Am I assuming you are speaking of adult consensual incest? The main issue is that there is always
a chance of having offspring. In circumstances where one person is totally sterile, than consenting adults can do whatever consenting adults wish to do. But, if that isn't the case, the risk ot having a baby with congenital birth defects is too great and it is unfair to the baby to start off life that way.
Yes. I meant consensual incest. There is a chance of offspring, but as you said, if one of the two is sterile then I don't see a problem. I think abortion is an option if you conceive a child with a family member. Of course I think it is the couple's responsibility to use condoms/birth control/vasectomy/etc.
I think people are way too close minded about this. It seems like it's a knee-jerk reaction to say, "Oh incest is terrible!" even when you explain you're talking about consenting adults practicing it and safeguarding against children.
Thoughts on incest? None. You'd understand if you ever saw my sisters.
My feelings are in line with Hugh's. I've been thoroughly programmed against it by my female family members. Ick.
Technically, incest is a good way to clean up a gene pool, so the argument against children from the union isn't a valid one. That's how livestock breeders improve their herd. European royalty is just a very bad example of how you go about it. They didn't remove the culls from the breeding pool, so you end up with the family's recessive, weak traits rising to the surface, rather than being minimized. After a while, it becomes some sick mark of royalty and being 'better' than the commoners.
So, logically nothing wrong with it, but still ... ick.
The answer to the question depends partly in the context of the question. First, is it hypothetical, or a question about your experience, or the experience of someone you know?
Second, are the individuals both adults, both teenagers, or one adult and one teenager or child?
Assuming the question is purely hypothetical, there are some examples that can be drawn from. Here is a Slate article on recent events regarding incest. In a world of "for" and "against", the author was very much "against". Agree or not with his points; basically he argues that incest destroys a family structure, even when the participants are both adults.
If there is a big power differential, it's impossible to consider incest as any less heinous than rape. An adult with a child or teenager, who seduces or coerces sex from the younger person, commits an act that severey damages or destroys that younger, vulnerable person's concept of sexual relationship and corrupts their interactions with authority figures and seniors. It's similar to pedophilia (if adult with child, it actually IS pedophilia), but worse because it's being done by a family member who should be protecting, not exploiting, the child.
If the power differential is smaller but still unequal and involving someone vulnerable, such as older sibling with younger sibling, then I suspect it still distorts the more vulnerable person's world view and may give them severe problems later in life. It is still a form of exploitation.
That leaves "equal", such as 2 adult siblings, sister and brother, or same sex; or full-fledged adult parent and child. Without that power differential that causes exploitation, it's harder to come up with an argument against. Assuming no children result.
I won't pontificate further, not knowing the context. If there is a situation of abuse in your background (you were abused or taken advantage of), I think counseling is a good idea. The person who is abused is never at fault.
Not meaning to accuse or over speculate, it's just that the only way to find context is to read between the lines, and in the end it's like reading tea leaves.
I don't think there is an easy, black & white, yes or no to this question.
I can answer this question emotionally, or I can answer this question rationally. I believe both reactions would be valid.
My first reaction, my emotional one, would be something like shock & WTFs.
But then on the other hand, my rational side kicks in and I start asking questions. - I ask, what are these people in relation to each other? Incest can mean a multitude of family-friendliness. Rhetorically, are we talking about a brother & sister? Are we talking about cousins? Are we talking about parent & offspring? (I'm excluding considering the criminal cases of adult molestation to their children, since of course we are specifically talking about Consensual Adult Relationships.) Scenarios are endless.
My rational side also reasons that, if it weren't for incest, none of us would be here today. Even the not-so-distant past reminds us that inter-family relations were not unheard of, and in fact were terribly common.
I believe as traditions changed and populations grew, the need, and probably the desire, to look within one's own family for marriage and reproduction, declined. Obviously, people realised there was more to choose from. Plenty of fish in the sea, as they say.
I figure that poorer families that tended land or livestock would have needed to have as many children as possible. I figure that considering the times, lack of medicine and common-day amenities had a high mortality rate. Since we are a species whose goal is to pass on one's genes, what is a family supposed to do to survive if there are no available mates outside of their family group? They survive. ---
My mom is 56 and currently married to her 4th husband, who is 70. At the end of November they celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary. - They are 1st cousins. His father was my mother's uncle. His father was my mother's father's brother. I am his step-daughter, and 1st cousin once-removed. Confused yet? - My mother has been unable to have children for at least 15 years, so her relationship with him, and her 3rd husband as well, was never based on the desire to procreate. Simply companionship.
Though I've had my disagreements with my mother, I don't care at all about her choice to be married to her cousin. They have always gotten along, they've always had many things in common and they are a great match. I'm happy for her.
It would be immensely selfish of me to scorn her for her choices. Her happiness is all that matters to me. I believe being happy in life is the least you can do for yourself. Who am I to tell someone else how to be happy? (Granted there's some psychology to this story that is way off tangent for this forum...)
Therefore, I believe if a person is literally hurting no one by their actions and no one is being hurt or put in harm's way by those actions, who is anyone else to judge or disapprove those actions. Simply because they're taboo? They can disapprove all they want, but I'll fight them if they try to stop people from doing what they please. Human rights are human rights. And when it comes down to it, ideally, isn't any form of love better than any form of hate?
Personally, I don't imagine myself being intimate with anyone in my family any time soon. They're mostly Christian Republicans, anyway. I have a lot of extended family that I've never met, so I have potentially already been with someone I'm related to, without knowing it.
Which brings up even MORE questions and scenarios... I remember a few years back reading a story of a couple in the UK who had been together, had planned to get married, and something came up that identified them as brother and sister, who had been separated through foster care or some such. What happens then? How could they have known? Well obviously they didn't. And now, since the rest of society is sickened by this travesty, how do they come to terms? I think I read that they split up after they learned the facts. How heartbreaking...
(If anyone is a 30Rock fan, this whole conversation has me thinking about Liz Lemon's disater-date with "The Hair"...)
Like I said. There's no black and white. I think I could probably ramble on for days about ifs and buts and whys.We're all much more closely related than many people think. So people shouldn't take another person's actions so seriously.
Harm none and be happy living the life you know exists.
Children who grow up together rarely choose incest willingly, instead it is often a sign of a very dysfunctional family unit while growing up. Even if they call it "consensual"; because there is a reason the Westermarck Effect did not form properly in that household. However, incest among family members separated at a young age is actually pretty common. Siblings split up, sons given up for adoption, etc. And the result is a confusion of the body because the person is similar (appearance and pheremones) but unknown, and the result tends to be a sexual attraction.
One generation of inbred children would not be likely to come to harm, as it only increases the odds of genetic abnormalities that run in the family, but it does not ensure them. It is when multiple generations happens that they begin to obviously express, as was seen in many royal families of history.
I personally am entertained by incest portrayed in anime (Japanese cartooning), but do not feel the same attraction for it when it's expressed in more realistic media.
Not having a sister I can't identify with the Westermarck Effect because I don't honestly know how I'd feel. Growing up in a lower income neighborhood a lot of my friends were in dysfunctional families of some type and I can recall 4 kids I knew that were screwing their sisters, all were under 18, and in 3 cases it was an older sister. I also knew of several cases in which a father was screwing their daughter but at the time (1950's) there wasn't a general public awareness or concern among adults about this type of incest, although, it was common knowledge among the kids in the neighborhood. .
However, I did have a cousin who was a month older than I was that I had a long list lewd thoughts about - actually two cousins but one was not in my genetic line - she was adopted.
You are right about the occurrence of “recessive” traits, they don't generally present in a single generation, but rather when there is multiple generations inbreeding, OTOH, the occurrence of favorable traits would also increase. Incest avoidance is a cultural survival mechanism that would be essential to small tribal units over several generations, which is why most primitive cultures were patriarchal local – females married outside of the tribe (also true of Chimpanzee bands) .
The question is, about your cousin, how often did you see her while growing up? Was she like a sibling, or more like a friend? And fantasizing while growing up is normal, regardless.
For those who are attracted while growing up separately, it's called the Genetic Sexual Attraction. I had come across that a while back while doing a paper on incest for a human development class.