Women who

Now that the first steam has dissipated a little, a closer look at one part of Lisa Wade’s “Balanced Look” at cutting off parts of the genitalia of very young girls.

The third item in her list of useful things for people to know so that they can take a more “balanced” approach to Female Genital Mutilation.

Research has shown that women with cutting are sexually responsive.

Women who have undergone genital surgeries report “rich sexual lives, including desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction…”  This is true among women who have experienced clitoral reductions and undergone infibulation, as well as women who’ve undergone lesser forms of cutting.

Look at the way she puts that. There are no qualifications – no “many” or “some” or “there are a few who” – just an unadorned “women.” Fortunately, most people who read that far will already be furious enough to spot the manipulative wording, but that doesn’t make her wording any less infuriating. It’s all the more so because she says “genital surgeries” – as if FGM were medical. It’s not medical. There is no medical reason to cut away parts of the healthy genitalia.

What she implies in that disgusting passage is a brazen falsehood. Many women who have undergone FGM report shitty sexual lives, and even shittier childbearing.

How horrible to try to obfuscate that.




  1. sunny says

    1. The victims are not women but young girls
    2. I would really like to see a before-and-after study not a cross-sectional one of such “surgeries”.
    3. If “women” are still sexually responsive, then the “surgery” has failed.

  2. says

    Women who have undergone genital spinal cord surgeries report “rich sexual lives, including desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction…”

    True in both cases, assuming one ignores her strong implication that this refers to all women. All sorts of things fall under “genital surgery”, just as many things fall under “spinal cord surgery.” Many patients don’t suffer significant losses of function and surgeries performed are usually to save lives or improve function.

    An untrained person in a non-sterile environment cutting open a child’s spinal cord with a razor blade to make it pretty isn’t surgery, though, and there’s no good reason to advocate that such behavior is OK. Why make the case for doing the same to a child’s genitals?

  3. h. hanson says

    That is very messed up thinking. I just could not believe it. Some very good comments, though.

  4. dzd says

    What a shameful defense of the violation of women’s bodies by someone who damn well ought to know better.

  5. F [disappearing] says

    Yes, I’m certain that women in many FGM-practicing cultures are quite comfortable speaking of such sexual things, when they are permitted to do so. Did not buy.

  6. Anne Marie says

    As I pointed out over on her site, she should know as someone in the social sciences that culture will impact the results people give to survey questions AND how can a woman answer that questions when she doesn’t know what she could’ve had?

  7. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Has Ms Wade undergone genital mutilation- sorry, genital surgery- herself? Did she undergo it in the traditional way- with an untrained or unqualified ‘surgeon’, improvised instruments such as broken bottles, no anaesthetic or antisepsis?
    If not, why not? Surely it would increase her ability to speak on the subject.

  8. says

    The fundamental problem with this type of argument was best summed up by Charles Darwin:

    I will not even allude to the many heart-sickening atrocities which I authentically heard of; nor would I have mentioned the above revolting details, had I not met with several people, so blinded by the constitutional gaiety of
    the negro as to speak of slavery as a tolerable evil.

    Such people have generally visited at the houses of the upper classes, where the domestic slaves are usually well treated; and they have not, like myself, lived amongst the lower classes. Such inquirers will ask slaves about their condition; they forget that the slave must indeed be dull, who does not calculate on the chance of his answer reaching his master’s ears.

  9. 'dirigible says

    Standard postmodern rhetorical conflation of ∃ with ∀ .

    Also passive voice in the section title for similar effect.

    Who are they trying to fool?

    And why?

  10. Galloise Blonde says

    Agreeing with all the above, but also noting how Wade’s statement about women’s (all women, apparently) sexual responses is both overconfident and vague. Does does this stated ability to achieve arousal and satisfaction include women’s autoerotic experiences? What about cunnilingus? Surely, such surgeries will impact differently depending upon which sexual act is involved. This omission makes think there’s a phallocentric view of sexuality in play here: that as long as women continue to respond to penetrative forms of sexuality through their internal genitalia then the removal of their external parts is no big deal, because non-phallic sexuality is unimportant. Also I’m saying that even if it were the case that FGM doesn’t have any negative impact at all on women’s sexual responses, which seems very doubtful (because MGM does), this is by no means any form of justification for unnecessary surgery.

  11. Galloise Blonde says

    Ophelia is right that surgeries is not a very good word to use. (I just read that post). So please pretend I used a better word up above.

  12. No Light says

    @10 But… but… how can women have sexual experiences without the mighty cock? Does not compute.

    Every fule know that “sex” = penis+vagina. No need to consider or include any other kind of activity!

  13. Once Again says

    As a rule of thumb these days, the higher a person’s level of education ( particularly in the humanities) the more they tend to be totally clueless.

    She claims that using the term mutilation is “unhelpful”

    Yes and employing the term”murder” to describe a murder is also unhelpful.

    And as a college prof, she’s craming this vulgar nonsense into the impressionable minds of 19 and 20 year-olds.

    That way, they can become just as stupid as she is.

  14. johnthedrunkard says

    Two questions:
    1. What western publisher would offer this nonsense if it was written by a man?
    2. What does it imply that someone like Wade is allowed to vote, or operate heavy machinery?

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