Keeping it in the family

Australia
December 11, 2008 3:52am CST
I've been responding in a discussion on incest. I'm not talking about sibling or parental incest, even I can see the problems there, but cousins, first, second and third. Most of the respondents on thst discuaaion used terms like disgusting, gross, immoral. But WHY is it such a problem? And yuk or eeeeww isn't an answer. What on earth is it about a cousin that gets so many people up in arms? A sibling or parent, OK, those I can understand, but a cousin, or even stranger, a 2nd or 3rd cousin, what is the issue? I had two very attractive female first cousins (sisters), and I would've happily got involved with either without a second's hesitation, but we saw them so rarely nothing ever developed. But I know that two of my male cousins (brothers), who did see a lot of them, dated the two of them and knew them very well (Biblically speaking). The only problem I ever had with that was jealousy lol. But I truly don't understand why people get so upset about it. It's not as though the genetic argument holds much relevance, and besides, that was never an issue with incest laws, customs, and taboos. It requires several generations of close inbreeding for genetic faults to become evident, unless there is a nasty recessive gene around. But although a lot of people use the genetics as a justification, I believe in most cases they are kidding themselves, it is the yuk ... eeewww factor that really drives their opposition. I seem to be missing the yuk response, so I genuinely am left puzzled. Anyone throw any light on the subject? Light, that is, with some sort of reasoned thought behind it? Lash
4 people like this
9 responses
@sharra1 (6341)
• Australia
11 Dec 08
I do not know why people think it is weird. I have never fancied any of my cousins but that was because I just did not fancy them not because they were my cousins. I did once get a cousin to escort me to a ball because I had not partner. He was quite cute I suppose but not my type. Also I never fancied my brothers, they were definitely in the yuk response. One was way to old the other was just yuk. I have never met a second or third cousin. I only know my first cousins. I would say yuk to my family members but only because I was not even remotely interested in them sexually. I do not have an automatic yuk at all.
• United States
11 Dec 08
I only slightly disagree with the genetic argument having little or no relevance. Though the risk is low that 1st cousins can produce a genetic defect,according to the "path" method there's about a 6.25% chance. http://www.braquedubourbonnais.info/en/inbreeding-calculation.htm In my opinion, if you're talking playing cards it might be worth a bet but not with human life. As far as 2nd or 3rd cousins go the risk is almost non-existent, I think the emotional thought of "family" comes more into play with most people. If you've always had a platonic/maternal/paternal type bond with any cousin, the ewww factor is going to be there. However if you'd never met a particular 2nd or 3rd cousin or haven't seen them in many years you are strangers. If you meet up at a family reunion and sparks fly... well I have no problem with that at all, but some people might since the word "cousin" still has a close familial connotation. Actually US laws are not all that prudish about cousin marriage. Twenty-five states prohibit marriages between first cousins. Six states allow first cousin marriage under certain circumstances mostly having to do with age and inability to procreate, and North Carolina allows first cousin marriage but prohibits double-cousin marriage. That leaves 19 states where it's perfectly legal. I keep thinking of Jeff Foxworthy, "If your family tree does not fork.....you might be a redneck."
1 person likes this
• Australia
12 Dec 08
Well the figures I have seen suggest 5%, compared with 3% for totally unrelated couples. It's not a huge difference. And when you consider that a large proportion of the world's population lives in cultures where it is not just allowed but even encouraged, I'll stick by my opinion on the genetics. Lash
1 person likes this
• Australia
12 Dec 08
Yes, I take your point. I agree, it's only a slight disagreement, but I've said all along that continued close bloodline breeding will bring about defects - but the chances of one mating in a normal family are slight. On those grounds, unless there was a history of inbreeding, I can see no objections to cousins marrying. Lash
1 person likes this
@James72 (26829)
• Australia
11 Dec 08
It is not a circumstance that I have ever faced actually, but I can see how some people may get funny about it I guess. Genetically there are SOME links present with first cousins, yes? Maybe not to the point of presenting any serious inbreeding issues, but it's there! And this is what people will immediately draw attention to..... As you have rightfully said though, it WOULD involve several generations of these types of relationships one after the other to create any serious anomalies and I do agree with this myself. There is also no argument from my side that marriages and couplings throughout many cultures are embracing close ties such as these. Royal families are one such example, including the British lines. All of that aside, it is most definitely the "eeewww factor" as you have called it, that puts people on the defensive and I honestly don't ever see these mindsets changing. Perception will always rule the roost more than logical science when it comes to things like this. We can also thank movies like Deliverance!
1 person likes this
• Australia
12 Dec 08
Definition of a virgin in Kentucky? A girl who can run faster than her uncles. Lash
2 people like this
@James72 (26829)
• Australia
12 Dec 08
Hahahahaha. Family reunions for mountain folk are an exciting affair because everyone know they're gonna get some!
@soooobored (1187)
• United States
12 Dec 08
A few months ago, I held a similar position to yours in what I thought was a genuine discussion on incest. I stated that incest taboos are incredibly widespread because there is no social advantage, and that risks associated with incest are highly exaggerated. Of course, the original poster said I was dirty or something, I guess he was looking for a pat on the back with his incredibly original viewpoint that incest is naughty! I do think that to commit incest in most western societies implies a degree of social apathy, which in extreme may be sociopathic. But that is only because it is such a strongly ingrained taboo, not for any intrinsic reasons. I really try to follow a live and let live policy, and I would be really interested to learn more about a culture where incest is embraced! With I guess the popular exception of royal families, that's just purely egotistical!!
1 person likes this
• Australia
12 Dec 08
Well I suspect that there are few cultures which embrace incest. Places like India have a long tradition of cousin marriage, but the point is that they don't see it as incest. It seems to be mainly Christian cultures which lump cousins in with parents and siblings and call the result incest. As for closer consanguinty, to my recollection the Egyptian royal brother/sister marriage is the only example, although there may have been other cases in royal bloodlines. Certainly cousin marriage was rife in European royal bloodlines. Lash
1 person likes this
11 Dec 08
Two of my cousins married each other and they were also cousins to each other. I have a complecated family with a lot of intermarriage. I got close to one of their sons and his grandmother wanted us to get married but it never happened. I certainly do not see any problem with cousins marrying. They had seven children, all of whom have been healthy all of their lives apart from the eldest who had childhood asthma but grew out of him. He probably only had that because his parents both smoked. The genetic pool certainly did not affect them.
• Philippines
12 Dec 08
This post actually makes me think twice about incest. And yes, it makes me wonder why people would react too much when the topic about it is brought about. But I remember something that in the Bible, Old Testament particularly, they allow intermarriages among relatives to create their descendants. So why it should appear immoral or something negative today when it was acceptable in the society before? Anyway, I'm also one of the people who think twice about incest when it comes to genes. I don't know if it's true but they say that offsprings would come out abnormal.
• Australia
12 Dec 08
As I said in an earlier response: The figures I have seen suggest 5%, compared with 3% for totally unrelated couples. It's not a huge difference. And when you consider that a large proportion of the world's population lives in cultures where it is not just allowed but even encouraged, I'll stick by my opinion on the genetics. Lash
1 person likes this
@taface412 (3175)
• United States
12 Dec 08
I can tell you why the "eww and yuk" factor is important to me. Part of my family is from the hills in KY. And back in the day (acording to my father) family histories (names of relatives) were kept track of in the family Bibles. Now, this is where I find it eww and yuk....if I remember he said the families would look up the names to make sure the lines were not too cosely related... I look at it this way, blood is blood. And if I was to find out I was dating a cousin I would put a stop to it until I knew just how closely related (whether by actual mutual family members or by marriage) we were. I had this happen to a friend of mine in college just before her wedding....they putit on hold until they found out they were cousins through marriage...and that was in the fine state of IL not KY. This just reminds me of a saying by one of the southern country comedians...."You might be a redneck if you go to family reunions to find a date..." The world is big enough now, and there are multiple opportunities for people t get out of the close gene pool to mate. Why waste the opportunity to expand the lines? I still say Eww and yuk. Never have supported incest in any way and do not plan on it in the future.
• Australia
12 Dec 08
I guess my point is that it's cultural. On the one hand, many cultures not only allow it, they encourage it. On the other hand, the yuk factor only seems to exist in cultures where it is not viewed that way, or among Christians in non-Christian countries. In other words, the incest taboo in this instance is not a "natural" reaction, it is a cultural one. Siblings and parents, of course, are a different kettle of fish. That said, in the circumstances you mention, I would agree there is a problem because close bloodlines mixed over a lengthy period do cause genetic risks to increase dramatically. Lash
1 person likes this
• Netherlands
12 Dec 08
I think that first cousins are far too closely related for my taste. I would never ever consider it. I grew up closely with them and the thought of anything other than a platonic friendship would creep me out.
@kerriannc (4280)
• Jamaica
12 Dec 08
Persons tends to look down on cousins being married. In the old testament this has happen but since we are no longer under that law then it is consider a sin. I remember in a hair salon one sunday and there were a conversation about incest and when I told them that Lot two daughters drunk him and rape him off and eventually have two sons they were atonish and say nothing like that. It is in Genesis 19. Now countries such as lebanon etc make it says in the family. I would not have a relationship with a cousin because I don't feel that it is right. There are alot of fishes in the sea. Can you imagine your child to called you cousin and daddy at the same time.