A Sin

I’m watching a Russian TV show on incest. A 22-year-old woman is cohabiting with her father, and they have two children together. The audience is shocked to the point where nobody can say anything. People are too horrified to form complete sentences on the subject.

The young woman, however, is oblivious to everybody’s reaction and sits there beaming.

“But don’t you realize that what you are doing is sinful?” a priest in the audience manages to squeeze out. “This is a horrible sin!”

“Oh no,” the woman reassures him. “This is not a sin.”

“What so you mean, this is not a sin?” asks the priest in a small voice, looking apoplectic.

“It can’t be a sin because I really like it!” the young woman delivers brightly.

49 comments on “A Sin

      • What about child protective services? Don’t they have any legal right to investigate and take the children? Or, at least, follow the couple’s children and provide psychological treatment to them, if necessary, even if parents would pretend all is wonderful.

  1. The reason this act of incest is widely considered to be a sin is because children born of incest are much more likely than other children to have some form of physical or mental disorder. The genetic link is too cloxe. To give just one example, in Britain where Pakistani families encourage marriage between close relatives in order to make sure property is not dispersed outside the family ,the abnormal birth rate is 300 times the national average.

    The young lady may sexually enjoy the act of incest. However, any children from those acts may not share her satisfaction. Are there no rights for the unborn?

    • I know that. What I do have a problem with is using religious concepts against anything, as if the other person must share any religious views. “A sin” is a meaningless concept for a secular person.

      Is it wrong because of the children? Say so. It is a stronger claim too, to which the woman wouldn’t be able to answer as she did to the sin claim. Since whether she likes it or not isn’t the issue here.

      • “Is it wrong because of the children? Say so. It is a stronger claim too”

        – The thing is, though, that the kids were born healthy, so this argument is out. As for the psychological damage the kids suffer, these are not the kind of people who know the word “psychology.”

    • The taboo against incest is also one of the strongest archetypal prohibitions human beings carry in their psyche (along with cannibalism). People who don’t have this taboo are deeply damaged at the level where there is barely any humanity left.

      “To give just one example, in Britain where Pakistani families encourage marriage between close relatives in order to make sure property is not dispersed outside the family ,the abnormal birth rate is 300 times the national average.”

      – I have to say, the more I hear about Britain’s immigration policies, the more baffled I am.

      • “I have to say, the more I hear about Britain’s immigration policies, the more baffled I am”

        It’s not just immigration policies (though those are truly and thoroughly insane). I began assuming in around 2000 that the British government then (as well as all successive ones) were purposefully trying to destroy traditional British society in its entirety (perhaps to rebuild it in a form that pleased it more) and all of their policies were aimed at achieving that end. I haven’t come across anything to make me change my mind that that’s their intent, I’m just not sure why.

      • Cliff, this is why:
        “The huge increases in migrants over the last decade were partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to radically change the country and “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”, according to Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett…This Government [Labour] has admitted three million immigrants for cynical political reasons concealed by dodgy economic camouflage.”

        It was all about social engineering and making the UK truly multicultural but in a sneaky way because “ministers were nervous and reluctant to discuss such a move publicly for fear it would alienate its “core working class vote”.”

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/6418456/Labour-wanted-mass-immigration-to-make-UK-more-multicultural-says-former-adviser.html

        • I honestly think the policy was a continuation of the “white man’s burden” coupled with massive doses of condescension masked as Liberal guilt. Also, it is a way of addressing the demographic crisis.

          Note that it isn’t any immigrant who was welcomed but only the kind that came from places with really downtrodden women. These are the kind of women who will breed like rabbits because there is nothing else for them to do.

          It isn’t like anybody in Western Europe ever welcomed people like me. So it’s not really about diversity if the immigration is so one-sided and only a specific kind of people is welcomed.

      • “Cliff, this is why:”

        I knew about that story (one of those “HA! I knew it!” moments). But what it doesn’t explain is why. That story was about a tactic, not a goal (that is, creating replacing the country’s social and cultural patterns with a ‘multi-cultural’ one is not their goal but one of the things they’re doing to reach their goal). It also doesn’t explain why David Cameron has done fuck all to change those policies (he’s said a few things in public to the contrary but is doggedly following Blair in actual policy, possibly even speeding things up).

        I’m leaning toward the idea that Blair began (and Cameron is continuing) a Gramscian project that involves destroying any kind of previous social cohesion so that they can insert the government into the middle of every human relationship.

        • ” It also doesn’t explain why David Cameron has done fuck all to change those policies (he’s said a few things in public to the contrary but is doggedly following Blair in actual policy, possibly even speeding things up).”

          – He is a conservative, ain’t he? The immigrants who are welcomed are from deeply conservative regions. Why wouldn’t he want more of them? Why would he welcome progressive people like me or N instead?

          • There was this controversial policy in the UK where men could easily bring in foreign wives while women were barred from bringing in foreign husbands. People though the policy was sexist but it wasn’t really about that. Rather, it had to do with foreign husbands being useless for the purposes of creating a population boost.

      • I have no idea really. The BHP suggest that it is “because the liberal elite wish to see the destruction of European Christian based culture and have the self-righteous view that multiculturalism is the natural and desired state of life in our country, although they rigorously and hypocritically avoid the suggestion that it should be imposed on any other country on earth.”

        The indigenous French feel under threat from mass immigration too, and of course the same in Germany and elsewhere. European politicians seem to have got the same bug at the same time, and they now agree that the policy was a failure, now that it’s too late to do anything about it.

        • “The indigenous French feel under threat from mass immigration too, and of course the same in Germany and elsewhere. European politicians seem to have got the same bug at the same time”

          – That bug is called a demographic crisis.

      • “He is a conservative, ain’t he? The immigrants who are welcomed are from deeply conservative regions”

        Well the policies were begun by ‘new labour’ and part of the thinking was that low social capital immigrants who become dependent on social services will vote for the party that keeps the benefits checks coming.

        I don’t buy the ‘immigrants are necessary for the labor force’ because of the surveys show that immigrants from heavily muslim countries tend to work less with each generation. One reference I recently happened across was that unemployment among muslims in French speaking belgium was around 50 % for men and about 75 % for women (oh yeah, they’re gonna keep the economy goin’).

        • I agree it’s not about the labor force. It’s about the demographic crisis. The idea was that by the second generation everybody gets adapted and blends in. Which does work but only when we are talking about much smaller numbers of people. People need a reason to make an effort to blend in but what would be the reason if you can spend all your life in an immigrant ghetto? Unless people have to mix with the native population, blending in might never even happen.

        • If these immigrant women worked, they wouldn’t reproduce the way they do. Then what would be the point of inviting them and not, say, me?

          You probably noticed that this rankles. I’m a really top-notch immigrant and I’m not wanted while the silent shrouded creatures are.

  2. In general, except children, what is the secular claim against incest? Saying “I feel it is wrong / unnatural” isn’t enough since the same can be said by others about gays f.e. In ancient Egypt’s royalty didn’t a brother marry a sister sometimes?

    To make matters clear, I am horrified by incest too, but can’t find a logical claim against it, except children, which not all people may want anyway. And children claim may be used against not related couple, where at least one partner suffers from a serious genetic disorder.

    • One problem beyond the general yuck factor is the relationships father/daughter and co-parent are difficult and tricky enough on their own. Combining them just multiplies the difficulty exponentially.

      Also, our hostess hasn’t told us whether this woman grew up with her father or if they met as stranger adults and only found out about the biological relationship later. There’s lots of (anecdotal mostly, but…) evidence that closely biologically related people who meet as adults (not knowing of the relation) can be very strongly attracted to each other.

      I also can’t help wondering if the young woman (however the relationship began) isn’t…. stimulated by the disgust it brings about in others.

      Now I’m reminded of the Fassbinder movie Ali: Fear Eats the Soul where social disapproval only drives the unlikely couple closer together while later social acceptance drives them apart…..

      • There is a strong suspicion that there was sexual abuse from the very start and that the old man only wants to keep having these children to have more object for his pedophilic enjoyments. :-( :-(

      • Excuse me…….. barrrrrrghglhhhhlllpphhhtttthh

        If that’s the case I think the only possible explanatiosn I can think of are that she’s either brainwashed/terrorized (like a cult member) or in on it because she’s… acquired pedophilic inclinations as well.

        • These are also completely uneducated, piss-poor people, the parents are both life-long alcoholics, they live in a place that has not been very touched by civilization. The parents have 8 children and father/ daughter already have 2 and it is just the beginning. :-( :-(

    • “In general, except children, what is the secular claim against incest? Saying “I feel it is wrong / unnatural” isn’t enough ”

      – That’s precisely the problem the people on the show faced. If you don’t have that taboo within your psyche, it’s impossible to explain why you should on a verbal level. Try to explain why cannibalism is wrong (cannibalism, not murder.)

      • Unlike incest, some tribes did have cannibalism:

        “In some societies, especially tribal societies, cannibalism is a cultural norm. … ritual cannibalism of the recently deceased can be part of the grieving process, or a way of guiding the souls of the dead into the bodies of living descendants”

        Judging by wiki, the incest taboo is stronger than cannibalism one.

        I can think of 1 explanation: the eaten person wouldn’t want that to happen to his body, but rather be burried in another way. But that leaves one unsure what to say to the case of 2 ill people in Germany (?), when 1 met with the other to be killed (you believe his life is his, so why is that a problem?) and eaten afterwards.

        • “Judging by wiki, the incest taboo is stronger than cannibalism one.”

          – Yes, true. There is no need to look for logical explanations for archetypes, especially by using today’s logic. They don’t exist on a level of “I consodered all the alternatives and decided that sleeping with my father would be too much of a hassle.” The people at the show were so tongue-tied precisely because the answer to why this is wrong is located on a different level.

    • I would say that, when it comes to fathers and daughters, there would tend to be an ‘asymetric power relationship’ which could make the whole thing inherently unethical. It’s less clear what the problem is between siblings, provided that no children are produced from the union.
      Still, I must admit, I have difficult overcoming my feelings of disgust on the matter.

  3. What’s wrong with incest? Did someone seriously ask that question? In this case, the parent holds a authoritarian role and compels his child into a sexual relationship that under different circumstances she might not have chosen for herself. To me, that’s faintly veiled rape.

    As for relationships between brother and sister, again, this is a relationship that has its roots in the power dynamic of the family. A brother, especially an older brother, can compel his sister into a sexual relationship that she might otherwise not choose herself. If the relationship ends (either with brother or father) then how is the woman ever supposed to have a normal, open, not secretive relationship? Most partners would be freaked out by a woman (or a man for that matter) who had a consensual incest relationship, in a “what the hell is wrong with you?” sort of way. What’s “wrong” with the person who consents to such a relationship is that they do not see sexual relationships as anything other than a power struggle within a family and not a way to share intimacy with a partner who is on equal footing.

    As for whether or not that’s a sin — it’s irrelevant. But if someone wants to use “sin” to denote “a wrong thing to do,” whatever. What’s funny about the above is that the woman thinks what she’s doing is not wrong because it feels good. Sex can feel good with someone else, lady! And there are a fair number of things in this world that are bad for you, despite making you feel good. Like drugs and addictions of all stripes.

      • Do you seriously think that a parent’s power over his child magically disappears when the child turns 18? My grandmother just died yesterday, and my 60-year-old mother doesn’t know what to do with herself since her mother controlled her life so completely. Sudden freedom from a dictator is absolutely bewildering, even when you aren’t f***ing your parents.

        • “Do you seriously think that a parent’s power over his child magically disappears when the child turns 18? My grandmother just died yesterday, and my 60-year-old mother doesn’t know what to do with herself since her mother controlled her life so completely.”

          – You are so right. I know examples where the power of the parent did not disappear 30 years after the parent died. This happens because, at this point, the child has interiorized the parental figure to such a degree that the parent lives on inside his or her psyche.

  4. The last question, sorry I left so many comments: the only role of such programs is to titillate the viewers, right? Do you think they may cause real harm to anybody: the heroes, the viewers and children among them, the couple’s children, etc?

    I incline to agree with cliff about “stimulated by the disgust it brings about in others”, but don’t include it in “harm” since she is already doing it anyway.

    Do you think the children should be taken away? Sterilization can not be forced, I suppose, but can be encouraged. What about or sending a father to jail, or sterilizing him, not her? And where is the woman’s mother?

    • “The last question, sorry I left so many comments: the only role of such programs is to titillate the viewers, right?”

      – I think this program has a huge educational value. On the news in Russia, you only get the prettified picture reminiscent of Soviet propaganda. This way, at least, people find out how their fellow citizens really live, what is really going on. There is no other way to know the truth, especially for those who are cooped up in Moscow which has become a country inside a country.

      “Do you think they may cause real harm to anybody: the heroes, the viewers and children among them, the couple’s children, etc?”

      – To the contrary, this is the only way to bring something good out of the situation. The program is as popular as Oprah was in the US. Now, at least, the social services will get involved and take the small kids away from this horror.

      “Do you think the children should be taken away?”

      – You know me, do you really have to ask?

      “What about or sending a father to jail, or sterilizing him, not her?”

      – There is no proof he broke any law.

      “And where is the woman’s mother?”

      – OK, this is the most insane part: she lives with them. And listens to them have sex all night long.

  5. The Westermarck effect is the explanation for why normal people do not feel sexually attracted to people they grew up with.

    The rates of incest and sexual abuse is extremely high in fundamentalist families. If these people are the Russian equivalent of fundamentalists, and the woman is brainwashed into staying in that environment, that might provide an (partial) explanation for her actions.

    It is relatively easy to show that pretty much everyone has cousin couples in their ancestry.

    • No, these are not religious people at all. Although the number of religious fanatics grows in Russia, it is still very very tiny. Only 2% of the population belong to the mainstream Russian Orthodox Church, let alone to fundamentalist sects.

    • Rates of incest peak in places and times when the act itself is not seen as taboo, it’s as simple as that. Religion may have a role in promoting the idea at times, but there are many other factors at work, as well, such as the pool of potential partners in a given area.

  6. Okay, I should reformulate…

    I’m against policing a voluntary incest between a father and his daughter but this is immoral because this parental authority-based domination is a not a really consenting decision by the daughter.

  7. Okay, I should reformulate again…

    I’m against policing a voluntary incest between a father and his adult daughter but this is immoral because this parental authority-based domination is a not a really consenting decision by the daughter.

    • “In this case, the parent holds a authoritarian role and compels his child into a sexual relationship that under different circumstances she might not have chosen for herself. To me, that’s faintly veiled rape. ”

      Exactly.

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