Incest Enthusiast Wants Your Understanding, Acceptance

Illustration for article titled Incest Enthusiast Wants Your Understanding, Acceptance

People keep sending us this Times of London article entitled "I had sex with my brother but I don't feel guilty." Two things about that. One: incest is not okay. It's not ever okay. Two: I'm sick to death of people writing first-person essays about bad behavior and expecting that the mere act of writing about it absolves them of any responsibility and places them above censure. In the Times, the anonymous incest-lover says, "[Incest] doesn't happen to everyone but it happens to some, and I don't want to be made to feel guilty about it." Then why are you writing about something incredibly taboo in a public forum? If this lady wants to fuck her brother, fine. I'm not going to stop her. But the expectation that this "honesty" is beyond reproach is laughable.

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And anyway, she keeps trying to prove that the sexual union with her brother was completely normal and healthy and didn't interfere with their relationships, except she "found it hard to be physically intimate with anyone else" and eventually her brother almost agreed to dump his fiancee, on the condition that they "Stay together and not see anyone else. We could be the old boring brother and sister who never got married, but ended up sharing a house because no one else would have them! I know this is meant to be wrong but I've never felt anything so right." [Note: if she feels so strongly about breaking the taboo of incest, why is this article anonymous? Just sayin'.]

The tone of her essay reminded me of a comment left in response to a story I did on Ellen Tien, who wrote in O denigrating her husband and thinking about divorce constantly. She was upset about our judge-y coverage of Tien, and said, "What about 'when a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her'? If this is the truth of Tien's experience of marriage I'm glad she described it, and I don't think she's a selfish or nasty person for it." But our truthful reaction to Tien was that her article in O was incredibly bitchy, just as my truthful reaction to this incest story is ew. If your takeaway from that quote is truth is God, then these articles and our subsequent reactions are truly worthwhile. But is every transgression, no matter how base or cruel, from the status quo worthy of shouting from the rooftops?

"I Had Sex With My Brother But I Don't Feel Guilty." [Times of London]

Earlier: O Writer Claims That Beneath Every Marriage Runs The "Chyron Of Divorce"

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DISCUSSION

tiredfairy
tiredfairy

I have a younger brother so stuff like this creeps me out tremendously. And I think trying to rationalize it by saying they're close in age is sort of glossing over other things in the article that indicate how unhealthy it is. She uses words of obsession and possessiveness to describe her brother and their relationship...which signals some kind of imbalance to me. And just because it felt good doesn't mean it isn't messed up and damaging. I don't think it's just about not having children because they'll have birth defects...it sounds more like a way to never be close to anyone else by being fixated on the sibling.

Also, the fact that they were both 14 and well aware of why this was wrong says a lot. If they were 5 and 6 years old and playing doctor or whatever, that'd be one thing. But teenagers? That's a conscious decision...and I do think her brother was taking advantage of her in some way by the way it was initiated.

Clearly she doesn't have to feel guilty about it if she doesn't want to...but society doesn't need to pat her on the back for it either. There are legitimate reasons for discouraging incest between siblings, both psychological and genetic. Just because she liked doing it doesn't make those any less real.

All I could think of while reading this article was a letter in Letters to Judy that Judy Blume published years ago, about a girl whose brother had been molesting her. She loved it but knew something was wrong. He didn't hurt her so she felt conflicted and upset. I think incest is definitely complicated but it's really not something that society should advocate. I know older ones did but hey, they also thought slavery was a good idea.