Research: Double-Taboo CSA

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Examples of "double-taboo" "CSA" (CSA + incest or prostitution/pornography) are often indistinguishable from other cases re. their outcomes. That is to say, a variety of formulations and outcomes have been recorded, with seemingly no greater burden of trauma attached to the double-taboo.

Incest (family sex)

Research would appear to suggest that there is no animal analogue for a universal incest taboo "mechanism".[1][2] But what information do we have to support the idea that such a taboo among humans is biologically potentiated? And what does the literature say about social stigma and the effects on minors?

Certainly, low level sex play, including parent-child genital play is common in many nonwestern cultures, as shown throughout Janssen's extensive 2004 work. We will soon have summarized this work and compiled a full list of historical/anthropological observations.

  • Ramey, J. (1979). "Dealing with the last taboo" (SIECUS Report).
    "One such study, recently reported to the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting (Nelson, 1978), found certain “rare but undeniably healthy situations where incest was an obviously appropriate behavior.” She also found a high correlation between abuse and negatively perceived incestuous experience as well as a high correlation between consent and positively perceived incestuous experience. Contrary to her expectations, incest did not occur primarily in families with a high level of dysfunction, and where dysfunction was present it was seldom possible to attribute its cause to the incestuous character of the experience. Whenever the incest situation isolated two or more members from the rest of the family, there was guilt and negativity in the report. Whenever the participants felt they had the permission of the family, a positive report resulted. It is significant that Nelson found “several such families where real or implied consent openly allowed active, sophisticated lifestyles which included sexual sharing.” The Nelson study, the currently suppressed Kinsey study, and two others that I know of suggest that we do not have the whole picture of incest before us and are therefore not presently in a position to make valid pronouncements and judgments about the nature of the practice. As a result, we may be doing considerable damage to those who have been or are currently involved in incest. The blatant sensationalism of television, added to congressional hearings which equate incest with rape, child abuse, violence, child slavery, and child pornography, combine to scapegoat many people."

Innate taboo?

  • O'Carroll, T., (2017). "Arthur P. Wolf: Incest Avoidance and the Incest Taboos, Two Aspects of Human Nature" Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Sexuality & Culture volume 21, pages 323–329.
    "The first question sees Wolf soon whisking us off to the remote Trobriand islands. As Malinowski discovered in the 1920s, the islanders enjoyed great freedom to engage in premarital sex but had incest taboos ranging from very strict to mild, depending on their position in the matrilineal kinship system: sex with a maternal cousin was considered terrible; but with a paternal one it was actually recommended for sexually inexperienced boys! Even father–daughter sexual contact was relaxed, as they were not regarded as strictly close kin: the father was seen as a sort of “in law”. [...] In recent times it has been discovered that sibling marriages were widespread among all classes in Egypt during the Graeco-Roman period. Going beyond sibling unions, Verrier EIwin reported that in some endogamous Indian groups, such as the Baiga, incestuous marriage has been practised between men and their daughters, between women and their sons, between siblings, and even between grandparents and their grandchildren (EIwin 1939). [...] "Fraley and Marks (2010) reported three experiments, including one demonstrating that people find pictures of strangers more sexually attractive immediately after they have been subliminally exposed to an image of their own (the experimental subject’s) opposite-sex parent. The authors also noted earlier research showing that even adopted children tend to have spouses who resemble their adoptive opposite-sex parent. Being brought up with, and indeed by, that person apparently increases rather than decreases (as would have been predicated by the Westermarck Hypothesis) the likelihood of someone like that person being chosen as a mate."
  • v.d. Berghe, P., (2010). "Human inbreeding avoidance: Culture in nature" Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 6 Issue 1.
    "Much clinical and ethnographic evidence suggests that humans, like many other organisms, are selected to avoid close inbreeding because of the fitness costs of inbreeding depression. The proximate mechanism of human inbreeding avoidance seems to be precultural, and to involve the interaction of genetic predispositions and environmental conditions. As first suggested by E. Westermarck, and supported by evidence from Israeli kibbutzim, Chinese sim-pua marriage, and much convergent ethnographic and clinical evidence, humans negatively imprint on intimate associates during a critical period of early childhood (between ages 2 and 6). There is also much evidence that, like other social animals, humans do not seek to maximize outbreeding, but rather to maintain an optimal balance between outbreeding and inbreeding. Close inbreeding reduces fitness through inbreeding depression, but some inbreeding brings the benefits of nepotism. For simple, stateless, horticultural societies, the optimal balance seems to be achieved by a combination of precultural inbreeding avoidance of relatives with an r ≤·25 and cultural rules of preferential marriage with kin with r ≥·25. Adjustment of the coefficient of inbreeding to other ecological settings seems to be largely cultural. An interactive model of “culture in nature” is presented, in which culture is seen as coevolving with genes to produce the maxiniization of individual inclusive fitness."

The sex trade (prostitution, pornography)

Readers may be well aware of the enormous depth of literature covering the trade in boy prostitutes (the so-called pederastic vice) throughout most of the 20th century. These examples can be found through the extensive texts contained within Greek Love (literature compilation). Here, we go looking for more recent examples of mainly female youth sex work to balance our overall impression (within the western context, this was repressed 7-8 decades earlier). What strikes us is that taken as a whole, the historical experiences of youth sex workers are remarkably similar to the various experiences of adult working girls and rent boys that are now so visible on social media. Sex work can be rewarding, lead to friendships and alliances, but can also be demanding, with problem clients including pushy individuals who suffer from their own sexual neuroses.

  • Inciardi, J. (1984). "Little girls and sex: A glimpse at the world of the “baby pro”" Deviant Behaviour, Volume 5, 1984 - Issue 1-4
    "Drug abuse was the original concern of this investigation. During the course of the research, nine girls between the ages of 8 and 12 were encountered who admitted involvement in prostitution and/or pornography. They were not runaways. Rather, they had been introduced to their careers by relatives. Their initiation into sex seemed to be motivated by fear of rejection, their drug involvement did not appear to be associated with their sexual activities, and they did not seem to be traumatized by their early association with sex."
  • Jan Schuijer and Benjamin Rossen (1992). "Interviews with Three Boys."
    "Despite the attempt to obtain a balanced description of the events, a remarkably black and white picture emerged. The boys described their friendship and feelings for Ferdinand in glowing terms. On the other hand the attitude towards the police is unequivocally negative."
  • O'Donnell, Ian and Milner, Claire (2007). "Child Pornography: Crime, Computers and Society". Willan Publishing, p. 229.
    "While we might feel uneasy about an individual who took sexual pleasure from photographs of children playing on beaches, it is clearly the case that such photographs are not based on an underlying act of abuse".
  • The Australian (2008). "Naked child in photo defends image"
    Although the photos concerned are most probably not pornographic they have been criticised as such (for containing nudity and posing). "“I'm really, really offended by what Kevin Rudd had to say about this picture,” Olympia said outside her Melbourne home, accompanied by her father, The Age art critic Robert Nelson. “I love the photo so much. It is one of my favourites, if not my favourite photo, my mum has ever taken of me and she has taken so many photos of me. “I think that the picture my mum took of me had nothing to do with being abused and I think nudity can be a part of art.”" An adult critic responded: "And that the child concerned defends the photographs in my view merely compounds what has happened."
  • Mirkin, Harris (2009). "The Social, Political, and Legal Construction of the Concept of Child Pornography ," Journal of Homosexuality, 56(2), pp. 233-267.
    "People who were familiar with the child pornography world have told me that in Eastern Europe, where most of the current male child pornography is produced, many of the boys modeling and acting in child pornography are street hustlers, who survive largely by selling sex and who view it as an easy gig. There are many reasons for them to model, including money, showing off, coercion, affection for the photographer, a road to modeling career, and daredevil impulses to violate social norms. They do not think that being photographed nude is a big deal. The girl models in Japan are often treated like stars and have Web sites devoted to them. For long periods, photographs that we would currently call child pornography have been legal, and there is no evidence that the models were hurt. Artist models at various times have shown little evidence of harm, and the subjects of major photographers like Sturges, Mann, and Hamilton (who all have been accused, but exonerated, of making child pornography) have said that their experiences were positive ones.
    Based on the available evidence it is difficult to support the prevailing assumptions about universal harm to the young models and actors. Based on the Rind et al. studies, boys especially seem unlikely to suffer great harm. Probably some are hurt, some benefit, and most are not strongly affected."

Further reading

  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-021-01453-9
  2. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2021.1045