I’ve noticed some common myths expressed about sibling consanguinamory. In this instance, by consanguinamory, I mean everything from curious exploration and experimenting to erotic romance, including masturbating in front of each other, erotic kissing, sexual touching or rubbing, oral sex, intercourse, etc.
This entry is NOT addressing molestation, assault, or abuse.
I’m referring to adult siblings, or minor siblings who are close in age, engaging in mutual affection or experimentation, without coercion, force, or intimidation. It may be two siblings alone, it may be three or more siblings, or it may be two or more siblings involved together with one or more people outside of the immediate family.
These myths need to be addressed, because they perpetuate inequality, discrimination, hardship, confusion, stigmas, ignorance, and fear.
Myth #1 “It doesn’t happen” or “It happens very rarely” or “I don’t know anyone who has done this.” Just because one person hasn’t been involved or doesn’t remember being involved with sibling doesn’t mean it isn’t happening with others. It is, and it always has. Ongoing sexual relationships between siblings are common enough that everyone knows someone who is, or has been in, such a relationship, and far more siblings than that have had an encounter or experimented, explored, or played doctor. Reality: We all know people who've been involved, whether we know it or not.
Myth #2 “Siblings don’t have sex, rather it is always that one sibling abuses another” or ”It only happens between siblings who have been abused or neglected” or “It always means they need therapy.” At the heart of this is myth is that, because of the dynamics between siblings, one sibling can’t consent to have sex with another. This ignores siblings who weren’t raised together, but even with siblings who were raised together, the claim that one can’t consent to sex with another is an unsupported assertion based on personal aversion, a personal history of abuse, ignorance, or even the absurd notion that females don’t want or enjoy sex. If an 18-year-old woman can legally consent to group sex with three male cage fighters who are strangers to her, or consent to be the mistress of a billionaire with a spouse and children, the President of the United States, or a someone who rented a room in her childhood home and was present for her entire childhood, how can we be consistent in saying that she can't consent to sex with her twin brother or sister? When it comes to minors, most family therapists don’t consider it abuse if minors close in age experiment or have sex; it is considered mutual experimentation (think teenagers who are four or fewer years apart). Abuse and sex are two different things. Sex does happen in some families. Unfortunately, so does abuse. But they aren’t the same thing. Reality: Some siblings do willingly share this at some point in their lives, and may not need therapy at all.
Myth #3. “It only happens as youthful experimentation. Adults don't do this.” While such contact is more common among siblings living together in their youth, it may continue throughout their lives or be initiated during adulthood: everything from while they’re at college to during their senior years. It can happen when siblings are introduced or reunited (Genetic Sexual Attraction,) during a time of personal discovery or experimentation, while one siblings cares for another through an illness or after an accident, during times of grieving, after a breakup or divorce or death of a spouse/lover… anytime, really. Reality: Some siblings share this throughout their lives, some starting late in life.
Myth #4 “It is unnatural.” This myth is not supported either in human history or in other species. While it is very common for people who spent their childhoods in the same residence together, whether genetically related or not, to develop a suppression of sexual attraction to each other (this has been described as the Westermarck Effect), this does not happen to everyone, and siblings who aren’t raised together are often attracted to each other; studies reveal most people are attracted to people who look like them. Reality: In many cases, nothing is more natural.
Myth #5. “It is wrong” or “It is destructive” or “It needs to be stopped” or “They won’t be able to go on to have normal lives.” Different people are going to have different moral guidelines about sex, but sibling consanguinamory is not considered wrong by everyone or all cultures. In many cases, it is advantageous compared to having the siblings involved with others. Nor is there anything inherently destructive about it, but rather some find it constructive. The only way to stop it is to have constant, direct supervision of the siblings 24/7/365. This, however, is needless. For most, the involvement is for a season and it will pass. For others, it will last a lifetime. Either way, there’s no good reason to try to stop it. The only hindrance to having a “normal life” for siblings who continue together is the bigotry of others. Reality: For some, it is the best of all possibilities, it is wonderful and constructive, and they lead perfectly normal, even unusually good lives.
Myth #6 “Only loners, losers, freaks, or ugly people do this” or “It only happens in rural, southern (in the US), poor, uneducated families.”
Reality: Sibling consanguinamory happens in every demographic and in every part of the US and the world. There are attractive, outgoing, popular, successful, wealthy, educated people who have been, or are still involved with a sibling.
Myth #7 “If they have children, they will be deformed” or “It causes birth defects.” Incest, if it results in a birth, does not cause birth defects in and of itself. Most children born to close relatives are healthy. You know some, whether you know it or not and whether they know their own true parentage or not. Birth defects can be the result of injury during pregnancy, substances ingested during pregnancy, environmental factors, or genetic problems. It is the last one that people tend to be thinking of, usually, when they repeat this myth. That’s because when both genetic parents carry the same genetic problem, it may be demonstrated in the children. However, this can happen with parents who aren’t closely related, too. Reality: Most children born to siblings are healthy.
Myth #8 “It always ruins sibling relationships” or “A person needs a nonsexual relationship with their sibling.” Many siblings report that consaguinamory made them much closer, even if they have ceased that part of their relationship. As far as someone needing a nonsexual relationship with a sibling… that would mean that people who are only children (having no siblings) would suffer, when the studies say otherwise. Also, if someone has more than one sibling, that usually means they’ll still have a nonsexual relationship with the other. Reality: For many siblings, consanguinamory made their relationship much better, and they relate to other people better as a result.
Myth #9 “It is illegal everywhere.” No, it isn’t. But where it is, the laws should be changed. Some people say such laws are needed to prevent societal collapse due to everyone making mutant babies with their siblings. As already explained, most children born to siblings are healthy. Even so, sibling consanguinamory and reproduction are two different things. In most places where consanguinamory is legally banned, it is entirely legal for brothers and sisters to have genetic children together through artificial insemination. It is entirely legal for someone with Huntington’s Disease to have children, even though the odds are dramatically higher than with a random pair of siblings that the children will have a debilitating disease. We can also look at places where it is legal for brothers and sisters to have sex and children together, such as Spain, Portugal, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. Has there been a crisis as a result in any of those places? (Snooki excluded.) Furthermore, the person who says anti-consanguinamory laws are needed to prevent widespread inbreeding makes it sound like everyone wants to have babies with their sibling, and the only thing holding them back is the law (perhaps there is something they want to tell us?) MOST people will not have intercourse with or marry their siblings, and even many siblings who do will not have genetic children together. Another part of this myth is that laws against consanguinamory prevent abuse. Abuse is illegal regardless of consanguinamory laws, and criminalizing consensual sex actually makes it more difficult to get victims and witnesses to cooperate in the prosecuting of abusers. Reality: Sibling consanguinamory is legal in several US states and many developed countries, but where stupid laws still apply, those unjust laws must go.
Myth #10 “Siblings don’t need the freedom to marry.” This is often augmented with “because they are already family.” But siblings who are sharing their lives as spouses often do need the same rights, benefits, and protections as any other spouses, and there’s no good reason to deny them their fundamental right to marry. Also, marriage automatically provides for next-of-kin status, which is especially important when there is some discord between one or both siblings and other siblings or their parents or grown children. For example, if brothers Adam & Steve have been living as spouses for years and Steve winds up in a coma in the hospital, their estranged, bigoted parents would likely be able to usurp Adam’s rights to make decisions. Finally, in relationships initiated through Genetic Sexual Attraction, they might not be considered family under the law, although in a loathsome double-standard, they may still be subject to discriminatory laws based on their genetic relation. Reality: An adult should be free to marry any and all consenting adults.
There are siblings who are together right now, providing each other love, comfort, support, or their first sexual experience in a safe and reassuring environment. The biggest problem with sibling consanguinamory seems to be the prejudice and sex-negative attitudes of others. In most cases, trying to force consanguinamorous siblings apart only makes things worse. It can be a mutually beneficial way of bonding, expressing their love for each other, learning, and discovering their sexuality; it may even be a beautiful, lifelong romance.
Let’s not let ignorance cause needless concern or repression.
For further reading:
Common Objections Answered
What Family and Friends Should Know
Case Studies of Consanguinamorous Relationships
How Common is Consensual Incest?
Why Is Incest Illegal Anywhere?
Genetic Sexual Attraction
Consensual Incest FAQ
If You Are Considering It
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