cartoon cow writing at a desk

Brainstorming about Incest (4.1.17)

What is incest? Why do we recoil when we hear that word? Approaching this topic from a biological perspective, males are high wired to have sex in order to procreate. Females are wired to endure more of the challenges associated with sex – menstrual cycles, childbirth, menopause, and emotions. I’m not a history expert, therefore the ideas flowing through me are doing just that – flowing.

Years ago I began reading a book about Cleopatra (born 69 BC and died August 12, 30 BC). I wanted to learn about one of the only female names that has stood out in history. I was disgusted to learn that Cleopatra married her own brother and that this life choice was acceptable back then. I slammed the book down and never picked it back up. That information disgusted me. Seriously? Back then it was acceptable to marry your own brother? What female wants to have sex with her brother and feel good about it? I was raised to believe that it was not okay to marry your immediate family members. I know. I know. It’s ironic that I was taught that lesson, yet my father had sex with me. It’s all disgusting and revolting to me. But let’s jump around here. If men are high wired to have sex and a woman has to carry the consequence or end result of sex (babies), then men really seem to be designed to have sex with more than one woman in order to keep procreating. What woman carrying child after child after child has the energy to “be with her man” when she is constantly carrying and dealing with the offspring? Drum roll please….the church enters consciousness. As people and civilizations evolved over time, rules were established to set standards and to control people. Somewhere along the way some group of people (probably males from the church) decided that it was not okay to marry your relatives. The story that I was told was that if two cousins married each other and created a baby, that the baby could be deformed. Well, that story certainly sounds threatening. Is it true? I don’t know. But I can tell you that it steered me clear from my family tree – at least by my choice. So with no history lessons that I was aware of, when my father first touched me inappropriately and intentionally at age 8, warnings and alarms went off all over my body and mind. I could hear the robot from the TV show Lost in Spacesaying, “Danger! Danger! Will Robinson! Danger!” I knew that this inappropriate action was wrong on every level of my being. Hmm….where did that information come from? How did I know at age 8 that this behavior was wrong, inappropriate, and unacceptable? Why didn’t I just enjoy the experience? I didn’t enjoy the experience, because I felt confused, terrified, horrified, and disgusted. My world order – this is my father and he is supposed to take care of me – was out of fucking order! Our bodies are designed to procreate, but they are also designed to experience pleasure. WTF?

Maybe incest is natural and the church interfered with the biology of procreation. I’m not advocating incest, I’m trying to grasp this problem that is prevalent in our society that no one is really willing to discuss. Incest is disgusting, but it is also part of mankind. Wow. There’s an oxymoron. Mankind – a man who is kind? Yes, there are men who are kind and there are women who are kind, but then there are all of the other people in between them and all around the edges. The bottom line is society (which is made up of people) creates rules and norms for people to follow in order to manage one another. If we didn’t have rules and guidelines to follow, we may be all over each other having sex whenever we wanted to with whomever we wanted to and never get anything else done in life. But then we have the life cycle to consider. Babies need care and elderly people need care. Someone has to take care of those groups of vulnerable people. Who to better care for them than the females since they are typically the more emotional, nurturing creatures. And we also have to provide basic needs for people in order to survive – food, shelter, and clothing. Hmm…clothing is a concept created by society, people, and culture. We are born naked, yet somewhere along the way people created clothing to cover up our bodies for protection, survival, and modesty. The plot thickens.

Incest can be between parents and children, siblings, cousins, and any variation of two members from the same family tree. Then there’s incest between step-parents and step-children, step-siblings, etc.

Incest is about sex, but it is also about power and control. The energetic pattern for sexual abuse is similar to emotional abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, and psychological abuse. Abuse is abuse. Based on my intuition, the people who act as the abusers were probably abused themselves somewhere in childhood. Abusers do not feel good about themselves. They have low self-esteem. They are scared and frightened. They are either going to continue the cycle of abuse with other people or they are going to break the cycle of abuse. It’s a choice. That choice is the part of life where we have free will.

I read somewhere that once someone is sexually abused as a child, that the person may be turned on to have/need/want sex all of the time or be turned off to having sex. Again, we have a choice to continue this dysfunctional (by my standards) need to continue the energetic cycle to abuse someone else or to stop the cycle of abuse.

Throw in repressed memories, denial, and subconscious memory blackouts and the plot for incest continues to thicken.

Back in 1994, I attended a workshop featuring Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. I admired Elisabeth’s work about death and dying when I was a graduate student earning a degree in gerontology. This unassuming, famous woman was sitting in a chair on stage in a relatively small forum conducting a Q & A session with the audience about life. With butterflies bursting in my stomach, I mustered the courage to stand up and ask, “What do you think about incest?” She immediately stated that 30% of the inmates at Scotland Yard were sexually abused. Elisabeth’s work at that time had been to take one of her educational/healing programs into Scotland Yard to work with hardened criminals. She didn’t expand on her comment, but  I hoping she would explain why incest happened. Thirty percent (30%) seems to be the magical number that keeps popping up concerning how many people in the general population have been sexually assaulted. One out of every three people has been traumatized in some way shape or form involving sex which is our primary way to reproduce and one of the many ways that we can experience pleasure.

A couple of months ago I discovered a terrific article in The Atlantic called “America has an Incest Problem” by Mia Fontaine. I’m not a researcher. I’m not obsessed with facts and figures and understanding other people. My goal is to understand myself and my healing process within the context of the world that I live in.

My personal story about being abused by my natural father for 12 years is heartbreaking and gut wrenching for me, however I know that there are people out there who have experienced far worse than me. I’m confident that there are 50+ shades of gray when it comes to sexual abuse experiences. I once shared that I had been sexually abused with a massage therapist that I was working with and she said that she was abused at age 3 by one of her older brother’s friends and “never got over it.” She also told me that she had a client that worked in some organization in the legal system that processed sexual abuse cases and that people sexually assault infants. God help us. How the hell do we move forward as a society, as a human race when there is a major flaw in our system that no one wants to address? The steps to making change are: admit there is a problem, discuss the problem, help survivors (note that I did not say victims) heal, and prevent future problems. We have to shed light into this darkness, this incredible dysfunction in our family systems that ultimately affects our society.

P.S. BTW – I highly recommend that all women read the book Vagina: Revised and Updatedby Naomi Wolf (HarperCollins © 2013). Naomi’s book is ground breaking and helps put herstory into perspective with history. Knowledge is power. You will also learn more about your vagina than you have ever known unless you were raised and educated by highly evolved, respectful adults.