Professor Jian Lee
Culture Nature and Society
01 December 2011
Incest Taboo: Who You Are and Where You Are
Incest Taboo: Forbiddance of sexual relationship between certain relatives. In the majority of cultures an incest taboo is placed in order to dictate whom a person can and cannot have sexual relations with or marry. There is no distinct boundary for all of the incest taboos, which our planet holds, although some are very similar. In different cultures the taboo restricts particular individuals from others for many distinct explanations. The taboo is a cultural universal that many children are brought up by, but each individual culture tweaks the restrictions in order to make it pertain to them, their customs, and beliefs. The cross-cultural universal of an incest taboo is apparent in all cultures but the limits within the taboo vary and alter depending on where you are geographically located. A budding relationship between a brother and sister is unheard of to us, but in fact is quite the common practice for some. There are many different cultures that at some point or another would allow, and often preferred marriage between siblings, and sometimes this only applied to royalty. Sinhalese kings used to typically marry their sisters, but only if they’re trying to have a child and keep the royal bloodline flowing. In any other case, “tis held abominable, and severely punished.” (C. Ember, M. Ember, and Pasternak 105104). Although sometimes the children were not blood siblings, but they were raised together like so. Margaret Mead explains that in New Guinea and Taiwan (until the mid-twentieth century) young girls are raised in the home of their future husband as if to be a sister: “An Arapesh boy grows his wife. As a father’s claim to his child is not that he has begotten it but rather that he has bed it, so also a man’s claim to his wife’s attention and devotion is not that he has paid a bride-price for her, or that she is legally his...