As euphemisms go, it's not as powerful as "circumcision" but its potential to legitimize the mutilation of young girls' genitals seems horrifying to me. PZ Myers brings to light the fact that the American Academy Of Pediatrics - yes, the American Academy of Pediatrics - is endorsing a kinder, gentler version of female genital mutilation for cultural reasons in America:
Most forms of FGC are decidedly harmful, and pediatricians should decline to perform them, even in the absence of any legal constraints. However, the ritual nick suggested by some pediatricians is not physically harmful and is much less extensive than routine newborn male genital cutting. There is reason to believe that offering such a compromise may build trust between hospitals and immigrant communities, save some girls from undergoing disfiguring and life- threatening procedures in their native countries, and play a role in the eventual eradication of FGC. It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm.
PZ notes this particularly loathesome passage from the AAP's statement:
"Mutilation" is an inflammatory term that tends to foreclose communication and that fails to respect the experience of the many women who have had their genitals altered and who do not perceive themselves as "mutilated." It is paradoxical to recommend "culturally sensitive counseling" while using culturally insensitive language. "Female genital cutting" is a neutral, descriptive term.
I heartily second PZ's endorsement of Equality Now, a group I've donated to and supported in the past, and which is a vanguard in defending core human rights, with respect to women. Equality Now is horrified by this concession to political correctness - check out their alert page here.
What I find particularly troubling is the slow adoption of attitudes toward female genital mutilation that still adhere to male genital mutilation. FGM in its severest forms is far, far worse. But MGM is an indefensible denial of core human integrity and autonomy - and yet its widespread acceptance has helped make "female genital cutting" more acceptable. If men or women wish to mutilate their own genitals as adults, that it their choice. But forcing this onto infants, male and female, even if it is just a cut or a nick, is a form of barbarism.
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