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  #1  
Old 09-15-2008, 10:25 AM
mudkicker mudkicker is offline
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Consensual incest?

[Hope this is the right forum; mods, please move if not. Thanks.]

Read this
in the Sunday Times yesterday, about a girl who had sex with her brother several times in their teens.

Responses seem to be divided between 'that's sick and wrong' and 'if it's consensual and not hurting anyone, what's the big deal?'

Apart from having the plot for my next YA novel , I'm not sure what I think about this. What say you?
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  #2  
Old 09-15-2008, 10:28 AM
The Tao's Revenge The Tao's Revenge is offline
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Well as long as she don't get praggars sign me up for the what ever floats their boat camp.
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  #3  
Old 09-15-2008, 10:34 AM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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The primary problem with incest is that it is very rarely fully consensual. The family dynamic makes "consensual incest" a rarity. Thus, the social stigma against it makes a certain amount of sense.
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  #4  
Old 09-15-2008, 10:34 AM
erislover erislover is offline
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It's not something that bothers me in the slightest.
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  #5  
Old 09-15-2008, 10:36 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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It's morally wrong, IMHO, but given the woman's description of the affair (genuinely consensual; not the result of one sibling using power or pressure on the other; mutually-rewarding and fulfilling; not stunting either's attraction to nonfamily members, etc.), it's hard to work up too much outrage about it. Wrong as it is, it's a much more benign form of incest than many I'm aware of as a former prosecutor. I'm sure it's happened before and will happen again.

In legal terms, it's a crime, and of course you can't consent to letting someone else commit a crime against or with you.
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Old 09-15-2008, 10:44 AM
Bricker Bricker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
It's morally wrong, IMHO, but given the woman's description of the affair (genuinely consensual; not the result of one sibling using power or pressure on the other; mutually-rewarding and fulfilling; not stunting either's attraction to nonfamily members, etc.), it's hard to work up too much outrage about it. Wrong as it is, it's a much more benign form of incest than many I'm aware of as a former prosecutor. I'm sure it's happened before and will happen again.

In legal terms, it's a crime, and of course you can't consent to letting someone else commit a crime against or with you.
And as a former defense attorney, I will agree that this case study, if you will, was not typical of any cases of intra-family sex I encountered professionally.

But it's fair to point out that if a case reaches the attention of the criminal justice system, it's not likely to be benign.
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  #7  
Old 09-15-2008, 10:46 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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My SIL and her mother's brother were together for 20-odd years. Most of the family eventually came to accept it, even though we'd all rather we were not "that family" on the block.

Children on both sides of the relationship had mixed reactions. Some seethed with hatred and some were accepting. Strange thing, incest.
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Old 09-15-2008, 10:51 AM
Happy_Booker Happy_Booker is offline
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Originally Posted by mudkicker View Post
Apart from having the plot for my next YA novel , I'm not sure what I think about this. What say you?
Nabokov didn't do YA (Let me rephrase that...Nabokov didn't write YA novels) But Ada is a fictional exploration that would be hard to beat.
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  #9  
Old 09-15-2008, 10:51 AM
Giles Giles is offline
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It seems to me likely that incest between siblings is more likely to be consensual, while parent-child incest is more likely to be imposed by the parent on the child. I'm not sure that means we should legalise sibling incest, however.
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  #10  
Old 09-15-2008, 11:03 AM
mudkicker mudkicker is offline
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Yeah, I think I'm between Malthus and Elendil's Heir here. Can't get too worked up about it, and I'm sure it goes on a lot more than we think, but I'd wonder if it (in general, not necessarily this case) can be fully consensual. If a brother and sister is OK, couldn't a father claim he was having consenual sex with his daughter and it was OK? What about a mother and son?

Not sure if anyone will have seen it, but there's an excellent drama by the writer Jimmy McGovern called Priest, which involves a dad in confession calmly explaining how incest is the last big taboo and how he should be allowed to sleep with his daughter. The fact that she wasn't consenting didn't seem to matter to him, of course. But is it ever possible for sex to be fully consensual in that type of situation? Another popular culture example - last week's soap opera Eastenders had a character's partner released from a year in prison. While the character was soaking in the bath and happily daydreaming about the sex to come, her partner was in his and hers 15 year old stepdaughter's bedroom having sex with her. She was besotted and willing, but the guy is clearly being portrayed as a paedophile.

This is a somewhat confused post, but as I said, I'm researching this topic at the minute and trying to figure it out. All thoughts are most welcome!

ETA - sigh, Giles said it much better. And ta for the Nabakov link, will check it out. He doesn't do YA, no, but my YA is Nabakovian...

Last edited by mudkicker; 09-15-2008 at 11:04 AM..
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  #11  
Old 09-15-2008, 11:05 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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I'm not sure why we need a separate category for sex-with-relatives. Either it's consensual, in which case, whatever, or it's non-consensual, in which case it's rape, and the perpetrator should be charged as any rapist.
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  #12  
Old 09-15-2008, 11:12 AM
mudkicker mudkicker is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
I'm not sure why we need a separate category for sex-with-relatives. Either it's consensual, in which case, whatever, or it's non-consensual, in which case it's rape, and the perpetrator should be charged as any rapist.
Yeah, but I think it gets mucky when both parties claim it's consensual and it might not be. Can a 14 year old willingly consent to sex with her 45 year old father, for example? Even an 18 year old?

I'll stop hijacking my own thread now and go and check out Amazon.
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  #13  
Old 09-15-2008, 11:26 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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Originally Posted by mudkicker View Post
Yeah, but I think it gets mucky when both parties claim it's consensual and it might not be. Can a 14 year old willingly consent to sex with her 45 year old father, for example? Even an 18 year old?

I'll stop hijacking my own thread now and go and check out Amazon.
The 14 year old would certainly be statutory rape if unrelated, so I think that should stand for relations.

If an adult person says s/he consented, I think we should take them at their word, barring other illegal activity (like kidnapping, assault, threats to their children, blackmail, etc.). To do otherwise - to say, "no, no, we know better than you do, this was rape, even if you don't think so," is infantalizing and obnoxious. It's little better than rape itself - it's taking away their power of judgement and discrimination (in the positive sense of both of those words) and overpowering them with our collective legal will.

Now leave me be while I try to reconcile this with my belief that there are some things (like female genital mutilation) which are just wrong and should be stopped, no matter how "consenting" the participants are.
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Old 09-15-2008, 11:31 AM
mudkicker mudkicker is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post

Now leave me be while I try to reconcile this with my belief that there are some things (like female genital mutilation) which are just wrong and should be stopped, no matter how "consenting" the participants are.
Haha!

I was stroking my chin and nodding in agreement with your whole post, thinking, 'Hmm, excellent point. Perhaps that *is* infantalizing an adult woman and telling her we know more about her and her beliefs than she does?' Then I got to your last sentence... Sheesh, it's a minefield, this ethics lark (and I FULLY agree with you on FGM, btw). I'm away to have a glassa wine.
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  #15  
Old 09-15-2008, 11:34 AM
erislover erislover is offline
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Originally Posted by mudkicker View Post
Yeah, but I think it gets mucky when both parties claim it's consensual and it might not be. Can a 14 year old willingly consent to sex with her 45 year old father, for example? Even an 18 year old?
If she is not dependent on him, then I would say that yes, an 18 year old could consent to sex with her own father as well as she could consent to anything. Dependency issues--with parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and other family members--are what indicate potential problems. But I feel about this the same way I feel about joining a cult, which could also happen to include weird dependency issues and constitutes a choice most people find problematic. It's not a freedom I care to exercise, but it's not, to me, a problem worth getting worked up over. I find it a bit of a degenerate solution to outlaw certain relationships wholesale.
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  #16  
Old 09-15-2008, 11:48 AM
5-HT 5-HT is offline
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I would find it weird and strange, but a case of consensual incest between adults would be ok I guess, morally speaking.

The example in this case though, 14 is too young to ok this kind of thing.
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  #17  
Old 09-15-2008, 11:51 AM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is offline
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Originally Posted by 5-HT View Post
I would find it weird and strange, but a case of consensual incest between adults would be ok I guess, morally speaking.

The example in this case though, 14 is too young to ok this kind of thing.
Do you mean the hypothetical fourteen year old having sex with her father, or the girl in the OP's article?
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  #18  
Old 09-15-2008, 11:52 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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Originally Posted by mudkicker View Post
Haha!

I was stroking my chin and nodding in agreement with your whole post, thinking, 'Hmm, excellent point. Perhaps that *is* infantalizing an adult woman and telling her we know more about her and her beliefs than she does?' Then I got to your last sentence... Sheesh, it's a minefield, this ethics lark (and I FULLY agree with you on FGM, btw). I'm away to have a glassa wine.
Ah! Got it! FGM is still done to minors. If a grown women wants to have FGM done (or clitoral/labial piercings or a penis created or whatever mods to her naughty bits she wants), then I don't have a problem with it. As an adult in our society, that's her choice.

Note that this only applies to OUR society, though. In a tribal culture where one would be killed for refusal and/or driven out of support systems with no other communities willing to take one in, I still consider that duress, even if "consent" is verbalized. In America, you can refuse and go to a shelter, join a commune, or move to New York City and become a maid/model/CEO and get on with your life with no further contact with your family if you want...in most of Africa and the Middle East? Not so much.

Likewise, our culture is such that a grown woman who doesn't want to have sex with her father doesn't have to. She can leave (or if she can't, that's illegal in and of itself) and she can create a life for herself without him or her family. I'm not saying it'd be emotionally or financially easy, but it would be logistically possible.
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  #19  
Old 09-15-2008, 11:52 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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I can consent to be your slave (or to be eaten), but that does not make it okay,

Consenting to illegal acts does not make them legal.

Last edited by Annie-Xmas; 09-15-2008 at 11:53 AM..
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  #20  
Old 09-15-2008, 12:01 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
I can consent to be your slave (or to be eaten), but that does not make it okay,

Consenting to illegal acts does not make them legal.
That's a legal statement, sure. The OP asked for what you think about this. Imagine there were no laws about incest on the books and you were sole legislator. Would you write one, or no? Would it contain an exemption for consensual incest? Why or why not?
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  #21  
Old 09-15-2008, 12:17 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
I'm not sure why we need a separate category for sex-with-relatives. Either it's consensual, in which case, whatever, or it's non-consensual, in which case it's rape, and the perpetrator should be charged as any rapist.
To my mind it makes sense to strongly discourage via social stigma a behaviour that, in most cases (but not all) is likely to lead to difficult issues of consent.

It is similar in that respect to someone having sex with their mental health worker, social worker, or physician. Assuming they are all adults, it still would seem wrong even though obviously there will be instances in which it was fully consensual - yet there is inbuilt in the relationship issues of power and dependency that make it easy to understand why liasons within such a relationship should be discouraged, though not illegal (they usually result in professional discipline rather than criminal charges - where it is a question of perceived undue influence, not necessarily rape per se).

Of course built into that analysis in respect of incest specifically is the fact that it is very often a question of rape or child abuse. The 'we, though close family members, decided to have sex as a rational decision made when we were both consenting adults' strikes me as a highly unusual case, though I have no statistics to draw on - maybe that is a prejudice on my part.
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  #22  
Old 09-15-2008, 12:29 PM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
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Originally Posted by Giles View Post
It seems to me likely that incest between siblings is more likely to be consensual, while parent-child incest is more likely to be imposed by the parent on the child. I'm not sure that means we should legalise sibling incest, however.
What legitimate interest has the state in regulating the behavior of consenting adults?

I know of many persons who would like to make my marriage to my wife illegal because it's interracial (or appears so; Kim is biracial and identifies as black, so to her mind it isn't.) I know at least one person who thinks ours is a de facto exploitive relationship because of the age difference. I know of endless persons who think my late cousin's 15-year-relationship with his boyfriend was against God's law and should be prohibited. Can you point explain how any of those prohibitions/prejudices differ significantly from prohibitng consensual adult incest?
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  #23  
Old 09-15-2008, 12:34 PM
Asimovian Asimovian is offline
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This is where I find it so difficult to not have siblings. I have no idea what level of inappropriateness or squickiness one "should" feel at the idea. In the case reported in the OP's article, the idea doesn't really bother me all that much. The harm I would be most concerned about in that instance is how the two siblings (and the parents, perhaps) would be villified if they were ever discovered.
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Old 09-15-2008, 12:51 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
What legitimate interest has the state in regulating the behavior of consenting adults?

I know of many persons who would like to make my marriage to my wife illegal because it's interracial (or appears so; Kim is biracial and identifies as black, so to her mind it isn't.) I know at least one person who thinks ours is a de facto exploitive relationship because of the age difference. I know of endless persons who think my late cousin's 15-year-relationship with his boyfriend was against God's law and should be prohibited. Can you point explain how any of those prohibitions/prejudices differ significantly from prohibitng consensual adult incest?
While I'm not being addressed, I'll take the liberty of responding ...

While I'm not in favour of legal prohibitions, I'd answer as follows: as an analogous situation, adult incest tracks more closely with those relationships I have described (with one's physician, mental health worker, social worker) than those you have decribed (interracial, age difference, same-sex (?)). Both are similar in that there are prejudices against both categories; but they differ in that the former legitimately raise concerns of the validity of consent and are, in many cases, overtly exploitive (in that the "consent" is really an aspect of undue influence). The latter are not (or no more so than any relationships) and so one is left with nothing more than prejudice as a reason for disapproval.
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  #25  
Old 09-15-2008, 12:57 PM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
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Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
While I'm not being addressed, I'll take the liberty of responding ...

While I'm not in favour of legal prohibitions, I'd answer as follows: as an analogous situation, adult incest tracks more closely with those relationships I have described (with one's physician, mental health worker, social worker) than those you have decribed (interracial, age difference, same-sex (?)). Both are similar in that there are prejudices against both categories; but they differ in that the former legitimately raise concerns of the validity of consent and are, in many cases, overtly exploitive (in that the "consent" is really an aspect of undue influence). The latter are not (or no more so than any relationships) and so one is left with nothing more than prejudice as a reason for disapproval.
A flaw in your argument is that marrying or fucking one's physician, mental-health worker, or social worker is not illegal, so long as the marriage or fucking is consensual. True, the physican/therapist/etc. in the relationship may face some unpleasant consequences from his professional peers, but I am not aware of any state or government that takes judicial notice of it. Are you?
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  #26  
Old 09-15-2008, 01:05 PM
Miller Miller is offline
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Originally Posted by mudkicker View Post
Responses seem to be divided between 'that's sick and wrong' and 'if it's consensual and not hurting anyone, what's the big deal?'
I agree with both of these positions.
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Old 09-15-2008, 01:08 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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A flaw in your argument is that marrying or fucking one's physician, mental-health worker, or social worker is not illegal, so long as the marriage or fucking is consensual. True, the physican/therapist/etc. in the relationship may face some unpleasant consequences from his professional peers, but I am not aware of any state or government that takes judicial notice of it. Are you?
I'm not in favour of legal prohibitions in this instance, as stated previously.

I do however think that there is a valid distinction between 'consensual adult incest' and the various sorts of relationships you have mentioned - so I was answering the question in your post ("Can you point explain how any of those prohibitions/prejudices differ significantly from prohibitng consensual adult incest?"), rather than defending the illegality of adult incest.

To my mind, the preferred state would be one in which such relationships in this category (adult consensual incest, sex with a therapist) were heavily discouraged, but not illegal. In contrast with (say) interracial sex, which should be neither discouraged nor illegal.
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  #28  
Old 09-15-2008, 01:08 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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That's a legal statement, sure. The OP asked for what you think about this. Imagine there were no laws about incest on the books and you were sole legislator. Would you write one, or no? Would it contain an exemption for consensual incest? Why or why not?
I would probably make it legal for consenting adults. I am a nutcase about the sexualization and sexual abuse of children, so for anyone under 18 it is wrong.
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  #29  
Old 09-15-2008, 01:12 PM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
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I would probably make it legal for consenting adults. I am a nutcase about the sexualization and sexual abuse of children, so for anyone under 18 it is wrong.
What about two seventeen-year-old siblings, stepsiblings, or cousins?
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Old 09-15-2008, 01:18 PM
Bricker Bricker is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
That's a legal statement, sure. The OP asked for what you think about this. Imagine there were no laws about incest on the books and you were sole legislator. Would you write one, or no? Would it contain an exemption for consensual incest? Why or why not?
The problem is as follows:

Daddy starts on daughter when she's 13. By the time she's 18, she's "consenting," to the sex only because she's been brainwashed, for lack of a better term, since she was 13.

Now the activity comes to light. It's certainly handy if we can charge dad for the sex that we can prove, isn't it? In other words, the earlier acts are obviously illegal, but the problem is proving them. Daughter's testimony could establish those acts, but she ain't talkin. But we can prove the post-18 activity by whatever event brought the sordid business to light in the first place.

Now, does this hamper the ability of the truly consensual 18 year old girl to bang her equally consensual 50-year-old dad for the first time. Yes, it does. And I am willing to live in a world where we do that, willing to make that tradeoff to give us another tool to prosecute the majority of cases where the diddling starts well before 18, but sadly not in front of a notary public, a minister, and a Supreme Court judge so we have reliable witnesses to prosecute it.
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Old 09-15-2008, 01:44 PM
mlees mlees is offline
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Another thing to consider:

Recall the "hoopla" regarding the Morman offshoot branch in Texas, that kept the girls on the compound and married them off (I presume without 100% consent) to other, much older members. The young lads were, generally, weeded out.

In a case like that (if those stories were true), where the women folk are kept sequestered, and raised to believe that sleeping with Dad/Uncle/Brother was "god's will", I couldn't convince myself to think of that situation as "properly" consentual.

The legal system gets called on to cover a wide range of different situations.
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Old 09-15-2008, 01:48 PM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is offline
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In a case like that (if those stories were true), where the women folk are kept sequestered, and raised to believe that sleeping with Dad/Uncle/Brother was "god's will", I couldn't convince myself to think of that situation as "properly" consentual.

The legal system gets called on to cover a wide range of different situations.
I think that's also why it's so hard to see FGM as consensual even in situations where the woman is over eighteen. If you're grown up in a society where saying no to something like that isn't really an option, how can you ever meaningfully decide you want it?
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Old 09-15-2008, 01:51 PM
erislover erislover is offline
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Originally Posted by Bricker View Post
Daddy starts on daughter when she's 13. By the time she's 18, she's "consenting," to the sex only because she's been brainwashed, for lack of a better term, since she was 13.

Now the activity comes to light. It's certainly handy if we can charge dad for the sex that we can prove, isn't it? In other words, the earlier acts are obviously illegal, but the problem is proving them. Daughter's testimony could establish those acts, but she ain't talkin. But we can prove the post-18 activity by whatever event brought the sordid business to light in the first place.
This is quite a tale, but let's be realistic in two ways. The first way is that if we don't have a means of establishing "those acts" then the actual commission of those acts are precisely what is in question. Outlawing the relationship on the evidence of an unprovable story we told ourselves is not particularly cool in my book.

But we must be realistic in another way. A considerable body of evidence exists for an innate taboo against incest. This points us, practically, to the notion that if there is some incestuous relationship, there probably is something going on that isn't on the up-and-up. That is, plainly, our understanding of why incest is so taboo could be seen as evidence for why a particular relationship is, in fact, one outside the realm of mutual consent.

For example, it's been shown that people raised in close proximity develop non-sexual bonds, but that people prefer to form sexual bonds with those like the people they were raised in close proximity with. So evidence that a particular child was in fact well-cared for, time-wise, by the incestuous parent, could certainly be an indication of a relationship outside the bounds of ordinary consent and into the realm of a crime. But a father who wasn't around wouldn't necessarily trigger the innate incest taboo in a daughter.

I agree, however, that absent any testimony from the daughter in your example, proving the father's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt may be very difficult.
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  #34  
Old 09-15-2008, 01:55 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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Originally Posted by Freudian Slit View Post
I think that's also why it's so hard to see FGM as consensual even in situations where the woman is over eighteen. If you're grown up in a society where saying no to something like that isn't really an option, how can you ever meaningfully decide you want it?
[Devil's Advocate]
Some* say the same about monogamy in our culture. If you've grown up with the idea that one person forever is the only moral way to have a relationship, and having more than one sexual partner is culturally impugned, then how can you meaningfully decide you want it?
[/Devil's Advocate]



*To be crystal clear: not me. Even though I don't practice monogamy, I have no problem with those who do. But it IS an argument made by some, and it's as good a hot-button topic as any.

Last edited by WhyNot; 09-15-2008 at 01:56 PM..
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  #35  
Old 09-15-2008, 02:07 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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The problem is as follows:

Daddy starts on daughter when she's 13. By the time she's 18, she's "consenting," to the sex only because she's been brainwashed, for lack of a better term, since she was 13.
How often does this sort of thing really happen, do you think? Most women I know and have read of who were molested as children high tail it outta Dodge the second they're old enough, if Dad hasn't lost interest by then. Or they're locked in the basement dungeon with their mother and sisters. The only consenting father-daughter incest I've read of is the sort where Dad wasn't around when the daughter was growing up and they met as adults. It's pretty easy to see why he couldn't have been brainwashing her if he didn't know her back then.

I think you and I might have a fundamental difference in viewpoint on law and it's place in human interaction, though. Where I'd rather see more individual freedoms, even if that means some might abuse that, I think (correct me if I'm wrong) you don't have a problem with restricting freedoms in the pursuit of no harm ever. I think curtailing the freedom of consenting adults who want to have sex is harm.

But okay, I can see your point. Do you feel any differently about sibling incest?
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Old 09-15-2008, 02:15 PM
Bricker Bricker is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
How often does this sort of thing really happen, do you think? Most women I know and have read of who were molested as children high tail it outta Dodge the second they're old enough, if Dad hasn't lost interest by then. Or they're locked in the basement dungeon with their mother and sisters. The only consenting father-daughter incest I've read of is the sort where Dad wasn't around when the daughter was growing up and they met as adults. It's pretty easy to see why he couldn't have been brainwashing her if he didn't know her back then.
I don't know what the statistics are.

I can tell you, though, that I had professional involvement in three different cases of 18+ parent/child incest that began when the child was under 18.

The most powerful example was a young woman who was 27, and had been charged with arson. She set fire to her father's car, and during the course of working on her defense, it came out that her father had been having sex with her since she was 15. The worst thing about the whole ugly situation was that she was desperate that no one find out about it. She was willing to get jail time rather than testify about the incest.

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I think you and I might have a fundamental difference in viewpoint on law and it's place in human interaction, though. Where I'd rather see more individual freedoms, even if that means some might abuse that, I think (correct me if I'm wrong) you don't have a problem with restricting freedoms in the pursuit of no harm ever. I think curtailing the freedom of consenting adults who want to have sex is harm.
Well, I favor balancing the competing interests.... but yes, I'm willing to curtail a bit of sexual freedom for adults in the name of curtailing harm.

Sibling incest is less of a worry for me, simply because the power dynamic is not likely to be so imbalanced. But I am far from sanguine about it.
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  #37  
Old 09-15-2008, 03:04 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
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To many people, sex between siblings has a Yecch Factor, but I think the reason for that is familiarity breeds contempt. If two people who never knew each other before, get together at the age of consent and don't know that they are closely related, is there any reason to believe that they would have a natural, mutual revulsion?

Anyone remember the Taxi episode where Alex meets this charming girl of his dreams, Tawny, and they are really starting to get it on when they realize she is his niece? Suddenly, and for no other reason, they separate. They were repelled by the thought of incest, nothing else.

Last edited by Musicat; 09-15-2008 at 03:04 PM..
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  #38  
Old 09-15-2008, 04:04 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
Now leave me be while I try to reconcile this with my belief that there are some things (like female genital mutilation) which are just wrong and should be stopped, no matter how "consenting" the participants are.
Actually I don't find it difficult. FGM, unlike incest is harmful on an objective, physical level. At best, moral or not, consenting to it is simply stupid. Incest, as long as pregnancy is avoided isn't intrinsically stupider or more harmful than any other kind of sex. The harm caused by incest is emotional, and cause because it's not typically consenting.

In other words, FGM is automatically harmful because it IS a form of harm in itself. Incest is not.

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Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
To many people, sex between siblings has a Yecch Factor, but I think the reason for that is familiarity breeds contempt. If two people who never knew each other before, get together at the age of consent and don't know that they are closely related, is there any reason to believe that they would have a natural, mutual revulsion?
Mutual, perhaps not, but it has been shown that women normally find the scent of males who are close relatives or otherwise share a similar MHC ( immune system molecule ) to be a sexual turnoff.
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  #39  
Old 09-15-2008, 04:22 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
In other words, FGM is automatically harmful because it IS a form of harm in itself. Incest is not.
[Devil's Advocate] So how is that any different than genital piercings or body mods? [/DA]
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Old 09-15-2008, 04:25 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
Actually I don't find it difficult. FGM, unlike incest is harmful on an objective, physical level. At best, moral or not, consenting to it is simply stupid. Incest, as long as pregnancy is avoided isn't intrinsically stupider or more harmful than any other kind of sex. The harm caused by incest is emotional, and cause because it's not typically consenting.

In other words, FGM is automatically harmful because it IS a form of harm in itself. Incest is not.

I would think that a good deal of the emotional harm of incest would take place even if it was, on the surface, consensual. I could easily imagine a person consenting to sex with a parent or sibling and then deeply regretting it, being messed up about it, having their family relations destroyed by it, having it strain their relationships with others, etc.
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  #41  
Old 09-15-2008, 04:42 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is online now
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
[Devil's Advocate] So how is that any different than genital piercings or body mods? [/DA]
Yes, there is a grey area involved. But FGM is far more towards the "having a limb cut off" end of the spectrum than the "get your tongue pierced" end.

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Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
I would think that a good deal of the emotional harm of incest would take place even if it was, on the surface, consensual. I could easily imagine a person consenting to sex with a parent or sibling and then deeply regretting it, being messed up about it, having their family relations destroyed by it, having it strain their relationships with others, etc.
Well, that involves other people's prejudices, and the unpredictability in any relationship. Neither of which is a moral problem, but a practical one.

And making either into a moral consideration quickly leads to absurdities; for example, is it immoral to marry someone who's race or religion your family disapproves of ? And if a relationship potentially screwing you up makes it immoral, doesn't that forbid ALL relationships ?
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  #42  
Old 09-15-2008, 04:54 PM
lobotomyboy63 lobotomyboy63 is offline
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Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
To many people, sex between siblings has a Yecch Factor, but I think the reason for that is familiarity breeds contempt. If two people who never knew each other before, get together at the age of consent and don't know that they are closely related, is there any reason to believe that they would have a natural, mutual revulsion?

Anyone remember the Taxi episode where Alex meets this charming girl of his dreams, Tawny, and they are really starting to get it on when they realize she is his niece? Suddenly, and for no other reason, they separate. They were repelled by the thought of incest, nothing else.
That's my second-favorite Taxi episode of all time. "Uncle Alex?!"

[Taxi hijack] All-time favorite: IIRC the title was Nina loves Alex. A young black cabbie comes to work at Sunshine and has a crush on him. He puts her off and finally explains that he's a "no-magic man." She kisses him and he realizes he *does* want to be with her, but she's gone out the door---and she's over him.[/Taxi hijack]

It's been awhile since I studied genetics, but it's fascinating stuff. The incest taboo, I thought, arose from concerns about inbreeding/the possible expression of recessive genes. Of course for royalty, all that goes out the window...which is why some of them suffered from hemophilia, for instance, and would have done well to incorporate some peasant stock.

IIRC it's a given that we tend to get more "related" all the time. Start with four families, A, B, C, and D. Have their children mate with the others; they have three families to choose from. Maybe they choose such that all the kids are either AB and CD. When that generation is ready to mate, they only have two families to choose from...ABs can only marry into C or D and CDs can only marry into A or B. So Maybe you and up with ABCs and BCDs in the third generation. They can't marry anybody.

The larger scale of the real world helps, but the principle is the same. I imagine it would be difficult in a place like Japan, which was closed to foreigners for a long time. Or in backwater areas and other closed communities like the Amish. But my conclusion also was that the lack of choices was probably the force behind allowing the marriage of cousins.

Another factor that may help is spontaneous mutation...not caused by radiation or anything, just part of the natural order. Nature will shuffle the deck even if you won't.

Interesting article for anybody who's interested:

http://cc.ysu.edu/~helorime/inbred.html
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  #43  
Old 09-15-2008, 05:45 PM
Mr2001 Mr2001 is offline
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
If an adult person says s/he consented, I think we should take them at their word, barring other illegal activity (like kidnapping, assault, threats to their children, blackmail, etc.). To do otherwise - to say, "no, no, we know better than you do, this was rape, even if you don't think so," is infantalizing and obnoxious. It's little better than rape itself - it's taking away their power of judgement and discrimination (in the positive sense of both of those words) and overpowering them with our collective legal will.
You know, you could remove the word "adult" and this would still be just as true. Telling someone "we know better than you, this was rape even if you don't think so" simply because they haven't orbited the sun a sufficient number of times also takes away their power of judgment and discrimination, overpowering them with our collective legal will. It's infantilizing and obnoxious even when directed at a teenager.
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  #44  
Old 09-15-2008, 06:01 PM
gurujulp gurujulp is offline
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Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
While I'm not being addressed, I'll take the liberty of responding ...

The latter are not (or no more so than any relationships) and so one is left with nothing more than prejudice as a reason for disapproval.
I am rather surprised that there has been no mention of the basic reason incest would be discouraged- the fact that unless you are willing to cull the progeny, you are going to have a higher number of defective kids.
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  #45  
Old 09-15-2008, 06:04 PM
Cisco Cisco is offline
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Originally Posted by mudkicker View Post
Responses seem to be divided between 'that's sick and wrong' and 'if it's consensual and not hurting anyone, what's the big deal?'

What say you?
I'd say both, with a heaping helping of EWWWWWWWWWWW. My sister is very pretty but I cannot possibly conceive of being sexually attracted to her. It squicks me the hell out but I guess if they're not hurting anybody, have fun! sickos
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  #46  
Old 09-15-2008, 06:20 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Originally Posted by gurujulp View Post
I am rather surprised that there has been no mention of the basic reason incest would be discouraged- the fact that unless you are willing to cull the progeny, you are going to have a higher number of defective kids.
Not really all that relevant; we don't outlaw those with genetic diseases having sex, and it isn't particularly considered a moral issue.

Moreover, that would imply that homosexual incest was just fine.
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  #47  
Old 09-15-2008, 06:23 PM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
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Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
Not really all that relevant; we don't outlaw those with genetic diseases having sex, and it isn't particularly considered a moral issue.

Moreover, that would imply that homosexual incest was just fine.
I predict that half a dozen Dopers will soon mention the movie Cruel Intentions 2 and smile.
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  #48  
Old 09-15-2008, 06:27 PM
malkavia malkavia is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr2001 View Post
You know, you could remove the word "adult" and this would still be just as true. Telling someone "we know better than you, this was rape even if you don't think so" simply because they haven't orbited the sun a sufficient number of times also takes away their power of judgment and discrimination, overpowering them with our collective legal will. It's infantilizing and obnoxious even when directed at a teenager.
I'm going to go ahead and have to disagree with you there, Mr2001. Not orbiting the sun a sufficient number of times is a fantastic reason to remove someone's power of judgement. I wouldn't let my 3 yr old nephew play with a loaded handgun, I wouldn't let my friends 9 yr old son drive my car and I don't believe that my 13 yr old son fully understands the ramifications of a sexual relationship. When I spoke to him about why having sex at a young age was a bad idea, he chimed in with, "Well because if she got pregnant I probably would have to get a good job and wouldn't get to spend as much time playing my xbox."

Therefore, we draw a line that works for the majority of people, and accept that it may unnecessarily restrict a small number of individuals.

I have friends who can drive VERY well at 110mph, but I wouldn't recommend upping the speed limit because most of us cannot.
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  #49  
Old 09-15-2008, 06:36 PM
gurujulp gurujulp is offline
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Originally Posted by Malthus View Post
Not really all that relevant; we don't outlaw those with genetic diseases having sex, and it isn't particularly considered a moral issue.

Moreover, that would imply that homosexual incest was just fine.
I am not trying to state that inbreeding is a valid current argument against incest- I just think it is the reason the taboo exists at all- I don't think that the consent/nonconsent issue is really relevant to the development of the taboo.

As an only child I always expected that if I had a sister that she and I would have played around- 'specially cause I grew up in the middle of nowhere with no one else around... But of course I don't know if it would have been like that at all.
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Old 09-15-2008, 06:47 PM
Mr2001 Mr2001 is offline
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Originally Posted by malkavia View Post
I'm going to go ahead and have to disagree with you there, Mr2001. Not orbiting the sun a sufficient number of times is a fantastic reason to remove someone's power of judgement. I wouldn't let my 3 yr old nephew play with a loaded handgun, I wouldn't let my friends 9 yr old son drive my car and I don't believe that my 13 yr old son fully understands the ramifications of a sexual relationship.
Nor should you. But come on: the reason you don't trust them to do that isn't because the numbers 3, 9, or 13 are less than the number 18. You don't trust them because after a few minutes of conversation, you can see for yourself that they don't understand gun safety, driving, or sex. You could tell that without even asking their ages, simply by talking to them over the phone.

When the only reason to rob someone of their power of judgment is their age, however, it's quite different.

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Therefore, we draw a line that works for the majority of people, and accept that it may unnecessarily restrict a small number of individuals.
No, we don't: there's no evidence that it "works for the majority of people", because the supporters of these arbitrary limits never bother to think about whether they meet any objective standard.

The age of consent is 14 in some places, 18 in others, but no one cares to find out which one is correct. Maybe the majority of 14-18 year olds are capable of making these decisions on their own, and the states with higher limits are stripping agency away from millions of teenagers for no good reason. Or maybe it's the other way around, and the states with lower limits are trusting millions of teenagers to make decisions they aren't equipped to make. But since the people setting the limits seem to think it's a waste of time to think about objective requirements for making those decisions, we can't be sure.
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