Fanfic vs. Canon: Female Characters in Harry Potter

As we well know, fanfiction is dominated by stories about male characters, which can appear a bit paradoxical at first, since it is predominantly written by women.

Several explanations can be advanced on the subject:

  • Canon books, movies and TV series are more often centered around male characters than female ones
  • Even when there are canon female characters, canon male characters are deemed more interesting than female ones in terms of story development and character arcs
  • Or it could be due to internalized misogyny: we would be taught since infancy that men are more of the hero-type than female

The aim of this post is not to solve the question entirely. However, I was thinking that in the case of fandoms based on books, it could be relatively easy to measure how often female characters appear in canon and make a comparison with their presence in fanfiction.

With this question in mind, I naturally turned over to Harry Potter:

hp_yay

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Supernatural and fanfic: the road so far

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I might, or might not be, a huge Supernatural (SPN) fan. And, yeah ok, more precisely a Destiel shipper.

SPN’s fandom is huge, especially in fanfiction. We decided to take a more precise look on the matter.

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All about mpreg in fandom! a surprisingly popular niche

Today, let’s dive in a subject a lot of us heard about, but might prefer to ignore… Mpreg! As in, male pregnancy (learn more on the Fanlore page). Yup. As usual, we studied fanfictions that are 10K+ words.

Mpreg is kind of a controversial fanfiction subgenre: people are either fascinated or put off, with very few stance for a middle ground. On AO3, actually a tiny minority of fics are labeled mpreg: in 2015, we counted 1357 fics tagged with mpreg published on AO3, that is 1.9% of the total of 10K words + fics. However, those fics are widely read: they attract way more readers than their number alone would predict.

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Where does our data come from?

You might wonder how did we get the data we work from?

We wanted to retrieve as much information as we could on published fanfictions, in the most precise way available to us. The fics archive website that we use (and, I have to say, love) the most is AO3. As a developer the language I am the most familiar with is PHP, so it only made sense to try and code a crawler… in PHP.

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