Monday, March 29, 2010

Consenting and Consanguineous

“dashingclaire” posted a hub, “Consensual Incest.” She begins with the topic of first cousins.

Can sex between close relatives ever be acceptable? As a matter of history, incest was and is an acceptable practice. There’s a myth that incest is a practice of ignorant, poor, socially disadvantaged people. Not true, right here in America well known, famous individuals married their first cousins.

She later moves on to closer relations.

There are actually at least three ‘first world’ highly Catholic influenced countries – Spain, France and Portugal – that do not prosecute consenting adults for incest. These are not ‘third world’ countries. Romania is considering following the example of Spain, France and Portugal.

More countries should not only decriminalize consenting love between consanguineous couples or groups, but allow them to marry, if they so choose.

Winding down her article, she writes…

Consensual Incest is an accepted practice in today’s American society, so much so that the storyline is included in cartoons and comedies (?) on TV.

I think people understand that it happens. However, acceptance is not a word I would use to describe the current climate. There is so much bigotry towards those these people that their relationships are often used on television shock or derision, treating the lovers as freaks to be laughed at or shamed.

Our friends in the marriage equality movement need to help bring this out of the shadows. That is why we are here.
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Group Marriage

The universal definition of marriage that we have proposed is an inclusive one that accommodates diversity. Part of that inclusion is what some would call polygamy. However, while some Muslim men may marry four wives, they do so in a way in a series, and in a way in which the wives are not married to each other.

We value equality, so legally speaking, that wouldn’t be how it would work. Whenever a new person is added, all must consent and a new marriage is formed. This is to protect everyone. So a Muslim man with four wives would be a quintet marriage. The previous marriage, from a legal standpoint, dissolves and becomes the new, larger one. If one person leaves, the marriage is reformed into a smaller one.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Is a Positive Portrayal Too Much to Ask?

The Georgetown Voice recently published and interview by Chris Heller with South Korean film director Bong Joon-ho, about his latest movie, “Mother”, which “follows one woman’s struggle to prove her mentally-challenged son’s innocence after he is accused of murder.”

Q. Mother has strong incestuous undertones, but the exact nature of the mother-son relationship is never made explicit. How did you decide where to draw the line between what is shown and what must be inferred?

A. I did want to make the audience guess whether or not the two were crossing the line, but more importantly, I wanted to focus on the fact that both the mother and the son are incapable of having normal sexual relations.

It would be nice to see a portrayal of a happy consanguineous couple with a healthy relationship, neither of whom is suspected of doing terrible things. Well, I guess there are plenty in erotica, but I’m talking cinema that isn’t essentially erotica.

I do realize that drama involves conflict, so that conflict is often going to be present in the protagonist’s love interest. But it is possible to have a film with a positive example. The relationship can be a side story. Or, dramatic gold can be mined by depicting a couple enduring all of the obstacles - mostly involving ignorance and jealousy from others - that a happy consanguineous couple (or triad) may deal with.

The triad of which I write in this blog consists of attractive, well-adjusted people who don’t hurt anyone, pay their taxes, and can have “normal” sexual relations. They happen to prefer their extraordinary relationship above others.

Positive portrayals are needed to advance social justice. So how about throwing a bone to people who are struggling with hostility?
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Friday, March 19, 2010

There’s a Difference Between Love and Abuse

I prefer using the word consanguineous rather than incestuous, because the word incest has been given such a negative connotation. It is frequently lumped together with child rape and molestation.

Rape, assault, and molestation are and should be crimes, as they are perpetrated against someone who doesn’t or is unable to consent to being sexually touched. But while some rape is incestuous, not all incest is rape or molestation. Consensual incest is an expression of love, and it should not be a crime. Too many people say “incest” when they really mean rape by a family member. I wish they wouldn’t. Call it rape. Call it abuse.

And let's remember that there are people in nonconsanguineous relationships who experience abuse and domestic violence. The issue should not be consanguinity - it should be consenting love vs. coerced abuse.

If you have been attacked, assaulted, raped, or molested, please know that you are not alone and there is help. You should not be ashamed. Your attacker should be ashamed, and convicted, whether a family member, a stranger, or someone between.

One of the groups that can help is RAINN - Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network. Yes, the name does nothing to remove the negative connotation from “incest,” but they can still be helpful.

Another resource is Survivors of Incest Anonymous. Again, I wish the name was different, but I’m just glad there is help for anyone who was raped or molested by a family member.

Perhaps you have been experiencing some attraction to a family member, especially one you were previously separated from for a long time. Or, perhaps you aren’t but know of a family member who is feeling that way towards you. Whether those feelings are wanted, unwanted, or you’re not quite sure, you can find some support, sympathy, and advice at the GSA website.

But if you have, or are, experiencing attraction and love with a consenting family member, don’t let anyone put you down or interfere with your happiness. While we have a ways to go to reach equality under the law, consanguineous love is a beautiful thing. In a world with abuse and bitter family rifts and estrangement, we should never discourage loving intimacy.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Freedom Map

Here is a map that is helpful showing which places in the world are more progressive and which are more oppressive when it comes to consanguineous love.

You’ll notice that in the USA, Rhode Island is the most accepting, or at perhaps least oppressive by application of law, followed by New Jersey, then Ohio, and then Illinois. None of these states will allow sibling or parent-adult child marriage, however.
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Why I Started This Blog

Meet Melissa. No, I’m not putting up her picture, because until there is change, she faces too much persecution. But imagine a bright, beautiful, healthy, kind young woman who has matured from a fairly happy childhood. She has received a Sociology degree from a top university and is working on her Masters in addition to having started her career.

A couple of years ago, Melissa met an older woman - older to her, anyway - named Linda and felt an instant connection with her. It turns out the feeling was mutual. They found that they were attracted to each other in many ways, including physically – after all, both Linda and Melissa are what most people would consider attractive.

They would have married if they could, but they can’t. It isn’t because they are both women. Women can marry each other in several places in the United States. It is because Linda is Melissa’s biological mother, and the law will not allow them to marry.

Melissa was raised mainly by her paternal grandparents, who fought for custody of Melissa. At the time, Linda was still a teenager, and from very modest means, while Melissa’s paternal grandparents were very well off and had excellent legal representation, and to be fair, were capable of providing Melissa with an intact, stable home with two parents.

Melissa’s father, tragically, died young.

But this isn’t the whole story. Linda had previously given birth by the same father, her teenaged sweetheart. When Linda’s mother found out she was impregnated at age 15, she sent Linda away from her sweetheart to be with relatives in another state. Linda’s sweetheart was kept in the dark about her pregnancy. He did not know where she was, or that she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Matthew, who was put up for adoption.

At 18, Linda, as a legal adult, reunited with her sweetheart, and that is when she got pregnant by him a second time.

Things got tumultuous.

After the dust settled, Linda had lost her sweetheart to death and Melissa to her sweetheart’s parents. Linda had a tough time moving forward.

But she did.

She became an accomplished professional and a good citizen, contributing to her community. She attracted lots of romantic interest, and discovered that she was not only attracted to men. But she never quite found someone with whom she wanted to share the rest of her life, until Melissa came back into her life.

Linda and Melissa found that one of the things they have in common is their attraction to both men and women. Since they had already fallen in love with each other despite legal and social discouragements, it wasn’t too surprising that when Matthew made contact with Linda, his birth mother, and met both her and Melissa, that they all fell in love with each other. They want to share their life together.

It is possible that Linda, Melissa, and Matthew are experiencing what has been described as Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA). Whatever labels are applied to it, they describe - and their behavior demonstrates – a deep, warm, caring, affectionate love that goes beyond public approved mother-child or sibling relationships.

Because of bigotry in law, in social circles, and elsewhere, they are not free to be open in their love for each other; they do not reveal the true level and nature of their connection to each other to more than a handful of people, but they hope that not only will the law allow them to openly express their true love, but that they will be able to marry.

Those of us who do know them know that they are in love and deserve marriage equality. They should be able to share a home with all of the legalities of marriage, and all of the social support that anybody else gets when they marry. Can we count on your support?

(Names have been changed to protect these consenting, taxpaying adults from oppression, harassment, prejudice, and bigotry.)
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Equality For All, Not Just Some

According to this article about recent events in Washington, D.C., some gay and lesbian activists say that repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 will bring full equality. I would hope that this is a misinterpretation by the newspaper writer. Unfortunately, it may not be. All too often, our brothers and sisters fighting for marriage rights for same-sex couples stay silent when it comes to the rights of those in consanguineous or polyamorous relationships, or distance themselves from our desire for equality in these areas.

If some of us aren’t free, none of us are free. Let’s work together to promote the true freedom to love and freedom to marry.

Passing a true marriage equality amendment would be a major step in bringing full marriage equality to the U.S., and it would take care of DOMA. I don’t think a piecemeal approach will work.
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Congrats to Newlyweds in Washington, D.C.

Congratulations are in order for all of the additional couples who can now get legally married in Washington, D.C. as of today. Same-sex marriage is now official there.

However, the people on whose behalf I blog would still not be able to marry, and still would not be able to openly express their love.

It is our hope that Washington, D.C. will soon embrace full marriage equality. This is just the first step.
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Outrageous Oppression in Scotland

A Scottish father and his adult daughter fell in love and now the father is being treated like a monster by the courts and the media. They won’t even name him in this article.

The 71-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted having incestuous sex with his daughter over a 13-year period from 1985 to 1998.

Why is this a crime?

Judge Lord Woolman deferred sentence until later this month and placed the man on the sex offenders register. He was remanded in custody.

Consensual sex – private lovemaking – gets a man a scarlet letter and prison. Where is the outrage?

Prosecutor Andrew Miller told the court that the daughter, who is 46, moved back in with her father in 1985 after her marriage collapsed.

So she would have been about 21 years of age when this developed.

Mr Miller said: "She gave birth to three children by him."

They should have been encouraged to marry. But until we have full marriage equality, that can’t happen.

"The sexual relationship was at the instigation of her father.”

Don’t men initiate most sexual relationships between men and women? The language being used is intentionally accusatory.

”She had concerns, but was unable to raise them."

She was an adult – an adult who had been previously married. This went on for 13 years and produced three children. If she had concerns, she was certainly able to raise them. Clearly, she is being pressured into renouncing her love.

Judge Woolman said he did not have sufficient information on the effects of the offences on the daughter and the children to proceed to sentence at this stage.

This article gives no indication that the children have previously suffered. But we can be sure they are suffering now, with their father imprisoned and the love between their parents treated as a crime. As long as some people are treated this way, none of us are free.
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How Undue Shaming Hurts

Although Elena Kelly now identifies as a female, she was born in a male body. She writes over at Salon of a time in her past when she made a child with a half-sister she first met as an adult.

Even though I was growing to love them all, one half-sister and I hit it off especially well. She was an “out” lesbian, only a little younger than me, and our likes and dislikes, our level of education, and so many of our interests matched that we found it quite easy to talk on the phone for hours and never run out of things to talk about…I stayed at her lovely home near the ocean and we went out a lot, going to the beach, nice restaurants, and just hanging out and talking about how our lives had unfolded. We were completely unaware that we were falling in love…

That event started out as innocent play but it became quite serious and that night we crossed a line we never intended to cross. It was the beginning of so much shame and sadness, as well as untold pain for our families and those friends of ours who truly cared for us and loved us. It was stupid and selfish on our part, and we have both paid an enormous price for the foolish choice we made that night. We were adults (I was 34 and she 33) and that night we slept together and she became pregnant with our daughter.

It sounds like they were so right for each other. It is too bad that American society works to suppress this sort of thing, breaking up a family. There should have been no shame. Without the artificial and arbitrary restrictions of society intruding, they could have been happy together. Instead, they let the intruders break them apart. You can read of the tragic results yourself.
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Don't Be Blind to Love

The classic tale of Oedipus Rex is being retold in a modernized setting in an off-Broadway production. According to the New York Post’s Frank Scheck, it keeps the original’s anti-consanguineous love elements. At least mostly.

But for all its contemporary furniture, explicit sex and profanity, "Blind" adds little to the story other than to remind us that it's still really, really bad to sleep with your mother.

Not everyone agrees. This is like saying "Titanic" reminds us not to take cruises. It isn’t for everyone.

When Oedipus finally suspects the truth and confronts her, it leads to blindness and death.

What would have been refreshing would have been a new take, in which there is happy ending.

At another point, the pair engage in a screaming match before taking a break for a glass of red wine. They eventually wind up in a furious sexual coupling that makes incest seem, well, really hot.

Looks like some people want to have their cake and eat it, too.
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