Love Island returned at the beginning of January to allow some sun into the miserable winter. Within the first week, the ITV series was already receiving many complaints, mostly focusing around the entrance of the two twins, Jess and Eve. Some viewers said that the show was feeding into the so-called ‘twin fetish’ as the twins appeared on a double date together and were often dressed similarly. The production has led to debates surrounding this attraction towards sets of twins and how it could be detrimental to female sexuality.
When the twins entered the villa, the excitement between the men was evident as Mike commented ‘twice is definitely nice!’ As soon as they entered the villa, the twin’s familial relation was already sexualised. Due to this presentation of the twins, there was large backlash towards the show suggesting that the producers may be playing into this fetish of incest. Twins are often reduced to being solely a sexual fantasy rather than separate individuals, and can become objectified by the media as they form part of a stereotypical male fantasy.
There has always been a cultural fascination surrounding twins. From the first recordings of them in early mythology to the circuses and freakshows of the 1900s, twins have always been a subject of wonderment and spectacle. Over the last century, births of twins have increased from one in a hundred births in 1984 to one in every sixty-five births in 2016. The growing percentage of twins has made this conversation more mainstream as people have become more aware of the exploitation.
Twins have become engrained in popular culture to either be figures that invoke horror or sexual desire. Monika and Gabriela Irimia, the duo from the ‘Cheeky Girls’, were often depicted playing into this ‘twin fetish’. They became famous after their appearance on Pop Idol in 2002, after which they performed their song ‘Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)’. The Irimia twins were photographed together in an edition of Nutsmagazine where they were shown pulling at each other’s underwear and spanking. There are also 1,700 videos on Pornhub labelled ‘twin’, possibly explaining the taboo around the twin fetish as pornography can leak into mainstream culture and impact our outlook of female sexuality,
Twins are often portrayed by the media as being inseparable. After less than 24 hours, Eve left Love Island and Jess considered leaving the villa as it wouldn’t be the same without her sister, causing viewers to complain that this sense of dependency, lack of individual identity and idea of twins coming as a package deal was being enforced.
Lesbians also regularly face damaging sexual views and fetishization. The Netflix series Sex Explained, in their episode on sexual fantasies, released Pornhub’s most searched terms of 2018 which were; mom, stepmom, ‘milf’ and lesbian. A report was released in 2017 which proposed that lesbians and bisexual attraction is a result of it being a turn on for men. The report, published by Science Direct and written by Menelaos Apostolou, claims that same-sex relationships between women are solely there to turn men on. However, the study only surveyed 1,509 people, all of whom were heterosexual, and has been heavily criticised in the news and on social media.
The undermining of female sexuality is clearly a relevant and provocative topic nowadays. Many feel that the media places a large amount of pressure and unrealistic expectations on women to be attractive and to appeal to men’s desire. Jess and Eve from Love Island are not an isolated occurrence. In everyday conversation, the rhetoric surrounding female sexuality might be kept under the surface and seen as shameful or taboo. But television and the media play a detrimental role in dictating how we view sexuality, and perhaps on this occasion the Love Island producers didn’t do twins any favours by surrendering to the stereotypes.
Image: @jessicarosegale via Instagram