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Keeping It In The Family

Easily one of the top taboos still lying around the human race in general, incest is sexual relations between two closely (blood-related) persons. If people are feeling particularly uncharitable, it is extended to relations between siblings who are adopted (and not blood related) or to people who are not related in any way (members of the same close-knit community or group). But at the core, it's usually considered to be two siblings or a parent and child getting it on.

How much incest is currently going on is not quite clear, although numbers get bandied around a lot. There's a bit of a reporting problem inherent in the situation, where people involved in it don't want to talk about it, and if the incest is the result of sexual abuse, they want to talk about it even less. Well, unless someone gets pregnant.

Incest is listed as one of the classic two reasons to get an abortion ("rape or incest"), which is odd, considering that it could easily be collapsed into one classification of "rape", incestual or no. So this phrase means that the existence of ANY pregnancy, consensual or not, is one that should be immediately terminated, an easy demonstration of how unwanted and taboo the situation is.

Where does the taboo come from? Well, outside of a sense of order (family holidays get to be a real bitch), there is a strong sense that it's just not medically right, like eating a sandwich right after performing surgery. This predates modern genetics, but children born of two siblings tend to be a little more messed up with multi-syllable syndromes than people taken from a random sampling of the population. Besides, how friggin' lazy can you get?

Some communities are so small (less than a few dozen people, very cut off from the rest of the world, outsiders mistrusted and avoided) that incestual or shallow gene pools are the outcome, leading everyone in the area to have an eerie sort of sameness in appearance and gait. This is a boon to scientists studying the effects of certain diseases on a closed set of people, but not much else positive comes out of it.

Parent-Child incest is also considered particularly icky (but the plot of a ton of novels and pornography) because it's an inherent violation of the "caretaker" and "defender" roles of the Parent. Sometimes it arises from a disagreement between the two parents, which results in a turn towards the somewhat-similar-looking but younger version of the spouse, while other times the Parent Just Wasn't Thinking Too Straight.

Another whole ball of wax (and can of worms) is the marrying of first cousins. While it would be natural to lump this into the same place as marrying sisters or brothers, a movement has been under way to make the practice either legal or acceptable, whichever comes first. There have been a number of famous people who have married their first cousins (Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin) and this sort of thing happened a lot in royal lineages (in an attempt to keep the "royal blood" pure). Queen Victoria, for example, married her first cousin, probably to keep that beauty going another generation.

Mother Fuckers

Sibling Fuckers

Cousin Fuckers