It’s the Same Thing

P.Z. Myers posted recently on Pharyngula that Female Genital Mutilation has medical benefits, according to some wing nut Egyptian doctor, and an equally enlightened Egyptian female gynecologist.  The justifications are remarkably similar to what we’ve all heard for Infant Male Circumcision, and one poor sap decided to bring that to the attention of the thread.  Now, the thing I’ve learned is that when a thread is about FGM, a man better not step in and say ANYTHING about male circumcision, not even if it pertains to the post.  If he does, he’s going to be be slapped down with great gusto.

The comment:  danielrudolphsays:
10 January 2012 at 6:09 pm

The first part is startlingly close to the justification for male circumcision.

Which is 100% true and too obvious to be worth more than that one line.  But the reaction… wow.  Over the top or what?

The first reaction: Caine, Fleur du Malsays:
10 January 2012 at 6:17 pm

male circumcision
Well, that didn’t take long.

And then the shit storm: Caine, Fleur du Malsays:
10 January 2012 at 6:32 pm

male circumcision.

Aaaaaaaaaand in this corner, the 2nd idiot weighs in, with no visible reading comprehension and with a complete inability to discuss the topic at hand, because it deals with that most unimportant of subjects, womeeeeeeeen!
Can’t discuss women unless it is somehow tied into the ever more important subject matter of…men!

#################End of Comments from PZ thread##################

And then it all got worse.  I did not join in.  I have my own blog where I can state my opinions and few enough readers that I don’t generally have to argue with anybody.  So here’s the point I’d like to make:

FGM protest, a fairly new phenomenon and about time.I'm so glad there are people who care enough to protest.









Got that?  I’m against gender segregation.  It is wrong to talk about male circumcision without referencing FGM.  It’s just as wrong to talk about FGM and flame the poor guy who makes one short and to the point comment that references male circumcision.  IT’S THE SAME THING.  It’s about taking a knife to a helpless child for no good reason.  Can we get over the fact that some of those children are boys and some are girls?

Yes, I’ve read the Waris Dirie Story.  It blew my mind and infuriated me.  She’s one of my heroes for coming out as a spokesperson for this issue.  That took real courage.  And yes, FGM is often far worse than anything done to a male penis. Also yes, FGM is about controlling and dominating women whereas male circumcision is rooted in anti-sexuality in general plus the hysterical medical fad to combat masturbation.

But, and you knew there had to be a but here someplace, FGM is often not nearly as bad as male circumcision.  There’s as much ignorance about FGM as there is about Infant Male Circumcision.  People who have only been exposed to the Waris Dirie story assume it is always like that, and it isn’t.  The Waris Dirie experience is beyond horrible, and involves not just removal of the clitoris and labia but also restricting the vaginal entrance to a tiny hole, causing endless pain with menstruation and urination.  It is a brutal attempt to desexualize a woman completely and the male equivalent would be removal of the whole penis.  But for some Muslims cultures only the labia, all or part, is removed and that is virtually equivalent to male circumcision.  For many other Muslims it’s a ceremonial “nick” on the clitoral hood, a pinprick.  Some forms of that ceremony, known as Sunat,  leave the woman virtually unchanged as an adult.  Whatever the level of inflicted horror, most forms are perpetuated by women and accompanied by the same denial of loss we find with male circumcision victims.  Of course it’s still wrong and stupid and, most of all, illegal in America.

My point is that FGM is the same thing as male circumcision in that it’s a violation of the bodily integrity of an infant or a young person without consent.  It should be illegal in ALL forms, male or female.

Let’s cut the gender segregation here and stop flaming people who mention male circumcision on an FGM thread.  Once again:  IT’S THE SAME THING.



  1. Tony Said,

    January 15, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

    From page 52 of Waris Dirie’s book, Desert Dawn, about her son:

    “We had Aleeke circumcised in the hospital a day after he was born. This is very different from female genital mutilation; that should never even be called circumcision – it’s not. In males it’s done for medical reasons – to ensure cleanliness. I could hear Aleeke crying when they did it but he stopped as soon as I held him. Despite my strong feelings about FGM, I knew it was the right thing to do. My son has a beautiful penis. It looks so good and so clean. The other day he told me he had to go to the bathroom. I said, ‘You can do that alone, you are a big boy now,’ but he wanted me to come and see him. His little penis was sticking up straight and clean. It was lovely to look at!”

  2. Darwin Harmless Said,

    January 16, 2012 @ 2:20 am

    Thanks for this. How sadly ironic. “Desert Flower” was written some years ago, before the practice of male infant circumcision had been given much thought and attention, other than by the pro-circumcision lobby who were mostly motivated by the desire to curb masturbation and tone down human sexuality. I hope that Waris Dirie has been educated on the subject by now, because it IS the same thing. It’s a violation and a mutilation. She was writing about her African experience, which is the most extreme form of FGM, equivalent to cutting off the entire glans of the penis in a male. But many forms, such as the Sunat common among Singapore Muslims, involve a ceremonial nick of the clitoral hood and are in fact far less destructive than infant male circumcision. Nevertheless, all forms of surgical attacks on infant female genitalia are illegal in America. It’s only the infant boys who are still unprotected.
    What makes me so sad about this quote from Dirie is that she is using the same argument that many use to justify FGM – cleanliness and aesthetics. It’s a very thin argument. You can chop it off, or you can wash it. Now which makes more sense? All three of my boys are intact. I’m willing to bet that their dicks are as clean as those of circumcised men. After all, circumcision does not prevent the collection of sweat and bacteria, it only makes it less obvious. As for the appearance, that is all in what you are accustomed to seeing. To somebody who knows what a penis should look like, a circumcised penis looks mutilated, not unlike a woman’s genitals with the labia excised. The glans, which is naturally supposed to have skin like the inside of your cheek, looks like a dried up mud flat.

  3. Ayushi Said,

    March 2, 2016 @ 6:16 am

    I cannot, for the life of me, get my head aronud the (il)logic behind this. It’s not just barbaric. I can’t even come up with a phrase that would do it justice. What a world. For once in my life, I’m speechless yet still rendered sicker than a dog. Reading about things like that literally makes me want to vomit. I have the same feelings about circumcision — what the hell are these people thinking at all (if they even do think)?Have we got to the point that those “with” and those “without” in the IQ, empathy and equality departments are so far apart? If so, it’s a bloody sad state of affairs.

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