Here She Goes Again

If you dont want to hear my opinion, you have my permission to go read something else. Josh and I are often amused by THIS. I have the somewhat guilty pleasure of reading THIS from time to time as well.

Now to your regularly scheduled post....

I read today about the american pediatric society possibly allowing female circumcision and have been pondering it all day. If you have never heard of female circumcision my friend Ivory provided THIS explanatory article on my facebook comment about this. For the nutshell version, however, it is the removal of part (or more rarely all) of a female's clitoris. Its been practiced for centruries and occurs in at least 28 countries today, including Egypt (90% of women) and Somalia (97% of women).

The stated reasons for female circumsison include religious significance, keeping girls pure (it limits sexual pleasure and in the most extreme cases completely prevents sex), that it makes girls more fertile, that it is cleaner, and most commoly that it is tradition, and that its necessary for peer acceptance (in cultures where circumsision happens in the pre-teen years many girls are eager to get circumsized since remaining uncut will cause them to be different and teased).

The reasons against include that it is against sexual freedom (again because it severely limits sexual pleasure), that it can cause infection and even sometimes be dangerous, that is is often performed without anesthetic, and that it is almost always performed without the girl's opinion in the matter.

For a long time now female circumsision (or how it has been recently dubbed female genital mutilation) has been illegal in our country. The american pediatric society, however, is considering allowing a small "nick" in order to pacify parents who otherwise would send their chidlren back to their home country to get a more full job done. Ivory commented that this idea is pretty bull, because any motivated parent is going to want to get the full deal. I accede to her logic but what is most interesting to me is the similarity to our own circumsision practices and yet the completely different feelings most americans are having about this.

A lot of what I'm reading on the net today are the opinion that this female mutilation is disgusting and either should nto be allowed at all, or should be allowed in this "small nick" capacity in order to stop a fuller job being performed elsewhere. People are very pissed at the APS and even more pissed that this female mutilation is in existance.

Yet, for jsut a second, think about this.

They want to circumsize their women because its religiously significant. For the Jewish, male circumsion is VERY religiously significant. For Christians....well Christians do it because they used to be Jewish and back then they did it.

They want to circumsize because it keeps girls pure. Male circumsision had its biggest growth in popularity in the late 1800's when it was thought to prevent masturbation (which of course leads to insanity).

They want to circumsize because it makes girls more fertile. Ok you got me there.

But also because it is cleaner. A HUGE argument for male circumsision. And I will even give you that up to a point its true. A circumsized boy has a 1 in 1,000 chance of getting a urinary tract infection in his lifetime. An intact boy's chances are 1 in 100 so greatly increased although its still only 1%. Although to be fair, 20% of circumsized boys will experience an infection because of their cicumsision.

And most importantly, the number 1 stated reason for female circumsision is because it is a CULTURAL NORM. They do it because they have always done it. Because it is just the way it is. Because they want their daughters to be just like their mothers, just like all the other girls. They are afraid of "lockerroom" teasing. Sound familiar?

Our form of circumsision also changes (and some studies say limits) sexual pleasure. Our form can also cause infection and be dangerous, its also performed sometimes without anesthetic (although this is thankfully less and less common) and almost always performed without the boy's opinion on the matter.

Im not really defending female cicumsision here. But I do think if you are one of those (and there are many of you) that support male circumsision up and down and left and right, but think that the female counterpart is disgusting and wrong...figure out why. How much of your disgust is because male cicumsision is "normal" and female isnt.

Because the only differences I see are the cultural ones.

In the name of full disclosure I think both female AND male circumcision is pretty disgusting, unnecessary, and even harmful. Both of our sons have remained intact and Josh and I strongly support our decision there. The question of whether either surgery should be illegal is a headache...and one that makes me very glad I'm not in charge of deciding such things. While allowing this "nick" could definitely garner some cultural respect and normality to bigger, badder, and uglier forms of female circumcision and I would really hate for that to ever happen.... Well at the same time I cant see how we can morally allow one (male circ.) and not the other (a female nick).

I'm very willing to hear your opinions on this.

Although I will say right now that I dont buy into the whole "male circumsision prevents STDS!" argument, so dont even try me on it. A. These studies are being performed by people with very serious investments in getting a good result...mostly christian organizations (and for reasons I dont know, christians are very invested in circumsision) and people that make a lot of money on circumsizing. Also, all these stories about how circumsized men in Africa are getting AIDS way less are really really bull. Circumsision is rare enough in Africa that the men that get one got it to prevent AIDS, and are therefor the men working in probably many ways not to get the disease. Also the study was repeated here in the US and found to have no similar results.

B. Ok, lets even say that it IS true and it does make your chances of contracting an STD slightly what? With the prevalance of STD's these days (what was it I last heard? 2 out of 3 people in their 20's have one?) I dont really want my kids relying on their circumsized status to protect themselves.


Adria said...

I just watched an episode of Bull Shit that covered circumsizing. It was one of the few times I agreed with them. Very informative in debunking the myths about not circumsizing. I gotta say though I believe it's everyone's right to choose.

Rachel said...


And don't forget... the pope says condoms spread AIDS too.



(Unfortunately, I can't find the commercial or anything similar on Google. But, if you ever watch Hulu, you'll see them ... AWFUL! (I think they're Cervarix unbranded)
On a side note, I'm impressed with how many anti-gardasil videos are on youtube!)

Anonymous said...

I love my clitoris and would be very upset if someone had taken it away from me without my consent. It is mutilation and should not be preformed without consent. If you want to do it when you are older, do it. But never take something away from someone that is so precious.