The oh so politically correct anthropologists at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting.are going to debate if female mutilation under the guise of multiculturalism is okay.

Writes John Tierney of the NYTimes:

Should African women be allowed to engage in the practice sometimes called female circumcision? Are critics of this practice, who call it female genital mutilation, justified in trying to outlaw it, or are they guilty of ignorance and cultural imperialism?…. As the organizers of the AAA panel note:

The panel includes for the first time, the critical “third wave” or multicultural feminist perspectives of circumcised African women scholars Wairimu Njambi, a Kenyan, and Fuambai Ahmadu, a Sierra Leonean. Both women hail from cultures where female and male initiation rituals are the norm…

Oh how civilized. Why shouldn’t primitive women force allow their twelve year old daughters a joyful puberty ceremony? Let’s not be judgemental about such things.

And if you read the NYTimes debate, you see a nice debate, missing only one little thing: Details on what they are talking about.

Not even a F*****g Wikipedia link for their readers.

Without knowing the details, those defending the practice simply are ignoring the problems (and some of those who say “why not” are obviously ignorant of the details).

Let’s get clinical. I’ve written about this before….If you have a weak stomach, stop here.


Not mentioned in the article is that there are three types of female circumcision.

The practice, like male circumcision, probably started like male circumcision as an initiation rite and to help in cleanliness in dry climates where washing is difficult.

But those who pretend male and female circumcision practices are the same must be thinking that female circumcision is only removing the hood from the clitoris.

If this was the only form of female circumcision, I would have no problem with it. But the dirty little secret is that it’s a lot worse than that in most cases.

I worked in Liberia as a doctor and delivered some of these ladies. Let me explain.

Only type one female circumcision is equivalent to male circumcision.
You make a small slit in the skin covering the clitoris, or sometimes remove the tip of the clitoris.

Type two is removing the entire clitoris, equivalent to removing the penile shaft, and not only is bloody but scarring can end up scarring the urethral exit, leading to recurrant bladder problems.

But the type I saw in Africa was the type 3. Alas, this is more common.

This is equivalent to removing the penis and cutting the base of the penis out of the of the perineum. This type of circumcision removes the entire clitoris, the labia majora and labia minora (in lay terms, the pussy and the flaps that go around the vagina).

This, of course, leaves a big hole, which is then sewn shut leaving a small hole.

The urine has to find it’s way out of the hole, as does menstrual blood. If the hole is small, it causes pain with sex, especially when sex starts (thereby discouraging promiscuity). Usually with time, the tissue stretches.

However, Africans are prone to thick scarring, (Keloid formation) so what happens in some of these is that their entire outside genital region becomes hard and stiff, with a rigid hole in the middle.

Even in the cases with mild scarring, we had to make anterior and posterior episiotomies (cuts) to allow delivery of a baby; without this, often the women tear and bleed/get infected during delivery.

If the scar tissue is severe, it can cause a prolonged second stage of labour, leading to vesical vaginal fistula, and sometimes death from complications of long hard labor (infections, bleeding from the wound, and bleeding from uterine atony, a uterus too pooped to clamp down and stop bleeding after a delivery).

The risk of a woman in Africa dying of childbirth is 175 times that of a woman in Europe. How much of this is due to obstructed labour caused by perineal scarring from being circumcized? In simple terms, we don’t know.

Then there are the joys of having a vesical vaginal fistula, a complication that is rarely seen in civilized countries.
In circumcized women, the baby’s head stops partway down the birth canal (in the vagina). If it stays there long enough, the pressure of the head can injure or even cause necrosis (death) of the tissues, and you are left with a hole between the bladder (or bowel) and the vagina. So you constantly leak pee, smell terrible, and become a social outcast.

Ah, but Dr. Ahmadu, who defends the practice of female circumcision, grew up in Chicago. She volunteered to be circumcized as an adult, insists that the circumcision is a form of “female empowerment”, insisting:

the bulk of Kono women who uphold these rituals do so because they want to — they relish the supernatural powers of their ritual leaders over against men in society, and they embrace the legitimacy of female authority…

Whoopie do.

Honey, if you need to be mutilated to keep a man happy, you’re living in the wrong country. Or rather, as an American who decided to become “empowered” by volunatarily undergoing circumcision, you miss the point: you are already empowered as an American woman. However, your desire to pretend to be a woman in your tribe is pathetic. Do you fetch water from wells? Sleep on a mat? Work in the fields every day? Share your husband with several other wives?

Of course not. You live in Chicago.

As for all that stuff about “female empowerment”, one could have said the same thing about footbinding in China, a custom that lasted over a thousand years and was also done by women to young girls, all in the name of being more attractive to one’s husband and therefore being more “empowered” in marriage. Of course, women back then in China had few options except being empowered in marriage, so where is the choice?

The whole point of feminism is to allow women other ways to have power over their own lives: things like education, or being respected as an equal in marriage and society.

Defending dangerous mutilation of teenaged girls in the name of multiculturalism is political correctness gone amuk, and they should all be ashamed of themselves.

You tube has a film on it…only for those over 18 and who have a strong stomach.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. She posts medical essays to HeyDoc Xanga Blog

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