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The Rise of Another Taboo
The Captain wrote: break it down by race lets see where it goes
Another problem with the Hopkins data is that it does not give us any evidence of the success or failure of these sibling marriages. Did such marriages produce high rates of divorce, adultery, and infertility? If they did, then they would follow the pattern that Wolf saw with Chinese "minor" marriages--where parents adopted an infant girl, reared her with their son, and then forced the girl and boy to marry at puberty.
The same problems arise with the Persian evidence. Frandsen gives us no evidence that these marriages of nuclear family members were successful. In fact, he sometimes quotes remarks about such marriages being "difficult and hard" (73, 85). But he doesn't reflect on what this means. He also admits that there is little evidence as to how frequent these marriages were (81-82, 115).
Occasionally, Frandsen acknowledges Persian texts that seem to point to the many children of these marriages being born physically and mentally deformed. But, again, he doesn't ponder the implications of this.
The evidence from ancient Egypt and Persian shows that a society can force brothers to marry their sisters, mothers to marry their sons, and fathers to marry their daughters. But if these people have grown up in close association from an early age, Westermarck predicts that most of them will not be happy in their marriages. And even if they are happy in their marriage, many of them will suffer the unhappy consequence of producing seriously deformed offspring.
This gives us the general pattern for an evolutionary moral psychology. By nature, we are endowed with evolved propensities to learn certain moral emotions, like finding incest disgusting. By custom, we learn the traditional norms of our society, but those social norms are constrained by our natural propensities. By reason, we exercise individual judgment in deciding how best to live happy lives within the constraints of our natural desires and our customary traditions.
America Has an Incest Problem
Last year offered plenty of moments to have a sustained national conversation about child sexual abuse: the Jerry Sandusky verdict, the BBC's Jimmy Savile, Horace Mann's faculty members, and a slew of slightly less publicized incidents. President Obama missed the opportunity to put this issue on his second-term agenda in his inaugural speech.
Child sexual abuse impacts more Americans annually than cancer, AIDS, gun violence, LGBT inequality, and the mortgage crisis combined—subjects that Obama did cover.
Had he mentioned this issue, he would have been the first president to acknowledge the abuse that occurs in the institution that predates all others: the family. Incest was the first form of institutional abuse, and it remains by far the most widespread.
Here are some statistics that should be familiar to us all, but aren't, either because they're too mind-boggling to be absorbed easily, or because they're not publicized enough. One in three-to-four girls, and one in five-to-seven boys are sexually abused before they turn 18, an overwhelming incidence of which happens within the family. These statistics are well known among industry professionals, who are often quick to add, "and this is a notoriously underreported crime."
Incest is a subject that makes people recoil. The word alone causes many to squirm, and it's telling that of all of the individual and groups of perpetrators who've made national headlines to date, virtually none have been related to their victims. They've been trusted or fatherly figures (some in a more literal sense than others) from institutions close to home, but not actual fathers, step-fathers, uncles, grandfathers, brothers, or cousins (or mothers and female relatives, for that matter). While all abuse is traumatizing, people outside of a child's home and family—the Sanduskys, the teachers and the priests—account for far fewer cases of child sexual abuse.
To answer the questions always following such scandals—why did the victims remain silent for so long, how and why were the offending adults protected, why weren't the police involved, how could a whole community be in such denial?—one need only realize that these institutions are mirroring the long-established patterns and responses to sexual abuse within the family. Which are: Deal with it internally instead of seeking legal justice and protection; keep kids quiet while adults remain protected and free to abuse again.
Intentionally or not, children are protecting adults, many for their entire lives. Millions of Americans, of both sexes, choke down food at family dinners, year after year, while seated at the same table as the people who violated them. Mothers and other family members are often complicit, grown-ups playing pretend because they're more invested in the preservation of the family (and, often, the family's finances) than the psychological, emotional, and physical well-being of the abused.
What was once a taboo has now become, to many brothers and sisters, a cool pastime and an even cooler way to make money online. Brother-sister incest seems to be on the rise, at least according to my unofficial survey of incest websites.
In perusing websites that feature incest, I found two types of brother-sister incest clips. Both were more prevalent than in previous years. One kind was the fake kind in which porn stars pretend to be brother and sister or brother and step-sister. The other kind consisted of actual homemade clips by real brothers and sisters. Many were appearing in “cam shows” in which they undressed and had sex for internet audiences who gave tips or paid for private showings.
These real brother-and-sister cam shows seem to have mushroomed in recent years, when in the past they were deemed illegal and therefore were rare and far between. Often the people in the clips don’t identify themselves as brother and sister, but one can easily see the resemblance and the body language. In many other cases they casually identify themselves as brother and sister and seem to think nothing of their incestuous behavior. It’s just another teen-aged experiment.
A recent article noted a rise in incest pornography and attributed it in part to the TV show, “Game of Thrones.” The author, Vanessa Brown, focused on a new genre which she called “Faux-cest.” “FOR the uninitiated, a film with the title ‘Family Play Date’ could be identified as a harmless, wholesome household flick. But in fact, this title — along with a growing number of other films — is part of a growing pornography trend.”
Brown alludes to “Game of Thrones,” saying that it has desensitized viewers to “inter-family relationships. She mentions the “rather squeamish relationship between two of the main characters — Cersei Lannister and her twin brother Jamie.” This is but one of numerous incestuous storylines in this series. In season one, Cersei says, “Jaime and I are more than brother and sister, we shared a womb, came into this world together, we belong together.”