A reader writes:
I'm totally for confronting misogynistic bigots. Knowing how they typically respond to confrontation, and considering that it is the daughters of said bigots that are in danger here, wouldn't it be at least be worth considering that this might help some fathers that are under pressure from their families or communities to mutilate their daughters to subvert the pressure with a 'token' mutilation? I don't disagree with PZ's thoughts on this in the slightest, but the bigotry in these communities is going to take time to go away, and in the meantime if - IF - this means that a lot of girls who would have gotten the full mutilation just get a token scar instead, wouldn't that be worth the dirty feeling that even I am getting just by writing this?
I am a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and I lived in Kenya for two years right out of college. Jomo Kenyatta's doctoral thesis, which was published as "Facing Mount Kenya", clearly states the reason behind female circumcision among the Kikuyu: to deny women any sexual pleasure, so that they would not be unfaithful. This practice, as horrifying as it may be, was adopted by a primitive society to maintain social order. Kenyatta also said that an uncircumcised woman would be considered undesirable by any Kikuyu man.
I can assure you that the bulk of AAP membership consists of wonderful people who are oriented toward serving others and are obviously not in medicine for the money. However, there are some who could be poster children for political correctness. They tout a cultural relativism that is very well-intentioned but has run seriously amok. American citizenship should entail saying no to primitive customs that ensured social order centuries ago: honor killings, female illiteracy, and yes, female genital mutilation.
I'm a physician and at one point was taking care of a Nigerian woman in labor. It was my first exposure to female 'circumcision'. In this case her clitoris had been completely removed and replaced by a mass of scar tissue. It was a horrible thing to see and hard to see how such a procedure could be justified. With a male circumcision at least sexual function and response remains.
I used to do newborn circumcisions but reached a point where my conscience could not justify doing it any longer. The arguments for reduced urinary tract infections and HIV (to me) are not justification for doing an elective surgical procedure because the parent wants it done.
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