FGM versus total penectomy

After having seen some totally puerile, insensitive or just plain glaringly ignorant comments from men/boys about circumcision being as terrible as female genital mutilation I had to set the record straight.

My subject matter may upset some people.  I hope so- and I hope you never, ever forget!  Lobby against it. Raise awareness. DO something about it. Don’t stick your head back up your a and pretend it doesn’t exist.

On Circumcision

1. Circumcision drastically reduces a man’s chances of contracting HIV.

2. Circumcisied men do not give their wives (or women) cervical/uterine cancer from the smegma collected under the foreskin- also an ideal incubation place for human papilloma virus – a major cause of cervical/uterine cancer.

3. The comparison of male to cut female genitals would be total castration- no penis, no testes, and urinating through a straw. This is only done these days by men on the fringe of fetish.

On Female Genital Mutilation

1. ALL external genitalia is cut away until what is left is a flat, red mass. this is then cauterised with a hot stone or steel and sewed shut, leaving a small hole for urination and bleeding. Urinating for the next few months is going to be hell for the little girl as she is urinating on her own raw flesh. A reed or other hard object is inserted into the raw wound to ensure that the urethra is not blocked by scarring.

2. FGM often results in sterility as the internal organs can be  cut, or infection from the wound can spread to the undeveloped ovaries and uterus, leaving her forever barren.

3. FGM is a Pharaonic practise and it is way past time that some organisation like the Carter Centre, the WHO put FGM in the international spotlight to END THE TORTURE OF GIRLS by EVIL, archaic mutilation

Clitoris, inner and outer labia  cut away, cauterised with hot steel or stone, then raw flesh stitched up with thorns and sinew

If the girl lives through the resultant infection, she has several other  terrible things to look forward to

A small hole above anus is all that’s left open. Now imagine the pain of having a man pushing his  erect penis into that tiny hole.

FGM birth complications- the baby’s head is  crowning and mom is about to be re-cut  and then sewed up again- an open vagina is considered ‘unclean’ so a young teenager or woman is re-stitched after the baby is born. Over time the scarring becomes chitinous and so tough it is very difficult to cut. When this occurs both mother and child may die in childbirth.

Vaginal keloids- growths extending from a damaged uterus.

To any man, any Imam, Chief, grandmother or aunt who says FGM saves a girl from being unclean, keeps her pure or stops her ‘straying’ when her husband is away at cattle camp or meetings- you perpetrate evil.

Go back to the Quran and READ it yourself, go back to the Bible and READ it yourself- and see with your own eyes that there is NOWHERE where it states that a girl child’s body- as created by God- is to have pieces cut away  that will cause her suffering for the rest of her life .

NO religion states anywhere in its writings that a woman’s (or man’s) genitals should be cut to make them ‘pure’. The pharohs liked their slaves, male and female, to be smooth and thus genital mutilation began.  It is way past time-  the pyramids are nothing but historical ruins and the practise of castration has been eradicated- that the practise of female genital mutilation is eradicated as well.

Where FGM is a custom and families emigrate, girl children are returned to their native country to be cut, or a cutter (who is always a woman) is hired by several families to come to the country they are in to cut them.  One young girl who went back to Somalia ‘on holiday’ and returned to Britain cut suggested that airport officials examine the genitals of girl children from countries at risk when leaving, and returning to, their country of residence.  Normally this would be a violition of human rights. In the case of FGM it would be an added impetus to shame parents out of having their children cut, and to threaten them with legal action if they do.

Please research FGM further and find ways to lobby the mosqes NGO’s and governments that can get to the areas where FGM is practised to educate young girls and thier families and raise up community activists to bring an end to this barbaric torture of little girls. It is NOT a Muslim practise, it is a Pharaonic practise. Neither Christianity nor Islam advocate cutting.

This type of change has to happen on a grassroots level before governments will take a stand- no politician will jeopardise his position by taking a stand against FGM if it may lose him votes. But change has slowly begun in some parts of Africa.

As usually happens when change begins to occur, those girls or family members are often killed. Others will take their place and the momentum can grow, with help from the outside world. No government wants to be a pariah.

Get involved somehow, make a stand. Do something. At the very least, circulate this blog to raise awareness in the Western world.

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Comments on: "FGM versus total penectomy" (9)

  1. Good points on circumcision.

  2. […] view appears to be common. One frequent claim is that FGM is analogous to “castration” or a “total penectomy,” such that any sort of comparison between it and male circumcision is entirely inappropriate […]

    • Thanks for the comment. I’m aware that there isn’t a direct corellation, but I had to make the corellation to get the point across to some very ignorant men who, being ignorant of the facts, assume that it’s some minor thing akin to male circumcision- the simple removal of the hood of the clitoris, for example, with no reality about the complete excision and stitching up that takes place. So I wrote a blog to catch people’s attention and make them think.

  3. I am against genital cutting of any non-consenting person, however I do have serious issues about the comparisons this article makes.

    A man who has his entire penis and both testicles removed cannot have sex, he can’t have children, he can’t do anything. A woman with even the most extreme forms of FGM can have sex, she can have children. This is a FACT. If FGM destroyed the ability to reproduce (as a penectemy and castration would), then the cultures that practice FGM would have gone extinct a long time ago, and FGM would be a total non-issue because it would no longer be happening (clearly it is still happening).

    Anybody who logically analyzes the situation, and is honest with themself, can see that a man who has his entire penis and both testicles removed is in a FAR worse position than a victim of FGM. To compare FGM to total penectomy and castration is ludicrous.

    By the way, women have WAY more smegma than men.

  4. The thing is, you aren’t getting the point across to men, especially when you go overboard with poor analogies and an irritated tone. Someone without much info on the subject will believe you, but anyone familiar with the moral, sexual, and other dimensions will see that you have overstated your point and lost your audience. When the former group see and hear more info, they will 1) get confused and lose interest, 2) get confused and seek resolution, which will show that you are repeating one sided claims without much understanding of the complexities of the issue, or 3) become more obnoxious than they were originally. In 2 of 3 scenarios above, your cause of ending fgm gets subdued.

    Like Chris said, non-consensual genital mutilation on male or female children is inherently wrong. But your article replaces one form of ignorance with a different form of it. Child genital mutilation thrives on ignorance. Not only is the anatomical analogy misleading and frankly wrong, but the absence of realistic complication rates from male circumcision shows you are more interested in pushing an agenda than discussing how the issue affects everyone involved. Community building through empathy toward shared suffering and responsibility, acknowledging how both men and women have suffered and perpetuated this horrible practice is more likely to motivate people to action.

    I’ve heard the “clitorectomy is akin to total penectomy” analogy repeated in classrooms. It’s anatomically incorrect. While it’s true that some forms of fgm do remove all external genitalia (and any removal of genitalia from a child without medical necessity is evil), the clitoris is not limited to the external protuberance and thus quite a bit of sexual enjoyment may remain. Some studies show that Sudanese women who underwent fgm as children still experienced sexual satisfaction and orgasm. Their spontaneous and personal descriptions of orgasm paralleled those of women with intact genitalia. Intriguingly, the study group reported a slightly higher percentage of women who underwent fgm experiencing orgasm from penetrative intercourse than America women having orgasms from penetrative intercourse. This in no way justifies fgm; it just shows that there’s more to the clitoris than the external parts.

    The clitoral glans is external and comparable to the glans penis. But there is more clitoris than just the glans. Women can and do orgasm from penetrative intercourse (though not as frequently as from clitoral glans stimulation) because much of the clitoris is internal at the crura (what corresponds roughly to the internal root and crura of the penis). One of the reasons (some?) women enjoy thicker penises is that the clitoral crura get stimulation from 1) vaginal wall stretching, which 2) puts pressure on the vestibular bulbs, which 3) rubs the clitoral crura. No form of female “circumcision” removes the clitoral crura. Many boys have complications from circumcisions, and although amputation is “rare”, such amputations can include loss of the glans or sometimes even the whole external penis. More often, there are varying degrees of sensitivity loss, which can backfire when promoting safe sex and condom use because circumcised men will feel even less than usual.

    Not all forms of female “circumcision” are the same; ditto for males. Some take away much more skin than others. When male children are circumcised, the frenulum is sometimes damaged- crushed, cut, or removed altogether- due to the tools utilized for the procedure.
    Again, this can greatly diminished sensitivity. Post circumcision loss of sensitivity is highly variable and probably relates to the technique and how much skin was removed.

    In this vein, male infant circumcision, like infibulation in fgm, can interfere with urination and/or damage the urethra. Male infant circumcision often leads to meatal stenosis, where the opening of the urethra narrows. This causes inflammation which may lead to pain, swelling, and difficulty urinating. Meatal stenosis may result from circumcision damaging the frenary artery. Also, a circumcision which amputated the glans or lead to the necrosis of the glans due to severing an artery would also damage the urethra directly, leading to immense pain and urinary problems.

    Yes, unsterile equipment poses a definite danger to girls undergoing fgm, but even when boys undergo circumcision, especially as infants, there is a noteworthy risk of contracting MRSA, whether the circumcision was done in a hospital or at a bris. Other dangerous conditions can arise after circumcision, including fournier’s gangrene, which can lead to amputation and potential loss of the testes, as well. (And while on the subject of bris, boys have contracted herpes as a result of metzizah b’peh, where the mohel sucks on the infant’s penis after circumcising him.)

    Not only did “ancient” religions promote genital mutilation- current religions still do. This shows how tribal humanity is to allow barbarism to continue for millenia. Hinduism has Bahuchara Mata, the goddess of eunuchs, who commands adherents (some of whom may already be transgender but some are undoubtedly trafficked into it) to be pure by castration. Her followers, the Hijra, still exist. The Skoptzy sect endorsed the same practice and existed until the last century. And 3 millenia later, Judaism still endorses circumcision as a necessity, though there are a handful of believers who reject infant circumcision. Like it or not, we can’t look to religion for solid answers on this issue.

    Interestingly, in the 1950s, some male Kenyan chiefs did ban fgm. Did fgm stop when the top authorities prohibited it? Unfortunately, women violated the prohibition and kept cutting girls. Some were operated on by female elders and adult cutters, and there were some adolescent girls who claimed to have cut each other. Tradition and generational politics were stronger than the threat of legal penalty.

    From recorded history, more men than women have undergone genital mutilation as children. This shouldn’t be a question of “Who’s suffering is worst?” or “Who has suffered the longest?”, but “Why are children being made to suffer at all?” As for people making insensitive jokes, instead of making castration jokes yourself, perhaps evaluate if you make similarly insensitive remarks too and confront issues specifically without going overboard.

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