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Scientists explain why incest revolts us
Thursday, 15 February 2007
The findings are a challenge to the ideas of Sigmund Freud (Image: Max Halberstadt/ Library of Congress)
Revulsion and taboo against sex with family members is a natural instinct and isn’t taught, say US researchers, whose findings challenges some basic tenets of Freudian theory. Cognitive psychologist Dr Leda Cosmides from the University of California Santa Barbara and colleagues report their findings in today’s issue of the journal Nature. “We went in search of a kin detection system because some of the most important theories in evolutionary biology said such a thing should exist,” says Cosmides.”It should regulate both altruism and incest disgust.”
The research team found that humans have an inbuilt system that does both.”[Our] data shows that the degree to which we feel those things is governed by these cues that, for hunter-gatherers, predict whether somebody is a sibling. And it works regardless of your beliefs – who you are told who your siblings are,” she says.Cosmides and her colleagues tested 600 volunteers, asking them all sorts of questions jumbled together so they would not know what was being studied. “We asked them how many favours did you do for this particular sibling in a month. We asked if this sibling needed a kidney, how likely would you be to donate this sibling a kidney.” And they asked about all sorts of ethical dilemmas, including questions about sexual relationships with siblings. Forbidden fruitAmong the volunteers were people who had never shared a home with their siblings – for instance, full- or half-siblings born 10 or even 20 years apart.What determined incest disgust and altruism was the same – how much time an older sibling spent watching his or her mother care for a younger one, or how much time the two spent together in the same household.”
If you co-resided with them for a long time as a child, you’d treat them as you’d treat any full sibling. This seems to operate non-consciously, ” Cosmides says. Especially strong was the effect of watching one’s mother care for a younger child. “They would be very altrustic towards that baby and they’d be grossed out at the idea of sex with that baby as an adult,” Cosmides says. She says women are especially sensitive to this. “One whiff of possible siblinghood and that’s it for you if you are a woman,” says Consmides.
The study contradicts the teachings of Sigmund Freud, who described Oedipal urges and conflicts, Cosmides says.”He thought you are attracted to your relatives and your siblings and parents and it takes the force of culture and society to keep you from committing the incest that is in your heart,” she says.
Criteria: The American Ministry of Justice employs five criteria to decide whether an image can be considered to be pornographic: “They must focus on the genital area, show unnatural poses, depict children as sex objects, imply that the children are willing to engage in sex, and have a suggestive setting.”
In societies with a somewhat developed civilization child pornography is usually a moral stumbling block of the first degree. When children are misused for the enjoyment of adults almost everybody immediately has the feeling that a moral limit is passed. The distribution of child pornographic images via the internet has therefore been the subject of heated discussions for years. Although the —for that matter very small— demand for child pornography remains, there is hardly anyone who dares defend the production and distribution of such visual material in public. This isn’t strange in a country where child pornography is a social taboo and criminally forbidden.
In this article an overview is presented of the ways in which child-pornographic images are distributed via the internet. In Regulation and Self-Regulation of the Internet (in Dutch), and more in particular in Regulation of CyberPorno (in Dutch) an analysis is presented on how these practices can be suppressed.
Childporno is not the same as pictures of nude children. Childpornographic material is the evidence of a crime, i.e. sexual abuse of children. The legal definition of childporno in the Netherlands is “a picture of someone who apparently hasn’t reached the age of sixteen yet, alone or with someone else in a pose intended to arouse sexual stimulation”. A picture of a pose of a nude child as such doesn’t fall under the penalty clause, even if there are persons who may be sexually stimulated due to their inclination. Therefore, the crux of the legal definition of childporno isn’t that the picture is primarily made and distributed in order to arouse others sexually, but the protection of the minor against sexual exploitation [the Dutch minister of justice, W. Sorgdrager, Memorandum to article 240b, 20.2.95]. The Dutch legislation concerning this point is extensively described in Regulation of Cyberporno (in Dutch).
Children who are depicted in childpornographic pictures and films are involved in sexual acts and are manipulated by the photographer or filmmaker in such a way that they satisfy a whole range of fantasies. The portrayed children seldom show signs of aversion or disgust; they usually look cheerful or neutral. This reinforces the rationalization and justification processes for the sexual interest in children by adults for a large audience. The children are depicted as ‘willing sexual beings’. Yet, every childpornographic representation starts with the sexual abuse of a child. Behind every picture hides an abused child.
No reliable statistics are available of the number of children that are victimized by childporno, nor of the number of productions or consumers [Frenken 1997]. Childpornography is produced behind closed doors. All participants compel each other to secrecy because they can all be blackmailed. For victims of childporno or childprostitution it is usually very difficult to come forward with their story. Not seldom are they threatened by the perpetrators who operate in the scene of organized crime. According to Unicef several millions of children and youngsters are sexually exploited worldwide. According to an estimate of the UN Human Rights Commission in 1998 10 million children are used as sex objects by adults worldwide. Increasingly younger children are involved — starting with babies of a few months old.
This is a link for those who are on orkut (or irk-ut as it gets sometimes).
More propaganda to ensure the success of a film ?
Even before it hit the Sundance Film Festival, Deborah Kampmeier’s Hounddog, also known as ‘that Dakota Fanning rape film’, was generating enough sanctimonious sermonising to give any Southern, snake-kissing, Pentecostal preacher a run for his money. Set in Alabama in the 1950s, and featuring many snakes, it tells the story of Llewellyn, a motherless young girl (played by Fanning) who finds relief from the indignities of life with her bible-bashing grandmother and abusive father in her obsession with Elvis Presley. It includes a scene in which Fanning, aged 12 at the time of shooting, dramatises Llewellyn’s rape at the hands of the milk delivery man.