Lollygag

All of the Damned Incest: What's the Point?

313 posts in this topic

12 hours ago, Lollygag said:

Sometimes I stop and check the cover to make sure I didn’t accidently pick up 50 Shades of Incest by mistake. If I had known that there was this much incest, I wouldn’t have picked up the series, and as such I feel tricked as a reader. I’d pass on the series if I had the choice again because I can’t excuse it as “it’s not incest in Westeros” or “it’s not incest if you’re a Targ”. It’s incest to me and I don’t get the point of this much of it. I suspect that this is a big part of the division among the readership on the incest issue: people who’d have never chosen to read a series with this much incest were blind-sided by how much there is, but the extent of the incest in the series wasn’t obvious until after the reader became deeply-invested in the characters and plot. I'll be reading TWoW with plenty of Pepto on hand, because it literally makes me nauseous and it looks like we may get even more incest.

I was ok with Jaime/Cersei. It was written as toxic in every conceivable fashion. It was woven into the plot in a great way. It looked like a cautionary tale and was not romanticized or idealized in the slightest. It was clear very early on that Viserys and Dany weren’t going to happen. In retrospect, I should have guessed, but at the same time, I really couldn’t have conceived at how pervasive incest would become in the series.

Perhaps making my reaction to it worse, I’m not particularly interested in European royal history and only had a vague sense of their marriage habits, so if this is some reference to that part of rl history, it’s lost on me. I’d also question an author relying too much on the general readership’s knowledge of European Royal history given that it’s an American Fantasy novel.

As the plot progressed well-past the point where I was invested, I was slammed with the following:

· All of the Targ backstory, most of which involves incest

· Lysa and Robert, especially when Robert begins nuzzling Sansa’s breasts in a sexual way because he misses his mother.

· Asha lets Theon feel her up. Theon is disgusted. Asha is ok with it, though.

· Arianne thinks Uncle Obie is hot.

· Tyrion talks about raping Cersei.

· Cat makes out with Petyr, but refuses him as a suitor because he’s like a brother. Then why was Cat making out with him if he was like a brother?????

· Loras’ & Marg’s weird three-way marriage arrangement with Renly

· Sansa is being forced to make out with her “father” (Littlefinger)

· Craster’s Wonderful World of Incest

· Strong hints that Euron was sexually abusing his brother Aeron

· Victarion/Asha

· When Jon goes to Craster’s Incestworld, he starts thinking about his sisters. A lot. But not so much the rest of his family. Ygritte is a thorough mash-up of both sisters. When Ygritte asks Jon about sleeping with his sisters, instead of a knee-jerk “Awww hell no!”, we get the thoughtful rationalization that Craster weds his daughters.

The text hints at the possibility of Jonerys through well-established Targ history. That Jon isn’t as put off by the idea of being with his sisters as one would like is not encouraging in the slightest.

Basically, I don’t accept that incest is just a fetish or a cheap shock tactic on the part of GRRM. But I don’t get why there’s so much of it everywhere. What is the point? If it’s just an “incest is bad” lesson, it’s one that was not needed as it’s not a big problem given other problems that the real-life industrialized world faces and modern European royalty has already made clear that the lesson has already been learned. Other novels based to some degree on rl royal marriage habits in the medieval era exclude incest, so why couldn’t it be excluded in ASOIAF? The magic blood line thing has been used by other authors without the use of incest.

I’m hanging on faith that there will be a point to incest being peppered all throughout the series, not just with the Targs and Craster. So I’m asking, what might that point be? What role could it serve not just with the Targs, but with non-Targ families which are also touched by it in some way?

Please don’t turn this into a character bashing thread or a shipping thread. I just want ideas as to why there’s so much incest in the series as the ones I’m come up with thus far don’t provide good explanations.

With all of the terrible things that happen in these novels, why is it the incest that upsets you the most?

Like, I would be troubled to learn that my brother and sister were getting it on. But not even nearly bothered as much as if I learned they were smashing in babies heads. 

To answer your question of "why so much?" I would say it's just one more depiction of the carnality of this world. But far from the most common one. The brutality inflicted upon children is far more common in the series than incest. I also think you're kinda "padding your numbers," when it comes to examples of incest. Two kids doing what amounts to kissing practice? Really? That becomes incest when one of them looks back in retrospect a couple decades later and thinks they were "like" siblings? Would it have been bestiality if she referred to his feelings as "puppy" love?  Or Sansa kissing Petyr. That's hardly incest. Nor is Arianne having a crush.

The way nobility is given to marrying other nobles makes less extreme instances of incest more acceptable. Take Tywin and Johanna. So people are already open to marrying and having sex with relatives. I'd say that lets incest get its "foot in the door" so to speak. 

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2 hours ago, Cas Stark said:

Because Jon and Arya are heroes in the story where Cersei is a straight up villain and Jamie is very grey character.  The author also says a lot things, but it is still true that his original ending had Jon and Arya in a romantic relationship...which probably about 95% of people would have found varying levels of repulsive and off putting.

Well no, the original ending was blacked out, and what we do see in the outline doesn't confirm that they would have acted on their feelings. And even if they had entered into a relationship, you have no way of saying how that would of worked out, and what the consequences would have been. Like I said, this plot line was moved to Cercei and Jaimie, and clearly GRRM's intentions were not for this to be a happy fairy tale ending.

What you put forth as the author's beliefs regarding incest are inaccurate, and based on your assumptions of what might have happened in a bs outline and on an unfinished saga. If you were familiar with his past works, you would know that his views on this subject are quite contrary to what you and many others on this forum think.

Edited by Darkstream

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12 hours ago, Lollygag said:

...

But I was asking for ideas as to what it's really adding to the story, substance-wise.

Cersei and Jaime: Incest is a symbol of their narcissism. Falling out of love with Cersei, finding Brienne attractive are signs that Jaime is growing out of that.

The Targ incest: Targs are obsessed with racial purity, and (maybe) their powers are passed along genetic lines. This all works as a theme in the novel.

Craster and his daughters: The novel is full of horrific father figures, and Craster tops that list. The novel is also full of abused women, and Craster's daughters top that list, too. The novel has examples of genetically based magic, and I think that, too, might be a part of what's happening with Craster's children; maybe Walkers prefer these particular incest babies? Also, of course Jon would think of his sisters at Craster's house: he has sisters who had a loving father, which makes him empathize with these abused women with their despicable father.

Sansa and Littlefinger: I don't think this is particularly incestuous. They might be posing as father-daughter, but they're not, and they both know that they're not. They're another example of an abusive man and an abused girl.

However, this is GRRM, and he can't let a good thing go. Theon and Asha serve no purpose and their inclusion cheapens the above examples. Robin and his mommy are obviously not incest...but. GRRM has a thing for women's nipples, so when he mentions Lysa's breast popping from Robin's mouth, "the nipple wet and red," I go ick.

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1 hour ago, spauldo17 said:

First point: I think you misunderstand.  The biggest problem with incest, and also with your suggestion of genetically eliminating diseases, is that when people's genetic code is too similar, you're inviting a mass extinction event caused by something as innocuous as a flu.  The reason Humans were able to survive things like the bubonic plague is because our genetic make up is varied enough that some of us developed immunities.  The more genetically alike a society gets the easier it is for a disease to wipe every one out.  That's why incest is so dangerous, not to mention the higher instances of genetic diseases.

Just to clarify - I'm not Lord Varys the Incest Pope here. I do not run around to tell young children 'Go fuck your sibling, it is really fun!'. I'm just saying that there is no good reason why there should be laws against that. Consenting adults should be thrown in jail just because they have sex. Especially not in our day and age where there are very good means of birth control and you sure as hell can ensure that you don't conceive children. And there is little chance that a significant portion of the population suddenly begins to explore their 'incestuous desires' just because it is no longer considered a criminal offense.

And, quite honestly, it is not any individuals duty or job to ensure the survival of the human race. We also are under no obligation to ensure that our descendants are the healthiest children we can possibly have. And if you want to do better our collective health then laws enforcing mandatory vaccination against certain diseases should be much better than laws making incest a criminal offense.

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Second point:  This is an unfair statement.  Yes most people with genetic diseases are not products of incest, but that's because there are so few products of incest out there.

And that is because only very few people are actually inclined to have children with their siblings. Which is why it is not necessary to make laws against that. That way the few biological siblings who actually only meet later in life and fall in love then (because closely related people who didn't grew up together often feel attracted to each other) actually can enjoy their lives instead of feeling they are doing (or have done) abominable things.

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It's not a fair comparison. I could make the same point that most children with genetic defects are not products of bestiality, therefore bestiality isn't as bad as people suggest. The flaw in that way of thinking is that you aren't comparing two groups of similar sizes, you're comparing a group of 99.9% and a group of .1%.  So naturally the group with 99.9% will make up the majority of cases. The more prudent thing to look at is the percentage of disease amongst the subgroup.  Children who are products of incest have a higher rate of disease, that's why it's dangerous. There is a smaller sum of them, but a higher relative percentage, understand?

One can argue whether it is a crime to have children if there is a very strong chance that they will inherit a very bad genetic disease. I'm pretty sure many people born with the prospect of dying of Huntington's disease consider their life a sick joke. But that has nothing to do with laws against incest. People are not punished for conceiving sick children they are punished because they have vaginal intercourse, regardless whether children are conceived or not. In our western culture (where the taboo seems to be the strongest, at least if the laws are any indication) mostly comes from religious doctrines and scriptures, and the people writing those did not exactly make empirical studies on the subject before putting words in god's mouth, or did they?

I'm not sure how bestiality figures into all that but, quite honestly, I also don't see why this is inherently bad. I never thought much about that and I quite definitely feel no deep desire to fuck sheep or any other animal. I have sufficient empathy with my fellow vertebrates to understand why it would be rather unpleasant to not rape them. But aside from that I'm not sure what so bad about that whole thing.

There are a lot of sexual practices I'd never do myself, and there are quite a few fetishes that really disgust me, but I'm not making my own tastes and preferences norms for the behavior of other people.

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Third point: I still disagree.  Perhaps we simply won't agree on this point, but I think your assessment of how often this takes place is alarming.  I grew up with a sister who is, objectively, a pretty girl.  Never once did that stir anything in me, because she's my sister.  That notion is so deeply embedded in people that regardless of looks the body physiologically will reject the idea.  I truly do  not believe that children sexually experiment, or think about their siblings while discovering themselves. 

I'm not expert on this thing. I read a paper some years ago that there are statistics that 20-30% of the general population have had what could be considered incestuous experiences. Could be that this is wrong. Could also be that sexual abuses within families is also among them. There should be enough statistics about that as well as estimates how much happens without anybody ever knowing about it.

But we can reasonably assume that siblings who really are (or have been) in love with each other in romantic or sexual way don't speak about that all that often, especially not in public, because the whole thing is such a taboo.

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1 minute ago, Lord Varys said:

But we can reasonably assume that siblings who really are (or have been) in love with each other in romantic or sexual way don't speak about that all that often, especially not in public, because the whole thing is such a taboo.

Whatever the newest thing on how incest works, parent-child, sibling incest is not presented as a positive thing in asoiaf. Jaime-Cersei incest is a metaphor for their narcissism. Craster's incest is evil. Tyrion's desire to rape his sister is unhealthy. What GRRM shows of Targ incest in asoiaf is negative: Jaime listens to Aerys abuse his wife. Viserys is frustrated that he can't abuse his sister. It's not that every non-incestuous love/sex act in asoiaf is positive, but some are, which is more than I can say for incest sex.

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, spauldo17 said:

First point: I think you misunderstand.  The biggest problem with incest, and also with your suggestion of genetically eliminating diseases, is that when people's genetic code is too similar, you're inviting a mass extinction event caused by something as innocuous as a flu.  The reason Humans were able to survive things like the bubonic plague is because our genetic make up is varied enough that some of us developed immunities.  The more genetically alike a society gets the easier it is for a disease to wipe every one out.  That's why incest is so dangerous, not to mention the higher instances of genetic diseases.

Second point:  This is an unfair statement.  Yes most people with genetic diseases are not products of incest, but that's because there are so few products of incest out there.  It's not a fair comparison.   I could make the same point that most children with genetic defects are not products of bestiality, therefore bestiality isn't as bad as people suggest.  The flaw in that way of thinking is that you aren't comparing two groups of similar sizes, you're comparing a group of 99.9% and a group of .1%.  So naturally the group with 99.9% will make up the majority of cases. The more prudent thing to look at is the percentage of disease amongst the subgroup.  Children who are products of incest have a higher rate of disease, that's why it's dangerous.  There is a smaller sum of them, but a higher relative percentage, understand?

Third point: I still disagree.  Perhaps we simply won't agree on this point, but I think your assessment of how often this takes place is alarming.  I grew up with a sister who is, objectively, a pretty girl.  Never once did that stir anything in me, because she's my sister.  That notion is so deeply embedded in people that regardless of looks the body physiologically will reject the idea.  I truly do  not believe that children sexually experiment, or think about their siblings while discovering themselves. 

Fully agree with your post. It is a scientific fact that marriages between close relatives have a higher probabilty of producing children with genetic disorders than marriages between unrelated people. You find a higher prevalence of genetic disorders in small communities that inter-marry amongst themselves. Haemophilia was a genetic disorder commonly found among European royalty in the 19th century. It was passed down by Queen Victoria's descendants and was exacerbated by incestual weddings between the European royalty. 

I don't know where people get the notion that incestual behavior in kids is a common occurrence. Even in cultures where marriage between cousins (like Hindus or some muslims) is practiced, they certainly do not allow the kids to practice incestual behavior. And almost universally, sex between siblings is prohibited. To me, in most normal and functioning households, brothers and sisters see themselves as just siblings and are not prone to sexual attraction. There could be deviants from the norm, but that is definitely not a common occurance as your rightly pointed.

Edited by teej6

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Posted (edited)

• All of the Targ backstory, most of which involves incest

                Not actually displayed in the books. Only referenced, like, you know, history. Adds background to the culture and also potentially explains why they began to run into trouble finding good rulers over the course of their dynasty. Theirs is deliberate and inherent.

• Lysa and Robert, especially when Robert begins nuzzling Sansa’s breasts in a sexual way because he misses his mother.

                Lysa is Roberts mother, and their relationship is not sexual. His nuzzling is innocent from his perspective, but for a person other than his mother it is inappropriate (it is inappropriate for his mother at his age, too, but that’s my opinion). Not deliberate from either person.

• Asha lets Theon feel her up. Theon is disgusted. Asha is ok with it, though.

                The Iron Born culture is pretty well established in the books. It is one of dominance and strength. Asha permits what she does with Theon because she is trying to figure out who he is and doesn’t view sexuality in the same was as other cultures do. Not deliberate from Theon, and with limitations from Asha.

• Arianne thinks Uncle Obie is hot.

                That was when she was younger, it was never reciprocated or encouraged (that we know of).

• Tyrion talks about raping Cersei.

                Context, context, context.

• Cat makes out with Petyr, but refuses him as a suitor because he’s like a brother. Then why was Cat making out with him if he was like a brother?????

                Cat, Lysa, and Peryr practiced kissing when they were very young, and I think Cat stopped it when Petyr tried to do more. She came to view him as a brother over the course of his stay, so it easily could have been early in their relationship that they practiced kissing. Nowhere does it say she kissed him when she thought of him as a brother. Innocent on both sides because they are not related and Cat did not encourage any sexual relationship.

• Loras’ & Marg’s weird three-way marriage arrangement with Renly

                That is definitely in the show, and even in the show it is not incestual so much as accommodating. Neither twin wants to interact with the other, they just want Renly.

• Sansa is being forced to make out with her “father” (Littlefinger)

                This is more rape than incest. I do not see this as incestual at all, both of them know their real relationship.

• Craster’s Wonderful World of Incest

                Nobody thinks Craster is a saint. So we’ve got one serious pervert here. Plus, even though they marry him it seems like a pretty rapey vibe goes on at his place.

• Strong hints that Euron was sexually abusing his brother Aeron

                I know this is not the point of the OP, but that is debatable. If it happened, it is molestation and only one party is guilty.

• Victarion/Asha

                It is admittedly strange, but again, their culture is different. And it is only a thought, not really an act. Thinking you would like to knock that kid off his skateboard as he rolls by doesn’t make you guilty of doing it.

• When Jon goes to Craster’s Incestworld, he starts thinking about his sisters. A lot. But not so much the rest of his family. Ygritte is a thorough mash-up of both sisters. When Ygritte asks Jon about sleeping with his sisters, instead of a knee-jerk “Awww hell no!”, we get the thoughtful rationalization that Craster weds his daughters.

                I think this is a bit of a stretch. Jon reminisces about all of his siblings and never in a sexual way. He thinks of Arya most because they were always the closest. I will admit that I have reservations about them every hooking up once/if it turns out they are “only” cousins.

 

You forget about Tywin and his Cousin, although unclear who made the match it is established that the Lannisters were interested in replicating the Targaryens status and power.

 

I would say in total you have two cases of incest and two more major references to it. Cersei and Jaime, Craster and his wives (kinda). Targs and Tywin.

 

I am sorry but the rest is more your interpretation and focus, I think you need to look at context more when you examine those examples. The twincest drives the story because of the legitimacy of the IT, the the other cases are little more than references and hardly could be considered gratuitous. This post reminds me of one a while back that complained all the macho tough guys were gay.

Edited by The Bastards Giant Friend

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, kimim said:

Whatever the newest thing on how incest works, parent-child, sibling incest is not presented as a positive thing in asoiaf. Jaime-Cersei incest is a metaphor for their narcissism. Craster's incest is evil. Tyrion's desire to rape his sister is unhealthy. What GRRM shows of Targ incest in asoiaf is negative: Jaime listens to Aerys abuse his wife. Viserys is frustrated that he can't abuse his sister. It's not that every non-incestuous love/sex act in asoiaf is positive, but some are, which is more than I can say for incest sex.

I'm not much interested in the Cersei-Jaime love story but it is pretty evident that @Widowmaker 811 assessment that the social situation Cersei and Jaime live in helped twist their affair into the thing we see in the books. If they had born as Targaryens they would have been a happy incestuous couple, Cersei would have been a mother whose happiness would have kept in check her darker traits and Jaime would have served as a fine role model for young Joffrey. The family would have been fine. All they ever wanted was to marry each other. Jaime still has that dream in ASoS while Cersei's top priority now are the children they have, children that can never be Jaime's now, since they would then lose everything.

What makes their relationship suck is the circumstances they live in. Their domineering father, the unbearable Robert marriage and the abusive environment in which they raised their children, etc.

But the idea that this whole thing is not genuine love on both parts makes little sense. There is nothing narcissistic in Jaime's love and devotion for Cersei and while Cersei is not completely faithful to him insofar as sexual intercourse is concerned, it is quite evident from her point of view that Jaime is the love of her life and her other half.

Historically, we have Aegon and Rhaenys, Jaehaerys and Alysanne, Jaehaerys II and Shaera as working and quite happy incestuous marriages. That seems to me that George actually think incestuous love is a thing (and not just arranged incestuous marriages) that does happen in his world. And I'm pretty sure Jon and Dany will love each other, too, when they marry. Else they most likely would not marry.

3 hours ago, teej6 said:

Fully agree with your post. It is a scientific fact that marriages between close relatives have a higher probabilty of producing children with genetic disorders than marriages between unrelated people. You find a higher prevalence of genetic disorders in small communities that inter-marry amongst themselves. Haemophilia was a genetic disorder commonly found among European royalty in the 19th century. It was passed down by Queen Victoria's descendants and was exacerbated by incestual weddings between the European royalty.

That is true, but statistical probability should not dictate your (sex) life. People also are allowed to handle guns or drive cars despite the fact that there are tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of people die each year in accidents involving these two things.

The Victoria example very much illustrates the actual problem. You should actually know with whom you have children and how high the risk is that you produce a sick child. If Victoria hadn't carried that gene she would not have passed it down to the people she did, never mind the cousin marriages. Nobody would do that unless the benefits outweigh the costs (and they did in monarchies and aristocracies because they help to keep wealth and power within the ruling class).

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I don't know where people get the notion that incestual behavior in kids is a common occurrence. Even in cultures where marriage between cousins (like Hindus or some muslims) is practiced, they certainly do not allow the kids to practice incestual behavior. And almost universally, sex between siblings is prohibited. To me, in most normal and functioning households, brothers and sisters see themselves as just siblings and are not prone to sexual attraction. There could be deviants from the norm, but that is definitely not a common occurance as your rightly pointed.

You seem to have a rather weird view of the world. Cousin marriages are not exactly practiced by everyone but they are totally fine outside the US and a few other backwater countries. In cultures where they are seen to be ideal and marriages are arranged they might become a health problem when they are practiced for generations but your children should be perfectly fine if you marry your cousin tomorrow, assuming you don't have all that many interrelated ancestors.

I also did not talk about romantic or sexual attraction between siblings. That is very rare occasion that mostly happens only (but then in pretty high frequency) when biological siblings grow up apart. I spoke about the exploration of your sexuality in the presence of and/or with the help of your siblings or other close kin. You don't have to love or feel attracted to your cousin or sister to touch her in an erotic or sexual manner. And if you do that kind of thing when your body is full of hormones it is not unlikely that you actually get aroused. Chances are not high that you end up being infatuated with such a person. Just as people can explore their own sexuality in some sort of homoerotic environment (girls who practice kissing with each other before they actually kiss the boys they have the hots for, etc.) without having strong homosexual tendencies.

In our day and age it is much more likely that you would do that kind of thing with a good friend but there were (and still are) cultures where close friends are almost always close blood relations and in-laws.

3 hours ago, The Bastards Giant Friend said:

• Lysa and Robert, especially when Robert begins nuzzling Sansa’s breasts in a sexual way because he misses his mother.

                Lysa is Roberts mother, and their relationship is not sexual. His nuzzling is innocent from his perspective, but for a person other than his mother it is inappropriate (it is inappropriate for his mother at his age, too, but that’s my opinion). Not deliberate from either person.

Just a quick comment to that one. This is actually part of Robert's medical treatment. Lysa or Colemon state that mother's milk is considered a good medicine for his illness. I'd say that there might be some incestuous and erotic undertones to the whole thing on Lysa's side but that's hard to know without her POV.

I'm again speaking without experience but I've read that breastfeeding children can stimulate sexual arousal in women but that, too, is a matter that is not spoken about openly, perhaps in part because of the incestuous connotations. It would hardly surprise me if it is true because we all know that stimulating female (and male) nipples can have a certain pleasant effect.

Edited by Lord Varys

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Widowmaker 811 said:

:agree:

Maybe George thinks the seriousness of incest is being over hyped.  Consenting adults should be able to do what they want.  You know, one of the cool things in the plot, that one of the only real love in the story take place between Jaime and Cersei. 

As has been pointed out, this is by far the worst possible example of real love imaginable.

I would also remind you of, just off the top of my head: Jon/Yrgritte, Dany/Drogo, Ned/Cat, Egg/Jenny, Rob/Jeyne, Loras/Renly, and I'm sure there are many I am forgetting at the moment.

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George also wants to point out there are other forms of love that are more destructive, say Rhaegar and Lyanna to pick an example.  

Perhaps, although this relationship may well turn out to be what saves all of mankind.

Edited by Darkstream

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26 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

That is true, but statistical probability should not dictate your (sex) life. People also are allowed to handle guns or drive guns despite the fact that there tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of people die each year in accidents involving these two things.

Just a quick comment to that one. This is actually part of Robert's medical treatment. Lysa or Colemon state that mother's milk is considered a good medicine for his illness. I'd say that there might be some incestuous and erotic undertones to the whole thing on Lysa's side but that's hard to know without her POV.

I'm again speaking without experience but I've read that breastfeeding children can stimulate sexual arousal in women but that, too, is a matter that is not spoken about openly, perhaps in part because of the incestuous connotations. It would hardly surprise me if it is true because we all know that stimulating female (and male) nipples can have a certain pleasant effect.

It's a tragedy when people get behind the trigger and drive. ;)

Excellent post and points. I still think marrying a cousin is weird but I agree with  your points about it being more the frequency and genetic diversity that can cause problems.

Wasnt there a character who even thought about how if any other house tried to do incest on the level of the targs then the church or other houses would have cried foul? I may be wrong there, I cannot remember who thought that or why.

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41 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

That is true, but statistical probability should not dictate your (sex) life. People also are allowed to handle guns or drive guns despite the fact that there tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of people die each year in accidents involving these two things.

The Victoria example very much illustrates the actual problem. You should actually know with whom you have children and how high the risk is that you produce a sick child. If Victoria hadn't carried that gene she would not have passed it down to the people she did, never mind the cousin marriages. Nobody would do that unless the benefits outweigh the costs (and they were much do in monarchies and aristocracies because they help to keep wealth and power within the ruling class).

You seem to have a rather weird view of the world. Cousin marriages are not exactly practiced by everyone but they are totally fine outside the US and a few other backwater worlds. In cultures where they are seen to be ideal and marriages are arranged they might become a health problem when they are practiced for generation but your children should be perfectly fine if you marry your cousin tomorrow, assuming you don't have all that many interrelated ancestors.

I also did not talk about romantic or sexual attraction between siblings. That is very rare occasion that mostly happens only (but then in pretty high frequency) when biological siblings grow up apart. I spoke about the exploration of your sexuality in the presence of and/or with the help of your siblings or other close kin. You don't have to love or feel attracted to your cousin or sister to touch her in an erotic or sexual manner. And if you do that kind of thing when your body is full of hormones it is not unlikely that you actually get aroused. Chances are not high that you end up being infatuated with such a person. Just as people can explore their own sexuality in some sort of homoerotic environment (girls who practice kissing with each other before they actually kiss the boys they have the hots for, etc.) without having strong homosexual tendencies.

In our day and age it is much more likely that you would do that kind of thing with a good friend but there were (and still are) cultures where close friends are almost always close blood relations and in-laws.

In the Victoria example, the point is that had her descendants not practiced inter-marriage, the probabilty of their children being born with haemophilia would have been greatly reduced. I'll break it down for you. If x and y are from the same family/community and that family/community has a high rate of some genetic form of madness the likelihood of x and y's offspring having the disorder is greater than had x married z, who happens to be from a different community/family that does not have the disorder. It's as simple as  that. This is why small isolated communities are known to have a higher incidence of genetically transmitted diseases.

I do not have a wierd view of the world, I'm just giving you facts. Cousin marriages are common among many Hindus who btw are not backward. And FYI, in the U.S. cousin marriages were not uncommon in the 18th and early 19th centuries. I do not have an opinion on the morality of cousin marriages among two consenting adults. I wouldn't do it but I'm in no position to judge another person's customs or practices.

You stated "I spoke about the exploration of your sexuality in the presence of and/or with the help of your siblings or other close kin. You don't have to love or feel attracted to your cousin or sister to touch her in an erotic or sexual manner." Now that is some weird shit. I mean seriously, you think this is common among kids? This is seriously abhorrant and aberrant behavior. I mean I don't even know what to say to you if you think this is perfectly normal and common. It is neither common nor normal. Normal siblings/cousins don't go around touching each other in an errotic or sexual manner. 

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17 hours ago, Lollygag said:

· Cat makes out with Petyr, but refuses him as a suitor because he’s like a brother. Then why was Cat making out with him if he was like a brother?????

He was not her real brother. She was never making out with Edmure. 'Aww, you're just like a brother to me!' is just a way of rejection; she was ok with playing, but didn't want him in more serious way. And while we're at it: aren't Marg's cousins, who practice kissing with each other, worse? :D

17 hours ago, Lollygag said:

· Lysa and Robert, especially when Robert begins nuzzling Sansa’s breasts in a sexual way because he misses his mother.

Lysa and Sweetrobin are not sexual, and SR is messed up and confused about his feelings for Sansa.

17 hours ago, Lollygag said:

· Loras’ & Marg’s weird three-way marriage arrangement with Renly

A. It's show canon,

B. Even if it was true - politics? Renly is gay and in a relationship with Loras, but he needs a wife and a heir as a king.

17 hours ago, Lollygag said:

· Strong hints that Euron was sexually abusing his brother Aeron

Sexual abuse in families, happening in rl too.

17 hours ago, Lollygag said:

· Tyrion talks about raping Cersei.

He's probably thinking about the worst thing he can do to her and he's right. It's hatred, not something sexual.

But he let's out some disturbing stuff of a similar variety even earlier, remembering how he wanked to her meal, asking her why she's spreading legs to one brother and not the other, making sexual comments about her... Well, he's probably also just trying to be mean, but the method he's choosing... Wow, you're right. Tyrion is a creep.

17 hours ago, Lollygag said:

· Victarion/Asha

Gross. I guess it hammers home that A. The Greyjoys are messed up. B. Victarion sees women as walking vaginas.

17 hours ago, Lollygag said:

· Sansa is being forced to make out with her “father” (Littlefinger)

LF it's not her real father, but let's count:

- he loved her mother and believes he's slept with her,

- he fantasises how Sansa could have been his daughter instead of Ned Stark's,

- he encourages Sansa to think of him as her real father,

- he's slept with her aunt, and is Sansa's uncle by marriage and the stepfather of Sansa's cousin/fiance/son figure.

Wow, this guy actually came as close to incest as he could without actual blood ties. But I guess it highlight's the unhealthy nature of his love for Cat.

17 hours ago, Lollygag said:

· Arianne thinks Uncle Obie is hot.

...Being Dornish?

Let's ask Freud. I guess one possible answer that Martin subscribes to theories that some people - especially messed up individuals - see members of their families in a sexual way or confuse familial feelings with sexual.

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11 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

There is no natural incest taboo implemented by law. Many rather large countries are perfectly fine with incestuous sex between consenting adults. And you have to differentiate between laws defining incestuous vaginal sex (mostly only that is meant, pretty much nobody cares about oral or anal sex, and nobody seems to care whether there is any gay incest or not) as a crime, and laws against marriages that are defined as incestuous. The latter does not limit your rights all that much. But actually persecuting people who love each other for that love is basically the same as throwing gay people into prison because they have gay sex. And in countries in which incest is a crime people are sent to jail for this (or are executed).

 

George's depiction of incest is also somewhat unrealistic, actually. The Targaryen incest is usually arranged, and since the children are all raised together pretty much all of them should have been sexually and romantically drawn to other people (as Aerys and Rhaella actually are). The idea that the Conqueror really sexually desired Rhaenys, and that Alysanne and Jaehaerys I, or Jaehaerys II and Shaera really deeply loved each other is actually pretty far-fetched. Rhaenyra's desire for her dashing uncle Daemon - and Arianne's for her uncle Oberyn - makes somewhat more sense because both did not exactly grew up with their uncles spending much time with them. Oberyn spent quite some time in Essos and Daemon was mostly in the Vale, on Dragonstone, the Stepstones, and in Pentos during Rhaenyra's formative years.

Incest isn't just between siblings, and laws against incest are also to protect children from parents. While I have sympathy for siblings who grow up apart and, when they reunite, experience Genetic Sexual Attraction - it's real, and it's heartbreaking - am I supposed to feel sorry for a father who wants to get it on with his daughter but can't because of the law? That's a power imbalance and the taboo against parent/child incest is not just some archaic holdover like homophobia.

Targ incest is interesting - I believe they are genetically predisposed to be attracted to each other. Not always of course, but in the cases above we are clearly told they were love matches. Aegon didn't need to visit his sisters' chambers all that often if the purpose of their marriages was dynastic, yet we know he favoured Rhaenys. Jaehaerys and Shaera married for love despite what their father the King wanted. And you're forgetting Bloodraven/Shiera/Bittersteel's incest triangle, or Daemon Blackfyre and Daenerys, or Naerys and Aemon the Dragonknight. None of those were arranged or politically advantageous (quite the opposite) yet they were real love stories.

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Posted (edited)

19 hours ago, Lollygag said:

 

Arianne thinks Uncle Obie is hot.

To be fair, it's Oberyn, there's only two kinds of people: people who'd fuck Oberyn if they had the chance and people who don't exist.

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· Cat makes out with Petyr, but refuses him as a suitor because he’s like a brother. Then why was Cat making out with him if he was like a brother?????

Kissing and sex are two different pair of shoes. Somebody can be an acceptable target of affection, but when it goes really down you realize the person is too familiar to you for that.

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· Loras’ & Marg’s weird three-way marriage arrangement with Renly

Margaery and Loras have no sexual desire for one another, plus as others said in the book we never hear Margaery say anything close to "How about my brother gets you started?" And even on the hsow it was more "How about my brother gets you started and then you fuck me?" and NOT "Let's have a threesome with my brother, I want his dong!"

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· Sansa is being forced to make out with her “father” (Littlefinger)

They aren't related and she is posing as his daughter....

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The text hints at the possibility of Jonerys through well-established Targ history. That Jon isn’t as put off by the idea of being with his sisters as one would like is not encouraging in the slightest.

Jon and Daenerys would be aunt and nephew, which happened in real world history, even if it wasn't seen as acceptable as cousin merriage. Jon and Arya are cousins, which would be very acceptable in a society like that because it'd would keep lands and titles in the family.

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I’d also question an author relying too much on the general readership’s knowledge of European Royal history given that it’s an American Fantasy novel.

Sorry, but what kind of stupid and asinine statement is this? Last time I checked not only was ASoIaF popular around the world. Plus I am really SICK of this attitude some people have that everybody is/should only be knowledgeable about the culture and history of their own country/area. What should he have done to make Westeors palatable to Americans? Make them act like WASPS from Long Island?

Also, "Oh my! How dare an author write something out of the comfort zone of his immidiate audience! He might make them *gasp* he might make them think!"

Edited by Orphalesion

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4 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Just a quick comment to that one. This is actually part of Robert's medical treatment. Lysa or Colemon state that mother's milk is considered a good medicine for his illness. I'd say that there might be some incestuous and erotic undertones to the whole thing on Lysa's side but that's hard to know without her POV.

Yes, it is stated that mother’s milk has many healthful properties.

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A Feast for Crows - Alayne I     The maester combed his fingers through his hair, dribbling globs of porridge on the floor. "Lady Lysa would give his lordship her breast whenever he grew overwrought. Archmaester Ebrose claims that mother's milk has many heathful properties."    "Is that your counsel, maester? That we find a wet nurse for the Lord of the Eyrie and Defender of the Vale? When shall we wean him, on his wedding day?

The boy is eight. His mother before she died was in her mid thirties. She isn’t playing with a full deck. The kid has health issues that sucking on a teat isn’t going to help.

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A Storm of Swords - Sansa VI      "We are women alone now, you and I. Are you afraid, child? Be brave. I would never turn away Cat's daughter. We are bound by blood." She beckoned Sansa closer. "You may come kiss my cheek, Alayne."     Dutifully she approached and knelt beside the bed. Her aunt was drenched in sweet scent, though under that was a sour milky smell. Her cheek tasted of paint and powder.

 

4 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I'd say that there might be some incestuous and erotic undertones to the whole thing on Lysa's side but that's hard to know without her POV.

Sometimes I wonder, I don’t even know how to put my thoughts in words…………..  If a mother is letting her eight year old child suckle at her breast the problem is with the mother not the child. I don’t need a POV to explain that to me.

4 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I'm again speaking without experience but I've read that breastfeeding children can stimulate sexual arousal in women but that, too, is a matter that is not spoken about openly, perhaps in part because of the incestuous connotations. It would hardly surprise me if it is true because we all know that stimulating female (and male) nipples can have a certain pleasant effect.

The above ^ frightens me. The mammary glands fill with nourishment. It can be quite painful. Guess it depends on what fetish a person is into.

 

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31 minutes ago, Orphalesion said:

To be fair, it's Oberyn, there's only two kinds of people: people who'd fuck Oberyn if they had the chance and people who don't exist.

Sorry, but what kind of stupid and asinine statement is this? Last time I checked not only was ASoIaF popular around the world. Plus I am really SICK of this attitude some people have that everybody is/should only be knowledgeable about the culture and history of their own country/area. What should he have done to make Westeors palatable to Americans? Make them act like WASPS from Long Island?

Also, "Oh my! How dare an author write something out of the comfort zone of his immidiate audience! He might make them *gasp* he might make them think!"

Can't disagree on Oberyn!

ASOIAF is popular now, but a fantasy novel's prospects for world-wide success were quite low at the time it was first published.

It's not about the comfort zone, it's about expecting the audience to have a certain background to understand something which most probably do not have. An author can write about whatever they want, but if they don't take into account what is reasonable for a given reader to know and not know and not write accordingly, then misunderstandings will result. And there's a lot of misunderstanding floating about concerning GRRM and the incest content of the books and especially the show.

I'd generally agree with you here, but when the subject is incest, what's there to really think about?

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9 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Fear not, as gross as real world incest is- including cousins, aunts, etc- George is using his own rules of incest that he has used through many, many of his past books, many of which were written around the time of his first ASOIAF concepts, so it was still fresh in his head. I say his own rules because otherwise Dany should literally look like this, and who knows what with Jon from incest laden Rhaegar. He is clearly not using the Hapsburg type model, but he could be using the basic idea of incest leads to the downfall of a dynasty. So it is probably best to put aside the real world knowledge of incest, including with wolves which people always quote incorrectly, and just go with the fantasy side.

 

18 hours ago, foxberlin said:

Craster incest = accumulation of resources in a life threatening environment

Targaryen incest = preservation of power in a latently hostile environment

Lannister incest = narcissistic love in an exclusive environment

Incest shines up as a fear to share, to really open up, as dead end longterm. The varieties refer to each other, too.

I'm no expert on feudal history or the mind-set which goes along with it, but I'm now entertaining the thought that incest might be used in the text as a way of showing the negative and destructive aspects of the feudal mindset. Given that it looks like Westeros' feudal system will see a major change at the very least by the end of the novels, and that the Westerosi have been stagnated in a feudal mindset for millennia, showing a warped version of the feudal mindset through individual characters who have a lot to lose would build up to that. 

 

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6 hours ago, teej6 said:

I don't know where people get the notion that incestual behavior in kids is a common occurrence.

There's little research on the subject, but what little there is does point out to it being a relatively common occurrence:
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01542244

And to the OP: I don't think it's about shock value exactly, but in a gritty fantasy setting, the author had to find something that would seem shocking even by that world's standards. He then declined it in various ways.

I tend to agree though that there may be too much incest. I was never convinced by the Cersei-Jaime relationship somehow and I think it didn't require sex to be perverse ; of course that their children are products of incest and thus not the "legitimate" heirs turns out to be a plot point.

 

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, maudisdottir said:

Incest isn't just between siblings, and laws against incest are also to protect children from parents. While I have sympathy for siblings who grow up apart and, when they reunite, experience Genetic Sexual Attraction - it's real, and it's heartbreaking - am I supposed to feel sorry for a father who wants to get it on with his daughter but can't because of the law? That's a power imbalance and the taboo against parent/child incest is not just some archaic holdover like homophobia.

Nope, but that's all easily manageable by the laws we have against the (sexual) abuse of children. Our traditional laws against incest usually aren't to protect innocent women or children from their elders/brothers, etc. but rather to make a incest itself in principle a criminal offense. The marital age in the Vatican is still twelve years, if I'm not mistaken, just as it was in the middle ages. The idea that women who are biologically old enough to bear children should not do so isn't exactly a longstanding tradition.

And while I myself don't particularly like the prospect of having a much younger or older spouse I sure as hell see nothing inherently wrong when a mother and a son or a father and a daughter have consensual sex when they are both adults. I don't think that's something that happens often - most incest in those category would be abusive which a parent actually using his or her position to exert power and control over the younger partner - but there may be cases where this kind of thing happens. And it is not really up to the society at large to regulate what people do at home, even if they do stuff we would consider to be 'perverse' or 'gross' or whatever.

The problem with sexual abuse within a family is the power dynamic itself, not the some incest laws. Those don't prevent a father from abusing his daughter if he wants to, especially if she is still a child. The funny thing about the incest laws is that only honest people are actually convicted for that, if anybody is convicted at all. The police is not routinely checking whether close kin living in the same house are sleeping with those members of the family they are not permitted to have sex with.

But the incest laws also affect the lives of people who do not, in fact, live in abusive relationships of any kind. It is really not all that difficult to realize that this is an injustice unless you are a blockhead. 

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Targ incest is interesting - I believe they are genetically predisposed to be attracted to each other. Not always of course, but in the cases above we are clearly told they were love matches. Aegon didn't need to visit his sisters' chambers all that often if the purpose of their marriages was dynastic, yet we know he favoured Rhaenys. Jaehaerys and Shaera married for love despite what their father the King wanted. And you're forgetting Bloodraven/Shiera/Bittersteel's incest triangle, or Daemon Blackfyre and Daenerys, or Naerys and Aemon the Dragonknight. None of those were arranged or politically advantageous (quite the opposite) yet they were real love stories.

Well, I guess then the people in Westeros are somewhat different people, more inclined to incestuous attraction than we are. While I believe that the blood of the dragon is somewhat different I don't buy the idea that also causes some sort of incestuous attraction. That would be weird indeed. And we still have the Cersei-Jaime example who very much seem to feel a similar attraction as, say, Jaehaerys II and Shaera.

Yeah, I think the historical accounts seem to sell us the idea that Aegon really sexually desired and romantically loved Rhaenys. A deep love also was between Jaehaerys I and Alysanne, too. But we also have to keep in mind that people may have mistaken brotherly and sisterly affection (which would have been there despite these people also being legally married to each other) for romantic love, especially if the Targaryen romantic incest became a topic of songs and stories. This clearly is, I think, what happened with that Aemon-Naerys love story. Naerys herself wanted to live 'as brother and sister' with Aegon, yet he insisted on the incestuous lifestyle. I very much doubt she would felt any romantic love for her other brother, that really doesn't fit at all with her piety (the Faith abhors incest).

We know Jaehaerys and Alysanne were around each other as children, first in KL and on Dragonstone with their mother and then on the run, so they really spent time together as children. Whether that's also true for Jaehaerys and Shaera is as of yet unknown. It may be possible that one of them spend some time away as a ward at Raventree Hall or some other castle in his or her youth (although it would most likely be Shaera considering that Jaehaerys was always sickly)

Others may not have been raised together. That we can safely say, I think, for Aegor and Shiera, and perhaps even for Brynden and Shiera. They may have spent some time at the same court but they would not have been raised in the same household as siblings. Bloodraven could have been taken in as a ward of Prince Daeron or Queen Naerys in the wake of Missy's departure from court (or he went back with her to Raventree) while Aegor is confirmed to have been raised at Stonehedge (most likely until the coronation of Daeron II). Shiera could also have been royal ward from the start, but being the youngest it is really difficult to say who took care of her in the years thereafter. Was she raised at court or did Daeron II first send her to some motherhouse or put her out of sight with some household knight's daughters? We don't know. We don't know anything about her.

But it would make a difference if they weren't raised together in the same household, and that seems to be confirmed. The same would also go for Princess Daenerys and Daemon Blackfyre. Daemon Waters would have been brought up in the household of Princess Daena while Daenerys would have been raised in the household of the king and queen. The royal children are usually raised together. Tommen and Myrcella are not kept apart but routinely eat with their other family members and spend time together in the care of their septa (and likely other tutors and servants). But we cannot assume that the bastard cousins of the royal children also spent much time with them.

We know Jaehaerys and Alysanne were around each other as children, first in KL and on Dragonstone with their mother and then on the run, so they really spent time together as children. Whether that's also true for Jaehaerys and Shaera is as of yet unknown. It may be possible that one of them spend some time away as a ward at Raventree Hall or some other castle in his or her youth (although it would most likely be Shaera considering that Jaehaerys was always sickly).

4 hours ago, teej6 said:

In the Victoria example, the point is that had her descendants not practiced inter-marriage, the probabilty of their children being born with haemophilia would have been greatly reduced. I'll break it down for you. If x and y are from the same family/community and that family/community has a high rate of some genetic form of madness the likelihood of x and y's offspring having the disorder is greater than had x married z, who happens to be from a different community/family that does not have the disorder. It's as simple as  that. This is why small isolated communities are known to have a higher incidence of genetically transmitted diseases.

I know that. I didn't argue against that. I was just pointing out for people who might be under the impression that incest causes genetic diseases that it actually doesn't. The probability that your children get sick depends on the genes you carry, and I also pointed out that today we actually have the means to test for that kind of thing.

And one should also keep in mind that in our history as a species there were times when we were down to very few individuals where inbreeding to various degrees was the only chance to survive at all. We are far beyond that but one assumes the incest taboo is pretty much irrelevant if the only sex partners available are siblings, parents, and cousins of various degrees.

I don't know much about these things but there is a theory that the original population of the Americas are descended from a group of about seventy settlers. That would mean those people were, at least in the first couple of generations, all very heavily interrelated.

There are other theories about such bottleneck situations earlier in our evolution.

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I do not have a wierd view of the world, I'm just giving you facts. Cousin marriages are common among many Hindus who btw are not backward. And FYI, in the U.S. cousin marriages were not uncommon in the 18th and early 19th centuries. I do not have an opinion on the morality of cousin marriages among two consenting adults. I wouldn't do it but I'm in no position to judge another person's customs or practices.

I was ironic with the backwater thing. I know that cousin marriages were (and still are) prevalent in some US states. The whole WASP establishment sure as hell did not interbreed regularly with those catholic Irishmen. And the problem is not whether you or anybody else marries his or cousin but whether it is sane to actually make having sex with your cousin a criminal offense. Which it is in certain US states and elsewhere.

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You stated "I spoke about the exploration of your sexuality in the presence of and/or with the help of your siblings or other close kin. You don't have to love or feel attracted to your cousin or sister to touch her in an erotic or sexual manner." Now that is some weird shit. I mean seriously, you think this is common among kids? This is seriously abhorrant and aberrant behavior. I mean I don't even know what to say to you if you think this is perfectly normal and common. It is neither common nor normal. Normal siblings/cousins don't go around touching each other in an errotic or sexual manner. 

Okay, then, here is some data (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sibling_relationship#incest):

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While cousin marriage is legal in most, and avunculate marriage is legal in many countries, sexual relations between siblings is considered incestuous almost universally. Innate sexual aversion between siblings forms due to close association in childhood, in what is known as the Westermarck effect. Children who grow up together do not normally develop sexual attraction, even if they are unrelated, and conversely, siblings who were separated at a young age may develop sexual attraction. Thus, many cases of sibling incest, including accidental incest, concern siblings who were separated at birth or at a very young age. One study from New England has shown that roughly 10% of males and 15% of females had experienced some form of sexual contact with a brother or sister, with the most common form being fondling or touching of one another's genitalia.

Apparently it isn't 20-30% but 10-15%. I wasn't wrong to such high a degree. And that's just one study there.

The Westermarck effect also don't seem to be as rock solid as one might think (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westermarck_effect). One assumes that if it was sibling incest wouldn't have been as common as it was in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt. Not to mention the other cultures in which there was never a (strong) taboo on it.

If we go back to the topic we certainly see a similar thing Valyria as described by George in TWoIaF. The dragonlords may have started it, just as the Egyptian gods and Pharaohs did, but the common people eventually mimicked their rulers.

And quite honestly, any mythological tale about the origin of gods and humanity includes various versions of incest because they all begin with a first couple. Adam and Eve are siblings, too, and Adam's sons must have married their sisters, just as the Olympian gods also married their sisters.

1 hour ago, Clegane'sPup said:

Yes, it is stated that mother’s milk has many healthful properties.

The boy is eight. His mother before she died was in her mid thirties. She isn’t playing with a full deck. The kid has health issues that sucking on a teat isn’t going to help.

I don't doubt that but somebody must have told her to continue the whole sucking thing. Lysa certainly is deranged to no small degree but one wonders whether Jon Arryn was, well, weird enough to allow his wife to breastfeed his six year old son without at least the pretext of a good reason. I don't think he was. Keep in mind that Robert and Lysa lived with Jon in the Tower of the Hand. Lysa still producing milk all this years after her birth would also make her unable to conceive, something they must have known, too.

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Sometimes I wonder, I don’t even know how to put my thoughts in words…………..  If a mother is letting her eight year old child suckle at her breast the problem is with the mother not the child. I don’t need a POV to explain that to me.

Six years in AGoT. But she continues to do so until her death. But the question was not whether something is wrong with Lysa but rather whether she does this because she has more than a 'normal motherly love' for her son. Could very well be. But whether this love is already something we would describe as incestuous I don't know. For that we would have to need her POV and insight into whatever sexual fantasies she has.

This conversation has taken a very weird turn.

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The above ^ frightens me. The mammary glands fill with nourishment. It can be quite painful. Guess it depends on what fetish a person is into.

I have heard it is supposed to be painful but if I remember correctly then the mechanism that makes *normal nipple sucking* a arousing experience is not exactly (completely) absent when you breastfeed a child. Stimulation is stimulation. Women with a masochistic tendency might get more out of it than women who don't enjoy a little bit of pain but aside from that the stimulation is still there.

12 minutes ago, Rippounet said:

There's little research on the subject, but what little there is does point out to it being a relatively common occurrence:
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01542244

Thanks, that seems to be the study wikipedia is referencing, too.

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I tend to agree though that there may be too much incest. I was never convinced by the Cersei-Jaime relationship somehow and I think it didn't require sex to be perverse ; of course that their children are products of incest and thus not the "legitimate" heirs turns out to be a plot point.

If we ignore the whole Targaryen incest (which is just historical data as of yet) there is not all that much.

Edited by Lord Varys

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7 hours ago, BricksAndSparrows said:

With all of the terrible things that happen in these novels, why is it the incest that upsets you the most?

Like, I would be troubled to learn that my brother and sister were getting it on. But not even nearly bothered as much as if I learned they were smashing in babies heads. 

To answer your question of "why so much?" I would say it's just one more depiction of the carnality of this world. But far from the most common one. The brutality inflicted upon children is far more common in the series than incest. I also think you're kinda "padding your numbers," when it comes to examples of incest. Two kids doing what amounts to kissing practice? Really? That becomes incest when one of them looks back in retrospect a couple decades later and thinks they were "like" siblings? Would it have been bestiality if she referred to his feelings as "puppy" love?  Or Sansa kissing Petyr. That's hardly incest. Nor is Arianne having a crush.

The way nobility is given to marrying other nobles makes less extreme instances of incest more acceptable. Take Tywin and Johanna. So people are already open to marrying and having sex with relatives. I'd say that lets incest get its "foot in the door" so to speak.

I probably wouldn't picked up on some of these if not for the overall presence of incest in the story. I'm approaching the content from a writer's perspective more so than a reader's probably. When a writer sits in front of the blank page, or a blank computer screen, what makes them even include certain content, and exclude others? Why is it even here? Cat could have rejected LF for any number of reasons, but why was it because he was like a brother? SR nuzzled Sansa's breasts while he fell in love with her mimicking his relationship with his mother but the text would have been fine if he developed a crush on Sansa just because she's pretty, pays attention to him, and she's the only girl he's ever really been around. So again? Why make Robert confused about mother/Sansa and juxtapose them in Robert's mind? What did Arianne crushing on her uncle add to the story? The same questions apply to the most of the rest of the examples cited. They didn't need to be there unless GRRM is making another point with them. When staring at that blank page/computer screen, why add these things? Where did it come from? What is he hoping to communicate to the reader?

As for why incest bothers me more, this from my earlier posts. Basically, the violence serves a purpose, but a lot of the incest does not. And I don't see incest as consensual between two adults because the rest of the family is not given a choice, and the incest participators are screwing up their family's lives to some degree. If they have children, then add them to the list of people being hurt. GRRM has been extremely clear on this with Jaime/Cersei.

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Rape, murder, torture, etc are all part of the grittiness of the story. They aren’t gratuitous. Revenge and what it does to a person is explored in detail through several characters. There must be a reason for the revenge, hence the violence.

We’ll also have to see all of these people who’ve done awful things to each other get over it to defeat the Others, and if they don’t get over it, they’ll probably die. How various characters deal with this (or not) will be explored personally character-by-character.

There’s a literary purpose, several actually, for the rape, violence, etc., and also for its being taken to such an extreme extent. I see why Jaime/Cersei incest is included and have no problem with its inclusion. The negative impact to the characters, to the family, to the kingdom is very layered and explored in a lot of detail and it evolves dynamically.

I’m looking for a similar and equally meaningful literary explanation for the inclusion of all of the other incest in the story which is as substantive as the reasons for including the various acts of violence, and I’m not finding it. Dismissing it as “historical accuracy” is a sufficient explanation for a documentary or a work of historical non-fiction, but not a fantasy novel. Especially when the other elements of “historical accuracy” serve a literary purpose.

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On the surface, incest involves two consenting adults (hopefully). But when taking a broader view, it involves the entire extended family and it’s the rest of the family which was not given a choice.

Jaime/Cersei had a massive impact on the rest of the family, and not in a good way. This can be extended to a more rl situation, too. It unnecessarily complicates the family unit which many rely on family for stability, both financially and emotionally. The rest of the Lannisters weren’t given a choice yet they personally suffered for the incest while not choosing it or participating in it.

And a break up/split/relationship disagreement no longer becomes just a breakup in an incestuous relationship.  Ideally, an incestuous couple breaks up and everything is cool. But breakups often don’t work like that. Again, the entire family is dragged into something for which they weren’t given a choice. Jaime’s “breakup” with Cersei will cause **** to hit the fan and other Lannisters as a family will pay a deep price.

 

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