Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Married in Every Way Except in Law

George Jonas reminisces about his family

My favourite second cousin, for instance - I called her "Aunt" Blanca - had a life-long relationship with her brother. It was insular enough for people to assume it was incestuous. Not that anybody cared.

Even if it wasn’t explicitly talked about much in the past, there were families where everyone, including the children, accepted their relatives who did not enter into legally recognized, heterosexual marriages, but rather were in same-sex or consanguinamorous relationships.

Back then household arrangements such as a sister living with her brother were regarded as strictly the participants' own business, at least in urban and urbane Europe. In large families it was not uncommon for one girl to stay unmarried to keep house for her widowed father or bachelor brother.

In patriarchal societies of the not so distant past, especially when women weren’t allowed to own property and didn’t have much access to most professions, it was expected that women would live in their father’s, brother’s, or uncle’s home until they married. She could suffer loss of reputation if she was alone with some unrelated male. But… there was no such loss of reputation to suffer being alone with a male relative (or, for that matter, any female). Not all of the women went on to marry, sometimes because it wasn’t legal to marry the person or persons they loved.

Most such relationships weren't incestuous, and even those that were, tended to be platonic.

I don’t buy that. I think most lifelong situations like that, at least the ones in which the women weren’t lesbians, were fully consanguinamorous. Most people have a libido (there are a few who don’t). Most people with a libido are not going to go without sex when there is someone they love and trust, available and under the same roof.

Although we gossiped about Aunt Blanca and Uncle Robert, whatever suited them, suited us. We didn't exactly wish an affair on them, but consanguineous liaisons had a certain snob-appeal. "Like Spanish royalty," was the way somebody put it.

A lot of people who ridicule consanguinamory cite the stereotype of poor, isolated hillbillies, rather than Spanish or Egyptian or Hawaiian royalty. But the rich, the educated, the urban, and the royal have been consanguinamorous, as have people from every walk of life.

Uncle Robert passed away in his fifties. Aunt Blanca draped white sheets over the furniture in his study, and cherished his memory for another 30 years. She was quite old when I saw her last, sitting in their sprawling, rundown apartment like a priestess in a shrine.

Sounds like she never stopped mourning the loss of her partner.

People had warned me she wasn't all there, but throughout my visit she seemed all there and then some. When I rose to leave, she waved me back to my chair.

"You want to know if Robert and I were lovers, don't you?" she said, out of the blue.

This sort of thing shouldn’t have to be a secret anymore. We are a more open, honest generation when it comes to sexuality, and people should no longer have to keep quiet, hide, or outright lie about the identity, orientation, or love.
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