What's Up With That Incest Taboo?

So I always thought it was just because incest is obviously gross to almost everyone. Turns out, that's not true.
In the late '80s, the founder of a support group for adopted children who had recently reconnected with their biological relatives coined the term “Genetic Sexual Attraction” (GSA) to describe the intense romantic and sexual feelings that she observed occurring in many of these reunions. According to an article in The Guardian, experts estimate that these taboo feelings occur in about 50 percent of cases where estranged relatives are reunited as adults[.]
Emphasis added. Fifty percent is pretty substantial. It's apparently, we might say, normal.

So what's the basis for the ban? New Jersey is apparently over banning father/daughter incest. Do we have any standing, should we let go of our traditional moral standards per se, for banning it? Sure, it can lead to bad results if it happens over several generations, but in just one pairing it's of no special concern. She's obviously willing, as is he.


james said...

Ah. Experts. And then reporters writing about what the experts wrote. And it fits a transgressive narrative so nicely... We've seen this movie before.

Anonymous said...

The taboo about incest doesn't have anything to do with being gross: it is a threat to the physical health of the family. Inbreeding results in defective babies.


Grim said...

That's got to be right, somehow, but a one-off pairing is no more likely to lead to physical danger to the family than when we line-breed horses or dogs. We need the taboo to suppress the practice in general, even though it isn't dangerous in specific cases.

It's an interesting problem in several ways. We're talking about overriding their autonomy and will (to use Tex's terms) even though they probably can't harm anyone -- and indeed, if it only happens once, can probably increase the incidence of desirable traits.

It's just because the rate hits 50% that we need the taboo, in other words. It's too normal. Without the taboo it wouldn't happen just once.

douglas said...

I can think of a good reason for it to be taboo- it subverts and abuses the institution of parental authority. But the fact that it's gross works for me, too. Also, just because 'some' don't find it so, doesn't mean it isn't to the vast majority. This is one problem with the internet is that no matter how deranged or perverted you are, you'll be able to find a record of someone who is similar and who then justifies and 'normalizes' your issues.