In today’s sex-positive society, it is beyond question that we should support gay marriage; those who do not are promptly branded as hateful bigots. There are times when I suspect that this overwhelming support is due more to Pavlovian conditioning as opposed to any genuine moral conviction. One way to test whether this is the case is to ask people: should we legalize incestuous marriage?
For most people, their knee-jerk reaction to this question is an emphatic “no.” But if you ask them why they are opposed, they usually do not have a clear answer. They may rattle off various reasons and eventually settle on the fact that children born from incestuous relationships have higher rates of birth defects. This is true, but I suspect there may be a different reason for their opposition, and I think it is one that is difficult to logically articulate.
Incest and Sex-Positive Feminism
People seem to have an innate, and intense, opposition to incest that is rooted in disgust. In my experience, most people (including sex-positive feminists) are so disgusted by the prospect of incestuous marriage that they consider it immoral to even discuss the issue. It is interesting that people would react this way in a supposedly sex-positive society. After all, sex-positive feminism dictates that all forms of sexual expression are to be celebrated so long as all parties involved are consenting adults.
There is still the issue of birth defects, but I do not consider this to be a valid reason for opposition within the confines of sex-positive feminism. Sex-positive feminism dictates that one has absolute freedom to do whatever they want with their body; including birth control and abortion. Presumably, members of an incestuous marriage could use these methods to stop the birth of their children, thus removing the one potential reason sex-positive feminists have for banning incestuous marriage.
In theory, you could point out this issue to a sex-positive feminist and an interesting discussion would ensue. However, in practice it is unlikely that this would happen. Instead, they would probably end the conversation while displaying an intense level of anger and disgust. You may be wondering why I am bothering to discuss incestuous marriage if nobody wants to talk about it anyway? After all, it is not like sex-positive feminists are advocating for incestuous marriage (in reality, feminists began laying the groundwork for incestuous marriage several years ago).
Incestuous marriage is worthy of discussion when you consider the way we treat the issue of gay marriage. Much like sex-positive feminists reacting to incestuous marriage, many opponents of gay marriage are so disgusted by the issue that they consider it immoral to even discuss. It seems that many people have an innate sense of morality that prohibits activity which they consider disgusting simply on the grounds that it is disgusting.
The way I see it, if we are to label opponents of gay marriage as bigots, then we also have to label opponents of incestuous marriage as bigots for the same reasons. If we as a culture are not willing to do this, then we need to go back and reevaluate why we are so overwhelmingly supportive of gay marriage.