Social Question

chelle21689's avatar

Will incest be the new gay?

Asked by chelle21689 (6866points) June 12th, 2012

I’ve been noticing a lot of incest on television shows which is uncomfortable for me to watch. Granted that some of these shows have step-sibling incest, it isn’t so bad but what is bad is that they grew up as siblings or refer to each other as siblings. Shows like Dexter, True Blood, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, and Nip/Tuck seem to show romantic relationships.

I’m confused on whether or not I should feel sympathy for incestual couples just because like gays…it is two consending adults that want to be together. I know that the chances of birth defects are much higher when they have children which is a reason why most states ban marriages that doesn’ tmean it bans related couples to have sex. Also, does that mean we should ban those with “bad” genes of physical/mental disabilities from having kids as well?

What are your thoughts? A big part of me just can’t stand the shows that show this and I am so grossed out but a part of me says that they should have a chance to love to? A VERY small part LOL

By the way, I’m for gay marriage. I’m not a fighter or activist but if they want to get married I don’t care.

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56 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I am not sure what to feel about this question. I don’t like when queer people get lumped in with whatever else is going on as if any of this is trendy. I do not think people are comfortable with incestuous relationships and I don’t think we’re moving to activism around this matter. The shows you list always show incest but they’re mostly period pieces or others that are into shock value. But let’s pretend it’s like ‘the gay issue’ – yes, I don’t see why people who are related to one another can’t be together. Newsflash: they’re already together – they’re just shamed. And the incest taboo (which is universal) had nothing to do with how icky this must seem to others but everything to do with expanding tribes and exchanging women.

fremen_warrior's avatar

Interesting question. I am not really sure whether the “inbreeding defects” theories are still considered valid – is there any research on this?

Regarding the main question, I believe what an adult does in their bedroom, as long as they’re not hurting anybody, is none of anybody else’s business, and, in this respect, such relationships should be made possible to be formalized, just like gay, lesbian, and regular old fashioned stright relationships. Viva la revolucion! ;-)

chelle21689's avatar

Simone De Beauvoir, I am not trying to lump it in as trendy. I’m trying to say that gays have fought to have equal rights (marriage) and it is a big issue. And I’m talking about marriage… maybe I should’ve mentioned that. Didn’t know you wouldn’t understand lol.
I really meant to ask: Should incest couples be allowed to marry?

If I could edit my question I would.

cookieman's avatar

Fifteen-plus years ago, we visited my wife’s tiny hometown in the hills of Italy. While there, we went to their equally tiny local cemetery. Must have been a couple hundred years old. I immediately noticed that the same three or four surnames kept repeating headstone after headstone. Surprised, I asked my wife about this who went on to explain that her father’s surname also appeared on her mother’s side of the family.

So, I’m guessing that incest is no more “new” than homosexuality ever was. It’s just that pop culture has decided to give it a nod, as it were.

We’d probably all be best served by acknowledging that there is really no “normal” when it comes to attraction and sexuality. Only what you choose to accept into your limited world view.

bookish1's avatar

I’m pretty sure it all started with Arrested Development, haha. I can’t even keep track of how many incest jokes and double entendres there are in there.

On a more serious note, the reason that people give for why incestuous relationships must be prevented always seems to be about procreation. Which is one of the more common kneejerk reactions against gay couples. (Either that they can’t reproduce, or that they can’t raise healthy children).

I’m more inclined to fight for trans and queer rights before the rights of any other kind of taboo existence that squicks the normals out; I think they are more immediately necessary [edit: as in, trans and queer people can be killed, assaulted, or lose their jobs, for starters, for just being who they are, not even for what kind of relationships they engage in], but my honest reaction is “Ain’t nobody’s business if you do.”

chelle21689's avatar

So you guys think incestual marriage should be legalized in most states?

gailcalled's avatar

@chelle21689: The correct term is “incestuous marriage,.” “Incestual” is not a word and “incest” is a noun and thus cannot modify “marriage.”

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@chelle21689 Yes, I do. All states.

digitalimpression's avatar

I wouldn’t say it will become the new “gay” as it seems to compare the two ideas.
It may very well become a new something though. How far will things go in the name of tolerance? God only knows.

chelle21689's avatar

I knew it was incorrect but I forgot what the word was. Fluther didn’t correct it….....

DominicX's avatar

@gailcalled Nouns modify other nouns all the time: radio station, ocean view, winter coat, etc. “Incest marriage” could be a valid term comprised of a noun modifying another one…though “incestuous marriage” does seem to be the preferred term.

No, I don’t think it will be “the new gay”. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation that can’t fit in with the other arguments against incest: the biological reason against it, the violation of family dynamic, etc. Of course all these things vary depending on the relationship. But simply on the basis that they are not that comparable, I don’t see incest becoming the new homosexuality.

ucme's avatar

There seems to be a lot of incest in Martin Scorsese gangster movies, they’re always referring to each other as “motherfucker”, who knew?

wundayatta's avatar

I’m not sure what to think. Incestuous relationships are problematic. From what I understand, only brother-sister procreation is a problem, in terms of mental problems in the children, and that only over many generations. That is, consistent inbreeding is a problem, but if it happens only every once in a while, it is much less of a problem.

But then this gets to the issue of whether sick people have a right to life. A lot of people seem to think that they don’t want to bring a child with a certain level of chronic illness into the world. Perhaps a brother-sister relationship might feel the same, and do genetic testing in time to have an abortion, if necessary.

Then again, it seems to me that if you ask the person who has chronic illness whether on not they wish their parents had never had them, very few would actually wish to never have been born. Most people would rather have a chance at life, no matter how hard it is. And even this is subject to how one is raised to view life. A person raised to appreciate life is going to probably appreciate it more than a person raised to think only a certain kind of life is acceptable.

Then there’s the ick factor. This is the knee-jerk reaction that many of us have been raised to have about certain kinds of relationships. Many people have that reaction to homosexuality, and of course to incest. What is that about? Is that cultural or is it inbred? I think there’s something about living with someone from birth that makes us feel like they are too close and they know us too well to want to be intimate with. But clearly this isn’t the case for everyone.

The other think about incest is the possibility of abuse issues. Usually the power relationship is such that it is not clear that a brother and sister could enter into a truly consensual relationship. In fact, I bet many psychologists would say that an incestuous relationship can not be psychologically healthy and therefore should be outlawed, so that no mistakes get made. To my mind, this is the most powerful argument against incest, but even it is not necessarily a valid argument in all cases.

Finally, this question raises the “gay issue.” That’s irrelevant to my mind. Incest and homosexuality have nothing to do with each other. Their only possible relationship is that they have both been (or still are) taboos in many cultures. Other than they both have been taboo behaviors, there is no logic to link one with the other and any connection is extraneous and—dare I say it—trolling behavior.

syz's avatar

I realize that it’s not truly related to your point, but come on! Especially in light of the current national struggle, why would you use that wording?!?

Mama_Cakes's avatar

“Other than they both have been taboo behaviors, there is no logic to link one with the other and any connection is extraneous and—dare I say it—trolling behavior.”


“I realize that it’s not truly related to your point, but come on! Especially in light of the current national struggle, why would you use that wording?!?”

And, thank-you.

syz's avatar

Also, incest is hardly new. As far as media and the entertainment industry go, I’d say it’s the current prurient fad. (Way back when, television wouldn’t even show married couples sharing a bed. Then came boobs. Shocking! Frontal nudity. Gasp! Simulated sex. Wow! Gay sex. Shocking! Incestuous sex. Titillating! Someone’s always pushing the line.)

Should incestuous marriage be legal? I have no idea. I don’t really care. And I suspect that the number of individuals who do care (i.e., pro) is statistically miniscule.

chelle21689's avatar

But that’s how i see it. I hate how you guys keep strolling from my point. Back then interracial marriage was illegal. I compare it to the gays now how it’s illegal. Now that it’s becoming a bit more accepting for gays to get married I just thought about incest is all. Jeez

I KNOW it’s not new and has been around forever BUT the media hardly ever talked about it or its rights.

gailcalled's avatar

@DominicX: Of course you are correct; I let my dudgeon get too high.

Is there any validity in step-sibling incest? The term seems meaningless.

syz's avatar


The difference is that you are or you are not black – it is predetermined (at least a far as laws against interracial marriages).

You are or you are not gay – it is likely wholly or partly genetic (my own opinion is that it is a combination of factors, but that’s beside the point).

You are not born with a predetermined probability of wanting to screw your sister.

Trillian's avatar

“A big part of me just can’t stand the shows that show this and I am so grossed out but a part of me says that they should have a chance to love to? A VERY small part LOL
By the way, I’m for gay marriage. I’m not a fighter or activist but if they want to get married I don’t care.”
Who gives a flying fuck about the relationships other people have? As long as it isn’t an adult imposing on a child, how is it anybody else’s business?

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think it is the new gay, but I see your point. Cousins marrying was rather common in many parts of the world up until not very long ago, and accepted in mainstream society in those communities. They were able to legally marry in their churches and civil marriages as well. The fight for gay marriage is a newish thing from what I can tell. Not gay sex or gay relationships, but the formal, civil, acceptance of the relationship legally.

Siblings having children does greatly increase the odds of genetic problems, but cousins having children the increase is very very small.

I don’t have a big problem with cousins marrying, I do have a problem with parent child relationships, and even sibling if they grew up together. However, there is a little bit of a grey area of course, because sometimes cousins are raised very much like siblings. My worry is the boys have too much power, influence, and willing to push the envelope on coercing sex that girls cam be taken advantage of. I do not mean all boys, I am just saying the imbalance in power can be there, more likey to the boy’s advantage. This is the very reason I am against parent child incest. The influence and control the parents has over the child is too great, I would not trust the child, even if in adulthood, mentally was able to make good decisions regarding the issue.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Ok, first, thank you for asking this question. I haven’t been able to stop chuckling since I saw the title.

Two: You’re not supposed to feel sympathy for the incestuous pair. You know how I know? Not because incest is right or wrong, but because those shows listed – Dexter, True Blood, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, and Nip/Tuck – almost never portray any relationship as particularly healthy. Sure, some relationships are more healthy than others, but all those shows are known for portraying severe, mind-boggling levels of dysfunction. Talk to me when a brother and sister are portrayed as just as normal and healthy as non-incestuous pairs, like Tara and Willow in Buffy or Cameron and Mitchell in Modern Family are for LGB couples. Until they stop being portrayed as “wow, that is some fucked-up shit right there”, I don’t think it’s really comparable.

Sunny2's avatar

Interesting question. Certainly the reasons for the taboo were reasonable for those times and may now be unnecessary. With birth control so available and effective, the issue changes. I don’t doubt that it’s been going on forever. All a brother an sister have to do is move somewhere where they are unknown and set up housekeeping. Family members have always lived together without question.
Is there anything in mentioned in the Bible about it? I know men had to marry the older sister before being allowed to marry the preferred sister. Multiple wives were allowed. Now that’s against the law. Are religions going to write new rule books?
How would you know about couples living in incest? Would it become unlawful? On what basis? If it was known, would the participants be persecuted? Reality may disturb our vision of our world.

serenade's avatar

I would like to add to the media list the final episode of Real World San Diego, which devoted about 20 min to the story of the youngest cast member making out with her mom at a big, drunken family gathering. All the housemates provided testimony to this effect (it occurred in the swimming pool, I believe), but they didn’t show any footage, which is odd considering they have footage of every other encounter and escapade and since they spent so much time focusing on it. I figure it was bullshit, since they didn’t show anything, but it’s remarkable that it was featured as sort of a sexual choice among many.

Aren’t there tribal ceremonies somewhere where coming of age males do their moms? I thought I heard that somewhere.

DominicX's avatar

I just thought it was worth pointing out that people often have a strong aversion to incest (most likely due to evolutionary motives) and they often can’t describe the reasons behind it beyond “it’s just wrong”. This is the same defense often used for people who have an aversion to homosexuality.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I think that the real question here is why does the thought of an incestuous relationship gross you out? (Forgive me, as I haven’t seen any of the TV shows mentioned.) Is it because it has become a social taboo? Does it depend upon the relationship, e.g. two cousins, parent/child, sibling/sibling, or people even more removed? Or is it due to potential genetic disorders that might be caused should it result in off-spring?

If, through your help, the specific reason why the thought is so bothersome, it might result in the proper stance for anyone to take when discussing this subject.

trailsillustrated's avatar

What? apples and oranges..

Blackberry's avatar

Just like gay people, people in incestuous relationships don’t care about your comfort. They shouldn’t care, because you have no bearing on their lives.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

No, incest will not be the new gay. Incest is also going to surprise a lot of people as not that rare with the recent televised celebrities stories to promote general public membership in the site and one like it.

ratboy's avatar

Would a ban on incestuous sexual encounters prohibit masturbation? Who is one’s closest relation?

flutherother's avatar

It could become so but it would be a case of taking things too far. Who would want it and why?

marinelife's avatar

The incest taboo is a strong one based on biology. I think it is correct.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I wonder if people are as grossed out when two siblings meet later in life (because of adoption) and have the hots for each other, as when they grow up together and get the hots for each other.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Aethelflaed I think that’s a really good question. It reminds me of something that happened to a guy I knew in high school. He hit it off really well with a girl and they started spending all of their free time together for weeks on end. One weekend, however, his mother absolutely demanded that he not make plans with her because he had to go to a family reunion. The girl was okay with this because—by an amazing coincidence—she had to go to a family reunion, too. It did not occur to either of them that it might be the same family reunion until they ran into one another in the buffet line. He got made fun of for weeks, of course, but no one really reacted with disgust. It was treated more as a funny horror story than a reason to pluck out one’s eyes or hang oneself.

@chelle21689 I don’t know why people keep picking on your questions lately. Sorry for that. In any case, I do not think that incest will be the new gay. Polygamy is more likely to be the new gay, and maybe incest will be the new polygamy after that.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

After reading this, I am now pondering the levels of incest, as some have alluded to above.

If you have a threesome with twins, is that subject to the normal incest taboos? This gets murky as I think about it.

flo's avatar

I saw a few episodes of Nip Tck, and one episode Dexter “whoooooooh!!! Make me want to throw up. No I don’t think it will be the new gay, and I don’t think those TV shows reflect where society is going. Except for that polygammy show about one man, many women which makes me wonder why people are failing to see that it is anti-women. To quote @Aethelflaed whose answer my eyes landed on (I havent read the other 34 too many to read) ”...all those shows are known for portraying severe, mind-boggling levels of dysfunction” And people see that I hope.

gailcalled's avatar

What is the old gay? Elton John?

bkcunningham's avatar

Elton John. hee hee Good one, @gailcalled.

Blackberry's avatar

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought I have seen some internet threads where people have anonymously divulged information about incest. Of course, we have to expect people to lie, but there are also people who may generally want to get things off their chest.

There are some strange, amazing, and intriguing events out there that people share.

I’ve also wondered this, as my point of view is of an only child: but if you have two maturing teens under one roof, a curiosity has to come from somewhere, I assume. There has to be a time where you may not see your sibling as your sibling, but only as the opposite sex.

jerv's avatar

I have to wonder why we care so much about the sexuality of other consenting adults.

ucme's avatar

Ahem, that’s SIR Elton, get it right.

zensky's avatar

Is Sir applicable for women, too?

ucme's avatar

Only with Russian shot putters, they so butch.

zensky's avatar

I said women.

rooeytoo's avatar

In animals inbreeding often produces the best of the best (take a look at my avatar). Probably would be the same in humans, not always defective results.

ucme's avatar

Well they do handle balls, roughly, but you make a valid point.

zensky's avatar

Thank you.

zensky's avatar

@rooeytoo Trump said that if Ivanka weren’t his daughter – he’d rape date her. For realz.

rooeytoo's avatar

@zensky Yeah but I bet she wouldn’t want him (the hair would be a turn off!) But the offspring would probably be smart as whips!

nonexpert's avatar

Yes and bestiality will be the new incest. Afterall, the gays started this whole slippery slope, blame them! (sarcasm)

gailcalled's avatar

@ucme: I stand corrected. Sorry, Sir (or Dame) Elton.

bookish1's avatar

@gailcalled: Has Elton John professed to being a woman now or are you just being “cute” ?

ucme's avatar

Reg Dwight was at the recent concert outside Buck Palace to celebrate HRH’s jubilee, she wasn’t the only queen in attendance then.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

It would be the ”new gay” if people were to be real with themselves and get beyond their bias, which they accuse faith people of having. From a secular view there really is no difference. The fallback position is the children, which is a non-started because they hat dance around that issue like Gregory Hines. There is no way to tell if every incidence, or even half in which close relatives would have children that there would be genetic troubles, etc. especially every 3–5 generations. I know why I cannot be for it but if I were a secular person I could have no opposition to it other than my own prejudice.

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