Trish, what is it about redheaded women that truly makes them stand out compared to other women? Are they harder to love/please or is that just a myth? Do people get burned easily by such a warm personality and fiery passion? Or is that just a myth. What are things that people need to understand about redheads? What sexual myths do you hear often that are associated to women with Red hair? Do you honestly believe any of them? Does that make men or women more attracted to you or at least curious in some way?
Redheads are quite deserving of such awesome questions, so thank you!
“Redhead” is a ubiquitous term for the fair-skinned, often freckle-faced redheads of Ireland and Scotland. However, natural redheads are found around the world. Redheads have been the source of stereotyping — good and bad — for millennia, and it’s only been in recent times that being a redhead has been something to get excited about.
“Red” hair ranges from reddish “strawberry” blonde, to carrot-top orange, to ginger, auburn, and chestnut shades. In a 1995 study of redheads at Edinburgh University, Dr. Jonathan Rees discovered the reason for red hair is due to a mutation of the melanocortin 1 receptor, a.k.a, the MC1R, on the 16th chromosome, something he called the “Ginger Gene.”
Redheads have a greater risk of bruising and sunburning, but we also have a higher pain threshold. In fact, redheaded people can require up to 20% more anesthesia during surgery than non-reds. Perhaps this is why Irish people are so characterized as pugilistic — Gaels can take a hit and not feel it as readily?
Redheads have been a thorn in the side of world super-powers since at least ancient times. Two of the Roman Empire’s most notorious foes were redheads: the warrior leader Vercingetorix of Gaul and the uppity Iceni warrior queen Boudicca of Britannia were both said to have masses of flowing red hair. Both Mary Magdalene and Judas were also said to have red hair, and poor Eve is also portrayed as a redhead. Between the Roman Empire’s pagan enemies and the Roman Church’s dislike of the Bible’s freethinking dissidents, adverse stereotypes of MC1R mutants were created to slander redheads.
Some of the myths that abound with having red hair also tie in to myths about freckles and even fair skin. In medieval times, women were burned at the stake for having moles or “unexplained” markings on their bodies (supposedly succubi of the Devil).
Other myths that surround the heads o’ red include such gems like redheads don’t have souls, walking by a redhead on the sidewalk means you have to turn around, or that if two redheads have a child together, the child will be evil… the list goes on.
Natural redheads are also associated with having naturally large breasts. Artists exploit this from pin-ups to comic book characters to “Jessica Rabbit,” therefore redheads are rarely portrayed as small-busted. Thanks to the stereotypes of big breasts in porn, men automatically assume a woman with naturally large breasts is more sexual or more easily talked into sex — neither is true. But add that myth to the other fiery temper myths about redheads, you’d think redheads were the sexual scourge of the earth.
Growing up, I hated being ridiculed for my “weird” hair color and “weird” eye color. I even hated my freckles until an Indian dancer told me they were special because they were kisses from the sun. Somehow, him saying that made me feel better about my freckles. As for my hair, I was called “Peppermint Patty” and “Pippy Longstocking” more times than I care to recall, but I didn’t mind being called “Anne of Green Gables” or “Heidi.” Though, thankfully, I have never been called the offensive “Tampon Top,” as some redheads are.
I asked around on Twitter, and I received a plethora of replies from men… so adding that to my personal experience of what men have said they love (and HATE) about me… the overwhelming consensus is that redheaded women are thoroughly uninhibited in bed.
Apparently, the outlandish stories about redheads being wild, sexually insatiable nymphomaniacs are neither a myth nor stereotype, but a delicious reality. :-) Since by “redhead,” I assume you’re talking about the Gaelic fiery Irish redhead — or at least, I hope so — I can attest that redheads are amazing in bed.
The fire isn’t just for the temperament or flaming auburn tresses, though. We Gaelic types also tend to have hot skin. I have had partners who didn’t want to sleep next to me or even hold my hand because my skin is so hot to the touch. This is only one reason my nickname is “Lava.” And I find it interesting that in Ayurvedic medicine, redheads are thought to epitomize the elemental energy pitta, which is a mix of fire & water ( see?… Lava ).
Yes, we’re easy to anger (we’re Irish, duh!), but we’re also easy to laugh. Redheads love adventure, taking risks, and trying new things. We love singing and dancing with pure joy and full heart, and we want everyone around us to feel the same. We love spinning a good yarn and listening to a great story in return. Redheads naturally gravitate toward walking the road less traveled.
According to my non-scientific research, almost every man has a dream of being with a redheaded woman. I, myself, align with the “Women Who Run With the Wolves” type of woman — women who are close to nature and the natural, inherent freedom of woman. But then, I’m also a heathen pagan witch. So who knows?!
Maybe that’s what men see in redheads — we heed the call of wild abandon in life, in love, and in sex, when other women allow themselves and their sexuality to be repressed.
And we don’t take shit off anyone!
- OpEd: Fucking Cherokee Men (and Other People of Color)
- DailyOJ 07-07-12: Scent of a Woman… and the Sweet Nectar of Vagina Pie
- OpEd: The Face of Orgasm: Is Your Woman Faking Orgasms or Not?
- Anatomy: Female Ejaculation and Woman’s Ability to Conceive
- OpEd: How I Like My Sex… Bare…
For some reason the topic of “talking dirty” has come up several times recently. Apparently, men are under the assumption that women want to talk dirty, that we like to talk dirty, that we live for talking dirty in bed.
What the hell?!
Actually, most women do NOT like the “talk dirty” part of sex that men addicted to porn seem to like, or men who still view women under the Maiden/Whore dichotomy — “bad” girls do what “good” girls won’t stereotype.
“Oooo, baby, yeah, fuck me. Fuck my pussy with your big fat cock, ram it in me hard…”
What does “talking dirty” do for the man? What purpose is it supposed to serve?
I, personally, would NEVER “talk dirty.” “Talking dirty” is a dumbing-down affectation of porn and perpetuates the compartmentalizing of a woman into labels and categories, separating her into disparate personalities — i.e., the good-hearted, nurturing woman who is a mother couldn’t possibly be associated with the multi-orgasmic cougar in bed. What better way to segregate the various aspects of woman than to ask her to say or do something so contrary from her everyday personality or communicative style?
Besides that, “talking dirty” is an insult to my intelligence and my extensive vocabulary as a professional writer and performer of language.
Yes, I call a penis a penis or lingam, and my vulva is my vulva or yoni. I may call a penis a dick, but that is rare; and I say testicles and balls interchangeably. Other than that, my vagina is my vagina, and my clit is my clit. The anus, ass, and perineum are synonymous for both sexes. And my breasts are breasts — NOT ANY OTHER HORRIBLE, DEGRADING TERM that MEN (and implant Barbies) USE FOR BREASTS. BREASTS!!! That’s what they’re called, and that’s what I call them. Calling various parts of my anatomy by other names — particularly “dirty” slang terms — disassociates me from my body, or places my body into parts ( J. Alfred Prufrock style) as mere “things” for someone else’s use and enjoyment, not mine.
On a side note, I will call ejaculate “cum” but having an orgasm is not “cumming” — since ejaculating and having (lots of) orgasms are two completely different functions. And yes, my vaginal fluids ARE the “nectar of the gods,” thank you very much!
As I wrote in my article “Me, My Breasts, and I,” I hated my breasts most of my life because of how men treated them and treated me because of them. My body image was molded through the perspective of others who did not value me as a person or my body as the physical extension of my self. It took a Tantric breast meditation to integrate my breasts to my body and my sense of self, to love my body. But now, to be considered “hot,” I have to “talk dirty”? Fuck that!
Why would I talk “dirty” when there’s nothing dirty about sex or being sexual? As I say on Twitter ALL THE TIME: “The human body is beautiful. Sex is beautiful.”
I’m beginning to think that the concept of “talking dirty” is for the sole purpose of distancing the partners from an emotional connection — to keep the sex as just physical as opposed to an opportunity to experience beautiful, mind-blowing orgasms. Even fuck-buddies can have a great connection beyond the physical orgasm — without the “complications” of the dreaded “relationship.” Even Tantra partners who are not “in love” would never “talk dirty” — that would be so disrespectful, particularly to the woman. The man is beautiful. The woman is beautiful. The experience is beautiful. No ramming or dirty talk required.
If you’re a woman and you actually like to talk dirty, I would love to hear from you — to hear why you like to talk dirty — and don’t say because your male partner likes it — ’cause then you’re doing it for him, not because the want and desire to “talk dirty” emanates naturally from within you.
I can’t “talk dirty” about the body or being sexual because I find them both to be wonderfully beautiful. And I felt that way long before I began studying Tantra.
So bite me.
I teach SexEd for 15 / 16 year-olds. I usually manage to have an open atmosphere and we discuss all different topics openly (I even created an experiment how condoms react to different lubrications). Where I have always failed was the topic of masturbation. I think it is a very important topic, but how could I overcome the shame issue? Any ideas?
This is a wonderful and timely question! This issue resonates with me not only because of ArousedWomanBlog, but also because my teenage daughter is taking SexEd right now in high school. As someone who loves sex and being sexual, I think everyone should have honest, non-judgmental information available to them. As a mother, deep inside, I’m a little freaked out that my baby is learning about sex anywhere much less at school. Thankfully, we’ve had chats about the vagina and her body before this.
I’m not sure if you teach in a public or private school, but for now, I’ll assume it is a public school. Since you do condom experiments, it sounds as if you have a good rapport with your students. This is very important when tackling the hard issues, such as masturbation.
The shame of masturbation is intrinsically tied to the misogyny and oppression of religion. Any sex that was not partnered and heterosexual was demonized by the Church and other patriarchal religions centuries ago. Extra-marital sex, homosexual sex, and solo sex were all frowned upon because legitimate (male) heirs could not be born from these forms of sex. (The Church and Western culture just love their male heirs.)
Another kooky aspect of religion is the notion that the body belongs to “God,” should be put to use for “God’s work,” to do “God’s will.” This medieval mental hogwash strips the notion of body autonomy from the start — the person is a vessel; the person does not have a right to his or her own body because it is owned by a deity in the sky.
As a public school teacher, this line of thinking presents a problem because of the topic of religion. For a parochial school teacher, talking about religion may be more easily allowed, but truth about sex, masturbation, birth control, et al, may not be told in a private religious school. However, it is religion that forms the basis for the enduring shame of sex, birth control, and abortion — a pernicious misogyny that has sunk its talons into government as well.
Not talking about religion when talking about any of this is strange to me, but I’ll leave that soapbox alone for now… (except to say that I get irate when my daughter tells me they were talking about religion in her public school. I have the ACLU on speed-dial, and I’m not afraid to contact a teacher or principal to find out the exact curriculum being taught to my child.)
As I told my daughter when she was 13, “Your body is yours to explore as you choose.” Leaving religion out of the masturbation dialogue, I would approach it this way. Start by not using the polarizing, giggle-inducing word, “masturbation.” Call it “Solo Sex.” By using a different term, it allows the listener to actually contemplate the information rather than falling back on emotional, knee-jerk reactions. Notice, in the paragraph up above, I used the term “extra-marital sex” and not “adultery.” The latter term has a more grave, more judgmental, shameful, sinful connotation (thanks to religion).
Make your points by positioning the conversation in a logical way with supportive arguments:
- Your body is yours to explore as you choose.
- Solo sex is natural and normal. (Perhaps give examples of other species that masturbate.)
- Solo sex is a great way to learn about your body, your specific erogenous zones, and your individual sexual response. (Each of us is unique. How will a partner know your zones if you don’t know what to tell him/her about your body?)
- Solo sex is a great way to sort through the raging hormones and experience orgasm without engaging in partnered sex before you’re really ready.
- With solo sex, you won’t get pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted disease.
Even then, students may ask about the religious aspect, i.e., “But won’t I go to Hell for touching myself?” I would say, “I’m here to teach you about your body not religious dogma.” Removing religion and the subsequent cultural attitude helps lesson the shame of the issue. The shame from religion stems from the Church’s quest to control every ounce of a person’s mind, will, body, and soul, especially that of women. That was how the Church leaders stayed in power and made money. Puritanical American culture has continued this misogyny against women through body-shaming, name-calling, and other cultural forms of judgment based on a woman’s sexual freedom with her body.
The most blatant and vicious assault on women was the European and New World witch trials. Forget the myths of hexes and magical mojo — Did you know that “witchcraft” was officially a capital sex crime? Ironically, other countries look at America with ridicule because of how immature our country still is in regard to true, passionate, fulfilling sex… (but sexualized violence and rape are okay in American media, video games, comic books, and culture).
For me, masturbation is a body autonomy issue, a basic human right, as is protecting children from the violent sexual abuse of having their genitals mutilated (notice, I didn’t use the word “circumcision” — it’s all in the phrasing). When we acknowledge our bodily autonomy, we acknowledge our inherent freedom as human beings. People masturbate for various reasons:
- Solo sex and orgasm feel good (awesome, even!).
- A person may have solo sex because he or she does not have or does not want a partner… (Believe it or not, there may be times in your life when you don’t want another person in your bed.)
- A man or woman’s significant other is unable to have partnered sex due to illness or disability.
- Solo sex allows a sexual abuse survivor to reclaim his or her body, sexuality, and bodily autonomy.
Masturbation is the butt of jokes in television shows all the time, which I find to be truly sad. Masturbating can be a beautiful way to love yourself and to learn yourself. For me, solo sex has been the key to resolving my past abuse, loving my body, integrating my various parts to become a whole woman, and ergo, a whole human being.
I hope something I’ve said will help you. Please write back and let me know how it went!
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Anyhoo, here’s a brief rant I had with a male friend on Twitter that pretty much sums up my thoughts on all things equality in the ongoing battle between the sexes — in bed… and elsewhere. Luckily, he’s a smart guy and agreed with me.
1 – those who are completely unaware of an issue so their apathy is due to ignorance…
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:
- 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?)
- Circumcision IS a “biggie” to the innocent baby on whom this violation is being perpetrated.
- 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.
In response to a reader’s comment on my usage of “his-story” and “herstory” in this post, I wrote this little response.
The terms herstory / her-story are used in feminist writings for the precise point of underlining exactly how much women have been left out of the masculine narrative of world events, i.e., history. I even wrote a musical called Herstory, dealing with this very topic. (To hear a few demos, go to my personal site: TrishCausey.com.)
It’s not so much an etymological derivation I’m going for with his-story or even her-story, but rather a play on words, making the distinction between history — the narrative we’re taught in school and take for granted as “accurate,” and his-story — the overwhelmingly one-sided male version of world events that its orchestrators consistently and conveniently left women out of — all of which echoes the current political climate, a.k.a. the 2012 elections that prompted the right-wing Republicans’ “War on Women,” that caused Democrats and social activists to ask the question: Where Are the Women?!
As they say, the conquerors write the history books, and this is true whether it is women being left out or the “other side” of the story being obscured to make the conqueror look better.
When I was in school, “World History” consisted only of the Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, a paragraph or two on ancient China, a hiccup on India, and then jerking off to the wonders of Columbus and the so-called “discovery” of the “New World.” This hardly covers all of world history, and frankly, it’s a piss-poor job of a “survey” of history as well.
Archeological evidence around the world proves women were involved in all aspects of society: fighting in battles, doing daily domestic chores within a tribe or clan, leading religious activities as priestesses, acting as medical healers of an entire community, and officiating in government as judges and/or chieftains or queens. The fact that the emphasis on goddesses is so prevalent on ancient cultures sheds but a glimpse of the extent to which women might have been revered.
From the rise of the imperial, patriarchal regimes of antiquity through the 20th century, women who really wanted to participate did so in “drag,” dressing as a man in order to fulfill their purposes in helping with a cause. Women who were openly independent, standing up to oppressive religion and government or fully participating in teaching the next generation of girls the women’s mysteries, were accused of Witchcraft and summarily arrested, tortured, and executed in one form or another, burning at the stake being the favored method in Europe, while hanging or even stoning was preferred in the “New World.” And yes, I wrote a musical on this as well: Witchcraze.
Women have not only been erased from history (i.e., Hatshepsut’s statues in Egypt de-faced and her named chiseled out of the stone to erase her legacy — quite literally), but women have not been accurately included in history to begin with. In medieval Europe, the tradition of not even recording girls’ names when they were born was common — because girls were not important. But boys’ names were recorded because property, family names, and inheritances were passed down through the male line under the patriarchal societal system.
When I participated in a medieval historical re-enactment group, the name nerds were sticklers for making sure everyone’s persona had a legitimate, verifiable name for the time frame and nationality of the persona. As a 12th century Scot, getting my name “approved” was difficult because females were not recorded except in extreme cases, such as a wealthy (for Scotland) couple only having a female child survive to adulthood. (The fact that the Scots at this time were also on the last legs of independence in their indigenous culture, which had an oral tradition not a written language, made documentation difficult as well.) So while they wanted me to prove my name did exist, I told them to prove it didn’t. They couldn’t — because women were not included in the male narrative from the beginning.
I’ve often asked the question — Name 5 famous women from American history. Most people name Betsy Ross, Harriet Tubman, maybe Eleanor Roosevelt, maybe Susan B. Anthony. But no one ever gets to 5 names. They rarely get to the 20th century when women finally earned the right to vote in 1920 and marched in the streets for equal rights in the 1960′s and 1970′s! That shows just how much women have been excluded from the important facts in American his-story. Our brains are drilled on the male war mongers, the American Revolution, the male Founding Fathers, the male presidents, even the male dissidents, the bloody American Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Women were there! Obviously, we were there, or none of us would be here today! But in the common narrative of history, “Where Are the Women?”
It is time to re-write the history books — not as his-story, or even solely her-story, but to tell the tale of all of us.
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.
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.
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