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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lies and Damned Lies About GSA and Full Marriage Equality

This blog was cited in a nymag.com article by Alexa Tsoulis-Reay on Genetic Sexual Attraction between a father and daughter. The article went viral and many media personalities have spoken about it, from the usual anti-equality bigots, to others who apply double-standards to the situation, to people who are allies. [This entry is being bumped up after being posted months ago.]

A few haters wrote to us. Some people who are experiencing GSA for themselves have contacted us. Both of those are things that tend to happen anyway. More media production staff have been contacting us, asking for people in consanguinamorous relationships who are willing to be on a show or in a series or documentaries.

So far, I haven’t seen the haters or bigots explain exactly what is wrong with consenting adults expressing their love for each other. The bigotry is giving way to equality and freedom and the haters are getting desperate. Doing the rhetorical equivalent of jumping up and down, gasping, and waving your hands around isn’t an argument.

From Alexa Tsoulis-Reay’s original article…
Consensual incest between fathers and their daughters remains the least reported and perhaps the most taboo sort of GSA relationship. Keith Pullman, who runs a marriage equality blog, has personally talked to over 20 GSA couples and notes that he’s only had a few father-daughter couples speak out, speculating that many of them fear that others will assume the daughter must have been abused in childhood…
The only quibble I have with that is that I’ve published interviews with people in about 20 GSA situations. I’ve communicated with many more people than that about their experiences with GSA. Not everyone wants to do an interview, of course. Just look at all of the hate these lovers are sent.



For whatever reason, my father and I didn’t end up meeting for two more years, so there was no contact for 12 years — we were reunited when I was 17.
I’ve seen some people mistakenly say she was 16 when they reunited, not that the age difference will matter to the haters.
I’m curious, given the age gap and the perceived power dynamic, did you feel forced or coerced at all?

Absolutely not. He made sure I wanted to do it. We both initiated it and he kept asking me if I was okay, not because he thought I was distressed but because he wanted me to know that we could stop at any point. It was like any other man and woman having sex after they had each admitted their feelings.

What was it like afterward?

It wasn’t weird at all. It felt so natural. It didn’t even feel taboo. I felt like I had just made love with a man who I’d been with for years.

Did you think that a relationship was a possibility?

We discussed it before we had sex. I told him I was saving myself for someone who I’d be committed to for the rest of my life. It was important for me to make it clear that if I made love to him he was in a relationship with me. I didn’t regret it at all. I was happy for once in my life. We fell deeply in love.
Much of the negative reaction to this article has focused on her age. However, I know of several middle-aged women who reunited or were introduced to their genetic fathers and they have consensually acted on their mutual feelings for each other, and have since lived as spouses (although not free to legally marry). Few, if any of the people reacting negatively would change their overall reaction to this article if it had featured one of those women, because their real objection has to do with their personal biases and prejudices. Journalists have to work with the people willing to work with them. This woman was willing to work with this journalist.

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Courtney Stodden married a 51-year-old Doug Hutchison and not only is that entirely legal, but they’ve been all over television, allowed to be cast members on a reality television show.  They could do that because neither of them faced the risk of criminal prosecution.
Will you have a wedding? Do you have it planned?

Yes. I want it to represent our uniqueness, so we aren’t doing a white wedding.
This a point where the haters mock. “Who will walk you down the aisle?” What matters most in a wedding is that the people there are consenting to be there and making a commitment to each other.
Will you tell your kids that their father is your dad, and their grandfather?
This is another point where they haters mock. However, children care most about having a parent or parents who take care of them and love them, and as long as their parents raise them to be independent adults, what does it matter if the parents have more than one genetic label (father/grandfather)? What harms children more is bigotry hurled at their parents.
There are so many people having kids who will be passing on health problems, people with diabetes or mental health issues, or AIDS. My mom was allowed to have kids and both her and her mom were bipolar.
The haters chalk up this woman’s behavior to mental illness. Even if that were true this case, there are many sane women who’ve experienced GSA and have loving relationships as a result. And this woman is functional. She knows what she’s doing. She is neither ignorant nor mentally dysfunctional. But the insinuation is that if she has the same diagnosis, she shouldn’t be free to make her own relationship decisions. Who else is that applied to? Trying to dismiss her as too immature is interesting, because it is entirely legal for 18-year-olds to marry complete strangers. Really, it just boils down to the haters being disgusted, or perhaps jealous.
Were you ever sexually abused when you were younger?

No, and my dad has told me that the thought of being involved with me when I was little is appalling to him.
Of course the haters (mistakenly or intentionally) wrongly accuse him of being a pedophile, and predict he’ll go after any children they have, because they are ignorant of the dynamics involved in all of this.

Tracy Moore covered the story at jezebel.com, thankfully explaining a little bit about GSA…
First things first: You've no doubt heard of genetic sexual attraction, if not by name or abbreviation—GSA—then by concept. It's when two people who are related to each other experience strong sexual attraction—kissin' cousins!—but it's especially common when estranged relatives meet as adults, either in adoption or sperm donor scenarios, or when absent parents or siblings find each other later in life and become flooded with a witches brew of mixed-up longing.
Beejoli Shah covered the story at thefrisky.com, critiquing how the interview went…
The article may not be exploitative (that sin should be reserved almost entirely for her father, who chose to engage in a sexual relationship with a struggling teenager who he should have been protecting),
Consensual sex somehow prevents protection? I worry about people who have sex but also think sex is doing something bad to another person.
When The Guardian covered genetic sexual attraction, they showcased consenting adults who met when they were truly adults — in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.
Yes, that was great, but like I already said, journalists have to work with the people willing to work with them. The hate and the criminalizing against consanguinamory tends to discourage a lot of people involved from working with media.

Remy Carreiro covered the story at uproxx.com
There is a “thing” that can sometimes happen when family members are reunited after long separations. It is called genetic sexual attraction and it occurs when two members of the same family become sexually attracted to one another and begin dating and/or acting on that. While it may sound a bit strange (and frankly creepy), one cannot deny there is something fascinating about knowing there are people who live this. 
Much of the commenting by Carreiro expresses disgust, but it is funny how some of the people who express the most disgust covered the story in much detail.

Kiri Blakeley had the coverage for thestir.cafemom.com
What happened between them is something called "Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA)," which is apparently a fairly common dynamic between adults and biological children who did not grow up together.
Actually, it happens between siblings as well, and others. Making it as simple as possible, it seems to happen between 1) close genetic relatives (first cousins or closer) 2) who had negligible in-person contact (if any) from age seven into puberty (could be due to divorce, adoption, one night stands, egg donations, etc.) 3) who have compatible genders/sexual orientations (a gay man will not experience GSA for his mother). When those conditions are present, there’s about a 50% chance that someone being reunited or introduced will experience an overwhelming physical/sexual/emotional/erotic/romantic attraction. It may or may not be reciprocated. (Some people are attracted to close relatives even if they were never separated, but that doesn't fall under the category of GSA. For example, there are people who marry first cousins who were always in their lives, and they can legally marry in many countries and about half of US states.)
The two also plan on having children together -- and they don't plan on telling them what's up. The teen is not worried about genetic malformations, saying it doesn't happen to everybody. (She may want to read up on the case of Aswad Ayinde, who had children with three of his daughters. One child passed away from a genetic disease, the other has lifelong problems.)
Blakeley may want to read up on the majority of children born to consanguineous parents, who are healthy, and perhaps this.
And the father clearly took advantage of that. He may love her, but he should have loved her enough to say, "I'm your father, not your lover. I'll always be there for you, but not in that way." Obviously, the man has no boundaries.
No boundaries? Really? Assumptions, much?

Samantha Allen had some of the worst coverage at thedailybeast.com, clearly letting her bigoted prejudices ruin her. Out of over 2,000 blog entries, she picked two and misleads readers about this blog’s positions.
A New York Magazine piece about a father-daughter sexual relationship has readers wondering: is ‘consensual incest’ a real thing? (The answer: No.)
Actually, yes it is, and Allen certainly knows people have have been involved in consanguinamory, even though they either haven’t told her (why would they?) or she dismisses it as somehow assault. Allen seems to ignore that “incest” isn’t just parents with their adult children, but siblings, aunts/uncles with nieces/nephews, and a lot of people throw cousins in there too.
In the mere days since its publication, the interview has already spread false and misleading information about adult incest.
Oh, this should be good.
Although NY Mag’s Alexa Tsoulis-Reay takes a healthy skepticism into her interview with the young woman—pressing her, for example, on the fact that she took her father to prom even though she herself was conceived at her father’s own prom night—she frames the interview in a way that lends too much credence to the notions of “Genetic Sexual Attraction” and “consensual incest,” terms that have little grounding in reality.
Sounds like Allen has little grounding in reality. She goes on to say there hasn’t been enough scientific research into GSA to consider it a reality. Yeah, bigotry and criminalization make that a little difficult. Just look at her, taking the time to use her considerable platform to insist there is no such thing as consensual incest, as if two half siblings who first meet in their late 30s can't mutually consent to have sex with each other. Who wants to risk attacks like this and prosecution? So most involved keep quiet about it and enjoy their love, denied their fundamental freedom to marry but living as spouses anyway.
It is clear by now that many estranged biological relatives do end up in sexual relationships after reconnecting—at least enough for the occasional exposé to appear online—and that the topic is worthy of clinical research.
So what was all of that written above?
In this light, uncritically using the term GSA and floating the unverified 50 percent claim as fact is both factually incorrect and socially irresponsible, especially because adult incest advocates regularly parrot the 50 percent claim in order to legitimize incestuous relationships.
Even if it was just 10%, consenting adults should not be denied their rights.
One of these adult incest advocates is a man named Keith Pullman, whom Tsoulis-Reay positions in the introduction to her interview as a man who “runs a marriage equality blog”—a generous description of someone whose blog focuses almost exclusively on protecting so-called “consensual incest” from criminalization.
That’s a mischaracterization of this blog. Just see the tags list, and see here.
On his blog, Pullman regularly questions news reports of a relative allegedly raping another relative—even when one party is under 18—in order to raise the possibility that there could have been a consensual relationship involved.
To be clear, when the sole crime is reported as “incest”, without indicating a "degree" that stipulates it was not consensual or not involving an adult with a minor, and with no rape or assault charges, this blog does question whether we are talking about an assault or consensual sex, since many reports do not indicate one way or the other. In some cases, all adults who've had sex with each other are charged. Does it make sense to charge rape victims? No, so it is likely in those cases it was consensual. In some cases, the charge is specifically using a section of law that refers to consensual sex rather than an adjoining section that refers to assault. (Note that even if the article or police report indicates it was consensual, Allen would apparently still deny it was.) This blog almost always does this in reference to cases involving adults or cases involving minors close in age. This blog has been clear about being against abuse and does not argue against age of consent laws. Please note that many jurisdictions allow people the age of 16 or 17 to have sex with people older than them, and if a 16-year-old can legally consent to sex with a 25-year-old stranger, this blog does question the prosecution of consensual sex between that 16-year-old and a 19-year-old half-sibling they met for the first time a year ago.
In one post, Pullman reacts with uncertainty to a New Zealand case in which a man was convicted on incest charges and one charge of rape that occurred later in their sexual relationship:

“Okay, if a jury in a court of law said it was consensual and convicted him of incest rather than assault/rape, why does the news article call it rape? Is this a bias against Genetic Sexual Attraction? As it turns out, if I’m reading it right, it looks like they believe it was an ongoing, consensual relationship that involved one incident of rape.”

Just one, he suggests, as if it mitigates the seriousness of the charge.
No, not at all. Allen’s implication is that if a woman consents to sex with a man for a year, and then he rapes her after a year, that woman couldn’t possibly have consented to sex with him for that previous year. This blog takes rape more seriously than Allen, who wants to equate consensual sex with rape. Go read what was actually written on this blog in context about a specific case and how it was reported.
In another post about a 32-year-old California woman who was charged with incest after allegedly performing oral sex on her 16-year-old biological son, Pullman also equivocates:

“There are 16-year-old boys who dream of this sort of thing, but that shouldn’t matter. … I don’t generally argue for changes to age of consent laws because the line has to be drawn somewhere. However, I don’t think they should always be applied. Just as I do with cheating and GSA, I give special consideration here. … Ten years down the line, they could be a happy a couple, for all we know now.”
Again, if you want to read this blog’s coverage of that case in full, go here and click through to any previous entries.
Pullman tries to boost his marriage equality credentials by also promoting the legalization of same-sex marriage but a more apt description of affairs would be that he wants to hitch incest to the same-sex marriage wagon.
We promote full marriage equality. We support the rights of all adults. Allen is really grasping at straws. There are many great blogs out there thoroughly covering LGBT issues, and this blog links to some of them. We mostly fill in the gaps here. Funny how she ignores polyamory. There are more and more great blogs about polyamory, too. I've been over this before here. If she's bothered to check social media associated with this blog, surely she's seen that the majority of it has been addressing the limited same-gender freedom to marry and polyamory, but this blog does fill in the gaps of the overall full marriage equality situation.
As psychotherapist Robi Ludwig told CBS at the time of the Mackenzie Phillips story, “By calling incest ‘consensual incest,’ [Phillips is] still protecting the person who abused her. … But you can’t say it’s consensual, because there’s always a power imbalance when it comes to a parent and child.”
She keeps bringing up the Phillips case, as if there aren’t millions of other relationships that had and have different dynamics.

Like so many others reacting to this case, Allen doesn’t bring up a single argument that hasn’t been discredited. Early in her piece, she said  that the original article had “spread false and misleading information about adult incest,” but Allen doesn’t give any example, but rather simply asserts that there’s no such thing as consanguinamory, only abuse.

Is it really Allen’s position that if two people meet in a bar and go home and have sex, it couldn’t have been consensual if they later discovered they are close genetic relatives? That’s what her position has to be if there is no such thing as consensual incest. Does Allen insist that everyone must get DNA tests before having sex, just to be sure? Oh, by the way, there are people who've experienced GSA who did not know of their genetic relation until after they'd become involved.

Allen simply asserts that adults are cognitively unable to consent to sex with each other if they're closely related. How closely, she doesn't make clear, but it would be interesting to know because different people have different definitions of incest. Her assertion doesn't make it reality.

Wouldn’t it be delicious if Allen had a long lost sibling out there and learned about GSA first hand?

Trying to equate what consenting adults choose to do with each other with rape or with child molestation is insulting to everyone. We do not support abuse. People who abuse, or rape, or assault, or molest should be locked away in a very bad place for a very long time. We support the rights of consenting adults, no matter who thinks what they do is disgusting.
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7 comments:

  1. I wonder if any steps were taken to verify that the interviewee is really who she claims to be and that this relationship actually exists?

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    1. It sounds like many other GSA situations I've heard from people who've experienced GSA, although most of them have either been older or it has been with a sibling/half sibling closer in age.

      My guess is that the journalist was NOT there when the man was having sex with the interview subject's mother, nor was there at the birth, nor tested DNA at the birth and now, nor was present when the interview subject and the man were having sex. So I guess there's always room for doubt, right?

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    2. They tried to reform the law in Australia in 94 and intended to leave incest out altogether as there are so many laws that catch out abusers anyway its defunct if one wants to stop abuse. Its didn't get deleted due to a moral objection from religious groups.gsa is a real phenomena i have lived it. Been spat out by the legal system for just speaking about sex not even consummated. And life in ruin because of it. Its a phenomena that grips you funny while fighting to resist it

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  2. Why would new jersey change laws preventing consensual adult familiaral sex? Its legal in many places not because they overlooked it but because there are already laws to combat abuse so this additional law is targeted for political purposes. Leave the poor couples alone.they have enough to face without prosecution as well

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  3. OMG! Where do I begin! First off. Great article keith. Your the only voice of reason in the whole post. I think that what you write is fair and unbiased. You make it very clear about being against rape and any forms of abuse. You do a great job of explaining things. I have so many problems with this article. Like
    Why people dont realize that children just want to be loved. Thats all they care about. And what hurts children the most is when outsiders try to tear down their family and parents. I also dont understand why people think that you stop caring and protecting someone because you have sex with them. Why do people think that sex hurts another person?The story by uproxx bothered me too.While it may sound a bit strange (and frankly creepy), one cannot deny there is something fascinating about knowing there are people who live this. Really!!! What is so creepy?! There is nothing creepy with love! But then this person goes on to say that its fascinating like we are all bugs that should be inspected under a microscope. I think your creepy lady just by what you write! If you are so disgusted why do you write so much about this. Something else bugs me to no end. I want all these people who claim that consang relations cause birth defects to give me a complete up to date list of every birth defect it causes and that only being in a consang relationship causes that. Wheres the proof! Who says the cause is from consang relations!Even if it was just 10%, consenting adults should not be denied their rights. Sorry keith, but your wrong. It doesnt matter if just 1 or 2 people. Nobody should be denied their rights. Nobody!Pullman tries to boost his marriage equality credentials by also promoting the legalization of same-sex marriage but a more apt description of affairs would be that he wants to hitch incest to the same-sex marriage wagon. Get your facts straight people. Keith isnt trying to hitch incest to anything. Keith promotes full marriage equality like it should be. I think keith does a great job because he fills in the gaps that the other sites dont.

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  4. Keith. That just bugs me to no end. I was all set and ready to have a good day. And now im a little less friendly right now. No not at you. The world. You do a more profesional job at writing then any of the others in your article combined. One person had said that it was disgusting and yet fascinating. I have never once read anything so un profesional as that. And never have i read you go and call another person disgusting. I think you treat everyone with respect the way it should be. We arent bugs! We are humans! Just like everyone else. Why dont they see that. We are just humans just like they are. Nothing less. And why. Why dont people realize how mean and hateful they are.

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  5. You know keith. Im a huge fan of yours. Sometimes i just want to say, THANKS!!! LOL This really was a great article but it breaks my heart. I really am glad that you wrote it but at the same time its sad. I just wish that one day the world will understand.
    Thanks again for ruining my day keith. Just kidding. You didnt ruin it. That was sarcastic. But seriously. How about some upbeat articles soon. Either way, i cant wait. As usual, great work.

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To prevent spam, comments will have to be approved, so your comment may not appear for several hours. Feedback is welcome, including disagreement. I only delete/reject/mark as spam: spam, vulgar or hateful attacks, repeated spouting of bigotry from the same person that does not add to the discussion, and the like. I will not reject comments based on disagreement, but if you don't think consenting adults should be free to love each other, then I do not consent to have you repeatedly spout hate on my blog without adding anything to the discourse.

If you want to write to me privately, then either contact me on Facebook, email me at fullmarriageequality at protonmail dot com, or tell me in your comment that you do NOT want it published. Otherwise, anything you write here is fair game to be used in a subsequent entry. If you want to be anonymous, that is fine.

IT IS OK TO TALK ABOUT SEX IN YOUR COMMENTS, BUT PLEASE CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY AS I WANT THIS BLOG TO BE AS "SAFE FOR WORK" AS POSSIBLE. If your comment includes graphic descriptions of activity involving minors, it's not going to get published.