When normal and deviant identities collide: Methodological considerations of the pregnant acafan

  • Mary Ingram-Waters Arizona State University
Keywords: Acafan, Fandom, Fan fiction, Gender, Male pregnancy, Methods, Mpreg, Pregnancy, Stigma

Abstract

In this article, I examine how my visibly pregnant body influenced my experience as a field researcher at a fan convention, interviewing amateur fan fiction authors who write Harry Potter male-pregnancy fan fiction. Despite my efforts at carefully cultivating an identity as an acafan (a researcher who identifies as both a fan and a scholar of fandom), my identity as a pregnant woman was most salient throughout my fieldwork. I argue that because of the particular genre of fan fiction, male pregnancy (mpreg), which my participants engaged with, my status as a normative, heterosexual, publicly pregnant woman negatively affected the research process: my interactions with my interviewees deviated from my expectations in ways that shaped the data I collected. When I analyzed my field notes, I found a strong correlation between interviewees' recognition of my pregnancy and interviewees' experience of stigma associated with authors of mpreg. This research contributes to several bodies of work: the interplay between online and real-life identities, the role of the researcher in field research, and the role of pregnant researchers.