Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sister Wives and Convicts?

It is disappointing, but not surprising that the Browns, featured in TLC's "Sister Wives," are facing harassment by law enforcement because these consenting adults have dared to consider themselves married. The possible charge is "bigamy," which shouldn't be a crime if everyone is consenting. Laws against consensual bigamy belong in the same dumpster in which we have dumped laws against interracial marriage.

"We looked into it, and we have detectives working on this case now," Lehi police Lt. Darren Paul told Reuters.

Lt. Paul, don't waste taxpayer money to persecute love.

The Brown family released a statement on Tuesday saying they were "disappointed" but were aware of the risks of doing the reality show.

"But for the sake of our family, and most importantly, our kids, we felt it was a risk worth taking," the statement said.

Some people think it is dangerous to show that poly people are just like other people.

Brown is legally married to just one of the women, but counts three others as "sister wives," a term in polygamist sects that refers to a husband's multiple marital partners.

Unless he is legally married to more than one woman, then the unjust laws haven't been broken, right? Well, Utah law says something else, according to this other story.

"If it really goes to a court situation, then our people are going to go right back into isolation," said Anne Wilde, co-founder of Principle Voices, a nonprofit that seeks to educate the public about polygamous families.

That's what the bigots want. They want everyone to stay in the closet.

Although it is rarely prosecuted, bigamy is a third-degree felony in Utah, punishable by a prison term of up to five years. Under the Utah law, a person can be found guilty of bigamy through cohabitation, not just legal marriage contracts.

So exactly how many unmarried poly people have been prosecuted under this law in the last twenty years? Probably none. But call yourself married, and the police will knock on your door. Sad.

"It has been our office's position not to pursue cases of bigamy between consenting adults," the attorney general's spokesman, Scott Troxel, said Tuesday. "We want to use our resources wisely."

That is setting a good example. Police should not waste their time investigating something that Attorney General isn't going to prosecute. Support the freedom to marry!
— — —

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Still Looking For Reasonable Objections to Freedom

At Women’s Health Frequently Asked Questions, someone asked, “Why Is Incest Considered Immoral In Our Society?”

The person asking the question starts out by making it clear that she is opposed to “it,” whatever “it” is. The assumption is that she’s opposed to everything that falls under the definition of “incest,” even consensual, romantic adults reltationships.

but i just started to think about it, and i couldn’t think of a reason besides, “it just feels wrong.”

Thanks for being honest.

i know there can be genetic abnormalities, but what if both parties are adults and consent, and there was 0% chance of pregnancy? (ex: the woman got a hysterectomy) what if a sister is sexually attracted to her brother? why does society say that’s wrong?

Some people have long tried to control the sexuality and relationships of others, including criminalizing interracial couples, same-sex relationships, sex outside of marriage, and polygamy. This is just part of that.

One comment said…

Incest probably was thought of as wrong because as most culture developed women were thought of a property and so you had owner’s rights involved (like milking a neighbors cow or stealing his eggs and veggies, etc.). this could lead to serious problems among the relationships between the males in a family and in early societies where men were the hunters, they needed to be able to work together.

Not sure where the logic is in that. Marrying within the clan would actually strengthen ties. Maybe the person meant that by having to marry someone from other clans, they formed alliances? Today, society is evolved and we form many alliances without marriage.

In reality, it probably occurs more than is reported and half of the pron industry seems to be devoted to it.

It happens a lot more than we would think based on (non-porn) media.

If both parties are adults and consent, and there are no offspring and it does not disrupt the family unit then it becomes a matter of personal choice.

Again with the denial of reproductive rights. The flimsy “birth defect” card is played by another person…

Well, it does create hardships for the children that are born because they are so closely related that they will have deformed features.

Most children born to such relationships do not have deformities.

Also speaking in a more spiritual way, I guess you can say we are already related to our family in a certain way, and turning that relationship into something else would be just wrong.

I can understand this point. However, we have any number of different kinds of relationships that we might transform into sexual or marital, including friendships, professional, and so on. There are some people who will not date coworkers. But we don't say it should be illegal to do that. Why deny people the freedom to make that transformation or addition in this case?

We are supposed to find someone outside our family who we dont already have a special family connection to, to marry.

Isn’t that exactly the question being asked? Restating the question is not an answer.

Again, consenting adults should have their right to sex, love, and marriage, regardless of birth, especially if nobody can give a good reason to give those rights to one group of consenting adults, but not others.
— — —

No Pressure

There’s a website I hadn’t yet linked to that has some great, active discussions of consanguineous sex, love, and relationships – and it is porn free. In fact, that is part of the name/URL. I had been hesitant to add a link to the main page because the powers that be there wouldn’t let me include a link to this blog in my signature, because they have problems with some of the other sites I link.

I am not here to choose sides in debates over personalities or content or traffic competitions. I am here to argue for the rights of all people to love, sex, and marriage, regardless of birth or the number of participants.

Linking to another site does not mean I like or agree with everything found there, just that I think there’s some helpful information to be found there. I want to help people who need to understand why a lack of equality is harmful, I want to help people who want to better understand what their family and friends are going through, and I want to help people who are dealing with negativity because of the person or persons they love… even if some of those people don’t like some of what I have to say.

I’ve decided to go ahead and link to the site because of what I wrote above and to call attention to a discussion I’m having with Maribel there. I don't consider her an opponent. She clearly is on our side. We just disagree about some things.

Below is what I wrote this morning on that discussion board. I’m posting it here because I want as many people as possible to see it. Comment here, or sign up with the discussion board and comment on the overall discussion there. The quotes are Mirabel’s, and I also responded to things she wrote that I didn’t quote….

Hi Mirabel,

Thanks for being patient with me.

“Decriminalizing incest simply isn't going to happen in our lifetime, unless you know something no one else knows to back up what appears to be only your gut feel. Moreover, some people simply wanting it to happen is wishful thinking in its utmost futility.”

I’m not as familiar with how things work elsewhere, but I’m very familiar with the system in the US. With cases like Lawrence vs. Texas, the right to private sex has been established in law, and popular opinion is catching up. Granted, Lawrence wasn’t specifically about consanguineous sex, but the principle is there. Someone can burn the flag per a Supreme Court ruling because it is free speech. A controversial painting is not flag-burning, but it still falls under the idea of free speech, right?

“awareness isn't the problem at all, acceptance is.”

I don’t think enough people are aware that there is consensual consanguineous relationships and sex, or if they have experienced it themselves, they’re not aware that other people are having the same kinds of experiences, whether it is sibling experimentation or a mature, lasting love. People hear the word “incest” and they think of a father or stepfather or an older brother raping or molesting a minor girl. Yes, that falls under the definition of incest, but that is just one kind of thing that does. If more people hear more about the harmless or positive situations, they will be less likely to have a knee-jerk negative reaction.

Reproductive rights are a distinct issue from the right to sex, love, and marriage. Cases like the recent Perry vs. Schwarzenegger (which is facing appeal, but there are many others) have made that clear. Nobody need defend the reproductive rights of people in consanguineous relationships to defend those relationships. But even if we tie the two issues together, though what we know about genetics indicates that there is a slightly higher risk of children born of these relationships to have congenital problems, the same can be said for any man-woman pair carrying the “same” gene, or for older women giving birth, and these people aren’t prevented from having children. I don’t even see any kind of stigma associated with older women having children, rather I see encouragement and support. But even if birth defects are used as a reason to prosecute people for consensual consanguineous sex, why should two or more people of the same sex be barred from having such a relationship?

The reason I bring up “consenting adults” is that the standard used elsewhere. Same-sex couples, interracial couples, just plain unmarried couples used to be prosecuted and persecuted, but generally are protected now because they are consenting adults. Well, so are a brother and sister and three or more people in a poly relationship, and they should have the same protections and freedoms.

“Name one, single, solitary member of Congress who would risk his/her political career by sponsoring legislation to decriminalize incest.”

You have me there. I don’t know of any off of the top of my head, and I’m not going to bother to research to see if I can find one. However, they may not come out and say, “Let’s repeal laws against incest,” often precisely because of what I wrote above; the image people would have of some drunken stepfather raping a 12 year-old stepdaughter. Rape (statutory or otherwise), sexual assault, molestation, and sexual harassment should all remain illegal, and if someone wants to add further penalties against a guardian or person of authority perpetrating these crimes, I’m all for that. Elected officials are more likely to talk about getting the government out of the bedroom, consenting adults, and repealing outdated and superfluous laws, which are all things that can include the decriminalization of consensual incest. Even if laws stay in place, local authorities do have discretion in what they prosecute, and if they get the message that they should stop interfering with the sex lives of consenting adults, they will surely have enough other things to keep them busy.

However, we wouldn’t need Congress to do it if the Supreme Court reinforces and expands the principles put forth in Lawrence and other cases; that authorities can’t prosecute people for private consensual sex.

“Yes, we should always try to improve our lot, and discussions about decriminalization of incest is good to have, but unsubstantive, emotional and false advocacy isn't going to move the issue forward.”

I understand where you are coming from. I am just trying to do my small part. I blog about this, but I can discuss the subject matter without harping on politics. Goodness knows a lot of people have been hurt because other people don’t understand or don’t even want to think about it, and I totally understand the choice people make to protect themselves (if no other way than emotionally) by staying out of all of that.

“Also, as adults, we knew the rules of the game going into it, so why should anyone whine now?”

The same goes for people who chose to live with someone of the same sex, interracial couples, and so on. Goodness, go back 30-40 years and you can find what amount to public service announcements warning that “homosexuals are pedophiles” (sound familiar?) and that they were essentially insane. States could prosecute people essentially for being gay until recently.

Yes, people should know what they are facing, but if they want to speak out, even anonymously, about the injustice and absurdity of prosecuting people for being in love, then they should have that option.

“Some have this need to rationalize and/or justify one's involvement in incest....all it does is highlight insecurities and the need for validation. If you're in it, then you're in it, no affirmation equired.”

I actually agree with you. Well, I wouldn’t say “ALL it does,” but that is the way some people are about any relationship, including teens whose parents object to their boyfriend or girlfriend. People should go ahead and enjoy their love, even if a lot of other people don’t like the idea, especially if they are adults.

But I also want to stop persecution and obtain rights for those who want to exercise those rights.

“I'll comment on polyamory next time....your username appears to be in conflict with the practice, care to clarify before I give you my thoughts?”

How is it in conflict? I’m for the rights of everyone to sex, love, and marriage, regardless of the number of people in the relationship and regardless of their birth. I don’t think equality just for some is really equality. That’s what I mean by “full marriage equality.”

I’m not collecting money. I’m not even running ads. I’m not trying to make a name for myself. I’m not insisting that anyone “come out” or try any other form of agitation or activism. I do INVITE people to stick up for themselves as long as they are aware of the possible consequences. I invite people, if they are so inclined, to comment here (well, it’s not my place to invite them… but you know what I mean), or on my blog, or anywhere else to share their story, even anonymously, to let others know that there are people out there who are good citizens who have these relationships and experiences and they deserve the same rights as anyone else. And I challenge the haters and those with prejudice to justify interfering in the love lives of others, so that their lack of reasonable justification can be exposed. It is a way I repay my friends for the confidence and trust they have placed in me to be “in” on the true nature of their beautiful relationship.
— — —

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Congrats to James and Maura From Ireland

The Irish sibling couple have a healthy child together and have decided to get married, as I wrote before. They are now expecting their second child, and the brother and sister are leaving Ireland in search of more freedom. We wish them a good pregnancy and birth, a healthy baby, and a happy life together.

Shame on those who want to deny them their rights as a family. Families come in a variety of shapes and sizes and that is one reason we need full marriage equality.
— — —

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sister Wives on TLC

Did you watch it? I haven’t had time yet. If you see it, let me know what you think. The reality show, depicting a polygynous marriage and family, is getting a lot of attention.

Brent Bozell, a media watchdog who is no friend to marriage equality, does not surprise me with his commentary bemoaning that any polygynous family would be allowed to tell their story. If we don’t talk about it, we can pretend that it doesn’t exist, right?

HBO started the normalization of polygamy with its drama "Big Love," but TLC is openly pushing for the walls of judgment to come falling down.

Perhaps they are asking people to take a look and see for themselves, instead of clinging to prejudice? Where is the harm in that?

Its slogan for the show is "Rethink love. Rethink marriage. Rethink family reality."

These families exist. People should rethink things if they've never considered that.

Kody Brown and his wives are in fact "fundamentalist Mormons" who have been political activists to legalize polygamy in Utah.

Good for them.

This isn't the only TLC show to promote the "poly" -- yup, the hip new word -- lifestyle. They also aired a series this summer called "Strange Sex," which also had a plot about "polyamory," which is described as "consensual, responsible non-monogamy."

And that was great of them. He goes off on a tangent, trying to link cheating with poly, before asking…

Where is the market demand for this? What significant segment of the vast American tapestry is being served by this message?

So he would only want people to be allowed to watch programming that presents an idealized, homogenized version of what people think is the majority? Presumably, this would be a show about an unrelated man and a woman who marry as virgins and stay married for the rest of their lives and never fall in love with or have sex with anyone else. Surely, that is a minority of people. But we’ll pretend gay people don’t exist, that poly people don’t exist, that consang people don’t exist, that people don’t have sex outside of marriage, that there’s never any swapping or swinging or cheating or divorce or death and remarriage?

This is Hollywood blazing a trail because it wants to tear down the family, for once and for all.

How is depicting a family tearing down family?

The barrage of libertine entertainment should remind us that it's become countercultural to champion the Judeo-Christian tradition.

I recall much polygyny and consanguineous sex and marriage in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Adam and Eve and their children, the children of Noah, Lot and his daughters, Abraham and his sister/wife, Solomon and his wives, and lots of first cousins. Christian monarchs in the not so distant past had consanguineous marriages.

But let’s get back to the show.

Mary McNamara reviewed it in the Los Angeles Times.

It's the three wives Meri, Janelle and Christine who form the solid center of the family and the show. Pulling teeth and moving armoires, making dinner and picking baby clothes, their bonds appear far stronger and more vital than the casual fondness with which they all treat Kody. All three of the women were raised either in or surrounded by polygamist families (the Browns appear to live, not surprisingly, somewhere in the Salt Lake area) and are tired of hiding or apologizing for a "lifestyle" that allows them more free time and familial support than any non-polygamous marriage.

Janelle and Christine say that it was Meri, Kody's likable, organized and very direct first wife, who drew them to become Browns. Janelle is unapologetically grateful that she can work long hours outside the home, which she enjoys doing, because Christine is happy to take care of the kids. Christine, who's about to give birth to her sixth child, never had any interest at all in being an only wife, or even a second wife. The third wife is emotionally the easiest, she says, adding that during her teen years, "I wanted the sister wives more than the husband."

This is sounding good.

Hank Stuever in the Washinton Post

For anyone who might be championing polygamist rights (is anyone?), the Browns are a public-relations gift from above.

That’s good to read. Maybe this show will make a difference.

The Browns live in a sprawling ranch-style house designed by a "plig" homebuilder: Each mom has a floor and a kitchen. Dad visits each of the marital beds on a scheduled rotation -- and they've all been together going on 20 years.

Why should they be denied the right to marry? They've lasted longer than so many other marriages.

The Browns know that their definition of marriage is difficult to describe to outsiders; yet the outside world cannot help but be curious.

What is so difficult about explaining something that is found throughout history? I think people easily understand the concept. What they don’t understand is how these people can be happy, because prejudice has been institutionalized and most people are taught to believe that something that isn’t monogamous can’t possibly be happy or practical. Maybe more people will come to support this freedom to marry, maybe even full marriage equality, as a result of seeing how it can really be.
— — —

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It is Not a Borg

Someone asked, “How is incest viewed in the gay community?”

In states where gay marriage is allowed, can two brothers or sisters get married? Has this issue even been addressed?

This question could have been worded better. The only thing the entire gay community has in common is... an attraction to people of the same sex, and the persecution that comes with that. Not all LGBT think the same way when it comes to just about anything. (Think about it. Do all heterosexuals things the same way?) Sure, we can talk percentages, and my guess is that if you take a poll, there is a greater percentage of LGBT people, in comparison to heterosexuals, who are understanding people in consanguineous relationships, if nothing else, of the persecution they go through. You can find LGBT people who are repulsed by the very idea and support denial of consang rights, and you can find LGBT people all along the spectrum of opinion and experience, all the way to those who are in consanguineous relationships themselves and want that freedom to marry. For example, Linda and Melissa are bisexual and consanguineous.

Same sex marriage is legal in Sweden, and half siblings can marry there. So, two half-brothers or two-half sisters can marry there, I would presume. I think that is the best situation in the world as far as those two freedoms to marry.

Of course the issue has been addressed. We address it here!

One person answered…

Essentially, incest (between adults) is on roughly the same level as homosexuality. By this i mean that it involves two consenting adults whose sex lives don’t concern anybody else.

It doesn’t have to be just two. Ask Linda, Melissa, and Matthew.

She then invoked the “deformed babies” argument, saying that if consanguineous lovers have babies, those babies have “dangerously high chances” of having birth defects. That’s true, if you also call the chances of older mothers producing children with birth defects “dangerously high.”

I haven’t heard of any groups pressuring the government to consider legalising incestuous relationships.

Time for that to change.

Someone named Shaun 'T' Sheep wrote…

It’s not the same issue at all and the two should not be compared, ever.

Incest is vile and disgusting, it should never be acceptable.

And yet, like so many other bigoted replies to these kinds of questions, nothing but personal animus is offered. There were several answers like that. It isn’t vile and disgusting to the people who have enjoyed everything from recreational experimentation to deep, loving, lifelong partnerships with close family members.
— — —

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Canadian Judge Allows Testimony in Polygamy Case

I'm surprised, but happy to see this update.

A judge has ordered a publication ban on the identities of polygamists who may testify at a hearing to determine the constitutionality of Canada's laws on multiple marriages.

B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman found it was necessary to impose the order to allow the case to proceed with a "complete record and full argument on all sides."

This makes it more likely to have polygamy-friendly testimony on the record, and more likely this freedom to marry will be granted. Step by step, we can reach full marriage equality. Thank you, Justice Bauman.
— — —

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Persecuted Person

A woman who has experienced GSA warns that

There are few places where it is not prosecuted, but even fewer where it would be accepted.

She goes on to explain how bigotry against GSA has destroyed her life…

As for me…in the past year I have lost:

My job, my home, most of my friends, and my savings. I’ve incurred great debts, and faced jail. Not many family members know, but out of the few that do, I am treated VERY differently. I moved out of state, to a place where no one knows me. I live in one room that I rent out of someone else’s home because I can’t afford anything else. Almost everything I own is in storage and I may lose my car as well. My health has suffered immensely because of the stress over the past year.

The most important loss is this…my heart is in pieces because part of my life has been ripped away from me. In March, my three youngest children were taken from me by the court and given to my ex husband’s family. I only had a few hours to get them packed and say goodbye. It is not safe for them there, yet no one in authority cares because they don’t see GSA, they don’t see me. They see a monster, a criminal, a deviant and to them they think that justifies sending them back to a place that we fled from to begin with.

Should all of this happen to someone because of mutual attraction and consensual sex? Prejudice hurts.
— — —

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Incest Laws in Oregon

Law enforcement authorities get all kinds of calls asking if something is legal or illegal, and it doesn’t make the news. But this time it did.

The caller had questions about first cousins “being together.” Turns out while incest is a Class C felony and defined as marriage or sex between an immediate family member (mother/son, sister/brother) or any half-relation such as half-brother. Beyond that, the law is up for interpretation.

The Oregon Revised Statute describes the above as incest, but also “a person whom the person knows to be related to the person ... as an ancestor, descendant.” It is the “ancestor, descendant” section that is ill-defined within the law. The deputy advised the caller that the couple is in the clear as long as they are second cousins or more distant. Anything closer could be referred to the district attorney’s office for interpretation.

It would be a waste for the sheriff or the district attorney or any court to spend resources punishing people for consensual sex, regardless of their relation. Not only should people be free to have such relationships, but they should have the freedom to marry as well. First cousins can marry in some states. Why would Oregon prosecute them for having sex?

A candidate for Kansas Governor has proposed having a person whose job it is to find bad or outdated laws to repeal. Oregon and every other state should have one of those, and one of the things they should do is propose the repealing of any law designed to punish consensual sex. It doesn’t matter if they are the same sex. It doesn’t matter if they are sisters. It doesn’t matter if they are three sisters and a male friend. It should not be something for the law to stop.

I hope the caller wasn't calling from their own number.
— — —

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moving Towards Solidarity

This "Life After College" writer supports people in same-sex or poly relationships, but struggles with the idea of consanguineous relationships. She appears to be warming to the idea of full marriage equality. She references this Reddit discussion, which I will get to in another posting.

The other day, my boyfriend jokingly sent me an advice thread on Reddit, in which a man asks for advice after finding his 19 year old son and 18 year old daughter having sex. It was most likely posted by some bored troll, but between the comments, a lot of people linked to other threads in which people admitted to having long term sexual relationships with their siblings, including one brother-sister couple who are currently living happily ever after.

The day before I read this, Prop 8 was overturned, and I was overjoyed.

Yes, that was a very good day.

I believe that two consenting adults have the right to enter a legal contract.

Why not more than two? I don’t get this restriction on personal freedom.

Churches and temples may decide on their own if they want to perform same-sex marriages, but from a legal standpoint there should be nothing keeping two men or two women from having a civil ceremony.

Or two men and one woman, or two women and two men, or others.

And besides the legal reasons, I believe in gay marriage. I believe anyone should have the right to make a life with the person they love.

Anyone should have the right to make a life with the person or persons they love.

And then I read one comment.

While reading through the thread about the woman who is living with her brother (apparently their friends are very happy for them), there came the inevitable comment: “sorry to be that guy, but there is something seriously wrong with you.” When asked by the woman who started the thread what was wrong with her, he said their relationship was “morally wrong.” She then replied, “How can something that hurts absolutely no one be morally wrong?” And as much as I’m grossed out by the idea of that happening, and as much as I can’t remove the image of my boyfriend kissing his sister from my head, she is absolutely right.

See? People can get it. Get them past their biases and they can see the case for full marriage equality.

This goes right along with the “slippery slope” argument that soon people will be marrying their sisters and pets and furniture and the American Family is going to hell.

There is no slippery slope. The firm ground we should all be standing on is allowing consenting people to have their marriages.

And for the first time in my life as a liberal New Yorker, I can see what they’re getting at. Not the pets and furniture bit (consenting adults, remember?), but that my brother [or sister (if I had either)] and I could possibly get legally married if the argument that any-two-adults-can-enter-into-a-marriage argument stands.

Again, limiting it to two is an unfair restriction.

Granted, there are a lot of laws on this right now. A quick jaunt over to Wikipedia shows that Massachusetts issues a penalty of up to 20 years for anyone caught having sex with someone closer than their first cousin, and in Hawaii you could get five years. New Jersey doesn’t penalize if parties are 18 or older.

There were laws against gay sex, too, and they have been struck down.

Suffice it to say, there is quite the social taboo. Just like there still is, in some states, with homosexuality.

In large part, the social disapproval is lingering because of law. Many times I have seen someone object to a consanguineous relationship with “It’s illegal.” Okay, remove the law and then what?

But in the political and social spectrum, acceptance of either requires a basic acceptance for differing ideas of sexuality. I am not gay, I don’t have any desire to sleep with another woman, yet I believe that if another person wants to sleep with someone of the same sex that is their prerogative, and as long as they are not hurting anyone, whatever happens in the privacy of their bed is none of my business.

If this is my logic, I must accept this type of incest.

I agree.

I can say that I support the right for two consenting adults to engage in whatever business they feel, but what if I found my kids doing this? Could I support it? My gut instinct tells me no. What if sibling friends of mine came to me and said they had decided to be together. Would I be happy for them? I’m not sure.

PFLAG helps people who feel the same way about same-sex relationships. It would be helpful if they would expand or a new group along those lines would form to help the parents and friends of poly and consang people.

Could I imagine a world in which legislation on the issue of legalizing incest came up? Absolutely not.

Even if she can’t, I hope she’ll support such legislation should it come up.

You don’t need to like what people do with their private lives to see that the law should not stop them. If someone is lucky enough to find a relationship they want for the rest of their lives, why not let them build that life together?
— — —

Abuse and Consanguineous Sex in Japan

This article by Lloyd DeMause has disturbing information about the sexual abuse of children in Japan by family members are others. I condemn nonconsensual sex, and in most circumstances, someone under a certain age can’t truly consent to someone is significantly older, or to someone who is their legal guardian.

However, there was some information about sexuality that isn’t experienced under such horrid conditions.

One of the most endogenous societies in the world, Japan has approved of incestuous marriages in court circles even in historical times. Preferred sibling, cousin, uncle-niece and aunt-nephew marriages have been so extensive that genetics experts have discovered that the inbreeding has affected their size and health.

Traditional marriage?

One indication of what is likely to be found is a 1959 study by Kubo showing that there were still rural areas in Japan where fathers married their daughters when the mother had died or was incapacitated, “in accordance with feudal family traditions. Kubo concluded that incest was considered “praiseworthy conduct” in many traditional rural families. In the 36 incest cases he studied in Hiroshima, he found that there was often community moral disapproval of the families who lived in open incestuous marriages, but that the participants themselves did not think of it as immoral. In fact, when the father was unavailable to head the family, his son often took over his role and had sex with his sister in order “to end confusion in the order of the home.” Other members of the family accepted this incest as normal.

I’ll never think of the song “Turning Japanese” the same way again.

The most commonly reported incest occurs when the mother sees her son masturbate as a teenager and tells him, “It’s not good to do it alone. Your IQ becomes lower. I will help you,” or “You cannot study if you cannot have sex. You may use my body,” or “I don’t want you to get into trouble with a girl. Have sex with me instead.” The researchers found that Japanese mothers and sons often sleep in the same bed and have sex together, although the exact incidence in the population was not investigated.

“Teenager” is a wide-ranging term. A nineteen year-old is not a thirteen year-old. So the above practice can be abusive or it can be positive, depending on the age.

According to the phone interviews, Japanese mothers teach their sons how to masturbate helping them to achieve first ejaculation in much the same manner as they earlier helped them with toilet training.

I didn’t need any help from anyone to learn to masturbate. I’m thinking Japanese boys are no different in that respect. I’m sure they can figure it out.

Parents, older siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents should never abuse or take advantage of their children or pimp them out. Death is too good for such people. But siblings who are close in age, or a nineteen-year-old son or daughter and parent can have positive, loving, consensual sex, and should not be attacked for doing so; they should be allowed to marry if that’s what they choose. A clear distinction needs to be made between abuse and consensual sex.
— — —

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Update to 'About This Blog'

I have updated the "About This Blog" page with this addition:

The right to consanguineous (between close relatives) sex and marriage tends to gets most of my attention on this blog, then poly rights, with same-sex rights getting the least attention out of all three categories. This is because I am based in the USA, where same-sex relationships are no longer criminalized; the right to same-sex marriage is recognized in a handful of states and thankfully may be recognized nationwide soon. There are many great online resources supporting the right to same-sex marriage. There are many great online resources supporting poly rights, though poly people still have a ways to go. However, only some states permit first cousins to marry and except for specialized exceptions, no state allows marriage for closer relatives; most states actually criminalize consensual sex between close relatives. Linked to this is an ongoing, pervasive prejudice against consanguineous sexual relationships. The support network for consanguineous rights needs to be grown most of all, so that is what gets most of my attention.
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Polygamy, Monogamy, Freedom, AIDS

Zulu monarch King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and South African President Jacob Zuma both practice polygyny, and there was some tension recently (see here and here) over statements made by a group that is advocating monogamy as part of their larger effort to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.

There are a few things I wanted to say about this.

I believe in the freedom of speech. I recognize that some countries have more restrictions on speech than others, but ideally, people should be free to speak their minds. I try not to make blanket criticisms of monogamy as a personal choice, though I should have that freedom, too. If someone wants to criticize polygamy, they should be able to do so, as long as they don’t try to deny anyone their freedom to marry.

This freedom to marry doesn’t just mean the freedom to polygamy. It means the freedom to monogamy, or the freedom not to marry at all. Full marriage equality includes the freedoms to marry the consenting person or persons of your choice, or not to marry at all.

I support fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS. Neither polygamy nor polyamory spread HIV/AIDS. The disease may be spread when an infected person has unprotected sex with someone who wasn’t previously infected. It doesn’t matter if they are monogamous or poly. Ten people could regularly have sex with each other, and if none of them are HIV+, none of the others will become HIV+. Do not blame those who are poly for what is done by cheaters, liars, and those who choose to be ignorant of their HIV status. Don’t take that misplaced blame and use it to deny this freedom to marry, or give someone a false sense of security because they are in monogamous relationship. A monogamous relationship with someone who is HIV+ brinks risk of contracting HIV.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Something to Show the Bigots

There was more coverage recently of a study that shows familial attraction is not unnatural or uncommon.

Freud may have been partially right when he said we were all repressing incestuous urges.

In a new study, people were more attracted to faces that resembled their own or that were preceded by a subliminal image of their opposite sex parent.

But rather than suggesting we all secretly want to have sex with our family members, the results instead point to the power of familiarity in shaping who we find attractive.

While romance, dating, sex, marriage, etc. don’t always result from attraction, attraction can lead to such things.

They also cast doubt on the idea that people have an innate repulsion toward incest.

Some people clearly have a repulsion, whether it is innate or not. But others don’t have such a repulsion, and they should not be attacked because they don’t. Some of the repulsion expressed vehemently by some people may be in denial of their latent feelings.

However, not all researchers are convinced the new results have such far-reaching implications.

You can always find more than one opinion.

Inbreeding brings together rare mutations that can cause severe birth defects.

Can’t have an article like this without throwing that in. Breeding always carries the risk of birth defects.

The article then gets into Freud and Westermarck.

But other evidence indicated that people were actually attracted to mates who resembled their parents. In another study published in 2004 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, people shown images of women's adoptive fathers were able to guess the spouses of the women based solely on the spouse's appearance. In other words, the women married men who resembled their adoptive fathers.

So that would be modeling or imprinting, instead of genetics.

"Westermarck's ideas suggested that certain factors, such as familial resemblance or growing up with someone, tend to inhibit attraction because they trigger evolved incest avoidance mechanisms," study researcher R. Chris Fraley of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told LiveScience. "However, a lot of data in social psychology suggest that these very same factors tend to facilitate attraction between people. We hoped to better understand why those two streams of thought were in opposition to one another."

Generalities can be studied, but individual examples all have their own circumstances. What are the family dynamics? What have been the dynamics between the individuals, such as between a brother and sister?

Fraley and his colleague Michael Marks of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces conducted a series of experiments using college students. In the first experiment, students were asked to rate images of strangers for attractiveness, but unbeknownst to them, the images were preceded by subliminal snapshots of either the rater's opposite sex parent or someone unrelated to them. The students rated the images more attractive if they were shown an image of their opposite sex parent first.

And in the case of siblings, your sibling is likely to share some of the looks of your parent.

In the second experiment, the researchers created the images by morphing different faces together. Some students were shown faces that were morphed with their own face by up to 45 percent. The more the face resembled their own, the more attractive they rated it.

And you tend to share looks with your family members.

In a final experiment, Fraley and Marks told some of the students they would be viewing images that were morphed with their own faces, which was a lie. The images were actually composites of other people. In that case, the students rated the images as less attractive than those not given that false bit of information.

They know what they look like.

The results argue against Westermarck's view, the researchers wrote in the July 20 issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. If students were subconsciously evaluating the images for relatedness to themselves, the presence of their parent's face or elements of their own face should have triggered disgust.

Moreover, the students who were told they were looking at images of themselves should have rated those images more attractive than they did - because the images were actually unrelated to them.

Another researcher points out that Westermarck is about siblings, not parent-child.

Attraction can be complex. Different people are attracted to different personalities, intellects, body types, skin color, hair color, facial features, and on and on.

Whether family members are raised together or not, there could be any number of reasons two or more of them fall in love, and if people are good to each other and not breaking up homes, those relationships should be encouraged, certainly not punished by law.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

There Are People Who Understand

Little Lover Kitty from GSA asked on Yahoo Answers

Genetic Sexual Attraction?
My older HALF brother and i didnt grow up together. We became friends as adults and we realized how similar we were and how much we were alike. He told me that he had romantic feelings for me one night and i told him that i did too. We had a secret affair for about 4 months untill our mom read my diary and discoverd our secret nights. She kicked him out and he is living in texas agian with his dad. we are both still in love. so passionatly in love. we feel that we are soul mates. We talk everyday and we are working on being together again in the near future.

My question is basically what do you guys feel about this and what are your thoughts about Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA)?

For my thoughts, see something I wrote here recently.

When you are living in someone else’s house, you live by their rules.

She adds…

And you guys are also verrry brainwashed about "incest babies" i know people who have children with thier parents or their full siblings and their children are totally healthy

Here is an intelligent answer…

Even though I disagree with it, I support your right to do it. I think people should have the right to do whatever the hell they want as long as it doesn't infringe upon anyone else's rights. Keep the government out of the bedroom.

Thank you.

But since you guys weren't raised together, I can't see anything wrong with what you are doing.

It shouldn’t matter if they were raised together or not; the right to love, sex, and marriage should still be the same. It seems less likely they would be in this situation if they were raised together, but that still happens.

Another intelligent answer…

It seems that most responses are obsessed with birth defects and weird babies if closely related have kids. I believe we are finding out this is nothing but an 'old wives tale'.

The legal system should not be concerned about who we love or what we do in our bedroom as long as it is consensual.

May things work out for you and your lover.

And another…

Considering what society will accept these days, it's a sad situation when it won't accept two people being together in a loving, consensual relationship. As far as the baby situation is concerned, there are obviously a lot of misinformed people out there, and the genetic risks are wildly exaggerated. Nobody tells women over 40 that they shouldn't have children, and nobody tells people who have known genetic disorders that they cannot have children.

There is hope! We do have allies. People do get it. If LLK and her brother can be on their own, they shouldn't be kept from each other.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bigotry Against Sibling Affection

Here’s a really good example of the kind of irrational bigotry that exists against people who report positive (mutually enjoyable/beneficial) or nondestructive sexual experiences with or between siblings. Dr. Dorree Lynn asked in a forum on a website for women over age 50 if such experiences can ever be positive, specifying…

Sure we have taboos and usually shame if we've ever been involved in an incest relationship as kids. But, can it ever have positive aspects? I've dealt with individuals who once past their shame, guilt, anger, hurt and all the rest, have decided that what happened saved their lives. These were children in families where the parents were gone, sometimes because they were workaholics, and the siblings needed warmth, affection and each other just to survive. I know these are stories of forbidden fruit. But, they are far more common than most people admit. Anyone else have a tale they wish to tell?

Some of the others users of the forum went to pieces, attacking the question, attacking the person asking it, and calling on the moderators to take action.

Dr. Dorree implored…

But, I do ask you to at least read my reasoning and try to understand the validity of my and many of my colleagues’ experiences working with those who have experienced incest. I am not promoting the experience. Rather, I am saying that with, time, self-exploration and some good therapeutic help, some individuals have come out the other side with the ability to hold forgiveness and love deeply in relationships. This takes effort and once again, I’ve never seen it happen overnight.

A couple of people did come to her defense, but the haters just regurgitated their attacks.

Once again, I'll say it: I don't like the question (as it was worded) and feel there is nothing positive to come out of incest.

This just doesn’t stand up to the experience of many people. There are many negative experiences, there but are positive ones, too. The same could be said for sex in general and relationships in general.

Perhaps Dr. Dorree should have used "consanguineous" or "sibling sexual bonding" and avoided the "i" word?

Not one of the responses I read gave any reason why it couldn’t be possible that any siblings have ever had a sexual experience with each other that was anything but disastrous. (Probably because such a statement would be easily disprovable.) The conclusion of the haters is the very assumption they start out with: It is wrong. It isn’t even developed enough to be a circular argument. It is a stand-alone expression of prejudice that goes nowhere and comes from nowhere.

This is the kind of prejudice that has been preventing not only full marriage equality, but it has also perpetuated unjust persecution and prosecution. Even if siblings who have loved or played in this way were never publicly attacked themselves, how do you think they feel when they read such vitriol? They are getting a message that something is wrong with them, and that they should never speak of that part of their life, as much as they have enjoyed it. Their relationship is called wrong, or a lie. What about teenagers who are in such a situation? What do you think that kind of hatred does to their feelings? Can you imagine a teen who has had the anguish of feeling isolated, or even thoughts of suicide, but finds comfort, love, understanding, and affection from a sibling, only to be told by bigots that one of the few things about their life that they like they shouldn’t have?

We need to let people know that this kind of bigotry is wrong; positive relationships are not wrong.
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Poll on Consangs

The blog Non Compos Mentis polled readers about consanguineous sexual relationships. I offer my responses. Go and offer yours, if you'd like, or leave them as a comment here.

If anyone still reads this blog, please let me know your views on incest. Do you think incestuous relationships should be criminalised?

Consensual sex should not be criminalized, regardless of the number, gender, or relation of participants. As such, any such sex that falls under the definition of “incest” should be legal. Incest that falls under the definition of rape, sexual assault, or child molestation should be illegal because it falls into a nonconsensual category, not because it is incest.

Do you think incestuous couples should be allowed to spawn offspring?

It should not be up to the law to decide who can have children and who can’t, unless we’re talking about child abusers.

What motivates your stand?

Kindness, fairness, respect for liberty, equality, and rights.

Would you forcibly perform vasectomy and/or ligation on an incestuous couple?

Of course not; at least not for the reason that they are incestuous. I would do it if they were child molesters.

Would you make it legally mandatory that pregnant females involved in incestuous relationships undergo abortion procedures?

See above.

If your answer is yes to the previous two questions, how would you punish any couple who disobeys the state's orders?

Not applicable.

This is what other people said…

Sexual activity should not be denied to any consenting person.

Thank you.

The age of consent in the United States varies fro state to state and should be nationally placed at fourteen years of age.

I haven’t thought a lot about this. My knee-jerk reaction is a “no.”

I think the age of consent should be the same as whatever age parents/guardians can no longer be held responsible for them. So if someone lived where the age of consent was 18 but became emancipated at 16, they should have their rights to sex, love, and marriage. Most fourteen-year-olds aren't ready for responsible sex, and perhaps law enforcement should at least have the option of prosecuting, say, a person of age fifty who pressures a fourteen year old into sex. It should be on a case by case basis, though, not an automatic prosecution just because it can be proven the experience did happen. It would have to be a negative situation that didn't quite fit the definition of general rape or sexual assault, but it could be prosecuted as sex with a minor.
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Too Vague News Blurb on Incest Charge

Iowa should be commended for recognizing the right of same-sex couples to marry. It still needs to get with it when it comes to the rights of poly people. And it should be condemned for charging people with a crime for consensual sex, and still having laws that prevent people from exercising their rights simply because they are closely related.

I wish I had more information about this story.

A Rembrandt, Iowa, man has been charged with incest for allegedly having sexual contact with his adult daughter…The man was arrested Monday on the class D felony and booked into the Buena Vista County Jail, where he is being held in lieu of $20,000 bond.

The article gives no indication that this was rape or sexual assault. It says “sexual contact” with another adult and the charge is “incest.” We know from other recent stories that all that has to happen is for someone other than the participants to find out and, thanks to bigotry or jealousy or even mandatory reporting laws, the authorities are informed and get involved, charging someone with a crime. The article doesn’t say that the other participant filed a complaint, and the authorities didn’t see fit to also charge the man with rape or sexual assault, so my guess is that this was a consensual sexual experience. If it was, it is embarrassing that Iowa would charge someone with a crime in this case.

Certainly, both the law and the media should have clear distinctions between rape and child molestation as opposed to consensual sex between adults. It is absurd something that can be consensual, private, and mutually enjoyable is a felony.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Noble Cause

Diane Noble is the award-winning author of The Sister Wife, the first book in her new historical polygamy fiction series "Brides of Gabriel." She has a commentary on about how condemnation of polygamy (polygyny, really) can really be about a larger bigotry towards anything different than someone’s own feelings and choices.

I've studied yesterday's polygamists, and today's, as appalled as anyone about the treatment of women and children in fundamentalist offshoots of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Mormons are just as appalled as the rest of us, I might add.) More than that, I am sickened by the practice of marrying child brides to men old enough to be their grandfathers. In my opinion, this practice has nothing to do with religion; it has everything to do with pedophilia.

I'm also concerned that HBO's popular "Big Love" and TLC's upcoming reality show "Sister Wives," for the sake of entertainment and palatability, can't give us the whole truth about life in polygamous families. I'm concerned that both shows are essentially promoting a lifestyle that is illegal in the U.S.

In the 19th century, however, polygamy was first practiced as a means to take care of widows and orphans on the rough and dangerous frontier. Mormons had been tortured and killed and chased from their settlements. Mothers with young children were left without homes or husbands to care for them. Was the practice of polygamy humane? I believe it was. Was it easy? Ask any woman who's known jealousy and she would probably say no.

Citing jealousy as a reason why polygamy can’t work ignores two very important things. First, that there are polygamous marriages that have worked and continue to work, if by “work” we mean that the marriages last and the participants benefit from the marriage. Second is that spouses (or nonspousal lovers or friends) of any arrangement, including monogamy, are sometimes jealous of someone else’s time and devotion to children, friends, jobs, hobbies; essentially, anything other than them. So it is a very weak argument to cite feelings of jealousy as a reason to deny this freedom to marry. If someone only wants one spouse and wants that spouse to have no other spouses, they can have that. Allowing others their right to polygamy won’t force them to give up their right to their monogamy.

The deeper story has to do with how we see, how we interact with, the real people who differ from us -- those neighbors with skin of a different hue, those families who attend a mosque instead of a church or synagogue, or wear tip-to-toe clothing alien to us, or have a different way of praying.

Yes, some people have a hard time accepting that other people are different from them in the lives they lead. Those people will just have to adjust to letting other people have their freedom. I do think, though, that if more people could see polygamy freely enjoyed by others, some people who currently condemn the very idea might go so far as to strongly consider it for themselves.
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More on Forbidden and Suzuma

I found two more reviews of Forbidden, one that also includes an interview with the author, Tabitha Suzuma. The book is a fictional depiction of a romantic relationship between a brother and sister. Other reviews I have noted here, here, and here.

Mieneke wrote

Because of their parents' abandonment, Lochan and Maya are forced to function as parents and from sharing everything as partners do, the leap to a relationship isn't that weird, psychologically speaking. It doesn't happen overnight, not even in the book, but it's something that grows organically, even when that made my skin crawl to see it happen, as the reader.

You don’t have to enjoy the thought of a relationship to understand that it is oppressive to make such relationships illegal and deny them equality. I have no desire to get a tattoo, or live at the top of a skyscraper, and the thought of eating certain foods some people regularly eat disgusts me. But I would stand up for the right of others to do all of these things.

While writing what is essentially a love story, she never once condones incest.

Baby steps. Understanding and sympathy are a beginning.

In the second part of the novel the constant fear of discovery, not just of their incestuous relationship, but of the situation at home with the kids and no parents, which might prompt the Child Protection Agency to take the kids into care and split them up, not to mention send Lochan and Maya to jail for incest, creates a growing sense of dread.

It would be nice if no real lovers had to fear being imprisoned for their love.

Nick S at Absolute Vanilla gives some thoughts on the book and interviews the author.

History is littered with examples of brother-sister love: Cleopatra VII was married to her brother Ptolemy XII, the Roman emperor Caligula is rumoured to have had sexual relations with all three of his sisters, and the Hapsburg and Bourbon dynasties are riddled with incest. It is interesting to note that incest is not illegal in all jurisdictions and the taboo is more often than not driven by religion. On the flip side, “incest” is fairly normal in the animal world and, at its most fundamental, the issue for humans is that avoidance is about genetics and gene pools - inbreeding creates small gene pools and those groups subsequently die out. At its most simplistic, it becomes then, a matter of biology rather than morality.

Everybody should consider family medical histories before deciding to have children, regardless of how closely they are related.

So now, Tabitha, the obvious question arises: what motivated and inspired you to write a book about sibling incest?

It started with the desire to write a tragic love story. It came down to incest by a process of elimination. I wanted the book to be set in contemporary London and I needed the two teens in question to be old enough for their love for each other to be taken seriously. But I quickly realised that (fortunately) in modern-day Britain there are very few – if any – obstacles that could keep a couple in love apart. Cultural and religious difference maybe, but if the couple were determined enough to go against their families' wishes, they could always run away together. I needed something that would be condemned by everyone wherever they went – a relationship that could never be and moreover, was against the law.

The law makes a powerful foe for their romance, and thus makes for engaging fiction. But it is tragic when that kind of oppression happens in real life.

I know that in writing Forbidden you went through many revisions, edits and rewrites. What was the view of your publishers on presenting them with the initial manuscript and what were the points on which you differed?

Actually there was only one, major rewrite. And that was in order to remove several of the sexual scenes. I was very keen to keep the story as realistic as possible and didn’t want to do any ‘glossing’ or tasteful fades to black. In order to keep the story real, I felt there would also be quite a lot of sexual content seeing as the couple are more or less left to their own devices. However my publishers felt that Lochan and Maya’s relationship was too sexual and not romantic enough and so I had to rework some scenes and do a lot of negotiation until we found a middle ground we were both happy with.

When it comes to commercial media, even when it appears to be inclusive of diversity, it is often somewhat exclusive, like when a television series will depict heterosexual couples practically having sex on screen, even if they are both cheating out spouses, yet will show minimal physical affection between two men who are not cheating on anyone.

Do you get to interact much with your young adult readers and, if so, what sort of feedback have you had from them on Forbidden?

I am fortunate enough to get a lot of wonderful emails from my readers. So far, the feedback on Forbidden has been overwhelmingly positive which feels great. However many readers have also written to tell me how much the book moved them, often to the point of tears, and many told me they never thought they would find themselves rooting for a brother and sister to be allowed to have a sexual relationship but that their feelings changed completely during the course of the book.

The more people think through the sensibility of this freedom to marry, instead of letting knee-jerk prejudices rule their hearts, the better. If the book helps some people do that, then I'm happy.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Should She?

Lily May asked at Yahoo Answers

Incest with my brother, is it wrong?
Recently i'd been feeling quite attracted to my brother, and it was scaring me. Anyway, I told him about my feelings and he'd been feeling the same thing!! Should we get together or not?

Anyone who asks a question like this is going to get nasty, ignorant, prejudiced responses from bigots who hide behind their screens.

But there are people who have questions, and they deserve answers.

The answer to this question depends on information that isn’t revealed. I would argue, of course, that having sex or experimenting, exploring, or playing with a sibling is not wrong in and of itself; the same as any other consensual sex. If anything, all other things being equal, it can be better because of the love, caring, and trust that already exists between siblings.

If you are both of the age of consent, then what you do in private with each other should be up to the two of you. There should be full consent, which ideally means no force or coercion of any kind (including blackmail), disclosure of any communicable diseases, and mutual understanding regarding what will be done to prevent or handle pregnancy. There should be no violation of existing vows to others. You should also be aware of and in agreement about how to deal with any laws or other institutionalized bigotry against acting on your feelings. For example, do you have to keep your relationship a secret from most other people people it would be illegal where you are, and you don't want to challenge the law?

Again, as with any other possible sexual experience, consider the possible fallout as far as negative emotions should the sexual dimension of your relationship end, or should other people come to know about it.

If one or both of you are dependents who are under the age of consent, there are some important additional considerations. The age difference should be very small. For example, if you live where the age of consent is 18, and one of you is 17, then the other person shouldn’t be more than a few years older. If one of you is 15 or 16, then the other should be only a year or two older. There is also the consideration of respecting your parents or guardian about having sex in their home. In a perfect world, your parents would support you, but the world isn’t perfect and there’s a good chance your parents would be upset and respond irrationally. Parents often have a hard time with the sexuality of their children, even when those children are adults. But if a parent has bigotry towards same-sex attraction or consanguineous attraction (or any other prejudice that is related to their child’s choice in partners), it is that much more of a difficulty.

Should Lily May get physical with her brother? Since they are attracted to each other, I’d say…yes - don't let prejudice hold them back, if they are honest with each other, responsible, and prepared to have sex based on what I wrote above. Many siblings report having abiding, loving, romantic relationships with sex as one aspect, others say it was merely fun and games or casual sex or something they did with each other as a release while they were between relationships with others.

Overall, remember that the right to do something doesn’t mean it is always right to do that thing in every given moment or circumstance. People should not have sex when they aren't ready or willing to have sex; they should not be prevented when they are ready and want to, regardless of the bigotry of others. It should also go without saying that this example was about people with a mutual attraction, and presumably of the age of consent or very close in age. Nobody, adult or minor, should force themselves on anyone else, sibling or otherwise, or attempt to entice someone under tne age of consent who is significantly younger. Such people should be imprisoned.
— — —

Polygyny in Syria

This article takes a look at what it calls polygamy in Syria.

Certain he had not returned to his first wife, Reem succumbed to her suspicions and checked her husband’s phone messages to learn he had secretly married a third, much younger wife, several months earlier while she was pregnant with their first child.

Full marriage equality can only truly be equal if all participants in a marriage are informed and consent.

Polygamy remains legal in Syria. Changes to the Personal Status Law in 2008 meant a judge may prohibit additional marriages if a husband cannot prove his ability to provide adequate financial support for all of them. But this vague law is rarely, if ever applied. Polygamy still remains far more common than divorce, according to women’s civil rights groups, and legal experts.

This is limited polygyny, to be precise. Men don’t have the freedom to marry other men. Women don’t have the freedom to marry more than one man or marry other women.

The article goes on to describe the positives and negatives of this limited polygyny in the context of other cultural realities in Syria. I always maintain that polygamy will work best where men and women have equal rights and equal cultural standing. It seems unfair to me that a man could be married to two women in Syria, with everyone being happy, and if they moved to the U.S. one of of the women would lose the status of wife.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Update on Unjust Prosecution

News sources have printed more about the 33-year-old convicted child molester whose claims of consensual sexual relationship with his mother has resulted in her facing criminal charges. We learn in this article how the matter came to the attention of the the authorities.

The details of the son’s relationship with his mother came to light after he divulged the information to his therapist, who was required to report the abuse to law enforcement under the mandatory reporting law, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

That law makes sense when one of the participants is coerced or underage. But that’s not what happened here. The law should be changed. Law enforcement personnel should have filed the information under “That’s interesting” and kept their focus on crimes in which there are victims. Adult consensual sex should not be a criminal matter.
— — —

Irish Brother and Sister Plan Wedding

The Irish Mail (Daily Mail) has given an update on a woman and her half brother. I blogged about them before.

And even though the couple – known as ‘James’ and ‘Maura’ – realise it is illegal for them to marry, they say they are still determined to spend the rest of their lives together and will break the law to do so.

Why would anyone else care to stop people who are in love from marrying?

James said: ‘We have applied to get married and there are no mistakes in the paperwork so we will be able to wed at the end of this month.

‘We were aiming for Christmas but we have decided to do it sooner. Maura has got her wedding dress, we’ve ordered identical suits for myself and our son. We’ve also ordered a cake and we plan to go on a honeymoon a few weeks after the wedding.

‘It will be a very small wedding. We have two witnesses who we know very well and they know about our situation. I don’t know whether our father will come or whether any of our parents will be there.

I can understand that parents may have a hard time when their children find love this way, just as it is hard to accept when their child comes out as gay or lesbian. But I urge parents to honor the love that their children have and support the freedom to marry. Don't let insitutionalized prejudice hurt the relationship you have with your children.

So strong was their mutual attraction that just one week after meeting, they both felt they had known each other for a lifetime.

Two years later, Maura became pregnant and the couple moved in together. Later that year their son, Mark, was born.

This sounds like so many other relationships. That’s because really, it is like so many other relationships.

Here’s a recap of how this happened…

Since Christmas, with the help of DNA tests and gentle questioning, James and Maura have discovered the following: On a night out in the Eighties, Carmel, then aged 19, met Tom, and the pair dated for four or five weeks before going their separate ways.

However, after discovering she was pregnant with James, Carmel opted not to tell Tom she was expecting his child.

By the time James was born, she was in a relationship with Vincent, and it was he who she named as James’s father on the baby’s birth certificate. It was not until about four years later that Tom discovered Carmel had had a child.

Keen to find out whether he was the boy’s father, he made contact. Many of the details about what happened next are sketchy. However, what is clear is that even though Tom was by now married and the father of a daughter, he was determined to be a part of his son’s life and embarked on a legal battle to win access.

However, it was the Eighties and court cases like this were few and far between. But Tom was undeterred and, when the case was heard behind closed doors, Carmel admitted that Tom was indeed James’s biological father.

However, the court ruled that James should not be told who his real father was, and that Tom should not be given access to the young boy.

The couple points out that the same legal system that denied James access to his biological father shouldn’t be respected when it says he should not be allowed to marry the woman he loves, the mother of his child.

princess_pow in London had a good comment on the article…

They're in a difficult and painful position, but there doesn't seem to be anything even slightly abusive about this relationship. If their child (which they had before they knew the situation) is healthy, then nobody is being hurt by this - quite the opposite, at least the child will grow up with parents who love him and one another, and I wish them luck and hope their secret identities remain secret.

They shouldn’t have to hide to have a good life. Shame on those who keep laws in place that encourage a stigma.
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The Youngsters Need to Know

Someone asked if a girl can get pregnant by her brother. Some of the person’s friends told her no while others told her yes.

Although not explicitly stated, this is probably a minor who has engaged in sex with an opposite-gender sibling, and is genuinely concerned. Most of the replies I saw were the standard ignorant, prejudiced responses, including the ever-popular “kids will be deformed” nonsense.

However, one reply came from someone named Natalie Underwood, who seems to be a too-rare voice of reason and understanding in these sorts of forums…

There is nothing about being brother and sister that would prevent her from getting pregnant from him. The fact that his genes are similar to hers can actually increase the likelihood she will catch slightly – similar body enzymes and chemistry may mean a smaller chance of miscarriage or immune rejection.

Genes being related does not mean that they “cancel out”.

It means they reinforce each other.

By the way, everybody is saying birth defects – the truth, according to a ground-breaking study done by the Genetic Counseling association, is that siblings or similarly close relatives would have only about a 7 to 9 percent higher risk of having children with serious birth defects than average.

This can happen sometimes if there is a hidden gene defect in family history – and if both the brother and sister inherited the same defect, then they would have about a 1 in 4 chance of passing it on to their child. But not all brothers and sisters have the same recessive genes, not all families have a genetic defect in their family history, not all defects are serious, and most are treatable.

The odds are that most children of siblings would be fine – 87-89 percent.

These pregnancies do happen – sometimes girls get taken advantage of by selfish brothers (or vice versa) or they like to experiment together, or sometimes siblings don’t even know each other, but are sexually attracted when they meet after being separated.

Most sexual abuse and rape is by someone the victim knows, especially family.

One in 19 girls will have been approached for sex by a family member by the time she is college age, and a great deal of the sexual experimentation in early puberty happens within families.

If she does get pregnant, she should visit her doctor and have tests done for some of the more common problems, but she should not be alarmed that her baby will turn out to have three heads or something silly. She won’t have to tell anybody who the father is if she doesn’t want to.

Thanks, Ms. Underwood, if you are reading this. Do you have a blog? Would you like to contribute to mine?

Any pubescent child should be told that anytime any male a female are involved in activity in which his sperm gets near her vagina, she can get pregnant, provided she has functioning ovaries. Even if they don’t see semen, if there is any just inside the tip of of the penis or any that has emerged from the penis, this is a possibility. If they engage in such behavior, they need to take precautions. And children who are younger than that should be told that it is NOT OK for anyone to touch them when they don't want them to.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Common Objections to Consanguineous Love

If you can stand a little rough language, you might want to check out this counter to three common condemnations of consanguineous love.

Of the charge that “Incest is not ‘normal’”…

Incest in Nature occurs. Especially within the animal communities whose socio interaction resembles to us: chimps. Where homosexuality also occurs as well. It’s also not uncommon in the feline community (though in this case homosexuality is not common).

Of the charge that “Inbreeding leads to defective babies”…

Somehow many biologists fail to mention that similar genes also strengthen good genes and way too diverse genes pose an equal probability of causing miscarriages and defective babies.

Of the charge that “Incest is wrong”…

Pure and simple dogmatic reasoning, what else do you need?
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Secular Humanist Perspective on Freedom to Marry

Wendy Kaminer asked “Why Is Polygamy Illegal?”

Opponents of gay rights often warn that legalizing same-sex marriage would inexorably lead to legalizing polygamy. Maybe it would, and maybe it should. Denying gay couples the right to marry violates state constitutional guarantees of equality, as the California and Massachusetts high courts have rightly ruled. (The Supreme Court of California also held that the right to marry is fundamental.) Surely Mormons have the same rights to equal treatment under law—and of course, they have a substantial First Amendment claim to engage in multiple marriages according to the dictates of their faith.

So why is polygamy illegal? Why don’t Mormons have the right to enter into multiple marriages sanctified by their church, if not the state? There’s a short answer to this question but not a very good one: polygamy is illegal and unprotected by the Constitution because the Supreme Court doesn’t like it.

It didn’t like it in the past. That was a long time ago. Maybe this court will be friendlier to full marriage equality.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Incest Survivor

The phrase “incest survivor” is one reason why I prefer using the term “consanguineous” to describe consensual sex between close relatives. Technically, “incest” means “sex between close relatives”, but mostly the term is used to describe rape by a family member, especially the rape of a minor child by a parent, or nonconsensual sex between close relatives (see this recent article, for example). To me, a better phrase is “domestic abuse” or ‘domestic sexual abuse,” the same way I’d prefer calling someone an “abduction survivor” rather than a “travel survivor.” When you’re abducted, you are being transported against your will. When you are subjected to domestic sexual abuse, incest is being forced on you. Maybe travel isn’t the best example, because even when you travel of your own free will, it can be something you felt like you have “survived!”

Will the terminology ever change? I don’t know. “Queer” used to be used as a slur, but has gained a lot of ground to being used in a positive sense.

For now, I will continue to refer to consensual familial sex as consanguineous sex to distinguish it from domestic sexual abuse.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Silly Singapore

A young woman in Singapore was criminally accused for engaging in consensual sex with her father, but she got the equivalent of an acquittal.

The 23-year-old technical executive is believed to be the first woman to have been charged with allowing her 46-year-old father to have sex with her willingly in the master bedroom of their flat in Serangoon at about 11.30pm in April 2008.

The father, a freelance plumber, was to have been charged that day as well but did not show up. The court has issued a warrant for his arrest. He is still at large and police investigations are still on-going.

Let the father go, too. Assuming they enjoyed each other sexually, I ask, “So what?” Actually, if they did, then good for them. The article does not point to a victim. That’s because there is no victim. This shouldn’t be a crime. Singapore should change its laws.
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Sex Week at College

The author of this piece calls for a more restrictive, narrow, confining approach to Sex Week at colleges.

Sex-toy raffles and giveaways? Workshops featuring graphic, violent pornography and simulated sex techniques? Teaching about polyamory but not about monogamy or abstinence?

Oh no! Polyamory? You mean like how some consenting adults get what they need in a way other than monogamy? We can’t let anyone know about that, no. Seriously, monogamy and abstinence should be talked about as well. I’m sure if someone wanted to speak about those things, they wouldn’t be prevented.

I don’t see what the objection is to any of the other things. “graphic, violent pornography” is not my thing, but if someone wants to put BDSM on video and someone wants to watch it, why should anyone else care? Or are we just talking about spanking? Are “violent” images only okay if nobody is having sex?

The events, billed as educational, used the universities' names and facilities. They were open to everyone, including the outside community.

Is this a complaint about generosity? If they were restricted, I think the writer might cite that as nefarious, too.

Sex-industry representatives were significantly involved in many of the programs and sponsorships, along with contributions from nonprofit groups such as the Kinsey Institute and Planned Parenthood.


Judging from the program descriptions, the emphasis of most Sex Week programming seems to be more on providing entertainment and promoting pleasure, rather than teaching students about sexual health and safety. While some sessions covered topics like women's health and sex trafficking, others featured such offerings as pornographic-film screenings; a lingerie show using college students as models; and a topless porn star demonstrating bondage, discipline, dominance, and submission to a student audience.

And the problem is…?

Similar programs are appearing on other campuses as well. In April, a "vayjayducation" workshop at Harvard featured a raffle for $1,000 worth of donated sex toys and the showing of a graphic film clip of a woman's genitals.

Oh, heavens no. There might be one or two people who have never seen such things. They shouldn’t be allowed to. It might, uh, might… well I’m sure the result would be disastrous.

Make no mistake about it—adult stores and sex-toy companies are actively seeking access to students through campus resources.

And this is different from other businesses… how?

Privacy is a grave matter of concern in other on-campus sex programming, too. Dozens of pictures of students, some posing with sex toys, are featured on the Facebook page of a frequent presenter at college sex workshops.

My guess is that the people in those pictures consented.

Even if the students gave permission at the time for their pictures to be taken or recorded, such stories and images can exist forever on the Internet, and years later can negatively affect students' chances of finding employment.

Sounds like we need employers to be more sex-positive and respectful of others.

The writer goes on to give a list of suggestions to try to make Sex Week less interesting.

Ideally, Sex Week should also include information on the right to love, sex, and marriage regardless of birth; about the realities of relationships that are interracial, intergenerational, same-sex, poly, or consanguineous.
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Don't Blame Polygamy

With the antipolygamy law on trial in Canada, we get this opinion piece in a major newspaper that expresses disapproval of the freedom to marry.

In her affidavit, the woman scheduled to testify for Stop Polygamy in Canada describes growing up with one father, four mothers and 31 siblings in a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) community outside Salt Lake City.

She married another FLDS member when she was 18 but fled the commune with her five children a decade later. “Wives are expected to deliver one baby every year and are not permitted to use any form of birth control,” she writes. Girls rarely attend school past Grade 5 and incest and child molestation are common, she adds.

What does that have to do with polygamy? A high expectation of fertility as well as child molestation or rape happens in monogamous homes, too.

Sadly, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) also wants our polygamy law struck down.

Why is that sad? Why it sad for someone to have the freedom to marry the persons he or she loves? Why make a person pick one person over one or more others when all involved want a commitment with their existing relationships?

Criminalizing such practices doesn’t serve the best interests of women and children. And making it legal does?

Yes, actually, it does. It gives women the freedom to have one husband who also has other wives to keep him occupied, and gives women the freedom to have more than one husband, or more than one wife, or a wife and a husband (or two, or more).

The brainwashing, abuse and exploitation of females in FLDS communities is rampant.

Prosecute abuse and false imprisonment. Don’t prosecute love. This is like comparing racketeering to capitalism. Earning money is not a crime. But racketeering is. Identify the real problem. Having more than one spouse should be legal. Keeping women and children as hostage rape toys is not. If the latter is going on, stop that.

I am curious what the divorce rates and cheating rates are in polygamous homes, in comparison to supposedly monogamous homes.
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Is Forbidden Making Allies?

Jess Hearts Books gives Tabitha Suzuma’s Forbidden five out of five stars. The book may be making some allies.

Before reading this book I like many people thought of incest as a taboo subject, but after reading this it’s completely changed my opinion on it. Not all incest is as black and white as it may seem, especially that of the consensual type and this book fills in all of those shades of grey in between. It wasn’t until I was half way through reading this that I realised that I didn’t find Maya and Lochan’s relationship sick or repulsive at all - in fact quiet the opposite! I was desperate for them to be together and find a way to figure everything out and ultimately found their situation sad and unfortunate. Like Lochan and Maya I never saw them as brother and sister but as star crossed lovers who had so much against them. They were two normal, wonderful people who I just wanted the best for and if that was with each other then so be it. Their relationship wasn’t all that sexual which just showed that above all they deeply loved each other and just wanted to be able to be a proper couple. All they wanted was to be accepted and to be able to do all the things that a normal boyfriend and girlfriend take for granted. It actually shocked me that Lochan and Maya could go to prison for something they had no control over. You can’t choose who you fall in love with and it made me think that if homosexuals are allowed to love each other and transsexuals are allowed to defy the ‘norm’ because of feelings they cant control then why on earth are not only Lochan and Maya not allowed to be together but face a prison sentence because of it? Why, if under some circumstances and if an incest relationship is consensual and they aren’t hurting each other or other people must they be punished for that?

They shouldn’t be. The are simply because of fear, ignorance, and issues of controlling sexuality. The more people see that, the better.
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