22 Reasons Why We Ship Siblings

One of my lovely tumblr anonymice recently asked me, “Why do you think people ship incest?” And I thought a big question deserved a big answer, so I spent some time pondering the subject, reviewing my discussions with other shippers, and muckraking in the frightening depths of my twisted mind, and I’ve come up with 22 whys and wherefores.

Notes:

– Firstly let me say I think incest shipping appeals to different people for different reasons. It’s not a one-reason-per-person or all-reasons-for-every-person deal. (Or one reason per ship or all reasons-for-all-ships either.) And I’m not out to oversimplify anything – I think shipping is a psychologically complex process. It’s hardly fair to reduce it to a three sentence explanation.

-Not every reason is going to be true for every family. Obviously circumstances vary wildly.

-This list was made with brother/sister incest shipping in mind, but most of the reasons will be applicable towards other kinds of incest ships. If by any chance you want to quote something, feel free to change the words “brother”, or “sister”, or “siblings”, etc.,  in order to make it relevant to your subject if need be.

-I hope it goes without saying that this is a discussion about consensual incest.

-These are in no particular order.

22 Reasons

1) The appeal of forbidden love isn’t going to surprise anyone. It’s titillating. And incest is the forbiddenest of forbidden. It has been called the last taboo, and while I think an imaginative few of us can come up with some remaining taboos (…yuck), the point remains: incest continues to be “not ok”. That’s exciting. On top of that, incest isn’t just against the rules (/social conventions) – it’s considered to be “wrong”, to be a dark and twisted thing. Again, that’s exciting. (For some people.)

2) There’s another element of excitement in incest shipping, and that’s the “danger” of procreation. When it comes to our incest ships, we don’t generally imagine or want them having children, but I would argue, in some cases, for some people, the idea that there’s a danger of some sort of troubling consequence just adds to the thrill. (Of course the likelihood of birth defects from incest is much lower than what most people think and generally only a factor in multiple generations of inbreeding, but that’s a discussion for another time.) Without incest, this kind of danger you can only find when sci-fi or fantasy elements are introduced.

3, 4) The joy of the ship is in watching (/imagining) the pairing overcoming the obstacles that keep them apart. You see them, you want them together, but you crave the journey. The harder the road, the more rewarding the destination. Incest is an arduous road. (There are like steep hills and bandits and shit. It’s rough.) So another appeal of incest shipping is that it’s a mountain of an obstacle keeping the two parties from realizing/consummating their love, and perhaps even more so from their happily ever after.

And incest provides two different kinds of obstacle: an internal obstacle and an external obstacle.

Internal obstacles are not always easy to come by. When one person wants another person, there’s not usually a lot to hold them back in their minds. But incest does. Perhaps they still feel an aversion to incest, and they have to grapple with that. Perhaps it remains so unthinkable to them that whether they feel an aversion or not, they still haven’t realized what they’re actually feeling. Or perhaps they’re simply too afraid the other person would never return their feelings to act. It’s a richly tortuous progression.

But there’s a bonus external obstacle that comes along with it: it’s forbidden. Which means it either cannot be acted upon, or it has to be kept secret. The fact that it’s not allowed by other people – will be prevented by other people – is another hurdle that keeps them apart. And they won’t just be stopped, they’ll also be despised – it’s something to be ashamed of.

So inside they’re saying to themselves, “I can’t do this, it’s wrong,” and then on the outside there are others saying, “Get away from each other! You’re disgusting!”

5) Incest ships can also be delightful because they’re unconventional. It’s not boy meets girl, boy and girl like each other, boy and girl go on date, boy and girl get married, etc. No, boy and girl have known each other their entire lives. They don’t remember meeting, and at least one of them was a baby when it happened. There was definitely no love at first sight or meet-cute. They don’t grow to love each other over a series of dates, and they sure as hell won’t be getting married. It’s fun because it’s different and it’s not straightforward or formulaic.

6, 7) Next we come to what I have started calling levels of love. Incest is like an onion. (Or a parfait.) There’s the love you feel for someone who is your family, an obligatory, involuntary love. There’s the love you feel for someone in your family whom you’re close to, a sort of friendship multiplier. An affection. And then there’s the incest. The love for a romantic partner and the love for a sexual partner. You know, layers.

So these levels of love spawn two different shipping appeals: “no matter what” levels of love, and “intensity” levels of love.

Incest is almost unique in that the parties loves each other no matter what: if they’re “together”, if they’re not “together”, if they’ve never been “together” before – it doesn’t matter. There’s a baseline of love. They can hate each other, have a dynamic that constantly places them in opposition, be literal enemies – it doesn’t matter, there’s still a love connection. The levels of love are particularly delightful in two situations: 1) when the pairing has a hostile tension and typically does not get along. Your hate sex ship floats down a river of deep love, and 2) when the pairing parts ways. There might be “not together” in incest, but there’s no clean break, no getting over each other, and no escape. Hard on the characters, sure, but grrrrreat for shipping.

And incest is almost unique in that the parties love each other in a billion different ways. This makes for a more intense relationship. Every up and every down has higher stakes. The love is more intense, the anger has farther reaching consequences. It’s love on crack.

8) An interesting appeal of incest is that it’s the ultimate codependency. Codependent characters who are also each others’ family are that much more codependent. No, it’s not the healthiest situation, but there’s just something about a pairing that only has each other, who are each others’ everything. The taboo nature of incest ostracizes them even further, whether it’s because they’re keeping a secret together, or because they’ve been rejected by others because of the incest. It becomes them against the world.

9) It’s also a matter of undivided loyalties. A character who meets and falls for a stranger is still going to have ties to their family. If they have to choose between their lover and their sibling, it’s going to be an agonizing choice. If they have to leave to go somewhere with their romantic partner, then they have to leave their family behind, and it’s tainted. It becomes a “mostly happily ever after”. But when the lover and the sibling are one, then that’s not the case. No divided loyalties.

10) The concept of Yin and Yang is also a powerful draw. Because the brother and sister share an origin, they are counterparts – complementary versions of each other. There’s both something primal about it and a perception of perfection and equality. What it comes down to is that it feels like they belong together and fit together, like two puzzle pieces.

11) In the same vein is the idea that no one else is good enough for them. This is the pure-blood/first family/aristocrats trope. Whether they’re gods or blood of the dragon or royalty or just think they’re something special, there’s definitely some shipping satisfaction in putting together two characters who think no one else is good enough for them but each other. (And it’s a thrilling inversion of the isolation or white-trash-incest tropes in which the incest occurs because there’s no one else to choose from. In this case the other options exist, they’re just considered sub-par.)

12) Siblings are an embodiment of always. Their relationship started at birth and reaches until death. They’ll always be siblings. There was no “before” and there is no “after”, not once they both exist. It’s an unvarying constant. Their relationship can change, their relationships with others can change, but they’re always brother and sister. Family is forever.

13) Family is forever, and it’s also not by chance. Perhaps every human interaction is one giant orchestration, or perhaps only the big events. Or perhaps it’s all random. But there’s no chance when it comes to family. We meet people, or we don’t meet people – it’s happenstance. But a brother and sister don’t meet by accident. They were born into this relationship. It’s their place in the universe. They were going to be together no matter what. I see the shipping appeal in that.

14) A character’s family sees a different side of that character than everyone else does. They’re most vulnerable with their family because their family knows them best, and first, and in a way that no one else does. They see through the public mask. A brother knows his sister, and she knows him. There’s a deeper and more intimate knowledge than most people ever find with anyone else.

15) Incest is also a universal concept, which means it can apply across eras and cultures. While other types of relationship dynamics or obstacles might be predicated upon a certain societal situation, incest isn’t. Particularly for the AU-minded it’s full of possibilities. And for the non-canon shipper, it’s a useful narrative kink because you can find an incest ship in any genre, in any story well-rounded enough to mention family members.

16) For the non-canon shipper, there’s a nice relief in incest shipping because you’re guaranteed “shippy” moments whether the romantic/sexual element is canon or not. The siblings are going to have sweet moments, significant moments, intense moments, emotional moments, pretty much no matter what. The shipper of incest is going to see their ship be shippy, even if they don’t get to see their ship kiss.

17) Another charm of incest shipping is a delivery on the trope what-they-really-wanted-was-in-front-of-them-all-along. It’s not exclusive to incest by any means but incest is a great conductor for people who enjoy that trope. It could be representative of an anti-stranger or xenophobic attitude, but not necessarily. I think incest-shipping holds an appeal for people who like the idea of someone finding out their true love was already someone familiar and comfortable, someone safe. Or perhaps even more so that they didn’t have to search out love. That finding the person they were meant to be with didn’t mean moving to the big city and spending a decade on disastrous first dates.

Similar in concept is an anti-change attitude that might reflect itself in incest-shipping. Perhaps even a Peter Pan complex. The idea that someone again might not have to look elsewhere for their fulfillment in life, might not have to leave behind their happy childhood, might not have to “grow up”, that they can have their cake and eat it too, is appealing.

The following two examples are slightly more specific to certain kinds of ships.

18) The first is the unexpected. Experienced viewers are used to tropes and formulas in what they watch, and many people can see a new romantic relationship coming from a mile away. But with incest, you’re not expecting it. It’s almost always revealed in a manner meant to shock you, and you don’t see it coming because it’s so rare. And I find that surprise incest – given it fits into other parameters – can be delightful enough to give you a certain dedication to that ship. Just like the unconventional reason given above, we’re drawn to subversions of tropes and we love seeing things that are new and different.

19) The second reason revolves around a certain kind of character. For me there is an intangible pleasure imagining smug characters, or powerful characters, or gorgeous characters, or brilliant characters in incestuous relationships. There’s just something about someone like that being undone in love in such a way that despite everything they’ve got going for them they’re vulnerable because of a shameful romantic relationship. They fell for the one person they couldn’t have (/weren’t supposed to ever want).

20) One of the biggest reasons, and something that I think anti-incest-shippers don’t always realize, is that a lot of these incest ships would have been shipped anyway if incest hadn’t been a factor. The shippers who do ship these ships simply weren’t bothered by the fact that it was incest or managed to overcome their aversion. This is usually the case with the most popular non-canon incest ships. Fans saw that these were two characters were simply perfect for each other, and they weren’t going to be stopped from shipping it just because the characters were siblings.

Lack of choice is a part of that. In shows with small casts, in movies where almost every dies, or other works where there simply aren’t a lot of normal regular human characters around the same age, then incest ships are going to be happen because shippers gonna ship. A shipper is a shipper is a shipper. And they will ship what they’re given. (So basically it would have been shipped anyway, because there was no one else to ship.)

21) Another big reason is sexualization. It can come from a confusion or it can be intentional.

If you’re a fan of a familial relationship, and you care about that relationship, but you’re used to romantic shipping, it can be very confusing. And frustrating. Because when you’re used to shipping and how shipping expresses itself in you – writing fanfic, writing commentary, coming up with headcanons, playing out scenarios in your head, yelling dirty comments at the TV – to do that for a platonic relationship can really throw you off. So much so that sometimes the line becomes blurred and all of the sudden you’re treating it and thinking of it like a regular ship.

This process can also be totally intentional. You enjoy a familial relationship but it’s just not fun for you if it’s not sexual. You’re sure as hell not going to write a gen fic when it could be smut. So you make it a romantic ship because why not. Some people really do have that kind of control/lack of f–ks to give.

This sexualization can remain mild or it can totally take over. It can certainly go from “oops” to “OTP to end all other OTPs”.

22) And the last reason is a reflection of your real life desires. Shipping habits can be (and almost always are) 100% divorced from real life behaviors. But for some people they’re not. If you had real life incestuous feelings, then the appeal of incestuous shipping makes complete sense. But I’d like to add that I think the inverse is almost more likely: shipping habits become real life desires. You spend so long romanticizing your narrative kink, it’s understandable that it becomes a fantasy for your own life, even though in many cases that’s not a good thing. I still trust that everyone has the common sense to realize what’s going on in their head and know it’s no good even if they can’t control certain thoughts.

I was hesitant to add this as a reason because it’s something that gets lobbed at incest-shippers by haters, but I think that for some people it’s true and so I think it belongs on the list.

It might also happen that an identification with the forbidden/stigmatized nature of incest leads to incest shipping, even if it’s not a case of specifically incestuous desire.

I did not want to illustrate any of the reasons with examples,  but I’d love to talk examples in the comments if anyone wants to, and I’d also love to hear if you can come up with any other reasons or have any ideas about elaborating or clarifying some of the reasons I listed.

And thank you to my anon for sparking the discussion and forcing me to think about this in depth.

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42 Responses to 22 Reasons Why We Ship Siblings

  1. Evangeline says:

    May I add that some people are turned on incest ships because of abuse that happened to them or those close to them. I had a foster sister who was abused by her father and, since I was very young, I got the idea my own father would so the same to me. He never did but it pretty much ruined our relationship. However, out of that fear grew interest and I think that is why I like this kind of ship. I’m not the only one I know of either. I’ve had two writer friends disclose to me that they were abused by male family members. They also can’t get enough of this ship. I think it is a therapeutic way to deal with real life experiences. Just my two cents.

    • Shipcestuous says:

      I hadn’t considered that at all but now that you’ve brought it up I do remember hearing several other people say the same thing. The stigma around incest makes the abuse they suffered seem even worse. A normalization of incest, or at the very least lots of exposure, reduces the extra negative feelings caused by that stigma. And then there are probably other psychological processes at work as well, of course.

      I’m glad that victims of such abuse have found ways to deal with those terrible experiences.

      Thanks for sharing that insight and your personal experience.

  2. hoagie says:

    3,4,5 and a little bit of1are why I think I like incest ships. Well brother/sister ships that is, to be honest mother/son and father/daughter pairings gross me out since there is a considerable age gap and I feel like a parent is abusing a position of power in that situation. I haven’t actually gotten behind one yet but I’m okay with cousin pairings too since cousins seem to fall somewhere in between childhood friend and family (in my experience) so its not hard to imagine that type of relationship turning into something else.

    In my less than valuable opinion the journey of how two people come together is the most interesting part of a ship or romance story. There are no shortage of bad stories on fanfiction where the how and why is glossed over or ignored. It annoys me to no end how many stories have what should be the climax of the story in their first chapter and then there are five boring chapters of just them being together. Again in my opinion 90% of a romance story should be how two people came together. With an incest story the obstacles that have to be overcome are usually pretty big so I feel its even more important in an incest ship. A plus for incest ships is that in the hands of a skilled writer incest pairings are easy to make interesting. Reason number 5 is another big factor for me because I love crazy and out there pairings and there isn’t anything more unconventional than an incest ship.

    After I read this I wanted to see if I could add any of my own reasons but I have to say that the reasons you listed had me covered. This post like your normal plot synopsis type posts was really thorough so I had nothing new to add.

    • Shipcestuous says:

      I’m glad you found the list thorough. I tried my best.

      3 and 5 are two of my biggest reasons as well. I’ve never found the love story particularly appealing if I don’t understand what’s keeping them apart. That’s a big problem with TV shows. And I love out-there ships too.

      I’m so glad you agree with me that the journey of them coming to be together is the most interesting part. With some pairings almost all of the fanfiction has them as an already established couple. Sure it gives me a jolt of pleasure imagining them in their happily ever after – it’s fun for headcanon discussions and stuff like that, but in my opinion it doesn’t make for a compelling fic. I guess different people feel differently about it, but watching them fall in love is what I enjoy most.

  3. eleventhirty says:

    As mentioned by other responders, you’ve got a pretty awesomely thorough list here.

    I don’t think this exactly counts as a separate reason, but something else kind of fun about incest shipping is just how hard it is to write. You’ve got to come up with a reason why these characters are engaging in a relationship that totally disregards societal taboos, and frankly most writers just aren’t able to cut it. At least in my experience, there aren’t any “meh” fics with a brother/sister paring out there. Stories are either really good and stick with you for a long time after, or they’re just painful and impossible to get through.

    Hmm…I’ve got the most awful plot bunny based around reason #2 now…

    • Shipcestuous says:

      It is so hard to write, isn’t it? It’s like there’s this huge wall in the middle of the road and you’ve somehow got to get them over it. Maybe that’s the reason so many incest fics begin with the relationship already established. I enjoy the challenge, though it does make it nearly impossible sometimes to write a casual drabble or a one shot.

      Any plot bunny surrounding #2 is going to be awful, lol. But you must write more Spencer/Carly because I need it.

  4. Brian says:

    I’m gay and grew up in the 70s and 80s where there weren’t much gay characters for me to identify with, but I did identify with the tortured brother and uncle loving heroines of V.C. Andrews. The angst and the extreme forbidden loves were something that felt closer to what I was going thru than anything else. Now things are different and there are actual real gay characters out there (but there’s still a shortage of strong interesting gay leads, but that’s another discussion), but I still think incest shipping is fun for the drama, the zing of the taboo. Now I ship brothers as well as brothers and sisters though 🙂 and I’d love to see you cover more brother/brother pairings on your site.

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Thanks for sharing how you came to be an incest shipper! I’m always fascinated by the process. I’m going to expand reason #22 to include what you’ve mentioned.

      If you’re interested in more brother/brother, be sure to check out familiarattraction, forbiddincest, and incestisnicest on tumblr.

      Thanks for your comment!

  5. bluedori says:

    Hello. I’m a member of an incest shippers fanpage on facebook. We are building up our page (mostly about manga/anime but we may add movies/tv shows later). Would you mind liking or promoting our page? Thank you very much! ^^

    https://www.facebook.com/AddictiontoINC?hc_location=timeline

    The page is in vietnamese but again, we are still in progress so we may add english trans later. 😀 But if you interested in anything I can help! ^^ I have not watched many movies/tv shows involve incest (only Game of throne) but I do love some non-canon ships (2 Narnia ships, Justin & Alex Russo, Phineas & Candace). Will dig up your blog when i have time xD

    Btw, do you ship selfcest?

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Hi! I’d be happy to promote your page. I’ll approve your comment on here and then I’ll do a post on my tumblr about it. I think it’s great that you’ve got a page going and I’m sure it’s a great manga/anime resource for Vietnamese readers. I do hope you expand at some point. 🙂

      Most canon incest in movies/TV is pretty miserable but a few exceptions – like Jaime and Cersei – are torturous but worth your time.

      The non canon ships you listed are among some of my personal favorites. Justin and Alex will always hold a special place in my heart but I’m truly overjoyed to meet another Phineas and Candace shipper. I feel like you have to have a certain openness in order to even consider them shippable, but once you’re there they make total sense.

      I do ship selfcest but I’m not huge on it. Opposite-sex selfcest (like in an alternate universe or through some wacky magical spell or whatever) intrigues me a little more though I’ve never explored it too much.

      Thanks for your message! I’ll be sure to promo your page on my tumblr.

      • bluedori says:

        Thank you! I’m so glad you did not consider my comment as a spam. (i was kinda worry). I’d love to promote your blog too but since the admins have not decided yet about my idea (add up movies/tv shows), I have to wait for it. 🙂

        I think Alex x Justin ship is popular, but Phineas x Candace is, like, I don’t know it’s exist (I mean, I thought I was the only one shipper! Or there are only two of us? xD ). I don’t know since when but I was into this ship even before the incest thing. It’s like I always feel it, but do not know what it is. I love the fact that he almost never raise his voice to Candace (only once as Isabella pointed out) and he take care of her all the time. For some reasons I can’t name, I find Candace’s love for her brother is even more obvious despite her words. Their affection toward each other makes me happy. ^_^ About selfcest, I’m exactly like you. I’m mostly interested in opposite-sex selfcest and it’s mostly because I’m a huge fan of opposite-sex twincest (But somehow I am not really into Jaime x Cersei ships. Maybe it’s because they were right there from the beginning so I couldn’t see how they end up together. They did said so and they did showed it by actions but I couldn’t feel it it. I’ve only watched ss1 though, maybe I’ll change my mind after some more ss).

        Anyway, I’m so glad to find your blog. 🙂 I’ve been looking for some incest fanpages/blogs/forums for discussion and resources but couldn’t find anything until today. Again thank you sooo much. <333

        • Shipcestuous says:

          There are more than two Phineas and Candace shippers, I know of at least half a dozen at least who are somewhat interested in it if not ardent shippers. It’s very interesting to me to know that you shipped it even before getting into incest shipping. Phineas is rather calm with everyone, but he does seem to pay special attention to Candace. It’s the same with Candace, but in reverse. She loves both of her brothers, and she seeks to bust both of them, but Phineas is more special. The most intriguing aspect of all of it really is Candace obsession with busting them, of course. It rules her life.

          Yes I understand what you are saying about Jaime and Cersei. Like you I am more interested in the love story – in watching them fall in love. The process. And with Jaime and Cersei they were already together. With them specifically I don’t mind because they have a very exciting and tumultuous relationship, and I ship them very much, but with others I am always disappointed if the relationship is established prior to the beginning of the story.

          Thanks for your messages. I wish you the best of luck with your facebook page!

  6. Zahid says:

    Amazing stuff man.It feels blissful here.Genuine shippers.Other part on the internet you are disgusted and bullied if u are a incest shipper.Glad i invented it here.I have watched Flowers in the attic,Cement garden,Consent,House of Wax,Clueless,Shameless.I am sure there is more films.Can u please give me some names?

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Hi! Welcome! Yes, this is our little refuge, and my tumblr as well. I’m so glad you found us.

      Yes, those are all great. Have you seen the sequel to Flowers in the Attic – Petals on the Wind? I love Doom, The House of Yes, Hellboy 2, Close My Eyes, well anything in my index, The Hotel New Hampshire, Beautiful Kate, Siblings, Contra El Viento, Geminis, La Coupure. Well, there are so many.

  7. Aida says:

    This is a great list. I actually did not start to ship brothers and sisters (and I still ship only a few select pairings — but they’re my favourite) because of tv shows or book. I had a huge depression when I was 13 and I created at that time a ton of oc’s I still have today (I’m 20 y/o) and my central/favorite characters I created was (is) a set of twins that I decided, purely by myself and with no outside influence, to ship together. I don’t even know why to be honest. I used them in several stories and I plan to write a novel about them one day. (Soon!) They have that best friends-lovers-siblings-caretakers dynamic going on. It’s unhealthy but healthy at the same time and I started looking up the ways authors and screenwriters develop incestuous relationship for «education». It was for my craft originally but I went down the slope. For my defence it’s a slippy slope. Anyways.

    I’ve read your «about» section (yeah sorry that seems creepy writing it like that but I was curious) and I can tell we’re really alike. Your family and mine’s seem the same. It made me laugh for a reason. We’re kind of a lil bit too regular to be so invested in this kink haha.

    I like the brother/sister incest trope/narrative kink because of 3,4, 5 and 12, mainly. These really really resonate with me. Thanks for putting it so eloquently into words. Such drama! Number 5 particularly is really important in my shipping habits. I have not seen this cited by anybody on this blog yet, but I think for me, a big part of my liking for incest in fiction is that it does not conclude into a normal life/family/love story/relationship. (At least in my head canons!) Like.
    I think I speak for all girls when I say I had more than my share of shitty relationships (shitty is an euphemism here) and also, as a radical feminist, I’m super tired of going out with guy who … would «not respect me» be what I mean? I don’t know. It’s just. Your family (at least when you get along with them) respects you and treats you much more as an equal than a random dude you just met. I’m totally over the mainstream relationships I see around me : divorce-couple-counselling-problems-so much problems-etc. BUT here I know I am romanticizing incest VERY much. I know this is not how it goes in real life, for having witnessing it. God knows it’s the opposite most, if not all of the time. Thats why I like it only in fiction. It’s not real and it’s a way to dream. It’s twisted but right at the same time. (Wow. I sound creepy for the second time in this post. Great.)

    By the way. I really enjoy reading you! Your writing is great and I’m using it right now as a way of procrastinating on my readings for university. (Heh) Thanks for your dedication. I know I’m late but I will definitely be sticking around !
    (Sorry for any error here, I talk French… + what a long comment. Jesus.)

    • Shipcestuous says:

      Hi!!!! Welcome! Your English and lovely, and I am always THRILLED to have long comments – the longer the better – and you never sounded creepy at all.

      That’s very fascinating the way you created those OC twins and then ended up shipping them together. (And then began to ship others. Yes, it’s a VERY slippery slope.) I do hope you write your novel. Best of luck with that. I do a lot of original writing myself so I know how much fun and freeing it can be, but at the same time what a challenge it is to stay motivated and especially to get it done. It sounds like you were on the right track if you were researching other authors and their methods.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the reasons that applied most to you. I’m always curious to hear about the experiences of others. I do consider myself a bit to regular/normal to have such a kink. I don’t know where it came from.

      The safeness of family – and the respect from family – is definitely something that draws me towards it. But it’s like you said – that’s more an aspect of fictional incest shipping than the situations you tend to find with incest in real life.

      Thank you so much for your comment! I’m very grateful to know that you found this post interesting, I’m so glad that you enjoy my writing!!

  8. kendra says:

    I think I fall under some type of subcategory for the last one. My biological father was permiscuous. I consider myself an only child, but when you grow up knowing that there are at least 13 other kids out there that are technically your half-siblings and that’s just the ones your mother knows about, it can get you thinking. Especially when you tie in that he traveled a lot of work, was a poster child for epic one night stands where you separate without ever learning your partner’s name, didn’t like condoms, and his entire family was known for being rather fertile (my mother and him were friends, it’s how she knew so much..and how she knew about the other kids, but alcohol and bad break ups lead to bad decisions), I grew up with the knowledge that it’s perfectly possible for me to date a half-siblings and neither of us ever know it. (One of my 13 half-sibs, none of whom I’ve met, was raised to believe his step-father is his father, so I can’t even completely count out guys who know their fathers). I can’t say I completely fall under the last reason, it’s not like I want to date a sibling, but the idea of it doesn’t bother me. If I one day find out I’m dating (or am even married to) my half-brother..well, it’s not deal breaker. And perhaps my interest was my mind’s way of coping with the knowledge that it could happen…or maybe not. Who knows?
    Incest isn’t a deal sealer for a ship either, I ship more non-related couples than related, but the first time I saw an incest ship I jumped on board and have been finding it fascinating ever since.. The forbidden aspect is a big part, I’ve always had a soft spot for the forbidden romances, no matter how it plays outs.

    • Shipcestuous says:

      The forbidden aspect is a big one for me too. I just like their internal struggle with the idea that these feelings shouldn’t be happening. I think for me a lot of my shipping comes down to how much I enjoy “failure to resist”, so I’m always into ships that, for whatever reason (and there’s no bigger reason than incest), are trying to resist their feelings, and epically fail.

      Thank you for sharing your personal experience. That’s a very fascinating theory you have that your interest in incest ships could be related to knowing that you have so many half-siblings out there that you don’t know and it could happen. It makes sense. It’s almost the last reason in reverse.

      Shipping habits, feelings towards incest, etc. – the psychology of it is so fascinating but so unknown.

  9. Stardust says:

    This was a very nice article on shipping and it got me thinking: until recently the thought of incest shipping disgusted me severely. For a long time I was only able to ship couples if the relationship was “pure” and not taboo in the slightest (long story) and for one of my favorite series (a video game) there existed characters that are artificial human psychics made by a computer who saw herself as a god. Where the incest gets involved is my main OTP for this series are two characters which can be seen as brother/sister because they are both of the same race made by the mother computer. All of her children are pseudo-family but I would push away any incest sub-text in my mind because it disgusted me. I have no siblings and grew up an only child but it still disgusted me. But now, I am a little more honest about it and fictional kinks in general. One half of my OTP (the sister) is essentially a clone of the brother but they are not true twins and it’s hard to explain her relationship with him without giving away the plot. The brother isn’t aware of his sister’s origins until the very end of the game and at that point, it’s hard to say if they were siblings at all.

    But the allure of two “fake” imitations of human beings created by a digital god and then having to somehow live a painful life without guidance of their god (eventually the computer mother is removed from the plot) had overtaken me for a very long time. Only recently did I try to view them closer to the source material as sci-fi siblings. The brother lived a life of loneliness due to suffering extreme abuse from his mother so he only really has his “family” of a sister along with two brothers left. Both characters are not human yet act extremely human and they have no real training to deal with feelings such as affection, altruism, and lust. I feel 1, 3/4, 10, and 11 resonate the most with my feelings for my sibling ship, especially the yin yang and royal blood part. They are the creations of an all powerful god but said god did a poor job of preparing them for a life outside servitude. They are weapons and tools to be used by their mother. They are not supposed to be happy, have freedom, or feel any good emotions like love in the slightest. The immediate robbery of freedom by the “parent” is one of the reasons it makes the ship so good because they are going into the relationship blind, siblings be damned. Also, it is honestly easier to imagine an incest ship if the brother/sister are not true humans so they do not need to have the same feelings and views on incest like we do.

    I don’t know, even know I feel uneasy about incest shipping but it helps that I am incest shipping a ship I well, shipped for almost all my teen years into adulthood. There is a feeling of nostalgia when I think of them together and I knew these fictional characters for so long. I shipped them as non-siblings before but stuff happened that my OTP’s flame started to die out so I had to re-invent it. But I do hope that anyone that decides to focus on a ship of two characters who happened to be related make sure it brings you enjoyment first and foremost. That is the point of stories, to be entertained.

    • Shipcestuous says:

      That sounds like a very interesting and complicated OTP! Sci-Fi provides so many unique and fascinating twists on relationships – especially familial relationships. With an extraordinary situation like that, I suppose you can really view them however you want to. I really love having that kind of flexibility.

      Thank you so much for this message!

  10. Shipcestuous says:

    I just read a few articles by people frustrated with hook-up culture, which these days is of course pretty prevalent. Depending on individual circumstances, it can be hard to find someone who’s willing and able to form a serious relationship.

    Maybe that’s one reason incest ships appeal to us. Our relatives are already in a relationship with us that isn’t going to go away. The blood relationship, and probably having known each other since the younger one was born, means there’s already caring and affection there.

    It’s a fantasy of ultimate security in affection.

  11. Jessie Situ says:

    Wow I’ve never see someone that has been serious about this question and come up with a such awesome, deep and detailed list before. Although I don’t think I ship incest for any of these reasons, in fact i don’t even know why i ship BSI… I dunno how i think about the real life BSI since i don’t think i have seen any but i definitely ship BSI in movies, books, and basically in any other works. There are obstacles between brother and sister incest loves without a doubt, but it’s also hard to ship BSI… Like when I finish a movie and ending up liking siblings as a couple, almost no one would agree with me. People freak out the moment i bring up the word “incest” and they start to say “eww that’s gross” or “what’s your problem this is so wrong” “that’s so weird” something like that. So that’s why I never talk to my friends about BSI since i don’t want them to think(or know) that i’m some kind of psychopath… but no matter now, cuz i found your site and i totally enjoy it! 🙂

    • shipcestuous says:

      Yeah, a big reason why I created this site was because I know a lot of incest shippers can’t talk to their regular fandom friends about their incest ships. I wanted there to be a place where we didn’t have to worry about being judged, especially those of us who have multiple incest ships and not just one or two. I think why we ship what we ship is a really interesting question, but there’s not always an answer. But if you do figure out any reasons why you’re drawn to incest ships, I would love to hear them!

      • Jessie Situ says:

        sure! i’d love to share too when i figure it out, thank you so much for creating this site!! makes me feel like i finally have found my home >O<

      • Jessie says:

        I think I’ve figured out why!! I was wrong when i said that I don’t think I ship incest for the reasons on your list, I do actually! And a lot! First it’s exciting. I am cynical, in some ways. Although I love love, but I believe that when two people fall in love with each other, their “love” have a “shelf life”, it depends on everyone for how long would that last. But siblings are different, they will always love each other, especially when their love for each other have something more than a sibling love involved. And they can’t leave each other, like how normal lovers do when they no longer love each other, or just leave each other for some reason. Siblings can never leave each other, because they are families, they have blood relations. More than that, they are the closet person to each other, they grew up together, what makes it better if they are lovers? They get even more closer than how they already were.
        I just downloaded Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak, but I didn’t watch all of it. I only watched Thomas and Lucille’s parts. And I figured out another reason why I love brother sister incest: I love the characters who belongs to the style of sorrow, and a lot of the characters who have incestuous feelings belong to that style. (But this one might be just for me, I’m not sure if other people would love BSI because of the reason too. ) I think to most of the people incest is a really abnormal thing, it’s distorted. And the characters who possessed this kind of feelings are usually kind of distorted in some place too, maybe personality or something. A distorted character must have been through something that had hurt them so much, they must have been seriously injured, physically or mentally(I say mentally more, but it can also because they were born with those feelings, or their culture, like Nuada. He might be hurt in so many ways but even before all these injuries he loved Nuala already). And to me the pathos a character carry is what makes them most attractive. These kind of characters who had been harmed so much, they often hated everyone, and everything, but the meanwhile they still carry love. However their love once again is abnormal and even insane to most of the people: the possessiveness that they own is so intense and it even becomes dreadful. They don’t even stint to hurt the person they love when it comes to some kind of situation. Like how Nuada sliced Nuala’s face out of jealousy and how Lucille killed Thomas when she found that that he loved Edith. Maybe, maybe they would also carry the thought of: “If I cannot have you, I’ll destroy you.” But it really means their own death also, because the person they love is their everything. The reason why they would be so possessive because their horrible experiences made them hate the whole world, so they cannot fall in love with anyone but their own sibling, (you cannot not love your siblings, right? We’re born to love our families, not to mention the siblings which can be closer to your than your parents.) as a result the person(sibling) they love own all of their love affections: love as lovers, love as families, love as friends, etc.
        So their love is so strong even becomes insane.

        • shipcestuous says:

          Everything you said here is exactly the kind of things I was trying to write about/articulate when I put together this list. It can be very hard to describe why these kinds of relationships are fascinating to us or make for good shipping but I think you did a really good job. You make a really good point about the “shelf life” of love, but with siblings they will always love each other.

          And yeah, Nuada is in many ways a “distorted” character. He has a lot of pain, but a lot of love too. And it’s the same with Lucille. They love so much they end up hurting themselves and hurting the person they love more than anything.

      • Jessie says:

        typos!!!!! And grammar!!!!!0o0, sorry i did this so fast and i didn’t have time to check it until now…

  12. shiyingxiaoxiao says:

    I was wondering about a question these days: why (or why not) would people/characters fall in love with their siblings in a romantic way?
    A lot of people assume that sibling incest is very wrong, and I would assume that a lot of people do not have incestuous relationships towards their siblings. The reason why brother sister incest was forbidden was only because their generations might have some kind of genetic disease, but if this is it, then it doesn’t mean people were born without the ability to love their siblings in a romantic way, so why wouldn’t most of the people fall in love with their siblings? Since they might be the closest member of the opposite sex to them. Furthermore, in my opinion that someone’s love/feelings cannot be easily dispelled just by the way they were taught and the way they were nurtured. Or maybe it is, I’m not sure. So here comes another question: Since a lot of people do not fall in love with their siblings in a romantic way, then why would some people/characters fall in love with their siblings?
    I did some research and I heard a really interesting idea: the nature and the quality of love (sibling love and romantic love) is the same, but they were sorted differently only because of the ethics. And if person A falls in love with person B, and one day A found out that B is actually A’s sibling, A would still love B in a romantic way. Instead, if A knew that B was A’s sibling the whole time, since A was small, then A might not fall in love with B in such a way.
    Although I kind of get it, but I’m still kind of confused. Sorry if I made you confused too…

    • shipcestuous says:

      I’m so glad you’re engaging with this discussion and sharing your thoughts! Thank you for the comment!

      These are important questions, and I’m not sure I can necessarily answer them. But it seems to me that societal rules/social stigma against incest *because* of genetic problems with offspring isn’t the only reason that incest is uncommon. There’s also this thing called the Westermarck Effect, which is basically that you don’t develop romantic/sexual feelings towards someone that you grew up around. And I think it’s a pretty well-accepted phenomenon. So this is a little more ingrained than simply the way people were raised/nurtured to feel, it’s something that develops inside of them and isn’t taught.

      But the Westermarck Effect’s accidental twin is that genertically-related people who *didn’t* grow up together tend to feel an attraction to each other when they meet for the first time as adults. That’s called GSA – Genetic Sexual Attraction – and it’s another observable phenomenon. So much weird stuff going on!

      Personally, I don’t think that sibling or family love is at all the same as romantic love, and I don’t think it’s just “ethics” or anything like that that makes them different. But it’s a really fascinating theory that should certainly be questioned more.

  13. Kstel16 says:

    I love incest shipping because of the forbidden factor. It is super exciting for me and is something that always stays interesting because of all the problems that it presents in the relationship. Reasons 2, 5, 8, 9, and 22 are my main reason for this incest shipping. Reason 2 is one of the best on your list and I have something to add to it in the next paragraph. The danger and the fear of judgement is exciting. It is also the ultimate love. Not only is there a bond in a romantic way, but there is also attachment by blood; something that no other kind of romance can offer. I see the beauty in diversity, but there is also something about pure blood relationships that is elegant. I’m not sure if I’m coming across clearly. It is fascinating psychologically and socially. I personally believe that despite peoples’ opinions and criticisms, there are many that share these thoughts but are too ashamed to admit them and have been trained to hate it. I would never say these things outside of this kind of community of people, but even that is hard. I know you talked about genetic risks briefly and is one of my strongest reasons for why it isn’t as bad as people believe. A lot of the stigma comes from being uneducated. Here is my spule on that subject below 🙂

    Genetic problems are only a real risk after multiple generations of incest relationships (which Is mitigated by the fact that very few people aren’t bothered by it; meaning the chances of kids marrying each other just like their parents and the next generation doing the same is very rare and would only cause genetic issues at that point). For some reason there isn’t an yuck factor for me. Incest shipping is for me in a lot of ways an outlet for personal feelings (reason 22). Since most people don’t have the same views, I usually keep it private. In my mind, your family can be the most trusting individuals and it makes sense that you would love them in a romantic way. And who says you have to have biological kids? Adoption is an option. Also, you can prevent having kids if you need a physical relationship. If two adults want to be together, what is the big deal? Incest and abuse/rape aren’t the same thing at all. I wish society was just a bit more open minded.

    I tried looking at your tumblr and it seemed like there was a problem with it? Where do you update the most frequently? I love your content and you open mindedness.

    • shipcestuous says:

      Hello!

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I love hearing what it is about incest shipping that appeals to other people. I appreciate what you wrote up about the children/inbreeding factor. I agree that ignorance plays a big part in why this continues to put so many people off. And I think if people didn’t feel like they would be judged, a lot more would admit to being interested in incest ships, or having more relaxed views about real life incest.

    • shipcestuous says:

      I forgot to add that I’m not sure why the tumblr link isn’t working, probably because it was from before I changed my username. My tumblr is

      http://shipcestuous.tumblr.com

  14. Anonymous says:

    Wow it’s been a long time since this post was originally written, jeez. That’s not going to stop me from forcefully inserting my copperish thoughts into the metaphorical piggybank, however. The main incest ship I have is Hansel and Gretel (the one movie with Jeremy Renner) because I can’t think of any others right this second. But I don’t think my reason is for the ‘taboo’ (except in regards to writing because I do like when the road to a happy ending is tough and, not gonna lie, it made for some pretty good fanfics). In regards to that ship specifically

    (SPOILERS BRUH LOOK AWAY IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT)

    the thing is that there was never really anyone else for either of them. Sure, there was Mina but it’s just.. No one else went through their experiences and trauma and because of that, no one could hope to fully understand one of them except for the other sibling. They’ve got mad co-dependency and maybe that’s not healthy, but neither are their coping methods, and it is appealing for some reason. Plus there’s the yin and yang thing going on, Hansel’s dumb and Gretel’s smart, and the femininity vs. masculinity is a nice touch (even though I’m bi). Honestly, at this point it’s practically canon – no matter what the creator says – considering all of the fans who ship it. Anything is true if you read enough into it, after all.

    (SPOILERS OVER)

    I don’t know why, but incest never really bothered me. What’s the big deal, especially after you take out the ‘kids will be diseased’ arguments? Not a lot, in my (non-professional unqualified) opinion.

    I never shipped Justin and Alex, though the subtext was very much there. I liked Juliet too much (man, that hurt when she left) and I shipped Alex and Stevie. I’m a (mostly) loyal shipper.

    I do however ship: Peter and Susan (don’t ask why), Bellatrix and Narcissa, Shisui and Itachi, Pietro and Wanda, Minato and Naruto (only in time travel fics.. you know what never mind). There’s probably more but I can’t think of any.

    • shipcestuous says:

      I’m so glad you still shared your thoughts even though this post is a few years old. It’s still relevant and still gets viewed (including the comments). Thank you for commenting!

      I love Hansel and Gretel from Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. I think you said it perfectly when you said that there really was no one else for them, and that could apply to their entire lives. No one is going to be able to be their significant other the way they are that for each other. There’s a lot about them that’s very appealing.

    • Brian Cherry says:

      Wanda and Pietro are a canon couple in the Ultimates comics – series one through three.
      Just in case you didn’t know.

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