Brother, Sister, Rape: The Hebrew Bible and Popular Culture

  • Johanna Stiebert
Chapter
Part of the Religion and Radicalism book series (RERA)

Abstract

In both contemporary discourses and a surprising number of popular culture texts (including film and television), sibling incest between a brother and sister is a topic of titillation. What is disturbing about the vast majority of these discourses is that the “consent” of the sister is often undermined, or rendered dubious by her vulnerability. Much like the myth of the “seductive daughter,” the “up-for-it sister” is a figment of voyeuristic fantasy, a woman objectified and exploited. Also disturbing is that brother-sister relationships in the Hebrew Bible (such as Abram and Sarai, Amnon and Tamar) underscore this discourse of exploitation. In this chapter, Johanna Stiebert sets out to demonstrate that in both the Hebrew Bible and contemporary popular culture, the brother-sister relationship is eroticized, and this eroticization has overtones of rape and of legitimating rape. While one cannot assume direct influence between biblical texts and present-day cultural manifestations (notwithstanding the Bible’s considerable and abiding influence and impact), the parallels are nevertheless disquieting. Whatever the precise provenance and reason for eroticized sibling relations in both the Hebrew Bible and contemporary film and television, drawing attention to the troubling implications of these depictions (in particular with regard to compromised consent) is, argues Stiebert, the first step in detoxifying them.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna Stiebert
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LeedsLeedsUK

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