This is a subject that makes almost everyone very uncomfortable.
Incest really is the final taboo, and it can be difficult not to have feelings of disgust and revolution when hearing about it. But people who have Genetic Sexual Attraction, or GSA, need our support and our sympathy, not our judgment and disgust.
GSA is defined as an intense sexual desire that arises between genetically related people who are united in adulthood, after having been denied the opportunity to form proper emotional bonds. It can occur between any pair of close genetic relationships, such as siblings, parents and their offspring, and first and second cousins. GSA is something that people struggle against and don't enter into lightly.
In a piece on Science of Us, journalist Alexa Tsoulis-Reay spoke to a young woman from the Great Lakes region who's involved in a romantic relationship with her biological father, whom she met after 12 years of estrangement.
After many years of being apart, the young woman describes what the moment was like when she and her dad were reunited.
"It was so weird and confusing. I was seeing my dad for the first time in forever but it was also like, 'He's so good-looking!' And then I was like, 'What the hell are you thinking? What is wrong with you?' I saw him as my dad but then also a part of me was like, 'I'm meeting this guy who I have been talking to over the internet and really connecting with and I find him attractive.'"
Writer Natasha Rose Chenier talked about when she first noticed her sexual feelings towards her father, saying, "When I started feeling sexually attracted to him — as well as shocked and horrified to realize it — I spoke of it to no one, least of all him. I hoped I would go home and the feeling would go away. But it didn't; instead, it grew."
Having feelings of GSA isn't uncommon, but for a parent to take advantage of their offspring is abuse.
Chenier wrote, "Genetic Sexual Attraction is normal and very real. If it is a parent-child relationship, the parent — whether male or female — is always responsible for establishing and maintaining boundaries. Failing that, they are sexual abusers."
After describing having sex with her father for the first time, the anonymous woman from Tsoulis-Reay's piece rationalized how she entered into a sexual relationship with her father without being coerced or feeling as if she was being forced.
"He made sure I wanted to do it," she explained. "We both initiated it and he kept asking me if I was OK — not because he wanted me to know that we could stop at any point. It was like any other man and woman having sex after they had each admitted their feelings."
Chenier, on the other hand, had an entirely different experience after becoming sexually involved with her father.
"It was like those nightmares in which you scream and no one hears you. You are powerless and you know it. I was not only a victim of my father's two-year seduction; I also felt like a victim of my own sexual feelings."
While Chenier stopped speaking to her father, the other GSA woman is marrying hers and plans to move to New Jersey since adult incest isn't illegal there. She believes that the relationship she and her father/fiancee have is better than most couples, saying, "Our bond is so strong. I just feel so close to him and so in love with him. We are almost two years into the relationship and I'm still head over heels with that 'first few weeks in love' feeling. Everybody says we are the cutest couple they've ever seen. I took him to the prom."
When Tsoulis-Reay asked the Great Lakes woman if she's involved in an abusive relationship, she responded, "When you are 18, you know what you want. You're an adult under the law and you're able to consent. I can take care of myself. I don't need protection. If I were in a situation where I needed to get out, I would."
It's very common for an abuse victim to get attached to their abuser, and it could be what's happening here. Those individuals who give into GSA aren't freaks, but victims who desperately need help and understanding.
The Great Lakes woman is planning to have children and believes there won't be any genetic problems, saying, "I wouldn't risk having a kid if I thought it would be harmful. I've done my research. Everybody thinks that having kids born in incestuous relationships will definitely have genetic problems, but that's not true. That happens when there's years of inbreeding, like with the royal family. Incest has been around as long as humans have. Everybody just needs to deal with it as long as nobody is getting hurt or getting pressured or forced."
Contrary to her claims, one Czech study found that nearly 50 percent of newborn children who are the product of first-degree relatives are likely to suffer an early death, a severe birth defect or some mental defect.
Obviously, there needs to be a lot more research done on the subjects of Genetic Sexual Attraction and genetic problems of the offspring of incestuous relationships.