- Politics and Social Issues
Gives meaning to the term – “Kissing Cousins”
There are adults who feel consensual incest should be the right of adults. Unlike the child abuse of Incest in the Family, the adults don’t think there is a problem with having sex with close family relations. Can sex between close relatives ever be acceptable? As a matter of history, incest was and is an acceptable practice. There’s a myth that incest is a practice of ignorant, poor, socially disadvantaged people. Not true, right here in America well known, famous individuals married their first cousins.
Gives meaning to the term – “Kissing Cousins” Individuals Who Married Their First Cousins
- Josiah Bartlett, second signer of the United StatesDeclaration of Independence, and his first cousin, Mary Bartlett
- John C. Calhoun, seventh Vice President of the United States, and his first cousin once removed, Floride Calhoun
- Charles Darwin and his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood. Their grandparents, Sarah Wedgewood and Josiah Wedgwood, were also cousins
- William Ellery, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his first cousin once removed, Abigail Cary
- William Crowninshield Endicott, former US Secretary of War, and his first cousin, Ellen Peabody
- Carlo Gambino, a mob boss,and his first cousin, Catherine Castellano
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman, American author, and her first cousin, George Houghton Gilman
- Jesse James and his first cousin, Zerelda"Zee" Mimms
- Francis Marion, American revolutionary leader also called the "Swamp Fox," and his first cousin, Mary Esther Videau
- Abraham Maslow,father of humanistic psychology, and his first cousin, Bertha Goodman
- Jerry Lee Lewis, rock and roll musician, and his first cousin’s daughter, Myra Gale Brown (age12-13)
- Edgar Allan Poe and his cousin, Virginia Clemm
- Martin Van Buren, former president of the US, and his first cousin’s daughter, Hannah Hoes
- H. G. Wells,author, and his first cousin, Isabel Mary Wells (first wife)
- William Whipple, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his first cousin, Catherine Moffatt
Take a look at European history. In Ancient Greece, Spartan King LeonidasI was married to his niece Gorgo,daughter of his half brother CleomenesI. Roman Emperor Caligula is rumored to have had sexual relationships with all three of his sisters Julia Livilla, Drusilla, and Agrippina the Younger. Emperor Claudius killed his first wife and married his niece Agrippinathe Younger after she was finished with her brother. Claudius changed the law to allow for the illegal union.
Continuing with more modern European history, many European monarchs were related due to political marriages, often resulting in cousins being married. Marrying a cousin was also a way of keeping land, money, power and property in the family (endogamy). This was especially true in the Habsburg, Hohenzollern and Bourbon royal houses.
The House of Habsburg is an example of genetically induced disease as a direct result of inbreeding. The last Hapsburg King of Spain was Charles II of Spain. His ancestry was so intermarried, that he had a higher inbreeding ratio than if he had been born to a brother-sister couple. Let’s try to explain. Normally, there are seven marriages in the preceding three generations of people’s family tree. Charles II had three uncle-niece marriages and 2 sets of grand-parents (cousins) in these seven marriages. His father and two of his great-grandfathers married their nieces. His father’s parents were first cousins once removed. His father’s parents were part of the seven marriages BECAUSE they were also parents to his mother’s parents. His maternal grandparents and the final marriage of great-grandparents were between first cousins. The family tree of Charles II only had 32 different people in the 62 positions.Going back two more generations he only had 82 different people in 254 positions. Charles II gene pool was so corrupt; he was sterile with severe disabilities.
There are no reported marriages in British royalty closer than first cousin. The British royal cousin marriages are considered an example of endogamy,or the practice of marrying within an explicit class and societal group often for monetary gain or power in affairs of state. So that justified the practice. Apparently if you are royalty you decide the norm. The practice of first cousin marriages was not out of the custom. It is predictable that approximately 80 percent of all marriages historically have been between first cousins! We see the practice carried over to founding fathers and American leadership if we back at “Kissing Cousins”. Queen Victoria's marriage to her first cousin was merely based on the appeal between the couple. There was practically no strategic or economic advantage. This marriage produced 9 children, and 40 grandchildren and over 1000 total offspring that comprise an extensive segment of the royalty in Europe over the last century and a half. The deadly genetic disease, hemophilia started with Victoria.
Let’s leap forward to Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip who are both related to Christian IX of Denmark. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are also 3rd cousins from their descent from Queen Victoria. Prince Charles and Diana's most recent common ancestor was William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire and his wife, and hundreds of ancestors in common. Prince Charles and Camilla's most recent common ancestor is JamesI.
There are actually at least three ‘first world’ highly Catholic influenced countries – Spain, France and Portugal – that do not prosecute consenting adults for incest. These are not ‘third world’ countries. Romaniais considering following the example of Spain, France and Portugal. It’s understandable that people migrating to the United States would continue the practice of ‘consensual incest.’
In Forbidden Love by Johann Hari, the consensual adults have a much closer relationship. Alas the account on the Guardian blog recounts the unfortunate discovery of a bridegroom-to-be and his ‘blushing bride.’ Apparently he walked in on his 22 year old woman having sex with her biological father. The father-daughter couple did not understand the problem.
In a Boston Globe 2005 article, Allen and Pat were lovers, but a Wisconsin statute enacted in 1849 made their sexual relationship a felony. They were convicted of incest; they were biological brother and sister. They didn't meet until Patricia was 18 because she was raised from infancy in foster care. They became a couple and had four children.
Daddy: An Erotic Memoir, author Raul Schmidt (pen name) records his consensual sexual relationships with both of his adult daughters.
The Kiss, by Kathryn Harrison gives her story of the consensual sexual relationship she had with her father as a young adult.
Incest between Adults on the Small Screen
In the medical drama House featured two young patients, a husband and wife, who share the same symptoms Fools for Love. It is revealed that they are half-siblings and they suffer from hereditary disease inherited from their father. Another episode, Skin Deep, a teenage supermodel admits to an incestuous relationship with her father to get what she wants.
The cartoon, The Simpsons, Springfield's rival town Shelbyville was established exclusively to allow men to marry their cousins. According to Shelbyville Manhattan, the organizer of the city, he found cousins attractive. There was a relationship between Cletus Spuckler and his wife Brandine, who may be siblings, mother and son, or even father and daughter.
In the series drama Lost features two step-siblings, Boone and Shannon engaged in an incestuous encounter. Most viewers are lost trying to understand the plot and purpose of the show!
British soap Family Affairs portrayed a plot involving Gavin and Polly Arnold, a brother and sister in a consensual incestuous relationship.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation crime investigation show has several episodes depicting incestuous relationships.
Consensual Incest is an accepted practice in today’s American society, so much so that the storyline is included in cartoons and comedies (?) on TV. Many shows on the major networks and even PBS have shown adults in incestuous relationships. Such relationships can be found in movies, literature and heard in songs. One song that comes to mind is Afternoon Delight. It is a 1976 song by the Starland Vocal Band, written by Bill Danoff, featuring close harmony and sexually suggestive lyrics. The song was used in several episodes of shows depicting consensual incest.
What video games are your teens playing? Just to name one: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is a game where Victor Vance's important ally, Phil Cassidy, acknowledges that he was trampled by his father under the idea he was sexual attracted to his sister and cousin, which Phil denies.
- Bixler, Ray H. (1982) "Comment on the Incidence and Purpose of Royal Sibling Incest," American Ethnologist, 9(3), August, pp. 580–582.
- Herman, Judith (1981). Father-Daughter Incest. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 282.
- Jeff Jacoby (August 28, 2005). "Hypocrisy on adult consent". The Boston Globe.
- Kinship, Incest, and the Dictates of Law, by Henry A. Kelly, 14 Am. J. Juris. 69
- Leavitt, G. C. (1990) "Sociobiological explanations of incest avoidance: A critical claim of evidential claims", American Anthropologist, 92: 971-993.
- Livingstone, FB (1969). "Genetics, Ecology, and the Origins of Incest and Exogamy". Current Anthropology 10: 45-62.
- Potter, David Morris (2007). Emperors of Rome. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Quercus.
- Thornhill, Nancy Wilmsen (1993). The Natural history of inbreeding and outbreeding: theoretical and empirical perspectives. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Wolf, Arthur P.; William H. Durham (2004). Inbreeding, Incest, and the Incest Taboo: The State of Knowledge at the Turn of the Century. Stanford University Press. p. 169