I'm going to start this real slow and lay out the facts: Knotting is a popular trend in fan fiction. It involves men having sex with men like wolves. And it often leads to male pregnancy, which leads to male delivery. And the people giving birth to feces-covered babies are often members of One Direction.
I first learned about Knotting (which is part of the Alpha/Beta/Omega universe — more on that in a bit) when I read about the failure of Dash Con, a tumblr-related fan convention that just went horribly wrong. Among the myriad of issues at the con, one was that minors were being allowed into a panel title "Can You Knot?" which was supposed to be 18+ only. Not familiar with the term, I googled it, expecting to see something about people asphyxiating each other, but what I found was something much more interesting: Fictional characters from music, movies and TV fucking smelling each other's glands and biting each other's essays. And, of course, having anal intercourse that results in the creation of more heirs ready to do the same. And because I know about it, now you have to know about it too.
The term knotting is a reference to the reproductive organs of canid animals. If you're not familiar with these reproductive organs, it's really pretty simple: The wolf penis has what's called a Bulbus Glandis, commonly known as a knot, that swells when the wolf is aroused and allows the animal to lock their penis inside an orifice immediately after penetration. Unlocking occurs only after the wolf has completed sexual congress. In the animal world, knotting is a biological mechanism necessary for breeding. In the fan fiction universe, it's something completely different.
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Knotting exists in a world called the Omegaverse where humans follow the hierarchical structure of wolf packs: Alphas are dominant, sexually aggressive, and able to breed, betas are submissive but may possibly breed omegas, and omegas are the lowest-ranking characters in the pack, existing to be bred. In this universe, Alphas may form special bonds with betas and omegas and the pairs (or groups) may form special relationships or telepathic powers. In addition, the omegas are sometimes prized because there are either few of them or because they are good breeders. Sometimes, omegas can be found in breeding camps. For instance, the omega Sherlock Holmes' mother found him to mate with in Mummy, No Thank You came from such a camp and was brought specifically to help Sherlock A) solve mysteries and B) breed with one of the Holmes brothers. Here's an excerpt:
Sherlock pauses. "The case. I need data. You have it. I need to smell your gland, and see it, too, if I can." He says this like it's the most obvious fact in the whole world.
"You're leaking out so much. Is that unusual?" Sherlock asks. His voice is deep, controlling, but it isn't steady. John can hear the ferocious edge to it. He wants to know if anyone's ever done this to John before.
"I—I—" John catches his breath. "I don't know. No one's ever—not like this." Sherlock presses even harder, and John cuts off with a groan.
"By eyeballing it, I think you might have filled a ten millilitre graduated cylinder. Maybe more."
According to Fanlore, knotting became prevalent in Supernatural fan fiction (due to the werewolf aspect) but has found its way into many other fandoms. And while it's still not as popular as other fan fiction out there, it certainly has a following. For instance, statistics show that knotting stories make up less than one percent of the stories on A03 (a popular fan fiction site), but A03 encompasses 15,688 fandoms and has an archive of over a million stories.
So why knot? According to those who read/write this type of fiction there's an element of loss of control that's not possible in other situations. Since the knot won't release until the alpha has finished and can't be controlled by either party, the sex has to go on until it's done. There's literally nothing anyone can do.
Many stories involving knotting fall under the heading of "dubcon," an abbreviation of "dubious consent." Both parties may be willing, but they might also not be. But no one can stop the sex and who really knows who wants what? And then there's the power imbalance. Due to the hierarchy, the alpha is always in control. As one user puts it "I like a certain amount of power imbalance in my porn, so I kind of like the 'I'm gonna fuck you hard and afterwards you're gonna stay impaled on my cock for a good long while' idea."
Here's an example of dubcon fiction from the Teen Wolf universe:
He resisted as hard as he could, but the change overcame him after a second, ripping his skin. As soon as his teeth had grown, he sank them in the meat of Jackson's shoulder, blood surging into his mouth, too much, slick spilling out around his lips. It tasted like the ripest part of Jackson's body.
Derek's cock started to fill, and Jackson moaned, sated and agonized at the same time, trying to shrug off Derek biting him, with no conviction.
"Derek— Derek, what-" he could barely grasp words, "-what're you doing, oh fuck, what're you—"
Derek just bit harder, until he'd knotted and was coming too, forcing himself in deep.
But it's not always like that. One Direction knotting fiction, while no less explicit, is often consensual. For instance, here's an example of a multi-chapter story about Harry and Louis.
"God, Harry so big, knot me –" Louis groans, arms collapsing from underneath him so he falls into the pillows. "Fuck – splitting me open on your cock-" he cries, as Harry nails into his prostate, his knot swelling further, catching on Louis' hole as he draws back.
"Wish I could knot you all the time, just stay in you, knot you over and over," Harry chokes out, "Keep filling you with my cum, my babies."
Harry tugs Louis up so his back is flush to Harry's chest, slick skin pressed together. He puts one possessive hand over Louis' pregnant belly, the other reaches around to tug on Louis' cock; dripping with pre-cum. He draws back once more, before circling his hips, forcing his knot through Louis' hole, locking them in place as he starts to come. Louis keens high in his throat as he comes moments after, Harry's fingers getting slicker with the ropes of Louis' cum.
If you're wondering what this pregnant belly business is about, you have to know that mpreg (or male impregnation) is another popular trope of knotting. And while that deserves a whole post on its own (it exists both inside and outside the world of knotting and fan fiction) its connection to knotting can't be denied. And while the power dynamics inherent in mpreg deserve their own post (the omega who's been impregnated often comes across as weak and helpless while the alpha remains in control), it's just another reason why the world of knotting is so fascinating — professionally if not personally.
Of course knotting isn't as visceral in the same way something like extreme pornography may be due to the fact that it's not only fictional but also (technically) impossible. But fiction of this nature is also becoming a mainstream staple of internet culture, which always bears discussion. Today it's a panel at a failed convention; tomorrow it might be the subject of a semester-long university course.
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