Friday, March 17, 2017

My Thoughts on Incest

Recently, I got called out in the comments on a blog entry for calling incest disgusting. The person said “just because it's not your kink doesn't mean you can call it disgusting”. True, it's not my kink. And I know full well that you don't choose your kinks, and won't judge anyone for what their fantasies are. (I don't judge people for being pedophiles, either.) But I stand by what I said.

I think incest is morally wrong.

Note: by incest, I'm referring to sexual and/or romantic activities between individuals who were treated as part of the same nuclear family when one or both were children. I don't care if you get involved with your cousin, or even your long-lost sibling separated from you at birth. I do care if you get involved with your adoptive sibling, stepsibling or foster sibling.

I also don't care if you have kids with recessive genetic disabilities. I don't think deliberately choosing to have a child with a high probability of disability is wrong. After all, I'm hoping to have an autistic child. It would be pretty hypocritical of me to judge someone else for the same thing that I'm OK with doing myself.

I will admit that, as a survivor of incestuous child sexual abuse (they were both my cousins and my foster siblings), I'm not entirely rational about this issue. I will also admit that the particular situation I experienced would have been abusive regardless of the relationship between me and my abusers, simply because they were 10 and 13 years older than me and I was under the age of 5. But even if the situation isn't like mine, I still can't approve of incest.

I'm 27 years old, and when I'm with my parents and my brother, part of me still feels like I'm a kid, he's a younger kid, and those are our parents. And I know this is a common experience, because I've heard people talk about it before so many times. I even saw a very funny dedication in a book co-written by siblings, where they wind up arguing over who to dedicate the book to, calling their mother to mediate, and then dedicating it to her. If you knew someone from childhood, the patterns of relating formed then will linger on in your relationship with that person.

All non-twin siblings have a power differential in childhood. Even a year or two can be huge when you're both children. This puts the older sibling at an advantage, and although this advantage will lessen, it'll never truly go away. And power differentials in romantic or sexual relationships are a toxic combination.

In addition, there is the Westermarck effect – reverse sexual imprinting. For most people, this effect inhibits the ability to find people attractive if you were raised in a close relationship with them. Obviously, this doesn't work on everyone, but it does mean that most people who have sex with siblings or parents do so for reasons other than being attracted to them. And many of those reasons, too, are dysfunctional.

Lastly, romantic relationships create strong feelings, which, if the relationship breaks up, can easily ruin the bond you had before. It happens very often with friends – of the people who were friends before getting romantically involved, if they break up, how many are still friends afterwards? Many people choose to create distance between them and their exes, because to do otherwise hurts too much. This effect also leads many people to deliberately avoid seeking romantic relationships with a close friend, because if it fails, they'll probably lose the friendship.

Well, your immediate family has a bond with you that can never be fully erased. I've seen from my parents how it hurts to have to sever those familial bonds, even when the reason is abuse. If family members get romantically involved, and it breaks up, then they'll have to deal with their ex being their family member. And they'll have damaged what I personally consider one of the most important bonds in their life. And as for having sex, for most alloromantic allosexuals, having sex with someone strongly predisposes them to fall for that person romantically. It's why swingers tend to deliberately create distance with their sexual partners, by only sleeping with strangers and not with the same person more than once.

So, even when it's between two consenting adults, without too large an age difference, there are still plenty of reasons that incest is likely to harm them.


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