Body Doubles

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Just watched* a show called Body Doubles, which was kind of a beauty pageant for the world’s most beautiful identical twins. Let’s just say, all those Miss America and Miss World pageants looked like the epitome of class compared to this show.

Among other things, the twins strutted down the runway in lingerie and swimwear that would make a Victoria’s Secret designer blush. Even the “˜evening wear’ looked like it had been vetted by a cheapest-of-the-cheap street walker.

And then they had a “˜photo shoot’ which involved the Top 5 twins posing on a motorcycle. Imagine every bad pornographic stereotype involve two identical beautiful women straddling a giant hunk of steel and engine – you name it, they did it.

The show must have been designed for men – or at least, the idea that men subscribe to the fantasy of having two identical beautiful women at one time.

Gentlemen (and I use the term loosely) there’s a word for it: incest. And it’s a felony. I mean, who the hell gets off on the idea of sisters posing provocatively together, regardless of how hot they are?

*I was waiting to watch Battlestar Galactica, which always runs over, and caught bits of BD while I was waiting, because it was marginally more entertaining then Sports Tonight which preceded BsG. But only from a critical-feminist-rip-it-all-apart perspective.

Comments

  1. Gategrrl says

    Apparently the taboo against incest is alive and well, even amongst the fiction writers of fandom. After all, if they consented, and they’re legal adults, it’s all hawt.

    I don’t think this is an exclusively male area of desire. But this show is especially skanky sounding in its description.

  2. Gategrrl says

    Damn, I wish I could edit my previous post.

    What I *meant* to say was, “The taboo against incest is gone amongst fandom writers”. More along those lines.

    What with that “Strikeout” thing on LJournal, the entire issue reared it’s ugly head.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    Sorry – the edit comment plugin I had installed stopped working, which I didn’t know since I can always edit them. ;)

    I found another one – pretty cool! I’ve set it to 90 minutes for the edit time (just so we don’t have people destroying the flow of conversation).

  4. scarlett says

    Fanfiction has acepted incest? Gross? A friend of mine has been the victim of it and while they were quite young and it was noncon, I just don’t see how people can get off on the idea. I found the whole ‘gorgeous itendical twins straddling a motorbike’ thing completely gross.

  5. Purtek says

    The legal issues surrounding incest between consenting adults wouldn’t be the same as the victimization of children, and they probably vary from one jurisdiction to the next. Obviously, it’s still generally socially taboo, but this seems to be an example of realizing a kind of suspension of disbelief with respect to sexual fantasy wish fulfillment.

    So while I’d keep it out of the ‘felony’ realm (because I’m not even sure what the laws on that are here), and even stay away from drawing comparisons to childhood sexual abuse (also because, after all, that can be just as damaging when the perpetrator is not a relative), it does fall well into my category of gross fantasy issue. I get immediately pissed off at the attitude of some men/media producers toward lesbian sex as titillating for men on the simple basis that even when there’s not a man involved in the act itself, apparently it’s all about him/his enjoyment. This twin-sister thing highlights that, because I expect they wouldn’t be having sex with (or posing all over) each other if it weren’t to titillate. It’s the very definition of objectification, because their subjectivity and pleasure have become entirely irrelevant except as display items.

  6. SunlessNick says

    Fanfiction has acepted incest? - Scarlett

    In the case of Supernatural, it’s even spawned its own puns (“Wincest” and “bro-yay”).

    Gentlemen (and I use the term loosely) there’s a word for it: incest. And it’s a felony.

    I have a suspicion that “lesbian” fantasy doesn’t involve any real sense that women could be having sex with each other – you need to acknowledge their agency for that agency for that – somehow, it’s all about doing it with the man, even when he’s thousands of miles away. Therefore this, well it can’t be incest.

    This program sounds like the absolute pits.

  7. scarlett says

    Purtek:
    Obviously, I see the difference between consensual sex between adults who are related and non-consensual sex between a child and adult who are related, but I still think there’s something really creepy about people getting off on the idea of two identical (adult) twins in sexual poses. It actually makes me think how consentual the poses were – how many of the twins put a fuss up about it and were told ‘get on the bike or get out’???

    Nick: You’re right, I think the poses were meant to titilate men, not be about the women’s pleasure. I think it took the lesbian fantasy one step further, the idea of having sisters pose for and fight over you.

    On a side note, I’ve seen several photo shoots of famous sisters – models like Nicki and Krissy Taylor (yeah, I’m showing my age here!) and an Aus singing duo S2S in very provocative, very sexual poses. S2S in particular looked very related (they weren’t twins). Again, maybe because I’ve known victims of (childhood, noncon) incest, I don’t see the appeal – maybe my experience is clouding my judgement.

  8. Karmakaze says

    Fanfiction has acepted incest? – Scarlett

    Yeah. It’s kept me out of Supernatural fandom and made me very leery of Heroes fandom. In Supernatural, the preferred pairng is the Winchester brothers; In Heroes it’s either the Petrelli brothers or Peter and Claire (although, to be fair, we didn’t find out those two were related until late in the season, even if age was problematic from the start.)

    Before Supernatural even aired, there were comments all over livejournal to the effect of “The Powers That Be are trying to stop us from slashing by making the hot boys related, but that won’t stop us! Hee!”

  9. sbg says

    Yeah. It’s kept me out of Supernatural fandom and made me very leery of Heroes fandom.

    What gets me all o.O is that I’ve seen icons calling out the other show, like it’s some sort of competition to see who can be the most incestuous. Me: But they’re BROTHERS. Signs of affection in a healthy family relationship aren’t sexual and I don’t know how what we see on screen can be so construed!

    I just…don’t get it. Of course, I also can’t see how people think writing about it and glorifying it with fictional characters isn’t somehow supporting it in real life. Because it kind of is, to me.

  10. says

    There are plenty of things that I support in fiction that I would be adamantly against in real life. … In general, I like explosions and car chases, and have what is probably far too strong an interest in fictional serial killers. I almost always root for the villain. That doesn’t mean I want ANY of those things to happen in the real world, and I don’t think it’s fair to not give others the same opportunity to differentiate between reality and fiction.

    That’s very well-said, and expresses my feelings on fictional exploration of fantasies (sexual or otherwise) very nicely, too.

  11. sbg says

    There are plenty of things that I support in fiction that I would be adamantly against in real life. To use a Heroes example, I cheered when Simone died. In general, I like explosions and car chases, and have what is probably far too strong an interest in fictional serial killers. I almost always root for the villain. That doesn’t mean I want ANY of those things to happen in the real world, and I don’t think it’s fair to not give others the same opportunity to differentiate between reality and fiction. (Fan created fiction at that, since none of it is supported with text or even subtext most of the time.)

    Of course, what you’re describing isn’t that you actively fantasize about any of those things…

    No, I get your point. I really do, and yet I can’t shake the niggle or lack of understanding, perhaps, about how someone can have absolutely no problem with incest because the people they’re attracted to themselves are fictional, but by the same token know that it’s not cool in real life.

    I know that’s judgey of me, but there you go.

  12. MaggieCat says

    I have absolutely no interest in fanfiction of any kind, but I know people who do, and the main argument seem to be that the actors are in no way related. (Which goes for both shows.) It also seems to be somewhat more acceptable within that fan base if the pairing in question is same sex- you’ll find a lot more people who are squicked out by Peter and Claire than Peter and Nathan, even if the first wasn’t taboo until they got around to revealing a familial relationship.

    Which means nothing to me because Eww, but the boards I generally read are very good about keeping anything of the sort in a single thread where it’s easy to ignore.

    Of course, I also can’t see how people think writing about it and glorifying it with fictional characters isn’t somehow supporting it in real life. Because it kind of is, to me.

    I don’t think I agree with this though, even given my personal distaste for the subject in question.

    There are plenty of things that I support in fiction that I would be adamantly against in real life. To use a Heroes example, I cheered when Simone died. In general, I like explosions and car chases, and have what is probably far too strong an interest in fictional serial killers. I almost always root for the villain. That doesn’t mean I want ANY of those things to happen in the real world, and I don’t think it’s fair to not give others the same opportunity to differentiate between reality and fiction. (Fan created fiction at that, since none of it is supported with text or even subtext most of the time.)

  13. says

    Any chance you could dial down the slut shaming, scarlett?

    Hypersexualizing these women is a problem, yes, but you threw around that reference to prostitutes as if they’re some evil, evil standard that no “good” girl should ever emulate, rather than real women.

    And, furthermore, shaming women for wearing provocative clothing (whether on a show like this one or in real life) makes it seem that sexuality is the problem here, not the inappropriate sexualization and the way that female sexuality is, as you pointed out, seen as part of the male gaze.

  14. MaggieCat says

    Of course, what you’re describing isn’t that you actively fantasize about any of those things…

    Depends on which ones you’re talking about. I certainly wished for the Roadhouse to go up in flames, wanted Simone dead, and hoped for quite a lot other deaths and general evilness back when Oz was still on the air. Had many a conversation with other fans about all three as well, since I don’t care for fanfic.

    And yet none of that means I’ve considered burning down a real place of business full of people that annoyed me, shooting someone who I considered a waste of space, or think it’s acceptable to murder a corrupt neo-Nazi prison guard in cold blood.

    All of those are acceptable in a work of fiction and in real life would probably get you a hell of a lot more prison time than consensual relations where there are blood ties between the adults involved. While I find it disturbing, I can’t see where it’s anyone’s place to condemn one rather than the other on the basis of personal taste. It’s easy to avoid and has zero chance of becoming anything more than speculation by a very small subset of the fandom, so I just ignore it.

  15. sbg says

    All of those are acceptable in a work of fiction and in real life would probably get you a hell of a lot more prison time than consensual relations where there are blood ties between the adults involved. While I find it disturbing, I can’t see where it’s anyone’s place to condemn one rather than the other on the basis of personal taste. It’s easy to avoid and has zero chance of becoming anything more than speculation by a very small subset of the fandom, so I just ignore it.

    I’ve never once said people haven’t got the right to enjoy incest stories (or pictures or what have you). I’m not about a witch hunt and wouldn’t support one, I’m just saying that for me, personally, it comes uncomfortably close to glorification of the subject material to me.

    And I, unfortunately, seem to have a more difficult time avoiding it than you have.

  16. Jennifer Kesler says

    Tekanji, I believe she was referring to the hypersexualized clothing prostitutes wear (to advertise their trade), not the prostitutes themselves. Which is not to say there wasn’t perhaps a better way to phrase it. ;)

    As for the incest fandom issue… I think there has to be room for people to find a trend disturbing in general without judging the people enjoying that trend individually. Isn’t that what we do here? Complain about bad tropes and degrading stories, without assuming the people who write or watch them are misogynists?

    Incest can most definitely be a form of rape. It’s also quite possible that when you say “incest” to a crowd, some of them are thinking of the tragedy of molested children molesting other kids and others are thinking merely of fantasies they once entertained about their own siblings. I believe both scenarios are not too uncommon in the real world.

    I don’t read any fandoms with incest fics, so I have no idea what those authors or readers are thinking, and I don’t care or judge. I’m just saying I can see being concerned about the trend in general since incest frequently is a form of rape.

  17. Purtek says

    scarlett–I just want to apologize for not being clear in my earlier comment that I don’t think you can’t see the difference between incest as a form of childhood sexual assault and incest as a form of (icky) consensual sex. I just really don’t think the former comes into play in this depiction at all, and I’m also not sure it’s prohibited by law anywhere, let alone in many jurisdictions, so I think that idea is distracting away from the main ickiness here (which is still off the charts, imo).

    I’m just saying I can see being concerned about the trend in general since incest frequently is a form of rape. –Betacandy

    I really don’t want to come off as supportive of incest depictions in fiction here (because I’m not, just for different reasons), but how do you distinguish this from depictions of, well, any kind of sex act? As soon as a sex act becomes non-consensual, it’s rape/sexual assault. And I struggle with the “throw the baby out with the bathwater” or lumping too many things into the same category aspects of this, if that makes sense.

    Not that I don’t want to throw out this show anyway–I’m with Nick on what the core of the problem here is–there’s no relevance to the actual female pleasure in these fantasies. No agency, no humanity, on an even greater scale than if it’s two unrelated women being exploited for the male gaze.

    However, since I went on to be quite contrary, I’d like to reiterate my apology to scarlett–I do know that you recognize that these are not the same thing, and I respect that the concept translates in your brain (and the brain of many others) into seriously upsetting stuff.

  18. Jennifer Kesler says

    but how do you distinguish this from depictions of, well, any kind of sex act? As soon as a sex act becomes non-consensual, it’s rape/sexual assault.

    Incest, like child molestation, can include consent and still be rape, since the child being acted upon doesn’t really comprehend what he’s consenting to. When someone says “incest”, that’s what comes to mind for me because that’s what I’m familiar with.

    For someone else, the word might invoke harmless fantasies she once had about her sibling.

    With that wide a discrepancy in what the term means to different people, it’s not surprising that anyone would wonder if incest fics are glorifying something sick, while other people would have no idea what they’re complaining about.

  19. scarlett says

    Purtek,
    That’s fine, I think we have fairly braod laws here, about incest and sex crimes across the board. (And I can understand that many don’t see incest and sex crimes as the same thing. )Obviously, my perspective is coming from growing up within the Aus culture and legal system.

    tekanji,
    In no way was I slut shaming. I have no problem with prostitues or prostitution, think it should be legalised and monitered like any other profession, but the point I was making was just how tacky the clothes they were wearing were – it’s been months since I saw the show, but I seem to recall one of the ‘evening gowns’ looked like it had come out of AdultShop. I had a problem with passing off something a prostitute might wear – because part of their job is wearing hypersexualised clothing – as evening wear, not prostitutes or prostitution or what they wear for the job. I would have just as pissed off if they were doing a show about handywomen – plumbers, mechanics, electricians etc – who paraded around in shorts, tank tops and sandals for the sake of looking sexy.

    On top of that, if it was just about tacky, inappropriate clothing and provocative poses, I wouldn’t have had an issue with that, either, beyond the standard ‘women appealing to men’ thoughts. What really got my back up was that, within this context, they applied the lesbian fantasy with identical twins. I’m sure a lot of the women would have been uncomfortable posing like that – I know my sisters and I would have been – and I doubt they were given a choice.

  20. says

    Scarlett said:

    In no way was I slut shaming.

    I understand your intent, and agree with it, but the way you phrased it was slut shaming. None of what you said in the above comment came across in the phrase “cheapest-of-the-cheap street walker”. Regardless of your personal feelings, belittling a woman by calling her “cheap” is objectifying, and is slut shaming.

    Slut shaming is a huge problem within the feminist community, and it saddens me to see it crop up even here from time to time. The problem isn’t with intent — very few feminists, I would think, have the intentions of oppressing other women — but with expression. And, as a reader, I’m telling you that your expression was demeaning to women who work as prostitutes.

  21. Purtek says

    Incest, like child molestation, can include consent and still be rape, since the child being acted upon doesn’t really comprehend what he’s consenting to
    That, in my world, means it doesn’t include consent, but that’s really a semantic quibble. What we’re talking about here, though, are all depictions of adults, whether in the original show or in fanfic.

    There was an episode of (wait for it) SVU that dealt with this a few years ago, back when I still watched regularly. An adult daughter and her father were having a consensual sexual relationship, and the cops/lawyers were seriously uncomfortable, not just because of the “incest taboo”, but because of a natural parent-child power imbalance. As I recall, they were frustrated in the end because they couldn’t find a way to charge him with anything. With relationships between adult siblings, especially the kind of thing being depicted in the Supernatural/Heroes fanfic (which I’ve never read, I’m just imagining), it would be even shakier ground to try to find the inherent power imbalance that would make consent impossible or even more complicated.

    It’s not that I have no idea what people are complaining about, but I sort of wish we were discussing this without automatically equating adult sexual dynamics with dynamics of child abuse. I hope it’s obvious that I certainly think adult dynamics can play out that way, and that I absolutely understand “triggering” within the context of consensual sex/depictions thereof. But if that’s what we’re talking about, then our discussions of the problems with depictions of sexual violence just got a whole lot more complicated.

  22. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’ll be honest: I never understand what the classics are attempting to imply with incest, either. It’s just not something I “get”.

    Either way, I’m just saying that there should be room to express concerns about a trend without judging individuals. Especially when, as is my understanding, a lot of the incest fanfic authors do not carefully label their incest stories, which at the very least could be triggers for some people.

  23. sbg says

    With relationships between adult siblings, especially the kind of thing being depicted in the Supernatural/Heroes fanfic (which I’ve never read, I’m just imagining), it would be even shakier ground to try to find the inherent power imbalance that would make consent impossible or even more complicated.

    For me, it’s quite honestly that I can’t see adults consenting unless they’ve been raised in a tragically wrong way, and that’s not really true consent in my mind. Something, somewhere must have got twisted up, from my POV, and I can’t ever shake that feeling.

    But I’m in no frame of mind to talk about this issue, so I shouldn’t have said anything.

  24. Purtek says

    Especially when, as is my understanding, a lot of the incest fanfic authors do not carefully label their incest stories, which at the very least could be triggers for some people.

    I’m in total agreement with you here. I’ve been thinking a lot about clear labeling with trigger issues lately, and I’ve had some seriously upsetting experiences with the concept within feminist circles. It’s a struggle for me to recognize what constitutes a reasonable level of consideration for others and what’s just asking people to be overly accommodating (of my warning requests; not others asking it of me).

    I’m just going to end this with the note that I absolutely don’t think that any of these incest depictions show something healthy, and that I do think the question of triggering is an important one to raise. I’ve been far from in the proper frame of mind to have this kind of conversation myself, and I know it shows.

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