Friday, May 21, 2010

Permission to Cut on Your Crotch, Please

FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is a horrible, horrible thing, right? It must be stopped. It is a perpetuation of nasty terrible patriarchy against defenseless little girls that deprives them of sexual pleasure and the proper function of their genitals. It is so awful that those not-white not-Christian people Over There do this to their children. It is a travesty. We need a crusade. We, the enlightened, civilized White People, need to go Over There and stop those Nasty Patriarchs. 

Baloney. Sometimes, hypocrisy knows no bounds. So it is okay to cut on the genitals of male babies, but heaven forbid anyone ever cut on the genitals of female babies? Or, let us conveniently forget that in the late 1800s doctors would perform clitorectomies on Western women to cure "hysteria". "Oh, you're having issues? Well let's just cut this part off, shall we? It'll make things better, I promise."

I'm not saying that I would volunteer for any kind of circumcision or genital cutting, myself. I think they are all rather horrible, honestly. I am happy no one ever cut on my or my partner's genitals, and we will not be doing any cutting on our children, either. In fact, should one of our children be intersex, I am willing to let their genitals be as they are until they are old enough to decide what they want or do not want to do about it (barring medical necessity, of course, and then only as much as is strictly necessary).

I just hate the fact that there is this presumption of moral superiority about it all. It is okay to cut on boys but not girls. It is okay when white people do it, or people in the West or the Developed World, but those horrible Africans over there, look what they do! They should be stopped! 

Yes, some of the forms of Female Genital Cutting look horrid to me, quite ghastly, really. But then again, have you ever seen a baby boy get circumcised? Oh the blood, and the wailing! 

Let's just NOT cut on anyone's genitals unless they are of age and choose to consent to it, how about that? Just change the laws to say that when anyone turns 18, they have the option of getting cut on. That way, society can pressure everyone, but everyone still gets to choose. We could even have a (gasp!) socialized medical program that pays for any cutting anyone wants to get done, including gender assignment for the intersexed and gender reassignment for transfolk. Sounds good to me. 

To see a prime example of the hypocrisy that has set me off on this rant, see this Feministing article about FGC becoming a possible procedure for the American Association of Pediatricians. Read the comments, too. Everyone is up in arms, freaking out. And the procedure in question here is a "ritual nick or pricking" of the clitoris, not even a removal of the glans or any of the labia.

Oh, and for those who have not studied your complete female genital anatomy, what we think of as The Clit is really just the head of the glans, which is connected to a shaft, connected to the legs of the clitoris, connected to the bulbs of the clitoris, and in all there are over 30 different parts to the complete clitoris, taking up all kinds of erotic space in the pelvic floor, and women who have had FGM still report having orgasms, especially if they think of their circumcision in positive terms, which a lot of them do. 

So let's just climb down off this patronizing moral high horse and admit our cultural racism and superiority complex, then maybe look at ways to end the hypocrisy. We could even try applying Consent to all genital cutting. What an idea!


Caroline said...

Thank you for posting this great piece.

I love the title- it really makes you think. And I am so glad to hear that even if you were to have an intersex child, that you would leave his/her genitals alone.

I hope you keep speaking out on this important issue!

Philosofisher said...

Thank you for reading and for your support. I first learned about what happens to intersex babies years ago, and was quite horrified by the little ruler: this long, it's a boy, that short, it's a girl, in between, well, let's just cut it off and pretend it's a girl...