Awakening Sexuality & Activism for Women's Rights

clitoridectomy

OpEd: ‘Male Circumcision Is No Biggie’


Having been an activist for one “bleeding heart” liberal Human Rights issue or another since I was 13, I’ve learned that people who don’t jive with Human Rights fall into one of two categories:

1 – those who are completely unaware of an issue so their apathy is due to ignorance…

and…

2 – those who are aware of the issues but have been drinking the Kool-aid too long to see the rights violations right in front of them…

Or in this case, in their pants.

Last night on Facebook, I updated my status with this:

“My thoughts on FGM & Male Circumcision: Any body modification not fully consented to by the person on whom it is being done is straight up EVIL & being perpetrated by ASSHOLES.”

After yet another exhibition of my Irish gift of being blunt, an interesting discussion followed by friends who, of course, feel similarly. I went on to say:

“Any change to the body is the basic human right of THAT PERSON to make a change to the body. Especially when this isn’t a life-threatening situation. Circumcision in 1st world countries is done out of habit more than educated knowledge that it is a religious act — and since many white Americans proudly claim to be Christian, why the hell do they do this to their babies? (Though I think brainwashing a child in any one religion is also heinous, but that’s another convo.)… Many people do not realize that baby boys die from male circumcision, just as some girls die from FGM. Female Genital Mutilation is the definition of barbaric & misogynist.

“P.S. I refused to cut my daughter’s hair until SHE was ready to have her hair cut. Most people see the hair as dead, but it isn’t — not from a spiritual perspective (and no, I’m not Indian)… I gave [her] her first haircut on her 5th birthday, and her ears were pierced 5 years later. Her body. Her choices.”

One enlightened friend wrote about male circumcision:

“It’s traumatic to babies, it’s dangerous, and so unnecessary. The argument “so he’ll look like his father” makes me want to fight! If Dad was missing a finger, would we chop one of baby’s fingers off too? And then there’s the rampant sexual dysfunction caused by corneated glanses that guys have to beat the crap out of in order to get off.”

Then there was one comment that left me with my jaw hanging open as disgust and dismay ran through my bloodstream.

One commenter wrote:

“FGM is a sin (if you are a believer in such) and a crime against nature, but male circumcision is no biggie. It actually has proponents in the medical field who make good arguments for it.”

While I love it when people agree with me, the only time I can truly create change is when I’ve reached someone whose ideology is different (read: narrow-minded and uneducated). So my response is thus:

  1. No, I don’t believe in sin. “Sin” is a carefully crafted construct of religious propaganda to steer the masses into doing its bidding, which usually entails keeping the rich, white guys wealthy and in control. (Where have I heard that before?)
  2. Circumcision IS a “biggie” to the innocent baby on whom this violation is being perpetrated.
  3. The so-called medical proponents must be operating under the delusion of religious brainwashing, socio-cultural conditioning, or being highly compensated to keep spouting these “medically necessary” lies regarding male circumcision.

Circumcision as we know it is a practice of the Abrahamic religions, namely Judaism and its spin-offs Christianity and Islam. As with many aspects of the Jewish faith, Judaism was heavily influenced by the religious practices and ideologies of Ancient Egypt, which is known to have practiced circumcision on adult men who chose to be circumcised as part of their initiation into the priests’ order.

Because of the spread of these religions outside their indigenous Middle Eastern origins, the brutal practice of shearing the foreskin off a newborn’s penis has gone global. However, not every country under these religious delusions practices male circumcision.

The proponents for male circumcision offer little medical evidence that it is actually “necessary.” Also, I would rather trust the body’s inherent intelligence that it has a foreskin because it serves a purpose — to the boy who will become a man. Granted, I don’t know why we still have an appendix, but I do know why my clitoris has a hood — the same reason the male version of the clit, the glans penis, also has a hood.

Proponents for male circumcision also offer the ridiculous argument that boys want to “look like their father.” Was the father circumcised later in his life when he was old enough to make an educated, informed decision based on his personal preference to have the foreskin removed? Likely not. The father was probably circumcised as an infant as well, without his consent.

Those who say circumcision prevents AIDS and HIV transmission are also not getting the whole picture. Plenty of circumcised men in America have HIV or AIDS. The lack of foreskin didn’t prevent the spread of the sexually transmitted disease. Here’s an article from the University of Oxford regarding medical studies supposedly supporting male circumcision.

Essentially, the issue of male circumcision is one of basic Human Rights, that a person has the basic right to choose what happens to her or his body. No one should be allowed to make such a permanent change to a person’s body without their consent.

Informed consent is crucial because of the medical and sexual ramifications, including permanent physical damage to the penis, the urethra, as well as the psychological repercussions as the child grows up.

What if the government passed a law that all baby boys must have their pinky amputated? Or their left ear? Or their nose? Would you willingly submit your newborn child to this just because the government said to? I doubt it. But parents willingly subject their baby boy to having a part of his anatomy amputated just because of a tradition from a Middle Eastern religion and/or American cultural conditioning?

I absolutely think there should be legislation prohibiting circumcision since there are fanatics who will keep enacting this barbarity on baby boys UNLESS legislation bans circumcision. If someone cut a slice out of my daughter, that act is punishable by law with prison time because it is aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a minor. But circumcision is okay?!  NO!

Others would say that banning circumcision violates the parents’ First Amendment freedom of religion. Then what about the baby’s fundamental First Amendment right to Freedom FROM his parents’ religion — to remain a whole human being?

But I’m a female. What would I know about wanting to preserve a person’s right to choose what happens to their body?

Here are some facts from the wonderful website, IntactAmerica:

  • Risks include infection, hemorrhage, scarring, difficulty urinating, loss of part or all of the penis, and even death.
  • The amount of skin removed in a typical infant circumcision is the equivalent of 15 square inches in an adult male.
  • No professional medical association in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world recommends routine circumcision as medically necessary.
  • Most medically advanced nations do not practice child circumcision. Three quarters of the world’s men are intact.
  • The foreskin is actually an important and functional body part, protecting the head of the penis from injury and providing moisture and lubrication. Circumcision also diminishes sexual pleasure later in life.
  • Claims that circumcision prevents HIV have repeatedly been proven to be exaggerated or false.
  • Whatever the rationale, forced removal of healthy genital tissue from any child – male or female – is unethical. Boys have the same right as girls to an intact body, and to be spared this inhumane, unnecessary surgery.  (Okay, I threw this one in because of its comparison to Female Genital Mutilation.)

Source: IntactAmerica.org, “The Facts Behind Circumcision”

I can only surmise that the men who are pro-circumcision are circumcised themselves (and the women who are pro-circ  have only been with circumcised partners), and the thought of a “different”-looking penis is too weird for them to accept what is natural. Or the circumcised men feel jealous that they might be missing out on sexual pleasure, so they want all men to miss out on sexual pleasure, perpetuating this basic Human Rights violation on these innocent children.

No one can undo the past, so if you’re a man who is circumcised, please don’t feel jealous. Sexual pleasure is an energy, and incredible sexual pleasure can be learned without the need for genital stimulation at all.

Just as women need to speak out for women’s rights, men need to speak out against male circumcision. The voice being heard has to come from the gender being violated. But know, we women are here to support you in ending this heinous practice of non-consensual circumcision just as we know you guys are here to support us in our fight to keep control over our bodies.

Male circumcision IS a “biggie.” Circumcision is a Human Rights violation that scars the male in more ways than just physically. If need be, let’s get Congress to enact legislation to prohibit male circumcision. It is the individual male’s right to choose what happens to his body.

trish


NEWS: Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation


by Trish Causey
originally published February 14, 2012

As people around the world celebrate love on Valentine’s Day, I feel it is important to bring attention to a day that has probably never made the American evening news and will certainly never pop up on trendy blogs. A few days ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) brought attention to the 8th annual International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a barbaric custom actively practiced in 28 countries in Africa and the Middle East and which occurs “under the radar” in other countries with high numbers of immigrants from these areas, including the United States. FGM encompasses the removal of the clitoris and usually some of the labia via a razor blade, knife, or broken piece of glass. FGM is performed on girls ranging in age from infancy to 12 years old with no anesthetic and no proper wound dressing.

It is crucial to understand the difference between male circumcision and Female Genital Mutilation. In male circumcision, which is equally appalling, the foreskin of the penis is removed. The removal of the clitoris in the female is equivalent to the removal of the head of the penis, not just the foreskin.

FGM proponents in these developing countries claim the purpose of FGM is to prohibit a female from enjoying sex as an adult, thereby reducing the chance that she would take lovers outside of marriage. The custom is so entrenched in these cultures that it is the mothers and grandmothers who force the girls to be mutilated — they tell the girls they will be considered “ugly,” “unclean,” or undesirable to a potential husband if the girl is not cut.

An important site working to end this practice is the Female Genital Cutting Education and Networking Project. On their site, they explain three kinds of Female Genital Cutting (FGC) that are routinely performed in Africa and the Middle East.

“The first and mildest type of FGC is called ‘sunna circumcision’ or Type I. The term ‘Sunna’ refers to tradition as taught by the prophet Muhammad. This involves the ‘removal of the prepuce with or without the excision of part or all of the clitoris.’

“The second type of FGC, Type II, involves the partial or entire removal of the clitoris, as well as the scraping off of the labia majora and labia minora…. Clitoridectomy was invented by Sudanese midwives as a compromise when British legislation forbade the most extreme operations in 1946.

“The third and most drastic type of FGC is Type III. This most extreme form, consists of the removal of the clitoris, the adjacent labia (majora and minora), and the joining of the scraped sides of the vulva across the vagina, where they are secured with thorns or sewn with catgut or thread. A small opening is kept to allow passage of urine and menstrual blood. An infibulated woman must be cut open to allow intercourse on the wedding night and is closed again afterwards to secure fidelity to the husband.” 

Rights groups are working tirelessly to bring awareness to the issue of FGM, and  some countries have adopted new laws that prohibit FGM. However, the fight is an uphill battle for two reasons. First, the practice of FGM is socially and culturally tied to tribal initiation traditions. Secondly, the women in the tribes are brainwashed by the ingrained misogyny of the culture.

Imagine if your mother said the only way you would be considered beautiful is if you have your external sex organs slashed away in a hatchet job? That is the mentality that is perpetrated on these girls, who grow up to repeat the cycle with their daughters and granddaughters.

The effects of the mutilation not only effects the girl who is  subjected to the assault, but also to other girls. FGM is not usually performed in sanitary conditions, and the mutilator usually does not wash the cutting implement after each cutting. The transmission of disease can occur not only at the time of the mutilation, but later as the wound becomes infected due to lack of medical treatment.

Death is also a consequence of FGM due to the girl going into shock or developing internal hemorrhages, bleeding out, as well as becoming septic. Aside from the wound itself becoming infected, the urinary tract, bladder, and the entire pelvic region is susceptible to infection.

In an interagency statement between OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNECA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIFEM, and the World Health Organization, these organizations officially call for the end of FGM:

“This Statement is a call to all States, international and national organizations, civil society and communities to uphold the rights of girls and women. It also calls on those bodies and communities to develop, strengthen, and support specific and concrete actions directed towards ending female genital mutilation.”

The full document is available on the WHO’s website in several languages, including Arabic, English, Freech, and Portuguese.

For the record, I find any form of circumcision to be barbaric, whether it is the Jewish tradition of circumcising newborn males that has been adopted in so-called Christian countries, including the United States, or Female Genital Mutilation that occurs in patriarchal, developing countries, and now in so-called democratic, “free” countries. The misconceptions of being uncircumcised are as unsubstantiated by science and rational thought as the notion of FGM making a girl “beautiful” is simply ridiculous.

Support women and the beauty of women’s sexuality by doing your own research about this horrendous practice and bringing an end to Female Genital Mutilation around the world.

Aroused and fighting,
trish

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