Friday, February 26, 2010

Icing Love?

The prejudice against consanguineous sexuality has even tainted coverage of the Olympics. Sibling athletes who have achieved high levels of skill in their sport, in which they perform together, are subjected to derisive snickers and offensive questioning. Whether or not these siblings love each other sexually or not, the message is loud and clear: siblings are to be limited by outsiders in how they express their love for each other – adult siblings, who can make up their own minds. Just check out this Wall Street Journal story from last week, entitled “That’s Your Sister?”

When Alexandra Zaretsky takes to the ice in Olympic ice-dancing competition Friday, she'll look deep into her partner's eyes as they skate the "Tango Romantica."

But not too deep. That's because her partner is her brother, 26-year-old Roman Zaretsky.

If they are not into each other, they aren’t into each other. But if they are, it isn’t anybody’s business. They should be allowed to express romance and affection without being bullied.

Four of the 23 ice-dancing pairs competing at the Vancouver Games are brother and sister. And this year, they're all required to complete a compulsory portion of competition by doing the forbidden dance.

And, apparently, endure prejudice.

Why do people care what consenting adults are – or aren’t doing – with each other? Hatred? Boredom? Jealousy? - who knows? But this is the kind of thinking that impedes marriage equality. It also, no doubt, hurts youth who have these feelings, who get a message that they are to stay in the shadows or be ridiculed.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Trust and Polyamory

A 24-year-old female named Bachman wrote on Lil’ Rostrum about something with which I am familiar.

In referring to polyamory, she writes…

You have to be safe no matter what's going on. I wouldn't mess with someone I didn't fully know or trust.

This is good advice. Being alone in a sexual situation with someone you don’t know every well can be dangerous, especially if you are not as strong as the other person or people, or you are in an unfamiliar place. The relationship I personally know best involves three people who couldn’t trust each other more. That makes it all the more beautiful. Consanguineous relationships have a special advantage here.

The relationships for a polyamory couple can get very complicated, but there are many groups of poly people that are a 'triad' or consisting of three people. There are many different labels for the many different couplings.

We have been trying to think of a succinct way to fully describe the triad relationship between mother, daughter, and son. Perhaps Polyamorous Consanguine Marriage (PCM) would work?
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Few Examples of Love

One of the websites I link to is Genetic Sexual Attraction. That phrase is used to describe the attraction that related individuals – usually full or half siblings, or a parent and child – develop when they are reunited after years apart, often while the child or the siblings matured. However, I do not think a long separation is a necessary factor in GSA. That is a discussion for another time.

For now, I wanted to call your attention to this discussion, in which couples who are siblings or parent/child (adult) describe their loving relationships, and some of the prejudice, judgment (and, thankfully, support!) they experience.

The discussion was kicked off by someone asking in anyone there is actually “making it work” as a sibling couple. She related her own story:

I have recently told my parents about my brother and I and their reaction was...that they knew something was going on but didnt want to say or really believe it. Their reaction is surprisingly positive. Other than them my best firend is the only one to know and she is very supportive because she has seen me in other relatinships and says I have never been more secure or happy then now.

That is wonderful.

Other people can think as they wish and since we live away from anyone who knows we are related we are doing really well.

It is too bad that someone would have to move away from home to be able to freely love.

Someone responded:

I do not live with my sibling but with my father. It takes strength to make it work and confidence in who you are as individuals and a couple. There are constant ups and downs but if you strongly believe in what your relationship stands for and the right as consenting adults to love then you can make it work.

We live together united in the care and upbringing of our wonderful daughter.

I wonder if anyone around them knows and what the reactions have been?

A third person said:

My sister and I have been living as a couple for going on three years now. Our situation is probably not appreciably different from any other couple's. We have our ups and downs, the occasional disagreement about what to have for dinner, or whether to get beer or wine; the occasional anxiety about money, the odd pang of jealousy... but because we deeply love and trust each other, we are able to get through any of the downs, and make up in luxurious fashion.

Isn’t that beautiful?

To our friends, family members, and respective co-workers, we are brother and sister, sharing a little apartment to save on rent in a difficult economy.

It is too bad they can’t be out with the rest of their family.

I keep imagining, years from now (when our relationship is finally "legal" in our state) "coming out" to our friends and family, and them telling us that they've known all along.

I know there are other people out there who have been through a similar process because they loved someone of the same gender, and had to deal with oppression and hostility, and unjust laws. I hope those people will see that this is the same struggle and offer their public support. Their experience would be most helpful.

A fourth person wrote:

My brother and I have been living together as a couple for over 4 years now, and as far as anyone round here is concerned, we are a "normal" couple.

There are people doing this all over the world. These people are normal. They could be your co-workers or neighbors.

A fifth person wrote:

I wish this was possible for me... my brother and I are extremely well-known and recognizable in certain countries and while I think I have been successful at skirting rumours and gossip until now, I would be terrified of being publicly outed in the media or in my professional community (or perhaps society tends to turn the other way in these kinds of matters??

Unfortunately, people still need to be enlightened.

A sixth person wrote:

Jenny and I live as a married couple too. Our mother knows and has accepted it, though she doesn't like the idea. Our father is gone now and we never told him. He probably suspected.

Acceptance is not as good as support, but it is certainly better than rejection.

We have been living together as husband and wife since college and we couldn't be happier. We get long very well most of the time. We have our annoying moments as all couples do, but that is just how life is. We live to be together, to please each other and make each other happy. Making each other happy fulfills us and makes us whole. I couldn't imagine life without my beautiful sister with whom I can share it. She is my life and my treasure. She's my sweetheart, my sweet girl, my sis, my best friend, and my lovely wife. Some people can't understand living as we do, but we can't imagine it any other way. We will be together always.

How can this still be illegal in so many places? They should be able to get married, and celebrate their marriage in public.

These are examples of why I support marriage equality. Full marriage equality. I wish we could see these relationships documented or depicted more in the popular media, which too often focuses on abuse and lumps these loving relationships in with that.
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Never Say Never Again

Classified under their “Health” heading, CNN has a story on their website with the headline of “Therapy Teaches That Incest is Never Consensual."

The article begins with citing Mackenzie Phillips before it gets to what concerns me today.

By definition, incest is never consensual, although often the perpetrator will convince the victim otherwise, experts say. The power dynamics of the relationship between a parent and child are such that it's always the parent's responsibility to maintain normal boundaries, even if it's the son or daughter who makes some kind of initial gesture, said Debra Borys, psychologist in Los Angeles, California.
Using the word “incest” in this way is why I prefer to use the term consanguineous sex. It appears they are making an argument that parent-child incest is never consensual even when the child is an adult, because of the power the parent has over the child. However, is this still true if the parent is elderly? Or ill? I suppose the argument would then be that it is a form of elder abuse and contrary to their statement, it would be the child’s fault. But this broadbrushing fails to take into account when the child was not raised by the biological parent, or siblings who are close in age, or aunt/uncle and nephew/niece (especially if close in age) and first cousins – those are all considered incest. I’m referring to adults in each example. If half-siblings who were not raised as siblings meet as adults and fall in love, that is not consensual? There have been cases when people have done this without knowing they were half-siblings. Did it stop being consensual once they found out their biological relation? And if so, is it always the person who is older who is to blame? Do you see how silly this is?

They often have trust issues, feeling that they have been betrayed by a close relative.
Rape or abuse or coercion are all bad. But we should not deny the loving, consensual relationships that exist. People are less likely to tell others about their positive experiences because of negative feedback, while claiming to be a victim provides cover and brings sympathy. And surely, they will have trust issues if people they thought they could trust to accept them and support them instead condemn them for their love.

The media portrayal is coming close to being like those who say that all sex is rape. There are consensual consanguineous relationships, and some of those involve a parent and an adult child. Perhaps when the stigma is removed, more people will speak positively of these relationships.
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Phillips Experience One Bad Example

Actress Mackenzie Phillips has gotten back into the news by revising her story about her relationship with her father.

Phillips, 49, described her sexual relationship with her father as consensual in her memoir "High on Arrival," which was published last year.

However, reported Wednesday she said on Joy Behar's HLN chat show that she didn't categorize the relationship properly in her book and that her father actually raped her.
Assuming everything Phillips has told the world is true, then the first time was rape. It sounds like both she and her father were on mind altering substances and that she was passed out. If she was passed out, she couldn’t have consented.

Although young, she was an adult. Her father’s poor parenting, including exposing her to drugs while she was very young, made him a horrible parent, and certainly he was wrong to take an unconscious woman. But sometime along the ten years of physical interaction between them as adults (such as when she woke up during the first event), her ability to say “no” kicked in – and she didn’t say “no” for ten years. She chose to be around her father, and she chose to engage in that behavior with her father. He’s dead, she’s alive. It sounds like she has been under tremendous pressure to deny that any of it was consensual.

"I'd like to reframe my word, 'consensual,'" Phillips said. "As I was writing the book, I thought, this word, it kept sitting wrong with me, but I used it for lack of a better word, and since then I've been schooled by thousands of incest survivors all across the world that there really is no such thing as consensual incest due to the inherent power a parent has over a child."
It is wrong to say that there is no such thing as a consensual consanguineous sex. Look around, and you will find happy situations.

Most parents wish they had power over their children, even as adults, in matters serious and trivial - but they don't. Also, there is almost always a power differential in sexual relationships. The strength of the physical attraction may be different, one partner has more potential partners from whom to choose than the other, they have different personalities and experiences, one has more money or power than the other.

Phillips is unlikely to be contacted by those with positive experiences in consanguineous love. She is hearing from a lot of people, most of them who has been abused or raped, especially as minors, and were hurt by their experiences, even if they were adults who were not raped or abused.

Consanguineous, adult sex can be a wonderful experience, as can loving relationships in which it takes place. However, it isn’t for everyone. You are unlikely to hear much about the good experiences because those who speak up risk persecution, derision, and criminal charges.

Unfortunately, Phillips’ experiences are likely to be used by bigots to deny the freedom to marry to consenting adults. While I hope she is getting all of the help for her bad childhood and substance abuse that she needs, I also pray she will be more careful in her public statements. Nothing should stand in the way of consenting adults who love each other.
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

French Law Changes

According to this story by Henry Samuel, French law has been updated.

The new law defines incest as rape or sexual abuse "within the family, on a minor, by a relative or any other person having lawful or de facto authority over the victim". This includes parents, siblings and partners of family members.
So I take it to mean that consanguineous sexuality between consenting adults remains legal? If so, essentially this law is adding a degree to child rape and abuse charges.

"To be almost obliged to prove that no, one wasn't OK about having sexual relations with a member of one's family was an extra (form of) suffering," said Miss Aubry.
Isabelle Aubry is right to fight abuse against child abuse. However, this quote makes no distinction between consensual adult behavior and child abuse, when there should be a very clear distinction. Love between adults is a beautiful thing.
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