So the other day, I came to the realization that I do not like Inuyasha fanfiction. For whatever reason, I’ve always been put off by it, and it wasn’t until spending a few hours thinking about it that I realized why.
When I first got into fanfiction, I was about twelve, and being a sheltered child who had never received “the talk” for various reasons, I found myself just a bit in over my head. I barely understood heterosexual pairings, let alone homosexual ones, bondage, other kinks, so on and so forth. On top of that, my naïve asexual brain couldn’t even understand why anyone would want to put a penis there. And all the tentacle rape between Naraku and Sesshoumaru certainly didn’t make this experience less overwhelming.
But most of all, Inuyasha fanfiction is what introduced me to the concept of incest. And out of all those kinks, this is the one I can relate to the least. Every time, it’d make me think that the story in question would be like if my brother and I did some stuff, and that greatly disturbed me. (That was also about the time I discovered my ability to make myself vomit with a thought.)
But what really did put me off even more was the unrealistic portrayal. My twelve-year-old brain knew nothing about these issues and didn’t understand that fanfiction doesn’t reflect reality. That just because someone’s accepting of two fictional brothers together, I thought that person would be accepting of two real brothers together.
In which case, it seemed as though a lot of people supported this taboo in the real world, as well. And I’m sure there are some people out there who do.
I know incest stories don’t bother a great many people, at least not on the level they do me, but it’s to the extent that if two non-related characters ever remotely act like siblings, I have a very hard time handling it. Like, I can’t read Thor/Loki, unless Loki wasn’t raised alongside Thor. I can’t even get into Morzan/Brom, if only because Brom used to consider Morzan like a brother. If in the fic, he never looked at Morzan like that, I have no problem with it.
I don’t know whether or not I’m in the minority on this issue. The demographics of this completely elude me. Maybe I’m the only weird one out there, and most people just love incest stories. I have no idea. Regardless, I don’t see too many people protesting in the streets to allow brothers and sisters to marry.
So by now, in case you haven’t figured it out, we’re going to talk about incest pairings in fanfiction.
Well, let’s talk about acceptance. A few years ago, I had found a Pirates of the Caribbean story on adultfanfiction.net. The story was about Jack and Will being in love. Okay, no big deal. But then a priest character got introduced, and he didn’t like the relationship. Again, no big deal. That was in a time and place when something like that wouldn’t be accepted, let alone by a priest. Hell, most priests don’t accept gay relations today. Naturally, Jack and Will try to defend their stance and make the priest see that they’re not doing anything wrong.
So how do they go about making a priest change his worldly views that’s he’s probably had all his life and believes whole-heartedly with his whole soul, you ask.
Well, Jack responds by saying something along the lines of the Bible tells us to love one another and that in the original Greek version, it’s erotic love. Then Priest Man is like, “Oh, okay then. I totally accept this bullshit explanation that could never be used in real life to defend homosexual relationships and will now take it as fact, even though as a priest I may very well be familiar with the Greek version of the Bible already. But I’m just going to go ahead and take the word of a pirate. Peace out, dude!”
And drama is solved that easily.
That’s about how the incest fics I’ve read go. Like, a bunch of characters get prissy at the siblings, one of the incestuous couple responds that they love each other, and then everyone accepts it. Like, oh, well in that case, if you love each other, it’s all okay then.
And I can go on about how much I think incest is disgusting, but it’s this readiness authors have to write off the societal issues such a relationship would cause that makes reading the stories all the more unrealistic.
It’s actually really uncanny how easily accepted incest pairings are in the fictional world. I think the main reason incest is accepted or not in fanfiction has nothing to do with how we view it realistically. And fanfiction doesn’t reflect society the way it is.
So what are some of the reasons people write incest stories?
Well, the most obvious one would be that they find the main characters attractive.
Do you think Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru are hot? Do you want to see them have sex? No problem! Because fanfiction is here to solve that for you. But wait, other people in the story shouldn’t logically agree with this. Well, then, how about [insert bullshit reason].
For the most part, that is the way most of these stories go. Convenient explanations. I’m sure there are some decent stories out that have two siblings together. Maybe they were separated at a young age and didn’t know they were related until after starting a relationship. I can see some fairly decent conflict coming from such a story. In fact, a famous book series does just that—it’s called City of Bones. It was also very obviously written by someone who used to do a lot of fanfiction.
I kind of assume that incest is accepted more in fanfiction than in other fictional works. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in other mediums. Far from it. It’s everywhere. But despite how widespread it is, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this pairing done in a realistic manner with regards to how the other people in the story react to the relationship.
Oftentimes, incest happens because of rape or sexual assault, or because there’s something mentally wrong with the participants. In fanfiction, though, this isn’t always the case, and we’ll get there. In actual books, comics, movies, so forth, it seems to happen for shock value, but sometimes I can’t even tell whether or not the writer wants me to agree with the pairing.
I don’t know how many of you have read The Ultimates. The Ultimates is a reboot of the Marvel Universe, where the Avengers call themselves the Ultimates and not, well, the Avengers. If you haven’t read it, don’t. Volumes one and two are more or less okay, but the third one just got very odd, and then everything went downhill. Well, downhill even more than the first two volumes. However, this is the universe in which Pietro and Wanda—Magneto’s children, also known as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch—love each other.
Their relationship is never really brought to the forefront until the third volume, and the explanation as to why they’re like that makes no sense and has no bearing on reality. Before that volume, whether or not they were actually together was a little ambiguous.
During the third volume, Steve Rogers makes a comment about them, because he’s not comfortable with their relationship. The writer, artist, whoever-the-hell-worked-on-this-comic actually has the Wasp respond by saying it’s the twenty-first century and that Steve needs to get over it, as if that kind of thing is widely accepted. I can only assume they had Wasp say this because she’s more new-aged than the other characters, but I kind of associated her character as someone who would, I don’t know, not support incest.
And the thing is, I don’t care if a character thinks incest is okay. I don’t. But when the writer presents it as though that character’s correct, I kind of need to step back from the work. And it also gets to me when the incest has no reason to exist. I’ve read The Ultimates a few times now, and I still can’t see the point of the relationship.
As I said, fanfiction is all wish-fulfillment, so regardless of whether or not I agree with it, I can at least understand why incest is so popular among the fandom community. But stories like The Ultimates used it for kink value.
Unfortunately, it will probably be a while before I can come across a fanfiction author who portrays such a relationship with the same view as my own. I doubt that’s ever going to happen. If an author doesn’t like it, he or she’s not going to write a fic for it, because no desire exists for it. Therefore, all the other stories are ones that consistently try to justify the relationship, because hey, Luke and Leia are hot, right?
But, okay, seriously, there are other reasons people write incest pairings besides hotness.
And though I don’t really understand why people have this kink, at the very least I can thank the fanfiction community for not using it to simply shock their audiences. Chances are, very few things are going to shock the normal fanfiction reader.
But besides the hotness, writers often want to further explore the characters, and people seem to really like doing that with a romantic plot. And sometimes the only characters available are related to each other.
Take Supernatural, for example, and look at the first three seasons. Besides Sam and Dean, how many main characters are there? Sure we got Bobby and Ruby, but there are not too many characters to choose from. The story belongs to Sam and Dean, and as Lady Saika pointed out to me, a physical relationship between the two is often justified by saying that they didn’t grow up with the same societal norms as the rest of us. I can go on a rant about how I disagree with this, because they still had a lot of access to society, but there is something to be said about stories with a limited number of characters. It wasn’t until the introduction of the angels that the Wincest stories died down a bit. Following that, the Dean/Castiel and Sam/Gabriel fanfics appeared in droves.
The same thing can be said for other stories, like Inheritance Cycle. When it just comes to the first book, there aren’t a lot of options. It’s put Eragon with Murtagh or the dragon. Granted, it wasn’t revealed at the time that they were siblings, and by the time it was, there were other characters with larger roles, but by no means have the now-incest fics gone away.
As for the Luke/Leia pairing, I’m pretty sure they were not originally intended to be siblings. Some of the novels after A New Hope that George Lucas okayed had the two of them hooking up. Maybe we could make the argument that in those universes they’re not related to each other, but that does open up some new possibilities.
What if Sam and Dean weren’t brothers? The joy of fanfiction is that it doesn’t have to be canon, so it is conceivable that these stories would exist. But even in the ones where they are related, when you look at canon, they don’t interact with too many other people. Yeah, they have flings, and the occasional girlfriend who dies, but when it comes right down to it, they really only have a relationship with each other, and some fans like to make that a sexual relationship.
Hell, even the writers of Supernatural make jabs about the two being together. They’ve been doing this since the first season, and they’re still doing it now. All too often the brothers will come across someone who thinks they’re a couple and makes a comment about them. In one episode, they go to a convention where a gay couple cosplays as them, and Dean even finds some Sam/Dean slash on the internet, so it’s even canon that he and Sam know what Wincest is.
On top of just wanting to explore the characters more, a lot of people are attracted to the forbidden-love thing. Normally, these fics do more to justify the relationship than simply saying “but we love each other.” But even looking at it from that aspect, I still have trouble seeing the appeal. It’s probably because I hate love stories.
But, yes, there are a plethora of reasons why someone would write an incest story. But I have to say that sometimes I still cannot tell whether or not the author approves of the incest issue.
We could go on about the inaccurate portrayal of just about everything in fanfiction, but most authors write things that they agree with. You don’t find too many people willing to write a story with a message they disapprove of. When you have a male/male slash story, it was probably written because the author thinks those characters are hot. But chances are, that author also supports gay rights.
However when it comes to an incest fic, yeah, the author once again probably supports gay rights, but does that author support incest?
No, I want to say, probably not.