We saw Frozen with my son Kolbe’s cub scout troop this past Saturday. It’s a good movie, and I particularly like the way they handled True Love (I’m trying not to spoil, so that’s intentionally vague). It has gotten me thinking about different kinds of love. Love between friends, love between siblings, and the strong tendency in society (contemporary American society, at least) to sexualize those relationships. It’s deeply unfortunate, because it disregards the strength and importance of those types of love, and makes people shy away from creating, strengthening, and expressing those relationships.
Case in point. There’s a Folgers commercial that gets played a lot during the holidays, one of those commercials you see every year (or until the clothes and hair styles are hopelessly out of date). A man comes home after having been far away for a long time. The door is answered by his sister, and they are obviously overjoyed at seeing each other. They hug, and go inside to the kitchen where coffee is brewing. The brother pulls out a small gift with a shiny stick-on bow in the top and hands it to his sister. She plucks off the bow and puts it on his sweater, and says, “You’re my present this year.”
Sweet and heartwarming, right? Except this year I’ve seen tons of comments online that the brother and sister are obviously boning each other. One person posted the telling quip: “The best part of waking up is incest in your cup.” Because obviously a brother and sister cannot be affectionate with each other without sleeping with each other.
I worry about the affect this can have on our society. I also worry about how this tendency will affect how people perceive my writing. My book Haunted has a close trio of friends. There i a romantic relationship between two of them, but the bond of friendship between all of them survives, and pointedly so on my part. The sequel I’m working on right now (which, if I’m aiming for a series, will probably wind up being book four or five…) puts more emphasis on that friendship, and also introduces a very tight sibling relationship. I’m pretty sure there will be people out there who see a polyamorous relationship between my three leads and an incestuous relationship between the siblings, and the temptation to let that affect the way I wrote those kind of love was admittedly pretty strong. I’m sure the temptation to tone it down in editing will be strong, too. But I’m going to resist, because the world need more depictions of True Love between siblings and friends, more examples that loving each other does not equal having sex.