Examining trends in fanfiction.
This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #90. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.
A pregnancy, the belly firmly distended in a near globe, protruding over a set of (usually) narrow hips. Soft and gentle hands that rest with warm surrender on a partner’s distended frame. Settling in a home, domestic bliss and folding tiny clothes on a stomach. This is male pregnancy in fanfiction.
Outside of the tropes of fanfiction, male pregnancy is played either for laughs or for horror. It is taking the seeming unnatural (pregnancy in the male form) and tying it to what is considered by many to be a highly gendered act. What is Alien’s chestburster scene but the most violent of male pregnancies, a bloody visceral birth shot forth by a expanding belly, life forever changed afterwards?
In fanfiction, the trope is traditionally for domestic fics, situations where two characters get together in happiness and ultimate harmony. Perhaps it’s Inception’s Arthur and Eames, Arthur carrying several children to term in a small California house. Maybe Teen Wolf’s Stiles and Derek, where Derek meets a young pregnant father with a quick wit and they fall in love. Maybe they get into misadventures related to their original IP’s, or maybe they just deal with disgruntled parents of what to make for dinner. But they do so in an alternative world where men, usually certain kinds of men, can get pregnant.
Where mpreg thrives is in making the grotesque, even the horrific, and turning it into the banal and the mundane. Descriptions thrive on the beauty of the pregnant form, the adoration of the non-pregnant partner with the body of their spouse or lover. The unseemly turned, in an instant, to the nurturing and tender hands of an expectant father.
Amanda Hudgins is an occasional writer, former rugby player and wearer of incredibly tall shoes.