In the 10th century, Pope John XII is said to have taken his niece and his mother as mistresses. Despite anthropologists insistence that the incest taboo is fundamental to human nature, clearly people have been at it forever. Freud famously argued that everyone’s first sexual desires are directed toward their family, while Melanie Klein considers sexual relations between siblings to be virtually the norm. The real taboo is in mentioning that perhaps it is not a taboo at all. Historian Lloyd DeMause argues that incest is universal. He cites examples throughout the world and refers to the old Indian proverb (“For a girl to be a virgin at ten years old, she must have neither brothers, nor cousins, nor fathers”) as an example of how common incest has been. His examples are endless and worldwide: tribes who have sex dormitories where older adolescents initiate younger siblings into sex; households where parents incorporate the children into their sexual activity in one happy family orgy; fathers marrying daughters when the mother dies, and sons marrying mothers when the father dies. While I can’t verify every one of DeMause’s claims and references, clearly it gets darker than sitting on granddad’s knee. The recent case of the German couple, Patrick and Susan, who were separated as children and later met and fell in love, has made headlines. They’ve been together for nine years and have four children, three of whom are in care. He has served time in prison fighting for his right to love his sister. While my gut reaction is this is monumentally fucked up, why is it illegal? The obvious answer is that it increases the chances of passing down bad genes. But by that logic, everyone with a genetic condition should be outlawed from having sex–which is rude. In fact, the impetus behind the 1908 Punishment of Incest Act was just that–the proponents of the act were the same people who advocated the “sterilisation” of the “feeble-minded”. Siblings generally don’t fancy each other due to something call the Westernak effect: Being reared together forms non-erotic bonds
The number of incest cases is on the rise
The number of incest cases is on the rise as the phenomenon of genetic sexual attraction becomes more prevalent, a sex therapist says.
This week a 32-year-old man and his 18-year-old daughter were sentenced to community work and supervision by a Dunedin District Court judge on incest charges after they had a sexual relationship and had a child together.
It was revealed in court that the pair had a genetic sexual attraction, which sometimes happens between family members united after a long separation.
Director of Sex Therapy New Zealand, Robyn Salisbury, told Fairfax genetic sexual attraction was happening more and more between siblings or parents and their offspring.
“There are more people meeting up with previously unknown family members and being completely overwhelmed with how powerful that can be,” she said.
“For some people those powerful feelings and the kind of depth of connection that can happen are most readily experienced and expressed sexually.”
In the case of the father and daughter sentenced this week, the pair had little to do with each other until the girl turned 16.
The pair began a sexual relationship together over two years from August 2010 – living as husband and wife and having a child together.
The court was told that they both had a background of abuse and neglect.
The man was 13 when he and his 30-year-old foster mother started a sexual relationship and was 14 when the daughter was born.
In the Bible
One of the most notable features of all the lists is that sexual activity between a man and his own daughter is not explicitly forbidden, although the first relation mentioned after the Levitical prohibition of sex with “near kin” is that of “thy father.” The Talmud argues that this absence is because the prohibition was obvious, especially given the proscription against a relationship with a granddaughter. As with the case of a man’s own daughter, the shortness of the list in Leviticus 20, and especially of that in Deuteronomy, are explained by classical Jewish scholarship as being due to the obviousness of the missing prohibitions.
Apart from the case of a man marrying his daughter, the list in Leviticus 18 roughly produces the same rules as were followed in early (pre-Islamic) Arabic culture. However, most tribal nations also disliked exogamous marriage – marriage to completely unrelated people.
Judaism’s view is that prior to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, some of the prohibitions only applied voluntarily. Thus in several prominent cases in the Torah, the incest rules are ignored in favour of marriage to a close relative; Jacob is described as having married his first wife’s sister.
Some secular Biblical scholars have instead proposed that forbidding incest with a daughter was originally in the list, but was then accidentally left out from the copy on which modern versions of the text ultimately depend, due to a mistake by the scribe.
To Be Continue ……….