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Jon Camp
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A question occurred to me the other night, and with all the talk of homosexuality on the board lately, I was wondering if anyone knows the answer:

Is there an incest taboo among homosexuals?

Among heterosexuals there (usually) is becuz of the known dangers of inbreeding, but becuz homosexuals aren't "breeding pairs," is there even a need for such a taboo?


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Everard
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I was actually wondering something similar recently.

AS birth control becomes better, and genetic modification becomes possible, are we likely to see the end of the incest taboo? Or will that remain in place long after the health reasons for it are gone?


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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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Incest is the one taboo that has existed in every culture. Even with the Romans, although it wasn't illegal, was frowned upon. There are psycho-anthropological reasons for the taboo, and they seem to hold true between same sexes. (I learnt this good from anthramapology last semester.)
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Baldar
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Actually it was practiced by royalty world wide. The Egyptians were big on it in their time, the Romans did practice it (including several emperors), a number of examples. It was not rare, but it was not common either.
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Denelian
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you'd also be surpreised at the number of people who fantasize about incest - and where they draw the line.

some people include "steps", other don't even include "halfs".

i love Luny (my sister) but somehow the idea seems wroooooooooong...on sooooooo many levels...


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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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Eddie--

Huh? I don't see a difference. There's a taboo in either case.


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Jon Camp
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Eddie, that's my point: The incest taboo is cultural because it is sexual, with the sexual leading to the possibility of inbreeding. Since homosexual pairs don't "breed," though, that removes the sexual from it. Since the cultural flows from the sexual, but there's no need for the sexual in the case of the homosexual, does it not stand to reason that there'd be no cultural either?

This, of course, assumes that those who would normally be considered incestuous both be homosexual and like or love each other enough to engage in the deed. Does anyone know how often siblings/cousins/aunts/uncles/etc tend to be homosexual? I'm sure it's almost vanishingly rare, and so would really render my question moot, but I still wonder.

And as the taboo is cultural, would we as a society really be willing to have 1 standard for heterosexuals which would include the incest taboo, but no such taboo for homosexuals? Or would that be trying to change societal attitudes too far?


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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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Eddie...I think you misunderstood me. I was saying what you're saying. There's a taboo in either case; brother-sister, brother-brother, sister-sister--it's all taboo. I pointed out that the taboo is also the one taboo that is in every culture, and that there are psychological reasons for it. (Now don't argue with me, I just took anthropology last semester. You can read my text book and then write to the authors if you want.)
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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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Oh, wait...were you talking to the other Jon? oops...
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Luny
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Maybe this will help. While Den is attractive, and were she not my sister I'd prolly hit on her (like every other Bi/lesbian girl she knows luv ya sis)BUT she IS my (step)sister and so therefore I don't. We aren't actually blood related or anything so that wouldn't be a problem, its just that growing up with a person, there are certain experiences that prevent you from looking at a person that way. I imagine its easier for those people who didn't know they had siblings until teenage years or so. Even liking girls, no matter how hot ANY of my sisters may be, it ain't gonna happen. I mean, I go to kiss her or something and I start thinking about helping her sneak out years ago or some other more embarassing memory and it just ruins it for you. I think that most people feel that way though they prolly don't realize it.

Anybody seen The Royal Tenenbaums? Similar situation though the girl was adopted so what really was the taboo?


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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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I think making her adopted was partially a decision by the writers (one of the Wilson brothers and somebody else, I forget who) to keep people from walking right out of the theater. But then the taboo was there anyway (at least within the movie, to the characters), keeping them apart, and the love story was still tragic.
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Luny
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That was my point. The taboo is still there, but why?
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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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Because they grew up together just as blood siblings would.

(That's what I was referring to before, those psychological reasons.)


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Jon Camp
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Okay, so you "learned it in psychology class" and we can "read your textbook," but we'd rather you summed up: What ARE the psychological reasons beyond a cultural construct to prevent inbreeding?
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Paercival
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sorry I forget the exact numbers, but I learned in an adolescent psych class that a majority of 2nd cousins (I believe around 70%) experiment sexually with each other (heterosexually, didn't learn about homosexual)
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JonathanTheOmnipotent
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You grow up with someone, you find it awkward to think of them in a sexual way. It's the same no matter if they're blood related or not. Nature's way of keeping genetic diversity isn't something programmed into your physical senses, like the smell of your sister's blood turning your face green. It's more generalized by making anyone who you grow up with undesirable on a psychological level. It's not even on a cultural level, which was why I said it's the one taboo that shows up in all cultures.

Now, close your eyes, and think of a calm ocean beach with a pleasant breeze, the taste of a refreshing pina colada chilling your tongue...

Now imagine your parents having sex.

Doesn't that just gross you out?

PS: Sorry, I didn't mean to be cryptic. I just didn't want anyone arguing with me since those aren't even my words.


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LetterRip
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Immunologically, odor, phermones, etc. there are differences so that close relatives are less attractive to each other, so there are biological mechanisms that counter incest between close relatives.

See
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2207476.stm
http://www.skfriends.com/brain-likes-opposite-sex-smell.htm
http://www.ireland.com/explore/festivals/2001/0801/merriman0825.htm
http://www.dhushara.com/book/genes/mhc.htm
Cached

LetterRip

[This message has been edited by LetterRip (edited October 01, 2002).]


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Jon Camp
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Thanks JTO and LR! Appreciate the info.

It makes you wonder if how the Pharoahs and European nobility often lived in isolation that allowed them to be attracted to their relatives (sister, in the case of the Pharoahs), in that they weren't really ever around them growing up?


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Denelian
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actually, from what i know of the Pharoahs, the desire to marry/breed with a sister was ingrained in them from birth - the same way that we ingrain a loathing of canabalism. we just assume that it WILL be this way, not talking about it or questioning it - and there was never in question in the mind of a Pharoah.

i have a better question - as genetic surgery and testing becomes available, will this make the incest taboo moot? change it to be those you are geneticly incompatable with? do nothing?


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Denelian
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i think i scared everyone away with that last question (hehehe)
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maniacal_engineer
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it wont change our natures, just like the pill didn't. it takes generations for such things to occur to our DNA, and only if there is an advantage.
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