In 1994, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s blockbuster hit Junior explored the possibilities of male pregnancy. As part of a fertility research project, Schwarzenegger’s character implanted an embryo onto the wall of his peritoneal cavity—thereby giving birth to a healthy baby girl. Fast-forwarding 27 years, the concept of male pregnancy now has dedicated forums, Fanlore pages and an entire erotic genre to its credit.
In an attempt to decode the purpose and appeal for the latter, Screen Shot spoke to two authors spearheading the ‘Mpreg’ erotic genre on Amazon. From biological explorations to the theoretical nitty-gritty, here are all of the conceivable insights they had to share.
Mpreg (shorthand for male pregnancy) is an erotic genre and plot device where men become pregnant. Classified as a subgenre of gay romance, Mpreg broadly features ‘carriers’ (men who want to become pregnant) and ‘seeders’ (men who want to impregnate other men). The genre is also synonymous with ‘Omegaverse’—a fictional universe that divides people into biological roles of ‘Alpha’, ‘Beta’ and ‘Omega’ based on a hierarchical system.
“Mpreg books can fall on varied points along the romance spectrum but the one constant is that at some point—a man is going to get pregnant,” said Kiki Burrelli, a ‘paranormal gay romance’ author specialing in the genre. “In my books, the Mpreg plot takes a back seat to the characters who are often lonely and in need of not just a romantic companion, but a family.”
When publishing her first book back in 2016, the author credited Ann-Katrin Byrde—a famous writing duo in the genre—for introducing her to the world of Mpreg. “In the beginning, I had a lot of questions most people have like ‘where does the baby come out of?’,” said Burrelli. Guided by Ann-Katrin Byrde along the way, it wasn’t long before the author was hooked with the idea. “It wasn’t the unusual, slightly-taboo aspect of a man becoming pregnant that intrigued me, but the idea that these characters could find their soul mates and start families of their own.”
As for Aria Grace, her initiation into the fantastical genre happened back in 2016, when her friend asked her to co-author a Mpreg novel. “I’ve always gravitated towards gay romance novels because it makes me so happy when a couple chooses to be happy and accept love—despite what their society might think about them,” said Grace. However, the author found a vital piece to the ‘happily ever after’ puzzle missing in traditional gay romance novels.
“Men couldn’t have a biological family at the end of each story even if they wanted to,” Grace outlined. “So, when I discovered Mpreg and realised the happy couple could complete their family with biological children in the same way that a male/female couple could, I felt like I’d finally found the perfect stories for me.”
The earliest fanworks listed on Fanlore with the Mpreg tag are from 1983. Although Junior aided the popularity of the concept in the late 90s, it wasn’t until fanfiction platforms like Wattpad came into existence that the genre really took off.
“I think the popularity of fanfiction over the past 10+ years really gave birth to the Mpreg fiction we’re seeing now,” said Grace. “I’ve been told that an episode of Supernatural—in which one of the brothers becomes pregnant (or at least he thinks he is)—could have spurred some Mpreg fanfiction.” For most of its part, however, Mpreg seems weirdly synonymous with Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson on Wattpad. Although Grace is dubious about its exact origins, the author is grateful the genre exists.
Authoring books available in English, French and German, Grace dabbles in various genres including contemporary M/M (Male/Male) and Mpreg Omegaverse. Burrelli, on the other hand, “writes about things that go bump in the night and make them fall in love.” “The creatures I spend the most time with are shifters—men and women who can turn into animals. I’ve also written about mermen, aliens, and dragon shifters.”
Harbouring a love for paranormal romance, the author is currently writing the first book in the final spin-off series, Wolves of World, “where Nephilim, archangels, wolf packs, soul warriors, demon kings, cherubs and cambion go head-to-head in a war for all humanity.”
Now that we know the ‘whats’ and ‘whens’ of Mpreg, let’s get into the much-awaited ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of the genre. How is Mpreg written? What does the research and thought process that goes behind the genre look like?
“Every book I release goes through months of plotting and researching before the first word is ever written,” said Burrelli. “My stories tend to have numerous sub-plots that delve into the lives of the supporting characters, in addition to the main romance and story. So, the biggest challenge is keeping every character’s storyline clear.”
Reading and watching copious amounts of religion, mythology and folklore, Burrelli perceives her literary works as the rendezvous for her love for romance and all things supernatural. Ridding herself of the ‘traditionalist’ label when it comes to her monsters and heroes, the author usually picks out the lore that works for her story and creates the rest. “And like every author I know, I also have a close and personal relationship with Google, as well as a search history that would likely land me behind bars—should anyone ever notice.”
Over at Grace, the author outlined the absence of a rigorous and detailed process before writing her bestsellers. “As a woman writing from a predominantly male perspective, I’ve always had to use a bit of my imagination,” she said. “Since I’ve personally been pregnant and delivered a few babies of my own, the pregnancy part is one of the areas that doesn’t require much research.”
Now that we’re on the page about pregnancies—not that I’ve been totally waiting to write about this or anything—let’s get into the supposed ‘delivery methods’ these authors feature in their novels.
When I was cooped up in the dim-lit corner of my room to give Mpreg a try, I spotted authors detailing the birthing process with maniacal precision. While the ones I read leveraged C-section and anal birthing, I was curious to know if authors are restricted to biological methods in the genre.
“This is one of the most amazing things about the type of Mpreg I write,” started Burrelli, slowly confirming my suspicions. “I have the freedom of writing fantasy, and that doesn’t end when it comes to the method of labour.” Birthing scenes in Burrelli’s novels have previously featured loads of C-sections and dedicated ‘birthing canals’. “I’ve also written about fathers who lay eggs and babies who are born magically as puppies—appearing next to their parents during their first shift. And there was that one time I had an emergency physician performing a C-section on himself in the back of a truck that was racing down the highway!”
As for Grace, the author has written some books featuring C-sections while others mention the baby simply being ‘pushed out’—usually without a lot of description and detail. Grace also outlined how some authors in the genre have also written about a ‘new hole’ that opens up at the time of delivery.
“I’ve even put breastfeeding in several of my books since my readers confirmed that it felt very natural for a mammal who delivers a live baby to also produce milk for that baby. So, I often include nursing scenes. But that isn’t as common as just leaving those details to the imagination of the reader. Really, if the author can imagine it and the readers are open to it—anything is possible.”
The author, however, likes to mix up the delivery methods and situations to keep it interesting. “But since my books are written primarily for escape and entertainment, I don’t go too deep into complex topics. Mine are usually on the ‘fluffier’ side of angsty romance with a happy ending,” Grace added.
Now that we know that the sky’s the limit for the genre in terms of its birthing scenes, let’s analyse the situation leading up to it. Yes, I’m talking about all of the physical and emotional challenges that come along with pregnancies. In a universe where male pregnancies are a possibility, would morning sickness, mood swings and sweet-and-sour chicken binges be labelled as ‘female-oriented’ challenges? If so, what would ‘male-oriented’ challenges with pregnancies look like?
“The challenges the pregnant character faces depends on the themes being explored in the story,” said Burrelli, just when I was exploring stoicism and stubbornness as possible ‘male-oriented’ challenges. In her Welcome to Morningwood series, the characters deal with uncomfortable experiences that come along with pregnancies, but also touch upon the way the person is tended and cared for by their mate at the same time. “My Omega Assassins Club series focuses more on social issues that sometimes go hand in hand with societal pressures men and women face today in regards to gender roles and identity,” the author added.
Grace outlined how present research and human evolution only provide ‘female-oriented’ experiences for carrying and delivering babies in the first place. “There isn’t a lot of actual medical history to reference anything else,” she said. “So, yes, my characters usually experience morning sicknesses, cravings, hormonal imbalances, nesting tendencies and more.” However, the intensity of these challenges is subjected to a character’s personality trait. But Grace admitted to not spending too much time detailing the actual pregnancy itself.
Grace’s books focus more on the relationship the Alphas and Omegas share. “The pregnancy and baby are generally part of the concluding chapters to wrap up the overall story,” the author admitted, further highlighting her goal “to allow a happy couple in love to complete their family with biological children.”
Grace further added how the same goes for all of the ‘M/F’ (Male/Female) novels she’s written and read. “If the woman gets pregnant, there might be a few scenes dedicated to specific details about it—but the overall story doesn’t usually revolve around the pregnancy. And that’s the same strategy I use in my Mpreg books too.”
The closest we’ve gotten to real-life male pregnancies to date is in the case of trans men. If a female undergoes female-to-male gender reassignment surgery, they can choose to keep their uterus—thereby retaining their abilities for pregnancy by pausing testosterone pills for a sufficient amount of time.
However, “In Mpreg, the man who gets pregnant is usually human and cisgender,” reads the Fanlore page dedicated to the genre. This is one of the major reasons why Mpreg has been labelled as the ‘textbook fetishisation’ of trans men. In a bid to rid the genre of this label, authors often use two different tags—#tmpreg (trans male pregnancy) and #cmpreg (cis male pregnancy) to distinguish their works.
When asked about their take on the label, Burrelli acknowledged the presence of “exploitative books” in the genre—but neither writing nor reading them. “Mpreg is an aspect and not the main focus in my books,” Burrelli said. “My books are focused on families. Creating families of your own and finding the place in the world where you don’t just fit, but where you are celebrated.”
As for Grace, her books admittingly feature cis men in an alternate universe who ‘magically’ have the genetic ability to conceive, carry and deliver a baby. “I think any keywords or descriptors that make it easier for readers to find exactly what they’re looking for is a good thing,” she added.
Now that we’re on the topic surrounding ‘readers’, is it possible to narrow down their demographics along the way? “Most of the readers I’ve met have been women above 20 years of age,” Burrelli said. While this is true for most romance genres, the author admitted to witnessing “a growing number of gay men who are pleased to see books with relationships that more closely resemble their own.”
While Grace admitted to not having insights into 95 per cent of her readers, most of the audiences she chats with on Facebook or at conferences are often “women who love a good love story that ends with a happily ever after and a baby.” As for their ages, Grace outlined how they swing wildly between young twenties to well into retirement years.
Both ‘Kiki Burrelli’ and ‘Aria Grace’ are pen names of the respective authors. When asked if this move was influenced by the stigma surrounding the Mpreg genre, Burrelli outlined a realm of possibilities that come along with the usage of pen names. “Using a pen name offers a small layer of protection, but the main reason I use one is for my readers. When a reader picks up a Kiki Burrelli book, I want them to be relatively sure what sort of experience they are about to take part in.” The pen name also allows the author to remain consistent while having the freedom to explore and write in other styles under other pen names.
As for Grace, the author adopted the pen name years ago when she dipped her toes into erotic literature. “After a few early novels, I moved away from erotica and into gay romance and then eventually landed in Mpreg,” Grace admitted. The author currently uses different pen names for children’s and Young Adult (Y/A) books, contemporary romance, how-to guides and more—irrespective of the genre or perceived stigmas that surround them.
So if you ever come across works tagged under ‘Mpreg’ while exploring the stimulating little world of erotic literature, here’s all of the advice waiting for you from the other end. According to Burrelli, “Read, read, read. And don’t let one book decide your opinion for the entire genre.” As for Grace, “Open your mind and be prepared for anything. Every author has a different take and a different style so if one book doesn’t work for you, try a few other authors to see if you can find the perfect fit.”
Given the fact that male pregnancies are set to become a reality in less than 7 years, you have plenty of time to conjure up your own imaginations and speculate how male pregnancies would happen in the future. Mpreg novels are more accessible now than ever before, and so the fantastical genre will undoubtedly survive yet another decade on the internet!
On 23 March 2021, Ever Given, a golden-class container ship wedged itself in the Suez Canal after drawing a supposed dick pic in the ocean. The 400-meter-long beast ended up blocking the world’s busiest trade route for a sum total of six days before it was re-floated again.
The unfortunate event was quick to steer a toilet paper shortage, delay of $400 million an hour in goods including a massive shipment of sex toys, a plethora of memes and its own line of fan merch. Just when we thought the internet’s obsession with Ever Given had finally capsized, a new genre of erotica surfaced—one that will either make you want to throw yourself overboard or wish the ship had kept the canal company for longer.
Titled along the lines of ‘Troubling the Suez’, ‘Inside you for days’, ‘C-anal of pleasure’ and ‘Ever Taken’, the cargo ship has inspired a new genre of erotica with the tag “Suez Canal (Anthropomorphic).” Currently boasting 127 entries on the transformative fanfiction platform Archive Of Our Own (AO3), the genre attributes human traits to the ship and canal—thereby catering to a wide range of audiences with tastes ranging from hardcore BDSM to flowery, Rupi Kaur poetry.
Common tropes in the genre describe the Suez Canal as lonely and “longing for a lover” until the Ever Given—with a “bulbous bow”—wedges into her walls with a promise to “provide the contact the canal has been deprived of for decades” before “finally being pulled out.” This ‘Titanic, but sadder’ romantic trope is a sharp contrast to other entries which feature anti-capitalist satire, where the canal plots her revenge against humanity with Ever Given, a ship loyal to his captain and crew, caught in the crossfire.
By default, these entries could fall under the category of ‘crack fic’, fanfiction that is intentionally absurd and usually written for laughs. However, some of these make a pretty compelling read. For example, one of the pioneering fanfiction in the genre titled ‘XXX-TRA WIDE CARGO STUFFS MAJOR SHIPPING LANE—DELIVERS HUGE PAYLOAD!!’ features the star-crossed lovers going through a rough patch, blaming each other’s steering system and narrow walls for the unfortunate event before livestreaming themselves onto “OnlyFreight.”
The story’s author, who goes by the username GalWednesday, calls it “the most cursed thing I’ve ever written.” “I think the idea popped into my head while I was looking at memes about the Ever Given’s ‘bulbous bow’ and how it had gotten lodged in place,” they told Jezebel. The author further admitted that the research took more time than writing the 263-word story as they ended up browsing Quora for answers. The response? A staggering 10,000 hits.
“The response has been way bigger than I expected, which I think has more to do with our collective need for a stress release valve than anything about the fic itself,” GalWednesday said, enjoying how feedback alternated between “funny, thank you!” and “JFLDJSLFJDS I HATE THIS.”
We can either blame Chuck Tingle for popularising anthropomorphised inanimate objects or the millennials and gen Zers’ love for absurdist humour, but Suez Canal/Ever Given erotic fanfiction is out there and multiplying with no limits to human creativity. Given its masturbatory weirdness and avant-garde drama, it makes one wonder what they would title their own fanfiction about the 2021 power couple. I would go with ‘The one with the deck picks’ or ‘cruising for a bruising’. What about you?