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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » incest

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Author Topic: incest
JunkiePanda
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why is incest illegal? because it narrows the genepool? i read in sexperts that it was illegal and i wanted a little clarification.
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Dzuunmod
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I'm not entirely sure, JunkiePanda, but I think it has something to do with the relatively high number of birth defects in children born out of incest.

One of the sexperts can probably answer this better than I can, though.

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Beppie
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The way I understand it is that if you have a recessive gene that causes some sort of genetic defect, it's more likely to come out when two closely related people have a child together, as they are more likely to also have the recessive gene than a person not related to them. Also, when incest occurs between different generations, it's often a case of abuse, which is clearly extremely unethical.

However, assuming we're talking relatives of similar ages, it's interesting that we extend this taboo to relationships that cannot produce children, such as gay/lesbian relationships. The idea of this makes me just as uncomfotable as the idea of a brother and a sister having sex, yet I cannot rationally think of why. Possibly, it's just because incest is a taboo that most people really don't want to challenge, and thus it's more deeply ingrained in me than taboos that I have spent my life challenging.


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Heather
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In terms of legalities as well as the taboo, serious genetic defects are indeed the major factor. And they are major, not small.

Too, in most studies done on sexuality, it has generally been found that interfamilial sexual activity is highly traumatic and damaging for most people.

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Heather Corinna
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JunkiePanda
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because i know that cousin couples only have like 1% chance greater of birth defects, but that they kids can come out healthier because of the genetic similarity...but i didn't knnow about siblings or anything...so thank you for clearing that up.
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emsily0
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where are you getting those statistics, panda? because i don't think that's true.

em

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Grizabella
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What are the limits on incest? What I mean is, how close relatives do you have to be for it to be considered incest?


My grandparents are actually really distant relatives- like 6th or 7th cousins. (As a side note, they're celebrating their 50th anniversary this weekend. Just thought I'd share.)

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"Sometimes people care too much. I think it's called Love."
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[This message has been edited by Grizabella (edited 06-10-2001).]


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Beppie
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In most places, I think that first cousins are allowed to have sex, although that's still pretty high risk, and there's usually strong social taboos about cousins having sex, even if the law allows it. Generally, in my experience at least, second cousins and beyond are considered distant relatives, and the taboo isn't nearly as strong.
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Heather
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Immediate relatives -- parents and siblings, are where the highest risk factors lay.

panda, from what I have seen in stats over the years, the risk factors for first cousins are more like 25% (one in four offspring), and often higher for mental retardation than other defects.

And if you look at anthropological studies, you'll see that narrowing the gene pool may not always have negatives, but there aren't any viable positives, especially over time.

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Heather Corinna
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My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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JunkiePanda
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i got the info from some website for cousin couples(just ran into it on the net). and also darwin. he married his cousin and was a big advocate for the defence of cousin couples. thank you for correcting my screw ups.
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Heather
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In terms of sources for scientific information, as an FYI it is important:

1) To use current information. While some of darwin's theories hold water still, many aspects of them, especially in terms of genetics are FAR behind what we know now.

2) When using information from websites, check the authors credentials, and if the author is not identified (bad sign) or has none, then clook for their sources. No name, credentials or sources is generally a clear sign that perspon's information is not reliable.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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BruinDan
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The State of California has an incest law that is fairly similar to those of most other US states. According to section 285 of the CA Penal Code:
quote:

Persons being within the degrees of consanguinity within which marriages are declared by law to be incestuous and void, who intermarry with each other, or who commit fornication or adultery with each other, are punishable by imprisonment in the state prison.

Basically, this prohibits anyone from marrying their mother, father, sibling, uncle, aunt, or first cousin. Anything beyond that is fair game.

[This message has been edited by BruinDan (edited 09-25-2002).]


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PoetgirlNY
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My great-grandparents on my father's side were first cousins. I guess there weren't laws about it back then? Or maybe it was different because they were somewhere in Eastern Europe at that point? Anyway, I've been crushed out on my 2nd cousin for a really long time. I try not to get too mad at myself for just thinking she's cute, because there's really no harm in it. Clearly, nothing will happen because a)she's my 2nd cousin, really, I just wouldn't go there, even if it is legal, b)she's 16 years older than me, and c)she isn't attracted to other people in general. Other than that . . . perfect, right?

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BJadeT
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Well, it seems weird that marrying first cousins is illegal and considered disgusting in some places, and practically the norm in all royal families! It is legal here (probably just so the royal family can do it) and I had a big crush on my first cousin for a few years. Everybody made fun of me for that but I don't really see the big problem in just finding them attractive. But for some reason that would be very different when it comes to siblings, parents even Uncles or Aunts.
I heard a radio programme about cousins who were married and there was a couple who had two healthy children, but they'd also had one who died shortly after birth from a skin defect-even though they'd had genetic testing before they tried to concieve. I guess it's a risk you take when you love someone so much that you want their children.

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John Doe
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The royal family sort of proves the point about in breeding not being a good idea. Aside from the high previlance of hemophilia in the royal families of Europe, Prince Chuckie is sort of the ultamate unbreed twit.
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Bobolink
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I should point out that the incidence of hemophilia is really the case of one couple, Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert. That led two generations later to the hemophilia of the Tsarevich Alexi Romanov.

And how is my future King inbred?

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

- Albert Einstein


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Beppie
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The Queen and Prince Philip are both great-great grandchildren of Queen Victoria. That makes them third cousins.
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Bobolink
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Yes but do third cousins consitute consanguinity under Australian law? It doesn't under Canadian law and I suspect the laws of most other nation states.

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

- Albert Einstein


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BruinDan
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It does not fit the consanguinity regulations in any American state...

[This message has been edited by BruinDan (edited 09-25-2002).]


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