Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Animals posing as humans

"Dawn" from NJ

"The disconnect between recognizing that it's "horrible and cruel" to do to girls, but not recognizing the same is true for boys, always baffles me. It's horrible and cruel to do to any sex.

Antibiotics not invasive surgery (UTI rebutle)

Like FGM, cut foreskins should be a feminist issue


His right as well as hers. Elvert Barnes

Making a comparison between male and female genital cutting 
is usually dismissed or condemned. When, for example, the 
Council of Europe recently passed a motion declaring both 
female genital cutting (FGC) and the circumcision of young 
boys for religious reasons “a violation of the physical integrity” 
of children, Tanya Gold, writing in The Guardian, called it:

A revolting juxtaposition of female genital mutilation,
which is always torture, and often murder, with ritual male 
circumcision, which is neither, and, incidentally, is practiced 
by most Muslims, and all Jews. Gold’s reaction is 
understandable. The horrifying damage caused by amputation 
of a girl’s external genitalia and infibulation 
(closing up of the vagina) – the most invasive forms of FGC – 
are incomparable to the harm caused by male genital 
cutting (MGC). Other less invasive forms of FGC, such as 
clitoral “nicks”, can also cause severe bleeding, infections 
and infertility.
But both FGC and MGC, where the erogenous foreskin is 
removed, can cause serious physical, mental and sexual 
harm. In 2011, 11 boys under the age of one were treated 
in Birmingham for life threatening hemorrhage, shock or 
sepsis relating to circumcision. In the US it’s estimated 
that 100 boys die as a result of circumcisions every year. 
MGC is also far more common globally: 
13m boys to 2m girls annually.

It isn't a "harm" competition

But this isn’t a harm competition. It’s about how FGC, 
often referred to as female genital mutilation because 
it’s widely seen as a violation of women’s rights and 
a form of oppression and sexual control, is easily 
accepted when that girl is a boy.
FGC has been banned in the UK since 1985 
(despite no convictions ) and since 2003, it has 
been illegal to carry out the procedure on British 
nationals abroad.
But, as bioethicist Dena Davis put it: “When one 
begins to question the normative status of the male 
newborn alteration in the West, and when one 
thinks of female alteration as including even a 
hygienically administered "nick,” one begins to see 
that these two practices, dramatically separated 
in the public imagination, actually have significant 
areas of overlap."

Overriding concerns

Although FGC is practised because of religious 
beliefs and seen as an important part of cultural 
identity (imparting a sense of pride, a coming of 
age or a feeling of community membership), 
aversion to it overrides concerns about protecting 
these religious or cultural freedoms – a view 
also held by some community leaders.

For Jews, the ritual is a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham. Cheskel Dovid

But when it comes to Male Genital Cutting (MGC) 
it’s neither explicitly illegal nor compulsorily regulated. 
Instead it’s perceived as a relatively innocuous 
procedure, a “routine neonatal circumcision”, or 
brit milah for Jews and khitan for Muslims.
The reasons for male circumcision also vary: for 
Muslims it’s sunnah, a practice instituted by the 
Prophet Muhammad; for Jews it’s a sign of God’s 
covenant with Abraham. It’s also cultural: it marks 
an entrance into manhood and is also carried out 
because of perceived social or health advantages 
(reduced HIV transmission among adults in 
Africa is a specific case, unrelated to most others 
or children). And in the case of MGC, religious 
and cultural freedoms are generally respected.
Given these contrasting public perceptions, drawing 
parallels is controversial. Some feminists interpret 
comparison as an offensive trivialisation of the harm 
done to women, while many Jews and Muslims see 
it as an attempt to restrict their religious and cultural 
freedom, with some going as far as to liken the threat 
to the Nuremberg Laws in Nazi Germany.

Consent and control

My research suggests it’s more complex. Leading 
medical ethicistshistorians, and legal scholars 
think that FGC and MGC overlap in ways that 
question the distinct labels and laws applied to them.
Along with the serious harm that both FGC and 
MGC can cause, both occur without the consent 
of the child, and irreversibly violate the child’s 
human right to physical integrity. In so doing, 
FGC and MGC both prioritise the cultural or religious 
beliefs of parents over their child’s right to 
self-determination and an open future.
Both have also sought to shape bodies and control 
sexual desire. FGC seeks to contain women’s 
sexuality within marriage and reproduction by 
aiming to reduce sexual pleasure, while the 
Jewish sage Maimonides and the Victorians 
advocated MGC to reduce lust and masturbation. 
Legal scholars Marie Fox and Michael Thomson 
have argued that MGC is “a gendering practice 
tied to masculinity and the management of male 
sexuality” that “parallels the ways in which feminist 
scholars have argued that female genital cutting 
serves to fix gender in women”.

Double standards

Given these overlaps, why have the two been 
treated differently? Alongside the difference in 
harm and misperceptions about the contrasting 
settings and ages at which the procedures take 
place, the double standard stems from two further 
factors: sexism and ethnocentrism.
Male bodies are constructed as resistant to harm 
or even in need of being tested by painful ordeals, 
whereas female bodies are seen as highly 
vulnerable and in need of protection. In other words, 
vulnerability is gendered. And little girls are more 
readily seen as victims than little boys.

Circumcision in central Asia in the 1800s. Library of Congress. Familiarity also creates comfort, and since MGC has been practised in the West for millennia and been routine in English-speaking countries for a century, we’re desensitised. By contrast, since FGC is geographically or culturally remote, it’s more liable to be seen as barbaric.

Gender Assumptions

It’s time to re-examine our gender and cultural assumptions about genital cutting, and take a non-discriminatory, intellectually consistent approach. We either accept that the loss of some individual rights of both boys and girls is the price of societal diversity – an approach rooted in a respect for pluralism and multiculturalism – or we respect the rights of all children, both girls and boys, equally. 
The first means rethinking opposition to FGC, and perhaps even re-allowing it on the basis of parents' religious beliefs or cultural preferences. But this would be unconscionable. The better thing would be to recognise that little boys have the same rights as little girls to bodily integrity (as recently recognised in the Netherlands), an open future and freedom from harm – in spite of their parents’ views.
Recognising overlaps in the cultural and religious arguments used to defend both, and human rights violations in no way trivialises the horror of FGC. And from a strategic point of view, making foreskin cutting a feminist issue would strengthen efforts to eliminate FGC. How can activists expect to convince a mother to leave her daughter uncircumcised if her husband is able to continue circumcising his son?

Rights should apply to all.

Rather than criticising the Council of Europe’s 
motion, we should celebrate it as a move towards 
greater child protection and gender equality.

"Isn't circumcision cleaner?" rebuttal

"I researched it, and feel it is best for my son" rebuttal

Police scanner traffic, Spokane Washington

"Dawn" from Texas