Friday, May 18, 2012

Relationships between cousins. Are they taboo? I never noticed.

I've recently been puzzling about relationships, or sex, between cousins. And why has this popped into my head? It's not normally a subject I'd give much through to. But I recently noticed, as part of some USA citizens' protest against the prohibition of gay marriage, the following slogan: 'North Carolina. Where you can marry your cousin. Just not your gay cousin.'
I was surprised to see this. The implication seems to be that marrying a cousin is shocking, or shameful.  As in 'How ridiculous is North Carolina, it won't allow gay marriage, but it actually allows cousins to marry!'
Hum. Well, apart from the fact that I'm not sure mocking people who want to have one particular kind of relationship is the best way of promoting another kind of relationship, it made me realise that I've never thought it taboo for cousins to be together. It's not illegal here in Britain and I didn't realise it was illegal in parts of the USA. I didn't actually think it was even regarded as strange here, but I might be wrong about this. For all I know, everyone else in Britain might think it's really bad, and I just never noticed. I can be quite unobservant.
I don't recall ever meeting any cousins who were in a relationship together, but I wouldn't care if I did. I had a lot of cousins in Scotland. They all lived far away, and there was never the slightest chance of me forming a relationship with any of them. But if I had, I don't think society would have frowned on it. But again, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe everyone would have been horrified.
I know it's said that continual breeding between close relatives can cause genetic problems. I suppose that might be a problem if relatives were marrying all the time. I don't imagine that the occasional child born to cousins wouldn't make the slightest difference. (Although I don't know that for certain, not being a geneticist.)
There are some relationships between cousins in Lonely Werewolf Girl. Possibly, even people who would normally think such relationships were taboo, would not mind this in the book, because it involves a werwolf clan, where such pairings are more or less inevitable, given the relatively small size of the clan. But really, while writing the book, I never gave it any thought, because it never seemed strange to me in the first place.