What relationships count as incest?

I was talking to a friend over facebook earlier today, and when she started asking me whether various forms of consanguinamory were considered incest, it got me thinking… not everyones definitions are the same. It depends in part on people’s comfort level with the word ‘incest’, a lot of people don’t like it because of idiots in the public sphere who associate it with pedophilia. There is also some speculation maybe on how the definition of the word consanguinamory differs from the definition of incest. While not all of it is so clear cut, I will try to straighten out this mass of confusion as much as I possibly can.

My understanding of the definitions is as follows:

Consanguinamory – Romantic love between family members. Anyone oriented towards this type of relationship is consanguinamorous.

Incest – The act of sex between family members. This may be the natural result of experiencing consanguinamory.

The first definition is clear cut enough, but the second not so… the definition of incest varies from one culture to another. Some places would include first cousins as incest, others may include only first degree relatives in the definition. This is further complicated by the issue of step-families and adoptions. While this is obviously not genetically incestuous, it may culturally be considered so in many places. There is obviously also the confusion surrounding the whole GSA issue, where the reverse is true, it is genetically considered incest, but culturally not so because those people were not raised alongside or by each other.

For myself things were pretty clear cut, I was not adopted, and it wasn’t a GSA situation, therefore my past relationship with my dad was pretty obviously incest. I think that most of the non-GSA consanguinamorists likely have a greater comfort level with the ‘i’ word than the other groups, mostly because there was no real way of us avoiding it and creating another label for ourselves, despite the unwanted connotations it has in society. Of course, step-family and adopted family can quite easily say that their relationships are not incest, and on the genetic level they are right, however this doesn’t stop law enforcement from cracking down on them and filing incest charges anyway if they are discovered.

People involved in GSA consanguinamory have varied views on whether the word ‘incest’ applies to them or not. Some do not mind the ‘i’ word and acknowledge that their relationships are genetically incest, others hate the label (understandably) and prefer to call themselves GSA or consanguinamorous. This is something that varies and really depends on the people.

Finally, there is the cousins issue, many cousin couples hate their relationships being classified as incest, and in many places around the world first cousins may legally marry, however there are places in which they too are persecuted by the anti-incest laws.

See how difficult it can be to define what exactly incest is, something that should be very clear cut considering that most of the world gets into a frazzle about it and throws people in jail over it. It shows us how arbitrary such laws have the capacity to be, laws that shouldn’t even be there in the first place.

The word consanguinamory has brought together all of these groups of people under one umbrella term with no bad connotations. Most notably, the fact that the GSA and non-GSA forms have come together in solidarity, something I thought unthinkable not so many years ago. I believe we have Full Marriage Equality to thank for the creation of this word, and the sense of unity it has brought to us all. I now have friends from BOTH groups, and have been able to discover and learn how similar these groups really are, and in what ways they differ. Our unity is important because we face the same bigoted nonsense from society, and we all need and deserve full equal rights.

So as to whether a relationship is classed as incest or not really depends on who you ask and where you live. Like I said at the outset, this isn’t a clear cut issue at all.

Also I think a lot of people place far too much emphasis on whether a particular relationship is considered incest or not… what really matters is that the people involved are in a happy, healthy and loving relationship in which they find their sense of completeness.

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