Like many millennials who were once socially awkward, nerdy kids, my gateway drug into rogue juvenile sexuality was Harry Potter.

I was ten years old when Daniel Radcliffe became my first official celebrity crush. At 12, I discovered regular fan fiction—long, serialized stories on the internet that explored such questions as, What is Hermione Granger’s life like outside of Hogwarts? And come 14, I came across fan fiction of the more exciting sort: The Giant Squid fucks the walls of Hogwarts castle!; Hagrid and Dobby get intimate. (In this story, the noticeable size difference between the half-giant and house elf is explained by one of fan fiction’s most infamous lines: “Dobby stretches, sir!”)

I learned the lingo. “Fluff”—a short, light romantic comedy story. “Slashfic”—fan fiction about same-sex couples, often between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. And “mpreg”—fantasies about male characters getting pregnant. (Mpreg stories in the Harry Potter world always seemed to center on the haughty potions professor, Snape. “The manlier or broodier the guy, the better he is pregnant,” reads a WIRED guide to mpreg from 2006.)

Even when I was a teen, it was clear to me that those stories had to do with their (typically amateur, female) authors feeling powerful just as much as—if not more than—they had to do with sex. The weirdest fictions consciously challenged the limits of social acceptability. And the intimate story lines between Harry and Draco or Harry and broody, pregnant men gave young women the rare opportunity to control the physical and psychic choices and beliefs of men—albeit fictional ones. They taught me that I, too, could one day be the author of my own love stories.

 

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The Subversive Sexual Power Found in Erotic Fandom Forums by Rebecca Liu

June 18, 2018