Updated October 7, 2020 1.7m views16 items
Intrafamilial relations is a controversial subject, but art doesn't exist to cater to our sense of decency or wholesomeness. Incest, being a great taboo, has been taken on by many directors and writers, in order to shock audiences and ask serious questions about the nature of familial and sexual relationships. These depictions in movies run a wide gamut, but they always ask audiences to consider uncomfortable truths.
There are dozens upon dozens of films with plots regarding intrafamilial relations, from Hollywood classics like Chinatown to indie hits like The Ballad of Jack and Rose. Yet no one does incest like the provocateurs of world cinema, and in particular, the Europeans. Foreign movies handle the sensitive subject in myriad ways, from harrowing depictions of abuse within families and the denial that follows to oddly touching portrayals. Watching films like Oldboy and Murmur of the Heart, we question whether these prohibited relationships are okay, or at the very least understandable and forgivable contingent upon circumstance.
That said, some incest films have been referred to as "the most f*cked up films" ever, some nothing more than a litany of increasingly absurd offensive scenes. In other instances, real-life relatives have played sexually inappropriate characters on film. Check out the best foreign films about this taboo below.
Photo: Dogtooth / Kino International
It’s probably kind of hard not to develop an incestuous relationship with your siblings when they're the only people you see. In Greek provocateur Yargos Lanthimos's bizarre Dogtooth (2010), a mother and father keep their three children completely isolated from the outside world. They are petrified of cats, which their father tells them are the most dangerous creatures in the world and that the felines eat humans.
The father is the only one who leaves the house, and he eventually brings a female employee of his home to have relations with his son. After the woman introduces the children to Hollywood movies, the father finds it unacceptable and banishes her. Subsequently, the siblings start having relations with one another.
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Photo: Charlotte for Ever / LCJ Editions
Serge Gainsbourg's Charlotte for Ever (1986) is intimate. Serge actually stars in the movie with his daughter, Charlotte. There are lots of moments of Serge lurking behind her, whispering tenderly in her ear, wrapping his arms around her, etc. Although there are no intrafamilial relations on-screen, it's certainly implied.
When the film came out, French audiences rejected it. They also called into question how autobiographical the film was, as many believed Charlotte and Serge had a sexual relationship in real life. Always provocateurs, the father-daughter duo released a song called "Lemon Incest" the same year the movie came out. Some find it's hardly a coincidence Serge used his daughter's name in the film's title.
It's with good reason The Daily Beast called Kim Ki-Duk’s Moebius (2013) "The Most F*cked Up Movie of the Year." It will leave you squirming in your seat. The director had to cut 80 or so seconds from the film for it to be released properly in South Korea.
In the movie, a father (JaeHyeon Jo) cheats on his wife (Eun-woo Lee) with a mistress (also Eun-woo). Catching him in the act, the wife tries to castrate the husband in his sleep. He stops her in the act, so she goes to her teenage son's room and castrates him instead, then eats his member. The mother leaves and the father castrates himself to stand in solidarity with his son (Young Ju Seo). He then searches the web for how a man might experience sexual release without a phallus and discovers self-harm, which he teaches to his son.
You don't have to worry about subtitles for this South Korean film because there's no dialogue. There are plenty of screams, moans, and grunts, though. The silence in the film exacerbates the level of discomfort viewers feel.
Thomas Vinterberg said Festen (1998) was "the most enjoyable project I’ve ever been involved in, even though I penetrated a layer of evil and abomination I'd never been to before." After viewing the film, you may be left with a similar experience. While the film's journey is entertaining and subtly comical, the underlying story is tragic and exposes horrifying family secrets.
In the Danish film, siblings Christian, Michael, and Helene come together at their family's rural hotel for their father's 60th birthday. The family is in disarray upon arrival, due to the recent self-inflicted loss of the eldest sister, who was Christian's twin. At dinner, Christian announces that his father harmed him and his twin sexually, which is why she ended her life.
Psychologist Richard Gartner praised the film for accurately portraying the effects of such harm within a family:
The father denies the incest through most of the movie, and this denial is conveyed and reinforced in the reactions of those who hear the accusations. The partygoers are momentarily shocked by each disclosure, but then continue to celebrate the birthday in a nearly surrealistic manner that serves as a dramatic enactment of the chronic denial often seen in incestuous families.
Festen was the first film in the Dogme 95 movement, pioneered by Vinterberg and Lars Von Trier.
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Sexuality in South Korea has been influenced by culture, religion, and westernization. Viewpoints in contemporary society can be viewed as a conflict between the traditional, conservative older generation and the more liberal and 'modern' generation. Due to this conflict, several issues in Korea, including sexual education, homosexuality, and sexual behavior are highly contested.
Women have been marginalized throughout Korean history. Women could not participate in the main social system and were discriminated against on the basis of: their roles in marriage, fertility, lack of rights in divorce proceedings, and set roles in society.
Historically, Korean society was patriarchal, especially due to Confucianism. The position of a woman depended on the position of a male member of her family. Only the women of the ruling class could enjoy the same privileges of the men in the same class. Although men were allowed to have multiple wives, women were expected to have chastity and were compelled to remain unmarried if their husbands have died. The aforementioned societal norms began to be enforced during the Joseon Dynasty. For instance, chastity of widows were enforced by forbidding the sons and grandsons of remarried women from taking the Gwageo [?]. However, women were entitled to inherit property.
In the family, women were expected to take care of the family finances. Women from lower class had jobs such as mudang, or shamans; folk healer; kisaeng. Female shamans outnumbered male shamans, and women were usually only examined by women folk healers. Women were excluded from schools until 1886, when Ewha Hakdang was established.
During the Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392), monogamy was supported while divorce and remarriage were common. However, the aristocracy in this period practiced polygamy, and a man was legally allowed to have up to four wives. During the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897), monogamy was established as the official policy. However, elites were legally allowed to maintain concubines; however, children birthed with concubines were declared illegitimate since the early 15th century, and were banned from gwageo since 1471. During this period, women's remarriage was prohibited from 1447 to 1897. Marriage with those with both the same surname and family origin was forbidden, and is still forbidden today.[note 1]
During this time, early marriages were common. Early marriages were often arranged and can be traced back to the Three Kingdoms of Korea period (57 AD-668). Children about 10 years old could be presented to another family; this was done for both boys and girls. In the Joseon dynasty, the legal age for marriage was 15 for boys and 14 for girls. When a child assumed responsibility for the child's family, the child could marry at the age of 12. The society commonly believed that a higher age for marriage was associated with inappropriate sexual activity. This custom continued unto the 20th century.
The traditional concepts of sexuality in Korea have been influenced by: Confucianism, Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism, Catholicism, and Protestantism.
Confucianism became important in the 7th century. During the Goryeo Dynasty, Confucianism served as the practical and philosophical structure of the state, and was the official ideology during the Joseon Dynasty. Neo-Confucianism became prominent in the 15th century. In Confucianism, men were considered to be positive (yang) and women negative (yin). As yang was considered more dominant than yin, men were considered to be comparably omnipotent, justifying male dominance and discrimination against female. Furthermore, sex was considered a duty to the family, rather than an act of pleasure. Although only three percent of the population has Confucianism as a belief system today, it remains the basis for sexual ethics and criminal law.
Buddhism was introduced during the Three Kingdoms period. It was the official religion during the Goryeo Dynasty, but lost influence during the Joseon Dynasty. Buddhism was used to instruct people to give up all desires, including those related to sex, and sexual activities were forbidden in many sects.
Catholicism was introduced at the end of the 17th century and began to become popular among the common people at the end of the 18th century. Though Catholicism was outlawed and banned, and the followers executed, it continued to have underground support. Protestantism was introduced on 1884. Both religions were involved in several intellectual movements, and promoted equal rights.
In the Joseon Dynasty, unmarried men and women received a very limited form of sexual education. The education was focused on methods of becoming pregnant and consequent reproduction. Married couples received a calendar that stated information about the best days for fertility; this information was usually given only to the bride, although the groom sometimes received it. As producing children was considered a duty, families sometimes intervened. Prenatal care was considered important and was given even before conception.
The traditional lack of information and education concerning sexual issues is currently conflicting with Western viewpoints of sexuality, and can be seen through the increasing rates of teenage pregnancy and sexual abuse. In 1968, the Planned Parenthood Federation of Korea (PPFK) has started sexual education. Since 1982, counseling centers for adolescents have been provided in schools and industrial parks. However, public education concerning sexuality is inadequate. Sexual education solely focuses on physical development and gender roles such as menstruation, pregnancy, virginity, sexual activities, and Sexually transmitted diseases. In 1996, the Korea Research Institute for Culture and Sexuality was established to develop sexual education programs.
Starting in the early 1990s, interest in sexual education began to increase. Books, academic interests, and mass media focusing on sexuality began to increase. In 1998, the instructor of a public sexual educational program on television became popular. According to two Korean Research Institute on Sexuality and Culture studies done on 1996 and 1997, 37.1% of male students learned about sex from pornography, while 14% learned it from their peers; for female students, 37% received sexual education from peers while 25.7% received it from school.
According to the Korean Research Institute of Sexuality, 70% of female high school students agreed that masturbation was natural, though only 15.2% of the surveyed students reported masturbating, and the biggest group felt guilty about doing so. In contrast, 49.9% of male high school students reported masturbating. For parents, 75.2% were positive about their own masturbation. The attitudes of the parents toward masturbation had a positive correlation with the attitude of the parents toward their children's masturbation.
Production of pornography is illegal, although amateur material known as Yadong exists. Consequently, Koreans mostly consume pornography from overseas, especially Japanese pornography, sometimes using proxy servers to evade Korean Internet censorship. There are also adult videos filmed abroad with Korean actors, and recorded sex cams sessions. Popularity of K-pop resulted with flooding new porn genre Deepfake with manufactured adult videos with K-pop stars.
In one study, 99.5% of male college students reported that they had been exposed to pornography (excluding participants who declined to answer the question), with 99.1% occasionally using it for masturbation. On average, participants masturbated to pornography 1-2 times a week. Women's pornography use was not investigated.
Yaoi fiction and comics are consumed by a subgroup of women. In 2005, there was a pornographic online magazine named Foxylove that catered mainly to Korean women and reportedly had over a hundred thousand subscribers.
While the circumcision rates in Korea were extremely high (90% in age groups 17–19) as of 2002, the rates have declined recently; the circumcision rate for males 14–29 is 75.8%, with the aforementioned group rate down to 74.4%. It has been conjectured that the decline in the rate of circumcision was due to the increased availability of new information.
This section needs to be updated. (April 2016)
In a survey given in 1997, 44.4% of female high school students reported that they had had heterosexual relationships and 7.5% of the entire group had had coital experiences. Of the group who had had coital experiences, 38.7% claimed to have been coerced and 32.3% attributed the reason to love. In a group of students who had not performed vaginal intercourse, about half the students were open to the idea of having sex and blamed their lack of experience on the lack of opportunities. However, 44.7% of students accepted light kissing and 31.6% accepted holding hands as permissible behavior in dating. The majority view was that virginity should be kept until marriage, with 88.1% of the group. For the survey of male students, 16.2% admitted to having had coital experiences, mostly with their girlfriends (74.7%). On the other hand, 65.7% of male high school students indicated a positive attitude towards premarital sexual activity, but only 7.5% had had previous sexual experiences. As a whole, the rate of students who had had sexual experiences increased in the late 20th century.
This section needs to be updated. (April 2016)
A survey in 1991 indicated that, of surveyed adult males aged from 20 to 40, over 80% had had previous heterosexual relationships. Of the 80%, 44.7% reported their first sexual experience to have been with a prostitute. A study of married couples revealed that about half the people studied thought negatively about premarital relationships; in general, the female partners were more open to premarital and extramarital relationships. The double standard of relationships [note 2] was hypothesized to cause psychological and physical (especially sexual) stress for females. Hymenorrhaphy, or hymen reconstruction surgery, is also popular in Korea, as the hymen is prized as the symbol for virginity.
Homosexuality is not outlawed in Korea, but it is also not expressly permitted. On September 7, 2013, the first gay marriage in Korea took place. However, the marriage was not legally binding; the couple has vowed to legally challenge this in court.
Under the law, rape is punishable with a prison sentence from 7 years to life imprisonment. The definition of rape includes adult males as victims,[note 3] as well as marital rape. As of 2009, the statute of limitations for sexual assault is six months.
As of 2009, reports of sex crimes have been on the rise, especially those involving child victims. In 2012, there were 77,000 reported cases of sexual assault. In 2011, 22,034 rapes were reported. A study in 1997 found that 45.5% of female high school students reported sexual harassment, mostly by their male friends. These statistics are not considered an accurate representation of the true cases; a 2010 survey by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family concluded that only about 10 percent of all sexual assault cases were reported.
Currently, there is a prevalent traditional belief that rape is a man's mistake that should be forgiven, especially for victims who had been drunk or wearing revealing clothes. The Miryang gang rape incident in 2004 provoked controversy due to victim blaming and other mistreatment by police officials. This mistreatment ultimately led to a 2008 judgment against the police by the Supreme Court of South Korea. There are rape crisis centers available, run by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center.
South Korean and foreign women and girls have been victims of sex trafficking in South Korea. They are raped and physically and psychologically harmed in brothels, businesses, homes, hotels, and other locations throughout the country.
Prostitution in South Korea is illegal, but according to The Korea Women's Development Institute, the sex trade in Korea was estimated to amount to 14 trillion South Korean won ($13 billion) in 2007, roughly 1.6 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.
From 1953 to 2015, adultery was punishable by up to two years in prison for both the adulterer and their partner. In February 2015, the Constitutional Court of Korea overturned the law.
^ In this case, having the same surname does not simply refer to a same last name, but rather the implicit background of the name; for instance, the same last name 'Kim' may be classified as either Gwangju or Eusung
^ The double standard of the growing liberal attitudes toward relationships and the prizing of the female virginity is more complicated due to traditional and social pressure
^ Previously, the definition of rape excluded men.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Choi, Hyung-Ki (2004). "South Korea (Taehan Min'guk)". In Francoeur, Robert T. (ed.). The Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. I–IV. 370 Lexington Avenue, N
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