Skepticism

Just a Little Prick

I awoke this morning with a serious cold which I caught from my already sick 3-month old daughter. As such a situation generally warrants, I was not starting the day in the greatest mood. Multiply that by a billion now that I’ve read this post by PZ Myers on the American Academy of Pediatrics creating a loophole for female genital mutilation to be permitted.

You read that right. Female genital mutilation. Permitted. By the American Academy of Pediatrics. Shit.

International human rights organization Equality Now is stunned by a new policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which essentially promotes female genital mutilation (FGM) and advocates for “federal and state laws [to] enable pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ‘ritual nick’,” such as pricking or minor incisions of girls’ clitorises.

What a way to reach out to families. As PZ mentioned in his post, a new bipartisan legislation called The Girls’ Protection Act, which prohibits families from taking their daughter out of the country for the purpose of female genital mutilation, was passed the same day. It’s kind of like the AAP is saying to these families, “Well I’m sorry we can’t allow you to leave the country to remove and/or damage your daughter’s genitals… So how about we just poke them with a scalpel and call it even?”

Taina Bien-Aime, Equality Now‘s Executive Director explains, “Encouraging pediatricians to perform FGM under the notion of ‘cultural sensitivity’ shows a shocking lack of understanding of a girl’s fundamental right to bodily integrity and equality. The AAP should promote awareness-raising within FGM-practicing immigrant communities about the harms of the practice, instead of endorsing an internationally recognized human rights violation against girls and women.”

Yes. And why should such a ritual receive cultural sensitivity? It shouldn’t. The practice is barbaric and needs to be stopped everywhere, not accommodated by the US. Female genital mutilation is recognized as a form of gender-based violence by the World Health Organization and International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and rightly so. There is no medical need for it. The purpose of it is to maintain control over your daughter’s sexuality throughout her life and to ensure that she’s a virgin at the marriage you will undoubtedly arrange for her.

To the parents of the girls having their genitals partially or fully removed:
Go fuck yourselves. There is nothing wrong with embracing one’s sexuality. You are wrong. Furthermore, the job of a parent is to protect your children and keep them from harm. If your goal in life is to deter your daughter from leading the life she wishes to live, you’ve already failed your ultimate parental duties.

To the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Go fuck yourselves. Your job is “to first do no harm”. What exactly do you think you’re accomplishing by allowing such a practice to happen in the United States? Do you not think that such a decision could potentially start a trend in other countries to allow this to happen to young girls? These are babies and children. They don’t have a say in the matter and it should not be an option. If your goal is to compromise with families who wish to damage their child’s body and offer them a slightly less damaging alternative, you’ve failed your ethical duties.

For what it’s worth, I’m also against male circumcision as an at-birth practice, but as far as I know it isn’t used as a control over boys to prohibit sexuality and keep them eternally obedient.

If “ritual genital nick” had been an option at the hospital where I delivered my daughter, I would have gone to a different hospital. Something needs to be done about this. Please go over to Equality Now and take action in an effort to have the AAP retract their statement. If we have any hope of fixing gender equality problems in third world countries, we can’t compromise on them here.

Chelsea

Chelsea is the proud mama of an amazing toddler-aged girl. She works in the retail industry while vehemently disliking mankind and, every once in a while, her bottled-up emotions explode into WordPress as a lengthy, ranty, almost violent blog. These will be your favorite Chelsea moments. Follow Chelsea on Twitter: chelseaepp.

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74 Comments

  1. Rage.

    Who the fuck nicks a baby’s clitoris?

    Rage.

    Maybe I’m overly sensitive given that I’ll be delivering a baby girl in 2 weeks and 6 days… but I can’t believe that I’m more sensitive than a newborn’s clitoris.

    Rage.

  2. Thank you for posting the action link. I’ll share that with as many folks as I can, especially other mamas.

    You know, this kind of crap doesn’t help when many of us are trying to tell our deluded friends that really, doctors by and large are good and educated people who are not trying to harm them and their babies. Anti-vaxers can all too easily point to this and falsely extrapolate toward their regularly spouted nonsense.

    I can see it now…next time I’m trying to tell someone that there’s no harm in vaccinations they’ll reply, “Oh yeah? Then how come pediatricians want to nick my daughter’s clitoris?” Which isn’t true but you KNOW that’s how it’s going to get spun.

    *sigh*

  3. This “First, do no harm” thing keeps coming up. I just want to clarify on that point a little bit. (This is a cross post from PZ’s blog).

    “First, do no harm” is utterly useless bunk. It is no longer used as a medical oath, and to see why I’ll ask you do consider some common scenarios:
    -Can someone do life saving surgery without “harming” a patient?
    -Can someone prescribe life saving medication that has side effects (say, chemotherapy) without “harming” a patient?
    Medical ethics is more complicated than that. But if you want a simplification, the best I can give you is “The patient comes first.”

    I know, it’s a bit pedantic. But I don’t want to see good arguments on this topic hobbled by out of date information.

  4. Dang it. FGM is undeniably a brutal, barbaric practice, and it sucks that there are cultures in which FGM is the norm. Let’s rally around another cultural tradition and let this one fade away, shall we? Boo to the AAP for helping to keep FGM alive and kicking.

    FGM and Social Acceptance story: In”Half the Sky” there was a story about a Western woman who moved to a village in Africa, married a local man, had and raised a baby girl in the village. She was shocked when her daughter came up to her and said something to the effect of “Mommy, all the other girls are doing [FGM], can I? I promise I won’t cry.” Mommy was able to talk her out of it after she explained what her daughter would have to go through.

  5. @kimberlychapman: Yes, that’s something I’m concerned about as well. I know a couple people who are into the whole Big Brother/Big Pharma concept and I’m sure that if she and I ever go head to head again this will be brought up.

    I’m tempted to ask my daughter’s pediatrician when we go for her 4-month well-visit if they’ve heard about this.

  6. Ok, so I went to the AAP article feeling outraged, ready to grab quotes to use against them. But I didn’t really find any. Here’s what is there:

    The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that pediatricians and pediatric
    surgical specialists should be aware that this practice has lifethreatening
    health risks for children and women. The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes all types of female genital cutting that pose risks of physical or psychological harm, counsels its members not to perform such procedures, recommends that its members actively seek to dissuade families from carrying out harmful forms of FGC, and urges its members to provide patients and their parents with compassionate education about the harms of FGC while remaining sensitive to the cultural and religious reasons that motivate parents to seek this procedure for their daughters.

    I’m not really clear on what the very controversial part of this is. The language could be more forceful, but my impression from skimming the article was that they are trying to give physicians an understanding of the culture of FGM so that they can explain why it’s harmful to parents. If anyone has another article besides this one, I’d like to see it…. because there is no excuse for FGM.

  7. @Displaced Northerner
    There seem to be 2 different documents on their site. This one contains the quote:
    “There is reason to believe that offering such a compromise [a ritual nick] may build trust between hospitals and immigrant communities, save some girls from undergoing disfiguring and life-threatening procedures in their native countries, and play a role in the eventual eradication of FGC. It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm.”

    1. What you quoted sounds similar to the situation that intactivists are in who who want to ban MGM with a religious exemption. If they try to ban MGM for everyone, they feel that the measure won’t pass with voters.
      But, if they allow a religious exemption, then at least more children can be saved overall. Sadly, this may be the best approach for FGM.
      If parents take their daughters out of the country for FGM and that’s illegal, then if the girl gets an infection in the USA upon returning, the parents will be afraid to seek medical treatment from American doctors as they’ve violated the law.
      Rabbis in the San Francisco area have already stated that they will “go underground” if MGM is banned. And, I bet that is what would happen with FGM as well.
      So sad.

  8. I’m appalled.

    I can only hope that this is some sort of wedge strategy, designed to get the AAP into places where such abuse occurs, with the idea of subverting what’s going on somehow.

    Still, I keep hearing this as similar to someone who wants you to just punch your kid every once in a while, instead of every day. Why not just stop altogether?

  9. @Displaced Northerner: The problem is both in the quote @Trevor Prinn mentioned and in the quote on PZ’s post:

    In addition, “mutilation” is an inflammatory term that tends to foreclose communication and that fails to respect the experience of the many women who have had their genitals altered and who do not perceive themselves as “mutilated.” It is paradoxical to recommend “culturally sensitive counseling” while using culturally insensitive language. “Female genital cutting” is a neutral, descriptive term.

    Giving it a neutral name (even though it’s not all that neutral) discredits the anguish these women are subjected to.

  10. @Displaced Northerner:
    AHH the old read an article BEFORE making outraged comments… well played.
    The part the people have issue with is in the Education of Patients and Parents section where they say

    Most forms
    of FGC are decidedly harmful, and pediatricians
    should decline to perform
    them, even in the absence of
    any legal constraints. However, the
    ritual nick suggested by some pediatricians
    is not physically harmful and
    is much less extensive than routine
    newborn male genital cutting. There
    is reason to believe that offering
    such a compromise may build trust
    between hospitals and immigrant
    communities, save some girls from
    undergoing disfiguring and lifethreatening
    procedures in their native
    countries, and play a role in the
    eventual eradication of FGC. It might
    be more effective if federal and state
    laws enabled pediatricians to reach
    out to families by offering a ritual
    nick as a possible compromise to
    avoid greater harm.

    So that’s what they were thinking…

    But, regardless, they’re assuming that a ‘nick’ is “not physically harmful”…

  11. @Displaced Northerner: Thanks for posting that quote. And thanks to Trevor Prinn for the additional quote.

    I’m not an expert on FGM–far from it–but I’ve read a lot about it, since my background is in medical anthropology. My personal take? Both male and female circumcision, done on children when there is no medical need, should not be permitted. Once you can give consent, have at it, as far as your own delicate bits are concerned.

    My “professional” take? I’m all about harm reduction (like needle exchange programs), especially if it means that a minor nick (done in a sanitary setting!) would prevent total removal of the clitoris or infibulation. *shudder*

    I want to see this shit stopped, but I am concerned about how that would be done. Because of that, the AAP’s mealy-mouthed language doesn’t bother me that much–if you are going to try to discourage a practice, using “inflammatory” terms will very likely just cause some people to shut you out. My tack is to try to meet people on common ground and at a level of basic respect before trying to pry open their minds and change behavior.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, cultural relativism…. I draw the line when it comes to bodily integrity, human rights and all that jazz.

  12. @Displaced Northerner:

    They are saying there is “harmful” FGC and simply nicking or making a small incision.

    I admit to complete ignorance here, and I ask without snark, is there another procedure that physicians perform on newborns (or children of any age, I guess), at the parents’ request, that is done purely to appease cultural standards of what makes a woman “good marriage material” or to preserve her virginity? Is it really okay for a doctor to cut the clit “just a little” to make her parents happy?

    What’s appalling is that before this there as no offering of appeasement. Parents who were suffering emotionally because they couldn’t leave the country to chop up their kid’s junk had to just deal with the fact that they were being legally forced not to be barbarians. Now the AAP is saying, “Okay, a little cut is fine.”

  13. @Elyse: Is the “nick” on the surface skin over the clitoris on the clitoris it self? I suppose I can see, but not agree with, their rational if it’s only something very superficial. However it seems to me that the decision by the AAP could just as easily give someone a notion they have tacit cultural and medical approval for more extensive home mutilation.

  14. I need to kick the director of the AAP in the nuts. I know that sounds like an overly simple solution but hear me out.

    See, I would prefer to give every pediatrician who supports this bullshit a swift boot to the balls/ovaries. But that would take time.

    Not only that, some of these misguided pediatricians are also doing good things – vaccinations, check ups, etc. The force with which my foot would meet their reproductive organs would keep them from doing this good work. Possibly for several days.

    In order to avoid that (save the children!) I will be happy to give the director a “ritual” punt to the balls with my “ritual” steel-toed boots. Preferably on youtube so that his reaction will make the biggest impact on the rest.

  15. I wrote this to the AAC through the FFE website form.

    “Primum non nocere?

    You have become sickeningly hypocritical in your accommodation for the torture and destruction of sexual satisfaction for women.

    I know of no body of literature that justifies the mutilation of clitorises for any scientifically sound medical purpose. I was under the impression that the American Academy of Pediatrics practiced science, not religion.

    Get fucked.

    Yours sincerely,
    {Loki} . Student Nurse.

  16. These physicians emphasize the significance of a ceremonial ritual in the initiation of the girl or adolescent as a
    community member and advocate only
    pricking or incising the clitoral skin as
    sufficient to satisfy cultural requirements.
    This is no more of an alteration than ear piercing.

    This does not say “clitoral hood”.

    And I know this is anecdotal, but speaking as a person with both a clitoris and pierced ears, while the modification itself may be comparable visually, they’re not comparable.

    In fact, I wouldn’t compare getting my nose pierced to getting my ears pierced, and the nose is still not as sensitive.

    Would it be humane or okay to just put a little piercing through the clitoral skin? With a small gauge needle and jewelry?

    And to make matters worse, a nick or an incision? An incision? That’s not fucking harmful?

  17. Apparently the sensitive little shits at the board of pediatrics are more than happy to advocate incisions on clitorises but their sensitive sensibilities just can’t handle profanity, so they filter it out via their mail server.

    I’m going to write a swear free version that will be far more vitriolic.

  18. @Elyse
    If their ears had 8000 nerve endings yeah :V. I mean come on, clitorises have twice as many nerve endings as even an uncircumcised penis.

    WHY DO SOME PEOPLE HATE ORGASMS SO MUCH AUURGH

  19. So, I just got done reading roughly 600 comments over on PZ’s two posts concerning this issue and I am just floored at the stupidity surrounding this stuff. Maybe it’s because over there they seem to be Atheists first and skeptics second, but the number of people spouting off that this is just fine because it’s not as bad as full-on FGM and that male circumcision is just okey-dokey because there may be some tenuous, moderately plausible anti-HIV effects much later on in life etc., is just beyond mindblowingly stupid. The whole damn thing is so thoroughly depressing.

    How-a-bouts we just follow this simple rule: hacking up children’s genitals with sharp implements for ANY REASON other than an immediate, pressing, medical necessity is fucking barbarous. The arguments surrounding this topic should be about LENGTH OF JAIL TERMS, not which slice-up routine is better, or worse, or more acceptable than the other.

    Ugh, get me off this planet.

  20. @Magnus H.

    I don’t know what it is, but so many people don’t seem to have a problem with this.

    I prefer the ethical argument against GM. It is medically unnecessary, and so it violates the autonomy of an individual before they are even able to give informed consent. It is unethical to violate their autonomy when doing so causes no foreseeable harm to themselves or others.

    Infants have rights too :(

  21. “No more of an alteration than an ear piercing”?? Is he fucking NUTS??

    This is BLATANT misogyny.

    C’mere Mr. President of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Let me snap the head of your dick in a rat trap and THEN we’ll talk.

    Fuckin dipshit moron motherfucker.

  22. I disagree. By allowing doctors to do the ritual nick, which, BTW, is less damaging than male circumcision or even infant ear piercing, they encourage parents to accept that instead of finding an unlicensed practitioner to actually mutilate the girl. If you don’t allow peds to do the ritual nick at all, the parents aren’t likely to say “oh, well” and give up, they are likely to go to someone who will harm the baby.

    Cathy

    1. @Cathy — Sadly, this is true. z
      After learning of the attempted MGM ban on the November ballot in San Francisco, rabbis stated they “…will not be stopped and will go underground…”
      They also said that if the MGM ban passes in November, that they will circumcise a baby boy in public on the steps of Union Square. (They actually made it in to a Facebook event.)
      People feel strongly about their right to genitally mutilate. It’s almost impossible to change their minds with logic.

  23. I am having an argument (not a real drag out argument, but a playful banter) with my husband right now.

    He is completely dead set against male circumcism — of which I agree with him but I am trying to convince him that female genital mutilation is different and he doesn’t see any sort of difference whatsoever.

    Am I off base with this? Am I crazy for seeing them as different and that FGM is worse? I understand neither is necessary but parents can make informed decisions to circumcise a boy for health reasons (I even looked up the subject myself and there are journal articles focusing on the HIV/Urinary Tract connection) and for those who aren’t elbow deep into these studies they can be pretty convincing.

    But even health issues aside — cutting of the foreskin does not completely ruin your sexuality — it also isn’t used as an act of domination and ownership. Cutting the foreskin as a baby does not equal sewing a woman’s vagina closed or cutting off the clitoris.

    I can see a “nick” as being more comparable to circumcision, but even then circumcision has that HIV factor (I honestly don’t know if people start the HIV study to keep circumcision in practice for traditional/religious reasons, or because they genuinely believe there is a correlation.)

    I am debating internally about this myself and was curious what everyone elses arguments are. My husband starts getting silly when talking about this — but I want some serious arguments.

  24. All I can say is:

    Fuck the motherfuckers, fuck the motherfuckers,
    Fuck the motherfuckers they are fucking motherfuckers.
    Fuck the motherfuckers, fuck the fucking fuckers,
    Fuck the motherfuckers, fuck the motherfucking AAP.

  25. @Surly Nymph: “Am I crazy for seeing them as different and that FGM is worse?”

    I think it depends on the type of FGM you’re talking about. If you look at the diagram on the relevant wiki page; something like category III FGM, or “infibulation” is just horrifyingly beyond belief and unquestionably vastly worse than MGM by any measure you might wish to apply. I would put the typical MGM as currently practiced in the west, somewhere between FGM category I subtype A and subtype B on that chart. I specify “in the west” because MGM in other places can be significantly worse than what we’re typically familiar with here.

    As to your argument that:
    “I understand neither is necessary but parents can make informed decisions to circumcise a boy for health reasons (I even looked up the subject myself and there are journal articles focusing on the HIV/Urinary Tract connection) and for those who aren’t elbow deep into these studies they can be pretty convincing.”

    I really cannot for the life of me understand this line of reasoning. It really bothers me. Even if MGM or FGM totally eliminated the possibility of for instance, HIV infection, it STILL wouldn’t be justifiable to cut up an infant’s genitals!! A child cannot give consent and it is a permanent, disfiguring procedure that not infrequently induces shock in the baby it’s being performed on and sometimes results in serious infection, genital obliteration and even DEATH. NO, no NO way can it ever be justified except in the case of extreme phimosis which is preventing urination and needs to be fixed immediately lest the child suffer kidney failure or the like.

  26. @Magnus H.: I think it depends on the type of FGM you’re talking about.

    I completely agree. The “prick” we are talking about above would be a better comparison to male circumcision, I think — in contrast to completely cutting off the clitoris, etc.

    I also completely understand what you said about the baby not being able to make a choice. When my husband argues with me, he gets kind of jokey and doesn’t seriously try to explain his reasoning (ie: he tells me today “I bet everyone in the matrix was circumcised!) I agree that male circumcision is unnecessary, outdated, and cruel but I admit to having moments when I think: Well, what if it DOES help lessen the chances of contracting HIV?

    BUT I also admit that is completely irrational because you know what else would? Talking to your fucking kid! (You know, as opposed to mutilation.)

  27. @Surly Nymph: “I agree that male circumcision is unnecessary, outdated, and cruel but I admit to having moments when I think: Well, what if it DOES help lessen the chances of contracting HIV?”

    I can’t argue informedly on the question of whether FGM/MGM is actually a reliable prophylactic against HIV infection and though I confess to being skeptical (ha) that it is, at least MGM does have plausible mechanism (prepuce elimination as a viral entry point).

    But if it were conclusively proven that MGM or hell, even infibulation, significantly reduced HIV infection rates, I’d be all for promoting it like crazy….as an elective surgery FOR ADULTS ONLY. Your kid gets into their late teens/young adult period of their life when they can make decisions of consequence on their own and you begin to suspect that they are becoming, ahem, “active”, then you can suggest to them “hey, you know I hear Dr. Sharpenscalpel offers this procedure that can halve your chances of being infected with HIV! Wanna see some cool pictures on his website??! Oh, or also I guess you could use this condom that will reduce your risk by 99.9%. Ya know, it’s up to you.” Somehow I doubt the uptake on these surgical procedures would be terribly high and I think that fact should be reason for MORE pause before authorizing such procedures on infants, not less because we want to “spare them the suffering later”. Ok I’m done now. :)

    1. @magnus — Excellent point. Girls who want to avoid HPV and cervical cancer have the option of receiving the Gardasil vaccine.
      So, boys can choose to be mutilated so they can have a 60% chance of avoiding HIV *OR* they can have a 99% chance of avoiding HIV by using a condom.

      BTW, many men in Africa choose not to use condoms because the condoms which they supply are very cheap and thick, unlike condoms here. So of course, they’d rather be circumcised — if they’re not going to use those lousy condoms anyway.

  28. @Surly Nymph & @Magnus H.:

    In HIV prone populations (I believe the studies done were in Uganda), male circumcision does, in fact, reduce a man’s risk of becoming infected with HIV and reduces the risk significantly.

    However, even with the significant reduction in risk, circed men are still at high risk of contracting the disease.

    So what you’re looking at is “high risk” vs “even higher risk”. In places where HIV is epidemic, any reduction is worth the cost/risk of circumcision. In the west, however, the original risk isn’t high enough for the reduction in risk to be worth it.

    Whether circed or uncirced, men who consistently use condoms with their partners are at the exact same risk level for contracting the virus.

    Basically, for westerners, slightly lowering your risk of getting AIDS is not worth the risk of surgery, especially given the availability and accessibility of condoms.

    So…. yeah…. for us, what Magnus said. In Africa, where you’re actually helping to slow the spread of an epidemic disease, especially in areas where AIDS education and understanding is minimal, and contraception is limited, infant male circumcision is justified. (Keep in mind that for boys under 4 months old, it’s a relatively simple procedure. After 4 months, it’s a surgical procedure requiring general anesthesia.)

  29. @CAFiorello:

    It’s not “less damaging” than ear piercing. The AAP compares it with ear piercing… but doesn’t consider the difference in sensation. I am of the opinion that a medical professional should understand the difference between my ears and my clitoris and what happens if someone inflicts pain on either one… and not compare or confuse the two.

    And the majority of the statement is about counseling parents not to do any FGC at all, but then states that the nick is acceptable for appeasement.

    The assumption is that the nick is an acceptable compromise that will, in fact, preempt an actual full FGM. I don’t see any data to show that.

    However, even if the compromise does work, the question of whether this is an appropriate procedure for a pediatrician to perform is still unaddressed by the AAP. Should doctors be performing medically unnecessary procedures on newborn babies? Should they be performing medically unnecessary procedures specifically designed to subordinate women? To ensure their virginity? To increase their worthiness as wives?

  30. Obviously the people who want to have FGM performed on their daughters are fucked up A-holes. Given that, if they go to a Dr. and find out that it’s illegal and they’re told to go fuck themselves, what is the probability that they will then go out and find a “back alley” cleric to perform the procedure? Mutilated with unclean tools by an unsteady hand…

    I mean, I agree that the nick is also stupid and unnecessary and cruel but if it prevents an entire clitorectomy by satiating their parents sadistic superstitions… it might not actually be that bad.

    Obviously, it would be ideal to just completely eradicate the entire practice forever but that might not be possible just yet. This is similar to a common argument in favor of keeping abortion legal. Women will do it regardless of the legality, if it’s legal at least it can be regulated which should result in increased safety and cleanliness and the dr.’s can be held accountable for screw-ups.

  31. Uncircumcised men sometimes have infections and skin fusion of the foreskin to the head of the penis. It’s pretty rare and simple hygiene can prevent it but a circumcised male has even less to worry about. I hear that circumcised men are reported to have increased sensitivity on the head of their penis, though I don’t know how you’d measure that effectively. But even if it was true it seems like that might be a good thing but it might also be a bad thing (wouldn’t help people who already deal with premature ejaculation).

  32. As a long time lurker I felt I actually had to sign up to post how disgusted this makes me feel. I think everyone above me has said all I wanted to say, and probably more eloquently than I can do at this hour of the morning, but yeah, I feel pretty damn sick to my stomach after reading this.

  33. @Elyse:

    Actually, it’s not as clear as that, there are other studies out there saying that circumcision has no effect on HIV/AIDS. And there’s this fun little one saying that it actually increases the chances of HIV/AIDS.

  34. @justncase80: “I hear that circumcised men are reported to have increased sensitivity on the head of their penis”

    Other way around. Due to the head of the penis not having any protection, the skin hardens a little, reducing the sensitivity.
    At least that’s what I’ve heard. I have no experience with this, as it would take a serious medical emergency before I’d let anyone cut pieces off my todger. :S

  35. @justncase80: Um, no. This is nothing like legal abortion.

    Abortion is performed on a woman who is capable of making a decision. They are performed for the benefit of that woman. FGM is performed on a child for the sole purpose of keeping that girl “pure” so that she can be married. It brands her as property.

    But even if your argument had merit, it doesn’t matter. If the advice to “just” nick a girl was coming from within the community that condones FGM, it would be a step in the right direction. Not a big enough step here in the US where FGM is illegal but there would be no reason for outrage.

    This advice is coming from AAP. Instead presenting societal pressure, medical evidence and legal advice, these bastards have condoned the act. They are in a position to stop it and instead they compromised.

    So it isn’t like keeping abortion legal. It’s more like a medical board saying that rapist should consider the idea of just forcing a woman to jack him off, it would be less invasive.

  36. I KNOW the reason I was circumsized (since I ASKED) and it was the same reason that I wasn’t breast fed. Informed decision? Careful consideration of the research? Please. CONFORMITY. Pretty much the reason most people do everything, despite all the hand waving and confabulations.
    If the foreskin was so mal-adaptive don’t you think evolution would make an adjustment?

  37. What gets me is the AAP (or is it APA?) doesn’t understand that this isn’t some woowoovoodoonannannabooboo tradition for marking yourself as part of a tribe like tattoos, piercing or circumcision. It’s not an archaic blood magic ritual. It’s a medical modification intended to make a slave class more manageable. The motivation is to remove a woman’s sex drive. This is not akin to male circumcision, this is akin to a whiteman lobotomizing his black slave so he won’t run away. I seriously doubt that when asked and the doctors inform, yes the clit will still work after the procedure, those really interested in it will be satisfied.

  38. @tiberious: While I agree with you that it’s mainly conformity:

    If the foreskin was so mal-adaptive don’t you think evolution would make an adjustment?

    The appendix doesn’t really serve any purpose for us anymore except maybe, exploding and killing us. Evolution hasn’t quite eliminated that one yet.

    Again, I am not arguing your point. Just suggesting that the “Evolution” argument isn’t the soundest.

  39. Conformity, shmonformity.

    The only reason I had both of my sons circumcised 20-odd years ago is because I preferred sex with a circumcised man and I figured their future partners would too. And my new DIL says thanks for thinking a-head!

    If I could have done anything for my daughter it would have been to increase her future sexual pleasure, not rob her of it.

    Religious Fucktards. So yeah, if a small nick (or pretending to perform one) keeps the parents from dragging the child elsewhere for worse, then go for it. Stopping an entire religious ritual isn’t going to happen overnight. People need to be led to free-thinking, not pushed.

  40. @Surly Nymph: I believe current thinking regarding the appendix is that it serves as harbor for beneficial bacteria during episodes where the colon is “flushed” (ie diarrhea).

    Similar things were said about tonsils when I was a kid.

    Orgels Rule: Evolution is cleverer than you are.

  41. @spellwight:
    So a mother may justify her sons circumcision if it results in greater future female pleasure?

    How about a father who insists that the vagina of his infant daughter be reduced (including some loss in sensation) to provide greater pleasure for her future husband?

  42. I’m late to the return here- damn job getting in the way. But thanks to everyone who pointed me in the direction of the inflammatory comments. I don’t see a problem with the AAP’s original recs- tell parents this is a harmful, detrimental practice and say no way will it be performed by a pediatrician. I don’t know why they didn’t stop there.

    And to answer Elyse’s question from way above- no, I don’t know of any other “marital prep” procedures done on children. Also, I’d like to say once more, “ceremonial pricking” is a vulgar, vulgar practice.

    I’m assuming the above made no sense, given the limited sleep I’ve gotten recently, but the general idea was this: cutting genitals is bad, bad news.

  43. @spellwight:
    “The only reason I had both of my sons circumcised 20-odd years ago is because I preferred sex with a circumcised man and I figured their future partners would too.”

    And what about your sons’ sexual pleasure, did you think about that?
    Also, I’m curious about your sample size in determining that sex with circumcised men is better than with uncircumcised?

  44. @tiberious: Had it not been (at that time) a thing people did almost automatically, I wouldn’t have thought of it. I’m just saying when the question was asked, I thought about what I preferred and had it done.

    @Solitas: Nope, I sure didn’t. I’d been with more than your average amount of men before I married and I knew what I preferred. Its been a long time but I’d guesstimate 20% un/80% cut. I’ve never met a grown man who has experience with being both so I’ve no idea what gives them better pleasure. Is there a study for that?

    Anyway, times have changed and if any of my kids have sons I’d advise them differently… probably.

  45. @ spellwight: I had my son circumcised and I’m happy I did. So is he.

    Yes, it is about conformity. It’s nice to be a non-conformist bad ass until chicks are grossed out by your kid’s junk looking different than most every other guy’s junk.

    Not saying all or even most women are grossed out (or just surprised) by an uncircumcised penis, but I heard enough of the horrid teasing a guy in my class received (from males and females) for being uncut that I knew I wouldn’t put my son through that. Who needs that?

    If my son has kids and happen to be male, I won’t advise him one way or another on circumcision. None of my business.

    @Solitas: As for the sensitivity. Not to put too fine a point on it, but some men could stand to be a bit less sensitive.

    1. @Snowcalla — In California, we have a 60% rate of circumcision for newborns.

      Let’s hop that your son never does study abroad or attends Oxford University or the Sorbonne in France. If so, he won’t have the best of luck with the ladies. European women haven’t been socialized to think that a penis in its natural state is gross.
      As a matter of fact, they prefer the self-lubricating, uncut penis.

      Are you familiar with ribbed condoms? They are meant to provide extra sensation – which mimics the folds of the prepuce/foreskin and adds a bit of extra girth.

      Let’s hope the tip of your son’s wanker is nice and thick. If not, he’ll be mighty angry when he finds out he could be giving women more pleasure, had he not been robbed of the girth and extra stimulation which the foreskin is meant to provide.

  46. I’m circumcised and more or less indifferent to it, but the attitudes expressed by spellwight and Snowcalla throw me into a rage. We can all look upon FGM from a distance and disapprove, but when it comes to examining our own culture’s pernicious practices we are too ready to look the other way, conform, or–in the case of Snowcalla–bend over backwards propping them up (“As for the sensitivity. Not to put too fine a point on it, but some men could stand to be a bit less sensitive.”).

    And a minor correction to Chelsea’s post: circumcision has a long history of association with sexual control and moralizing–to the point of being advocated as a punishment for masturbation. Though that may not be the reason it’s carried out so frequently today, the frequency with which ‘his girlfriends will be grossed out’ comes up should be enough to show that the practice persists at least partially because of a perverse sex/body negativity which our culture engages in at the expense of clear reasoning about the issue.

    You can read a bit (peer-reviewed) about the subject here: http://www.noharmm.org/paige.htm

  47. @spellwight: The only reason I had both of my sons circumcised 20-odd years ago is because I preferred sex with a circumcised man and I figured their future partners would too.

    I for one prefer uncircumcised penises, so you have done me a great disservice. On a serious note… no other remotely valid reason came to your mind when you made your decision?

    @NoReply: the attitudes expressed by spellwight and Snowcalla throw me into a rage.

    I’m right there with you. It’s really a backward attitude. I mean penises come attached to a human being as far as I know. I

  48. “Not saying all or even most women are grossed out (or just surprised) by an uncircumcised penis, but I heard enough of the horrid teasing a guy in my class received (from males and females) for being uncut that I knew I wouldn’t put my son through that. Who needs that?

    If my son has kids and happen to be male, I won’t advise him one way or another on circumcision. None of my business.”

    Congratulations on showing your disdain for such petty conformity by…giving into petty conformity and becoming part of the problem.

    What’s next, keeping gays form having kids because kids of gay people get teased?

  49. So I know that I am coming to this thread three weeks late and everybody’s moved on, but there is a barely checked (thank you NoReply, #63) false assertion that the pendant in me just cannot abide. Infant male circumcision was instituted because it was thought that uncircumcised boys would masturbate less. (http://www.cirp.org/library/history/gollaher/) The infamous Dr. Kellogg recommended circumcision without anesthesia because the pain was part of the cure. (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/pihhr/files/RHM/RHM29-Aggleton.pdf) This was the same generation of physicians that treated syphilis with mercury-sulfide compounds because the pain was believed to treat their excessive venery.

    Also, I believe many of you are on shaky ground when you argue which types of FGM are worse than which types of MGM. All pain is subjective, and it is impossible to measure another’s pain without influencing their own perception of it. This is vernacularly know as “THE placebo effect.” If we had to decide which is worse (and I don’t see why we do) I would argue that common male circumcision is equivalent to female circumcision that removes the labia but leaves the clitoris intact, because they are both similarly (though not perfectly) reversible later in life.

    It is also dangerous of people to assert that having a mutilated clitoris will prevent a woman from having an enjoyable or satisfying sex life. Even paraplegic women can usually reach orgasm with a lover who touches their ears and neck. I am 27, and I still occasionally have great sex with no physical stimulation at all. I can literally do it in my sleep. (Get it? Since no one is reading this, I might as well entertain myself.) The emotional and social barriers to a good sex life that victims of FGM will face are much more bothersome than the physical ones (as with paraplegics). This type of unreasoned furor is more likely to instill victims with feelings of inadequacy than it is to cease or slow the practice. It is not enough that we argue against genital mutilation, how we argue is more important.

    And in case anyone is persuaded by anecdotes that it is embarrassing for young men to be uncircumcised, consider my anecdote to be of equal value. I felt embarrassed about being uncut in middle school and high school, but I generally felt inadequate in everything sexual. I was not teased for it. Among the 40-or-so guys in my class, only one other was uncircumcised. He was also very fat, but I never once heard him being teased, so I’m sure it was a very minor part of his life. The kids that are teased about not being normal are not the ones who are abnormal, they are the ones who have had difficulty socializing. So do not cut your boys. Instead, arm them with “You’re mom likes it” and “I’ve seen your dick, and I think the doctor must have cut off more than some skin.” When they do not fear ridicule they will not need to preemptively ridicule others.

  50. @Chelsea -“…but as far as I know it isn’t used as a control over boys to prohibit sexuality and keep them eternally obedient….”

    Actually MGM was popularized in the USA by JD Kellogg, as an effort to curb the illness known as masturbation.

    And, it was popularized in England in the 1850’s to cure “diseases” such as : mental retardation, polio, epilepsy and masturbation.

    One of circumcision’s earliest purposes was to reduce pleasure which arises from masturbation. You see, the “prepuce” which is the medical term for the body part removed in both MGM and FGM is actually comprised of epithelial tissue – that’s the moist & wet tissue similar to the pink tissue on the side walls of your mouth & lips.

    So, when a man strokes an uncut penis, the penis is actually rubbing against the inside of the moist foreskin- which feels pleasurable like a woman’s vagina.

    Circumcision prevents men from wanting to do that, since guys don’t really want to stroke a dry penis with their hand. (However, they like to stroke it with lube, which is awe$ome for the lube companie$.) But, if they had a prepuce/foreskin, they wouldn’t need any additional lubrication.

    The USA is actually quite sexually repressed in comparison to the other western countries, like Australia, New Zealand, Canada — which have stopped performing circumcision and mostly do it only when there are religious parents involved.

    http://www.nocirc.org/

    http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/

    http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/

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