originally posted April 25, 2015
The Traditional perspective in the various Arayyot taboos are that they are a function of indivdual Q'dushah. In other words, these laws promote Holiness in the INDIVIDUAL person by a demanding code of highly moral behaviour, etc.
The Preamble in Acharei-Mot discusses avoiding Egyptian and Canaanite Behaviour. I suggest that the Torah is suggesting that we as a Torah society not emulate those societies. The clincher? V'nichr'tu Han'fashot ha'osot.
Shloymie: Let's say you're correct - Just how does this societal taboo work?
RRW: Let's assume that humans have a libido. And that this tempts humans to "objectify" targets in a predatory manner.
Left unchanneled, a man's Mother, Sister Daughter, might be subjected to predatory behaviour. Even boys and animals could become objectified via Mishkav Zachar or Bestiality.
This society creates a sense where a child has no safety at home. Nor could a child bathe or shower safely with members of the same gender. It is a society of predatory objectification.
Taboos to the Rescue
By imposing deep-seated taboos, the children are given a safety net. Girls need not fear their brothers or even fathers. Children may feel safe in same-gender showers or wash-rooms.
Take away this safety-net, and Egyptian-style objectification may run amok. Sisters grow up to be their brothers's spouses. They grow up as targets from an accepting society.
To my way of thinking, these taboos are targeted at creating a society of reduced objectification.
L'havdil it's analogous to Burkas in Moslem cultures
We take taboos against incest for granted because Xtian Societies have already adopted much of this from Leviticus.. Before mattan Torah, no one could take it for granted.