Across time and space, human beings have constructed taboos against sexual activity with close relatives. The most commonly stigmatized and legally prohibited incestuous relationships include parent-child and sibling-sibling unions.
In the first part of this series, I argued that homes with a bathroom near the kitchen are inconsistent with the natural organization of the human body. This piece highlights yet another form of architectural terrorism: when the parent(s) and child(ren) have adjoining bedrooms. Such a spatial arrangement violates the cultural organization of human society – thus exposing children to unspeakably awkward situations.
Imagine you are a child sleeping in bed at night. Ponies, unicorns, and rainbows are the main attractions in your dream. Your peaceful slumber is suddenly disrupted by strange noises from the next room. The sound of two naked bodies pounding against each other and ever-intensifying moans of pleasure hold your attention captive.
With only a few feet of space, a wall, and a door serving as a barrier – you now have a front row seat to a parental sex session. The pillow talk of a parent will single-handedly fracture the psyche of their child … forever. Having the misfortune of over-hearing commands such as “ohh, fuck me baby!” and “deeper, daddy!” inflict immeasurable and irreparable forms of trauma. There should be a toll-free emergency support hotline that children can call whenever their parents are having sex. The number should be 1-555-EWW-STOP.
Heaven-forbid your parents like to have sex to music. No matter how much you actually like those songs, you are going to delete them from your playlist. This is pure torture. During interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, the CIA coaxed false confessions from prisoners by forcing them to listen to music. The government could’ve gotten those confessions twice as fast if they played audio of the inmates’ parents having sex. I would admit to the Kennedy assassination to avoid hearing my parents doing the nasty.
Even when parents take this dynamic into account and resign themselves to having quieter sex, the child still knows what is happening. They may not speak about it, but they react accordingly. This is an intervention. Remember that time you leaned in to give your son a kiss goodbye and he flinched? You told yourself it was because he was getting older; but deep down, you knew it was because he heard you getting busy the night before. Remember when you tried to bond with your daughter but she seemed cold? You told yourself it was because of puberty; but you knew good and gotdamn well it was because she heard you getting busy the night before.
This floor design partially erodes the psychological line that exists between being a witness and being a participant. The child who hears the sexual act, albeit involuntarily, still becomes involved in it through feelings of disgust and/or fascination. These are moments of quasi-incest, folks. The organization of our homes should mirror the cultural organization of our society by placing the bedrooms of parents and children at a distance.