Posted by Brian at 12:39 PM
A Debate on Female Genital Mutilation?
There's a debate on this?
Dr. Ahmadu, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago, was raised in America and then went back to Sierra Leone as an adult to undergo the procedure along with fellow members of the Kono ethnic group. She has argued that the critics of the procedure exaggerate the medical dangers, misunderstand the effect on sexual pleasure, and mistakenly view the removal of parts of the clitoris as a practice that oppresses women. She has lamented that her Westernized “feminist sisters insist on denying us this critical aspect of becoming a woman in accordance with our unique and powerful cultural heritage.”
I bolded the most significant aspect of that statement--as an adult. Most of the time, as I understand it, this is not a procedure done on adults. It just so happens that we covered Marge Piercy's "The Moon Is Always Female" in my poetry classes today, and I'd like to excerpt it here.
If you are a woman you feel the knife in the words.
If you are a man, then at age four or else
at twelve you are seized and held down
and your penis is cut off. You are left
your testicles but they are sewed to your
crotch. When your spouse buys you, you
are torn or cut open so that your precious
semen can be siphoned out, but of course
you feel nothing. But pain. But pain.
If Dr. Ahmadu wants to cut parts of her clitoris off as part of her cultural heritage, that her choice as an adult. I feel the same way about that as I do breast implants, tattoos, and piercings--your body, your choice. But you don't get to make that kind of choice, not one so life-altering as a clitoridectomy, for a four year old, no matter how acceptable your culture says it is.
And to call it female circumcision is intellectual dishonesty of the worst kind.