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In the world in question, we have anatomically and psychologically normal humans living in a variety of societies. We also have trolls.

Trolls are a hominid species more closely related to humans than humans are to chimpanzees. Male trolls stand 2.4m/8ft tall, and females stand 2.1m/7ft tall on average, and have a heavy, muscular build, large canine teeth and furred skin. They are somewhat similar to an upright-walking Gigantopithecus (a large herbivorous extinct ape) but they are omnivorous, and prefer cold climates. They are a moderately intelligent, tool-using species with a language intelligible by humans and a primitive, somewhat human-like society. Like humans, Trolls have concealed estrus and copulate for social bonding to a degree somewhere between that of humans and that of bonobos.

It is possible for trolls and humans to interbreed, and despite the anatomical differences, the similarities between the two species anatomy and mating habits are sufficient that cross-breeding occurs fairly frequently (compared with the frequency of natural cross-breeding between other pairs of similar species under similar circumstances) where troll and human territories meet or where juvenile trolls are captured and kept by humans.

Keepers copulating with captive trolls is an important measure to keep a captive troll docile and cooperative, as it creates a social bond between captor and captive without which the captive troll is likely to be prone to violent outbursts.

Human children may be adopted by trolls if found unsupervised in or near troll territory.

Despite this, apparent compatibility between the two species, relationships between adult humans from a human society and free trolls are strained at best, since misunderstandings frequently lead to violence.

The 'half-troll' offspring of unions between trolls and humans are mid-way in intelligence, size and strength between humans and trolls. Most half-trolls are infertile, with perhaps 1 in 20 being fertile.

The phenomenon of truman offspring of the mating of a male troll with a female human have been common enough that such pregnancies have been studied by doctors on many occasions. Given the low birth weight and relatively small head of a truman infant, it has been scientifically demonstrated that truman pregnancies are less risky to human women than pure human pregnancies, and that there is an ongoing health benefit to the mother of a truman infant in that subsequent pregnancies, whether truman or human, are significantly less risky.

Conversely, humoll infants, the offspring of a male human and a female troll has a higher birth weight and a larger head than a troll infant. Given that female trolls have large pelvic openings and give birth relatively easily, humoll pregnancies and births have not been found to be significantly more risky to their troll mothers than troll pregnancies and births.

Half-trolls are not particularly well adapted to living in either human or troll societies. They are of lower intelligence than humans, and while physically strong, have a brutish appearance that is offputting to many humans. Conversely, while they are smarter than trolls, they are physically weaker and not as well adapted to living in trolls' preferred environment.

Male half-trolls appear to do best in human society, where they often find employment as manual labourers due to their strength and simple-mindedness, while in troll society, they are often injured or killed in dominance struggles with male trolls.

Female half-trolls appear to do best in troll society, where their greater intelligence allows them to quickly become proficient in the survival skills practised by trolls, and since the difference in appearance and physical abilities between female half-trolls and female trolls is not as great as the difference between male half-trolls and male trolls, they are more easily accepted. The appearance of a female half-troll is more offputting to most humans than it is to trolls.

Trolls are aware of the differences between themselves and humans, and while they don't generally attempt to extend their promiscuous sexual behavior to their human neighbors, they are sufficiently open-minded - or perhaps sufficiently innocent - that such relations are not automatically considered taboo or even unwelcome.

So... to the question:

While I believe that some human societies would disapprove of sexual relations between humans and trolls, or may consider them socially and legally taboo, I am unsure if such relations would be a universal taboo given the potential health benefits.

Is it reasonable to suppose that some human societies may consider sexual relations between humans and trolls to be natural and not particularly remarkable save for the fact that it is relatively uncommon, rather than automatically considering it to be a disgusting practice that should be eliminated or restricted to those of a lower class who must deal with trolls, and who are considered outcasts as a result?

If any societies would be tolerant of such relations, what sort of societies would they be?

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    $\begingroup$ One thing to consider is that if humans significantly outnumber trolls, this behavior will eventually amount to genocide. Several hundred generations later, humanity would still be extant, and perhaps with detectable troll genome, but there would be no trolls whatsoever. If trolls outnumber humans, I expect the same in the opposite direction. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Dec 28, 2021 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild Q: you say "They are a moderately intelligent, tool-using species with a language intelligible by humans and a primitive, somewhat human-like society." Does that mean trolls have their own society ? Trolls and humans live apart ? I think that info would be relevant for any answer here.. Isolated "societies" don't breed much... from your current text I have to deduce that halfblood human/trolls are to be transferred into human society, to have a good life. It reminds me of 19th century slavery, where "mixed" kids ended up in the white society, when there skins were white enough. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Dec 28, 2021 at 19:30
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    $\begingroup$ To the OP, there's plenty of sources suggesting beastiality is a universal taboo. Most explanations are natural selection based (the repulsion likely to be preserved, while acceptance not, or resulting in one new species at best [ancient hominids did mix into one]). At these questions, I always suggest to make the world taboos only what your story requires. You don't want to alienate your audience. $\endgroup$
    – user458
    Dec 28, 2021 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ This is an interesting premise, but worth a caveat to be tread rather carefully of unfortunate implications here, since many of the characteristics of trolls are extremely reminiscent of older European/American myths and prejudices about Africans, African-Americans, and various other nonwhite peoples. $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2021 at 5:28
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Peter on this one. Be very careful with this because this very well written description and interesting idea could easily replace the words 'human' with 'whites' and 'trolls' with 'blacks' and find itself very nearly identical to eugenics papers written during the slave trade. Honestly, I don't see much reason that the humans wouldn't start regarding trolls much the way European colonizers regarded Africans or Native Americans. $\endgroup$ Dec 30, 2021 at 4:30

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It’s likely to end up being viewed in a similar light to polygamy or polyandry once the health benefits for women are known.

This comes down to expression of collective survival instincts (that is, instincts which preserve the species as a whole instead of the individual).

Using the specific example of polyandry:

  • It’s advantageous for a female to be in a polyandrous relationship, as that on average increases the chance of successful conception.
  • It’s disadvantageous for a male to be in a polyandrous relationship, as that on average decreases the chance of the male passing on his genes.

Polygamy is a similar case in reverse. Historically, polygamy and (to a lesser extent) polyandry were not only not really taboo, they were actually rather common among the upper classes because large numbers of children were required to ensure you had an heir who lived long enough to actually inherit things (and the infant mortality rate was really high).

What you describe is more complicated, but actually not too different:

  • It’s advantageous for a human woman to mate with a male troll until she conceives a hybrid child, because subsequent births will be safer for her and therefore she is likely to be able to have more children.
  • It’s (on average) disadvantageous for her husband for her to do this, because it incrasares the amount of work for him without actually passing on his genes.

This means that, much like polygamy and polyandry, how ‘taboo’ this will be will probably correlate with how dangerous childbirth is. In ancient societies nobility will probably consider this perfectly normal until a woman has at least one hybrid child, and you may even end up with a special term for the offspring of such a union when undertaken for this purpose. In modern societies (by current IRL standards) it will probably be generally taboo with some small groups of people who still practice it.

However, this is predicated on the benefits being known. Prior to that, probably expect it to be seen in a similar light to bestiality. IOW, generally taboo due to collective survival instincts (but most people will just view it as ‘wrong’ without being able to articulate why).

However, independent of all of that, you will end up with subcultures that fixate on it.

There’s an old internet aphorism known sometimes as ‘Rule 34’ which states, quite succinctly, that ‘If it exists, there is pornography of it.’. What matters here is the corollary that ‘If it exists, somebody, somewhere, finds it sexually attractive.’.

Just like how in real life some people are turned on by animalistic features, or anime characters, or assorted fantasy races, or dead bodies, there will be some subset of people who are turned on by trolls even if it’s taboo (and in some cases, entirely because it’s taboo). Just like any group of people with similar interests, they will end up developing a social network with other like-minded individuals, and as a result you will get a subculture.

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Human culture will always invent rules for sexual behavior.

Let us set aside trolls.

Consider sex acts. What are the odds that a human (or maybe any social animal) cultural system for regulating behavior will include rules for sex? 100%. Existing rule sets for humans include not only rules about with who or what (including animals, and yourself) but also how, how often, with what intent, and right down to very granular details. Sex rules are foundational to human culture. Arguably, one of the reasons humans are sexually set up as we are is that sexuality is foundational to culture and from culture springs other evolutionary benefits, like cooperativity.

So if the question is "will a culture invent rules for sex in a given context" the answer is yes. Troll rules might include guidance about times when sex with trolls is appropriate.

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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't answer the question as posed - they've asked "would societies necessarily consider this specific thing to be taboo?" and you've responded with "people don't have sex with everything all the time, generally." $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2021 at 1:07
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It depends on what random people do.

Bestiality was legal in Washington state till 2005 till Kenneth Pinyan died having anal sex with a horse.

So, what happens if, much like bonobos, a troll decides to have anal sex and its partner dies as a consequence?

If they have good diplomacy and cultures they'll probably be fine. If their diplomacy is bad or their cultures are bad, they'll have major diplomatic incidents.

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Yes, taboos exist for a reason. Typically it's because something has negative consequences. Or the very least is seen as a deviation from the norm.

When Consequences are managed And the practice becomes common enough to be perceived as normal, That's when the taboos break down.

Given that there appears to be no negative consequences. And is necessary in order to maintained Docile troll slaves then yes I think it would not be taboo in places where either troll slavery existed Or Where human and troll communities live close together. It would probably be taboo in places where there weren't many trolls.

Is not taboo of course does not mean not socially regulated. I'm not sure you'd want your wife cuckold and you with a troll. Even if you visit your troll Concubine other week.

I could see troll women occupying The same place that concupines occupied In other societies.

I could also see human slave woman being given to trolls in order to produce strong half Breeds as slaves.

I think it would be the least taboo in slave societies. After all even in an integrated society Half breed children wouldn't be particularly desirable They're not smart enough to be human not strong enough to be troll. However in a slave society You are essentially getting a more capable slave that's still stronger than a human.

I also think that given the health benefits that's it might be acceptable for women to have a troll child prior to marriage. A way of insuring that a she is not barren and can conceive, And b That neither she nor her Husband's children die in childbirth.

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From the long description in the question it is clear, that normally having a troll-human bastard child is not desirable from a human point of view (and probably also from a troll point of view, depending how much they know the consequences of the infertility of the offspring). To minimize such undesired outcome of troll-human relationships a taboo is in action, preventing the accidental creation of such offspring in many cases (no taboo is perfect, but it works most of the time).

Another factor may be sexually transmissible deceases: It is known that HIV circulates in apes and doesn't harm them, but the same virus is very harmful for humans. The risk of trading such deceases is also a good reason for a taboo.

Maybe some big slave holders find that the working force of troll-human hybrids is especially good for them and they run breeding programmes for it. Or someone did it in the past, and this practice is considered barbarious by the contemporary society.

POSTSCRIPTUM: Expect the taboo to extend on the "troll keepers" as described in the question. They will be considered "impure" by the non-trollkeeping humans and may well have a status like the Dalits (formerly "untochables") in a Hindu society.

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