What is incest?

We explain what is incest and biological and social explanations of its prohibition. In addition, what is exogamy and what does it consist of.

  1. What is incest?

It is called incest to consensual sexual relations that involve individuals belonging to the same family , that is, who share a direct blood relationship, such as siblings, parents and children, grandparents and descendants, or any other biological link between the two.

In some cases this concept extends even to relationships between cousins, but as their blood distance increases, the relationship is less likely to be considered incestuous.

Incest  is a culturally condemned, taboo and even legally prohibited practice in almost all civilizations , which have always preferred exogamy to inbreeding.

However, there were famous cases of incest in the history of civilization, such as eccentric rulers or very closed aristocratic castes, which sought to preserve the “purity” of their lineage. Even in those cases they are mentioned as something extravagant and morally reprehensible.

A biological explanation of the prohibition of incest would indicate that individuals with close blood ties share a high percentage of their genome, so that their union would impoverish the genetic well of the community , that is, it decreases the genetic diversity of future generations. , increasing the probability of  inherited diseases, mutations or defects.

Another way of explaining the prohibition of incest has to do with the fact that it breaks into the harmony of the family structure , which is usually also a hierarchical type: the elderly run the minors and so on. Seen this way, incest deteriorates the culturally constituted order and subverts archetypes ancestral associated with civilization.

A final explanation, of a population type, would be that, if we evaluate primitive human societies, we will see that they were semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers, with very high mortality rates among young people and adults, which would require greater protection of the offspring by of the mothers, which would make them old by the time the new generation reached sexual maturity. Thus, young people would have had to find a partner in other social groups.

  1. What is exogamy?

Inbreeding tends to impoverish the genetic material.

Exogamy (with the prefix  exo , foreign, from outside), opposite to inbreeding, consists in the search for viable partners to engage in sexual or sexual relationships outside the immediate family environment, that is, between strange or unknown human groups.

Exogamy is a central concept in the constitution of human populations and our civilization , since we are gregarious beings (we tend to the group) and we seek to maintain a genetic, cultural and linguistic diversity in our populations, which enriches our possibilities.

Inbreeding (with the prefix  endo , internal, inside), however, is the tendency to reproduce or join only those considered equal, or those belonging to the same social or family group.

It is a conservative trend, which perceives diversity as a threat and not as a gain, and therefore tends towards impoverishment (for the sake of preservation) of the genetic material of the community.

Both terms can be used not only for genetic or reproductive issues, but also as a political, social and cultural position in life, depending on whether people prefer the richness of hybridization or the impoverishment of the pure.

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