The purpose of this post, which I will continually update, is to keep record of discussions I have online about circumcision. Each discussion will be number (1, 2, etc.). Within each numbered discussion, the forum will be at the top in bold underline, the other person’s statements in bold, and my statements in non-bold.
- DisqusEven though the clitoris and penis are homologous structures, they are not the same. The clitoris has twice as many nerve endings as the male glans. Removing the hood in an infant can end up making the clitoris too sensitive and lead to dysfunction. The same argument is never made for the male glans.Secondly, most of the controversy over female circumcision centers on cliterodectomies, not incisions or removal of the prepuce.Finally, someone who brings something to the table on this point rather than non sequitur after non sequitur! Thank you, emily89.The statement that the clitoris has twice as many nerve endings as the glans (clitoris = 8,000 and glans = 4,000) is largely speculative. Yes, I know Wikipedia says it (and therefore many Internet lovemaking writers/bloggers, who do little more than consult Wikipedia in their research, regurgitate it), but look at its source for that claim: “Sexuality Now: Embracing Diversity” by Janell Carroll. A textbook. Hardly a scientific study. And there are other claims that the glans clitoris and the glans penis have roughly the same amount of nerve endings, and others that state that the male foreskin has more than the glans clitoris and the glans penis combined (something like 20,000). And these are all just as wildly unsubstantiated and speculative as the claim that the clitoris has twice as many nerve endings as the glans penis. Pick which one you want to believe and run with it is the order of the day. Clearly the claim that the clitoris has twice as many nerve endings as the glans penis is in the lead, and this is only natural as many lovemaking articles these days focus on awakening female sexuality, and this claim is expedient to that end, but while the goal is noble, the evidence for this claim is shaky at best.
Also, it is far more likely that the constantly-exposed-from-birth clitoris would desensitize like the male glans does after circumcision, not over sensitize. Why would you imagine the opposite effect of what happens to the male glans would happen to the female glans? In any case, both boys and girls deserve to grow up with their clitoris and their glans protected by a prepuce, the way their DNA coded for them. Don’t you agree?
I will grant you, though, that the glans is not as sensitive as many people believe. Sorrells et al., 2012 showed that the most sensitive parts of the penis are found not on the glans, but on the tip of the foreskin (which is always ablated during circumcision), the frenulum (which is always damaged and scarred during circumcision and more often than not completely ablated), and the inner foreskin (the majority of which is removed during circumcision). And it is certainly wrong to remove the most sensitive parts of a child’s genitals apart from urgent medical need. Don’t you agree?
I understand that most of the FGM controversy is over clitoridectomies (you may want to learn how to spell it). Nevertheless, it is still illegal to cut ANY part of a little girl’s genitals–even the labia minora, which thousands of women elect to have reduced for aesthetic, comfort, and/or health/hygienic reasons every year–apart from medical need. The same is not true for little boys. And surely you do not believe that you, as a female, should be guaranteed the right to decide how much of your genitals you keep (your parents’ choice be damned), but I, as a male, should not be guaranteed the right to decide how much of my genitals I keep (my parents, and not I, the penis-owner, having the right to make a permanent decision about how my penis looks, feels, and functions), do you?
- RedditAnother Intactivist: Thank god we do this to most of our sons. Now if we were only allowed to do it to our daughters as well. A vagina without beef curtains would look so much better.It’s ok to make our sons genitals look better, but not our daughters? fucking double standards.
Its called labiaplasty and you can do it to your child if you want. Its not a double standard if there is an equal yet opposite choice.
“Its called labiaplasty and you can do it to your child if you want.”
No, you can’t. It is illegal under 18 U.S. Code § 116. Boys deserve the same protection.
Notyourstocut….yeah I’m sure this will be productive. Recheck your law, its perfectly legal if a physician, PA, midwife or midwife assistance deems it necessary.
Its called labiaplasty and you can do it to your child if you want.
“its perfectly legal if a physician, PA, midwife or midwife assistance deems it necessary” does not equal “if you want”.
Boys deserve the same protection as girls to not have their genitals cut if their parents “want” but only if medically necessary.
Nice try, though. Actually, I take that back. That was a pretty weak attempt to disguise your ignorance.
Yes, if I want to do it I can go to a midwife who is like minded as myself and have it performed. Plain and simple.
I also like how you sent your comment but didn’t think it was snarky enough so you had to edit it to shove more of your bullshit propaganda ! That’s why nobody takes you seriously. There are valid arguments for circumision but I bet money if I laid them out plain and simple you would just dismiss them and pull jackle words like “genital mutilation” out of your ass and think you actually won an argument. Nice try but nobody gives a shit about your obsession with genitals you probably don’t even have yourself.
The law clearly protects girls but not boys. That is a double standard. I’m having trouble figuring out why you think it isn’t.
The only difference is that one needs an approval first. That’s it. And the reason for that is the opposing male version has been being performed for literally thousands of years where as labaiplasty in comparison has only recently gained attention. Again though, you keep using the word protection from it trying to suggest that the procedure is harmful, which it is not if its performed correctly, which it is the vast majority of the time. There are several benefits that can be gained from circiumcision. Your don’t want to acknowledge them because then you wouldn’t have an argument just like you don’t want to acknowledge the fact that females have an equal and opposite procedure.
I have not ignored anything you said in your previous comment in my response below. Please don’t claim that I did. I have responded calmly and logically to every point.
The only difference is that one needs an approval first. That’s it.
And this is a double standard that would have massive implications, practically-speaking, if remedied, given the fact that thousands of baby boys are circumcised weekly in this country apart from any medical professional deeming the procedure necessary. A double standard exists, though you claimed that it didn’t. What’s your point here?
And the reason for that is the opposing male version has been being performed for literally thousands of years where as labaiplasty in comparison has only recently gained attention.
Nope. Cultures have been cutting little girls’ genitals nearly as long as they’ve been cutting little boys’ genitals. In any case, the fact that something has been done for “thousands of years” doesn’t justify a double standard concerning it. Why would you think that tradition should justify a double standard, especially between the genders?
Again though, you keep using the word protection from it trying to suggest that the procedure is harmful, which it is not if its performed correctly, which it is the vast majority of the time.
The foreskin and the labia provide protection of underlying tissue, genital lubrication, and sexual sensation to their owners. A reasonable adult would consider the loss of such tissue, in and of itself, to be “harmful”. This is not to say that a reasonable adult may not choose to have his foreskin or her labia reduced or removed; there may be other factors involved, of course. But on its face, removing such genital tissue would be considered “harm”, like removing any other normal, healthy, living tissue from the body would be considered “harm”. Why would you think that removing a normal, healthy, living tissue from the body wouldn’t be considered “harm”?
So yes, children should be protected from having these normal, natural, healthy parts of their bodies removed unless absolutely necessary, just like they should be protected from having any other normal, natural, healthy parts of their bodies removed unless absolutely necessary. “Protected” is a fine word to use in this context.
There are several benefits that can be gained from circiumcision. Your don’t want to acknowledge them because then you wouldn’t have an argument…
I acknowledge that there may be some nominal health benefits (though they are yet to be seen in the developed world) of removing a fold of tissue like the foreskin or the labia. Here’s the thing, though. Apart from the tonsils (and tonsillectomy as fallen out of favor, as it should have), the male foreskin is the ONLY piece of the body that we have researched the health benefits of removing prophylactically, i.e., apart from medical necessity, and still practice on children. And these health benefits are NOMINAL in the first world at best. The vast majority of men in the first world have their foreskins and are not suffering any ill health effects from them. Could you imagine if we treated other body parts the same way and researched the “health benefits” of not having that body part?
–Cut off girls’ labia (genital folds) at birth, and you reduce their risk of labial fusion and therefore UTIs…and they’ll still be able to enjoy sex. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/labial_adhesions
–Cut off everybody’s external ears at birth, and you reduce their risk of skin cancer…and they’ll still be able to hear.http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/basal-cell-carcinoma/the-ears-a-high-risk-area-for-skin-cancer
–Cut off everybody’s pinky toes at birth, and you reduce their risk of toenail fungus by 20%, or 2 divided by 10…and they’ll still be able to walk. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nail-fungus/basics/definition/con-20019319
–Cut off girls’ clitoral prepuces at birth, and you reduce their risk of clitoral phimosis…and they’ll still be able to orgasm, though their clitoris will now be exposed and will likely dry out and desensitize, so they may not enjoy it as much. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17306650
But we don’t research cutting those parts off of babies at birth. Why? Because we know instinctively that it’s wrong. No one should be taking a knife to a little girl’s genitals hours days after she’s born. No one should be taking a knife to a child’s ears or toes shortly after he or she is born. Likewise, no one should be taking a knife to a little boy’s genitals hours or days after he’s born. The only reason we don’t startle at this last one like we do to the other two is that culture has desensitized us.
But culture shouldn’t come in the way of human rights. Her body, her choice; his body, his choice. Little boys deserve the same right to grow up with all of their nerve-rich, erogenous genital tissue that little girls do. Females have no more prerogative to all of their bodies–and especially their most private places–than males do to theirs.
…just like you don’t want to acknowledge the fact that females have an equal and opposite procedure.
I never stated that females don’t have an equal and opposite procedure! Obviously I know what labiaplasty is. Look, I even wrote a post on it last year: https://notyourstocut.com/2014/12/12/claires-labiaplasty/ My point was that female children are protected from having their genitals cut apart from medical need, while male children are not, and that is a double standard, and at the end of the day, U.S. law should be remedied to include the genitalia of male children in 18 U.S. Code § 116 so that they are treated in the same way, under the law, as the genitalia of female children. That is a double standard. That is my entire point, and you have failed to show that this double standard is acceptable.
Again, you keep using the term “protected” trying to make it a fact that the procedure is harmful to males which it is not. The world as a whole views female circumcision as harmful. It is used to control women through their sexuality by robbing them of it. So it is very understandable to regulate the procedure to medical necessity in order to protect the procedure and the women from those behaviors.
Male circumcision historically has not been used to torture or control men. The procedure itself is completely safe. The tissue removed does not perform a necessary function nor does it have any impact on sexual performance. There are no long term negative side effects.
The benefits justify the procedure. It is more hygienic. Easier to care for, both as a child and an adult. It significantly drops the chances of contracting STD’s.
All of the examples of optional procedures you listed above have almost no actual relevance. You cannot justify considering cutting off a childs ear in order to drop its chances of developing cancer slightly. In both that example and the clitoral phimosis one you completely try to overlook the fact that in one the woman would lose sexual function and in the other they would still be able to hear but at a significantly diminished level. The toe one is just as bad because now you are escalating to modifying bone structure for the justification of a slightly less chance of a harmless toe fungus. You cannot compare that to the benefit of lowering the chances of contracting HIV.
Again, this is a harmless procedure. It does not have any negative effects and provides long term benefits.
Let me just say this upfront. I believe that the legality of cutting a male child’s genitals apart from medical need, and the prohibition of cutting any part of a female child’s genitals apart from medical need, is a blatant, sexist double standard under American law, and I’m arguing that this double standard should be remedied and the law amended such that cutting either a male child’s genitals or a female child’s genitals (or an intersex child’s genitals, but that’s another debate) apart from medical need should be prohibited.
I take it that you are arguing that this double standard is acceptable and should not be remedied, and that you are giving your arguments for why this is the case. I have operated on this assumption below and pointed out how paltry your arguments are at creating any tenable distinction between cutting a female child’s genitals and cutting a male child’s genitals such that one should be prohibited apart from medical need and the other allowed. If my understanding of this discussion is not the same as yours, please let me know.
Again, you keep using the term “protected” trying to make it a fact that the procedure is harmful to males which it is not.
- The foreskin provides protection of underlying tissue, genital lubrication, and sexual sensation to its owner. A reasonable adult would consider the loss of such tissue, in and of itself, to be “harmful”. This is not to say that a reasonable adult may not choose to have his foreskin reduced or removed; there may be other factors involved, of course. But on its face, removing such genital tissue would be considered “harm”, like removing any other normal, healthy, living tissue from the body would be considered “harm”. Keeping another person from harm is commonly known as “protecting” that person. I’m not sure why you don’t consider that word appropriate here.
- Do you consider cutting off a female child’s labia minora or clitoral hood “harm”? If so, what is so different about cutting off a female child’s labia minora or clitoral hood from cutting off a male child’s foreskin that makes the former “harm” but the latter not “harm”?
The world as a whole views female circumcision as harmful.
As it should!
It is used to control women
This is only true in certain Islamic cultures, where both male and female circumcision are seen as a cleanliness measure. And among these certain Islamic cultures, there are some that attach the additional significance to female circumcision of sexual control. However, in these cultures (mostly Muslim groups in Indonesia and Malaysia), the form of female circumcision practiced is far less invasive than male circumcision, which they also practice. The form of female circumcision they practice most commonly involved cutting off a small portion of the clitoral prepuce or merely pricking it. So the emphasis on “sexual control” is mostly a symbolic one since clearly such a procedure would not eliminate the girl’s sexuality
In African cultures that practice the most extreme form of female circumcision (clitoridectomy and/or vaginal infibulation), it is NOT seen as a control mechanism. It is seen as a rite of passage, the same as for the boys in these cultures who undergo male circumcision. This may be illuminating for you:http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/04/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-anthropologist/389640/ . It is an interview with Bettina Shell-Duncan, who actually spent time among various African tribes who practice female circumcision and got THEIR perspective on why it’s done. Here’s a quote: “She was proud. She sat there stoic and looked up at a focal point. She didn’t flinch, and that’s apparently a really important part of showing your maturity: Can you withstand the pain? It shows that you have the maturity to face the hardship that is coming as a woman…The sort of feminist argument about this is that it’s about the control of women but also of their sexuality and sexual pleasure. But when you talk to people on the ground, you also hear people talking about the idea that it’s women’s business. As in, it’s for women to decide this. If we look at the data across Africa, the support for the practice is stronger among women than among men.”
through their sexuality by robbing them of it.
But it doesn’t rob women of their sexuality. Diminish? Yes, just like male circumcision diminishes male sexuality. But rob completely? No.
- They can, in general, still orgasm, just like circumcised men can.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17970975 This is a poor distinction between male and female genital cutting.
- Most circumcised women don’t see themselves as harmed, same as most circumcised men.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcJNAtn-c6I This is a poor distinction between male and female genital cutting.
So it is very understandable to regulate the procedure to medical necessity in order to protect the procedure and the women from those behaviors.
I’ve shown your assumptions above to be false or too general at best. In any case, even if the things you claimed above were true in the sense that you thought them to be true, this would not justify a disparate treatment between the genitalia of male children and the genitalia of female children. One could just as well argue that female circumcision may be permitted, but only insofar as it is of a variety that is approximately as invasive or less invasive than male circumcision, and only if performed in a sanitary, medical environment. There would be no double standard in such a case, and equality would be achieved.
Male circumcision historically has not been used to torture or control men.
Nor has female circumcision historically been used to torture women. Neither, apart from a small subset of Islamic tribes, has it been used to control women. Rather, it is seen either as a cleanliness ritual, like male circumcision, or as a rite of passage that empowers women, just as male circumcision in these cultures is seen as a rite of passage that empowers men. See above. This is a poor distinction between male and female genital cutting.
The procedure itself is completely safe.
In Africa, boys lose their penises and even die from being circumcised, just like little girls die during female circumcision sometimes. But we could just as well make “safe” female circumcision, just as we have male circumcision, as stated above. This is a poor distinction between male and female genital cutting.
The tissue removed does not perform a necessary function
Nor do the labia minora or the clitoral prepuce. This is a poor distinction between male and female genital cutting.
nor does it have any impact on sexual performance. There are no long term negative side effects.
This is up for debate. Studies go both ways. But what is clear though is that the foreskin is erogenous tissue, and I would gander that the loss of erogenous tissue does impact sexual pleasure to some degree. This being said, we do not have any studies showing that the labia minora or the clitoral hood have any impact on sexual performance. Yet we still banned removing those apart from medical need.
The benefits justify the procedure. It is more hygienic. Easier to care for, both as a child and an adult.
It’s more difficult, time-consuming, and costly to keep one’s mouth, anus, and/or vagina hygienic than one’s foreskin. Yet we don’t research how we can modify those parts for hygienic ease.
It significantly drops the chances of contracting STD’s.
This is simply not seen in the first world. European physicians condemn the American medical community’s conclusions regarding circumcision (you realize that the AAP Task Force on Circumcision was headed by a Jew, right? and the CDC director is Jewish as well? I’m not anti-Semitic, but I do know that certain people can be quite biased toward their religion, especially when in positions of power).
Additionally, would you be open to researching cutting off the folds of female children’s genitals to decrease the chance of contracting STDs? I mean, females have MORE folds and are MORE prone to most STDs via vaginal intercourse, of course. Why not research how we can protect females from these diseases as well as men by altering their genitalia?
All of the examples of optional procedures you listed above have almost no actual relevance. You cannot justify considering cutting off a childs ear in order to drop its chances of developing cancer slightly.
Yet you can cut off some of the most sensitive tissue on a child’s penis in order to achieve some health benefits that are nominal in the first world?
In both that example and the clitoral phimosis one you completely try to overlook the fact that in one the woman would lose sexual function…
How would a woman lose sexual function if she had her clitoral prepuce removed at birth?
…and in the other they would still be able to hear but at a significantly diminished level.
Just like a circumcised man or woman could still be able to enjoy sex but at a diminished level.
The toe one is just as bad because now you are escalating to modifying bone structure for the justification of a slightly less chance of a harmless toe fungus.
So is modifying bone structure somehow worse than cutting off genital tissue?
You cannot compare that to the benefit of lowering the chances of contracting HIV.
Again, this benefit is not shown in the first world. There are so many other factors influencing HIV rates in the developed world that whether or not a man has a foreskin is a non-factor. Just look at HIV rates among countries in the developed world. Circumcision status is a non-factor.
However, similar to the STD argument above, would you be open to researching cutting off the folds of female children’s genitals to decrease the chance of contracting HIV? I mean, females are MORE prone to HIV via vaginal intercourse, of course. Why not research how we can protect females from HIV as well as men by altering their genitalia?
Again, this is a harmless procedure.
As I asked you above, do you consider cutting off a female child’s labia minora or clitoral hood “harm”? If so, what is so different about cutting off a female child’s labia minora or clitoral hood from cutting off a male child’s foreskin that makes the former “harm” but the latter not “harm”?
It does not have any negative effects
As I stated above, this has not been proven, and of course neither has removing a woman’s labia minora or clitoral prepuce been shown to have any negative effects. This is a poor distinction between male and female genital cutting.
and provides long term benefits.
This has simply not been shown in the developed world. Men in Europe and Japan go all their lives with their foreskin without higher rates of anything.
Additionally, would you be open to researching removing female genital tissue at birth to see if there are “long term benefits”?
OK I’ll make this simple since you are repeating your pattern of ignoring me and I am tired of it.
You are claiming a double standard. I am not. The fact that your trying to push that on me is insane
Nothing you said mattered after that because you never contradicted any of my points other than to say ” no it doesn’t” or just flat out ignore my point.
And then, as expected, when presented with credible information done from studies conducted by the CDC that completely destroys your argument you revert to anti semitism to try to make it seem that the studies and recommended use of circumcision could only be the byproduct of a Jew wanting to push his agenda. Saying your not anti semetic right after you say an anti semetic remark is the last straw for me. Do not reply to me again.
Nothing you said mattered after that because you never contradicted any of my points other than to say ” no it doesn’t” or just flat out ignore my point.
Everything I said contradicted your points. I addressed every single one. I have no idea what you mean when you say that I flat out ignore your points.
And then , as expected, when presented with credible information done from studies conducted by the CDC
You don’t even know what you’re talking about. The CDC did not “conduct” those studies. The CDC cited those studies in its recent draft recommendations on circumcision. Those studies were done in Africa and, moreover, have been criticized by the international community. See below.
Also, we do not see such protection afforded by circumcision against HIV in the developed world. Even if protection is afforded in high-risk areas in Africa, it’s silly for a government public health agency in a First World country to extrapolate that data and assume the same for the developed world.
But for argument’s sake, let’s say that circumcision did reduce the risk of HIV and STDs in the developed world. Would you then be open to researching cutting off folds of female genital tissue at birth, given that the female genitalia have more folds where infectious fluids could be trapped and are more prone to contracting HIV and STDs via vaginal intercourse and require more effort overall to keep hygienic than the male genitalia?
OK so other than being an insane conspiracy theory bigot anti Semite you also appear to be too retarded to understand what I meant when I politely told you to not contact me again so let me re phrase it better. Fuck off you psyco cunt.
Fuck off you psyco cunt.
Ah, here it is. You’re getting emotional, and it’s clouding your ability to think rationally here.
I’ll leave you with this: do you really think you know more about whether a double standard exists between male circumcision and female circumcision than actual FGM victims? Would you call Soraya Mire, a Somali filmmaker and female genital mutilation survivor, a “psycho cunt” as well because she pointed out the double standard that you refuse to see? She said and I quote, “The same universal human right to an intact body that I have fought for on behalf of women and girls must apply to boys as well, especially those who are too young to make an informed decision about the integrity of their bodies. We need to ask ourselves: How can it be wrong to surgically alter the genitals of a baby girl without her consent but okay to surgically alter the genitals of a baby boy?””
- Facebook Page of Peaceful Parenting Exclusive Breastfeeding is super important ! (Of course). but circumcision does have its health merits (eg reduced instances of std’s and sti’s later in life).
Another Intactivist: That is not true. Abstinence and using condoms are the only way to “reduce std’s and sti’s”.
Check out some info re male circumcision. It’s a documented best practice for reducing HIV transmission . It’s especially Recommended in development work throughout Africa and the developing world
Should we research whether or not cutting off female genital tissue has health benefits as well? We have never done so in the sterile conditions in which we examine male circumcision. I mean, when compared to the intact penis, the intact vulva has even more folds and more exposed mucosal tissue and is even more prone to STIs and HIV from vaginal intercourse, you know. Not to mention UTIs, yeast infections, smegma, odor, and hygiene issues in general.FGM/C doesn’t have benefits….proven smile emoticon
but male circumcision is different…
Thank you for replying. It may surprise you to learn that we have actually never researched the health benefits or lack thereof of forms of FGM more analogous to male circumcision (e.g., labiaplasty, hoodectomy, etc.) under the same sanitary conditions under which we examine male circumcision. So no, it has not been “proven,” Robyn, that all forms of FGM/C have no benefits. You can’t “prove” something you’ve never studied.
We all know that cutting a girl’s clitoris off with a rusty razor blade and sewing her vagina shut is harmful–this has been shown time and time again to be extremely damaging to women’s health where these forms of FGM are practiced (primarily in Africa) and is what international health organizations are talking about when they make the blanket statement, “FGM is harmful and has no health benefits”–but what about cutting off infant girls’ labia at birth in sterile, anesthetized conditions? It has never been studied the way male circumcision has, so it is simply an unfounded assumption that cutting vulvar tissue in sterile environments has no medical justification and confers no health benefits. In fact, a recent study on labiaplasty (Wu 2013) laments that, “There is currently a paucity of published literature describing reduction labiaplasty performed for functional reasons.”
Females are far more prone than males to genital infections in childhood and indeed throughout life. This includes UTIs, yeast infections, odor, smegma, most STIs, and HIV from vaginal intercourse, not to mention hygiene issues. Yet we protect little girls from unnecessary genital cutting in childhood without having ever researched the possible “health benefits” of removing female folds at birth under the same conditions in which we examine male circumcision. We simply banned it, thereby creating two separate discourses between the genders with respect to genital cutting in childhood.
For females, the discourse has been to ban forced genital cutting in childhood without any inquiry into potential health benefits of lesser forms of FGM more analogous to male circumcision.
For males, the discourse has been to make constant inquiries into health benefits.
This separate discourse between the genders is sexist and wrong regardless of your stance on whether circumcising babies is ethical or not. I am of the persuasion that the excision of normal, healthy, erogenous genital tissue from a non-consenting minor’s perfectly healthy penis or vulva is not ethically permissible for prophylactic reasons, nor at the parents’ whim, nor for the sake of the parents’ religion and culture, and that parents may only give proxy consent to such a procedure after all less invasive treatment options have been exhausted.Therefore, I believe that this separate discourse is sexist against males in that it, negatively speaking, does not afford them protection from the unnecessary excision of erogenous genital tissue and, positively speaking, guarantees the female’s right to grow up with all of her erogenous genital tissue but not the male’s.
If you believe that circumcision is permissible to perform on infants, and that it has the potential for health benefits, then you would have to argue that the law is sexist against girls because it does not permit the study of surgical procedures that could spare them from painful genital infections and life-threatening diseases, which they are, in fact, more prone to than males. The same tissue, mind you, that comprises the fold of the male foreskin exists on the folds of the female vulva, and the same Langerhans cells that are hypothesized to create an entry point for HIV on the fold of the foreskin exist on the folds of the vulva as well, yet no one thought to research the health benefits of excising female folds, despite the fact that females are more prone to contracting HIV from an infected partner via vaginal intercourse than males are.
The separate discourse is ethnocentric, logic-defying, and entirely sexist. The devil’s in the details, Robyn, and the challenge is to not just accept blanket highly-politicized statements but rather to question everything to the uttermost.
We have elaborated on this topic and more on our website. A link to our blog post on this particular topic is in our comment above. Keep on questioning and keep on learning until equality wins, which it will on the issue of forced genital cutting in childhood…someday. It is wrong that females are guaranteed the right to all of their normal, healthy, erogenous genital tissue but males are not. It is wrong that you, as a female, were guaranteed the right to grow up with your whole body–especially your genitals–but I was not. But one day, equality will win, and boys’ bodies and especially their genitals will be respected and protected in the same way that girls’ bodies and their genitals are currently respected and protected, and no child will grow up with a scar on his or her genitals where nerve-rich, erogenous tissue once resided.
it’s pretty widely accepted that FGM doesn’t have any health benefits…only harm. there’s enough evidence from health centers. e.g., immediate complications: • Increased risk of HIV or other infections. Often the same unsterilized instrument is used on several girls at a time, increasing the chance of spreading HIV or another communicable disease.
• Tetanus or bacterial infection
• Urine retention
• Open sores in the genital region
• Injury to nearby genital tissue
• Immediate bleeding to death
• Severe bleeding
long term consequences:possible: • Infertility
• Problems urinating • Recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections
• Uterus, vaginal and pelvic infections
• Complications in pregnancy and child birth
• Sexual dysfunction
• Difficulties in menstruation
• Increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths
but male circumcision has been widely accepted and encouraged as a preventive to address the HIV pandemic…
Thanks, Robyn, for getting back to me. Many folks don’t bother to read or to think things through. That said, I’m not sure that you read too carefully what I wrote, or if you did, I’m not sure that you caught my point. Bringing up the most extreme forms of FGM performed in wretched, unsanitary conditions and the lifelong complications that they cause are not really relevant to a discussion on male circumcision performed in sanitary conditions. You might as well bring up the most extreme forms of MGM like radical penectomy and testicular castration performed in wretched, unsanitary conditions and the lifelong complications that that would cause.
Like I said, we have shown that cutting off clitorises and sewing up vaginas in the African bush is harmful and will cause all the complications you listed and more. But it is apples to oranges to compare these procedures performed in the African bush to male circumcision performed in American hospitals. Might as well compare cutting off boys’ penises and/or testicles in the African bush to male circumcision performed in American hospitals.
What is more comparable to male circumcision are hoodectomy and labiaplasty, and grouping hoodectomy and labiaplasty performed in sanitary conditions with complete clitoral excision and vaginal infibulation performed in a grass hut and saying, “This group of surgeries is harmful and has no health benefits,” is as hasty and misled as grouping male circumcision performed in sanitary conditions in with radical penectomy and testicular castration performed in a grass hut and saying, “This group of surgeries is harmful and has no health benefits.”
Again, I’m not talking about the most extreme forms of FGM (clitoral excision and vaginal infibulation), just as I am not talking about the most extreme forms of MGM (radical penectomy and testicular castration). I am not interested in apples-to-oranges comparisons between sewing a 12-year-old girl’s vagina shut in sub-Saharan Africa to excising a 12-day-old’s foreskin in a hospital in Dallas. I am interested in an apples-to-apples comparison between the West’s approach to male circumcision performed on boys in sanitary Western conditions and its completely different approach to female genital surgeries that are more analagous to male circumcision (such as labiaplasty and/or hoodectomy) performed on girls in sanitary Western conditions.
My point was that we have actually never studied procedures like hoodectomy and labiaplasty done to little girls at birth under the same sanitary, Western conditions under which we examine male circumcision, despite the fact that the female genitalia have more folds, more exposed mucosal tissue, the same Langerhans cells that HIV researchers love to bring up, and are altogether more prone to infections, most STIs, HIV from vaginal intercourse, etc. Rather, we banned them without any inquiry into health benefits. This is a complete separate discourse than our approach to male child genital cutting, and this separate discourse is sexist and wrong.
However, if there are studies on the health benefits or lack thereof of labiaplasty and/or hoodectomy performed in sanitary Western conditions that I have somehow missed in my hundreds of hours of research on child genital cutting, please provide them. I do not need proof that cutting off a girl’s clitoris and sewing up her vagina in the African bush is harmful and spreads disease any more than I need proof that cutting off a boy’s penis and testicles in the African bush is harmful and spreads disease; these things should be obvious. I am interested in like-for-like studies of labiaplasty and hoodectomy performed in the same sanitary conditions under which we examine male circumcision. If these studies cannot be produced because they do not exist, then my point is proven.
Hopefully that attempt was clearer and more to-the-point than my previous comment, which I will admit was a bit scattered. Is my train of thought more apparent to you now, Robyn C Hagan?
Do you have the studies in question, Robyn C Hagan? I did another search last night, and the only study I discovered that I had not previously known about was the Kinuthia study, which was merely a master’s thesis. But if you think that cutting off genital tissue is an acceptable way to combat disease, shouldn’t you be even more willing to study the health effects of genital cutting (under sanitary conditions of course) of females since they are even more prone to STIs, HIV, etc. rather than throwing out the baby (forms of cutting that do not harm the clitoris or vagina) with the bathwater (forms of cutting that harm the clitoris and vagina and lead to long-term complications)?
Any thoughts? Or should I just expect the typical silence that usually comes from the other side when we really drill down into the separate discourses we’ve established between the genders when it comes to cutting children’s genitals?
you can suspect the usual silence when it’s realized that debating is futile because neither party will ever agree.
of course FGM should not be studied in sterile conditions. that is a false emphasis. a red herring. one of the biggest harms of FGM is the scar tissue that forms after cutting. even if it is done well in a sterile environment, it still causes scar tissue, which contributes to obstructed labour, which means future harm for mother and baby.
however, there are dozens of existing studies about the benefits of male circumcision. the studies can be found by searching CDC and WHO medical databases. broadly, it is found that male circumcision can protect men, women, boys and girls from STD’s and STI’s, including HIV.
ultimately, the decision is that of the parent or caregiver. it’s responsible and ethical to present both sides of the medical discussion, so that decision makers can be fully informed.
i guess the next step in this argument will devolve into an ethical dilemma akin to that of using medical data from nazi experiments. thus, this is my last response. take care.
“one of the biggest harms of FGM is the scar tissue that forms after cutting. even if it is done well in a sterile environment, it still causes scar tissue, which contributes to obstructed labour, which means future harm for mother and baby.”
Again, you’re referring to the most extreme forms of FGM. Might as well discuss radical penectomy and castration, which would obviously cause reproductive harm as well.
This issue will NOT present itself with a properly-performed labiaplasty and/or hoodectomy performed in infancy. How is it that you can’t understand this? Why do you avoid the issue of comparing apples to apples: infant circumcision to infant labiaplasty and/or infant hoodectomy, NEITHER of which that will result in scar tissue that will obstruct labor?
Why do you believe that you have more of an inherent right to your body and your genitals than I do to mine, despite the fact that your genitals are more prone to UTIs, yeast infections, HIV from vaginal intercourse, most STIs from vaginal intercourse, etc. Bizarre, really.