Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Another Commentary on Consanguinamory in Fiction

At, Leah Rhyne wrote about "incest in fiction," and while that subject can fill many volumes, she provides a very limited survey and her personal reactions, inspired by Game of Thrones, which returns April 6.

Yes, Cersei and Jamie are reunited now, and with their reunion comes the reminder: though they're twins, Jaime and Cersei like to...get it on. Do the nasty. Dance the horizontal mambo.

*waits for the collective shuddering to end*

Rhyne wants to make it clear she's disgusted. Not so much by the cheating. By the fact that the characters are consanguineous.

Look. I'm the youngest of three children. I have two older brothers, of whom I think the world. Seriously, they're awesome. Fabulous. We have a great time when we get together, and even when we can't, we email, text, or call, just for fun. Just to make each other laugh. That's how cool they are.
But no matter what, no matter how cool I think they are, when you get right down to it, the idea of ever...oh dear god no never...making out with them makes me want to puke my guts out. No offense, guys, but you're my brothers.

Substitute "friends" (of the male variety)  for "brothers," and you have the feelings of many heterosexual men. They are disgusted by the thought of having sex with their male friends. Should they write about how disgusting same-gender sex is in general?

So why then, if it's the one thing that makes us all give a collective dry heave, does incest appear in so much literature?
Because it is a part of life.
My own personal first experience reading about incest came somewhere in the late 80s when I picked up a copy of (I'm ashamed to admit it now) Flowers in the Attic at my local Walden Books.

Of course. Want to read something more current? See here. Rhyne assures us she was disgusted by the book.
As an English major in college, I learned that incest is a common literary device, dating back to ancient time. Who can forget the story of Oedipus Rex? Remember him? He's the fella that killed his father, married his mother, and screwed up everything around him, becoming the inspiration for Freud's theory of the Oedipus Complex. You know, the one that says all boys go through a phase in which they want to kill their fathers and do the nasty with their mothers? Yeah. Mother-son incest. Ick.

Yeah, we get it. She doesn't like it. 
Of course, incest didn't end with the fall of ancient Greece. In the comparatively-modern classic To Kill a Mockingbird, it's heavily insinuated that Mayella Ewell is frequently molested by her father, Bob Ewell.
Uh, there's a huge difference between assault/molestation and consensual sex.
Well, for one, they write about it because it happens. Take a look at your history books, people. Read about almost any royal family in almost any country with a monarchy, and you'll see it. Cousins marrying cousins, keeping the royal lineage within the family. Brothers marrying sisters, ensuring their bloodlines remain pure. 

She got that right.

Incest is also used as further example of a character's evil ways. We can't be too shocked in Book 1 of GoT when Jaime shoves poor Bran off the side of a tower. After all, he's just been interrupted during a naked tryst with his sister! See? See how that works? He's a sexual deviant; of course he's also a killer. 

Is she being sarcastic?

So all we can do is deal with the sly looks between Jaime and Cersei when Game of Thrones comes back on air, and turn the pages and swallow back the bile when we read about it in novels and plays. And we can all try our hardest not to even imagine ourselves with our...oh, god no....never mind...I can't even type it.

Doth she protest too much?

What kind of message does something like this send to, say, an 18-year-old woman who realizes she's fallen in love with her 20-year-old sibling, and is already dealing with so much fear of persecution, discrimination, and rejection?
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