By: Tabitha Suzuma
Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.
-Summary from Goodreads
I just finished reading Forbidden. I feel like I'm about to die.
Here's the thing: I'm not writing a review for this. I can't. No words I can ever write can ever express the beauty of this book to anyone who hasn't read it. But because I am the debate captain of my school, because I want--need--to talk, argue about this, I'm going to stand up for consensual incest. So, if you're reading this for a review of Forbidden, you might want to stop reading now. If you cringe at the very mention of incest, stop reading. It's not a command--I just don't want you to be exposed to something you never wished to know of.
Here's a clarification: Consensual incest (the one I'm standing up for) is incest that is wanted by both sides. It's not a raped event, it's not a forced, blackmailing thing, it's a need acquired and realized and understood by both, so that there is no abuser or a victim, but rather two victims to a law that leaves me incredulous. I'm not encouraging incest or anything like that. I'm simply questioning its right to be a law.
1) You might think this: Incest is so gross! So wrong!
But let me ask you: How wrong is wrong? How do you define wrong? Why is it that anyone who has been thrown together into this catastrophic situation of impossibility after their feelings, after their love cannot be denied after their need cannot be ignored after everything they've tried has failed, why must we punish, ridicule them for being produced by the same woman? Why must we immediately categorize it as wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong? I understand if this is your feelings about a rape, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I know it's strange, that I'm talking about this. Perhaps you are grossed out. But I am asking you right now how much this direct, immediate decision, prejudice affects our moral beliefs. These people who have no choice over how they feel no choice over how much they have tried to stop how they feel no choice over life no choice over anything not even their own parents HOW, WHY is it right to take them away and imprison them, block them away from life, strip them of their rights and punish them for something out of their control--their birth mother? These people--yes, I know it's sick, I know I know--but is it really so wrong that is has to be forbidden? Is it so wrong that we have to rip them from their lives and destroy them until they have no reason left to live? Is it so wrong that we have to peel off our moral beliefs, shed it like skin and breathe our prejudices into their beings? Make our disgust their only air to breathe? They know it's wrong. They know. They know and they try to stop it but if what they feel is so right if they both know what they're doing if they both tried to stop and--and it feels like true love, real love--why do we get to instantaneously thrust them apart and blame everything, lose it, believe it true--that they did something terrible so terrible--before we hear the truth?
2) You might think this: Well, it's against the law. There's a reason it's against the law.
Birth defects? Those can happen in regular, non-blood relationships as well. So why is this SO terrible--and I'm talking about consensual incest here? Why is it that it has to be outlawed? Birth defects could be prevented by extending to sibling marriage the rule that five states already apply to cousin marriage: You can do it if you furnish proof of infertility or are presumptively too old to procreate.
3) You might say, finally, in exasperation: It's disgusting.
So is obese people wearing booty shorts. So is littering, killing the Earth in plain sight. So is couples making out beyond appropriateness in an area where they are exposed to hundreds of young children. Yet those things are not illegal, so why should consensual incest be? Like the article I linked above says, if this is a law simply put because you think it's disgusting--that's not reason enough.
Understand I am not encouraging this. Understand that I'm not saying I don't get grossed out by it at times. But also, most importantly, understand that this is something that rivals our very core moral beliefs. This is something that puts us in the boat of hypocrisy because, if asked the question, "if two people truly love each other, no matter their situations, should they be allowed to be together?", you would probably answer yes. But incest won't cross your mind. It might fleet by, but you will assume the person who asked you the question didn't mean it. But is it really so different? Why is it that this consensual, understood, recognized incest is outlawed? Why? Is it so bad that we have to banish people, punish them for their lack of rights and choices?
I don't like to tackle taboo issues in the public often. But I wanted to talk about this, because beyond all else--beyond morality, law--we are damning two people who never had a choice, a say in the situation. This is not the freedom of speech, not the freedom of expression. This is no freedom, but a constant pressure forging onto them, wrapping around them in a vise until they are constrained and imprisoned and everything robbed away.
How is this right?