Thursday, July 9, 2015

Stepsiblings, Siblings, and Fiction

If you've been paying attention to the fiction market, especially romance novels or erotica, it would be very difficult to miss the popularity of writings and fantasies of women with their stepbrothers.

For some, fantasy is just fantasy. They've never had a stepbrother or have no actual attraction to him, or if they did, wouldn't act on it. Others have acted on it.

What keeps many (not all) blood siblings from erotic, romantic, or even recreational interaction is something that has been described as the Westermarck Effect. This effect would usually apply to stepsiblings as well, provided they were raised together from a very early age, such as before the age of seven. Not everyone experiences the Westermarck Effect, however, and people who become stepsiblings or potential stepsiblings after the onset of puberty aren't likely to experience such an effect. They may or may not be attracted to each other just as they may or may not be attracted to any other person, but if there is any mutual attraction, they often have the added factors of proximity, privacy, convenience, etc. As for genetic siblings who weren't raised together, they are somewhat likely to experience an intense attraction (there's as much as a 50% chance that at least one of them will have a strong attraction, provided the genders and sexual orientations align.)


Over at, Natasha Vargas-Cooper writes about the popularity of stepsibling erotic fiction.
Nestled inside the top sellers list on Amazon, between the James Patterson pot-boilers, the ubiquitous de-cluttering manifesto, and various forgettable beach reads, is the answer to what women really want: in short, to f--- their stepbrothers. For months now, self-published stepsibling romance novels have become a staple on the best-selling Amazon charts. Titles such as, My Stepbrother, My Lover; Stepbrother Charming; Stepbrother Dearest; I’m in Love with my Stepbrother make up the newest outpost in the female erotic imagination.

Congratulations to those authors for meeting, somewhat, a demand that is clearly there.
Incest narratives have long been a staple of self-published erotica, be they volumes of fan fiction where the Weasley twins do it to each other or tortured narratives of forbidden love between father and daughter that float around free smut websites. But these familial romances have always lurked in the margins; now marks the first time these tracts have appeared next to a Dan Brown book.
Actually, both actual incest and "stepcest" have long been in our stories, because they've always been a part of life. But yes, it is new for erotic fiction with this being the clear focus to consistently make it so high on the charts.
I asked Masters: Why now? Why is stepsibling romance so hot?
 “A collective lingering obsession with Cruel Intentions?” she joked over e-mail. “I think that the dynamic is so sexy because everyone wants what they can’t have! I also think it’s the immediate emotional intensity that readers love. Deep empathy can arise between two characters coming from fractured families—and I personally always find that level of understanding to be sexy. The warring forces of tight quarters and forbidden physical attraction also make this dynamic inherently dramatic.”
Each of those stepsiblings is their own parent's child, right? And their parents were attracted to each other. So it isn't strange that they'd be attracted to each other, too.
Alice Ward, author of My Stepbrother, My Lover, believes the genre has become popular “because stepsiblings have such a unique and fascinating dynamic. They’re put in a situation where they’re expected to grow to love each other. And if sexual attraction accompanies that love, it’s only natural for a little romance to blossom.”

That's a big part of it.
The divorce rate in the United States really started to climb in the 1970’s, which led to bisected families merging with other families, thrusting horny teens into sharing bathrooms with another horny teens. Sex with your stepsibling, therefore, isn’t just a device in erotica. It’s a wonderfully American phenomenon, the run-off from the tidal shift of our sexual revolution. Even if you didn’t f--k your stepbrother, incest play provides way to burn off lingering fumes of primitive childhood impulses that didn’t make much sense to us at the time. Sex, after all, is the straightest line between two points.
Without a doubt, there are more people who have stepsiblings these days, and near-stepsiblings.

Yes, there are a lot of stepsbilings who've had feelings and experiences. But there's another reason for this genre of erotica...
“Writing about incest, straight out between blood relations will get you banned,” says Rennie Reynolds (a pseudonym for an erotica writer who has published over 60 titles on Amazon). “And it’s a major loss, especially if that title was making money for you. That’s why you have to be clever with your wording in the synopsis. You have to signal to people that there’s taboo material in your story, but you also don’t want to get your story banned. You have to use coded language.”
Many of the authors want to write about consanguinamory. Many of the readers want to read about consanguinamory. But prejudice means it is suppressed and altered into stepsiblings.

If you want to read some great, very realistic fiction, from an author who didn't blink and went the full blood sibling route, I highly recommend Diane Rinella's books.
But the family dynamic is potent, and sets the imagination on fire for women and men alike. A cursory look at Pornhub will pull up countless step-sex sessions that go beyond siblings to parents. There’s the hot stepmom instructing her son how to properly pleasure a woman; the stepdad who catches his teen daughter prancing around her mom’s lingerie and so on. Shows like Game of Thrones have brought incest into our living rooms—you prestige cable drama nerds, love it, admit it.
It's obvious that of people are turned on by the idea or at least somewhat interested in the idea as a story element, whether or not they have personal experience or wish they had personal experience. People can find the idea of characters being involved this way arousing without personally wanting to be with their own stepsibling, but if they have had those feeling or experiences for their own stepsibling, they are more likely to enjoy this genre.

When it comes to steprelations, although sex isn't incest by the biological definition, certain relationships might violate ridiculous anti-incest laws in some places that criminalize sex (which we shouldn't have to clarify by adding "consensual") instead of keeping the focus on assault. Socially, romantic/sexual relationships between stepsiblings might be considered incestuous regardless of biology or law, but we think everyone would be better off if consenting adults were allowed to be together how they want without being attacked by the other people in their lives. Something to consider is that in many places, people who were raised in the same home as stepsbilings from the earliest of ages (and thus, effectively as siblings) can legally marry but genetic half-siblings who first met as mature adults, having had no previous siblint relationship with each other whatsoever, are denied their right to marry. It's absurd. There's no reason fiction should avoid these topics and there's no reason any consenting adults should be denied their rights.

If you have experiences with a steprelation, you can share what happened by commenting below or using the email address given below. If you do NOT want your experiences published, say so (comments are NOT automatically published).
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