Agent Triple P caught some of the X Factor final last night, in particular the part where the contestants who had been knocked out of the live stages came back to sing together for the one more time (as if the world actually wanted that). At one point during the number the members of Blonde Electra, who were knocked out in the first week, locked lips for a kiss. That'll cause a scandal, we thought, as it shows that they are all miming!
Indeed, today the press is full of outrage over the kiss but not because of the miming or even because they were both women (we remember the scandal when Russian lipstick "lesbian" group Tatu had their kiss on stage during Top of the Pops edited out a few years ago). No, the cause of all the consternation is that Jazzy and Ruby King are sisters. Ooh, er, missus, incest, howled the tabloids and online sites.
Now, we find all this ridiculous. What we have here are two not very talented, not very attractive young women who are desperate to be famous. Having blown their big chance because the viewing public found them really annoying (they have a British father but their upbringing and accents are American) they get one more chance to get in front of the cameras. How do we stand out given the other dozens of singers on stage at the same time, they think? They could have stripped off, of course, but it was a lot easier to have a little snog. Now, perhaps, Hugh Hefner might give them a call to pose for Playboy, although they don't actually really have the faces or the figures.
So, a publicity stunt, yes, but incestuous? Now the subject of incest is a thorny one, of course. In nearly all societies it is illegal and there are very few exceptions and these are usually related to rulers breeding with family members to keep a particular family in power, as in Ancient Egypt. There is no suggestion that this was common among normal citizens at the time. The Azande people of Africa had a tradition where brother/sister incest was reported and the Thonga, it is said, had similar habits but these are very rare examples. The reasons for the ban on incest is not just the very real risk of inbreeding but also about the use of inappropriate power to coerce, as in parent child relationships (which is why biological incest has been extended to people like step-parents in many countries). In the United States the test is of consanguinity which measures the degree of blood relationship of two people. Americans are often surprised to discover that sex and marriage between two first cousins, which is illegal in the US, is perfectly legal in the UK. Indeed, Agent Triple P has a married aunt and uncle who are first cousins. This indicates an element of social construct as regards the rules, therefore.
What is less clear is the definition of incest between same sex partners. Some countries explicitly do not define same sex relationships between family members as incest (Hong Kong). In the UK the definition is about forbidding sexual intercourse, which has to be penetrative. So, by that definition two brothers could be guilty of incest but two sisters couldn't be as they are not equipped with penises.
So we find our fame hungry sisters not guilty of incest, apart from the fact that all they did was kiss, which is quite legal between any combination of people. If they had got down on stage and started fingering each other then the uproar would have been justified. It is really just another example of the new puritanism being fanned by the press as they look for things to be offended by?
Interestingly, Triple P does have some experience of sisters behaving rather more intimately than is usual. When he was fifteen he went to a November 5th party (where British people set off fireworks and burn effigies of Catholics) and two very attractive sisters, aged fifteen and seventeen also attended. Triple P instantly hit it off with the fifteen year old and after too much homemade wine (lethal stuff) ended up dancing (badly) with said young lady, We then retired to a dark part of our host's garden (it had a small wood at the bottom) and indulged in our very first attempt at a snog. We really had no idea what we were doing. However, the older sister found us and, having been watching us, told her sister that we were both doing it all wrong. She them demonstrated French kissing on her sister complete with bottom and neck caressing. This we found hugely arousing, of course, but we were much more excited over the fact that they were women kissing each other than sisters kissing each other which, at the time, we didn't really think about, oddly.
One of our girlfriends has related how she learned, as a thirteen year old, to masturbate following a demonstration by her fifteen year old sister. She said that they quite often masturbated together and, once or twice attempted to mutually engage in the activity. This continued for a year until the older girl got her first boyfriend. She has never been entirely clear about how far this activity went but they were certainly sexually close to a certain extent. Both are now perfectly well adjusted women in their forties but their slightly more friendly than expected kisses (which we have observed) when greeting each other still generates a certain frisson.
So calm down Britain, one kiss between sisters looking for publicity (job done , girls) does not spell a society destroying outbreak of incest!