Msnowe's Blog

It’s Not Just Happening "There."

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on August 1, 2007
The unbroken children splash and shout,
rough as the surf, gay as their nesting towels.
But she plays soberly with the sea’s
small change and hums back to its slow vowels.
– Snyder

If you’ve never heard of the story pasted below, please take the time to look at it. Disturbing though it is, “female circumcision” is an absolute misnomer in the most frightening of manners. Using this rhetoric, and putting it on parallel footing with male circumcision suggests that the practice is somehow hygienic, or even good for the girls it is practiced on, because male circumcision, by and large, is accepted as a way to prevent STDs and other ailments. But this is a sinister and completely false notion- it is female genital Mutilation, and serves no hygenic or ethical purpose whatsoever.

Today, many things are explained with religious salvos, and no one would be too tightly pressed to give examples of some. But this is not a religious practice. Well, at least not in the normal, doctrinal way that many arcane practices are allowed to continue. Female mutilation (which is truly what it should be referred to, always) knows no sect; it is a sweeping practice that affects Christians and Muslims alike. Not only does it cross religious boundaries, but it crosses borders as well- and very unlikely ones. Even England has seen its fair share of this practice, and the numbers are fuzzy. In countries like Egypt, where the practice is widespread (performed on an estimated 97% of married women), it is easier to see the large numbers, whereas in England, it is a quiet affair that will not be discussed, skewing estimated numbers.

Why does this practice know no specific boundaries, or no religion? What does it say about general, non-specific attitudes? It says to some that a false, perceived notion of purity and cleanliness for women is worth an enormous, calculated risk.

When looking at differences between the “highest” and the “lowest” of civilized cultures, it is easy to feel morally superior, upstanding, and ethically triumphant when looking down from the “high” side. But the best way to improve has nothing to do with praising what we do differently and believe better – it is about what we have in common. The fact that women are having their clitoris’ ripped out all over the world shows that the “us” and “them” dichotomy cannot hold. We may abhor the practice for obvious good reason, but how can we not see the danger in embedding the same attitudes that lead to this extreme of practice in the first place? Shouldn’t we have a second thought every time we tell our daughters to be perceived as virginal goddesses, and condemn those women who use birth control or do not “wait until marriage?” When we make women wear promise rings, and must maintain a perception of “cleanliness,” aren’t we ripping out their sexual natures in a pernicious, emotional operation?

Things are often taken to the extremes, as with this practice. It must be stopped. And like any evil in the world, it does not help to stare at it condemningly. It must be evaluated, and understood, and then combated. And no true hero counts themselves blameless; they must take responsibility for the ideas or beliefs that contribute to the indoctrination of a practice. Because no method of violence like this one, can occur without misguided and mismanged forethought.

Read the story here: