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  #1  
Old 03-19-2007, 11:40 PM
copperwindow copperwindow is offline
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What's wrong with having sex with family members?

I understand that offspring will have mutations, but why will society shun me for having a relationship with my sister so long as we don't have children? What if I were a woman and I had a sexual relationship with my sister? What's the problem with that?
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  #2  
Old 03-19-2007, 11:42 PM
Monty Monty is offline
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It's not always the case there will be mutations.
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  #3  
Old 03-19-2007, 11:52 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Dogma.
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  #4  
Old 03-19-2007, 11:53 PM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copperwindow
What if I were a woman and I had a sexual relationship with my sister? What's the problem with that?
Cite?

-FrL-
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  #5  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:02 AM
BrightNShiny BrightNShiny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copperwindow
I understand that offspring will have mutations, but why will society shun me for having a relationship with my sister so long as we don't have children? What if I were a woman and I had a sexual relationship with my sister? What's the problem with that?
One way to look at this is to ask "Why do many (most?) societies have an incest taboo (however a society defines incest)?" It's been a long time since I took a cultural anthropology class, but if anyone here has any up-to-date research, I'd be interested in hearing about it.
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  #6  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:08 AM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is offline
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Instinct, which has been formalized into morality/taboos; we are instinctively wired to avoid incest. Unrelated people raised together will usually not find each other attractive even if there is no taboo against a relationship, or even if one is encouraged. A woman can tell by scent that a person has a MHC complex ( an immune system molecule ) similar to her own, and she won't find them as or at all attractive.
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  #7  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:08 AM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightNShiny
One way to look at this is to ask "Why do many (most?) societies have an incest taboo (however a society defines incest)?" It's been a long time since I took a cultural anthropology class, but if anyone here has any up-to-date research, I'd be interested in hearing about it.
Last I heard in my sociology class is that it messes with social roles. If you sleep with your mom, is she your mom or your girlfriend. What is your mom to your dad? What if you have a child with your mom, then is he your brother or your son? What is the kid to your siblings? Is he a cousin or a brother.

That is all I got. That and the fact that it is icky.
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  #8  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:11 AM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs
Instinct, which has been formalized into morality/taboos; we are instinctively wired to avoid incest. Unrelated people raised together will usually not find each other attractive even if there is no taboo against a relationship, or even if one is encouraged. A woman can tell by scent that a person has a MHC complex ( an immune system molecule ) similar to her own, and she won't find them as or at all attractive.
This is interesting. Do you have a cite?
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  #9  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:31 AM
HoboStew HoboStew is offline
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Same reason marijuana is illegal. It just is...

Last edited by HoboStew; 03-20-2007 at 12:33 AM..
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  #10  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:41 AM
FriarTed FriarTed is offline
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According to my psych college prof in his human sexuality course, it's an almost-universal taboo because it totally messes up the family structure, especially parent-offspring sex. Sibling sex at times has seemed more socially acceptable (I'm thinking of the sibling marriages among Egyptian royalty).
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  #11  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:41 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat
Dogma.
If you've got a dog ma, I'd say incest is the leasht of your worries.

Last edited by Czarcasm; 03-20-2007 at 12:42 AM.. Reason: speling
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  #12  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:44 AM
Richard Parker Richard Parker is online now
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Originally Posted by HoboStew
Same reason marijuana is illegal. It just is...
(Bolding mine)

[Inigo Montoya] That word. I do not think it means what you think it means. [/quote]
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  #13  
Old 03-20-2007, 01:24 AM
copperwindow copperwindow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakai
If you sleep with your mom, is she your mom or your girlfriend?.
I was playing online poker with my father. Is he my father or my poker buddy?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs
Instinct, which has been formalized into morality/taboos; we are instinctively wired to avoid incest. Unrelated people raised together will usually not find each other attractive even if there is no taboo against a relationship, or even if one is encouraged. A woman can tell by scent that a person has a MHC complex ( an immune system molecule ) similar to her own, and she won't find them as or at all attractive.
Yeah, a cite would be really nice here...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat
Dogma.
My karma ran over my dogma
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  #14  
Old 03-20-2007, 01:42 AM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Dogma? Can this word no longer be used in a serious context?
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  #15  
Old 03-20-2007, 01:52 AM
BrandonR BrandonR is offline
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Seems to be a preset instinct encoded in our brains after millions of years of evolution. Clearly the strongest and most powerful species most likely to succeed was not that which have mutated/retarded offspring.
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  #16  
Old 03-20-2007, 01:59 AM
copperwindow copperwindow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandonR
Seems to be a preset instinct encoded in our brains after millions of years of evolution. Clearly the strongest and most powerful species most likely to succeed was not that which have mutated/retarded offspring.
Tell that to Doug Flutie or Dan Marino.
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  #17  
Old 03-20-2007, 02:02 AM
Fern Forest Fern Forest is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FriarTed
(I'm thinking of the sibling marriages among Egyptian royalty).
As I understand it, it was not unheard of to also have their daughters as one of their wives. I'm not sure whether that was only ceremonial or procreative though.

Last edited by Fern Forest; 03-20-2007 at 02:03 AM.. Reason: emphasizing the plurality of wives.
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  #18  
Old 03-20-2007, 02:03 AM
Monty Monty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copperwindow
I was playing online poker with my father. Is he my father or my poker buddy?
That's not a valid comparison. He can be your father and your poker buddy at the same time and still not have an effect on the family structure. Now, if he were to be you and your mother were to have a child together, then you would be your brother's father. That's decidely different than being one's relative and one's card playing partner at the same time.
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  #19  
Old 03-20-2007, 02:35 AM
chowder chowder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copperwindow
I understand that offspring will have mutations, but why will society shun me for having a relationship with my sister so long as we don't have children? What if I were a woman and I had a sexual relationship with my sister? What's the problem with that?
Why would you want to have sex with your sister in the first place ?.No matter what sex you were.
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  #20  
Old 03-20-2007, 03:01 AM
copperwindow copperwindow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chowder
Why would you want to have sex with your sister in the first place ?.No matter what sex you were.
Let's say for the sake of debating, we found each other attractive...
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  #21  
Old 03-20-2007, 03:40 AM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakai
This is interesting. Do you have a cite?
Here's one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Psychology Today
One is the tradition of simpua marriage in Taiwan, in which children are betrothed by their parents in infancy. Before age one, the bride moves into the groom's home to be raised by his parents. In reality, simpua couples wind up developing a mutual sexual aversion so strong that, as adults, they often fail to consummate their bond. Their divorce rate is far higher, and their birthrate far lower than for other couples.

Then there are the children of the kibbutz, where Israeli boys and girls are raised together in very close peer groups from birth through high school. Extensive studies show that those raised together avoid each other sexually when the time comes.

A study of 65 teenagers turned up only one instance of heterosexual activity between peers--and then it involved a boy who hadn't moved into the kibbutz until age 10. In another study, among more than 2,700 kibbutz-reared people there wasn't one marriage between those who'd been raised together from birth to age six. In his Old Testament-style psychology, Freud saw incest held in check by fear of retribution in the form of castration. Erickson, by contrast, sees incest avoidance as a natural outgrowth of "a nurturant childhood."
And here's another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Discover
As is so often the case in biology, what is true of mice is true of men--or in this case, women. Overall, says Wedekind, the women he tested were more likely to prefer the scent of men with dissimilar MHC. In fact, that scent tended to remind them of their boyfriends, both past and present. Says Wedekind, "This is the first indication that MHC still plays a role in mate choice today."
IIRC there's been studies since then that show women prefer MHC that's different than theirs, but not too different.
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  #22  
Old 03-20-2007, 04:20 AM
Wallenstein Wallenstein is offline
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My sister has some interesting thoughts on this... when she comes back to bed I'll ask her.
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  #23  
Old 03-20-2007, 05:19 AM
Staggerlee Staggerlee is offline
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This couple in Germany are challenging the taboo:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6424937.stm

Also, if I remember correctly, Freud talks of incest in his book 'Totem & Taboo' - where tribal cultures use different tribal totems to indicate who should not be shagging who. Like using surnames really, to identify who's that little bit too close genetically for comfort.

I suppose that as a liberal I'm not into restricting the sexual freedoms of consenting adults, but I would frown on incestuous couples having children - with the increased chance of birth defects.
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  #24  
Old 03-20-2007, 05:31 AM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copperwindow
I understand that offspring will have mutations, but why will society shun me for having a relationship with my sister so long as we don't have children? What if I were a woman and I had a sexual relationship with my sister? What's the problem with that?
If you look at the animal world, it appears that exhanging of genetic information in as robustly a varied way as possible is encouraged.

Survival of a species is improved, on average, with the widest variety of genes.

It makes sense to me that our family units and our aversion to close-relative interbreeding reflects an atavistic response which has been colored by layers of social development and culture as humans have grown intelligent enough to codify societally what their genes program them for innately.
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  #25  
Old 03-20-2007, 07:31 AM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copperwindow
I was playing online poker with my father.
TMI!
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  #26  
Old 03-20-2007, 08:00 AM
chowder chowder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copperwindow
Let's say for the sake of debating, we found each other attractive...
More attractive than a woman outside of your immediate family?
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  #27  
Old 03-20-2007, 08:21 AM
cosmosdan cosmosdan is offline
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What's wrong with having sex with family members?

Nothing! Send your sister over I'd like to meet her.
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  #28  
Old 03-20-2007, 08:24 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chowder
More attractive than a woman outside of your immediate family?
Not to advocate incest, but is there something about your own family you find unattractive? Yes, there might be someone more attractive then a sister or brother, but what if someone came up to you and said, "Yes, your wife(or husband, girlfriend, boyfriend) looks o.k., but couldn't you find someone moe attractive?"
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  #29  
Old 03-20-2007, 08:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Der Trihs
A woman can tell by scent that a person has a MHC complex ( an immune system molecule ) similar to her own, and she won't find them as or at all attractive.
Just to add on to what you said wiki also mentions this:

"In a 1995 experiment, a group of female college students smelled t-shirts that had been worn by male students for two nights, without deodorant, cologne or scented soaps. Overwhelmingly, the women preferred the odors of men with dissimilar MHCs to their own. However, their preference was reversed if they were taking oral contraceptives."

Interesting stuff indeed.
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  #30  
Old 03-20-2007, 08:32 AM
chowder chowder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Czarcasm
Not to advocate incest, but is there something about your own family you find unattractive? Yes, there might be someone more attractive then a sister or brother, but what if someone came up to you and said, "Yes, your wife(or husband, girlfriend, boyfriend) looks o.k., but couldn't you find someone moe attractive?"
Methinks you misunderstand my post.

My sister is attractive but to me not in a sexual way, to her husband yes.


My brother aint bad looking but I would rather savagely roger Daniel Craig than my bro.....if I was gay that is




hope that's cleared that up
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  #31  
Old 03-20-2007, 08:50 AM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
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I've also read that the taboo exists for the protection of children. Children can't choose their parents, and their parents are in the ultimate position of authority over them. Allowing them to have sex would put children at risk from predatory parents who want sex.

Sibling sex is similar - you can't move away from your brother when you're 12.

So... It's genetically dangerous, it's dangerous to children, and dangerous to the entire social structure of the family. Isn't that reason enough?
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  #32  
Old 03-20-2007, 09:01 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copperwindow
I understand that offspring will have mutations, but why will society shun me for having a relationship with my sister so long as we don't have children? What if I were a woman and I had a sexual relationship with my sister? What's the problem with that?

The offspring won't have mutations. Mutations are errors introduced in the copying of an organisms DNA that can sometimes result in new and wonderful enhancements...or deformities.

Incest can lead to a greater risk recessive genes being passed on to the offspring (remember Biology 101). Quite often those recessive traits cause birth defects or susceptability to certain diseases.

Assuming Der Trihs is correct, I would not be surprised if we evolved a disposition to avoid having sex with people genetically similar to us for the reason I stated above.

That, and it's kind of icky. I mean isn't everyone kind of weirded out by the brother and hot sister who's just a little TOO affectionate with each other?
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  #33  
Old 03-20-2007, 09:15 AM
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This question came up pretty repeatedly in the immediate aftermath of Lawrence, and my argument for maintaining laws against incest while agreeing that laws against homosexual intercourse were unconstitutional came from a pretty similar basis to that mentioned by Sam Stone.

I don't think the birth defect argument is strong enough on its own, as we don't ban sex between people with genetic abnormalities. However, I would argue that the overwhelming majority of incestuous relationships are abusive, because of the pretty inherent power differentials that exist. While it is possible that there may be some non-abusive relationships caught up in a ban on incestuous relations, that is constitutionally permissible if it is unavoidable.

I don't think the existing age of consent laws would be sufficient to perform this protection function, especially in states where the age of consent is low.
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Old 03-20-2007, 09:22 AM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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With cloning it may be possible to go f**k yourself. Think some ego maniacs wouldn't love that. It would be a rage in Hollywood and Washington.
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  #35  
Old 03-20-2007, 09:32 AM
Sunrazor Sunrazor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Staggerlee
This couple in Germany are challenging the taboo (snip).
Pardon my English teacherish stickling, but the couple is challenging -- "couple" is a singular noun, requires a singular verb.

The cites provided by Der Trihs indicate that incest is taboo because Mother Nature is trying to tell us something. On the other hand, if you and your siblings or cousins are sexually attracted to each other, and you're not interested in any social repercussions in the event you are found out -- well, just be responsble, OK?
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Old 03-20-2007, 10:04 AM
Staggerlee Staggerlee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunrazor
Pardon my English teacherish stickling, but the couple is challenging -- "couple" is a singular noun, requires a singular verb.
Are you sure of this? What if I'd added the extra clause to make it:

"This couple in Germany, Patrick and Susan, are challenging the taboo:"

That would sound terrible using 'is'.
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  #37  
Old 03-20-2007, 10:16 AM
zagloba zagloba is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunrazor
Pardon my English teacherish stickling, but the couple is challenging -- "couple" is a singular noun, requires a singular verb.
In British English, collective nouns typically take the plural form of the verb, e.g., "The team are" -- an American would never say that. Sounded weird as heck to me when I first started listening to the BBC. One of many differences you'll run into on an international board.

Last edited by zagloba; 03-20-2007 at 10:18 AM..
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  #38  
Old 03-20-2007, 10:26 AM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Staggerlee
Are you sure of this? What if I'd added the extra clause to make it:

"This couple in Germany, Patrick and Susan, are challenging the taboo:"

That would sound terrible using 'is'.
Collectives often break down for the sticklers of rules. Is five minutes a quantum of time, or are they not?

Hard to trust most style guides further than you can throw them...wait a minute--farther than you can throw them...wait a minute--further.

Better just to check with me first.

English is otherwise too irregular. Nor is it part of this thread.

In any case, "This couple in Germany, Patrick and Susan, is challenging the taboo:" is unfortunately correct, whether or not you bother to name the individuals making up the couple.
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  #39  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:08 PM
Sunrazor Sunrazor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Staggerlee
Are you sure of this? What if I'd added the extra clause to make it:

"This couple in Germany, Patrick and Susan, are challenging the taboo:"

That would sound terrible using 'is'.
Yep, I'm sure. "Couple" is the subject, and in American English, as Zagloba pointed out, a collective noun is singular. Even if you'd added the subordinate clause, the singular noun is still the subject.

And Pedant is right -- it's become a hijack. My apologies.

Gimme an excuse to trot out my master's in English! G'head, just gimme an excuse!
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  #40  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:15 PM
JThunder JThunder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copperwindow
Let's say for the sake of debating, we found each other attractive...
Yeah, right. Dude, I've seen your sister...

Just kidding, okay? Please don't hurt me.
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  #41  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:20 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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From the American Heritage dictionary, we have:

USAGE NOTE: When used to refer to two people who function socially as a unit, as in a married couple, the word couple may take either a singular or a plural verb, depending on whether the members are considered individually or collectively: The couple were married last week. Only one couple was left on the dance floor. When a pronoun follows, they and their are more common than it and its: The couple decided to spend their (less commonly its) vacation in Florida. Using a singular verb and a plural pronoun, as in The couple wants their children to go to college, is widely considered to be incorrect. Care should be taken that the verb and pronoun agree in number: The couple want their children to go to college.

From the Oxford English Dictionary, we have:

2. Treated as sing. or pl. Two people who are married or otherwise closely associated romantically or sexually.
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  #42  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:34 PM
copperwindow copperwindow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monty
That's not a valid comparison. He can be your father and your poker buddy at the same time and still not have an effect on the family structure. Now, if he were to be you and your mother were to have a child together, then you would be your brother's father. That's decidely different than being one's relative and one's card playing partner at the same time.
This logic only comes into play if my mother and father are still married. If my mother is widowed, she could certainly be my mother and my girlfriend at the same time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chowder
More attractive than a woman outside of your immediate family?
More attrctive than some, less attractive than others. Do all dopers feel that their significant other are the most attractive person on the face of the earth?
Quote:
Originally Posted by e-logic
My sister has some interesting thoughts on this... when she comes back to bed I'll ask her.
Has she come back into bed yet?
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  #43  
Old 03-20-2007, 12:40 PM
athelas athelas is offline
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Ssh. They're busy, don't disturb 'em.
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  #44  
Old 03-20-2007, 01:36 PM
Dinsdale Dinsdale is offline
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Does anyone know whether our closest relatives - the great apes - practice sibling or intergenerational incest?
My quick google for those happy horny bonobos revealed noting conclusive other than an oft-reported statement that males left the tribe to avoid incest.
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  #45  
Old 03-20-2007, 01:50 PM
Reloy3 Reloy3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakai
Last I heard in my sociology class is that it messes with social roles. If you sleep with your mom, is she your mom or your girlfriend. What is your mom to your dad? What if you have a child with your mom, then is he your brother or your son? What is the kid to your siblings? Is he a cousin or a brother.

That is all I got. That and the fact that it is icky.
With respect also to the same idea from FriarTed.

IIRC from my Family Law class - there is also the idea and concern that the prospect of an incest relationship may change the way children are raised. If you (as either a parental figure or an older sibling) are raising a possible sexual partner, you are going to have different patterns and standards. This includes the fear that a parental figure may over-sexualize a child too early, or forcing attentions on someone who can't really protest or escape.

There is also a social stigma that incest relationships are due to the inability of an individual to attract an outsider. There is an almost universal idea that people engaged in incest are not only creepy, but somehow "substandard" as people.
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Old 03-20-2007, 03:26 PM
copperwindow copperwindow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reloy3
IIRC from my Family Law class - there is also the idea and concern that the prospect of an incest relationship may change the way children are raised. If you (as either a parental figure or an older sibling) are raising a possible sexual partner, you are going to have different patterns and standards.
If me and my family members are having consenual sex, it stands to reason that we are already adults and the "raising" process has been completed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reloy3
There is also a social stigma that incest relationships are due to the inability of an individual to attract an outsider.
Why is this? Is there a social stigma that interracial relationships are due to an inability of an individUal to attract someone of the same race? Is there a social stigma that homosexual relationships are due to an inability to attract people of the opposite gender? If I perfer to "keep it on the family", what's the problem?
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  #47  
Old 03-20-2007, 03:42 PM
David Simmons David Simmons is offline
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I'm reminded of a story in which the punch line is:

"If she ain't good enough for her own folks, she ain't good enough for us."
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  #48  
Old 03-20-2007, 04:00 PM
villa villa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copperwindow
If me and my family members are having consenual sex, it stands to reason that we are already adults and the "raising" process has been completed.
No, it doesn't stand to reason. One of the reasons given for the prohibition on incestuous sexual relationships, even once the age of consent has been reached, is that they are less likely to be consensual. While it is possible that they can be truly consensual, the power dynamics within a family structure make it much less likely. The "raising" process does not end at the age of consent, nor do the mutual dependencies that are created throughout childhood.


Quote:
Originally Posted by copperwindow
Why is this? Is there a social stigma that interracial relationships are due to an inability of an individUal to attract someone of the same race? Is there a social stigma that homosexual relationships are due to an inability to attract people of the opposite gender? If I perfer to "keep it on the family", what's the problem?
Actually, wasn't that precisely one of the social stigmas that was attached to interracial relationships? I also can't be the only person who has heard lesbians referred to as women who cannot get/keep a man. The social stigmas (stigmae?) are foolish, I think, but to deny their existance is incorrect, I think.

Your preference to "keep it in the family" might not be problematic on a one-instance level, but can be argued to be damaging to society if permitted in a broader sense.
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  #49  
Old 03-20-2007, 04:18 PM
Reloy3 Reloy3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by copperwindow
If me and my family members are having consenual sex, it stands to reason that we are already adults and the "raising" process has been completed.

The issue isn't that the family members are now adults, its that the very prospect of a future sexual relationship will fundamentally change and warp the way a child is raised before adulthood. In my line of work (I'm a prosecutor), you see glimpses of this in child molestation cases. Serial molesters often see children as sexual objects and treat them accordingly (i.e. obsessing over their clothes and boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, wanting their kids to get tans, promoting young children wearing immodest clothing, etc.)

It seems you are asking two different questions - 1) Why do most cultures have a taboo/prohibition aginst incest and 2) why can't you, in your particular case, sleep with your sister. My answer was mostly addressed to question 1.
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Old 03-20-2007, 04:49 PM
copperwindow copperwindow is offline
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Well, is the glass half empty or half full? Can't it also be argued that couples who are not in an incestuous relationship have an inabilty to attract members of their own famlies?
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