Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, May 10, 2010

But it's bad when Muslims do it!

A paragraph from the Militant Islam Monitor link in the previous post caught my eye:

Yet the one dark subject that Hirsi Ali's critics are really hinting at when they describe her "trauma" is the issue that she has now made a matter of policy in the Netherlands, which is to say, female circumcision. It is the issue that most offends Hirsi Ali's Muslim opponents; not because she has spoken out against the practice - plenty of Muslims have done that before - but because her critics insist that she has described it either as a universal feature of Muslim life, or one that is explicitly sanctioned by the Qur'an. Neither is the case. Rather, Hirsi Ali views it as a product of specific tribal practice combined with a broader cult of virginity, which is indeed upheld by the Qur'an (as it is by the Old Testament).

The question I always want to ask when people talk about female genital mutilation as an example of Islam's "medieval barbarism" is this.

Q: When do you think the last officially sanctioned female circumcision (ie clitoridectomy) for moral reasons took place in the USA? By officially sanctioned, I mean performed by a regular, AMA-accredited doctor with no secrecy? And by moral reasons, I mean not to remove cancerous tissue or to treat some disease, but to prevent masturbation?

A: 1959 or later

Also this (definitely NSFW).

Actually this page seems to suggest that at least one "official" female circumcision took place as recently as 1977, though in that case it was supposedly to cure the woman's "sexual insensitivity" and so presumably not involuntary. As she sued her doctor over it one assumes it was however unsuccessful in its aim. (The article is also interesting on male circumcision, which in the UK is mostly confined to Jews and Muslims unless there are medical problems with the foreskin. Not so, of course, in the USA.)

Anyway, this "barbaric", "medieval", "Islamic" practice was still being carried out by American doctors on young American girls when I was a small child myself. In the late 1950s, "medieval" America had a speace programme, nuclear submarines....and FGM. Oh, and this was a hit stage musical in 1957-8 (the film came in 1961):

I guess not every American girl was able to enjoy it quite so much.


At 10 May, 2010 08:41, Anonymous Phil said...

Not entirely convinced. I mean, genital mutilation is genital mutilation, but most of the American examples - particularly the more recent ones - seem to be about helping women to have orgasms rather than preventing them.

American doctors do seem incredibly scalpel-happy, no argument about that.

At 10 May, 2010 23:22, Blogger Rob said...

Hmm. The examples since 1960 or so seem to be mostly of the voluntary kind, but up to then I would say it was more a question of we-know-what's-best-for-you-and-it-isn't-masturbation.

At least as far as I can tell the American female circumcisions were generally done with anaesthesia, though it would seem the male ones not always. Speaking as an uncut male, I find the whole business makes me wince and cross my legs in the same way that reading about blokes getting "Prince Albert" piercings does. But agsin,the question of voluntary v. involuntary comes up.

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