Or banging your brother or sister? Assuming everyone involved was above the age of consent, and it weren't against the law would you be tempted? Like most of you, my genitals sealed themselves shut at the mere thought of getting it on with anyone I'm related to, but unfortunately, this squeamishness is by no means universal. Take David Epstein, the Columbia University professor who was arrested last week for having a consensual affair with his 24-year-old daughter. Or John Phillips and his daughter MacKenzie. Or Woody Allen. Or writer Kathryn Harrison and her dad--an affair she immortalized in her memoir, The Kiss. Or the Swiss, who are considering joining France, Russia, Spain and several other countries, by legalizing consensual incest.
But regardless of how old any of the participants are, can an affair between parent and child ever be truly consensual? According to a story on ABC news, Robert Geffner, president of the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma at Alliant University in San Diego, says no.
"If you are saying consenting adults can do whatever they want, then what about therapists and their clients, employers and their employees, clergy and their parishioners?" asked Geffner.
Those who have been in incestuous relationships with a parent -- even as adults -- "mix up" power, love, affection, attention and abuse, he said.
But while the examples Geffner cites are unethical, they aren't generally illegal unless there's coercion involved. William Saletan over at Slate offers up an interesting take on the idea of de/criminalizing sexual behaviors, coming to the conclusion:
Homosexuality is an orientation. Incest isn't. If the law bans gay sex, a lesbian can't have a sex life. But if you're hot for your sister, and the law says you can't sleep with her, you have billions of other options. Get out of your house, for God's sake. You'll find somebody to love without incinerating your family. And don't tell me you're just adding a second kind of love to your relationship. That's like adding a second kind of life to your body. When a second kind of life grows in your body, we call it cancer. That's what incest is: cancer of the family.
I wouldn't prosecute David Epstein. It isn't necessary. The incest taboo is strong enough to withstand the occasional reckless fool, and I don't want cops poking around in people's sex lives. But incest is wrong. There's a rational basis to forbid it. And we shouldn't be afraid to say so.
I tend to agree with Salaten. What do you think?