Clit cutting is not equivalent to Christmas and wedding dresses


I usually adore Amanda Marcotte, but I have to say one of her latest pieces is really facepalm worthy. She actually defends the American Academy of Pediatric’s new “compromise” on female genital mutilation to offer “ritual nicking, such as pricking or minor incisions of girls’ clitorises.”

I didn’t originally post about this issue because many other excellent bloggers made the same points I would have made. Melissa McEwan sums it up best:

See, this way, people can honor that awesome tradition without actually removing part or all of the genitalia. Everyone gets a little something: Girls get only a little heinous physical and psychological trauma, and their guardians get to practice their violent misogyny, just in a slightly less violent way. Yay for compromise!

FGC is a human rights violation. It has no medical purpose, and its cultural rationale is steeped in gender inequality. There is no reason to tolerate even this proposed alternative version of the procedure in a culture with an ostensible belief in gender equality.

Insert the 10,000 posts I’ve written about consent and autonomy here.

And, despite the AAP’s claim that endorsing nicking will be a deterrent, Equality Now rightly notes that advocating a more minor version of the procedure will almost certainly mean that “mothers who have until now resisted community pressure and not subjected their daughters to FGM in the U.S., in part because of the anti-FGM law, could be forced under the AAP guidelines to ask pediatricians to ‘nick’ their daughters’ clitorises if it is legally permitted.”

So why does Amanda Marcotte defend it?

People do this sort of thing all the time, and usually they get applauded for it. They realize a religious or cultural tradition is backwards—silly at best, oppressive at worst—and they’re faced with a choice. Do they abandon their heritage, or do they compromise? Obviously, being a big time atheist, I wish people abandoned their traditions more, but as someone who still gets a kick out of Christmas, I understand the urge to hang on to some stuff. Doctors offering a relatively harmless, ritualistic alternative to more severe cutting could go a long way towards encouraging the view of it as merely a ritual, and not something that has to produce long-term damage to count.

… And it’s not like Western culture is so free of blatantly misogynist traditions, either. Part of me wishes that we had a two minute nicking at the doctor instead of the entire painfully misogynist wedding tradition that persists in the name of tradition. Everything from white gowns to bouquet tosses to the father “giving” the bride away—all about reducing women to objects that exist strictly to fuck and marry men, if not suggesting that we’re male property. But people hang onto it, because it’s tradition. And we applaud every nudge in the right direction, from refusing to be given away to keeping your name, instead of suggesting that anything but a marriage boycott for all is inadequate.

…I’m sorry, but cutting a clitoris is not equivalent to rocking around the Christmas tree or walking down the aisle in a frilly white dress. For one, people choose to celebrate Christmas and have a traditional wedding. I still merrily celebrate on the 25th without religious pressure, and I’ll likely let my dad give me away in a white dress because I choose to do so. It’s all about choice, and young girls subjected to female genital mutilation have absolutely no choice. By allowing this, we’re taking away their one last voice.

But the other main thing is harm – remember how doctors are supposed to “do no harm”? While nicking isn’t nearly as bad as complete removal, it still isn’t all rainbows and pansies. You say you rather have that than a traditional wedding ceremony – well good for you, because cutting my clit seems like a stupendously awful thing. I’ll take a meaningless wedding ceremony over that any day. And yes, it is meaningless. Maybe it used to represent patriarchy and objectifying women, but can you honestly say anyone thinks that when they’re at a wedding anymore? We don’t call for a boycott on traditional marriage ceremonies because they’re not hurting anyone, and no one is forced to do it.

And I love how she adds the bit on circumcision being worse than ritual nicking. Yes, it is. But that doesn’t mean we should allow ritual nicking because we already allow something worse. That just means we need to keep trying to reduce circumcisions, and treat it the same as other types of genital mutilation.

Yeah, sorry Amanda, but I’m not convinced. It’s kind of hard for me to be culturally sensitive to something absolutely barbaric and misogynistic.

Comments

  1. says

    Speaking as a masculine fan of the clitoris, allow me to say…WHAT THE FUCK.No. No no no no. Do not allow this barbarism at all. I’m against all forms of genital mutilation unless you are old enough to pay for a piercing or other form of alteration yourself. Whatever it is as long as you’re an adult, that’s your business. To children? No. Never. It’s wrong. Would you allow someone to BRAND a baby? We’re talking about something that has the potential to reduce their ability to feel normal pleasure and enjoy sex – which we evolved to do (or were created to do, if you’re a creationist moron).Blah. No.

  2. SlackerMD says

    WHAT?!?!?! There is no religious mandate for FGM, it is in no way comparable to Christmas. It is a society’s attempt to control female sexuality. I can’t believe the AAP is actually issuing guidelines on FGM.

  3. sophia b says

    Whenever i read about this i can’t help wondering whether they’re using inaccurate terminology. Maybe they mean a slight nick to the clitoral hood? its still horrible, but doesn’t make me want to throw up quite as much. I just can’t see at all how any sort of cut to the clit itself could not do reasonably serious damage…Its not the first time that even meidcal professionals would say slightly the wrong thing for parts of genitalia.

  4. mybabysweetness says

    I can’t believe she compared that to Christmas and weddings.Look, I got married in the white gown and my Mom walked me down the aisle (my Dad had passed away – otherwise I would have had both of them walk me). But my husband also walked his parents down the aisle (yes I noticed my change in subject/object there). So what? Yeah, I wore the white dress. I LIKED my white dress – it was pretty. I’m not a super girly girl, but I like pretty things sometimes – please don’t mutilate me for that! My husband wore a tux – I think he was more uncomfortable in that than I was in the dress. But I’m not suggesting we mutilate him either!Look, you want to argue against traditional weddings – fine. Argue against spending THOUSANDS of dollars on one day. But still – I think I’d spend THOUSANDS to have someone NOT take a knife to my privates. Just saying.The argument that theoretically could hold water is by legalizing it, we make it safer, as we do use that argument for other issues. The thing is – those arguments fail because they suggest there’s no point in having laws if people will just break them anyway. Wouldn’t drugs all be safer if they were subject to FDA controls (so my coke was really coke, not crack and LSD. Yeah, I’m not buying.

  5. Pablo says

    Whereas male circumcision is not as bad as “female circumcision,” my first impression upon reading this is that it is something a lot closer. The comparison here is not so much of a stretch.

  6. says

    I personally disagree with circumcision of men as well. Especially in light of recent events where the parents do it themselves, and have caused their children to die.

  7. Pablo says

    There is no medical justification for any type of circumcision in girls or boys, and it is a shame that a medical association should acquiesce to appease religion.

  8. Al says

    Thank you so much for posting this.This is an “edgy” subject, and it brings out weird shades of opinion. I do think what Amanda is showing is a slight bit of women-hatred. I was positively in shock last week when I headed over to her blog to see if she was talking about this.It is not enough for Amanda to not get married, or not have a wedding. Her bitterness decrees that all. of. us. have to “boycott” weddings do make her happy. And she would rather that all. of. us. get our clits nicked than ALLOW us the option of marriage.I’m sorry, but someone with that deep-seated an animosity towards women has NO BUSINESS writing as a feminist. To me, it almost puts her in a category of people (mostly men) who say they “love women”, but mostly would like to exploit and victimize them, sexually and otherwise. Her defense of women is based on wanting to see them molded in her image, or seeing them punished for wishing otherwise. Does she hope that a population of women with nicked clits (and the resulting painful sex) would be less eager to marry men, therefore making her feel less lonely and strange in her odditude about marriage?Has she stored up a history of rejection from men and project it onto the experiences of all women? Wow, what a cut into her credibility and window into her psychology.BTW, circumcision does not create a lifetime of painful sex for men, and nicking a clit would for women.I’m sorry, but what an f-ing idiot. Big fail for Amanda.

  9. says

    As a circumcised male it hasn’t really bothered me, except for the lack of sensitivity, but I don’t really believe it is nearly as bad as female circumcision, which is traditionally done at a much later age and, if what little I know about it is correct, completely gets rid of all sexual pleasure for women. As for a nick? I wonder how many of these misogynists would like a spike through the dick. The whole business of cutting up privates brings me to the verge of fainting. I can’t fathom what would cause these traditions in the first place.

  10. says

    I have felt a bit torn on this one… only a bit. I do not think parents have the right to have non-medically-necessary surgery performed on children because they feel like it. The only argument that really gives me pause is the idea that this might prevent more extreme harm to some girls… but it still doesn’t seem right. We had measures in place against this, and to go back on them… well, once things are allowed I think it’s much harder to get rid of them again.

  11. says

    I am divided, and it is exactly for this reason that I find myself wanting to throttle both sides. FGM is a useless cultural barbarism, and even if it was religiously mandated, that would only be evidence that a person followed an evil god. If this cultural appeasement is not performed, some parents will take their girl to somebody from their cultural in group that will take a razor blade, knife, piece of glass, and perform an entire clitorectomy with no mind towards preventing infection. This is analogous to the crimes mentioned by Andrew.The suggested procedure, as I understand it, is pricking the clitoral hood with a needle so that a drop of blood is produced. No long term harm is likely to be done, the cultural bloodgeld will be paid and the young girl will be able to grow up to be a young woman who is in charge of her own body. I believe that this decision follows with the secular humanist goal of presenting people with the option that does the least harm, while outlawing the practice altogether will have the effect of routing young girls into the hands of those who will harm them. It is similar (not the same, but similar) to laws permitting abortion. Where abortion is outlawed women will find a way, often in ways that will endanger their health, to obtain a service that others find abhorrent. I would rather that we could outlaw FGM completely and prosecute it into nonexistence, but I don’t believe that it is possible. We can permit the least destructive form of this practice in order to do the least harm, where doing no harm through inaction is an improbability.

  12. Alexrkr7 says

    I’m truly surprised at the number of people who defend this. There is a youtuber who does a lot of videos about male/female circumcision and 1/3 of the comments are meagerly trying to justify it. “It’s not that bad” “It’s tradition” “Foreskins are gross”. No you idiots, it’s barbaric and you are pitiful.The defensive psych. here is scary. Thanks Jen for covering this.

  13. says

    I also think that the comparison amanda makes to how male circumcision is worse than this nick actually backfires. Think about it: male circumcision was originally only a religious practice for Jews (and Muslims), but then it spread to the general population and now most Americans think not circumcising is “gross”, “unhygenic” and “ugly”. And this is for the dominant sex!Americans have even more hangups about the female body as it is, and already demand a lot of unpleasant modification, so the existing example of mainstreamed circumcision of the dominant sex should be seen as a warning that there’s a real chance of this circumcision of the non-dominant sex to spread also, and become just as taken-for-granted and accepted, even culturally demanded.

  14. says

    I’m not aware that this is actually true, for Western countries.It can arguably work in the Muslim countries themselves, and I think there’s some evidence that it does; but in the West, it seems that what works best is to criminalize FGC and take children away from parents who have been convicted of doing this to one of their kids.

  15. Al says

    Also, someone should tell Amanda Marcotte that “boycotts” are *voluntary*. I believe her childish declaration that “anything but a marriage boycott for all is inadequate” is her way of saying that she wants marriage outlawed, just because the thought of it makes HER feel oppressed. Note how we’ve now jumped from *weddings* to *marriage* here.And she has this tantrum in the context of supporting the nonconsensual nicking the clits of little girls as being LESS OPPRESSIVE.How insecure is this woman? And she’s one of our lead progressive feminist bloggers??? Why isn’t anyone ELSE calling her out?Sorry, my head was spinning last week and it just went spinning again.

  16. CyraEm says

    Y’know, it may leave lasting damage, but so do a lot of things we do to our body. When I first heard about Female Genital Mutilation everyone was so up in arms about it, crying out about the horror of it all, and I jumped right on that bandwagon. But then I found out what it was. What, specifically, was done. It deflated that rage. Circumsized men lose a huge amount of sensation, they go through it unanesthetized. They get as much, if not more hacked off in the name of religion, and recently a skewed idea of hygenics, and we don’t question it as a society because we are used to it. I can’t help but feel that we are over-reacting to the idea of female circumcision because it is not a western practice.

  17. says

    Right. The difference being that abortion is being done by women who are theoretically of age to choose, or have some mental maturity. FGM is being done to girls before they are old enough to understand they exist.

  18. says

    Male circumcision does have a point. I’m circumcised and am glad I am– it keeps the penis cleaner. Look at it the same way you would anything else with a possibility of infection. If it’s able to breathe, less chance of infection. However, since an uncircumcised penis is prone to, for lack of a better way of saying it, getting shit in it, it smells worse and gives whatever is inside time to infect. And other than that, it looks better. I, personally, would never have sex with a guy who was uncircumcised. I would literally tell him to put his pants back on.

  19. says

    no, we’re under-reacting to the idea of male circumcision because it is an american (not western; europeans don’t do that) practice.Which is why accepting female circumcision has potential to be disastrous, if it, too, becomes normalized.

  20. says

    But the anti abortion person would say that the aborted fetus is being killed before it knows it exists. That is not an argument that we can win on emotional grounds alone. The point remains that someone is making a decision here, either a parent for a child, using their right to offer consent, or the person receiving the procedure. This at leasts prevents grievous injury.

  21. says

    The awkward point here is that female circumcision, and FGM, are both used to refer to a hugely wide range of activities, from the extreme (full clitoridectomy, labial removal, and deliberate constriction of teh vulva) to comparatively minor (partial removal of the clitoral hood being a close comparison to male circumcision, which I am also against). I know of women from communities that practice fairly mild FGM, who are themselves fairly liberal and lefty (while being religious), who find the anti-FGM lobby makes them uncomfortable.

  22. Zenlite says

    From what I’ve read, the callousing and loss of sensitivity that frequently occurs in circumcised men (relative to men who are not circumcised) is certainly a problem for many. So to say it is any less of a crime against the adults the children so treated will one day be is silly.

  23. Zenlite says

    Except that an unborn fetus is mechanically identical to a superfluous organ whereas the young girl who is being circumcised is, by any definition we would use, an autonomous individual.

  24. says

    I completely agree that mutilation is wrong. This kind of cultural change doesn’t happen overnight. It sucks out loud, but look at how long it took for people to even have the right to pick what god they wanted to worship. Look at how long it’s taking for abortion, morning-after medication, and even condoms to gain even acceptance. It really does suck, but such is life.

  25. ValH587 says

    So, there are a lot of people saying that male circumcision is terrible and barbaric, but no one saying why. This is the first I’ve heard anyone speak out against it, anyone care to enlighten me?

  26. says

    I’m glad to hear of more who categorically oppose this. I actually just wrote a post on this myself. I think that it is important to point out that even the “ritual nick” is still an illegal practice in the US. The AAP is actually trying to get it made legal in order, one assumes, to combat Types I-IV FGM. While the goal of combating FGM is laudable, the AAP is going at it all the wrong way. This would be a step towards increased violence and misogyny to women and girls, not away from. In their press release, one of the reasons the AAP gives for why they think the “ritual nick” is an acceptable practice is ” the ritual nick… is no more of an alteration than ear piercing”. Ignoring the facts that as 1) piercing a child’s ears is also a pointless practise they cannot consent to and which I therefore oppose, and 2) it ignores the fact that the ear lobe is not extremely sensitive erogenous tissue and 3) ear piercings are not generally done as part of an extremely violent, sexist ritual dehumanisation of women. Oh, and it’s not just Amanda that argues that because we allow male circumcision, the “ritual nick” is ok. This arguments comes from the AAP as well.’Here’s the actual policy statement by the AAP (Primary source material)

  27. says

    The comparison is only valid if doing this is plausibly related to the health of the individual, and it isn’t. Circumcision for men is a complex question. It is known that circumcised men are much less likely to contract a wide range of venereal diseases. Male infants who are not circumcised at birth have a few percent rate of infection or other issues that requires circumcision before the age of five, subjecting the child to a much more painful and non-trivial operation than if it had been done as an infant. There is no strong evidence that circumcised males experience any less sexual pleasure than non-circumcised males, and the question has indeed been extensively studied with all the kinds of controls and cross-overs you would immediately think of.So male circumcision is plausibly justifiable, and as someone who has had to make this decision I can say that anyone who tells you male circumcision is an open-and-shut case one way or another is an idiot with an agenda. Notably, opponents of male circumcision try to use a range of dishonest rhetorical devices, such as trying to focus the discussion on input measures–such as the nominal sensitivity of the foreskin–rather than output measures–such as the actual, empirical data showing that sexual pleasure is not substantially affected.Having seen friend’s kids go through circumcision as toddlers due to infections or other issues, I’d never in a million years want my kids to go through that. But on the other hand… it’s their body. But on the other hand, vaccination is acting on their body for their own good…Not an easy or simple issue at all, and I’ve seen the medical community go both ways on it–I’m a Canadian who used to live in the States, and at one point American pediatricians recommended it and Canadians did not, then a few years later they swapped positions, all based on the same data and slightly different assumptions about various kinds of harmful outcomes.

  28. says

    Marcotte can go way off to ridiculous land in many cases. Case in point, “For example, if a guy is, say, my age (32) and big into 90s indie rock, if he is not a fan of Sleater-Kinney, do not date him.” Seriously? I thought we got over that as freshmen in college. Boycotts and thinking a little mutilation is alright aren’t the only examples of poor ideas. Mutilation is mutilation. Allowing it to occur in a lesser form does not change that.

  29. says

    Female Genital Mutilation = worst Christmas present ever.Male circumcision is not comparable to female genital mutilation. First male circumcisions done when the child is a new born, female genital mutilation is done when they are older and can remember. Also the parts still work after male circumcision, but in a lot of cases female genital mutilation removes all sexual pleasure.

  30. says

    All of a sudden, I understand that feeling men get when they see another guy kick in the balls. OUCH! I am pretty sure circumcision doesn’t affect male pleasure during sex (but I am by no means an authority being a woman and all), but regardless, I still think it is inhumane. Apparently some women are all weird about an uncircumcised penis. I’ve never encountered one, but I’d rather that than the continuation of the ridiculous and inhumane ritual of circumcision. Neither of these practices have any place in Western society.

  31. Peter_B_too says

    Perhaps they should get the FGM performed by a psychic surgeon – it’ll look good but nothing actually happens.Yeah, only half kidding.Seriously, my opinion is that the compromise isn’t a good idea, as it sets up the idea that people might be convinced to compromise on other activities which aren’t appropriate: “We won’t accept honour killing, but you can just slap her around a bit.”

  32. Peter_B_too says

    As for the white wedding and associated stuff, how culturally strong is that? Is it seriously the case that women only have such weddings because they’re forced into them? Last time I looked, it was the bride’s choice what she wore to a wedding, and who accompanied her “down the aisle”.My wife wore a white top with red roses sewn in, along with a white skirt, we walked to the wedding together, and we didn’t have a best man or bridesmaid.She chose the top because she also got a burgundy skirt with it, and the combo make a lovely ballgown. That way, whenever she wears it to a ball, she’s reminded of our wedding. (Oh, and I own the tuxedo I wore.)We walked to the wedding together because my parents are dead and she has nothing to do with hers, and because the wedding (civil ceremony) was in a park across the road from the hotel where the reception was held.We didn’t have best men and bridesmaids because neither was particularly necessary – my tuxedo has pockets for a ring, and my wife was quite capable of holding her flowers throughout the ceremony.

  33. Peter_B_too says

    Yep. It’s also quite uncommon here in Australia, except in communities of certain religions.No male in my extended family is circumcised to my knowledge, and this includes relatives who are strongly religious.

  34. says

    You have to wonder why God would create penises with foreskins and then tell the ancient Hebrews to cut theirs off. Then people like you make lame rationalizations for such religious rituals. IF MEN WOULD WASH THEIR UNCIRCUMCIZED DICKS EVERY DAY, YOUR ARGUMENT WOULD BE POINTLESS, NO?!

  35. WTM says

    As a male that is uncut (in NZ the marjority are uncut), I have to say that the “cleanliness” argument is redundant. Seriously, just keep it clean, it’s not that hard… and aruing it “looks better” is equivalent to fans of FGM arguing that it has benefits.Circumcision of any sort is an abhorrant practise with no place in any modern society, I am ever grateful to the Doctor that dissuaded my mother from having me cut, and my Father (who is cut) for agreeing it was indeed not to happen.The only person to decide that a “cut” should happen is the owner of the genitals in question.

  36. says

    I’m sorry you think I’m trying to ‘rationalize’ religious rituals (sarcasm). I don’t believe it should be the decision of the parents. And as for “God”. Why are you even making that argument? It’s very apparent that in nature, some things just aren’t perfect. You can look at digestive tracts for instance. Rabbits eat food, expel pellets, then eat those for the nutrition. It’s not doubtful to consider that the male foreskin could actually be a hindrance rather than useful piece of skin.Also, stop caps lock raging, it makes you look like an asshole.

  37. says

    As for you. I, at no point, implied the endorsement of circumcision in infancy. It’s kind of insulting that you think I am. I agree with you, that it should be up to the owner of the genitals, and if I had been given the choice to day, I would still be circumcised. Also, don’t even compare male circumcision to FGM. The two are about as comparable as a scratch and a puncture wound.

  38. says

    In any case. This is actually a reply to WTM, Dale Husband and any other guys on here complaining about male circumcision. I’m pretty sure this is a post about FGM, not male circumcision. Stop complaining, FGM is a way more serious topic than you loosing a tad bit of skin on your penis. Let me know when they start cutting off the heads, then I’ll let you know you have a valid comparison.

  39. says

    I had a circumcision in my 40s, because the foreskin was too tight, and when I would get an erection, the skin would split, painfully. Given that boys get erections in utero, I’d have to argue that there is never a medical justification for circumcision in boys. On the other hand, there was significant loss of sensitivity to the glans over the next year, resulting in marital problems when I had difficulty in maintaining an erection. The argument that genital mutilation is more barbaric for one gender than another is misguided. As the ad used to say. “Ask the man who owns one.” I’m not opposed to ritual genital mutilation, as long as it’s done with the informed consent of the mutilatee. (Performing a briss, to which friends and family are invited, as part of the bar mitzvah would undoubtedly make the experience of becoming an adult jew far less meaningless.)

  40. WTM says

    Defensive much?? Notice you edited your response to my post after first submitting it, so just so we’re clear. this was your original post.”Trey Bierman wrote, in response to WTM (unregistered):As for you. I, at no point, implied the endorsement of circumcision in infancy. I am simply stating beneficial factors of the process. It is no ones place to say whether or not someone should partake in such a procedure, be it a grown man or the parents of an infant, except for a licensed doctor who finds it to be in good medical interest. And even in that case, it would only be a suggestion. Male circumcision is not FGM. Basically, you have made no argument.”Couple of quick points1. I never implied you did endorse circumcision for infants, I merely highlighted that in my circumstances, I luckily was not subjected to it as a child. Interestingly, many medical professionals required to do this “surgery” in the past indicated that contrary to popular belief the child does indeed feel considerable pain.2. I highlighted that one of the beneficial reasons you gave , i.e. smell, is actually more indicative of bad personal hygiene, rather than any medical need to remove the foreskin. 3. FGM is typically referred to in NZ as “female circumcision”, and I was merely stating that both are abhorant. There was no subjective indication of which is worse… (more on that below)4. At least in New Zealand, and most of Europe medical opinion is that male circumcision is not in itself of any medical benefit. One of the typical reasons for it’s removal, i.e. less chance of STDs, should not be an issue as any man that cares for his partner (outside of a long term relationship) should be wearing a condom.And finally…. we were responding to your comment about male circumcision, so it was you not us that initiated this deviation from the topic, not us.@Jen, please accept my apology for allowing Trey to lead us off topic.Female circumcision involving the removal of the clitoris is without question vastly more serious an issue than the removal of a males foreskin, on that I completely and wholeheartedly agree.This suggestion of allowing a “nick” or cut, is to me a terrifying concept, as it is attempt to make this a “practise” that is acceptable to mainstream culture. To a point, this is where the comparison to male circumcision, is valid. Within the US it seems to be a cultural norm, as is FGM in some other non western cultures. As such, there is a danger that over time it will be possible for proponents to argue that a “nick” is just like the jewish tradition 0f circumcising boys.Therefore, it is logical that we should argue consistently against all forms of forced alteration of any child, and that any child should be equally protected.That said, any adult that wants to do whatever they want to their own genitals is fine by me, especially if they have trouble with personal hygiene.

  41. WTM says

    Completely agree….It is a very dangerous path being taken here, i.e. because we allow this form of alteration/mutiliation lets be allowed to do this other type.Ear piercing is the scary comparison for me, how you can compare that to taking a knife to a child’s genitals, is simply the most horrific indictment that the authors of this policy should be kept as far from any adult, let alone any child, for the rest of their lives.

  42. says

    ok, that’s a stupid example. she is right that being deeply into a specific genre, but not liking one of the best bands from that genre which “happens to be” female (or any female bands/performers in that genre), is a “red flag”. She used her particular favorite genre, but it works for others, too.

  43. says

    The parts don’t work *as well* afterwards in male circumcision. *Some* forms of FGM are done when the child is older, some are done new-born, some still during infancy but a month or two later. Generalisations are the enemy of reason :pFor the record: I’m personally against all genital (or other) mutilation of children (in some ways especially infants); culture or religion are no excuse, as the child cannot choose.

  44. says

    A few points (there are more): – lack of consent – ‘branding’ the child into a religion without choice (this and the last point are really about the forcing of it on a child) – impairment of sexual function (there is reduced sensation, impaired lubrication and resultant issues of frictionIt’s not necessarily a view of “it’s EVVVIILLLLL’ like the usual reactions to the more extreme forms of FGM, more “it’s unethical”. Last time I looked into it, studies had shown that the supposed objective benefits (hygiene) only apply when compared with uncircumcised men who *don’t wash properly*.

  45. says

    I know several people here in the UK who are shocked when they find out that circumcision is conventional in the US. I do hear that it’s becoming less conventional, or at least less common, though.

  46. says

    It’s not comparable with the more extreme forms of FGM; it’s comparable *anatomically* with milder forms of FGM. The question of social comparison, and FGM being part of the cultural subjugation of women, is complex and depends on the culture you’re talking about. For example, people have argued that the traditional ‘white wedding’ is *no longer* cultural subjugation of women, because women choose it; there are communities where the women *are* liberated (generally diasporal communities) but still choose FGM (to my knowledge only the most mild forms); it thus started as being part of female subjugation, and now isn’t, the argument being exactly parallel to that of white weddings (or that part of it; still missing personal choice).I’m against all genital mutilation. I’m just trying to say that the situation is *far* more complex than people seem to suggest.

  47. says

    As a reaction to some of the comments above regarding things being ‘off-topic’,Jen, do you have a problem with male circumcision becoming part of the conversation?

  48. A-M says

    Anyone who takes an interest in a child’s sexual organ for a non-medical reason needs their head examining! Plus as you mentioned the difference between traditional white weddings, and mutilating a child, is I CHOOSE who/how/when to marry, the child does not choose. Plus nowadays, no-one attending a white wedding associates it with the oppression of women – it’s just a grand day out. The oppression of women is still very much at the forefront of genital mutilation – what other reason could there be for it? It’s certainly not a health issue. I don’t care about cultural sensitivity when said culture is inflicting life-long harm on innocent children. Just because something is traditional and old doesn’t make it right. By that logic we’d still have legal slaves.

  49. libraboy says

    Why do doctors promote male circumcision? “Here’s the bill for $3,000.”

  50. says

    I’m hearing all this talk about ‘loss of sensation’ of circumcised penises. With the exception of those circumcised late in life, what is the basis for comparison? Sensitivity is subjective and since I don’t remember masturbating in-utero, Things seem fine to me.As a circumcised male, when a partner touches my penis, I feel a pleasurable sensation and generally get an erection. If stimulated for a duration of time, I often experience an orgasm. What more is needed? I enjoy sex a lot and I don’t really feel mutilated (and I’m not pissed at my folks for having me cut).FG, however, is direct mutilation of the sensitive area with the purpose of removing sensation. There is no comparison.

  51. says

    Rofl, actually WTM, I think it’s hilarious that you’re getting so riled up about this. I actually agree with you on this subject. You see, I like to say things to create tension in others. It amuses me. What I first posted was bound to be a topic of controversy. Being the one person in a group who thinks differently is a surefire way to cause an eruption of anger. Thank you for being a viable form of entertainment for me. ;DAnd, yes I did edit my post, because, someone, like you, so heavily set on winning their argument, would definitely keep track of further posts. So, of course you would notice such a blatant change in my position. If you look up, you’ll see that I did the same with Dale, up there. People are so predictable that it’s hilarious.And I’m quite aware that any response after this will be something along the lines of calling me an asshole, a troll, or even saying I’m just trying to protect my ass. Frankly, if such a thing happens, that’s just more comedy for me, because I expect it and am purposely attempting to draw such responses out of you. Just thought you should know. ~ <3

  52. says

    You didn’t quote the part where I pointed out our culture accepts and encourages a form of genital mutilation on infants that is far more severe than drawing a drop of blood of clitoral skin—removing the foreskin entirely from infant boys, without their consent. That’s the most important comparison, and I’m troubled you didn’t touch upon it. Pricking someone with a needle is a LOT different from excising their clitoris. To read the critics of the AAP, you’d think they were the same thing.

  53. says

    Well, you did mention it, but waved it off. You really shouldn’t, because right now you’re advocating a double standard. And when there’s a double standard, people who get the short end are going to assume, correctly in this case, that their ritual is “barbaric” and ours is “medical” or “tradition” because of racism.

  54. Momma Imp says

    Not trying to start an argument here.. but Cleanliness, Aesthetically pleasing to the ones partner, medical backing, religious reasoning, controlling sexual wants or needs, rite of passage and want of children to look like their parent and not be teased later are the same reasons (or excuses to some) that other cultures give for FGM as well. Here in the USA especially MGM is done quite commonly and most people don’t think twice about it. In other parts of the world FGM is done just a much as MGM. There are different degrees of GM on BOTH sexes. Most the FGM done is what Jen is writing about now where they nick or cut the clitoris or remove a small portion of it. Most of the time it is done when the girls are still babies or very young. The full removal of all the clitoris and labia is a lot rarer but it is what makes the news. There are cases of Type III MGM just as there are cases of Type III FGM. I would encourage you to watch these two videos if you would like more info about how unnecessary MGM actually is for health reasoning.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…andhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v…With that being said I am not saying that either GM is worse than the other. Some say FGM is worse than MGM, others the opposite. To me they are both awful and painful and a violation upon the persons body if they have not agreed to it.I did NOT have my son’s foreskin removed because I did not feel it was my place to make that decision. When he is an adult he can choose to do what he wishes with it. And I am not trying to attack you personally in any way but an uncircumcised penis is about as clean as an uncircumcised vaginal area is. They both require cleaning to ensure infection and bad smells do not occur. Cleanliness is all up to the individual owner. There are just a many nasty circumcised penises and uncircumcised.

  55. says

    I wasn’t waiving off circumcision because I approve of it – I just said saying circumcision is *worse* than a nick is not a proper argument. Just because something worse exists doesn’t mean we should all something that’s also bad, though less bad.I’m also against circumcision, and like I said, it should be reduced as well because it’s also a type of genital mutilation.

  56. says

    I respect your sincerity and understand that any sort of genital mutilation is virtually unnecessary. I was just entertaining myself by taking an opposite standpoint and arguing for it. I explain this above to WTM.

  57. says

    best involves taste, which can be completely different for many people. which is completely different then liking any bands with females in them. disliking all or many bands with females is one thing but not liking a few that are highly regarded by others is completely different.

  58. justinslot says

    Eh, circumcision isn’t really mutilation though. It’s an aesthetic choice, like braces.(Hit like when I meant to hit reply. Not that I dislike what you said!)

  59. justinslot says

    And this was supposed to be replying to Jen right above here. Total Disqus failure on my part.

  60. says

    Woops, I did the exact same thing, lol. But yeah, no. Little kids who can’t even talk can’t make an aesthetic choice for themselves.

  61. Momma Imp says

    Ah, you like to play devil’s advocate then. My husband likes to take that position all the time. It can be quite frustratingly annoying but to each their own.

  62. says

    Well, yeah, if you look at it objectively, based on the amount of further information gathered, it’s effective. I definitely think devil’s advocate pays off tremendously in cases like this. However, in all honesty, I didn’t begin arguing for circumcision to play devil’s advocate. Like I said, I was just entertaining myself. ;D

  63. Momma Imp says

    I never assumed that you were for it. I did in all honesty think that you did not know about much about MGM but I was quite ignorant of it myself before I had a son. It was shocking to me to find out that we (USA) are the only are that really do it in such massive numbers and for no real reason. Cheers!

  64. WTM says

    Happy you managed to entertain yourself….However it does seem given the number of children throughout the world being mutilated each day, that this is an odd thing to get your kicks out of baiting people.But in any case, it’s your perogative, and I’m more than old enought to not really care, though I must admit it does entertain me that you mistook my response for something it was not.

  65. says

    how can it be “an aesthetic choice”, when it’s done to others?any bodily modification done to others without their consent is a form of mutilation

  66. says

    Removing sections of the earlobe would also be am “aesthetic choice”, as would, say, tattoos of infants, or scarification of some areas. Wouldn’t stop it being ‘mutilation’.Plus, is it really an aesthetic choice when it causes functional alteration (we’ll leave the question of impairment aside, but function is certainly altered)? There are more minor forms of FGM with similar or less functional alteration than conventional male circumcision – are they aesthetic choices?

  67. Christine says

    ALL genital mutilation for non-medical reasons is Sadistic Ritual Child Abuse.(Speaking as a mother of one boy and three girls, all uncircumcised of course.)

  68. Anon says

    I have an imperfect circumcision (the cut doesn’t go all the way around) and it caused me a lot of self esteem issues in high school. but even with all that b.s. i had to get over when I was younger I’m still glad my parents made that choice. overall it seems like it is way better. I have no memory of the event at all, no psychological stress outside from the fact they messed it up. I obviously can’t know if it would be any different, but my sex life certainly doesn’t suffer from it. I have to say I’m a little shocked at how many people are speaking out against it. It just doesn’t seem like mutilation to me. As long as I get no objections from the wife I will definitely have my son circumcised, but I’ll show the doctor mine and tell him to do a better job.that being said FGC seems very awful and wrong and I really hope that doesn’t happen in america.

  69. FreeBird says

    So one one side you claim to ‘understand’ the urge at hanging onto traditions and at the other side you’d be willing to start an marriage boycot anyday? lmao. You need to take care not to become the opposite extreme or you won’t be better then those you comment on.About the topic … even the idea of performing any kind of circumcision on girls should be punishable. No excuse. No jury. Just a bullet.

  70. says

    I think you and I are in complete agreement here on the issue of female genital mutilation, Jen. Side note, though: Glad to see you actually oppose circumcision. I’ve seen several people putting forth the argument that we should oppose genital mutilation in females (which we absolutely should!) but saying circumcision is fine and doesn’t need to be messed with.Despite being a male, I can’t weigh in on the circumcision issue. It was done at birth. I don’t remember it. I’ve always grown up with it like this. And I honestly haven’t thought much about it.

  71. moxicity says

    I’m sorry, but your argument for the cleanliness aspect is total bullcrock. Totally not saying it’s the mom’s fault or anything, but it’s not very hard to clean a penis with an intact foreskin. Perhaps some people are skeeved out at that, or simply don’t think about it, for whatever reasons – perhaps religion-caused “morals” about touching and cleaning someones genitals so thoroughly, even if it’s your own child.It’s avoidable, and completely tramples over consent. “Oh, let’s cut this little boy’s penis, JUST IN CASE he gets an infection so bad his penis starts to fall off, sometime in a hypothetical future.” This is not a “for their own good” medical procedure, like getting a shot for hepatitis or what have you – it’s permanently mutilating someones genitals with no (immediate) cause. Sorry for derailing, had to rant. I would be livid if the hospital decided to perform a procedure like that, with or without my consent – and I’ve heard that in some hospitals in the U.S., doctors do it because it’s assumed that it’s needed and wanted as “necessary”./end incoherent rant

  72. moxicity says

    I find the hygene myth COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS! Look, I live in a country in Eastern Europe that does not, and probably never has, practiced circumcision, except for the Jewish populace, perhaps. EVERY man I know is uncircumcised and I have never had sex with a circumcised man. It is NOT a problem. You wash yourself every or every other day anyway, and it’s probably no different for an uncircumcised man than for a woman cleaning inbetween the labia, where small bits of toilet paper tissue and vaginal secretion gather. Pull back, rinse, release. THERE. No consentless mutilation needed.Yes, the mothers/parents of small boys have to be mindful of cleanliness and to teach the proper cleanliness – but so do mothers/parents of small girls. I’ve never heard the mother of a girl or a woman complain that it’s too difficult to clean inbetween the labia, SO LET’S JUST CHOP IT OFF SHALL WE.Okay, dramatization – our biologies are obviously different, and men are not adversely affected by being circumcised – except, potentially by callouses and loss of sensitivity. It’s *still* unnecessary and as can be seen from your comment, promotes backwards and ignorant ideas about guys who haven’t had their junk mutilated.

  73. Dharlette says

    Autonomous? Hardly. I don’t know when the last time you held a newborn was, but they’re completely helpless creatures. They know nothing. They haven’t got a personality yet. They can’t so much as hold their head up. I’m not so sure that terms like personhood can apply to newborns.I’m not against circumcision, so depending on what they mean by the word “nick” and whether or not it does any lasting damage I’m all for it. If it doesn’t hurt a girl longterm, who cares? Every boy I’ve ever had sex with was circumcised, and none of them have had any issues because their mother made that choice for them.

  74. Dharlette says

    Frankly…who cares? It doesn’t bother me if a penis is circumcised. None of the circumcised guys I know are bothered by their penis. If this is truly just a tiny nick, and not something that affects the health and pleasure of a girl long term, then who gives a shit?

  75. Zenlite says

    I was referring to the girls who are circumcised as part of their ritual of womanhood, not those who are circumcised at birth.Of course the men you’ve known didn’t care, they are completely incapable of understanding the alternative as that choice was made for them at a time when their level of self awareness was minimal. It doesn’t help that the men who experience ED or insensitivity later in life will likely never realize the ‘choice’ their parents made for them was potentially to blame.Granted, I’m uncircumcised and couldn’t imagine what it would be like to lose so many of the nerve endings in my penis or have a light callous on the unnaturally exposed flesh. The very premise is nothing short of horrific to me.

  76. Valhar2000 says

    I usually adore Amanda Marcotte, but I have to say one of her latest pieces is really facepalm worthy.That’s funny. I read Amanda Marcotte regularly, because she is often informative and also often very entertaining, but I certainly do not adore her, and I even have a hard time respecting her sometimes, for the reason you mention. She does, indeed, induce facepalms; facepalm induction is an integral part of her being, which is why she does it, and will continue to do it forever.

Leave a Reply