, the way the genre does deal with issues of consent absolutely fascinated me. One of the things I wanted to know was whether this was something that was present in the Omegaverse from the beginning or if it developed over time. So for this paper I looked at some of the very early fics from J2 fandom. And what I found was that even there, the Omegaverse world building was being used by writers and readers as a tool to grapple with some really difficult questions about structural power, gender, and what that does to people’s ability to meaningfully negotiate consent to sex. A/B/O is absolutely not everybody’s cup of tea, and I am sure there will be plenty of people – both fans and scholars – who disagree with me. But I really hope we see some more scholarship on this stunningly innovative genre of fic.
BTW, if you’d like a copy of the paper, give us a shout and we’ll get one to you.