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Sunday, January 10, 2016

There are plenty of people out there open to change

This is from a while ago on Tumblr, but it's worth reposting here. I responded to one of Full Marriage Equality's posts, and the result was I pleasantly open debate with someone on the ethics of banning consanguinamory.

Let’s take a look at the arguments of someone who is concerned that “not everyone okay with consensual incest is kidding.” Because I’m not just “okay” with. I strongly support the rights of consenting adults to be together and consanguinamorous relationships are some of the most beautiful I have personally witnessed. And no, I’m not kidding.

You know, the “consanguinamory is dysfunctional” argument never seems to apply outside of consanguinamory. If we’re discriminating against siblings because of their “dysfunctional” relationship, why aren’t we doing that with non-related people in dysfunctional relationships? I have yet to see anyone propose that we take those in codependent, emotionally abusive relationships and throw them in jail for a few decades.
It’s culturally taboo, so I’m uncomfortable with incest…I need to look at research behind it, but I’m always pro humans at least considering acceptance of alternative lifestyles.

If you do also do some googling, I challenge you too completely accept it for 30 seconds before you analyze data to counter this arguement. (Like, how often are the r(x) abusive compared to not? How would our society differentiate between abuse, rape, and an emotional love expressed physically (something we already struggle with, and this would certainly blur a few shaded lines)? Would we make age gaps? How much of our disdain is taboo, which was once held for the LGBT community? I think if we tackle issues pragmatically then it can lower the chances of us becoming bigoted asses. And, in fact, a lot of my initial qualms against it could have been homophobic or racist or mysoginistic in nature as well.)
You know what? I can respect that. I think at this stage open-mindedness and respect for the choices of others is all we can ask of people. I don’t find it disgusting like you, but I actually have exactly the same concerns over what a society that destigmatized consanguinamory would look like.

I think, culturally, and just morally as human beings, we have an interest in the happiness of our fellow humans. Even when we respect their choices we at least want to encourage them to achieve fulfillment. When a friend’s self-destructive, we try to encourage them to stop, even if we don’t coerce them. I don’t think consanguinamory is inherently dysfunctional or destructive, so I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest to discourage it on its own.

However, it is important that we ensure that abuse or manipulation aren’t normalized ever. I think that our fear of consanguinamory is wrapped up in sex-negativity. A society where men and women are inherently seen as equal, without sex negativity or unnecessary shame, where seeking consent is always encouraged, and where we respect the choices of other people, is one in which not only is familial abuse less likely to happen, but it’s more likely to be reported.

One thing that proponents of stigmatization and legal prohibition never consider is that all of this negativity is piled up on the abused child, not just consenting adults. Why are we imbuing them with all this shame, when it is the coercion and rape that is wrong? In a society where a child knows they won’t be stigmatized and ostracized, that people won’t secretly see them as dirtied, they’re more likely to reach out and seek help.

Reject only that which must be rejected. Accept everything else. That’s the way we’ll produce an open and healthy society, not through shame. (Unless you’re a rapist or a murderer, then I actually encourage shame. People should feel guilty for hurting other people. That’s part of what motivates us to not hurt other people.)
I appreciate your respect, and I want you to know that it’s something I will seriously consider before completely writing off. I also don’t consider it disgusting, the concept makes me uncomfortable. However, even while committing homoerotic acts I was made discomforted by public displays of it for a (albeit short) period of time. Taboo doesn’t mean bad, it just means not socially accepted at this time, but cultures and people change. It’s something I will continue to consider over time, and I appreciate your open and thoughtful response to my.. What you might see as ignorance.
It’s no problem at all. People feel embarrassed when they grow because it reveals their previous failure, but I think that assumes a perfection on the part of human beings that’s never been true. No-one’s every had it “all figured out” from the very beginning. The only thing I ever fault people for is being scared to admit that they don’t know it all, and refusing to evolve.

I’d also just like to add something I didn’t say before. I’d like to point out that what you and I have been talking about here is the problem of people involved in socially familial power dynamics being used. You must remember, not everyone who’s blood related is family, and not everyone who’s family is blood related. Woody Allen’s marriage to his adopted daughter creeps me out, because his history of past abuses gives me the strong impression that their relationship started in an unhealthy, possibly manipulative or non-consensual way, and that it’s now something of a Stockholm marriage. Yet, no-one’s throwing him in jail.

Meanwhile, couples who’ve never even met until their 30’s and happen to be related, have actually gotten thrown in jail. At that point, the only argument people can hold up is one based on eugenics. Aside from the fact that eugenics is not considered a proper role for the state, it is still bad even by the standard of eugenics. The problem is that the “incest” stigma is blind, ignoring the individual circumstances of relationships.

(The research on this subject is sparse, and tends to be heavily negatively biased, with both biased samples and biased researchers. The subject is so taboo that it’s hard to get an exact pinpoint on anything. However, there are real examples of positive counter-cases to every broad, universalizing argument: individuals who are adults, completely consenting and equal, loving, and who have completely healthy children. These cases alone should be enough to make people rethink some things.)

I’m saying all this in good faith. I understand re-examining old assumptions is hard for people, and I pass no judgment on those who honestly embark on such a journey, no matter where it takes them.
I see where you are coming from on the familial issue, and I respect that it’s a legitimate side of the issue. I’d like to see some survey analysis’s on the topic at hand if any are available.I think that I’m comfortable with siblings, or family members who were born in the same generation being legalized, but in general I am bothered by relationships that have a greater then 2 decade age gap because we have data to support it being fairly unhealthy for the younger member of the party. If it’s an issue our society decides to re-examine in the coming decades then I will look forward to the research that accompanies these social movements.
I completely understand where you’re coming from on that. The only point I’d have to make then is, shouldn’t Woody Allen’s marriage be illegal? If you think so, then what about those who aren’t family, but have large age gaps and severely uneven power dynamics? What about those who just have large age gaps? What about those who just have very uneven power dynamics? Should it be illegal for the rich to date the poor? For the old the young? What if there’s a large power gap, but the more powerful party is responsible, refrains from abusing their power, and is generally an honest broker, treating the other party with respect?

I’m not being flippant, these are things people need to consider generally, and yet are taken for granted. They’re also related to what you’ve said. What you have to consider is, are any of these things proper places for state regulation? How much social engineering do we actually want the state to undertake? I would understand why you might frown on any of these, and at least as far as social prohibition, I might agree with you on some of these things; to be honest, I’m not primarily concerned with destigmatization and normalization at this point. I just want the government to stop throwing consenting, responsible adults in jail and destroying lives for no good reason.
It was a really productive conversation, and I think the result speaks to that:
We’ve had… considerable internet discussion over this, and like I said I would I’ve thought a lot about it… I think the problems I see with [consanguinamory] are essentially the same I see with any relationship. There are chances of abuse. I think the risk [from] stigmatizing sex and love is higher than the risk [from] de-stigmatizing it and bringing the same shit to light and facing it head on.

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