Why is step-incest so sexy right now? We asked actual step-siblings to find out

By Abby Amoakuh

Published Jun 30, 2024 at 09:00 AM

Reading time: 4 minutes

59266

If we take a look through the all-time most viewed videos on Pornhub—something I personally wouldn’t recommend—one genre dominates: step porn. As of January 2024, of the most popular videos on Pornhub, 4.1 billion views were for step-incest videos and 3.3 billion views were for all other videos combined. And it’s not just in the US either. Incest search terms are popular worldwide. “Step sister” was the third most searched term in the UK and second in Canada. However, it is not just the dark underbelly of porn where this desire for step-sibling romance is pervasive.

The Spanish Amazon Prime movie My Fault (Culpa Mia) about two step-siblings who begin a secret relationship attained the best opening three-day viewership figures for any non-English original in the history of the platform. On the heels of My Fault’s success, Prime even announced a British remake. All of this prompts me to ask an essential question: why is step-incest so sexy right now? I did some investigating to find out.

The allure of step-sibling sex is nothing new: 1999’s Cruel Intentions famously centres around womaniser Sebastian who agrees to seduce the innocent Annette for the price of having sex with his femme fatale step-sister Kathryn. In the 2000s staple Gossip Girl, Chuck regularly climbs within his family tree by flirting with his step-sister Serena and sleeping with his other step-sibling, Jenny. The Game of Thrones franchise infamously crossed every line in the incest handbook, from shagging twins to a marriage between an uncle and a niece. And the Spanish Netflix hit Elite even features a forbidden half-sibling romance in season six.

So why are these step-incest romances and flirtations so enduring in popular culture? After digging myself through several subreddits, blogs, and hours and hours of trashy film and TV, the answer seemed glaringly obvious. Incest is commonly regarded as the last taboo and this forbidden nature is exactly what makes it so hot.

It’s hard not to feel intrigued and a little thrilled albeit shocked and confused when two step-siblings get a little too close… The other person is seen as off-limits, which makes it more exciting when something actually happens.

Suppose viewers heavily identify with the persons depicted on screen, which is typical in the romance and erotic genre, this allows them to safely immerse themselves into a fantasy of forbidden lust.

Yet, this doesn’t mean that this fantasy translates beyond the screen or the pages of a saucy novel. While researching this article, I did actually ask one of my friends, who has two step-parents and four step-siblings, to uncover whether something like this has ever crossed her mind. To no one’s surprise, she gagged, shuddered and cursed me for asking. Interestingly, she noted that she has encountered this genre on porn sites but declared that she intentionally stays clear of it due to the implications on her real life. “How would I look any of them in the eye again?” she asked.

Needing a bit more reassurance that this type of sexual interest was limited to entertainment, I also asked my colleague Ollie, who has a step-sibling himself. He replied: “It creates an uncomfortable feeling watching flirtations between step-siblings on screen because it contrasts with the familial dynamics and boundaries I experience in real life with my step-sister. Even though you may not be related by blood, it is still family. I think people should distinguish between entertainment and real relationships to maintain a healthy perspective on family dynamics.”

Why do we like to watch semi-incest?

A large portion of porn is appealing because it allows us to indulge in a fantasy of doing something that is highly taboo without actually doing the taboo act. Thus, our desire is premised on the scenario not being real and attainable.

On a scientific level, this could be explained with entertainment content bypassing the frontal lobe of our brains and going directly into the less rational part that creates lust and excitement.

It seems like a lot of step-siblings are less attracted to this version of porn because actually having the option combined with a personal connection interrupts the journey to this brain section with an uncomfortable reality that the rest of us don’t have to contend with. It simply doesn’t properly translate into an alluring fantasy in their minds because their reality consists of weirder, more specific components.

What are the dangers of normalising semi incest?

Dr Alexandre Lefebvre, a professor at the University of Sydney and author of Liberalism as a Way of Life, hypothesised that searches on Pornhub for overt terms such as rape, force, violence, violate, or assault return no results anymore. Thus, softer forms of coercion are increasingly being used, such as bribing, convincing, reluctant, talking into, and tricking.

“My view is that the appeal of step-incest porn comes from a different place and busts a different taboo. If you look at any of these videos for just a couple of minutes, it becomes clear that they’re all about incels and incel culture, specifically about men who think they’re somehow owed sex and then connive their way into it. The taboo being busted, in other words, is not incest. It is merit and meritocracy—the idea that reward (in this case, sex) should track effort and achievement (in this case, being an attractive, successful, and enticing mate). The guys getting laid in these videos are none of these things, and therein lies their appeal to many, many viewers,” Dr Lefebvre replied via email when SCREENSHOT reached out to him.

This also seemed to explain to the professor why step-incest wasn’t as prevalent in queer porn and romance: “Incel culture is, of course, a mainly heterosexual phenomenon (men who believe that they are owed sex by women), which goes a long way to explain why this genre is heteronormative. I would add that it is also an overwhelmingly white phenomenon: the man in these videos is almost invariably a white guy. That too should not be surprising given that incel culture is associated with young white men.”

In that sense, ‘step’ might simply be another soft coercion term, or barrier to accessing someone, which necessitates coercing an initially unwilling partner into a state of consent. The viewer might consequently be enjoying a disguised version of extreme sex. Thus, there is a real danger to this category.

“Normalising step-sibling porn risks blurring boundaries around consent and reinforcing ugly power dynamics. It may desensitise viewers to coercive behaviour and undermine the values of respect in relationships. It also chips away at the idea of consent, given that almost all these videos consist of a guy negotiating his way into sex, often through deceit, blackmail, trickery and bribery. I’m not puritan about sex, but step-incest porn is ugly stuff all around.”

Despite this, the enduring presence of step-incest narratives in romantic entertainment communicates a genuine interest in exploring the unlikely love between two siblings in a friends-to-lovers type of way. The thrilling sex just seems to be an added bonus.

So why is step-incest so popular? Is it due to extreme and dangerous sexual preferences or just another twist on hot sex and the ‘forbidden love’ trope? While the category continues to raise eyebrows and provoke debate, it might be good to keep in mind that this blend of tantalising taboos is more grounded in fantasy and fiction than the actual appeal of finding a sexual partner within the family.

Keep On Reading

By Alma Fabiani

Lesbian couple who think they may be siblings are going to keep dating

By Charlie Sawyer

Watch Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly surprise Snoop Dogg with a Step Brothers rap reunion

By Alma Fabiani

Identical twin sisters who married twins have identical babies who are both cousins and brothers

By Abby Amoakuh

The rise of Ozempic babies: Popular weight loss drug found to lower efficacy of birth control pills

By Abby Amoakuh

Trump’s team calls biopic The Apprentice dumpster fire and Elon Musk offers to host presidential debate

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Former boy band member accuses Taylor Swift of performing demonic rituals at concerts

By Charlie Sawyer

Dwayne Johnson revokes Joe Biden endorsement. Wait, is The Rock running for president?

By Jack Ramage

Who is Estee Williams? Meet the Gen Z tradwife taking TikTok by storm

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

New HBO documentary Brandy Hellville & The Cult Of Fast Fashion set to expose Brandy Melville

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Vatican declares London teen Carlo Acutis a saint after historic approval by Pope Francis

By Abby Amoakuh

Bridgerton’s Nicola Coughlan hits back at journalist who shamed her for nude scene

By Abby Amoakuh

Who is Eugenio Casnighi, the model who got fired from the 2024 Met Gala for being too hot?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Internet erupts over deepfake porn video of Saltburn star Jacob Elordi

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Former Mormon reveals the secrets signs for identifying Church members based on appearance

By Charlie Sawyer

Democrat fires white supremacist jab at Marjorie Taylor Greene, saying she’s late for Klan meeting

By Charlie Sawyer

Swifties lose it after lucky fan puts iconic Eras Tour 22 hat on eBay for $20,000

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Mother who drowned two young sons in 90s now lining up sugar daddies ahead of prison release

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Why was Melania Trump not at the Manhattan courthouse with her husband?

By Abby Amoakuh

What is Megan’s Law and what does it have to do with Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion’s beef?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

O.J. Simpson’s father revealed to be a prominent gay drag queen called Mama Simpson