The Second Genders: Utopia and Dystopia in Stranger Things Omegaverse Fanfiction
Vegt, G.C. van der
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This thesis uses textual analysis to determine how Omegaverse fanfiction makes use of utopian and dystopian elements to critique gender roles and patriarchal power structures. Omegaverse (short for ‘Alpha/Beta/Omega Universe’) is a world-building trope that applies wolf pack dynamics to human biology and society. By creating a new gender system, Omegaverse separates traditional gender roles from physical sex and reintroduces a magnified version of these same roles under new descriptors. In doing so, fans have created a system that can be used to write entertaining stories that may also function as a feminist critique. With the use of utopian and dystopian elements, these stories express attitudes toward and desires for the patriarchal societies we live in. That is why this study analyses Omegaverse within the tradition of Feminist Critical Dystopia, a genre that is known to express feminist critique through the means of fiction. This thesis uses three works produced in the Stranger Things fandom as its case study. The analysis revealed that Omegaverse is similar to feminist dystopia in the kind of conflicts it depicts, namely anxieties over societal oppression and loss of bodily control to technology and biology. Omegaverse’s conception of patriarchy appeared more complex than those of feminist dystopia produced during the first and second wave of feminism. In its depiction of gender oppression, these fanworks can be seen as reflective of fourth-wave feminism, a natural progression onto the traditionally published dystopia of the 20th century. Although the works appear to be set in a dystopian society, they usually have a happy ending. By allowing the characters to find the perfect love in an imperfect world, the works express a utopian desire for a healthy, equalitarian relationship. By examining how societal and interpersonal gender relations are represented in Omegaverse fanfiction, this study contributes to the existing body of literature around Omegaverse, fan practices and feminist dystopia.