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.
ayubelwhishi, on 28 Apr 2014 - 10:05 AM, said:
Hey, I’m 15. I can choose my decisions. I am proof that I can consent with having sex with a 45 year old because I enjoy it and it seems more fun. It’s not sexual abuse if I enjoy it and consent with it. I am proof that 14 and 15 year olds can consent.A big part of this is about legal distinctions, and what kind of distinctions the law can and should be allowed to make. Legally, a 15 year old can’t consent in any jurisdiction in the US, and in many jurisdictions overseas. Adults can consent, however. Laws against bigamy and “incest” aren’t about legal, ethical, or moral consent, but about punishing people who fail to conform.
See, this is the problem. With incest. A person falls in love with their sister or brother with the falsehood of being “in love” and “consent”. I mean, if you want to have sex with your sister than go ahead. I don’t care if it’s behind closed doors. But the idea of everybody watching you while you and your sister shout it out in public is just despicable. There is a difference between gays and incestuous relationships need I remind you. In a gay relationship you have a variety of people you choose to marry and have sexual relationships. But with incest, you have sex with one person, it’s not like you can move on right? There is no factual evidence that incestuous relationships are sexually orientated. Only pure bullshit of “Human rights, morality, they can love who they want”. The truth is, the thing they are doing is not healthy and massively harmful to their mental state. Which, funny enough sounds a lot like pedophiles and consenting children doesn’t it?
Relationships between adults and minors are also not a permanent social class of relationships. Worst case scenario, they wait a couple years. If an adult can’t restrain themselves enough for even that long, and loses interest once the person was over, then it has no relation to love, commitment, or anything else like that. By banning consanguineous relationships, though, we’re permanently barring two people not only from getting married, but from being physically intimate. Forever. Forever. That’s true legal oppression. Being forced to wait a couple years barely qualifies, by comparison with throwing you in jail for having sex with your life-long love - when both are much older, and are socially and economically self-sufficient. The same goes for polyamory.
Minors are people, but they have a separate legal status, and are psychologically - and usually socially - immature. Minors are a special kind of dependent, because their dependency is legally mandated. It’s the way the state ensures guardianship for minors, which I don’t think anyone would have a problem with if they care about child welfare. If a minor’s family can’t or shouldn’t care for them, then the state takes over guardianship. Their dependency is universal and mandatory, unless proven otherwise to a court (i.e. emancipation).
Given that minors not only (frequently) lack the social or psychological ability to deal with such potentially exploitative relationship dynamics, but also lack the legal and economic power to extricate themselves from an exploitative situation, age of consent laws make perfect sense. Like I said in my comment (which you ignored), the law exists to provide a tool, which they would not otherwise have, to remove themselves from an abusive situation, and to punish those who abuse their social and legal authority. For adults, other laws already exist to help them extricate themselves.
We’re not Bedouins, living in a harsh physical and social environment. As a society, the developed world is rich and safe by comparison. Most people don’t leave home long-term for the first time until they’re 18. It’s hard to argue that someone has the neurological and social equipment to deal with severe power imbalances when they’re a middle class 15 year old in the developed world.
Still, I’m not trying to force some fixed idea of child sexual psychology onto every minor. Different people are different, and teenagers are people too. Even though they’re a minority, not all minors felt traumatized by their sexual encounters with older people when they were young. Some were, but not in ways that are as debilitating. I don’t like how society tells victims how they’re supposed to react, and that victims must be tormented forever or there’s something wrong with them. However, in such a situation there wouldn’t be a risk of the minor reporting it. It would be hard to prosecute without the minor party ever assisting. Unlike with consanguineous relationships, the legal threat would disappear once the minor came of age.
The fact that we draw a legal line for the age of consent is mostly just an unfortunate side effect of the limitations of law itself. There are ways to mitigate it - I, for one, advocate Romeo laws - but it can’t be completely avoided. The issue is that, for related couples, the legal frameworks in place (as well as the taboos) don’t actually justify themselves based on any psychological, social, or legally necessary properties of the people involved. It comes entirely from a desire to use the legal system to bludgeon those who violate our taboos. Even Westermarck thought that the taboo originated from a desire to punish people for making us feel uncomfortable.
All the stuff y'all are coming up with now is post hoc. At the end of the day, y'all think it’s gross, just like most of our ancestors, and y'all are defending a legal regime that arose originally from a desire to punish sexual non-conformists - regardless of whatever supposedly legitimate claims such laws might have. Age of consent laws are clearly protecting a group that, for the vast majority of them, needs legal protection. “Incest” laws don’t protect anyone that isn’t already protected by other sex-crime laws. (I still personally advocate stricter age of consent laws for relationships between dependents and guardians - not genetic parents, but guardians. It’s for similar reasons to why we have age of consent laws in the first place. That makes more sense than blanket “incest” laws. It protects actual victims.)
“Incest” laws aren’t about protecting the “victim”. They popped up independently of rape laws, and several countries retain laws for rape and statutory rape without having “incest” laws. “Incest” laws are about punishing both parties. If the younger party (if there is one) refuses to say they were victimized, usually the court will punish them too. The more adamantly they insist it’s consensual, the more they’ll be punished.
“Incest” laws are about allowing third parties to punish “deviants” on behalf of the “community”. If people want the punishment for rape by a guardian to be harsher than general rape or statutory rape, then they should just pass a law for that specifically, and leave consenting adults relationships alone. It’s not just that “incest” laws make no sense. Even by the standards of helping victims of abuse, and of preventing disabled children - the usual attempts at arguments besides “eww” - they’re way too broad and blunt to actually achieve either of those goals. Even by the arguments y'all are giving, they’re bad laws which don’t achieve what y'all want.
There is no factual evidence that incestuous relationships are sexually orientated. Only pure bullshit of “Human rights, morality, they can love who they want”. The truth is, the thing they are doing is not healthy and massively harmful to their mental state. Which, funny enough sounds a lot like pedophiles and consenting children doesn’t it?Considering “incest” aversion is certainly genetic to some degree, it would make sense that some people lack the genes for that aversion. It’s not a “sexual orientation”, per se, but it’s not like they’re doing it against their own biology. Biology, population genetics, and humans, are diverse, and that diversity in and of itself is not a reason to punish people. I wasn’t arguing it was a “sexual orientation”.
Regardless, I’d like to point out that if hardwired, exclusive attraction for a specific class of person is the only justification for allowing it legally, then bisexuals should only be allowed to have sex and marry someone of the opposite sex. After all, their “sexual orientation” doesn’t exclude the possibility of someone of the opposite sex. As many claim for people in relationships with family, can’t they find “someone better”? Someone more… socially acceptable?
The whole idea of “sexual orientation” was created to make a discernible minority out of homosexuals, to make arguing for legal rights easier. That does not mean it’s the strongest, or the best argument. The truth is, people shouldn’t care what the genitals of someone else’s partner look like, or whether they are or aren’t having children. It’s an unhealthy obsession for a society to have, it violates human rights, and it corrupts the goals of a democratic legal system. I just think the same applies for polyamorists and people in consanguineous relationships.
What’s your basis for saying “the thing they are doing is not healthy and massively harmful to their mental state”? First, so what? I have yet to see you or anyone else argue for laws against codependent relationships. The law also doesn’t allow third parties to prosecute abusers of someone else, unless it’s a child. Only the abused adult can initiate prosecution of their partner. Why do we hold people in relationships that aren’t emotionally or physically abusive to higher, arbitrary standards than drunks who beat their wives?
Second, on what basis do you claim any of that? Your opinion? The self-selected cases of people who came forward because they were in abusive, coercive, or manipulative relationships with an older relative? That would just be sample bias. There’s little to no understanding of people in consensual relationships, because people like you are backing up laws that make it illegal for them to out themselves, and perpetuate taboos that would threaten the careers of academics who would pursue such research. Of course, that’s probably in your interest. The harder it is to understand these people, the less evidence there is in their favor, and the more you can harangue them publicly while they shut their mouths.