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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Oh, the foolhardiness of involving one's self in fandom politics....

Okay, I'm pretty much a long-time fanfiction apologist/defender.

But am I marking myself as a complete square if I have to ask: what is Harry Potter/CSI mpreg doing on my Tiptree long list?

Juliet gave Snape an anxious look, and then stood aside. "Mr. Snape. This is Nicholas Stokes."

Whatever he'd been expecting, this certainly wasn't it.

The boy -- man, most certainly, this was no boy -- was undeniably masculine. Strong jaw, clean of form, quite handsome. Although Snape could see almost immediately the minuscule flicker of enchantment about him; a glamour, yes, and a deft one. No Muggle, seeing him, would ever suspect the truth.

He met Stokes's eyes and wanted to recoil. Lovely dark eyes, but filled with rage, a cold fire barely held in check as the man stalked into the room.

"You have no RIGHT," he snapped in a voice icy enough to give Snape himself a run for his money. "I won't do it. I will NOT do it."

Snape made himself nod. "In that case we can force you to comply," he returned steadily. "The law requires it."

"FUCK your law!"

"It's yours as well, or have you forgotten that? Living here, so far from the source?"

Stokes paced away from him, glaring at Juliet until she shut the door behind her. With his back turned he hissed, "I don't recognize your law. I don't give a damn about it, or you!"

"Your parents did. Enough that they did what was required."

"I don't care." The man turned his pretty, snapping eyes back in Snape's direction. "I won't do it," he repeated furiously. "You can't make me."

...Not-very-well-written Harry Potter/CSI mpreg, if I may venture a critical comment. Although I guess it captures something of Rowling's style.



I think the inclusion of fanfic, especially dirty, self-indulgent fanfic, in the Tiptree longlist (or shortlist, or the award itself) is a fine fine idea, although judging from the quotes you provide, this one doesn't seem to be notably dirty or self-indulgent. Too bad. (The judges didn't just happen on this one and assume that the mpreg was a notable and original idea, rather than a flourishing subgenre, did they? I would think they'd know better, but who knows.)

It doesn't look any worse than a couple of the other choices on the lists, though. This year seems more uneven than usual. (But that makes it exciting!)
I would nominate some *good* dirty self-indulgent fanfic. I mean, they're putting this up, and ignoring amanuensis1? If they want crackfic....

This is very dirty, if you read on a bit.

And also presents you with anatomic unlikelihoods such as:

Breathing hard, Snape’s eyes met his own.

...did I mention it was noncon MPREG?
I would so make that tiara.

*g* I can picture it now.
"Also, Doctor? I know these cybernetic eyes are supposed to vent gas occasionally so my retinas can breathe, but they're breathing really hard," the patient added. "Can we fix that too?"

"We may have to upgrade you to the next model," she replied, removing the cybernetics from his sockets and placing them in a flask of cleaning fluid, one by one. In the flask, his eyes met, with a clank.
...each sending up a little stream of bubbles.
Oh boy. I just started to read it, and I take back the "not dirty and self-indulgent" accusation.

I do think it's kind of unfair to the author to have put this on the list, unless they asked her first - it's specialized porn for a very narrow audience, and, you know, it does what it does. I think fanfic writers should be expected to take any amount of criticism from fanfic readers, but from everyone else, especially the ones who start pointing and laughing at the words "fanfic" and "crossover," let alone "mpreg"? Even if it is bad? -- (I know, you put something on the internet, you can't complain, but -- I don't know. I am filled with doubts.)

And yeah, amanuensis1 wins at the filthy crackfic. And how!

Breathing hard, Snape’s eyes met his own.

Ambiguous participles are even hotter than mpreg!
The rape and sex scenes were early in the story - I don't think you could call the rest of it porn.

Actually, I did check with the author when the story was nominated, mostly to make sure the name on the story was the one she wanted to be used. She was fine with it. I don't know if it's her real name or if it's a pseudonym.

I would love it if people would nominate more mpreg or slash fanfic for the Tiptree! That was part of the point, for me, of longlisting "Arcana". By all means, find gender-expanding fanfic that fits your literary standards and nominate it next time! That would rock.

"Arcana" does explore gender, whatever one thinks of its style or its overall quality.

Once the story gets past the set-up and the rape scene, there's lots of detail about a macho guy's response to being pregnant. Nick's sudden vulnerability, loss of independence, and the changes he goes through were interesting. Snape's "protective father/husband" responses were really weird because of the (former) macho-ness of Nick.

In short... there are multiple reasons that a story can contribute to the definition of a genre. It does not have to be a perfectly written story in order to have interesting qualities.

Can it really be defined as MPREG is the person getting pregnant isn't a man/male?

Macho guy Nick has always been a front in this story, since she/he's really a hermaphrodite and so always had to deal with (or ignore) those female parts. Nick doesn't have to shave, doesn't have an Adam's apple, hasn't really been getting much sex as a guy (is an intact virgin as a girl), and very little of the story makes me see this person as a hermaphrodite let alone a macho male. This is a girl who gets told she has to stop wearing boys' clothing and start a family... and does so. The macho image is shown to be a fraud -- and so a macho guy's reaction to being pregnant is never explored.

Snapes reactions might have been interesting... only, because it's crossover and they're total strangers to each other, he's not only never known Nick as a macho guy, but his ideas about what macho *is* clearly aren't the same as a Muggle's. I do know Snape doesn't grant Nick any masculine equality -- he has no qualms about forcibly overcoming Nick's reluctance to have a child -- and I believe (I'm not going back to check right now) the fic itself points out that Snape would have treated a *real* man -- even a pregnant man -- differently. I'm not sure what's weird about Snape's subsequent behaviour given that set-up.

Since the fic is incomplete there's no way of telling whether there would be a reversal of some kind, but it didn't feel gender expanding so much as gender conformist (I kept thinking I was reading a 70s Mill's and Boon). However much Nick hides or denies it, the sex that gets pregnant is there to be made pregnant, to bear children, and (once a feminine side is exposed) will be lusting after sex with their rapist, crying every five minutes because of their hormones, and need a real man to get them safely through pregnancy.

Aha, a jury member speaks. Hi, Liz!

I did read, or at least skim, the entire thing. And I'm afraid I have to beg to differ with you on its value. First of all, I've read, oh, two or three other mpreg stories (What can I say? It's a big Internet) and they mostly seem to follow the same formula. Except for the rape part.

(A rape which in this case is handled for tittilation value rather than any social relevance, I should add. And written in the sort of terms I'd expect from a 1950's porn novel. (I've read some of those, too.)

I think the present story was a poor choice for a lot of reasons. One, of course, being the legal/copyright issues. Another being that it's not just not really professional-quality, or "imperfectly written." (There's no such thing as a perfectly written book, to our shame.)

But the present work is, unfortunatelly, incompetent on many levels--from the micro to the macro.

Also, did you notice that it's unfinished? It just stops. (I offer this as proof that I did suffer through the whole thing.)

I think it's unfair--cruel--to this poor writer to set her up for ridicule, frankly. And I think, if one were going to politic for mainstream recognition of slash or fanfiction or whatever...

...one might want to pick something that showed at least a basic grasp of grammatical and storytelling principles.
To call attention to this arena would be a goal much better served by choosing a more effective piece of writing. Was there any particular motive in skipping more effective pieces? (Did you not know of any? How long have you been reading in this area? )

(Elsethread, I said, "Hm. I should ask her about this directly." So here I am, asking. Hi!)
"Arcana" does explore gender, whatever one thinks of its style or its overall quality.

Once the story gets past the set-up and the rape scene, there's lots of detail about a macho guy's response to being pregnant. Nick's sudden vulnerability, loss of independence, and the changes he goes through were interesting.

Well -- well -- um. The male pregnancy trope is, in my limited experience, used for two effects in fanfic: low comedy and eroticized helplessness; the latter is the case here. I find the former tedious, with very few exceptions, and the latter creepy in the extreme when it is not problematized or frankly admitted to. The men in the genre do not always but usually do tend to become sobbing, collapsing, terrified messes. Like -- explicitly like -- "women." Precious but annoying possessions whose keepers (from this story: "Or do I not have some say in the matter, as the child’s father?”" -- about where the pregnant Nick lives!!!) --dispose of them how they please. Resistance is token, the baby cures all, they're happy in the end. No one seems to be aware that, patriarchy & social and governmental control aside, pregnancy is not actually like that, that abject = female parts is not, in fact, a settled equation.

I don't think this constitutes an exploration of gender. In this story, it's barely even a complaint about gender, which is the least one might expect.

There may be fruitful things to say about the eroticization of abjection, and the weird combination of hatred, ignorance, and idol-worship vis-a-vis pregnancy -- but in conversation about such storie, not within this particular one. There are probably also interesting things to say about why so many people who are willing to give, say, rape fantasy a pass draw a bright line at forced-pregnancy fantasy. (Like me.) But I wouldn't say these questions are raised by this story, especially, since there are so many earlier or more subtle or more nuanced examples of the trope.