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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"Do you think incest and polygamy will be legalized?" - Masterpost

I came across a poll on the subject of the future of full marriage equality:
I was watching a TV show recently and surprisingly, three characters (two men and a woman) got together in a sexual AND romantic relationship - as in, it wasn’t just a kink, they were serious about it, they even made their relationship official to their family/friends. And it got me thinking, do you guys think polygamy will ever be legalized? And incest? And should they be, and if not, why? Will our society ever see it as acceptable/normal like with gay relationships?
I thought it would be helpful to create one post where I link to everything:
  • My initial response. I debunk the idea that no-one cares enough, argue against the usual eugenic argument, and also against the annoying argument I see all the time that amounts to, “Hah! All you can get is your mom?!” I also point out that polygamy/polyamorous marriage isn’t inherently sexist, because it includes polyandry and polygynandry. Women still have to consent.
  • Eugenics is not a good argument, but it’s the only one that sounds kind of scientific and reasonable in people’s heads, so they always fall back on it. It doesn’t matter if it has strange and disturbing logical implications, apparently. Then I have to explain the difference between consensual sex and consensual cannibalism…
  • I like this one. He provided me with an actual study for his statistic. I point out that it’s not as bad as he originally said, and either way the study itself points out that its findings are almost useless, because of sample bias.
  • I have to further explain why eugenic arguments are logically dangerous, and how even by the standards of eugenics, laws banning consanguineous sex make zero sense.
  • I lay down my arguments, once and for all, for why it makes sense and is just to have age-of-consent laws, but not laws against consanguineous sex. Let this be the end of it.
  • I explain to someone why people are polyamorous, and how it can work successfully. I also point out an assumption in his own thinking about jealousy in monogamy.
  • My closing statements.

Monday, December 28, 2015

"Do you think incest and polygamy will be legalized?" - Part 7

I came across a poll on the subject of the future of full marriage equality:
I was watching a TV show recently and surprisingly, three characters (two men and a woman) got together in a sexual AND romantic relationship - as in, it wasn’t just a kink, they were serious about it, they even made their relationship official to their family/friends. And it got me thinking, do you guys think polygamy will ever be legalized? And incest? And should they be, and if not, why? Will our society ever see it as acceptable/normal like with gay relationships?
Closing statements:
I don’t understand why y'all feel so comfortable trashing these people, and arguing for legally abusing them. Is it because y'all don’t know them personally? Well, I do, and they’re perfectly nice, reasonable people. Actually, some of them are nicer than the “normal” people I’ve met. They love one another. They take care of their kids. They pay taxes. Emotionally, I don’t understand how people can hate that so much. Trust me, just because you don’t think you know such a couple, doesn’t mean you don’t. The closet for both [polyamorous and consanguinamorous people] is large, and the closet for consanguineous couples is massive. It doesn’t mean they like living in fear and secrecy, and they shouldn’t have to. However, it’s easy enough for them to get away with it that they don’t risk rocking the boat.

It seems like what y'all want is to shove them into the closet and tell them to shut up, so y'all don’t have to be confronted with personal discomfort. Why should your personal discomfort have any relevance to law in a liberal country which enshrines protections for the rights of minorities against the tyranny of the majority? How does shaming people and telling them to shut up encourage abuse victims to come forward? And more importantly, how can you demand such a contract when it isn’t in good faith? These couples
do hide in the closet. The problem is that when other people find out accidentally, they hunt them down and throw them in jail, even if they hid it well.
They need to fight these laws, because there is never any guarantee that the law won’t be used to abuse them, regardless of how they behave. The majority always loves telling minorities to shut up and go away when they complain. Meanwhile, minorities complain because, regardless of their silence and isolation, the majority still abuses some from time to time to make an example of them. There’s no other way for them to protect themselves, other than to fight the legal and social regime.

Most feel like the cost of fighting is too high, which is why it takes decades of momentum to get more to come out of the closet. That doesn’t mean they stay in the closet because they acquiesce to this “agreement”. They’re just afraid. They’re afraid of
y'all. They’re adults with otherwise normal lives, who’ve done nothing to anyone that could ever be construed as harmful or destructive. Yet y'all have the power to utterly destroy them. Is that just? Are y'all really comfortable being potential threats to perfectly nice people, some of whom y'all may know? I don’t want to be a threat. I don’t think anyone should have the right to be - not towards good people like them.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

"Do you think incest and polygamy will be legalized?" - Part 6

I came across a poll on the subject of the future of full marriage equality:
I was watching a TV show recently and surprisingly, three characters (two men and a woman) got together in a sexual AND romantic relationship - as in, it wasn’t just a kink, they were serious about it, they even made their relationship official to their family/friends. And it got me thinking, do you guys think polygamy will ever be legalized? And incest? And should they be, and if not, why? Will our society ever see it as acceptable/normal like with gay relationships?
Addendum on non-monogamy:
EVanimations, on 28 Apr 2014 - 9:51 PM, said:
Futurist, I’ll admit that I don’t know or care much about the issue at hand, so I’m not going to spend too much effort defending a position I’m unfamiliar with. That said, my opinion is that… well, incest is icky. I very much dislike the idea of having sex with someone directly related to me; it ain’t right.

[...] As for polygamy, I don’t like the idea of watching some other guy have sex with my woman, and I respect the fact that my woman doesn’t like the idea of watching some other girl have sex with me. Again, no reason to keep it illegal, but why would you want that in the first place if you truly respect each other? It feels kind of unfair to a woman who loves a man but has to share him with 5 others. Same the other way around.
I understand your personal aversions. “Wrong” for you, however, doesn’t automatically mean “wrong” for somebody else. There are advocates of same-sex marriage who still find the thought of having sex with someone of their own gender to be disgusting. Dan Savage, who gives advice mostly to straight people, still finds the idea of sex with a woman icky. People find the idea of having sex with someone they inherently don’t find appealing to be disturbing. However, other people are other people, and thoughts aren’t sufficient justification for police action. You seem to understand that though.

If you read poly* people’s writing - especially the philosophers and social theorists - many actually find the idea of sexual jealousy itself to be repugnant. They see it as a desire to control another person, to get love from them through social sanction and even legal force, and not through having earned it.

The argument is that if you’re constantly working to deserve their love, and they’re constantly working to deserve yours, then a fling on the side, or even a more long-term relationship on the side, isn’t threatening. Jealousy, however, particularly when worshiped as it is in monogamist cultures, can lead to immoral and antisocial behavior: spying, stalking, lying, yelling, beating, and even murder. Because our society worships monogamy, it inevitably also worships jealousy, and so encourages all of this destructive, unethical behavior.

There are people out there, a minority though they are, who don’t feel much jealousy in relationships. Besides that though, you’re buying into the monogamist line of thinking, which equates sex or even love of someone else with a betrayal of their love for you. Clearly, having sex with someone else doesn’t mean they don’t want to have sex with you. What’s harder for people to understand is that this can apply to love as well, though it’s more difficult.

I’d like to point out that there are many people who are dispositionally and openly polyamorous, but are in practice monogamous because they can’t find anyone else they like enough to integrate into their lives. I think most poly* people aren’t against monogamy, they just wish it was left to occur naturally, instead of yelling at people because they’re not doing it right. (I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing.)

The most common type of polyamory I’ve heard of is hierarchical polyamory. In that, there’s a primary relationship, which has veto power and the most romantic attachment, as well as secondary relationships, which can be long-term but aren’t as demanding or committed. Even in group marriages, different people add different things to each other’s lives, and so their love isn’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

When the relationship is all same-gender, or the other people involved are bisexual, it makes it easier because everyone is sexually and romantically bound to everyone. Common triads are between a bisexual man or woman, another bisexual of the same gender, and someone of the opposite gender. They can all have sex together, sleep together, wake up together, and they each fear the loss of both others. It helps to limit the risk of fragmentation - which is, to be fair, a legitimate worry.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A counselor who supports consanguine couples

Full Marriage Equality recently alerted me to an imgur post about consanguinamory.

(TL;DR: OP supports incest couples after commiserating with dozens of them.)
With human rights scratching towards the forefront of global issues, I'd like to take a moment to voice support for consanguine couples. I was going to do one of those nifty "My Job As" posts that I admire and enjoy, but I'm a small-time lurker who only has a few uploads, so I'm not familiar-enough with the layout to really make a pop-out interesting post.
Two years as an untrained volunteer peer counselor for BlahTherapy.com, I have spoken with literally thousands of people, I've counseled marriages, helped people in their careers, contacted law enforcement for abuse victims, and spent hours talking people out of suicide. Among all of those unfortunates, the plight that has struck the deepest chord with me are consanguine (incest) couples. This is a trend that is far more common than what I've personally found discussed in any form of media, and life for these people is very difficult.
Receiving much the same hate as LGBT persons and couples (and even hate FROM LGBT persons), their relationships are considered just as *forbidden* for reasons ranging from religious to scientific. (Example: According to the coefficient of inbreeding, full siblings have 50% chance to pass on deleterious alleles, which is very high, but just because negative traits can be passed on, that is no indicator of what KIND of negative genes will pass on.)
Much of society uses outrageous examples like three-headed children and the Wrong Turn movie franchise as colloquial examples, but such deformities are VERY extreme and unlikely, even in repeated incest; the haemophilia that lurked in Royal European families is rumored to have been the *result* of inbreeding, but this is impossible to verify, nevertheless, the strength of the rumor that incest tends to produce horrifying diseases has persisted in society.
The societal backlash on consanguine couples is often severe, given that the potential for harm is statistically so much higher than other types of relationships, but the harsh reality is that, in spite of how society-at-large may feel about the topic, consanguine coupling happens regularly (I wish I could cite that, but currently - and again, to my personal knowledge - no reputable scientific foundation will fund incest research).
To consanguine couples: you are not alone, and your plight is well-understood. Not everyone condemns your feelings. PM me any questions.
We've been unable to identify who made this post, or how to contact them. We'd love to network with this person, and potentially make connections between the consanguinamorous people they know and the consanguinamorous people we know. The greatest weakness of this community is how fragmented it is. If anyone knows how to contact this person, or if you yourself are the person who made this post, please contact myself or Full Marriage Equality. We, and everyone else we know, would really appreciate it.

My email is [the name of my blogspot] @protonmail.com. (In case it wasn't clear, thefinalmanifesto is the name of my blogspot. I'm just being opaque to avoid spam.)

"Do you think incest and polygamy will be legalized?" - Part 5

I came across a poll on the subject of the future of full marriage equality:
I was watching a TV show recently and surprisingly, three characters (two men and a woman) got together in a sexual AND romantic relationship - as in, it wasn’t just a kink, they were serious about it, they even made their relationship official to their family/friends. And it got me thinking, do you guys think polygamy will ever be legalized? And incest? And should they be, and if not, why? Will our society ever see it as acceptable/normal like with gay relationships?
This is the single most important argument I think I made. The distinction between the mental, ethical, and legal abilities of minors to consent is an important one, and one that rarely gets articulated. It’s an argument that doesn’t get brought too much, but is really annoying to deal with. I’m glad I could finally put down my thoughts on this definitively.

Monday, December 21, 2015

"Do you think incest and polygamy will be legalized?" - Part 4

I came across a poll on the subject of the future of full marriage equality:
I was watching a TV show recently and surprisingly, three characters (two men and a woman) got together in a sexual AND romantic relationship - as in, it wasn’t just a kink, they were serious about it, they even made their relationship official to their family/friends. And it got me thinking, do you guys think polygamy will ever be legalized? And incest? And should they be, and if not, why? Will our society ever see it as acceptable/normal like with gay relationships?
More eugenics...

This was a reply to a response I left to OrbitalResonance:
OrbitalResonance, on 28 Apr 2014 - 09:59 AM, said:
[...]

Yes, I am a fu!king Nazi. Don’t you ever use slippery slope with me you small minded buffoon. Incest is immoral while polygamy and homosexuality are acceptable. My logic is one that measures consent and consideration for the end result. There will be a line drawn.
Wasn’t saying you were in favor of those things. I’m making a point, that there’s no clear logical barrier between discriminating against one group[ of consensual adults'] reproductive rights regardless of their actual genes and behaviors, and [discriminating against] another group['s]. Some relatives could have healthy children, some wouldn’t. It depends on individual genomes, epigenomes, and lifestyles, all of which can be determined to some degree and used to make responsible decisions (which is what Israel did with the Samaritans). I think we should have free genetic screening and counseling for everyone, since it makes it easier for people to make responsible reproductive decisions.

The thing is, people who would never advocate for using state force to control people’s consensual sexual and reproductive lives will all of a sudden be okay [with it] when it comes to “incest”. It’s just because that’s the only logical sounding argument most can come up with besides “eww”. I’m saying a) it’s bad eugenic policy anyway, and b) people should be more careful suddenly becoming pro eugenics just because it serves them on one issue. After all, if we’re policing the gene pool and trying to prevent abnormal births, why aren’t we banning sex for people who are past middle age? The reason a eugenic argument allows for bad logical consequences, is because it’s being applied arbitrarily to a large group of people based on an act that’s not necessarily even reproductive. (I also don’t think eugenics is a proper role for a democratic state.)

Actually, let me quote that Slate article:

My guess is that this is how governments will manage unconventional sex practices in the next century. We can’t stop people from doing what they want to do. We’ll tell them what’s generally dangerous. And if they can adequately reduce the medical risks, by wearing a condom or taking a genetic test, we’ll look the other way. We’ll speak the language of science, or none at all.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

"Do you think incest and polygamy will be legalized?" - Part 3

I came across a poll on the subject of the future of full marriage equality:
I was watching a TV show recently and surprisingly, three characters (two men and a woman) got together in a sexual AND romantic relationship - as in, it wasn’t just a kink, they were serious about it, they even made their relationship official to their family/friends. And it got me thinking, do you guys think polygamy will ever be legalized? And incest? And should they be, and if not, why? Will our society ever see it as acceptable/normal like with gay relationships?
Science!!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The "deformity" stereotype is an old one

Perhaps no opinion, upon subjects of a medical character, is more widely diffused among the public, or more tenaciously held, than that the results of the marriage of blood relations are almost uniformly unfortunate. This opinion has been so long held and so often reiterated, that by sheer force of these circumstances alone it has come to be regarded as an unquestioned and unquestionable fact.
- Dr. Bell, a New England physician in 1859

"Do you think incest and polygamy will be legalized?" - Part 2

I came across a poll on the subject of the future of full marriage equality:
I was watching a TV show recently and surprisingly, three characters (two men and a woman) got together in a sexual AND romantic relationship - as in, it wasn’t just a kink, they were serious about it, they even made their relationship official to their family/friends. And it got me thinking, do you guys think polygamy will ever be legalized? And incest? And should they be, and if not, why? Will our society ever see it as acceptable/normal like with gay relationships?
The argument continues:

Friday, December 18, 2015

Help for Family and Friends of Incestuous Siblings


This is for the benefit of friends or family of romantically involved siblings, who may have recently discovered their secret. Though I’ve used “incest” in the title, I won’t continue to use the terms “incest” or “incestuous,” I will use “consanguinamory” and “consanguineous” (pronounced “con-sang-gwin-am-or-ee” and “con-sang-gwin-ee-us). “Incest” is too loaded a word for intelligent discussion, and I only ever use it for sexual abuse. If I say “consanguinamory”, assume I am talking about consensual sex. (I’m going to assume that the couple is opposite-sex, but most of this also applies for same-sex couples.) Remember: there’s a difference between love and abuse.

This might be long, but bear with me. All of your concerns are about to be addressed. If you truly love them, you will have the patience to read this.
 

Unfamiliarity leads to disgust, and disgust leads to hate

Westermarck suggested that humans have an inclination to prevent other people from behaving in ways they would not themselves behave. On this view, left-handers were in the past forced to adopt the habits of right-handers because the right-handers found left-handers disturbing. In the same way, those who were known to have had sexual intercourse with close kin were discriminated against. People who had grown up with kin of the opposite sex were generally not attracted to those individuals and disapproved when they discovered others who were. […] Once in place, the desire for conformity, on the one hand, and the reluctance to inbreed, on the other, would have combined to generate social disapproval of inbreeding.
- Patrick Bateson, Inbreeding, Incest, and the Incest Taboo
Why do we condemn others for having sex with their relatives? What has this to do with our not being interested in having sex with our relatives? […] We condemn them because by arousing our aversion their behavior causes us pain.
- Arthur P. Wolf, Inbreeding, Incest, and the Incest Taboo

"Genetic testing breathes new life into Israel's Samaritans"

Samaritans celebrating Sukkot
All of these weird eugenic arguments people make about consanguinamory, about people having "too many kids," are not only creepy, but they're based on bad assumptions. When people are given easy access to good information on how to manage their families, they usually use it. The results can be amazing.
MT. GERIZIM, West Bank — When Ben Yehuda Altif got engaged to his first cousin Mazal, there was no problem winning the blessing of their families or the Samaritan high priest, who leads their ancient Israelite sect. Marriage between cousins is common in the religious community. But there was still an obstacle. Like many Samaritan couples today, the pair had to pass a premarital genetic screening to predict the likelihood of having healthy children. Without the green light from doctors, the marriage would be off. "Doctors said OK, and now we have a healthy, handsome boy," said Altif, 33, reaching for his wife's cellphone to show off pictures of their son.
Samaritans, who trace their roots back about 2,700 years, are best known for clinging to strict biblical traditions that have largely disappeared, including animal sacrifice, isolation of menstruating women and, until recently, a ban on marrying outsiders. But after facing near-extinction and being devastated by a high rate of birth defects because of inbreeding, the community is using modern science — including genetic testing, in vitro fertilization and abortion — to preserve their traditional way of life.
"It's changing our blood," said Aharon Ben-Av Chisda, 86, high priest of the 750-member Samaritan community, which is split about evenly between the West Bank village of Kiryat Luza near Nablus and the Israeli city of Holon, south of Tel Aviv. The white-bearded priest said genetic testing was breathing new life and optimism into the once-besieged community. He noted that he and his wife, who is a second cousin, had four children before genetic testing was available: Three are deaf and one can't walk. Most other families at Mt. Gerizim tell similar stories of health problems and handicaps among the older generation, though lately such problems have begun to disappear.
Samaritans are one of the world's oldest religious sects. Similar in practice, beliefs and ancestry to Jews, they follow the Hebrew Torah. But instead of Jerusalem, they revere a temple their ancestors built on this remote West Bank hillside.
Mentioned several times in the Bible, Samaritans are also considered one of the most inbred communities in the world, with 46% marrying first cousins and more than 80% marrying blood relatives, according to research by Israeli geneticist Batsheva Bonne-Tamir, who spent most of her career studying the community. The restrictions against marrying outsiders were less of a problem when Samaritans numbered more than a million in the 5th century. But because of persecution and forced conversion to Islam, their numbers had dwindled to just 146 by 1917. To crawl their way back, Samaritans began having large families of eight to 10 children, and the frequency of first-cousin marriages doubled, Bonne-Tamir found. As the population grew, so did the health problems and genetic defects, including rare blood diseases, Usher syndrome, deafness, muteness, blindness and physical handicaps.
"It was largely a 20th century phenomenon," said Bonne-Tamir, now retired from Tel Aviv University. Over the last decade, the community also relaxed its restrictions on intermarriage, allowing in about 25 women, mostly Jewish Israelis and arranged matches with brides from Ukraine. Samaritan leaders are reluctant to discuss their gene pool shrinkage, but they estimate the rate of birth defects was once 10 times higher than the nationwide average. By the 1960s, the rate of miscarriage was 10% higher among Samaritan women, one study found. But since adopting genetic testing, Samaritans say the rate of birth defects among newborns today is normal, even though most people still marry inside the community, including to relatives.
"This is enabling us to build a better generation for the future," said Ishak Al Samiri, a spokesman for the community at Mt. Gerizim.
Like his father, Al Samiri married a cousin. He has two healthy children, but he suffers from a blood disorder and his brother is crippled, both believed to be linked to genetic defects, he said.
Samaritans have long been the focus of genetic research, initially because of their ancient roots. In the 1960s, Israeli scientists began to study the Holon branch of the community, both to assist with genetic defects and to trace their historic lineage.
Samaritans claim that they are the descendants of northern Israelite tribes that were conquered by Assyrians. Subsequent genetic studies suggested that Samaritan men carry the so-called Cohen gene, linking them to ancient Israelites. For centuries, Samaritans lived in Nablus, but some moved to Jaffa and later to Holon. In 1988, the Nablus community relocated to a village near an Israeli settlement to escape attacks by Palestinians, who viewed them as Jews. Today Samaritans, who hold Israeli citizenship, pride themselves on staying neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 This can happen if there's a sudden, extreme bottleneck. Moderate levels of consanguineous marriage can have little to no consequence on a population's health stats, as long as the population is large enough and there is still non-consanguineous marriage. If a bottleneck does happen, it can be many generations before all of the deleterious genes from the founder population are eliminated from the gene pool. One of the ways to get around this, as the Samaritans have shown, is to use genetic tests to inform marital and reproductive decisions. If people are worried about children born with disabilities - and I'm assuming they're genuine here, and not just using this as an excuse to attack consanguinamorous people specifically - then a great way to address those concerns is with widespread, cheap access to genetic testing and family planning. As the Samaritans have shown, if you have that, consanguinamory isn't much of a problem.

The naturalistic fallacy needs to die

The "naturalistic fallacy" is commonly used against both biological science, homosexuality, and consanguinamory. It's a fallacy for a reason.
If “natural” is “good”, what use does it serve as a moral rubric? When people say “homosexuality is unnatural”, they are saying “homosexuality is wrong”. But how does that help the discussion? “It’s wrong because it’s unnatural” is the same as saying “it’s wrong because it’s wrong”. That doesn’t tell us why it’s wrong: it’s again “a description” – a false one in this case, since […] there are 1,500 animal species that engage in homosexual behaviour. The assertion becomes a tautology. But just showing that a supposedly unnatural act occurs in nature does not make it moral either! The entire point is to get rid of linking so tightly “moral” and “natural”: whether something does or does not occur in nature doesn’t aid our deciding whether that act is moral.

After all, wearing glasses, building hospitals and using crutches don’t occur in nature – are these to be considered “wrong” based on that category? If they’re not, why use the category of “unnatural” or even “natural” at all when discussing morality?
- Tauriq Moosa

"Do you think incest and polygamy will be legalized?" - Part 1

I came across a poll on the subject of the future of full marriage equality a while back:
I was watching a TV show recently and surprisingly, three characters (two men and a woman) got together in a sexual AND romantic relationship - as in, it wasn’t just a kink, they were serious about it, they even made their relationship official to their family/friends. And it got me thinking, do you guys think polygamy will ever be legalized? And incest? And should they be, and if not, why? Will our society ever see it as acceptable/normal like with gay relationships?
My response:

Thursday, December 17, 2015

We Get Letters From Happy LTR Consanguinamorists

Full Marriage Equality received a comment from a long-term couple:
My sister (now age 59) and I (61) actually ended up together after she had an unexpected divorce and moved in with me. We had "experimented" together at a young age and stopped in the late teens. When she moved in, I had just planned a vacation driving up the California coast and she came along. As we drove, we stopped at beaches along the highway and many were clothing optional and we "did as the Romans." It was at a nude beach just past Santa Cruz where we were watching a sunset when, on the spur of the moment, we kissed. That shock led to a very romantic interlude - that hasn't stopped even after 12 years. Something that amazes us both is that the passion between us has not faded as did in our marriages.
I wonder how often this happens to people? Rekindling something as adults they had in high school. Once again, I think people underestimate how much consanguinamory actually happens.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Things are changing, and more stories are coming to light

An interview with an Austrian couple (now in Germany) from VICE:
I met Tom* through his psychotherapist, who is a friend of mine, but he didn't want to meet me in person. He was worried I would judge or insult him. That's how others have reacted when he's told them about his life. He does want to talk, though—he says he wants to get the truth off his chest. So we arrange a Skype interview. He turns up in dark sunglasses and a hat to protect his identity. He promises he'll tell me everything as long as I don't reveal his personal details. If I did, I would be putting his freedom at stake.

Tom's profile picture shows him and his girlfriend, Lena. She hugs him from behind, lovingly kissing him on the neck. He is smiling, twining his fingers in her long, brown hair. Strictly speaking, nothing is wrong with this photo. It shows two people who love each other—a relationship based on mutual attraction.

But Lena is Tom's sister, and for most people this changes everything; the photograph actually becomes criminal evidence. "I'm scared of people finding me disgusting," says Tom. He looks away from me and claws at his fingers. He's been in a committed relationship with his sister for 20 years, and the couple has a child together. "There's nothing that I haven't heard before. People have called me a desecrator, sister-fucker, or simply retarded. And all that's come out of the mouths of people who were at one time my friends. Even if society won't recognize us, we exist and there are more of us than you think."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

Why do we assume humans were always so obsessed with punishment?

When I came across this, my jaw dropped:
The Hadza certainly are egalitarian [...]. This does not mean that there are no individuals who would like to dominate others and have their way. It is simply difficult to boss others around. If a Hadza tries to tell others what to do, which does happen now and then, the others simply ignore it; if he or she persists, they just move to another camp. [...] Teenagers look up to adults and get along well with their elders. This is at least partly due to the fact that adults do not try to control them and rarely express strong opinions about whom they should marry. [...] The Hadza have very few taboos compared to most ethnic groups in Tanzania. [...] There are more norms than taboos.

[...] In 1911, Obst observed: "What I could find out about the [Hadza's] family life suggests that they treat each other more cordially than the surrounding Bantu families do. No father would sell his daughter to somebody if the girl does not love the man or had not made arrangements with him." [...]. This is still true today. Female choice appears to be the main factor influencing Hadza marriage. [...] Median age at first marriage is 21 years for men and 17 years for women [...].

[...] Occasionally, a Hadza woman marries a non-Hadza, moves away, and has a child with him. Very often, however, the woman eventually leaves her husband and returns to raise the child in a Hadza camp. This seems to be because Hadza women are too independent to put up with the sort of treatment they get from non-Hadza men. Hadza women have a good deal of independence and often speak their minds. But with non-Hadza men, they are looked down on, given orders, and more often beaten, so they want to leave and return to a Hadza camp. When Hadza women return to a Hadza camp, they do not experience any notable stigma, nor does a child with a non-Hadza father [...]. [...] Occasionally, non-Hadza men take up life in a Hadza camp with their Hadza wives, and these marriages are more enduring because the men treat their wives better; in fact, they begin to behave just like Hadza men.

Obst [...] said that a man could marry anyone other than his mother or sister and that one man even married his granddaughter. The Hadza, like people in most societies, say that it is not acceptable to marry anyone who is a parent, [offspring], sibling, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece [...]. They usually say it is not good to marry first cousins [...]. However, as with the few other rules one can elicit from the Hadza, there is little to no enforcement. I know one man who married his niece. One man even married his sister. While other Hadza shake their heads and say it is not right, no one feels compelled to do anything about it. So even though these norms are well understood and recognized by all Hadza, there is simply no strong sentiment that others should enforce them. To a remarkable extent, individuals are free to do what they want.

[...] [W]ife beating appears to be fairly rare. [...] Rape of a Hadza woman by a Hadza man is extremely rare since the woman's family would not sit idly by [...].
- Frank Marlowe, The Hadza Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania


You have understand, this is a very widely read book. I keep reading in academic works about how consanguinamory doesn't happen, except in a few rare cases of GSA, and that no society except Egypt approved. I have so many questions about these couples, but Marlowe never deigned to write about them except for this single paragraph. Things like this make you wonder whether consanguinamory has been observed frequently, but simply goes unmentioned and unstudied.

I don't know if I believe the grandfather-granddaughter case, especially since Obst was only a German colonial official, and not the best ethnographer, but Marlowe is a much more reliable source, and his observations are recent. The Hadza aren't unusual among egalitarian cultures in how they do not enforce their "incest" norms. I wouldn't be surprised if a general disinterest in controlling other people's behavior, including when it comes to consanguinamory, goes all the way back to our earliest ancestors. Non-human animals don't enforce taboos against consanguinamory, and property-less hunter-gatherers across the board don't care much for controlling other people's behavior.

One of the things they illustrate is that one can have a society with almost total wealth equality, high equality between men and women, almost non-existent rape and murder, and an allowance for consenting adult relatives to form sexual relationships. The last is not mutually exclusive with the others. I have not been able to find any reports of pedophilia or familial rape among the Hadza either.

If this is what a society tolerant of consanguinamory looks like, what exactly are people afraid of?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Woman Denied Her Right to Marry the Person She Loves

From Full Marriage Equality:
I am a legal secretary. I work at a small criminal defense firm in the midwest United States. I was raised in the southeast United States with one adopted sister and one adopted brother, with whom I grew up. My adopted parents were upper-middle class. We were raised Christian Baptist. My half-brother, Joshua, was raised in foster care in the midwest. We didn't know about each other growing up. [...] My sexual orientation is pansexual, and he is bisexual. We are monogamous. [...] I am 36, and he is 31.
[...] Since I was adopted, I didn't know anything about any biological siblings. And Joshua didn't know about me either. Our father left me when I was six months old and my mother abandoned me. So I was adopted. And our father abandoned Joshua when he was two years old. His mother was unfit and he spent almost his entire childhood in foster care.  Joshua was on Facebook looking for siblings and he found our half-brother, William, whom I had found several years prior. When they realized they had the same father, William put us in touch with each other.
[...] When we were put in touch, the first day was spent talking on a private chat app. We were both cautious at first, being perfect strangers. The second day we swapped pics. I felt something was special about him. And he told me later that he was completely smitten with me. It took us about two weeks of feeling each other out before we finally admitted what we felt, though. [...] I never in my wildest dreams would have thought this possible. I did, however, do some research and our situation is classic GSA. Once we both worked up the nerve to admit our feelings to each other, we felt much relief. It was even better knowing that we both reciprocated the feelings.
[...] We have been together a little over two years. We live together. We see each other as both siblings, and married spouses. The roles kind of bleed over into each other so it's an inseparable combination. [...] I have one friend in a different country that knows about us. He is supportive. The country he lives in does not prosecute consenting adults.
[...] In the city we live in, we present to others as just siblings. We fear the laws here. So we do not display romantic affection in public. But when we travel, we travel as a couple and not as siblings. It's those times that we can enjoy appearing as any normal couple would. [...] It's difficult in that we can't show to much affection in public. The little things most people take for granted, like reaching for his hand, a tender embrace, or a gentle kiss. All must wait until we are safely home behind closed doors. It's hard to show restraint all day every day. [...] If we could get married we definitely would.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Adopting Love

From Full Marriage Equality, the mother of a previous couple talks about her own relationship:
I live with my brother right now. [...] He was officially adopted by my family when he was two. He was one of two children adopted by my family, the other one was of my sisters. I was not adopted. [...] [We’re not married but w]e did have a family-only event where we just told the place we are a couple that wanted to renew our vows. It was a small event with only the two of us and my three kids.
[...] I was only eight months older than him, so growing up we attended the same grade. Growing up we did stand up for each other at times, but mostly we had a normal relationship; arguing, teasing. [...][I]t was gradual. By the time he was in college, we knew we wanted to be with each other. Once he graduated college, I moved in with him and we started our physical relationship and raising my sons.
[...] Well unlike most people I never had an inherit lack of sexual attraction to some of my brothers, and I did have fantasies about a few of them. I even liked catching them changing clothes, and talking them into skinny-dipping in the family pool.
I did kiss one of my other brothers once. This back in eighth grade for me and he just got his first car. We did not do anything more than a quick kiss. I would have liked to do more, but he did not want to. I also remember asking my sister which one of our brothers she thought was the cutest, and that's when I started to realize that most people have the Westermarck Effect.
[...] When we make love, I don’t think of it as taboo. It just feels right to me and him. [...] We have been together for almost 20 years now.  We both think of each other as lovers first and siblings second. 
[...] My oldest brother knows and did not take it well and thought I must have molested my foster brother, or that this was just a sign that we both needed therapy. After a while, he did calm down and he has kept it a secret for us.
[...] When we go on vacations we just say we are a married couple, and so far everyone buys it. It’s rather easy since he does not look that much like me and our children, but close enough that we pass. I think that we have a great relationship with each other after all, how many people can stay married for 20 years?  My twin sons have also been together for a long time as well. Also, since we grew up together it means we knew so much about each other before we even became a couple. I just wish I could be open to the whole world. We do plan to retire somewhere that no one knows us so we can be a couple.
[...] We are adults and we love each other.  Neither of us are sick and we were not abused by our parents or by each other. I personally really hate the argument that one of must be abusing the other and I have gotten that argument from one of my own brothers.
If their secretiveness seems unnecessary, it shouldn’t. In many states, including their own, marriage between adoptive family members is prohibited, and sex between adoptive family members is considered identical to sex between genetic relatives. Her sons may be twins, while she and her brother are only adoptive siblings, but as far as the law is concerned there is no difference. All are “guilty”.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Same-Sex Marriage Still Denied

From Full Marriage Equality:
My name is Joel and I live in Texas. My brother and I work together. Elijah and I are identical twins. [...] We are in our late 20s, although we look much younger than that. In addition to my twin we have one other sibling, a younger brother, although he has a different dad. We never call each other “half-siblings” and personally I hate the term “half-sibling.”
I make enough that I can afford the life I want, and Elijah makes about the same. I don’t have children, I don’t plan on adopting, and I have no desire to have children. In my free time I play board games, and go to nudist resorts.  I am gay and polyamorous, and so is my twin, but right now it is only the two of us in this relationship.
[...] No I am not married, nor have I ever been. I would love to get married to my brother if it were legal. We have not really thought about have a ceremony, but after visiting your site we might plan one.
[...] Our mother was 14 when she got pregnant with [the two of] us, and struggled to make money until we were around 8.  It’s not that she was totally poor; her parents did help out and they even paid for us to go to a private school. Our mother was always very accepting, she even told us when we had the sex talk that if one or both of us were gay it would be fine. This was back in the late 90’s in Texas, so she was very progressive for the day.  She also let all three of us get earrings when we turned 7. Oddly enough, she is very tall, being over six feet.

[...] Our dad is my mother’s foster sibling. Now I know that technically means it is not incest, but most people would call it that [and in some jurisdictions it could legally be considered incest]. He told me that he had always been close to our mother, and he wishes he could have helped us out more, but he just did not have the money and he was going to college.  Once he did, though, he had mom move in and bring the three of us. This was in a small town so he had to be discrete with his relationship.  Later, he told us that he and his sister had feelings for each other back in high school. He is great dad and I make sure to call him dad in private.
[...] We first made out with each other when we were young. I remember we were at a campsite walking in the woods, just the two of us.  I made the comment that it’s like we are on a date. I took his hand and I then leaned in and we kissed for the first time. At first we tried to explain it away as it is just experimenting or a phase, but we did keep kissing at night in our bed and even when we took baths together.
[...] We knew that most people would not like us for even being gay, and since we went to a Catholic school we always tried to not let people know about us. When I started to feel attracted to Elijah I didn’t think it was wrong, but knew most people would. I always felt very strong romantic feelings for him and I never once felt like we forced each other. When I told Elijah for the first time that I loved him more than a brother and I wanted to always be with him, I was so nervous because I knew that even though Elijah would say the same, most people would not accept this. Overall, I think I have the healthiest relationship of my social circle.
[...] We have been together 12 years. We use the date that we first said we want to be more than brothers as an anniversary date. Right now, we have a stable relationship and we have a two-bedroom apartment together. [...] Really, at this point, the family and lover roles are inseparable. [...] We have been in a few poly relationships, and we have been in a few sexual parties, but we have never not been together.
[...] Our father and mother found about us when we were still teens, when she caught us having sex. Our mother was very understanding and just wanted to make sure that it was consensual. Dad also just told us to make sure to keep it secret. That’s when we found out their relationship was fully sexual. [...] Finding a poly group was great since they are rather supportive about us, and we do make out in the woods when we go camping. Mostly we keep any signs of our relationship private. [...][M]ost of our friends are gay poly people, or furries. I think we are very lucky to have any support.
[...] I remember one time I asked someone about consensual incest between adults foster siblings. He said that people who would do that should not be allowed to have kids since they are likely to molest them. I simply told him that that’s not true since I was not molested. I did not stick around to see his reaction.
[...] We have a met a brother sister couple in real life. They moved away shortly after we met them, but they were happy together. [...][We want to f]ind another person to add to our relationship since we do want a poly relationship.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Another cousin couple arrested

This time in Swaziland:
Two cousins have been arrested for engaging in a sexual relationship, knowing very well that their fathers were siblings. Mbongwa Dlamini (23) and Nomphilo Dlamini (18) have been charged with incest, emanating from their alleged relationship that was first discovered in 2013. The relationship resulted in the birth of a child, and [she] is expecting yet another baby. The first one is estimated to be around two years of age.
The couple has been defiantly staying together at Lebovu area, outside Nhlangano, despite repeated warnings from family members. Community members said the relationship between the two had been consensual and also a source of quarrel at their homestead. They said the couple had been warned on numerous occasions to desist from their weird behaviour but the love birds just decided to pour cold water on the issue. The pair admitted to the police that they were cousins and were also in a relationship.
It was the couple’s unabashed display of affection towards each other that led to their immediate relatives reporting the matter to the police. When the family first became aware of the affair in 2013, the couple was reprimanded but they wouldn’t let go of each other. Eventually they had their first child. Recently, elders were exasperated by the discovery that the girl had conceived again, and the illicit affair was eventually reported to the police. The couple was charged upon arraignment at the Nhlangano Magistrates Court, where they both registered a plea of guilty.
The duo was uncooperative when asked by the prosecutor about their strange behaviour. The magistrate wanted to know if they addressed each other as lovers or cousins when together. However, both suspects were seemingly embarrassed by the question. Instead of giving a response, they just showed long faces and remained silent.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"Sibling couple call for change in the law"

This article is from several years ago, but it's still relevant. These things happen. Consanguinamorous couples are a fact. People can either deal with that fact in a mature way, or they can stick their heads in the sand, but neither will change the truth.
A couple are calling for a change in the law in the Irish Republic after discovering they are half-brother and sister. They are opposed to a law which allows the identity of a child's father to be withheld if it is thought to be in the child's best interests.
James and Maura (not their real names) have been together for seven years and have a five-year-old son. In April, a DNA test confirmed they were related. They met "as two strangers" from different parts of Ireland. James told BBC Radio 5 live's Victoria Derbyshire: "Everything about her attracted me to her. We agreed on everything." For Maura, it was "his eyes".
They had a long-distance relationship before settling down together and were delighted when Maura became pregnant. After her son was born, Maura felt it was important for James to contact his estranged mother. James visited his mother at Christmas. When they started talking about Maura, his mother asked him questions about what she did and about her parents. She seemed very interested in Maura's father and started asking what he looked like, said James.
As the realisation dawned, the expression on her face "was just horrible", he told Victoria Derbyshire. "She put her hand over her face and said 'You're not serious?'". His mother then went into her room and James knocked on the door. "I said 'Mam what's wrong?' She wouldn't answer for a while. She said to stay away from her. I remember sitting by the door…eventually she said 'He's your Dad'."
James broke the news to Maura when he returned home. Maura said: "At first I didn't want to believe it." A DNA test confirmed that James and Maura were half-siblings.
James' mother later told him the whole story of his childhood. She said James' real father had found out about him when he was four-years-old and had taken legal action to try to get access to him. The court decided not to grant it and the name on his birth certificate remained that of his mother's husband. He grew up believing that he was his natural father.
[...] James and Maura are still together. They were distant at first, James said, but "it's very hard to try and take away seven years". Family relationships have been strained. Both Maura's parents know, but others don't. James sees his real dad now, though the couple never meet him together. They have not told their son. "We want to tell him when he gets older... but we have to do it in such a way that it doesn't impact him," James said.
The couple are planning to get married and perhaps have another child. James' birth certificate means they are not brother and sister in the eyes of the law. James said: "If they could turn a blind eye to my birth certificate, they can turn a blind eye to my marriage certificate." Maura added: "It was always our plan to get married; we won't change our plans to suit these people who created us."

Monday, July 6, 2015

"It's Time to Legalize Polygamy"

It's wonderful to see someone making such clear and strong arguments in favor of full marriage equality, given most of the media's attitude towards it.
The question presents itself: Where does the next advance come? The answer is going to make nearly everyone uncomfortable: Now that we’ve defined that love and devotion and family isn’t driven by gender alone, why should it be limited to just two individuals? The most natural advance next for marriage lies in legalized polygamy—yet many of the same people who pressed for marriage equality for gay couples oppose it. [...] Yet the moral reasoning behind society’s rejection of polygamy remains just as uncomfortable and legally weak as same-sex marriage opposition was until recently.
That’s one reason why progressives who reject the case for legal polygamy often don’t really appear to have their hearts in it. They seem uncomfortable voicing their objections, clearly unused to being in the position of rejecting the appeals of those who would codify non-traditional relationships in law. [...] They’re trapped, I suspect, in prior opposition that they voiced from a standpoint of political pragmatism in order to advance the cause of gay marriage.
In doing so, they do real harm to real people. Marriage is not just a formal codification of informal relationships. It’s also a defensive system designed to protect the interests of people whose material, economic and emotional security depends on the marriage in question. If my liberal friends recognize the legitimacy of free people who choose to form romantic partnerships with multiple partners, how can they deny them the right to the legal protections marriage affords?
Polyamory is a fact. People are living in group relationships today. The question is not whether they will continue on in those relationships. The question is whether we will grant to them the same basic recognition we grant to other adults: that love makes marriage, and that the right to marry is exactly that, a right.
[...] The marriage equality movement has been both the best and worst thing that could happen for legally sanctioned polygamy. The best, because that movement has required a sustained and effective assault on “traditional marriage” arguments that reflected no particular point of view other than that marriage should stay the same because it’s always been the same. In particular, the notion that procreation and child-rearing are the natural justification for marriage has been dealt a terminal injury. [...] And rightly so.
But the marriage equality movement has been curiously hostile to polygamy, and for a particularly unsatisfying reason: short-term political need. Many conservative opponents of marriage equality have made the slippery slope argument, insisting that same-sex marriages would lead inevitably to further redefinition of what marriage is and means. See, for example, Rick Santorum’s infamous “man on dog” comments, in which he equated the desire of two adult men or women to be married with bestiality. Polygamy has frequently been a part of these slippery slope arguments. Typical of such arguments, the reasons why marriage between more than two partners would be destructive were taken as a given. Many proponents of marriage equality, I’m sorry to say, went along with this evidence-free indictment of polygamous matrimony. They choose to side-step the issue by insisting that gay marriage wouldn’t lead to polygamy. That legally sanctioned polygamy was a fate worth fearing went without saying.
[...] Many argue that polygamous marriages are typically sites of abuse, inequality in power and coercion. Some refer to sociological research showing a host of ills that are associated with polygamous family structures. These claims are both true and beside the point. Yes, it’s true that many polygamous marriages come from patriarchal systems, typically employing a “hub and spokes” model where one husband has several wives who are not married to each other. These marriages are often of the husband-as-boss variety, and we have good reason to suspect that such models have higher rates of abuse, both physical and emotional, and coercion. But this is a classic case of blaming a social problem on its trappings rather than on its actual origins.
After all, traditional marriages often foster abuse. Traditional marriages are frequently patriarchal. Traditional marriages often feature ugly gender and power dynamics. Indeed, many would argue that marriage’s origins stem from a desire to formalize patriarchal structures within the family in the first place. We’ve pursued marriage equality at the same time as we’ve pursued more equitable, more feminist heterosexual marriages, out of a conviction that the franchise is worth improving, worth saving. If we’re going to ban marriages because some are sites of sexism and abuse, then we’d have to start with the old fashioned one-husband-and-one-wife model.
[...] Most dispiriting, and least convincing, are those arguments that simply reconstitute the slippery slope arguments that have been used for so long against same sex marriage. “If we allow group marriage,” the thinking seems to go, “why wouldn’t marriage with animals or children come next?” The difference is, of course, consent. In recent years, a progressive and enlightened movement has worked to insist that consent is the measure of all things in sexual and romantic practice: as long as all involved in any particular sexual or romantic relationship are consenting adults, everything is permissible; if any individual does not give free and informed consent, no sexual or romantic engagement can be condoned.
[...] Progressives have always flattered themselves that time is on their side, that their preferences are in keeping with the arc of history. [...] I think it’s time to turn the question back on them: given what you know about the advancement of human rights, are you sure your opposition to group marriage won’t sound as anachronistic as opposition to gay marriage sounds to you now? And since we have insisted that there is no legitimate way to oppose gay marriage and respect gay love, how can you oppose group marriage and respect group love?
I suspect that many progressives would recognize, when pushed in this way, that the case against polygamy is incredibly flimsy, almost entirely lacking in rational basis and animated by purely irrational fears and prejudice. What we’re left with is an unsatisfying patchwork of unconvincing arguments and bad ideas, ones embraced for short-term convenience at long-term cost. We must insist that rights cannot be dismissed out of short-term interests of logistics and political pragmatism. The course then, is clear: to look beyond political convenience and conservative intransigence, and begin to make the case for extending legal marriage rights to more loving and committed adults. It’s time.
The bolded passages are especially important. So many of people’s complaints/conscerns about full marriage equality are actually about sexism and male domination. They look at patriarchal cultures and assume that that’s how it has to work here. Yes with gender equality, their arguments are rendered absurd.

Centennial Park is a great example. What makes them different from other Fundamentalist Mormons? The prerogative is on the woman to choose her husband. They’re still a patriarchal, heterosexist community, where political and religious authority is held by men, but that one simple change has made them significantly different from other Fundamentalist Mormon communities.

Now imagine how much better those relationships could be if they were secular, queer, and completely gender-equal in social roles and economic power? That’s what we’re arguing for, not just Mormon or Islamic polygyny. We want a secular system of marriage based on gender equality, and that includes the numbers and genders of partners. If gender equality weren’t a possibility, then I wouldn’t argue for full marriage equality at all, or anything like it. I’d pack up my blog and leave. But I do think it’s possible, and that’s why it’s worth fighting for.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

"Man tries to stop paying alimony over ex-wife’s polygamy"

An upstate judge nixed a divorced man’s bid to cut off alimony to his ex-wife when she joined a “Big Love”-style marriage — because polygamy is not legal in the Empire State. Dr. David Hunsinger split from his wife of 19 years, professor Patricia Hunsinger, in 2009. Their separation agreement said David, 54, who earns a higher salary than his ex as a family physician in Binghamton, had to pay the Ithaca College art professor alimony until 2023 or until she remarried. In July, David asked Justice Philip Rumsey if he could stop the payments because Patricia, 54, had “entered into a polygamous marriage with Dr. Kenneth Hill and Janice Hill.” To complicate matters, the two couples were not strangers. David Hunsinger and Kenneth Hill did their medical residencies together.
In a diary entry written prior to her divorce, Patricia confessed about “her desire to be married to Kenneth Hill and of her plan for a polyamorous relationship with both Hills,” according to court papers. In the alimony proceeding, David told the judge the threesome lives together in Ithaca and that Patricia wears a “ring comprised of three intertwined bands that was given to her by the Hills,” the Nov. 19 ruling states. Patricia also says in a January 2012 e-mail to David that she wanted the Hills at their daughter’s wedding because, “I am married to both of them,” according to a copy of the message obtained by The Post. But when it came to giving up alimony, Patricia didn’t want to admit she was remarried.
The judge sided with the ex-wife, ruling that “New York allows a person to have only one spouse at a time; a marriage is absolutely void if contracted by a person who is already legally married to another.” Michael Stutman, head of family law at Mishcon de Reya, said the decision was striking for taking on questions related to atypical families like those portrayed in HBO’s “Big Love.” “I have never seen anything like this outside of Utah, a woman getting paid [alimony] and living out a ‘Big Love’ lifestyle in her twilight years,” Stutman said.
David will have to keep paying support — unless the threesome moves to Utah, the only state where polygamous cohabitation is legal. David’s attorney, Anthony Elia, is considering an appeal. The decision “allows [Patricia] to say that her illegal conduct is a defense to the case,” Elia said. “I don’t understand the logic.”
This article from the New York Post is a bit confused, which is not surprising. Outside of a certain socially liberal bubble, most people have never heard of polyamory. They confuse religious polygamy with polyfidelity (i.e. secular polygamy), and fail to realize how common it is among educated coastal liberals. The only thing unusual about this situation is the continued alimony payments. That said, I agree with the judge's legal reasoning. This is one of the reasons full marriage equality would help many more people than just those directly involved in alternative relationships. No-one lives in a vacuum - certainly not poly* people.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Representations of animal mating strategies

An artist did a really great series of illustrations for the different mating strategies animals employ in the wild.


Remember, these only cover a fraction of the crazy diversity in the wild. There are polygynandrous birds. There are tube worms where the males are 1000x smaller than the female and live inside of them in harems. Life is weird, remember that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Invasive species display no inbreeding depression

I came across a fascinating paper that empirically proves what theory has said: invasive species are able to spread the way they do not in spite of inbreeding, but because of it. The rapid success of invasive species has long been confusing, since their initially small populations guarantee a high level of inbreeding. It turns out, that population bottleneck helps them eliminate harmful recessive genes from their genepool, allowing them to mate with any member of their population, regardless of genetic relation, and have successful children.

Bottlenecks in population size reduce genetic diversity and increase inbreeding, which can lead to inbreeding depression. It is thus puzzling how introduced species, which typically pass through bottlenecks, become such successful invaders. However, under certain theoretical conditions, bottlenecks of intermediate size can actually purge the alleles that cause inbreeding depression. Although this process has been confirmed in model laboratory systems, it has yet to be observed in natural invasive populations. We evaluate whether such purging could facilitate biological invasions by using the world-wide invasion of the ladybird (or ladybug) Harmonia axyridis. We first show that invasive populations endured a bottleneck of intermediate intensity. We then demonstrate that replicate introduced populations experience almost none of the inbreeding depression suffered by native populations. Thus, rather than posing a barrier to invasion as often assumed, bottlenecks, by purging deleterious alleles, can enable the evolution of invaders that maintain high fitness even when inbred.
There's one section that I found especially important:
[...] [O]ur results might explain the finding that invasive populations often have higher performance than native ones even when reared in a common environment. This has been attributed mainly to adaptation to the new range. However, a purging of inbreeding depression could explain, at least partly, the increase in performance without invoking local adaptation.
Related to this, in species that have to colonize new territories frequently as part of their normal life cycle, inbreeding depression is also nonexistent. This is most notable in cockroaches and bedbugs:
“For the vast majority of insect species, inbreeding is detrimental,” says Coby Schal, a professor of entomology at North Carolina State University, who presented his findings on bed bug inbreeding at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference in Philadelphia. “‘Inbreeding depression’ occurs, because it leads to mutations that have deleterious effects and eventually kill off the population. But some colonizing species such as cockroaches and bed bugs are resistant to inbreeding depression because they have little opportunity to breed with other populations that might be some distance away — bed bugs can’t fly — so they’ve evolved the ability to withstand extensive inbreeding without deleterious effects.”
In a genetic analysis of bed bugs that Schal and his colleagues conducted in apartment buildings in North Carolina and New Jersey, they found very low genetic diversity among the bugs inhabiting each building. In other words, they were all related. So, rather than accumulating from multiple sources, building infestations tend to be the handiwork of just one or two industrious females. “A single female can produce a very thriving population that can spread through a building very rapidly,” says Schal.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fundamentalists on Polyamory and Consanguinamory

I came across this when searching for this poignant story. It’s a website for reactionary evangelicals, primarily ones who oppose the liberalization taking place in their own church hierarchies. They’re commenting on the same story.
The comments are fascinating to read. The topic forces them to delve into not just homosexuality, but polyamory and consanguinamory. What makes their conversation important is that the people commenting aren’t your standard fare reactionaries: they’re very articulate and aware of the various arguments. This gives us a great window into what we’re fighting against.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"I've got two boyfriends. It's time polyamory became socially acceptable."



This short video from The Guardian lays out many of the arguments for social and legal equality, very quickly.
Simon Copland's two partners know about each other. In fact, it was James who introduced him to Martyn. Their polyamorous lifestyle is based on the belief that love is limitless. But if all love is equal, why do those in alternative relationships miss out on social and legal benefits that other couples enjoy? 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

So many people have been taken by the "justice" system

I found an article from a few years back about two separate cases involving GSA couples getting convicted, neither of which I'd known about. There are so many little cases all over the place it can be hard to know you've missed them.
An Auckland public official has been convicted of planning a sexual relationship with his long-lost biological daughter whom he had not seen since she was a child. The man, 58, and his daughter, 41, jointly charged with conspiracy to commit incest, were convicted in the Auckland District Court this week. The pair, who have permanent name suppression, met in August 2008 after the man tracked her down in Britain. She flew to New Zealand for a two-week holiday and then kept in close contact by phone, email, text and webcam. The correspondence expressed sexual attraction between the two.
Experts call this the "phenomenon of genetic sexual attraction" between parents and children who meet for the first time as adults.
The daughter left her husband and children and returned to New Zealand in October 2008 to live with her father and his family.
The daughter's husband in the UK became suspicious and hired a private investigator to tail the pair. He then laid a complaint with the New Zealand police, who laid charges in March last year of conspiracy to commit incest and committing incest. The pair denied having sex and the more serious incest charge was later withdrawn by police.
But the case has destroyed the man's 36-year marriage and relationships with his other adult children. His occupation has been suppressed and he has been stood down for an internal inquiry. The daughter was also married, with two children. She plans to stay here and hasn't seen her children for two years.
Weekend Herald inquiries revealed the man began searching for his daughter in the UK on a missing-persons website more than two years ago. The on-line post included photos of the daughter as a 3-year-old and photos of her grandparents. The couple pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and asked Judge Lindsay Moore to discharge them without conviction. He refused, but gave them suspended sentences, so they escape further penalty unless they commit another crime in the next year. Judge Moore granted permanent name suppression not to protect the pair but to prevent further humiliation for the man's family.
The convictions are similar to a case in which an Auckland woman tracked down her biological father in Britain in the late 1990s. The woman, in her late 20s and married with four children, split from her husband and the father, in his mid-40s, moved into her house. Her former husband eventually laid a complaint with police. Her father was found guilty of incest in July last year and ordered to do 300 hours' community work, but his daughter was acquitted.
In sentencing, Judge David Wilson said this was an attraction between two adults not very different in age. "This was a consensual relationship. The typical harms that rise from incestuous relationships were not present. You were not the father in the house raising the child."
Sex therapist Robyn Salisbury said the "phenomenon of genetic sexual attraction" was not uncommon in reunited parents and children. Finding a biological parent and meeting them for the first time created powerful emotions. "It's more about the sense of finding themselves in the other. The longing that can follow is such a powerful feeling. People get lost in the intensity [of being reunited] and that can translate into intimacy."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

"Winning Rights for the Polyamorous"

This is a great piece via Full Marriage Equality about the history of the struggle for same-sex marriage, and what the success of same-sex marriage means for non-monogamous marriage. It makes several good points, the most important of which is that struggles for child custody laws and property rights independent of marriage will need to come first.
On October 6, the Supreme Court denied review, without comment, of all seven petitions addressing state court decisions to overturn same-sex marriage bans. The practical implication of these decisions is that same-sex marriage will become law, piecemeal, through state court decisions.
This outcome was not unpredictable; in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on September 17, Justice Ginsburg predicted that “cases pending before the circuit covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee would probably play a role in the high court’s timing.” She said “there will be some urgency” if that circuit allows same-sex marriage bans to stand. Such a decision would “run contrary to a legal trend favoring gay marriage and force the Supreme Court to step in sooner.”
In other words, the reason for the Supreme Court’s silence (and tacit approval) might be the clear trend of public opinion supporting same-sex marriage, evidenced by the overall agreement among state courts. This interpretation reinforces something that law and society scholars have studied in other contexts: the relationship between legal and social mobilization for rights is spiral-shaped. Law can sometimes push society, and changes in the zeitgeist can produce legal change in their turn.
This approach offers considerable hope to a group of people whose rights are not addressed by the latest developments: polyamorous activists. Polyamory is the practice of having multiple romantic relationships, simultaneously, with the knowledge and consent of all parties. Polyamorous relationships can take many forms, from committed triads to more fluid networks of partners and lovers.
Shortly after the first San Francisco round of same-sex marriages in 2004 I interviewed polyamorous activists, who at the time expressed little interest in legal activism. This was partly out of deference to the same-sex marriage struggle. More recently, however, with the success of marriage equality, the community is exhibiting more interest in legal recognition of polyamorous relationships. Some of this renewed interest in legal mobilization is inspired by same-sex marriage, and some of it relates to the increased public visibility of polyamory; nonmonogamous relationships have been highlighted on several popular television shows, like Big LoveSister Wives, and Polyamory: Married and Dating.
But while these developments open the door to legal recognition of multiparty relationships, they also create considerable challenges for polyamorous activists. Social movement scholars usually assume that struggles for legal rights are incremental — that is, progress for a given movement increases the chances that the movement that follows it will be successful. But sometimes, this “spillover” effect is more complicated.
As Gwendolyn Leachman and I argue in a longer piece, a big part of the success of same-sex marriage can be attributed to the change in the character of the struggle. In the 1970s, gay liberationists sought marriage not as a realistic option, but as a form of symbolic protest against the oppression of heteronormativity, which for them was represented by marriage. While “rogue” marriage cases continued to hit the courts on occasion, the movement overall turned to other, less extreme forms of legal recognition: antidiscrimination lawsuits, child custody cases, and the like. It’s not so much that the gay rights movement was too radical for marriage; it’s more accurate to say that, at the time, marriage was too radical for them as an attainable goal. It was only after the surprising legal success in Hawaii that activists turned their attention again to marriage in a serious way. By then, public opinion in favor of same-sex marriage had begun to change, and its proponents presented a mainstream, “just-like-you” version of marriage to a less-threatened mainstream public.
In the recent Supreme Court cases, U.S. v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry, this mainstream argument relied, in part, on differentiating the nonthreatening, hardly-radical character of same-sex marriage from other relationship structures, including nonmonogamous relationships. In one of many examples, Ted Olson, arguing on behalf of same-sex marriage activists, explicitly distinguished the two, saying that “the polygamy issue, multiple marriages raises questions about exploitation, abuse, patriarchy, issues with respect to taxes, inheritance, child custody, it is an entirely different thing. And if a state prohibits polygamy, it’s prohibiting conduct. If it prohibits gay and lesbian citizens from getting married, it is prohibiting their exercise of a right based upon their status.”
Clearly, polyamorous activists are not solely benefitting from the success of the marriage equality struggle; they also have to overcome the hurdles that success has created for them. If their success is to follow a similar pattern, there may be other victories, in areas of adoption, custody and employment discrimination, that need to be won first. And a crucial component of their struggle’s success would be a significant improvement in public opinion of nonmonogamous relationships, which is complicated by anti-Mormon and anti-Islamist sentiments. The most important lessons that polyamorous activists can learn from same-sex marriage proponents is the need to address several different fronts, courting public opinion and legal mobilization simultaneously, as well as the immense value of the passage of time in bringing about broader tolerance.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Put an End to This Horror Story...


A family is being destroyed by their extended family and fundamentalist neighbors because they’re a queer poly family. And by destroyed I mean destroyed, as much as any family can without being imprisoned.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The legal complexities of polygamy

Someone on Tumblr asked my about my opinion on the legal complexities of polyamorous marriage.
Hi, I like your blog but I have a legit question about poly relationships. I have heard people say that poly marriages would be a big headache as far as any divorces would be concerned, specifically involving children and custody. What is your take on that? Any reasons it would, in fact, be very messy, or any ways that it wouldn't? I'm talking purely legal fallout, not actual support for full equality (because I support it!!)
I took this opportunity to elaborate my preferred system of marriage:

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Even without outright murder, cultures have still found a way to eliminate "undesirables"

According to Douglas Oliver and Lev Shternberg, [suicide] was also the response to incest among the Solomon Island Siuai and the Gilyak. Oliver notes that when a Siuai couple who "flaunted the convention against [sibling] incest by openly living together" were censured by their relatives the girl committed suicide by hanging, and Shternberg found that among the Gilyak "it was not uncommon for lovers belonging to prohibited categories to kill themselves at the instigation of their relatives. In one of the songs of such an unfortunate pair the woman complains that her sister called her a bitch, and her beloved a devil because he was her uncle; and that all her loved ones - father, mother, and sister - kept telling her, 'Kill yourself, Kill yourself.'"
- Arthur P. Wolf, Incest Avoidance and the Incest Taboos

Many cultures historically have tortured consanguinamorous people to death

Margaret Williamson was told by the Kwoma that “if a man saw his son and daughter having sex he must immediately kill his son and cast his body into the bush.” Similarly, Grenville Goodwin found that among the Western Apache “if a close blood relative and clan-mate of the offenders, such as a brother, should actually see the culprits cohabitating or making love, he might kill one or both immediately.” One of the two cases recorded by Goodwin involved a man with two brothers and one sister. "One day he went off hunting. On his way home he came on one of his brothers out in the brush cohabiting with his sister. He shot them both."
[…] In the Apache case the chief of the culprits’ local group summoned a council and told them what had happened. “The culprits were then sent for or, if necessary, brought by force. They were flatly accused of their crime, and if they denied it, as they were likely to do, they were strung by the wrists from the limb of a tree, just high enough to permit their toes barely to touch the ground. Culprits who would not talk could be left hanging all day, and a fire might be built under the man. … Ordinarily the woman was not killed for the offense, because she saved herself by confessing. The man might be put to death whether he confessed or not.”
[…] Rafael Karsten [reports] that among the Jivo “incest and any illicit sexual intercourse is regarded with the greatest horror and severely punished by cruel ill-treatment. One case of this kind came under my notices when a young Jivaro Indian eloped with his father’s sister. All the male relatives of the family were pursuing the couple, and they assured me that if they got hold of them they would kill them.
[…] Punishment for incest was as cruel in Ibo-speaking villages in Eastern Nigeria as among the Vedda and the Pashtun. M. M. Green found that “in the old days offenders would have been buried alive in the Agbaja market place, Orie Ekpa. This burying of them would purify and appease Ala [the goddess of earth and fertility].” Green’s informants “maintained that even now if such an offence were known to have taken place people would go secretly at night and cut a hole through the mud wall into the man’s house and kill him. He would then be placed at the foot of a palm tree, from which passers-by would imagine him to have fallen to his death.
[…] With regard to the Cayapa, one of the native peoples of southern Brazil, Milton Altschuler writes, “Incest is generally viewed by the Cayapa as being particularly heinous. In the older days, it is asserted, anyone guilty of such a crime would be placed over a table which was covered with lighted candles, and then, slowly roasted to death.
[…] When [the Jale caught and punished incest] […] the couple’s genitals were excised [i.e. cut from their bodies] and wrapped in leaves. [The genitals were then used in a ritual to purify the community of the couple’s sin.]
[…] The celebrated naturalist Charles Hose reports that while he was among the Murats, Klemantans, Kayans, and Ibans, “almost all offences were punished by fines only,” incest being the notable exception. “[…] If the guilt of the culprits was flagrant, they were taken to some open spot on the river bank at some distance from the house. There they were thrown together on the ground and sharpened bamboo stakes were driven through their bodies, so that they remained pinned to the earth. […] The other method of punishment was to shut up the offenders in a strong wicker cage and to throw them in the river. […]”
[…] Before they were colonized by the Dutch, the Toraja drowned incestuous couples or burned them to death. […] Our authority on the Miang Tuu, Herald Brach, tells us that “When incest occurred, the offenders were placed together in a large bamboo bubu [a kind of fish weir] and sunk in the sea. […]”
 - Arthur P. Wolf, Incest Avoidance and the Incest Taboos