The Muslim Brotherhood calls it beautification

Via Deeyah, via Mona Eltahawy: Azza El Garf of the Freedom and Justice Party – the Muslim Brotherhood party – disapproves of the ban on FGM.

She condemns the notorious “virginity tests”  that military officers and doctors are accused of perpetrating on a group of female  protesters in March 2011.

But she disagrees with Egypt’s 2008 ban on female cutting,  which opponents call genital mutilation. The World Health Organization defines it  as the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury  to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

“It is a personal decision and each woman can decide based on her needs. If she needs it, she can go to a doctor,” El Garf said,  adding that the Muslim Brotherhood refers to the practice as beautification plastic  surgery. She was adamant that it was a woman’s choice, and hers alone, to have the  outlawed procedure and should be done in consultation with a trained medical professional.

But it’s not about “women” making a “choice” to get their external genitalia sliced off. It’s about women “choosing” to have that done to their very young daughters. Prattling about “choice” as if it were a fucking manicure or a haircut is insulting.



  1. Chris Lawson says

    Exactly — the choice is only personal if one chooses as a legally competent adult to have this procedure for oneself. In Western countries, the only women who choose to have this kind of surgery are doing so to treat vulval cancers. That is, most women will choose to save their own lives over their sexual function, but outside that rare (2 per 100,00 women per year in Australia) event, no adult woman chooses to have their sexual function damaged.

    “Choosing” to subject your infant daughter to FGM is child abuse.

  2. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    the Muslim Brotherhood refers to the practice as beautification plastic surgery.

    A turd by any other name still stinks.

  3. says

    Indeed. The ironic thing is that if asked whether she’d support women making other decisions related to their “beauty” – from a nose job to displaying their new haircut in public – the smart money says that she’d be rather less enthusiastic.

  4. F says

    How is it that I guessed the subject from the title of the post? Am I psychic or cynical or what?

  5. smrnda says

    First, even if you think about it as cosmetic surgery, when women decide to have cosmetic surgery they’re really not engaging in a completely free choice – society and the media promote unattainable standards of beauty and conspire to make women feel inadequate so that they can look at choosing to get cosmetic surgery as some sort of empowering choice. Women’s choices occur within a framework where women are oppressed, and the more oppressed the less ‘free’ those choices become.

    As far as beautification, unless you’re going to be a porn star, how many people are going to see your ‘beautified’ genitals? That kind of blows the idea that it’s a necessary procedure for aesthetic reasons out of the water. AND if you’ve got some husband whose so horrified by the sight of natural, functional female genitals isn’t that HIS problem?

    For the record, what kind of screwed up men want to have sex with women whose ability to enjoy sex has been damaged by genital mutilation?

  6. San Ban says

    Of course Ms. El Garf is being dishonest, but we’ve heard of Liars for Gods before.

    That said, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and social pressures can be very powerful. I’ve heard American women say they would never have sex with an uncircumcised man as an intact foreskin is unsightly! I’ve heard American mothers say they had their baby boys’ genitals surgically altered so they would fit in in society. Egyptian women probably say very similar things to justify FGM.

    This is not in any way to equate male circumcision with FGM, nor to minimize the harm either practice causes. I think it’s a hideous thing for a parent to subject his/her child to medically unnecessary, and potentially harmful irreversible procedures on such flimsy grounds as “it’ll make her pretty” and what does it say of a child’s worth if her parents are thinking of her mating potential before her health and general welfare?

  7. Eris says

    I was not aware that the Muslim Brotherhood is in favor of women trying to make themselves beautiful. You know, on account of tempting men and all that.

    But hey, we all know it makes perfect sense to ban skimpy bikinis while allowing for the mutilation of women’s genitals. One is about physical aesthetics (bad), and the other is about about physical aesthetics (good). Right? Right.

  8. Chris Lawson says


    Flaubert was one of those screwed up men, at least if Julian Barnes’s book about him is accurate.

  9. Boomer says

    One way to put an end to this is to force egyptian society to come face to face with its own idiocies.

    If western countries withhold all foreign aid to an MB-run Egypt, the place will simply tank.

    If we stop subsidising this insanity, and in the process provoke an unprecedented crisis forcing egyptian society into some self-examination and self-criticism, then perhaps things will turn around.

    However, if we instead shower them with billions and billions in free money with which to plaster over all the inefficencies social problems and economic stagnation, then rank and file Egyptians will then think the MB slogan “Islam is the Answer” rings true.

  10. rorschach says

    Of course, this from the same people who claim that their deity created us. It is confusing to me that this omnipotent deity seems to have made such a design mistake, one that its followers seek to zealously correct by hacking away at children’s genitals with rusty razors.

  11. smrnda says

    Yeah, I also add that I’m not qualified to discuss the issue of circumcision as it doesn’t apply to me.

    On Eric’s take on the inconsistencies, I’ve heard it said that in Islam the idea is that the woman’s beauty is reserved for her husband and not just for everybody (though wow, a man has to be pretty damned possessive to feel wronged because someone else caught sight of his wife’s hair.) Similar tripe gets mentioned by people from other religions that enforce modesty standards.

    But that begs the question of where men get their aesthetic standards of female beauty from in a society which demands *modesty.* I mean, it’s gotta be something that’s taught since it sure isn’t from men looking at lots of women’s genitals and thinking ‘wow, the mutilated ones are just so much more attractive!’

  12. says

    Sure: it’s the harem principle. Elk do it, lots of animal species do it; some men would like to do it. This is mine. But we don’t live on the savannah any more. We get to choose a more deliberate, thoughtful, fair way to live, in which the male point of view is not the only one that matters.

    And then, of course, reactionary Islamist rules about hijab aren’t restricted to married women, to put it mildly.

    With FGM, “beautification” is just some post hoc rationalization. The point is to make sex a boring imposition as opposed to a source of fun.

    Men don’t want their penises cut off, so they should make the effort to extrapolate.

  13. smrnda says

    I think there’s just some patriarchal terror of female sexual agency. Reactionaries in the states are horrified that women get on the pill, meaning that the woman (not just the man putting on the ‘jimmy hat’) is making a choice to have sex for fun and not as a duty or for procreation.

    It’s probably part of a bigger horror of just plain old female AGENCY of any sort. If women have ideas, minds, goals and ambitions of their own and even sexual feelings of their own (!) instead of being compliant pieces of property, men seeking dominating and oppressive relationships with women won’t have much luck finding women eager to be their doormats.

  14. Sunny says

    I guess that is why they call themselves the ‘Brotherhood.’ The sisters don’t exist.


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