“robin fox, for instance, in The Tribal Imagination (and, i suppose, in his incest book, but i haven’t read that) mentioned that, in father-daughter incest cases, the majority of those relationships are initiated by the daughter.”
“In both stories the initiator is the girl, like Lot’s daughters. This is far from the ‘patriarchal’ situation usually envisaged with dominant males sexually exploiting helpless females, as Amnon and Tamar. The poet sees incest as a dangerous female impulse; the men are the horrified victimes. Ovid is almost Wahhabist in his fear of female lust. But this is in line with the fact that in cases of consummated incest the female often is the initiator, and with the classical and ancient world’s depiction of women (some women) as assertive, and as taking the initiative in matters sexual.”
obviously, “often” (what fox said) does not equal “the majority” (what i remembered).
boy, do i have a lousy memory! (*hbd chick blushes*) please, please, always ask me for a reference if i haven’t given one!
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about the semai, i forgot to mention that, apart from conflict, they also don’t like competition in activities like sports — from wikipedia (see also Cooperation and competition in peaceful societies):
“The games Semai children play are non-competitive…. A game of badminton for example uses no partition nets and keeps no score. The shuttlecock is deliberately hit so that it could be easily intercepted by the other player and passed back, and so forth.”
more on the clannish albanians:
“An Insider’s View of EU Efforts in Kosovo”
“‘We Have Achieved Almost Nothing’
“Since 2008, the EU has had thousands of soldiers, judges and prosecutors in Kosovo to help it become a Western-style constitutional democracy. But a German police officer with years of experience there says it is still dominated by corruption, clan loyalties and drugs — with officials just waiting for the high-minded reformers to leave….
“[A] recent report by the European Court of Auditors finds that there have been hardly any successes. It concludes that levels of organized crime and corruption remain high, while the judiciary is inefficient and suffers from too much political influence. A German police officer familiar with conditions in Kosovo for many years confirms the report’s findings based on his own experiences in the country….
“It’s my impression that corruption is quite high among Kosovar police officers. I was told that, if you’re caught with a stolen car, all you have to do is pay the officer a bribe to take care of the problem.
“The major criminals are already out of reach, protected by traditional clan structures and the old-boys’ networks within the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), from which many police officers were recruited….
“Kosovo is a country in which centuries-old traditions live on, and blood feuds are part of the culture. We Central Europeans have not been able to convince the Kosovars of the benefits of adopting a new legal and value system like the one we have in the West. That’s because they see that the old structures remain powerful while government institutions are weak. I fear that the Kosovars will ride us out, just as the Taliban are waiting for Western troops to withdraw from Afghanistan….”
the danes consider decriminalizing incest. danish geneticist points out that inbreeding can be a good or a bad thing:
“The recent case of a brother and sister in the city of Aarhus who said that they are in love and have a five-month-old child together has raised a national debate about sibling sex. The couple, who share the same father but have different mothers, face jail time for violating Denmark’s current statute prohibiting incest and inbreeding….
“The possibility of passing on genetic defects and damaging the social order have been the main reasons cited for making it illegal for siblings to have sex and produce offspring. But Niels Tommerup, a professor of genetics at the University of Copenhagen, said that mutations resulting from inbreeding can be both positive and negative.
“‘Our focus is always on the negative consequences like diseases and malformations,’ he told Information newspaper. ‘But positive mutations help develop the species.’
“Tommerup said that mutations like those that occur due to inbreeding can be ‘biologically positive’.
“‘It is hard to imagine that there would be the formation of new species without some form of inbreeding,’ he said.
“Tommerup would not go as far as changing the law prohibiting sex between brother and sister, however. He recommended that family sex get no closer than cousins.
“He said that the famous Danish blue eyes are a mutation that could only have occurred via inbreeding sometime in history.
“‘If inbreeding is banned, the possibility of promoting new, positive variants could be lost,’ he said.
“Vagn Greve, a law professor at Copenhagen Business School, would like to see even more taboos removed. Greve said there is ‘no logical reason’ that sex between parents and their children should be against the law.
“‘In my view, we should decriminalise sex between father and daughter as long as they are both adult and the relationship is voluntary,’ Greve told metroXpress newspaper. ‘There is no reason to treat the biological family different from the social family, but the age limit should be 18 or 20-years-old.’
“Greve said that sex among immediate family members has been legal in countries like Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and France for 200 years, and that there is no evidence that it has damaged either families or society….“
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heh. several of you were grossed out at the thought — and that’s good! that is as it should be.
i don’t have a brother, so i don’t know what the westermarck effect feels like, but apparently it feels like … ewwwwwwww! and it doesn’t just work for sibilings, but any kids that are raised together. i’ve read many accounts of muslim couples who have been made to marry their first-cousins who complain that they’re not attracted to each other and very often they were raised together (in an extended family household), so they feel like … ewwwwwwww!
robin fox had a lot of interesting stuff to say about the westermarck effect in “The Tribal Imagination” (chapter 6 — and also presumbaly in his book on incest, but i haven’t read that). here’s an excerpt for ya [pgs. 128-31]:
“Taboos on sexual relationship between close kin, between the members of the immediate family, were long thought to be a purely human invention. Animals, it was maintained, had no such inhibitions and mated incestuously. Thus the taboos on such animalistic behavior were thought to be the very foundation of human society; they were the ultimate Drumbeat of humanity, by which, in the immortal words of Levi-Strauss, culture said ‘No!’ to nature….
“The move from nature to culture represented by the imposition of the taboos was seen as precarious and counter to natural motives, which were ineradicable. In consequence, the taboos had to be stern and enforced by constant vigilance. In this traditional view, we all wanted to make love to our nearest kin, but once the momentous leap into culture had been taken, it would have been disastrous to go back into the maelstrom of incestuous animality. Our societies were built on the presumption of mating outside the family, it was the very definition of humanity itself, and so stern taboos, laws, and punishments were needed to keep incest at bay.
“This was a plausible view because societies did almost universally ban sex and marriage within the immediate family, and punishments for breaches of this rule were often severe, including torture and death. In their mythologies, primitive tribes and ancients societies often portrayed incest, and the results of it were usually disastrous. There were exceptions to the rule (and we shall return to these), but they were almost always royal exceptions, and royal persons, as gods on earth, were allowed behavior that was not allowed to ordinary mortals. On the whole, then it was agreed, there was a ‘grisly horror’ of incest (Freud) that universally afflicted people and led them to impose and enforce the taboos, often extending them beyond the family to members of the clan, variously defined. Why, the question went, would we have such strong taboos if we did not have the strong desire in the first place?
“Both popular opinion and the collective voice of the behavioral sciences echoed this orthodoxy. But there was always an undercurrent of skepticism. Why, the objectors asked in turn, do we seem, by and large, not to want to have sex with our closest relations? This would be the common-sense observation. Incest happens, but in proportion to non-incest, it does not happen very often. And most of this avoidance of incest does not seem to result from fear of punishment; there seems to be a genuine aversion to incest. This aversion seems to vary according to the relationship: strongest between mother and son, weakest between father and daughter, variable between brother and sister. But it is there, and usually only breaks down in unappetizing circumstances.
“The orthodox view said that left to our own devices we would immediately resort to incest and so we have to be reined in by strong taboos and sanctions…. The skeptical view says that, on the contrary, left to our own devices we would probably mostly avoid incest spontaneously. The orthodox view asks why, then, if this is so, are there the universal strong taboos?
“The skeptic answers that we often taboo the things that we are averse to, not because we secretly want to do them, but because we disapprove of people doing things that are generally obnoxious to us. We strongly taboo murder, not because we are all given to implacable murderous impulses, but because we are averse to it, so that even if only a few people do it, it offends us. We do, however, understand the temptation to do it; we have all perhaps felt it momentarily. So the subject fascinates us and permeates our legends and stories from the beginning. Sex and violence, incest and murder — often linked in our fantasy productions — persist in our imaginative attempts to interpret ourselves to ourselves….
“[I]n looking at animal behavior under natural conditions, indeed at the behavior of all sexually reproducing organisms, outbreeding seemed to be the rule and incest was rare. This was especially true in our primate relatives, and so by implication in our ancestors during the long haul through the savannas and the ice….
“The origin of this sexual reproduction is still a mystery, but whatever the reason, this new form of reproduction won out over its rival (which is still around) by virtue of its ability to produce instant genetic variability for natural selection to work on. Close inbreeding results in a loss of such variability, hence mechanisms evolved to avoid it. At the same time, if inbreeding becomes too random, then any beneficial genes will be dissipated rather than concentrated and preserved. It is this loss of variation that seems to be at the heart of sexual strategies, not the bad genetic effects of close inbreeding. In small bands these effects would quickly be bred out, and even scattered bouts of outbreeding would reestablish a healthy stock.
“So nature aims for a middle ground: organisms breed out to avoid losing variability, but not so far out that they dissipate genetic advantages. In human terms this means that the immediate family is taboo, but that marriage with cousins should be preferred. This is exactly what we find in human history until the dramatic growth and disruption of human populations upset the natural balance of the traditional society.”
actually, this is exactly what we find in human history until the roman catholic church started fiddling with mating patterns in europe in the early middle ages (see Inbreeding in Europe series down below ↓ in left-hand column).
“[I]f inbreeding becomes too random, then any beneficial genes will be dissipated rather than concentrated and preserved.”
think about that in terms of altruism genes.
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guy on reddit claims to have … well, uh … *ahem* … you know (*nudge, nudge, wink, wink*) … with his sister for well over ten years.
interesting read. but you never can be sure on the internet, can you?
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it was a dark and stormy night … there was a knock at the door … no, more of a scraping sound. the scraping of nails … or … fangs on the wood. it could only be one thing … the vrykolakas! come to dole out righteous retribution to its incestuous descendants…. eeek! [pg. 545]:
“The ‘return’ of the blood to the kindred, the ominous reversing of this right-handed spiral movement of the blood, has close parallels in the fatal return of the vampire to its own kin, although I only once heard such a connection between these two ideas being consciously made by villagers. Its occasion was, however, significant; for it arose in a discussion by two women of a marriage between second cousins which had taken place in the village some years before. The women were agreeing that for a marriage to be propitious the participants had to go to ‘strange blood’ (xeno aima) — a statment which is frequently heard and which is the mirror image of the doctrine … that, in cases of the union of similar blood, ‘the blood returns’, bringing catastrophe. In this context the comment then uttered takes on a startling significance, for, said as an aside and half under the breath, it took the form of a well-known proverb: ‘The vampire hunts its own kindred’ (vrykolakas to soi kynigaei). The image of the vampire returning from the grave to hunt its own kin sprang intuitively to mind in the context of blood which in second cousin marriage returns to destroy its originators.”
greeks don’t marry their first-cousins because the practice is not permitted by the greek orthodox church. they also, though, don’t marry their second-cousins by custom (except occasionally, like in the story above, for instance). i wondered before how the traditions of different people — like the ethiopian amhara (and ethiopian jews) — work to stop whatever incestuous practices a people consider to be wrong without the overt power of an authority like a church or civil laws against incestuous marriage. scary, supersitious beliefs like the one above might certainly work in many places. bad luck, bad karma, vampires — frightening stuff!
ok. now i have to go turn on all the lights in the house. (^_^)
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