When people hear about this story—which was published January 15th New York Magazine—their initial reaction is usually “eww.” The nearly unanimous disgust that we experience as a result of social conditioning presents an interesting question: Is incest truly “immoral?” While the conceptualization of morality is in itself socially constructed, I’m more so wondering if this sort of relationship can truly be one of equal consent. Can a child truly stand on equal ground in a romantic relationship with their parent?
Genetic sexual attraction (GSA) is a term which was coined in the ‘80s within a support group for individuals who met estranged relatives and developed a sexual interest. The phrase is also used by some who feel an attraction to individuals who share similar genes to them.
In the context of this woman who has chosen to remain anonymous to protect the identity of herself and her father/fiancé, they also classify their relationship as GSA. Until she reached the latter end of her adolescence, the two were strangers to one another. However, upon meeting (circa age sixteen) their relationship developed from one of paternity to one of sexual and romantic interest. This woman only recently turned eighteen, and given that her partner is roughly twice her age, this is certainly a violation of statutory rape laws. Perhaps the fact that their age gap is so broad and she so young is enough to question her consent, but beyond that there is also their self-accepted father-daughter power dynamic which adds another layer of curiosity to their relationship.
American culture is certainly one which has seen many milestones since its birth in terms of acceptable romantic pairings. Many things that were once considered taboos are now openly accepted. But does genetic sexual attraction remain within the realm of taboo for good reason? Should the fear of incest born children be the primary factor when observing this social controversy? Most credible biologists will inform that incest puts our species’ biodiversity at risk, while some within the GSA community claim that first generation born children of incest carry very little risk.
Currently within the United States, New Jersey is a sort of legal haven for incestuous/GSA individuals because it allows consensual incestuous relations and also the destination of the couple who sparked this current dialogue, where they hope to have children/grandchildren/siblings together.