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What is Wrong with Incest?

By Jerome Neu

Critique by Punkerslut

From RadicalGraphics.org
Image: From "Miscellaneous" Gallery from RadicalGraphics.org

Start Date: February 25, 2002
Finish Date: February 27, 2002


     Before I make my critique of this essay, it is presumably best that I first make my position clear on this matter. As far as incest is concerned, I defend it on the grounds that I find nothing unacceptable about it -- that no moral crime is committed upon its commencement. Furthermore, I am sure that many will claim that my defense of Incest is largely personal and not at all philosophical -- that instead of sticking to principles of truth and reason, that I am defending a lifestyle that I have chosen. Such accusations would prove to be very absurd. I am not in an incestuous relationship nor am I in any sexual relationship. Still, to state that someone who defends Incest is incestuous simply because they defend it is ridiculous. Many of the advocates of Abolitionism, such as Thomas Paine and Robert Green Ingersoll, themselves were not slaves. With this stated, I continue on to defend Incest.

The Critique

     The first argument brought against incest by Jerome Neu is quickly met by his own counterarguments. He states...

...what reasons might there be for prohibiting father-daughter incest in our society if a prohibition did not already exist?

     1. An easy, but inadequate, answer is that it leads to genetic disaster. That discovery (if the claim is true) may well have come long after the prohibitions it is meant to explain, and in relation to the present, modern contraceptive technology makes it irrelevant. And the truth is that under certain conditions, as animal breeders can tell us, inbreeding can actually help maintain desirable traits. In any case, since sexual relations need no longer carry with them the danger of procreation, one need neither calculate nor fear the genetic consequences of incest. [page 221]

     Although he de negate his own argument, it should not have been presented as an argument (however, such is the method chosen by this author to portray his writing in fuzzy manners). It should have read, "There will be those who insist that genetics is the reason why incest is unacceptable, however, this reasoning is flawed..." The next argument against Incest is as follows...

     2. The next answer is far more significant: mother will not like it. This difficulty is real and serious. [page 221]

     This is a rather debaucherous assumption and can be met with many practical arguments. There may be many reasons why the mother will not detest the sexual activity of her daughter and her lover: the mother may be dead, the mother may be seperated from her lover, or the mother simply may detest sexual activity between her lover and her daughter just like she would not detest sexual activity between her lover and anyone else. Neu assumes that Monogamy would be a practical, beneficial, sexual theory to apply to our lives as far as living goes. However, this assumption (and one so great as this in an essay that is about questioning sexuality) makes the position of Neu appear undoubtedly ridiculous.

     If the mother is indeed monogamous with her lover, and her lover has sex with their daughter (or anyone, for that matter), then it's a matter of relativity. In Arabia, it's acceptable for a husband to have a harem with several wives -- it was similar in ancient Rome. With the unleveled jealousy of some male lovers, they do not permit their wives to even come into contact with other males unattended. The ancient Chinese king castrated all of the men who worked with his wife. Monogamy is firmly routed in jealousy, the belief that if someone has pleasure, it either with you or not at all. It is upon insurmountable ignorance and cruelty that Neu's assumed Monogamy is based upon. If the hypothetical mother, father, and daughter had sound control of their bodies and their minds -- if they were rational Free Lovers -- then this second objection would hold no grounds at all. If, however, the figures described were irrational, then the objection brought up by Neu would hold ground.

     3. A third answer is... it is difficult enough to break out of the family as it is, with the addition of sexual relations and dependence it becomes virtually impossible. Incest is (literally) anti-social.... From the point of view of the individual, in addition to the loss of the advantages of larger society and civilization, if the family encroaches on sexual as well as all other needs, she [the daughter in an incestuous relationship] becomes so much more the prisoner of the family. And, of course, should the affair fail she may have to go on living in the midst of a ruined prison. (And even if she need not stay, the family may be ruined--though that involves a different sort of a loss.) [page 222]

     There are several things I would like to pick up upon in this previous objection. Firsty, Neu states that Incest is literally anti-social. However, anti-social can be defined as actions that sway against society and involvement. Since Incest indicates a type of social interaction, then by definition it cannot be anti-social in the slightest bit, as it is, in itself, a social function. Furthermore, the argument provided is hardly a question of morality but personal preference. Neu states that it is unethical for us to have too many entanglements. (Do I hear the echoes of Thoreau's Walden?) However, even so, Neu does not mention anything of the sort later in his paper. As far as excessive social entanglement, I do not find that it is a virtue any more than it is a vice -- it is a preference. Whether someone decides to be excessively socially entangled is entirely their own desire.

     4. This relation of dependence brings us to a fourth objectionable feature of incestuous relations... it is perhaps the feature that contributes most to making incest seem worse than merely odd or disagreeable. The power structure, the structure of dependency, is such that the propositioned daughter is put in an unfair position.... Too much is at stake. The situation may be compared to that of the boss who insists on sexual relations with his secretary. [pages 222-223]

     This is perhaps the most powerful argument presented against father-daughter Incest. However, admittedly so, it fails unendingly. Whether or not society condemns or fosters incest is irrelevant. The way the family structure is set up in society, the dilemma still arises. Even if Incest is illegal and morally condemned, a father could still demand it of his daughter. It has little if anything to do with the legality of the whole matter of Incest, but rather the protection that society extends to children from their parents. A father could ask his daughter to do something with the same kind of threat that Neu brought up and it could be about anything that's not even remotely similar to Incest. A father could demand his daughter to steal, to kill someone, or something else that is harmful towards others. It is highly suspicious that Neu makes this claim of unfair force that a father could imply on a daughter yet not once does he ever make one statement on behalf of children or their protection. It would appear that he is more fond of protecting his dogmas than society's children -- as proven by the words of his essay.

     What, then, is the solution? Father-daughter Incest absolutely should be allowed, just as anything that causes no suffering should be allowed. However, society should extend more protection to the undeveloped youths. It is just as easy for a father to force his daughter into sexual relations as it is to force his daughter to steal -- Neu did not address a method for solving either of these problems. Although I cannot outline a specific methodology for the extension of protection to the children of our world, I can say that this problem can be solved by doing so.

     Now that I have met all of Neu's arguments against Incest, I should comment upon his work. Not only is it poorly reasoned, but it is poorly written. The sentences fail to flow freely and it is works like these that foster a distaste in the average common man for philosophy. Much of what he says is rather useless and could have been cut out. To quote the beginning, "The answer will vary from society to society, with the types of social relationships leading to prohibitions, and the basis for drawing distinctions among social positions and relationships. Some more general insight may perhaps be obtained if we narrow our conception of incest to objections to sexual relations on the basis of social closeness rather than distance. So rules out exogamy (where these cover sexual relations--whatever else may or may not be included in 'marriage' relations) would be included, but rules of endogamy would not." [pages 220-221] It would appear that Neu is more interested in appearing intelligent by boring his readers than appearing comprehensible by making sense. The fact that he blatantly overlooked Free Love was insane -- especially for a work pertaining to the morality of sexual morality. I leave Neu's essay as largely ineffective, ignorant, and badly written.


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