So, there’s a new show on TLC called “Abby and Brittany” about, you didn’t guess it, conjoined twins living “normal” college lives. The girls are conjoined at the neck, have their own hearts, and share a reproductive and digestive system. I’ve only watched a single episode, in which the girls introduce viewers to their college roommates at Bethel University in Minnesota.
I’m ashamed to admit the show leaves me somewhat squeamish. Watching Abby and Britney speak in unison, share plates of food, and pick outfits together is oddly disconcerting, and then I feel guilty for being disconcerted. There’s nothing wrong with the twenty-two year olds other than the obvious; they really do seem like well-adjusted, intelligent young women. But I am just not accustomed to watching conjoined twins in action, licking barbecue sauce from each other’s fingers, etc etc etc.
And of course the pedestrian question occurs to me: have they or will they have romantic relationships? Can they have sex, ever? Like, ever ever?
I did a little research on the issue of romance and conjoined twins and (gasp) sex,, and found tons of information here:
I discovered that, although we tend to think of the modern preoccupation with reality television as a reflection of our fucked up national culture and value system, people have always wanted to watch “freaks” in their natural state (I do not mean to call Abby and Britney freaks, but, they do fall under the umbrella terms of “freaks” in terms of how Americans have traditionally viewed them in popular culture). Simone Preuss writes of the lovely, raven-haired, and scandalous Blazek twins (originally from Bohemia, or the modern-day Czech Republic):
“Before their trip to America, on April 16, 1910, Rosa, the more extroverted of the twins, caused quite a stir when she gave birth to a baby boy at the age of 32. In light of the twins’ physical condition, their fame, and the fact that Rosa wasn’t married, it seems they tried to pass Rosa’s ‘sickness’ off as appendicitis. Nobody was fooled, however, and the doctors, too stunned to give any proper medical account of the birth, provided more fodder for a sensationalizing media through their silence. The papers went haywire, making up various stories about Rosa’s sexual encounters and loose morals as well as the delivery itself. The newborn boy was called Franz, after his alleged father, who died fighting in the Austrian army in 1917 – although not before he had married Rosa.”
So, like ladies and gents circa 1910, I am “concerned” or at least “interested” or maybe even “shocked” by the romantic and sexual practices of conjoined twins, which makes me maybe a prude, maybe a pervert, maybe a little bit of both. (All good prudes are perverts, right?)
More fascinating info on the Blazeks found here:
But I digress. The most memorable moment from “Abby and Britney” is when the girls describe each other. They say a lot about who is outgoing, who is a homebody, who is goofy, etc, but it isn’t what they say; its how they say it. They clearly have admiration for one another. The show is a kind of love story; the twins are partners forever as only death can separate them, and there’s something beautiful and touching about their bond. As a friend says in the episode, “They’re the epitome of . . . respect.”
I’m sure I’ll be watching again, if nothing else to test my own squeamishness and learn more about their romances, etc. (yeah, yeah, I want them to go on a double date).
I leave you with a question, dear reader: is this show exploitive or can it bring awareness and acceptance (and maybe make people like me less squeamish about the mere sight of conjoined twins)? Or is it something else entirely? Like, maybe just entertainment?