John Deaves, 61 and his daughter Jennifer Deaves, 39 claimed that they started their relationship after being reunited in 2000, almost 30 years after Mr Deaves separated from Jennifer's mother. When they were reunited, Jennifer was married and had two children while John already had his second family with his wife, Dorothy and daughter. However, within weeks, the couple had started a sexual relationship and John returned to Dorothy announcing that he had slept with his daughter and that he had "the best sex he'd ever had".
The case provoked international media attention when the couple appeared on Australia’s 60 Minutes programme to explain their relationship.
The Australian court convicted the couple of incest, which resulted in them being banned from having sex and placed on three-year good behaviour bonds. But the couple are determined to keep the relationship together, even if it means having one without sex. Said Jennifer, "To say that I'm not going to have sex with John doesn't mean I have to stop loving John or caring for John. The important thing I think that people should remember is that John and I are in this relationship as consenting adults, that we are not harming each other."
The couple pleaded for the public to respect their choice as they feel they are not there to "hurt anybody".
However, Jennifer's mother and John's first wife, thinks otherwise.
"I just think that the whole relationship is dreadful... These incestual (sic) relationships produce children and the children have problems and it's not fair to kids."
(via Times Online, The Age, ninemsn News.)
Watch the interview here.
I watched the interview with my mouth gaping open.
Societal norms are created by society so that one another's behaviours become more predictable. According to Durkheim, "The frequency with which these behaviors are observed, the following effects, and personal preference of individuals all contribute to the strengthening of the sense of rightness that makes these actions normative."
In essence, this means that things we regard as "normal" in our society, such as having a family with the opposite sex, going to school etc, are widely accepted because of the positive effects the norms bring (eg: getting a better job because of a degree), and thus most people conform to it.
While I am horrified and appalled by the incestuous couple, I must ask:
Is it so wrong to go against these ground rules that society has set for us?
Look at the gays, the AIDS victims, the transsexuals, and the suffering and humiliation they go through because of social sanctioning. Where do we draw the line at being too rigid, and being too accepting?
I think there's an indirect answer to this, taken off Joanne Peh's blog:
If there were no boundaries marked out by Man, will we still get a sense of space?