This article was published on January 11th, 2017
With morally questionable practices happening all the time around the world it can be difficult to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong. To further complicate matters, social taboos change over time, between cultures and subcultures. In some communities marrying within the family is not only accepted, it’s expected; for example, during the aristocracy and throughout royal blood lines. For western societies this practice is currently unacceptable; however, there are sliding scales. First cousins are not acceptable, second cousins are forgivable, third cousins and beyond are not issues at all. Incest is a recurring theme in many famous relationships throughout history, from Darwin and Einstein, to Jerry Lee Lewis and FDR. History is full of incest.
In most western countries incest, also known as inbreeding, is illegal, yet it continues to occur within both the gay and straight communities – brothers, cousins, parents etc. While the topic of incest may conjure up thoughts of paedophilia and rape, in the context of this article, the focus is on consensual love and sexual relationship between two fully informed adults. Essentially there is nothing seemingly wrong with a sexual relationship between two consenting adults, other than the issue of genetics, which becomes illegal. But why?
The history of incest in culture has been dictated by religion. There are passages in the Bible, Torah, and Quran that prohibit incest. These attitudes were reinforced in societies that placed high value on the virginity of women, so they did not squander their virginity away on someone they wouldn’t be marrying. The restrictive nature of past civilisations that didn’t place heavy value on individualism, combined with policymaking influenced by religion, led to many sex negative attitudes being developed. As the world has grown and developed, sex positive attitudes are emerging and society has once again began to embrace sex positivity. Based on this, it could be argued that incest is simply one of the last remaining taboos to knock down.
Interestingly enough, on the face of incest it appears to boil down to simple repulsion. Over time, communities have been socially conditioned to believe it is repugnant; however, there was a time when the same social stigma was widely attached to homosexuality. Similar arguments were also presented in the theme of incest being unnatural and against the mainstream perception of normality. Therefore the simple personal repugnance to influence social policy and attitudes was not allowed.
The gay community understands the emotional trauma social influence can cause. Keeping an open mind on an attitude of non-judgement, why should a consensual sexual act between to informed adults ever be subject to the judgement and interference of society and lawmakers? Incest may not be something you personally would consider, but does that give an entire population the right to pass judgement on the consensual acts of others?
In reality, it’s also not uncommon for siblings to have sexual encounters together. It’s also not uncommon for individuals to have fantasies about siblings experimenting and engaging in sexual acts together. This is particularly common among LGBT siblings, especially twins, that are close, and feel more comfortable exploring their sexuality together, in a safe environment. Other times it can because of genetic sexual attraction. There are many forums, groups, and communities that openly welcome incestuous lifestyles.
Do you believe that incest is wrong, or do you think that it should be acceptable? Leave your comments below.