Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Most Offensive Thing You'll Read All Day

In response to a brief post discussing circumcision, several comments suggested that male circumcision was the moral equivalent of female circumcision, or female genital mutilation (FGM). This comment is pretty representative:
In countries where FGM occurs it is usually the women who perpetuated it onto their daughters, they often don't feel it was a violation. Heck in Indonesia it's done on neonates, just like males here. So how do they know what is missing? What reason would they have to stop it, they're fine. It's the same dance just a different tune.
Well, heck - it seems we have very different definitions of the word 'fine.'

Fortunately, Denialism Blog sets the record straight:

Independent of how you may feel about male circumcision, it does not normally, or even more than very rarely, lead to long-term medical consequences. FGM nearly always does. FGM is not usually as "simple" as a pinprick. And who performs it is irrelevant. If women are co-opted into torturing each other by the dominant male culture, that is most emphatically not a mitigating factor, but a sign of how deeply disturbed gender relations in the culture are.

Male circ is not a method of controlling males and their sexuality... FGM is always---always---a method of controlling women and their sexuality. It is almost always mutilitory (rather than symbolic) and leads to widespread female urogenital problems. Despite what the foreskin-worshipers may say, male circumcision and FGM are in no way equivalent.

I really appreciate having some male allies willing to point out the stupidity of the 'women are incapable of doing anything to hurt women, ergo if a woman does something then it must be good for womankind' argument that we see so frequently around these parts. I'm also going to have to agree with PalMD on his second point too, "Go ahead and argue the ethics of male circ on their merits. There is a reasonable discussion to be had. But leave FGM out of it."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Males without foreskin find that more stimulation is needed to achieve orgasm.

Females who have no labia, clitoris, or "outside parts" can never orgasm, or have pleasurable sex. Or pain-free sex.

There's a difference.

uncensoredfeminista said...

There is no comparison between the two. None whatsover, and any man who tries to say otherwise is the most probably the same one that is trying to control women's sexuality, behaviors, etc.

Anonymous said...

There are different types of female circumcision. One invloves cutting away the clitoral hood (the fold of skin that protects the clitoris). The glans penis is equivalent to the clitorus as the foreskin is equivalent to the clitoral hood. The only difference is that the foreskin is much larger. So it can be argued that male circumcision is worse than this type of female circumcision because more skin is cut away from someone powerless to consent. Let's ban both.

natalie said...

As stated in the post, anonymous:

Independent of how you may feel about male circumcision, it does not normally, or even more than very rarely, lead to long-term medical consequences. FGM nearly always does. and Male circ is not a method of controlling males and their sexuality... FGM is always---always---a method of controlling women and their sexuality.

So, no - male circumcision isn't worse. You can be against male circumcision, but argue that on its own merits, without comparing it to something that is so devastating and controlling.

zombietron said...

Thank you for putting eloquently what has always been on my mind regarding this issue. I think people who have that view will cop out by referring to this as "female circumsion" because the reality - "genital mutilation" - is so much harder to back up the theory of it being the same as male circumcision.

shiva said...

OK, i have to disagree that there is "no comparison". There is a massive difference in degree, sure, but there is no difference in kind - both are the surgical alteration of the genitals of a child too young to consent.

While male circumcision is undoubtedly less harmful, i can see no ethically consistent way of justifying one but not the other, if your ethics are based on the fundamental autonomy of all individuals, regardless of gender, over their bodies in general and their sexual organs in particular.

If your ethics aren't based on that, and you consider yourself feminist, then i'd like to know what your ethics are based on, because it mystifies me (ditto all the transphobic "radical feminists" out there)...