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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Harvard and Incest

Students at Harvard are using the "I" word metaphorically and it is causing the "incest = rape" folks and the sex-negative types to wail and gnash their teeth. Obviously, it isn't really incest to have sex with someone in the same dorm as you... unless they also happen to be close relatives. See this opinion from Samantha Berstler at thecrimson.com...
I get it. In the idiom of current college students, “incest” has come to mean romance among hall-mates or house-mates. Kirkland House’s annual dance, IncestFest, is a catchy name designed to celebrate a saccharinely close-knit house. It’s easy to become habituated to the name, lulled into prioritizing the slang meaning of “incest” over its formal definition.

But let’s talk about incest for a minute. Actual incest.
Good idea.

But then she goes into abuse/assault of children, citing a statistic that 34.2 percent of the abused children are attacked by a family member. And here's where the problem is with calling both abuse/assault of children and consensual sex between adults "incest," and why I call the latter consanguinamory.



What's going on at Kirkland House is consensual sex between adults.
There is one point I must emphasize: the vast majority of cases of incest are not between two consensual adults.
That would depend on what is meant by "cases of incest." Are we talking therapy cases? Criminal cases? Or actual occurrences in the human population? Even one case of abuse or assault is one too many, but we have several reasons to believe that consanguinamory or consanguineous sex is not rare. Another important word in that phrase is "adults." Many instances of consanguineous sex involve siblings or other close relatives who are in their teens and close in age, but not legally adults. As long as there is no coercion or force or violence, most therapists consider this mutual exploration or experimentation, and not problematic if they are four years apart in age or less.

How many people who have enjoyable or at least not abusive mutual exploration, whether as minors or not, report it to any authority that keeps and collects records, or pollsters? Adults in consensual relationships that are still stigmatized and literally prosecuted in most (not all) states aren't going to make themselves highly visible, now are they? Therapists tend to deal with people who are troubled. Siblings who are happily living in a spousal relationship, or perhaps having recreational sex now and then, aren't exactly lining up to tell therapists about it, and somebody has to catch them and complain to police about it before it will be a criminal case, whereas with abuse/assault, there is an actual victim who may call police or may have someone else call police.

She then cites Discredited Argument #20 ...
Even if we bracket issues of age, supposedly “egalitarian” or “happy incest families” cannot exist: the power differential between father and daughter or older sibling and younger sibling is so huge that it necessarily precludes the possibility of consent.
This just does not stand up to reality. And what about twins? This doesn't apply to twins, right?
The sexy siblings on TV and the image of the oppressed pedophile are lies that distract from a silent epidemic raging throughout the world.

Who is portraying pedophiles as oppressed?!? Notice what is going on here. Sex between consenting adults is being equated to assault on children by pedophiles. That's ridiculous. An adult should be free to have sex with other consenting adults.

Could there be a better name given to the event, whether or not this is the official name? Yes. However, I couldn't let this slip by without once again clearing up myths about consanguinamory.
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