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Monday, February 29, 2016

The Science of Attraction





Reinforcing information we've read before, , Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle, writes at theconversation.com about "why we were secretly attracted to people who look like our parents."
Couple or brother and sister? Teeejayy/Flickr, CC BY-SA
Have you ever thought there was an uncanny family resemblance between your friend and her partner? Or wondered for a fleeting moment whether the pair walking down the road were husband and wife, or brother and sister? You might not be imagining things.
They might actually be siblings.
Scientists have long known that species including birds, mammals and fish pick mates that look similar to their parents. This is known as positive sexual imprinting. For example, if a goat mother looks after a sheep baby, or a sheep mother looks after a goat baby, then those babies grow up to try to mate with the species of their foster mother, instead of their own.
It seems humans also “learn” from our parents in a similar way. When you ask people to judge the similarities between heterosexual couples and their parents from photos, a fascinating picture emerges. Women tend on average to pick partners whose faces look a bit like their fathers', while men often choose partners who slightly resemble their mothers. Resemblance doesn’t stop at faces – you can also see subtle similarities on average between partner and parent height, hair colour, eye colour, ethnicity and even the degree of body hair.
Fascinating
One such study of adopted women found that they tended to choose husbands who looked like their adoptive fathers.
We also know that, in general, heterosexuals are more attracted to those who resemble their opposite-sex parent than their same-sex parent. What’s more, research has shown that it’s not merely appearance that matters: it’s also about your relationship with that parent. People who report more positive childhood relationships with a parent are more likely to be attracted to partners who resemble that parent.
Remember these are generalities. Some people are attracted to people of another race, for example.
For instance, people find the very idea of sexual relationships with their siblings deeply unappealing. This aversion seems to develop automatically through two distinct processes. One process turns off attraction to those that we spend a lot of time with during childhood. The other turns off attraction to any infants that our mother looks after a lot.
Again, these are generalities. There are many people who are different from this. Where there are some generalities, clearly there is a wide diversity of attractions in the human population.
If we’re finding preferences for parental resemblance across different populations, then what is the biological explanation for this behaviour? It turns out that coupling up with a distant family member seems to be the best bet, biologically, to produce a large number of healthy children. One possibility is that if you are attracted to people who look like your parents, then chances are you may get a crush on distant relatives. This might give you better chances of more healthy children, and so this behaviour persists.
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SPOILERS - Who is Rey? Star Wars Can Advance Marriage Equality

You know the drill. If you haven't seen "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" yet and don't want any of it spoiled, just skip over this entry.


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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Priorities and Distinctions in Reporting Cases


Incest and family-related sex offences
There was a piece at examiner.co.uk by and that claimed to show, using proportional mapping, where certain crimes are more likely to take place in England and Wales. It was headlined with "More Incest in West Yorkshire Than Rest of England and Parts of Wales, According to Crime Maps."

Crime maps showing which counties are most affected by different crimes have revealed West Yorkshire as the region with the greatest number of incest offences.
The Examiner's Data Unit has created a string of 'crime cartograms' - maps where areas are made bigger or smaller according to how many, or few, of a particular offence they have seen.
They show, at a glance, how our region has a hugely disproportionate problem with incest and other family-related sex crimes compared to other parts of England and Wales.
The problem is that nowhere in this piece was any distinction made, so we can only assume they are including consanguineous sex (consensual, to be redundant) between adults and assault/abuse/molestation. Those are two very different things. The first shouldn't be a crime in the first place.

After showing a map skewed by population density, they moved on to one skewed by the number of "incest and familial sexual offences."

Immediately we see how West Yorkshire appears to have rocketed in size. 

That is because there were 94 such offences in our region in the 12 months to the end of September - far more than any other part of the country.

The Metropolitan police area, covering London, had just 14. 

The place with the second most was actually Kent, with 58.

After getting what was apparently the most important offense out of the way, the piece moves on to such uninteresting offenses as, oh... homicide, firearms offenses, blackmail, and theft of mail. Silly us, we don't think if adults choose to have sex with each other, that fits in to statistics about murder and weapons violations.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Living People Have Rights

There's interesting political activity out of Sweden, as reported by Sara Malm at dailymail.co.uk...

The youth wing of the Swedish Liberal party has filed a motion to legalize necrophilia and incest.
Sex (that's consensual, to be redundant) between living adults should not be a criminal matter. That simple concept, by definition, includes consensual incest. Our general legal system does not treat a corpse the same as a living person, so necrophilia involves a different set of questions than adult intergenerational, interracial, gay, polyamorous, and consanguinamorous relationships.
Liberal Youth of Sweden said that just because it is 'viewed as unusual and disgusting', does not mean that the deprived sexual acts should be illegal.
Right. That would be Discredited Argument #1.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

It Doesn't Matter If They Are or Aren't

JE Reich at jezebel.com took a look at a very long Reddit thread about a woman concerned that her fiance is too close for her tastes to one of his sisters.

Here's a tip. If someone you are in a relationship with is doing things you are not willing or able to accept you can 1) ask them to stop; or 2) end or change the relationship so that the other person's behavior is no longer a problem for you. Keep in mind, when you ask them to stop, they might say "no," either in words or by saying "OK" but then continuing to do whatever it is that was bothering you, maybe after a temporary stop. So, even if you try number 1, you might still have to end or change the relationship, as painful or as much of a hassle as that may be.

In this case, it doesn't really matter if the siblings are consanguinamorous or not. Even if there is no sex involved, the fiance's behavior is not acceptable to the woman who raised the concern, and it isn't likely to change to be satisfactory.

As to whether or not there is actually anything sexual going on, we've addressed people in the (ex)bride-to-be's position before.

Let's look at how Reich responded...

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Wisconsin Prosecuting Over Victimless Crime

Here's a report from wsaw.com that is missing some important information. It is headlined "Taylor Co. Siblings Accused of Engaging in Incestuous Relationship."
Two siblings in Taylor County are facing criminal charges after they accused engaging in an incestuous relationship.
According to court documents, the defendants were reportedly 16-years-old and 18-years-old when the alleged misconduct occurred in 2014.
Who was which age? That might matter, as we'll see below.
Court documents state an investigation began when a different sibling ran away. Authorities said the girl said she left because of what had occurred between her brother and sister, and because her brother asked her to have sex.
How old was the runaway? We're not told. It matters.
That's when court document state he asked another sibling who consented.
It makes a difference about the ages. Is he 18 and the runaway 13? 12? Or, is he the 16-year-old and the runaway 15 of 14? Notice he asked her to have sex. She said no. He asked his other sister, who is either two years older than him or two years younger than him, and she consented. So he might, depending on how things went, be guilty of sexual harassment toward the other sister, but he's obviously not guilty of sexual assault or molestation.

The relationship did not result in a child.

There's no victim. While the age of consent in Wisconsin is 18, sex with a 16-year-old is a misdemeanor. But they are apparently being prosecuted for incest.
If convicted, both defendants could face up 12.5 years in prison.
How outrageous. Both are facing prison time. Again, who is the victim? Prosecute the 18-year-old for a misdemeanor against the 16-year-old, if you must. This is another example of how incest laws are abused. It is assault or molestation that should be prosecuted, not when teens who are two years in age apart consent to have sex with each other. They didn't meet at a party earlier that night. They know each other and presumably love each other.

The state and county authorities should drop the incest case immediately and apologize. If the uninvolved sibling really does feel harassed, then move the brother out and/or get her some counseling.
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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Is a Woman Unable to Consent to Marry Her Sibling?

[Bumping this up because it is still revelant.] I take the idea of consenting adults seriously. An adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion should be free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage (or any other legal union offered) with any and all consenting adults.

This does not mean I think any given person is a good match for any other person, or that they are treating each other right. It just means whether or not they have a relationship and what they do together should be up to them, not anyone else.

Our laws are inconsistent about this. A 22-year-old woman living below the poverty level can legally consent to sign a prenuptial agreement and legally marry a 60-year-old male billionaire. She can have sex with the President of the United States, who obviously has much more power than her. The law in many places allows her to marry a complete stranger. Also, in most places, she can legally live with and consent to sex with a man who has what amounts to a harem, or she can consent to group sex with several weightlifting champions she’s never met before, or an older man who’s been her next-door neighbor since she was born and babysat her throughout her childhood, and is now living on death row as a convicted murderer. That’s all legal. However, in many places she’s still barred from legally marrying another 22-year-old woman, and in even more places, she is still barred from having consensual sex with, let alone marrying a full or half sibling, even if they weren’t raised together. I have yet to hear a reason justifying such discrimination that withstands scrutiny.

Recently some tweets were directed to me by a thoughtful person questioning brother-sister marriage, and those tweets deserve responses longer than 140 characters, so I’m putting my response here.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

We Get Letters About Secret Attractions

Anonymous emailed at fullmarriageequality at yahoo dot com with this message, which she said could be published here...

I found your blog online when I was googling about incestual experiences and wanted to share something that I have not been able to share with anyone yet.

I am now 35 years old woman, and I have a boyfriend that I love and respect and we have regular and decent sexual life.

The problem is that I have been attracted to my brother who is 4 years younger than me since I was probably 13. At that time I did not know in fact what it was, because my parents never talked to us about sexual relations or attractions or anything like that. So I was just feeling very strange mix of attraction/hatred to my brother. This has continued until now.

Still now, thinking of my brother helps me climax quicker than anything else.

My brother does not have any idea about this and I am never ever going to tell or make him feel about it. The thing is that I don't even like my brother as a person so much, or that type of guy would never be the partner of my choice. But I have not been able to do anything with this attraction.

I also have not talked about this with my boyfriend and I don't intend to. He is great, I love him and I intend to be with him, perhaps forever.

I still cannot get rid of the feeling of shame and embarrassment, but when I think about it, it really was very unintended. I never wanted it and I have never harmed anyone because of it. Only, maybe I have not been very nice to my brother always - just because I cannot be around him for long.

Also, I have not seen a therapist and I guess that would be a good thing to do. Perhaps, I will do it some day.
As I wrote back, there really is no reason to have shame or embarrassment over such thoughts. Many people have secret fantasies or attractions they never tell about, or, at least, never tell their partner(s) or the person to whom they're attracted.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Legitimate New Portrayal of Consanguinamorous Siblings

Lesley Haw at theupcoming.co.uk interviewed director Adrian Sitaru about his latest film, "Ilegitim" ("Illegitimate") and it sounds like and interesting one both in content and style. [PLEASE NOTE there are spoilers at that link.]

Director Adrian Sitaru’s latest work, Ilegitim (Illegitimate), tackles the taboo topic of incest between a brother and his twin sister. The film was entirely unscripted, with the cast were given the freedom to perform as naturally as possible, producing some wonderful, profound philosophical lines along the way. The guerrilla style handheld camera enhances the  authenticity.
I'd be very interested in hearing from anyone who has seen it. To be clear, the relationship between the twins is portrayed as consensual, at least overall.
It’s relatively unusual to cover the theme of incest. Is it something particularly interesting to you?
Not too much. I don’t have brothers or sisters, but to me it was more like a kind of experiment. The most important thing was for the actors to understand the characters and what siblings mean to each other. Most of them have siblings, but not twins. But they researched a lot, and discussed a lot about twins with twins, to find out the secret about this connection and what it’s like when they get older. Also, they researched studies about incest, not only in Romania, but the UK or US and cases of it that society was against or not. It was 2014 when we worked on it. There was a famous case in Germany, I remember, involving a brother and sister who lived together and they wanted to marry and have a child, and it was a big discussion in German society.   It’s interesting also because it’s on the border of being legal or not.
Here is Haw's review, [ALSO HAS SPOILERS] which is summarized with four out of five stars...
The normally taboo topic of incest is at the forefront of this film, and arises between the twin brother and sister (Alina Grigore and Robi Urs), inevitably creating testing times. Then, to rub salt into the wound, pregnancy and the question of abortion ensue, meaning everyone’s patience, tempers and tolerance levels are challenged, and the father manifests all this in violence.
If you want to watch the trailer, here it is.

FYI, Haw brings up the possibility of genetic problems for a child of siblings. For more about that, read this and follow any of the links of interest.

It would be great to see more portrayals of consanguinamorous relationships that treat the issue with realism and not with negativity towards love.
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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Desk Clearing - GSA and Polyamory

Since this blog has an extensive archive of analysis, I'm going to try to round up more links for you, with less analysis because I can link to previous entries here that provide relevant analysis and the blogs of friends who are providing some great analysis of their own. I'll still be posting the more extensive write-ups here, but sometimes you're going to see posts like this one that list several recent finds. If you haven't done so already, you should also follow along at these places where the links are often posted before they make it here...

Our Facebook group "I Support Full Marriage Equality"

Keith's Facebook

The Twitter account for this blog

The Tumblr blog for Full Marriage Equality

Stephen Kelly had this at radiotimes.com citing relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam's opinons on some television character relationships...
Cersei Lannister and Jaime Lannister (Game of Thrones)

Who? The Lannisters are the most powerful family in Westeros, yet hide a sensational secret: two of their most influential members, Jaime and his royal sister Cersei, are totally doing it. 
The potential problem: It's incest. Use your imagination.


Susan says: “The underlying thing here is that when you're totally related – there's supposed to be an in-built resistance. However, genetically, similarity can bring us together. It's called GSA – genetic sexual attraction – and there's a lot of anecdotal evidence of brothers and sisters meeting, not knowing they're brother/sister and there being a magnetic attraction. Also, because there's a lot of social pressure, it becomes you against the world, and that brings you close together too.”
Would it work? They'll probably cling together because of the secret – until it's discovered, and then there will probably be a lot of blood involved.”
Just for clarification, Genetic Sexual Attraction can happen when people don't know they're close genetic relatives, but it can also happen even if they do know, as long as they weren't raised together.
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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Valentine's Day


Valentine's Day is here again. Many people will be getting married. Married people will be celebrating their anniversaries, or simply having a night out, as will other people hoping to get married someday, or maybe just enjoying being together in public.

If you are in such a situation, good for you and enjoy it.

Whether you are or not, take a moment to think about all of the people who can’t marry the person or person(s) they love, or can’t so much as hold hands in public without being accosted. Think about the people, consenting adults, who have to completely hide their relationships because they could be sent to prison for simply having sex in private. Think about the people who have to hide who they are because, where they live, they could be killed for being who they are. Think about the people who can’t accept gifts from their their lover(s) at work, or even a loving comment on their Facebook wall, because it would out them and get them fired.

This is what goes on because some people are being denied their rights to share sex, love, residence, and marriage. In the US last June, the Supreme Court brought about the limited monogamous same-gender freedom to marry nationwide, which was a great step forward. Other victories for that freedom to marry since February 14, 2015 have included...

Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. ...February 24, 2015
Pitcairn Islands ...May 14, 2015
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians ...May 15, 2015
Guam ...June 9, 2015
Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin ...June 10, 2015
Chihuahua ...June 12, 2015
Ireland ...November 16, 2015
Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon ...November 18, 2015
Nayarit ...December 23, 2015
Oglala Sioux Tribe ...January 25, 2016 Greenland will be coming online April 1.


In most of the world, a man can’t marry both of the women he loves, despite both women being in favor of such a marriage.

The people in most of these interviews can't have legally recognized marriages anywhere in the world, with perhaps one or two exceptions, and we need full marriage equality before people like Linda, Melissa, and Matthew can tie the knot.

So enjoy Valentine's Day if you are able, but think for a moment about the people who will only be able to fully enjoy theirs when we have full marriage equality so that an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion, is free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage with any and all consenting adults without prosecution, persecution, or discrimination. Help make it happen sooner rather than later.

Do you have special plans? Or, if you're reading this after Valentine's Day, do you have anything special to report? If so, comment below. Remember, you can comment anonymously.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Some Solidarity For Cousins and Siblings

It is nice to see Michael Kosowski, a gay man, express some limited solidarity for consanguinamorous people at theodysseyonline.com. He starts it off with...
I think that relationships between two blood relatives of the same generation should be completely decriminalized. I also believe that individuals engaging in said relationships should have every right to the legal protections and privileges awarded by the institution of marriage.
Good for him!
As a gay man, I realize that it has taken certain individuals a lot of work to accept my sexuality, and, even more, work to accept the fact that my community wants to be able to legally marry members of the same sex.
Because it has taken others so much time and commitment to accept me, I have pledged that I would take the same time and commitment to understand relationships and practices that confuse me.
What a great thing to do.

Unfortunately, he did write...
But for some reason, I think that transgenerational relationships between two related individuals can lead to very bad things, and can usually be traced to abuse in an individual’s infancy.
He doesn't offer any evidence of that. It's Discredited Arguments #20 and 22.

He does tackle Discredited Argument #18.
Another one of the biggest arguments against romantic relationships of this kind almost always involves the notion that a child could be produced that is much more genetically prone to disease or disability. But I must remind you that there is no law that forbids people with any type of genetically inherited disabilities to have children.
Thanks to Kosowski for some sensible support. More and more people are realizing that all adults should have their rights.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Looking Good in Those Genes

We've noted before that some studies have indicated that some (note: some is not all) people are attracted to people who look like them. Recently, there has been news that some men are attracted to women who look like their mothers. From cbsnews.com...

New research out of Finland suggests that men are likely to date -- and form relationships with -- women who look like their own moms.
Is that normal?
Uh, if it is normative for a sizable percentage of the population then yes, it is normal.
Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, and author of "Why Him? Why Her? How to Find and Keep Lasting Love," discussed the study with Anthony Mason and Rebecca Jarvis.
There's a video at the link.

Doug Barry at jezebel.com picked up on this news and the headline of his piece called the study "creepy." Not that there's a prejudice against consanguineous attractions, or anything.


Creepy New Study Suggests That Men Are Just Hoping to Marry a Mother Clone It's way less creepy the way Fisher explains it, but CBS This Morning anthropomorphized seat cushion Anthony Mason does his level best to paint Fisher's segment (creepily titled "All in the Family" to really emphasize the incest angle) in the most lurid brushstrokes possible by posing the titillating question, "Should [men] date their mothers?" I don't know, Anthony, does the V.C. Andrews estate have a new book out that I'm not yet aware of?
Sigh. We get it. Some people are creeped out or disgusted, or perhaps protest too much. But can we agree to let consenting adults have the relationships to which they mutually agree?
Fisher talks about a study from the cold netherworld of Finland that suggests men are more likely to marry women who looked like mother. Researchers figured this out by surveying 70 married couples and comparing pictures of each spouse with pictures of each spouse's parents. Men were far more likely to marry women who resembled their own mothers than women were to marry men who looked like their fathers.
That's a very small sample, though, and I'd be interested in knowing if the personality characteristics of husbands of women match her father.

Oh, and now that I read the rest...
This is not, Fisher cautions, after giving Freud a not-so-subtle eye roll, to say that women don't also listen for paternal echoes in a potential partner, but, since men are more visually oriented, their predilection for mother-clones is way more apparent. Women, being more mole-like when it comes to physical appearance, might, says Fisher, be looking for unseen fatherly qualities in their potential husbands, such as the ability to not be a layabout, as well as the strength to give good piggyback rides.
Interesting. I usually point out that studies like this deal with very broad generalities. We should never imply that "all men like X" or "all women dislike Y." What we do know is that some adults do enter into lifelong romances and spousal relationships with their parents, whether those parents are genetic, adoptive, or step. So it shouldn't be surprising if some others seek out spouses who are like their parents. And there are other people who tend to be attracted to people who look very different from their parents or themselves, primarily attracted to people of another race.

You might find Jane Doe's new essay on Freud vs. Westermarck interesting.
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Monday, February 8, 2016

Britney, Morgan, and Steve Wilkos

[UPDATE January 2016: Apparently these people were back on television or the episode was repeated and we're getting a lot of a traffic to this entry that was first posted in May 2011. I will add more below.]

[UPDATE February 2016: The show is either repeating or has another genetic father/daughter on an new episode. If you want more information on this blog, click here. If the current episode is a new one, I haven't seen it, so I have no idea if the situation depicted is abusive or not. Not all GSA relationships are abusive; many aren't.]

*****

There continues to be much discussion about a recent pair of Steve Wilkos Show episodes on a father-daughter couple.

There has been so much hatred hurled at the father in online discussions, or against both of them.

An adult should have the right to pursue love, sex, and marriage (or not) with ANY consenting adults. Britney was 18 when she began having sex with Morgan after being reunited with him. That makes her an adult. She can consent to have an abortion at an age younger than that. She can sign up to serve in our armed forces. Either we take the age of consent laws seriously or we don't. Either we say an adult woman can make her own decisions or we don't. Either we take the freedom of consenting adults seriously or we don't. Which is it going to be?

I side with freedom. I side with love.

Just because you would not do something does not mean other people shouldn't, or that it should be illegal. Think it through, please. You don't have to like that they love each other this way. But don't be hateful and bigoted.

*****

Continuing the update:

There is no good reason to deny consenting adult their rights, which include the right to have sex with each other or marry each other. You might not think the people featured on this television program have a healthy relationship, but I've interviewed scores of people, most of them in lasting, happy, healthy, loving consanguinamorous relationships.
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Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Simple Test

Ginny pondered “slippery slope” concepts, and explained why having the same-gender freedom to marry and the polyamorous or polygamous freedom to marry does not justify things like marrying children.
Consent is the watchword of modern sexual ethics. It’s the difference between BDSM and abuse. It’s the difference between polyamory and cheating. It’s the difference between rape and… sex. Anything two (or more) able, informed adults give consent to in private is generally considered okay.

It’s simple enough, but some people want to make it more complicated than that.
“That’s not natural” really just means “That makes me uncomfortable.” And I hope we can all agree that an individual’s sense of comfort or discomfort makes for a really lousy moral guide.

Besides, good arguments can be made that polygamy is natural. Discomfort is definitely not a good guide for law or morality. Heart surgery is uncomfortable and looks disgusting to many people, but it can be a very good thing. Sticking up for civil rights can bring a whole lot of discomfort, but it is the right thing to do.
Someone might say, “But that goes against my religious code!” Fine, then don’t do that, and encourage your religious brethren not to do it either. But that has nothing to do with whether a thing should be legal or acceptable in the culture outside your religion.

Couldn’t have written a better answer to Discredited Argument #4 myself.
We hold very highly the rights of heterosexual people to live, love, and create families as they see fit. In time, I hope that consenting adults of any number and gender are given the same level of respect.
We've made some progress. Let’s make it happen!
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Work for Civil Rights Continues

Amanda Terkel at huffingtonpost.com had an article about what Evan Wolfson and Freedom to Marry have been doing since the limited Supreme Court victory in June...

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Attorney Evan Wolfson is seen at his office at the Freedom to Marry organization in New York on June 25, 2015.
Since June, Wolfson and his colleagues have been carefully preserving as much as possible from their successful campaign. In an interview with The Huffington Post nearly a year ago, Wolfson said his plan was always for the group to engage in a "smart and strategic wind-down" when it was done. They hope that their resources will be of use not only for historians but for other activists on other issues.
As we've said before, Freedom to Marry should keep working for marriage equality.
The resources include four key pieces: a new website serving as a clearinghouse; donation of materials to Yale University; an oral history project hosted by the University of California, Berkeley; and a "War Room"-style documentary about the same-sex marriage movement, set to be completed this spring.
Freedom to Marry's revamped site includes a long-form narrative history of the movement's most significant milestones, analysis of the movement's messaging and most effective ads, and resources for best practices for winning victories at all levels.
Let's keep going until everyone has their right to be together and marry!





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