Incest: Debunking the Mythsby1337_G1RL©
There is a lot of information on the Internet regarding the sexual activity known simply as 'incest', yet most of the research into the subject focuses entirely on cases of child abuse or rape, with almost nothing out there about incest between consenting adults. This kind of coverage via media and official sources supports the most popular incest myths that have been generated over the past few decades.
What I will attempt to do in this essay, is to demonstrate how generalizations and consistently biased media information have misrepresented the incest community at large. Mythology of this nature is inherently destructive to society as it ensures that ignorance and fear triumph over understanding and acceptance. In the long haul, this means that an entire group are persecuted on the basis that a few of them are harming innocent people.
Myth 1: Incest always leads to congenital abnormalities in the baby.
It is a scientifically proven genetic fact that any children born to related parents have a higher chance of having a congenital abnormality than those born to non-related parents. The risk for cousins is roughly double, but there is little or no information out there about the risks of defects in children born to parents more closely related than first cousins. Scientifically speaking the risk increases with consanguinity due to the fact that the likelihood of detrimental homozygous recessive alleles being present in the genetic code is greater for the more closely related couples.
However, having said all that, this myth assumes two things:
1. It is assumed that the couples are planning to have a child. Is it not more logical that incestuous couples are more likely to use protection BECAUSE of the increased risks to the child should pregnancy occur? Of course it would be utterly ridiculous to assume that all couples would behave in a responsible manner, but overall logic dictates that such couples would be more careful that the average non-related couple.
2. The myth also assumes that should such a child be born to closely related parents, that it will ALWAYS end up horribly deformed. To the average person, images of two headed freaks are a common scary thought. In reality, some children are lucky enough to turn out okay; some have mild problems, while others do have serious disabilities as a result of detrimental recessive alleles.
The risk of defects is indeed the original basis for the incest taboo; historically it has served us well as a means of ensuring the continued health of the genetic pool. In the modern era where reliable contraceptive devices and agents are easily obtainable, and if all else fails abortions (I know this is another area of moral debate) are also available, this point can be contested.
Of course, the issue of inbreeding is a topic in its own right, and there is far more to it than just this little I have raised here. Therefore I will leave further discussion for another essay where it can have the time and due attention it deserves as a practical and moral debate.
Myth Two: Incest is child abuse
This myth is a far more recent myth than the one I discussed above, mostly because it is a myth that has been generated by frenzied media hype whenever a sexual predator has been found to be sexually abusing his/her prepubescent relatives. Child abuse is a heinous crime, one that quite rightly receives severe punishment as a felony. Yet with the absence of any other data, many people make the mistake of generalizing, and never stop to consider the fact that incest and pedophilia are indeed two completely separate things which can sometimes yet seldom overlap. Let me guide you through those definitions:
1. Incest - This is when two people that are too closely related to marry lawfully, have sex. Now the definition does not specify that one of the participants has to be a child, it does not even mention children. Compare with the first myth which assumes that both persons must at the very least be of reproductive age, and you have your answer to the validity of myths in general.
2. Childhood sexual abuse – This is when an adult sexually abuses a child for his or her own gratification. Such a predator is called a pedophile, and pedophiles sometimes use their own offspring as they are more readily available than finding somebody else's kids to abuse. For the pedophile, the incest is a secondary issue to the pedophilia. Note that the pedophile and the victim do not have to be related.
I would be willing at this point to speculate that this myth has arose for the media hype reason I stated above, and as a counter-effect to the dawn of contraceptives. With drugs like the pill, and reliable condoms, it is pretty easy to avoid unwanted pregnancies. People fear incest because they do not understand it, it is easier for them to lump it in with child abuse and call them the same thing than it is for them to get their heads around a completely alien concept.
Myth 3: Only dirty old men are interested in incest
This myth is clearly both sexist and ageist. Merely by stating that males only would take an interest in incest it has discredited itself, why would only one gender be interested and not the other?
Let's discuss the term 'dirty old man' for a moment and see what we come up with. The first image that comes to mind when somebody uses these words is a man aged 50-60 who wears and anorak and has sexual desires far outside of what would be deemed typical. While I'm sure there must be some men globally who fit this description, doesn't it seem a little strange that people would claim that ONLY this select group of men would be interested in incest? Think about other sexual preferences... what sort of people would be interested in BDSM, Clothes fetishes, Role Play, Wife Swapping Parties? See where I'm going with this, you CAN'T put a description to these people because they are so diverse. Therefore it stands to reason that we also cannot, and should not put a stereotype to the sort of person likely to be into incest.
Perhaps this myth has it's origins in a more sexually repressed era, when women were subservient to men, back in the times when it was 'not decent' for a woman to express sexual desire. In times gone by, it was up to the man to do all the chasing and for the woman to accept or decline his advances. This being the case, it would have logically followed that only men could be interested in incest. Where the 'old' bit came from I can only speculate that it came from the notion that older guys prefer younger women. Of course, even within a sexually repressed society, it should have been obvious that this myth had no real basis in logic.
Myth 4: There is no such thing as consensual incest
This is a blanket statement, and like all of the other myths in this essay, it is based upon ignorance, prejudice and fear. It would at this time be worth noting that just because something is hidden does not mean that it does not exist. Just like we have never found another planet capable of supporting humanoid life, doesn't mean that one does not exist. Always remember that you cannot prove a negative, only a positive.
All people see in the media is cases of rape, abuse, deformed babies and the like, basically anything that would lend support to the current negative stereotypes of the incestuous. People with positive experiences almost never have their voice heard. In the real world, what would a happy incestuous couple have from announcing their love to the world? Such brave souls would open themselves up to persecution, even arrest and imprisonment, to 'come out' would be nothing short of a disaster. So they remain hidden, merely to protect themselves. Of course this issue is yet another for an essay of its own.
Myth 5: Only fat and ugly people end up doing incest
My best guess is that this myth arose from the notion that ugly people are less likely to get dates than an attractive person, and therefore ends up sexually frustrated and even desperate. Yet at the same time, what is ugly? Somebody can look attractive to some people and hideous to others, so again this is a very subjective thing. It is also not true that fat people don't get dates, or that fat people are always ugly, again this comes from societal perception that being fat is somehow a sign of being a failure as a person. Of course, body mass has nothing to do with incest, at all.
This is again an attempt to pigeonhole people, attempting to describe a group of people that is too diverse to ever have a description that is not a stereotype. The above myth attempts once more to stereotype the incestuous people by associating them with negative stereotypes that are in themselves subjective. As you can see, this is offensive to everybody, and serves no purpose whatsoever.
Myth 6: Only stupid people end up doing incest.
I have yet to see a study stating that people who practice incest have an overall lower IQ than people who do not. I'm fairly certain that no such study exists, partly because there is more or less nothing out there that isn't a study of childhood sexual abuse or of the pedophiles themselves, and also because of the taboo nature of incest, many psychologists just won't touch the subject from a non conventional angle.
The sheer stupidity of this comment is staggering, as there is no evidence stating that people of a certain IQ range have tendencies to any particular sexual preference or orientation. If there is no correlation between IQ and incidences of OTHER sexual practices, it is safe to say that there is no correlation between IQ and incest.
Of course, many would be inclined to ask why any intelligent person would choose an incestuous lifestyle when it is so risky. On the same token I could ask what ones feelings have to do with one's IQ. Sometimes feelings can take time to work through, especially those that push you to go against everything conventional wisdom dictate. This is certainly the case for a person interested in a family member, because people just aren't as simple and predictable as we would like them to be, and for some people that in itself is scary.
As you can see from the above myths, some of them lump together to paint a picture, some contradict each other, and some are second generation myths dependant on already existing stereotypes. None of the above have any basis in reality, and yet these are the perceptions floating around mainstream society, uncorrected. It is easy to hate, but it is never easy to stop, to think, and to analyze your views. When you have no basis for comparison, and no personal reason for challenging societal notions, it makes sense to go along with the societal view, even if that view has no basis in reality.
The burden of proof that incest can sometimes be beneficial, or at the very least harmless is now up to those who have experienced it firsthand, and those curious souls who are willing conduct studies of consensual incest. This essay exists to open minds and hearts; it exists to make people stop and think, it is a gift from me to any person who has had a positive incest experience, who knows that my words are true.
Thank you for reading my essay,