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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

David Epstein Case Brings Out the Ignorance

Here’s a piece by Heather Muse on the David Epstein case. You know it isn’t going to be good when the title includes “Yeeeechh.”

The case brings the idea of "consensual incest" back into the spotlight. Last year, actress Mackenzie Phillips discussed her relationship with her late father, John Phillips, in her memoir, "High on Arrival," and introduced us to the term.

Really? This writer had never heard of consensual incest before? Next she’ll ask what a “ho…mo…sexual” is, or what a “marital aid” is.

The slightly-less-squicky term for consensual incestuous relationships is "genetic sexual attraction," and there are several sites on the Internet dedicated to discussing this taboo.

Actually, GSA is usually used to describe a sexual or physical attraction between biologically related people who are reunited after one or both of them matures. For example, a father and daughter relationship in which the daughter was raised by someone else with little or no contact with her father, or a brother and sister who did not grow up together. One or both may experience GSA. This attraction may or may not result in sex. Consanguineous sex, or “consensual incest,” also happens between close relatives who were not separated for such a length of time. Sometimes it is experimentation, such as between minor siblings who end up moving on and living seperate lives with others. Sometimes it is something more and results in lasting marriage relationships (only it is usually without legal marriage equality.) Nonconsensual incest is rape, assault, or molestation, including when one person is too much younger than the other person to consent.

We wonder: Can anyone truly "consent" to having a sexual relationship with a parent or other older relative? The power differential seems too great.

There is a power differential in just about any relationship, sometimes an enormous power differential. One person is more emotionally needy than another. One earns more than the other. One is more educated than another. One has more friends and family than another. One has more life experience than other. On and on it goes. To question if consent is truly possible in these cases is insulting and demeaming. There are sober, functional, healthy people who consent to consanguineous sex with an older relative. It shouldn’t be illegal or questioned, unless you would do the same to any intergenerational relationship between adults.

I can understand why someone would never want to have this level of relationship with a close relative, and I can understand why someone would only ever want a monogamous relationship. But for them to take their personal feelings and desires and insist that nobody could really consent to a polyamorous or consanguineous relationship is so much prejudice, and why full marriage equality is currently denied.
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