What the fuck, American Academy of Pediatrics. What the fuck.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement entitled ‘Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors’ in April encouraging “federal and state laws [to] enable pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ‘ritual nick'” of girls’ clitorises. What the fuck is this bullshit? They even try to dodge the FGM debate by euphemistically calling female genital mutilation “female genital cutting”. YOU HAVE NOT TRICKED ME, AAP.
Here’s a quote from the AAP’s frothingly rage-inducing statement:
Some physicians, including pediatricians who work closely with immigrant populations in which FGC is the norm, have voiced concern about the adverse effects of criminalization of the practice on educational efforts. These physicians emphasize the significance of a ceremonial ritual in the initiation of the girl or adolescent as a community member and advocate only pricking or incising the clitoral skin as sufficient to satisfy cultural requirements. This is no more of an alteration than ear piercing [emphasis mine].
To be fair, they frame this recommendation around concerns that FGM practices will be worse and more unsafe without dialogue between communities that practice it and their doctors. But pardon me if I think permanently disfiguring my sexual anatomy, potentially crippling my sexual pleasure, causing chronic agony, and leading to gynecological problems in pregnancy, childbirth, and day-to-day life is NOTHING LIKE AN EAR PIERCING. Condoning FGM is not okay.
In short, go to hell, AAP.
Feel free to share your rage in the comments.
*Edited June 13 2010: So, ages after the fact I was thinking about how I really need to go back and address this post again. So, here goes!
I should qualify this rant—my intention wasn’t to state that the AAP is advocating for full physical FGM—but that their statement condones a practice which, however symbolic and (under their proposed standards) potentially non-harmful physically, is designed around destroying women’s sexual agency and perpetuating the notion of women’s bodies as public property. Rape culture, people!
My apologies to women who have had any sort of procedure performed on their genitals—you are not any less of a woman than those who have not undergone FGM or genital surgery, and I respect what you choose to do with your own body. My rant did not respect you, and that was wrong of me. If you have unwillingly undergone FGM and reclaimed your vagina as whole and beautiful, your self-definition is what matters, and I have no right to impose my own. If you have willingly chosen to modify your genitals, that’s none of my business either.
However, FGM continues to trouble me when it is performed on those who are unable to make independent decisions about their own bodies—babies and children, who it is the human duty to protect until adulthood—and women who choose the procedure under threat of being rejected by their families, friends, or communities should they not do so. Every individual should have the right to make choices about their own body without censure or reproach—until then, our bodies are not entirely our own. And that sucks.