Pharyngula

The American Academy of Pediatrics has come up with a compromise on female genital mutilation.

International human rights organization Equality Now is stunned by a new policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which essentially promotes female genital mutilation (FGM) and advocates for “federal and state laws [to] enable pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ‘ritual nick’,” such as pricking or minor incisions of girls’ clitorises. The Policy Statement “Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors”, issued by the AAP on April 26, 2010, is a significant set-back to the Academy’s own prior statements on the issue of FGM and is antithetical to decades of noteworthy advancement across Africa and around the world in combating this human rights violation against women and girls. It is ironic that the AAP issued its statement the very same day that Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) announced the introduction of new bipartisan legislation, The Girls Protection Act (H.R. 5137), to close the loophole in the federal law prohibiting FGM by making it illegal to transport a minor girl living in the U.S. out of the country for the purpose of FGM.

Nice bit of accommodationism there. “We’ll just mutilate baby girls a little bit, to make the misogynist patriarchal assholes happy.” Well, we have no obligation to make misogynist patriarchal assholes happy at all, especially not when it involves waving scalpels about in the genitals of children.

Check out Equality Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the organization. It’s got the most depressing mission ever, but one of the most important, too. Also go to their urgent alert page, where they have names, addresses and phone numbers of AAP board members who should be flooded with messages (they also provide a sample letter) telling them what an awful, horrible, evil decision they have made.

By the way, the director of AAP and both board members you should write to…all male. Somehow, I’m not surprised.


By the way, also read the official AAP policy statement. It’s got another bizarre bit of pandering:

In addition, “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.

It also has several diagrams of the results of the procedure, appropriately labeled “Female genital mutilation.”

They do say that they offer “nicking” as a compromise to avoid greater harm, so that the parents are satisfied and do not go looking for more severe forms of mutilation to perpetrate on their children. It is not enough. Their whole policy is designed to avoid confronting misogynistic bigots with the horrendous consequences of their traditions.

Comments

  1. #1 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 6, 2010

    If anything I’ve read recently deserves a What the fuck? this does.

    What

    the

    fuck?

  2. #2 Ing
    May 6, 2010

    Wha…Pa…wha….Wha….wha…a……b……ah…?

    BALKLARAGH! BLARAGGH! BLAWBABABABABAWR!!

  3. #3 Westcoaster
    May 6, 2010

    Ok, I’ll go there. All forms of genital mutalition are wrong, including male circumcision. Taking a knife to any part of a baby’s anatomy for non-medically necessary reasons is just not right.

  4. #4 Arlene
    May 6, 2010

    This is disgusting and barbaric, the slicing and dicing of infants ought to be banned. I include circumcism, unless for medical reasons, too.

  5. #5 Ing
    May 6, 2010

    No seriously, WHAT THE FUCK!? Hey AMA can I get you to sign off on certain kinds of human sacrifice now!? How about signing off on certai…n kinds of wife beating? Or that Skinheads can do stomp parties but not with steel toed boots? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU. FUCK IT JUST FUCK IT ALL.

  6. #6 Givesgoodemail
    May 6, 2010

    Oh, it’s the usual lame “we try to make *everyone* happy” ploy, which of course means that they completely screw it up and piss everyone off instead.

    Other than this, I am speechless. How could *anyone* in the medical biz possibly support this??

  7. #7 bjstucker
    May 6, 2010

    And how would a culture that practiced human sacrifice be accomodated?- just choke the person out for a while;maybe induce a bit of a coma?

  8. #8 cfmilner
    May 6, 2010

    What a load of fucking bollocks!

    Thanks for providing contact details, PZ.

    - Vicar’s Daughter -

  9. #9 ted.dahlberg
    May 6, 2010

    Let’s hope doctors have more sense than the AAP board and refuse to descend into barbarism.
    Reminds me of a news story from a couple of weeks ago from my part of the world where doctors in western Sweden, en masse, refuse to perform circumcisions for religious or cosmetic reasons.

  10. #10 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 6, 2010

    Oh, it’s the usual lame “we try to make *everyone* happy” ploy

    I know. And it’s bullshit.

    Everyone does not deserve to be happy and to have their every sick desire placated no matter how “traditional” or deeply ingrained in their culture it is.

  11. #11 Gus Snarp
    May 6, 2010

    As is obvious from the comments above, WHAT THE FUCK? Is the only conceivable reaction to this.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has come up with a compromise on female genital mutilation.

    Seriously? The American Academy of Pediatrics? A Compromise? On Female Genital Mutilation? How can there be such a thing? I am stunned. Shocked. Saddened.

  12. #12 AJ Milne OM
    May 6, 2010

    Well, I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist they also accommodate my religious ritual, here, as well…

    Which is: if someone asks you to cut bits off of their baby daughter’s clitoris purely because they’re that fucking benighted, you are hereby required to cut a few choice bits off of them instead.

    (/Their testicles, naturally, will do, if they have them.)

  13. #13 naddyfive
    May 6, 2010

    Sadly, there are feminists who would be happy about this.

    Germaine Greer for one.

    Note the condescension in all of this, on the part of the AMA– we’ll just give them a little “nick”, to placate the naive Africans. They won’t know the difference, and everyone will be happy!

    It’s as disgusting as male circumcision is and as far as I’m concerned both should be illegal.

    Let’s just hope no doctors are foolish enough to actually put this into practice.

  14. #14 Holytape
    May 6, 2010

    Exactly how the fuck did this happen? Which dickbag in the AAP hierarchy woke up one day and saw a picture of a little girl and said to himself- ‘I can fix that’.

    Look, there is a republican and a democrat agreeing on this issue. That never fucking happens. That alone is the sign of the apocalypse.

    Jesus fucking christ on a mother-fucking pogo stick, how exactly retarded are the AAP board members. Are their parents bothers and sisters? Did they drink a gallon of lead paint as a child? And if they are that fucking mentally challenged, how the fuck did they fuckholes become mother-fucking doctors? Fuck. Fuck.

  15. #15 naddyfive
    May 6, 2010

    “Look, there is a republican and a democrat agreeing on this issue. That never fucking happens.”

    Seems like the one thing that democrats and republicans can often agree on in is that we need to “tolerate” patriarchal institutions and practices.

  16. #16 Stibbons
    May 6, 2010

    Wonder what the AAP’s stance on Jewish circumcision is? “Do not even mention” I would guess. It’s something that I, personally, would make illegal until the person reached legal adulthood, then they can request it themselves.

    Female “circumcision” is a loathsome practice which no truely sane and civilised human being could ever condone. The AAP now panders to the like of superstitious morons and witchdoctors, my faith in humanity has shrunk even more…

  17. #17 Rebelest
    May 6, 2010

    Well, American physicians have been ritually mutilating the genitals of boys for hundreds of years and hardly a pee-p is ever raised…except for all of the helpless and bewildered little boys whose innocence, trust and sensitivity are excised along with their “boyhood.”

    LEAVE CHILDRENS GENITALS ALONE!

  18. #18 Steve LaBonne
    May 6, 2010

    Well, I’ll be kinder than AJ Milne. The AAP board members should each have one testicle removed. They’ll still have another one left so it would really be just a little nick, right?

  19. #19 Gus Snarp
    May 6, 2010

    @naddyfive – I think you misread what the Democrat and Republican agreed on. They agreed on making it illegal to transport a minor out of the country for the purpose of female genital mutilation. Democrats and Republicans agree that this is an abhorrent practice that must stop. I would think all Americans would agree on that, but apparently not some in the AAP.

  20. #20 Ben Goren
    May 6, 2010

    [T]he American Academy of Pediatrics […] advocates for “federal and state laws [to] enable pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ‘ritual nick’,” such as pricking or minor incisions of girls’ clitorises.

    I have a better idea. How about, instead, they have a nice little party instead, with some cake, tea, balloons, and the works?

    If they really have to keep the focus on the girl’s girly bits, how about a vagina-shaped piñata, or “pin the tail on the clitoris”?

    I really, really can’t believe this. If the ritual were to chop off a finger, would they even think twice about offering to take a scalpel to the fingertip as a consolation prize?

    Let me join the chorus.

    WHAT. THE. FUCK?!

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  21. #21 anpumaat
    May 6, 2010

    It might quack like a duck…

    I’m trying my best to figure out how a doctor would rationalize this. Is there the danger that these parents might hire some unqualified quack to do a hack job on their daughters since real doctors wouldn’t?

    NC

  22. #22 Rorschach
    May 6, 2010

    Ok, Im reading the linked article, Im reading the comments here, and I still cant figure out for the life of me what on earth is happening there.

    Encouraging pediatricians to perform FGM under the notion of ‘cultural sensitivity’ shows a shocking lack of understanding of a girl’s fundamental right to bodily integrity and equality

    Cultural sensitivity? Are you fucking kidding me? Who oversees this club of stone age accomodationists? This is just unbelievable.

  23. #23 Cerberus
    May 6, 2010

    I’m sorry I was too busy listening to Lily Allen. Let’s just look up here at what they are…

    I’m sorry…

    Lily, could you finish for me?

    Thank you kindly.

    What the fuck?!? Doctors are not supposed to compromise on this shit. They are supposed to stand up for proper medical procedures and the good of the patient, not give a sloppy wet kiss to horrible mispractices of medicine because it might hurt some bigot’s fee fees.

    When creationists tell us to stop teaching evolution in schools, when christian scientists tell us to stop using medicines and surgery to keep people alive, and when fucks want to cut off or nick the direct sexual organs of little girls, their response should be “fuck you”, not “hmm, well its ‘beliefs’, so let’s just shoot ourselves in the foot.”

    Fuck.

    They need to be fired. All of them. New board in the spring and I urge anyone in pediatrics to start a campaign directly demanding this for gross negligence of duty. The type of personalities that have this little respect for women and girl’s health has no business running an organization that treats little boys and girls and certainly not one that writes the teaching materials for the field.

    They don’t just need to change their minds, they need to be removed from their posts and replaced with people who actually care about children’s health.

  24. #24 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 6, 2010

    I say this, let us expand upon the idea of accommodating. There are cultures where men will throw acid in the face of those women who act against the wishes of their families, thus disfiguring their faces and marking them for life. Let the AAP provide a medically safe means of scarring the faces of those women who disobey their families.

  25. #25 SkepgineerChick
    May 6, 2010

    I am here to give my WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?! for good measure as well. Seriously, what the fuck are these people thinking? I also don’t understand the whole circumcision thing that has become mainstream. It is cruel and completely unnecessary. The fact that it can be anywhere near extrapolated to include women is, to me, completely barbarian. It is mutilation and it is cursing a woman to pain for the rest of her life. I don’t care what anyone says, there is no reason to press a knife to any part of a baby’s anatomy for anything not medically necessary. Absolutely ridiculous. This makes me sick. I am writing letters tonight and sending this to everyone I know to do the same. SICK!

  26. #26 Kaessa
    May 6, 2010

    There are no words…

    I would just like to add my WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?!??!

  27. #27 Carlie
    May 6, 2010

    Wonder what the AAP’s stance on Jewish circumcision is? “Do not even mention” I would guess.

    Not really any better.
    Their position on circumcision is “make up your own mind”, and hasn’t been revised since 1999.

  28. #28 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    “Ritual Nick” my ass. The people who want their daughters “circumcised” aren’t going to settle for a “nick”. Jesus fuckin’ Christ.

    In addition, “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.

    Inflammatory, is it?

    I was next. Grandma swung her hand from side to side and said “Once this long kintir is removed you and your sister will be pure.” From Grandma’s words and gestures I gathered that this hideous kintir, my clitoris, would one day grow so long that it would swing sideways between my legs. She caught hold of me and gripped my upper body in the same position as she had put Mahad. Two other women held my legs apart. The man, who was probably an itinerant traditional circumciser from the blacksmith clan, picked up a pair of scissors. With the other hand, he caught hold of the place between my legs and started tweaking it, like Grandma milking a goat. “There it is, there is the kintir,: one of the the women said.

    Then the scissors went down between my legs and the man cut off my inner labia and clitoris. I heard it, like a butcher snipping the fat off a piece of meat. A piercing pain shot up between my legs, indescribable, and I howled. Then came the sewing: the long, blunt needle clumsily pushed into my bleeding outer labia, my loud and anguished protests, Grandma’s words of comfort and encouragement. “It’s just this once in your life, Ayaan. Be brave, he’s almost finished.” When the sewing was finished, the man cut the thread off with his teeth. That is all I can recall of it.

    But I do remember Haweya’s bloodcurdling howls. Though she was the youngest – she was four, I five, Mahad six – Haweya must have struggled much more than Mahad and I did, or perhaps the women were exhausted after fighting us, and slipped, because the man made some bad cuts on Haweya’s thighs. She carried the scars of them her whole life.

    [The description goes on from there.] Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

  29. #29 DMB
    May 6, 2010

    This is totally appalling.

  30. #30 Gus Snarp
    May 6, 2010

    I have a hard time seeing how any context could mitigate this statement, but I’d like to note that the only source here is a press release from an advocacy organization. We don’t know if they are even accurately quoting the AAP. I tried to find the statement, but it’s behind the pay wall of the journal Pediatrics, which I can’t get access to. The AAP’s press release on this doesn’t use the words used by Equality Now in their press release. Just to make sure our anger is fully righteous, can someone with access to Pediatrics read the statement in question and verify the accuracy of the press release by Equality Now?

  31. #31 Robert H
    May 6, 2010

    Interesting to know that the AAP is coddling misogynists…

    I realize that there are men who are intimidated by women’s sexuality but dealing with their fears by mutilating girls is cowardice in the extreme.

  32. #32 mikerattlesnake
    May 6, 2010

    I agree with the chorus for the most part, but I will say this RE: (male) circumcision. Both my brother and my girlfriend’s brother had complications from not circumcizing that required them to do it later in life when it was more painful and they actually remember it. Therefore, I am pretty biased towards circumcision for my future son(s). I realize this is not a representative sample and it may not be the most rational choice, but man those dudes were not happy.

  33. #33 Gus Snarp
    May 6, 2010

    Ah, scratch that. PZ seems to have updated the post.

  34. #34 EvilSooty
    May 6, 2010

    Why are people more horrified by female than male circumcision? What is the difference?

    Jews (and others) have been mutilating their boys’ penises for time immemorial yet it doesn’t raise a clamor.

  35. #35 EvilSooty
    May 6, 2010

    mikerattlesnake:

    What complications could you have by NOT being circumcising? As far as I am aware it is a completely unnecessary and barbaric procedure.

  36. #36 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 6, 2010

    EvilSooty, read the comments here. Some are bringing up their opposition to male circumcision.

  37. #37 EvilSooty
    May 6, 2010

    * I seem to have invented my own grammatical rule! Previous post should read:

    ‘…by NOT being circumcised?’

  38. #38 Craig M
    May 6, 2010

    Fucking ARSEHOLES.

    It used to be that I’d say “occasionally something happens that makes me wish that I wasn’t part of this human bullshit”. These days, it’s not occasionally; it’s every fucking day.

  39. #39 danielm
    May 6, 2010

    yes, today the family advocacy council advised on the maximum allowed thickness of the cane with which you are allowed to beat your wife.

    “we are against all forms of beating,” the spokesman said, “this is why we are suggesting a maximum width of a standard human male thumb for the cane which is ritually used to beat inattentive spouses. we hope this clarification will help stem the tide of real mutilation, and reduce it merely to a slight beating, with which the female should recover in a day or two.”

    so tell me, AMA, are you still beating your wives?

    @evilsooty I think you’ll find plenty of people who think male circumcision is mutilation just as much as female circumcision is mutilation.

    I would suggest though that female circumcision is worse, as the pleasure you get from sexual intercourse, whilst diminished for males, is removed entirely for women.

    This, however, does not stop it being mutilation (and wrong) in both cases, if performed without a damned good medical reason.

  40. #40 mumonjmk
    May 6, 2010

    That’s nothing less than an outrage.

  41. #41 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    EvilSooty:

    The two, in their traditional forms, are incomparable. Female genital mutilation is more akin to penisectomy.

    That being said, I have to say I agree with what the AAP is trying to do. Circumcision of either gender is barbaric, but at least they’re limiting the damage. This may sound a bit Chamberlain-esque, but in the meantime, it means that many of those ‘parents’ won’t be destroying the chance for their children to enjoy their own bodies.

    Of course, we need to keep working to make the whole blasted thing go away, but it won’t happen overnight.

  42. #42 a.debaser
    May 6, 2010

    Aww — mutilation is inflammatory language!

    Oh wait no, I think they meant to say “Mutilating genitals causes inflammation.”

    If only they were advocating from an “only-adults” position, I wouldn’t care one bit about their happy-slicey “lets make sex less enjoyable” club.

  43. #43 EvilSooty
    May 6, 2010

    Janine:

    I was referring to that in society at large male circumcision is not treated with the same moral abhorrence that its female equivalent is.

    For example, only female circumcision is outlawed in the UK.

  44. #44 InfraredEyes
    May 6, 2010

    Why are people more horrified by female than male circumcision? What is the difference?

    It is a much more radical procedure, usually involving complete removal of an entire organ (the clitoris), and sometimes including measure such as stitching the vagina almost shut. It’s a leading contributor to high rates of maternal injury and death in countries where it’s practiced.

    I’m not advocating male circumcision here, but the scale of the thing is entirely different.

  45. #45 Tim Harris
    May 6, 2010

    Read Wilfred Thesiger on some of the horrendous circumcisions (on males)that used to be practiced, and perhaps still are illegally, by certain Arabian tribes. Of course, you still find well-educated and otherwise liberal-minded people in the States who are gung-ho for male circumcision and who accuse any critics of having psychological problems if they beg to differ: try to raise the issue with the woman who runs Mahablog. One suspects she would agree with the males on this pediatric association about female circumcision, too. But even if she doesn’t, she will aver that it’s okay to do it to males.

  46. #46 Jeeves
    May 6, 2010

    mikerattlesnake@32

    Both my brother and my girlfriend’s brother had complications from not circumcizing that required them to do it later in life when it was more painful and they actually remember it.

    BUT, they could provide informed consent, they understood the risks that the procedure posed and they accepted them on behalf of themselves.

    Lots of medical procedures are uncomfortable, but as adults we can articulate our discomfort and those needs can be cared for, whereas a baby can’t.

    Your statement about them remembering the procedure as an excuse to do it when they’re a baby (and therefore unlikely to remember) could be used as a defence for using rohypnol to rape someone. Afterall, they don’t remember it right? What’s the harm?

  47. #47 Tulse
    May 6, 2010

    Why are people more horrified by female than male circumcision? What is the difference?

    Male circumcision typically does not involve completely removing the most sensitive part of the genitals, nor does it typically involve sewing the genitals to the body so that they cannot be used, nor does it typically significantly impair adult sexual function.

    While those who oppose male circumcision may have good arguments to make, it is trivializing and false to equate it with traditional female genital mutilation. There really is no reasonable comparison between the two.

  48. #48 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    By the way, I’ve heard that some groups are going the same way with regard to male circumcision. Basically, instead of cutting off any portion of the foreskin, they simply pierce it with a lancet and draw a drop of blood. This apparently satisfies the ‘letter of the law’, but does no (or extremely limited) permanent damage.

    From what I see, the AAP is encouraging parents to do the same for their daughters instead of doing full clitoridectomies (or worse).

    Basically, it reduces the whole ritual from “barbaric” to “stupid”. And I see that as an improvement.

  49. #49 rufustfirefly66
    May 6, 2010

    Fucking motherfuckers.

  50. #50 mikerattlesnake
    May 6, 2010

    @evilsooty

    I don’t remember what the exact complications were, I think some sort of infection but I’m not sure what caused it. I just know it sucked for my brother and my girlfriend’s brother. Again, I know I’m working from a small sample size, but I don’t resent my circumcision and theirs sucked big time.

    RE: sensitivity. As a mutilated male I wonder how accurate the claims of decreased sensitivity are. What are these claim based on? Is there some data out there?

  51. #51 Aquaria
    May 6, 2010

    The only possible thing I can think of that the AAP night really be trying to do is get this procedure into a safe environment. Let’s face it: It’s not just a barbaric procedure, it’s a barbaric procedure being performed in barbaric conditions. No anesthesia. No sterilized environment. Devices that are in no way kept to the standards that the average hospital keeps them.

    It might also explain the soothing respect for beliefs crap they’re spewing.

    It’s the only thing that makes sense. If one could call it such a thing.

    If it’s really true that they’ve come up with this monstrous policy, I want these board members need to have a testicle nicked every time their recommended procedure is performed. Then they might finally understand what they’re advocating.

  52. #52 Rawnaeris
    May 6, 2010

    FUCKING HELL! FUCK FUCK FUCK

    /deep breath/

    Those assholes!

    /deep breath/

    We are the only first world country that wants to be a third world country. We’d won the battle against no FMG in this country and they want to set us back? Please tell me that law mentioned in PZ’s article makes what those men have decreed illegal.

  53. #53 Jillian Swift
    May 6, 2010

    @Benjamin Geiger (#48): I’d prefer a policy where doctors would, on receiving a request to perform genital mutilation, would report the parents for fucking ritualized child abuse.

    Fuck the religious barbarians.

  54. #54 Michelle R
    May 6, 2010

    …FUCK YOU. And I hope you’ll enjoy it cuz THESE GIRLS WON’T BE ABLE TO!

    Oh man. Way to piss me off in the morning! I already have something against instant circumcision in males, but at least they can still make the thing work and fiddle around. And in this case they can still make shit up about the medical and hygene advantages of nipping the weiner! These girls won’t know what sexual pleasure is! AND THERE IS NO JUSTIFICATION For this move beyond religion and enslavement of the “weaker gender”!

    Gah! I HOPE YOU GET “FEMALE GENITAL CUTTING” TOO AND LOVE IT.

  55. #55 BlueIndependent
    May 6, 2010

    “…Why are people more horrified by female than male circumcision? What is the difference?…”

    Because it’s being done under the guise of trying to protect (but in actuality to oppress) females from the “fires of hell”. It’s done so as to make sex entirely unenjoyable, so that the circumcized person will lose interest in that natural enterprise entirely, thereby saving them from sin. And that’s the niceest end they hope to achieve. The real impact is that it robs women of their corporeal rights, serves to do nothing but rob them of something every human being is born naturally with, subjugates them under male patriarchy, and all around treats them as something less than human simply because of their sex. The procedure also prevents exactly no afflictions, so there’s no medical reason to do it either, only the incessantly bowing to apparitions and hallucinations that then robs other humans of their rights and humanity.

    It’s wrong from every angle, and it’s something that should have been abolished to the dustbin of history ages ago. But, because even Western society is still afflicted with god-bothering stupidity, thus we have this to contend with.

  56. #56 Gus Snarp
    May 6, 2010

    I still disagree with the AAP on this, but having looked over the policy statement, I have to say that they are not “promoting” FGM as Equality Now suggests. They are basically suggesting that some form of less harmful procedure might be a tool toward the eventual eradication of all FGM. I disagree with them, but essentially they’re talking about an option, it is not in their recommendations. Sadly though, the recommendations do include the weasel words “that pose
    risks of physical or psychological
    harm.” I think it should be simple to “oppose all forms of FGC” without that weasel statement, especially given that the statement, though also oddly not in the recommendations section, states that

    Parents should be reminded that performing FGC is illegal and constitutes child
    abuse in the United States.

    If it is illegal and constitutes child abuse in any form, why is it only opposed in forms “that pose risks of physical or psychological harm?”

  57. #57 EvilSooty
    May 6, 2010

    InfraredEyes et al:

    I know that female circumcision can be much worse, given its explicit intent to destroy any enjoyment that a woman may derive from sexual intercourse in the future, but male circumcision is also mutilation and cannot be justified legally or medically.

    Inflicting a similarly unnecessary injury on your male son (say, lopping off an ear lobe) would almost certainly lead to public outrage, prosecution and a custodial sentence.

  58. #58 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Michelle R:

    What AAP is endorsing for girls is less severe than routine male circumcision (which is barbaric, I agree). Basically, all they do is draw blood. No permanent damage, no loss of function.

    You see, what you describe is exactly what they’re trying to stop.

  59. #59 Deepsix
    May 6, 2010

    When I was born, my parents had the option of having me circumcized. Instead, they elected just to have me kicked in the balls.

  60. #60 Becky
    May 6, 2010

    The AAP policy makes clear that the “nick” they are talking about is not the practice describe in the comments above, but is actually less extensive than male circumcision.

    I think their question of “Why is this practice wrong, but a much more extensive procedure done to boys’ genitalia for cultural reasons is OK?” has a good point. I think they asked the right question but came to the wrong conclusion.

  61. #61 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Jillian Swift:

    In an ideal world, sure, that would be perfect. However, here in the real world, people out there are already in the thrall of stupidity. Reduction of harm is the order of the day.

  62. #62 Robert H
    May 6, 2010

    Male circumcision is, except for medical reasons, purely barbaric but don’t put it on the same level of a clitoridectomy; removing the clitoris would be equivalent to removing the glans penis. An eye for an eye…

  63. #63 Jeeves
    May 6, 2010

    They are basically suggesting that some form of less harmful procedure might be a tool toward the eventual eradication of all FGM.

    Won’t it have the opposite outcome though? When you make it acceptable to perform a “nick”, then there’s a chance that devout parents that wouldn’t have gone for the full FGM will opt to have the “nick”. And then, like male circumcision, the opponents of the “nick” will be branded bigots when they try to do anything about it. The only reason that male circumcision is performed in the UK, where it has never been done routinely by doctors, is because of the two religious communities that practice it frame any argument against it as an attack on them

  64. #64 SaraJ
    May 6, 2010

    @ Westcoaster #3

    I totally agree. I am against both male and female circumcision. Both practices are unnecessary, painful, and, especially in the case of female circumcision, cause loss of feeling. I don’t understand why anyone would say to a doctor “Yes, please cut part of my child off”.

  65. #65 daveau
    May 6, 2010

    …fails to respect the experience of the many women who have had their genitals altered and who do not perceive themselves as “mutilated.”

    Well, that makes it all right then, doesn’t it? I echo the many WTFs.

  66. #66 Carlie
    May 6, 2010

    It ought to be a fairly simple rule: “Do not cut off dangly bits unless amputation is somehow medically required to save the live of the dangly-bit owner”.

    There. And I do think male circumcision is terrible, but can we please not make the thread all about the menz, given that the post was about fgm?

    (I know, it’s impossible to talk about something involving women without shifting the focus to men, but I can ask anyway.)

  67. #67 mxh
    May 6, 2010

    I’ll echo the wtf?? I agree with Ing (@#5), what the hell thinks we need to compromise on something like this?

    Although, about male circumcision, there actually is evidence (not just anecdotes) that there is a decrease in pediatric urinary tract infections (especially, if a physician does it) and transmission of STDs in circumcised males. It’s not a large enough decrease to say circumcision is a good thing, but it’s one more reason why no group ever touches it.

  68. #68 EvilSooty
    May 6, 2010

    Robert H and others:

    Yes, female circumcision tends to be worse, but ALL mutilation of children should be condemned as barbaric. We shouldn’t ignore one practice just because there are much worse ones out there.

    I suppose I would just welcome some consistency from the authorities on this. For example, in the UK a law was passed explicitly outlawing female circumcision (see Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003)yet its male equivalent remains legal.

  69. #69 Aquaria
    May 6, 2010

    #57

    It is still not the same, dimwit. Boys get the procedure only days after birth; most girls are older and fully conscious of what’s happening to them. Outside of the Jewish tradition, most boys circumcised in the West have the procedure in a hospital, with highly trained staff, and state of the art equipment and procedures. Most FGMs occur on the likes of a kitchen table with questionable instruments and folk practitioners who aren’t licensed, with training that is abysmal at best.

    But go ahead and keep whining about how terrible you boys have it and how nobody cares about poor widdle boy diddums, when most people on here have expressed their opposition to the procedure right here.

    It doesn’t have to be about you all the time, anyway, you know.

  70. #70 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    EvilSooty:

    Why are people more horrified by female than male circumcision? What is the difference?

    Read my post @ 28.

  71. #71 Tulse
    May 6, 2010

    I don’t oppose harm reduction in principle, and think that a literal “nick” is likely not that big a deal as long as it doesn’t cause any permanent damage. But I would strongly question whether any community that traditionally practices FGM would see such a nick as acceptable, given that, as BlueIndependent notes, the whole purpose of FGM (unlike male circumcision) is to control sexuality. FGM is not merely an odd religious relic, it is designed to prevent women from having sex outside of prescribed boundaries, and to reduce their sex drive in general. A “nick” isn’t going to do that.

  72. #72 Becky
    May 6, 2010

    @mikerattlesnake

    Assessing the possibility of a circ being required later is difficult, because there are differing standards for when a circumcision is “required” for medical reasons. I’ve seen stats that say that fully 10% of uncircumcised boys in the US will later be circumcised for medical reasons, yet countries where circumcision is not viewed as the norm have much lower rates of necessary circumcision. This document from the Canadian Paediatric Society lists a 1% rate, the same rate that it lists for a circ needing to be redone: http://www.cps.ca/caringforkids/pregnancy&babies/Circumcision.htm

  73. #73 Michelle R
    May 6, 2010

    @Benjamin: Oh! Just a little nick to make the sadists happy! oh yes, that’s much better.

    Okay first of all, when they catch their little girl twiddling the thing later on I doubt they’ll be satisfied with the little nick and will finish the job.

    Second of all, even if that was enough, why do you want to compromise with sickos who want to nip at their daughters’s clitoris?

    Do not belittle this. It’s sick. The motivation behind the mutilation is sick. The idea of uselessly pricking at a child’s wee parts is sick. It’s all nonsense and no medical association should say anything beyond “These people are nuts, take their children away, save the kids!”

  74. #74 stuv.myopenid.com
    May 6, 2010

    In addition, “mutilation” is an inflammatory term that tends to foreclose communication

    Aaaaahhh, the Colgate Twins Doctrine out in the bright light of day for all to see.

    Oh, and of course: full glans removal for all these jackasses. What the flying fuck.

  75. #75 The Other Ian
    May 6, 2010

    Both my brother and my girlfriend’s brother had complications from not circumcizing that required them to do it later in life when it was more painful and they actually remember it. Therefore, I am pretty biased towards circumcision for my future son(s). I realize this is not a representative sample and it may not be the most rational choice, but man those dudes were not happy.

    So what? Tonsils can get infected and require surgical removal, but we don’t do that routinely at birth “just in case”. Likewise for the appendix and the wisdom teeth.

  76. #76 creating trons
    May 6, 2010

    This is so…so…WTF?

    Holytape @ #14:

    I was thinking the same thing. That grown educated free men sat around a table and decided that this policy was needed. I’m sure there were several drafts that were reviewed and red lined.

    These guys are not getting enough female recreation (probably no recreation of any kind). There is nothing wrong with my girlfriends playground. She just doesn’t always let me play there when I want.

    Sick Fucks.

  77. #77 jay.sweet
    May 6, 2010

    In answer to the question in the title of the post, “harm reduction” can be an appropriate response in certain situations, e.g. like when dealing with an addict.

    But in this case, I don’t think it’s justified.

  78. #78 EvilSooty
    May 6, 2010

    Carlie,

    People are bringing up male circumcision as, unlike female circumcision, there isn’t a consensus that it is barbarous.

  79. #79 Becky
    May 6, 2010

    What I find far more disturbing than this statement by the AAP are those advocating for FGM for “hygienic” and cultural reasons. Here’s just one example: http://www.thepatrioticvanguard.com/article.php3?id_article=2434
    Or this one:
    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/123192872/PDFSTART

    Here is a relatively young woman stating that women prefer to be “circumcised” because it reduces infections and is cleaner, and doesn’t affect their sex lives in the slightest.

  80. #80 sorceror171
    May 6, 2010

    Here’s what I wrote to the AAP:

    Let me join in the chorus decrying your recent Policy Statement suggesting changes to United States federal and state laws to allow pediatricians to offer alternative, ‘minimal’ incisions instead of full genital mutilation.

    I understand the attempt to minimize the harm done to girls. But I simply do not see this as an issue amenable to compromise. Especially not in the United States. I recognize that this practice is a part of many cultures, but I oppose any and all efforts to make it even slightly more acceptable here, even in the interest of cultural sensitivity.

    In India, there has been a long custom of burning widows alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands. I’m not thrilled with the British occupation of India, but at least it allowed James Napier to state: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

    However well-intentioned, this was a terrible move and should be publicly retracted – immediately.

  81. #81 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    Benjamin Geiger:

    You see, what you describe is exactly what they’re trying to stop.

    What you’re ignoring is that those who want their daughters circumcised won’t settle for a “nick”. They want the works cut out – clitoris and inner labia.

    Carlie:

    There. And I do think male circumcision is terrible, but can we please not make the thread all about the menz, given that the post was about fgm?

    Oh, I wish. It would be nice if the focus could stay on girls and women. I doubt it will though. Can’t ignore the holy phallus.

  82. #82 Michelle R
    May 6, 2010

    @Becky: …What the hell is she talking about? I never heard about any clitoris infections. And obviously she doesn’t know how sex is supposed to feel, the poor thing. Just makes you shake your head and pity her, really.

  83. #83 Becky
    May 6, 2010

    @Michelle, if you shake your head and pity her, then you’re being patronizing and rejecting the legitimacy of her experience. Didn’t you finish reading her rant?

    Maybe there is a belief that removing the labia would reduce the risk of vaginal infections? In areas where FGM is common, it is believed to be “necessary” at times for health reasons. For instance, in Egypt FGM is illegal except for medical reasons. Funnily enough, it is never necessary in places where it is not the cultural norm.

  84. #84 EvilSooty
    May 6, 2010

    Aquaria:

    I am not disputing that the effects of FGM tend to be much worse and more invasive in their extent. What I am saying is that there is a lack of consistency in the press and from the government (in the UK at least) when you compare their stance on FGM with MGM.

    They are rightfully horrified by the former, but silent on the latter, even though if a parent of a boy were to inflict similar injuries upon him as those sustained during a male circumcision they would be prosecuted for causing (at least) actual bodily harm and demonised in the press.

  85. #85 Snikkers
    May 6, 2010

  86. #86 Tim Harris
    May 6, 2010

    I think Aquaria, among others, should not assume that if the issue of male circumcision is brought up that the issue of female circumcision (which if one excepts the practice of certain Arabian tribes, which involved flaying the whole penis of adolescent boys, I, as a male, am ready and willing to assert is infinitely more barbaric, dangerous and terrible in its effects than male circumcision as practiced in nice clean Western hospitals – though there is a YouTube of a baby boy being circumcised in one of those nice hospitals that Aquaria might deign to look at)is being slighted. Sorry for that horrendous parenthesis, but I’m sure that somebody of Aquaria’s calibre will be able to work out the meaning.

  87. #87 Snikkers
    May 6, 2010

    Try again:

    *checks calendar notices it’s not April 1…cries*

  88. #88 sunioc
    May 6, 2010

    I’ve got a better compromise. When parents bring their children to a doctor and request FGM, we take their children away from them and sterilize them, to make sure they can’t make more children to abuse.

  89. #89 Carlie
    May 6, 2010

    Tim, the point is that most of the time bringing up male circ. in a discussion of female circ. DOES derail and slight it. Because, as you can already see here, it devolves immediately into a fight over who has it worse, and strident accusations about why why WHY isn’t everyone screaming about male circ. RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Yes, I think the fact that male circ. is socially more acceptable is bizzare, related specifically to the dominant religious practices in a culture, and a topic for discussion in its own right. But what’s exasperating is that it never seems to come up until female mutilation is introduced as a topic, and then suddenly people can’t wait another second to talk about how bad male circ. is and how if you want to redirect it back to the issue of women you are a terrible person who hates men.

  90. #90 dmorrison
    May 6, 2010

    Two things:

    1) PZ: “First, do no harm” is utterly useless bunk. It is no longer used as a medical oath, and to see why I’ll ask you do consider some common scenarios:
    -Can someone do life saving surgery without “harming” a patient?
    -Can someone prescribe life saving medication that has side effects (say, chemotherapy) without “harming” a patient?
    Medical ethics is more complicated than that. But if you want a simplification, the best I can give you is “The patient comes first.”

    2) I am unable to see how performing what can at best be described as elective surgery on a child without their consent is in any way ethical.
    What if parents want to deafen their kids because they’re deaf? It happens. It’s the same stupid shit.
    Hell, how about involuntary organ donation! Kids don’t need both kidneys, both lungs, all the lobes of their liver… I’m sure little Jimmy or Jane will get along fine with only one eye.

    How is that any different?

    I understand their dilemma. They are trying to mitigate damage that they may not have the power to eliminate completely. But endorsing a course of action which requires physicians to abandon their ethical obligation to put their patients best interests first is not the way forward.

    Anyone holding this position has forfeit the right to call themselves a medical doctor as far as I’m concerned.

  91. #91 EvilSooty
    May 6, 2010

    Caine/Carlie:

    Stop trying to turn the raising of male circumcision into an issue of sexism on mine, and others’ parts, by insinuating that to do so is to diminish the suffering of female victims, while elevating that of the males.

    The point I am trying to make is that it is inconsistent to condemn its female form while remaining silent on its male equivalent, regardless of how much more serious the female mutilation is.

  92. #92 Agathon
    May 6, 2010

    Why the surprise and indignation? These are the same people who advocated genital mutilation of boys for decades, and are still complicit with the practice.

  93. #93 alysonmiers
    May 6, 2010

    I think the AAP is going for harm reduction, in which case I see where they’re coming from–many families will take their daughters to sketchy non-doctors who work in less-than-sterile conditions and get much worse done to the girls, if the nice pediatrician won’t do the cutting.

    However, I fear they’re also insulting these families’ intelligence by trying to fob them off with a “ritual nick.” They’re not so stupid they won’t know the difference. Then it’s off to the quack they go!

  94. #94 Becky
    May 6, 2010

    @Carlie

    The AAP statement itself brings up circumcision and notes that the practice that they say might be allowable is less extensive than a circ. In other words, they are using the acceptance of circumcision as a support for their position. So in the discussion of this document, the discussion of circumcision is appropriate and isn’t simply men derailing the conversation.

  95. #95 Becky
    May 6, 2010

    From the statement,

    “The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on newborn male circumcision expresses respect for parental decision-making and acknowledges the legitimacy of including cultural, religious, and ethnic traditions when making the choice of whether to surgically alter a male infant’s genitals. Of course, parental decision-making is not without limits, and pediatricians must always resist decisions that are likely to cause harm to children. 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.”

  96. #96 Tim Harris
    May 6, 2010

    Carlie: There has been no fight whatsoever over who has it worse, except in the minds of people like Aquaria and perhaps yourself. Please re-read what has been said. And if you are a non-Muslim, as I suspect you are, then in what danger of circumcision of any kind have you ever been? It is admirable of you to sympathise with and support your Muslim sisters, but why do you seem to suppose that members of the other sex cannot do the same?

  97. #97 tutone21
    May 6, 2010

    hmmmm….I see I am going to have one of those types of days….

    Whenever I read something like this I always wonder how it all happens. Was there a boardroom full of AAP members or directors gathered to discuss this? Who was in the room advocating for this “nick” and how was it more convincing than not “nicking” the clitoris? I refuse to believe that the case revolved around appeasing the misogynist assholes and had soemthing to do with medicine. Please please please don’t tell me society is conforming to something this repulsive.

  98. #98 duras
    May 6, 2010

    It doesn’t suggest nicking the clitoris, it states that it’s been used as an alternative in other countries. However, they also state it’s illegal in the United States and mention that illegality tends to drive out the tradition.

    They’re talking about other countries when speaking of the nicks:

    “In some countries in which FGC is common, some progress toward eradication or amelioration has been made by substituting ritual ?nicks? for more severe forms”

    It’s more for informational purposes than anything. I’m not sure where anyone got the idea they were recommended nicks in the clitoris.

  99. #99 Iris
    May 6, 2010
  100. #100 Becky
    May 6, 2010

    @duras, they recommend changing the law.

    “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.”

  101. #101 The Pint
    May 6, 2010

    *blink blink* What? WHAT? WHAT?!?

    The words “American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)” “compromise” and “female genital mutilation” do not fucking belong in the same sentence. There’s being culturally sensitive and there’s being monumentally stupid and condescending, the latter of which can only be applicable here. Does the AAP seriously think that any parents wanting their daughter to undergo this barbaric procedure are really going to settle for a “little nick” when the whole point is to remove the ENTIRE clitoris and often inner labia and sewing practically the entire vagina shut?!? WHAT. THE. FUCK.

  102. #102 Tim Harris
    May 6, 2010

    Iris, STFU with your infantility.

  103. #103 hyman.rosen
    May 6, 2010

    You’re all getting very close now. Just a little more cursing and use of capital letters, and other cultures will finally see things your way.

  104. #104 Zaphod
    May 6, 2010

    M. F. Skinner, M.D.: list of services

    Clit nick – $45

    Donkey punch – $35

    Noogie – $5

    Ro-sham-bow (child) – $30

    Ro-sham-bow (adult) – $60

    Ro-sham-bow (parent who requests Clit nick) – Free

  105. #105 Carlie
    May 6, 2010

    There has been no fight whatsoever over who has it worse, except in the minds of people like Aquaria and perhaps yourself.

    Why are people more horrified by female than male circumcision? What is the difference?

    I was referring to that in society at large male circumcision is not treated with the same moral abhorrence that its female equivalent is.

    Read Wilfred Thesiger on some of the horrendous circumcisions (on males)that used to be practiced, and perhaps still are illegally, by certain Arabian tribes.

    Yes. It is obviously all in my head.

  106. #106 Aquaria
    May 6, 2010

    Then create a thread on your own damn blog to bitch about male circumcision and stop derailing discussions about the issue when women are under discussion. It’s like you don’t give a shit about us when you have your own agenda to promote, no matter how much “oh it’s so terrible what happens to women, but–” patronising remarks you make to try to mollify us uppity women.

    Didn’t know you came across that way, did you? Well, you did.

    Honestly, if you don’t like that some of us shrill feminists asked you to stop making everything about penises 24/7 for one goddamned time, too bad. We know male circumcision is bad, but this false equivalency about the procedures is not helping. Not when so many women are suffering in ways that 99% of males are not, for such stupid reasons.

    And to whoever said that upthread that the male circumcision procedure was barbaric in hospitals–you clearly haven’t been in any hospitals. All surgical procedures look barbaric. Anytime you cut flesh open, it looks barbaric. But there’s looking barbaric and being barbaric. If you don’t understand that, you’re beyond hope.

  107. #107 Kieranfoy
    May 6, 2010

    @Dmorrison: I hardly think P.Z. was trying to say “Up with the Hyppocratic Oath!”

    Of course it’s a poor guide to medical ethics. That’s why it’s being constantly changed.

    He was simply using a common phrase asscociated with the medical profession to call them on their bullshit.

  108. #108 strange gods before me ?
    May 6, 2010

    Let’s just agree with Tim Harris that men are more important than women, and whenever we have a discussion about violence against women it’s important to remember that we should be talking about men instead.

  109. #109 Kobra
    May 6, 2010

    Wait, isn’t this the 21st Century? Not the 12th? Why are people still mutilating eachother’s genitals? It doesn’t even make sense in the religious worldview: How can a woman actually seek a husband if her genitals are all mutilated? Would men even feel right sleeping with a woman who doesn’t have a clitoris? I don’t know because I haven’t thought about it.

    You would think it would lead to a furious shitstorm of asexual women and sexually frustrated men. That’s the logical outcome of genital mutilation because–

    Oh wait, women aren’t equal to men. So they have to find a husband and be his fleshy fucktoy if they want to live otherwise comfortably. Now it all makes sense. Real fucking humanitarian.

    In short, WHAT. THE. FUCK2

  110. #110 Aquaria
    May 6, 2010

    And Timfuckface:

    Thank you so much for resorting to the timeless misogynist argument about our concerns about anything being “all in our heads.”

    You must be proud of being such a sexist douchebag.

  111. #111 R. Schauer
    May 6, 2010

    Allowing or performing genital mutilation on a woman or girl is nothing short of assault. So how about a complete mental evaluation for all members of the AAP with a required stay in a mental institution or prison for even mentioning/threatening to perform a “little nick” on a girl’s clitoris?

    Obviously these clowns have never heard of assault and should go to jail or if they have, they cannot generalize it to their practice which suggests they have some kind of mental/cognitive issue.

  112. #112 https://me.yahoo.com/a/NNElX.lopoxuMge1_bGvXqFvnkbkcEId0Nbpsg--#c96d1
    May 6, 2010

    Just out of academic curiosity, what’s the view on male genital mutilation? Another barbaric process?
    or No big deal?

    Perhaps a quiz, PZ?

  113. #113 Artemis the Protein
    May 6, 2010

    You should read the AAP’s policy statement and come to your own conclusions:

    http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;102/1/153

    As a young woman fighting tooth and nail to get myself into med school, when I first read this I was appalled. But after reading the AAP’s statement on it, and as duras reiterated, I understand what they were trying to say.

    I love that you all are quick to defend women and girl’s rights. Seriously. Love you guys. But just read the policy statement.

    In any case, genital mutilation is just horribly wrong. I dont have to explain why. It really makes me feel… sick beyond words. When I first read Tolstoy’s theory that it is impossible to love humanity as a whole, I vehemently disagreed. FGM makes me rethink that….

  114. #114 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    Aquaria:

    We know male circumcision is bad, but this false equivalency about the procedures is not helping.

    QFT.

  115. #115 AdamK
    May 6, 2010

    I am sick of “compromising” with the horrors of religion.

    PZ has said he imagines reducing religion to a harmless personal hobby, like knitting or masturbating. I used to agree, but I’m getting to the point where I am hoping for the glorious day when this social disease and mental illness, “religion”, is eliminated from human culture altogether. The sickness and evil is too pernicious to ever tame down to acceptible levels.

  116. #116 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    Yahoomess:

    Just out of academic curiosity, what’s the view on male genital mutilation?

    It’s bad too. Now, would it fucking kill you to discuss the actual topic, which happens to be female genital mutilation?

  117. #117 Artemis the Protein
    May 6, 2010

    OH FUCK. Update fail. This is the REVISED statement:

    http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;125/5/1088

    And yes, it actually does recommend a ritual “nick or cut”

    OMG you guys.

    Speechless.

    Here I thought that someone had just read too quickly… and that it just couldnt be true…

    I am ashamed.

  118. #118 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    May 6, 2010

    You know, this reminds me a whole helluva lot of the debates Peace Corps volunteers got into when I was in Africa. It was very interesting that few of us ever bothered to ask Africans what they thought of controversial practices like female genital mutilation (DO NOT call it circumcision–it is mutilation). When I did, I was met with either embarassed silence or mild disapproval of such a “village practice” from men and vocal opposition from women. Now granted, I could only survey my friends, who all spoke French and were somewhat educated. However, that is just it. There are simply some “cultural” practices that are wrong, and causing bodily harm or decreased quality of life is a pretty damned good absolute standard to apply. So, I don’t think it is acceptable to meet someone halfway to barbarism. We have to educate them, AND we have to educate ourselves.

  119. #119 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    “federal and state laws [to] enable pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ‘ritual nick’,” such as pricking or minor incisions of girls’ clitorises.

    That is sickening. No one has the right to genitally mutilate children. I am sorry, but I do not care what their culture or religion is, there is no room for compromise on the mutilation of children.

    In addition, “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.

    By the same logic, should we avoid the ‘inflamatory’ terms ‘clerical child abuse’ and ‘paedophile priests’ and replace them with more neutral, descrptive terms like ‘cross-generational sexual contact’ and ‘atypical sexual aesthetics amongst the clergy’?

    No? Didn’t think so.

  120. #120 raven
    May 6, 2010

    Pretty bizarre. What the fuck is right.

    Not seeing any reasoning here from the AAP.

    Best guess: They are mostly male fundie xian misogynists who wish they had thought up clitorectomies first and hope it catches on in Oklahoma, Texas and other fundie states.

    It is probably too easy to blame the xian death cultists for everything but really, nothing else is coming to mind.

  121. #121 KOPD
    May 6, 2010

    Fucked up. Just really fucked up. “How about we maim your child just a bit? Would that be enough?” Jesus Hussein Christ! I appreciate (really!) that they have the best of intentions and wish to prevent psychotic parents from doing worse harm to their children. But, there is no golden mean here! You don’t look at the choices of mutilate and don’t mutilate and decide to compromise by “slightly” mutilating!

  122. #122 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 6, 2010

    Tim Harris, you own Iris a fucking apology>

    After that, you can SHUT THE FUCK UP! No one is saying that male circumcision is harmless and is not barbaric. It is a matter of fucking degrees though. FGM removes more tissues and organs and does more harm.

    As it stands, all circumcision should come to an end and, instead, allow adults to choose it their genitalia should be cut.

    Also, so fucking sorry that some women are resisting moving the topic from FGM to male circumcision. How fucking rude of the women folk.

    What does anyone have to say about my suggestion in #24 about moving the practice of throwing acid in the faces of women into the hospital room?

  123. #123 David Marjanovi?
    May 6, 2010

    Yahoomess @ 112, you didn’t read the rest of the thread, did you?

    With the thread already having been derailed, I’ll contribute:

    And to whoever said that upthread that the male circumcision procedure was barbaric in hospitals–

    I’m told it’s still done without any anaesthesia. An amputation on a baby without anaesthesia? What the fuck?!? I can barely stand the thought. Is every single one of the parents, physicians, nurses, whatever who’s involved a sadist!?!

    I’m further told the baby is strapped to a table so he doesn’t flail about and get the scalpel stuck somewhere else.

    Fortunately I’ve never been to a hospital in the USA.

    …And now, everyone, remember that FGM is still worse than that.

  124. #124 dmorrison
    May 6, 2010

    @Kieranfoy (107)

    He’s using an inaccurate, outdated idea in a serious discussion. It would be hypocritical to let it slide just because it’s PZ, whom I generally agree with, as opposed to someone I disagree with.

    Ignoring mistakes in arguments for positions you support doesn’t make them stronger, it makes them weaker.

  125. #125 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Tim Harris, SGBM, Iris:

    STFU with the douchebaggery, all of you.

  126. #126 Gus Snarp
    May 6, 2010

    @hyman.rosen What we’re pissed off at here is not so much what other cultures do (though that does piss us off), it’s that members of our own culture are advocating legalizing something that our culture clearly says is wrong, and has already made illegal. Fuck other cultures, we want the AAP to rescind this policy statement, and now the swearing here doesn’t do much, but the letters and comments we make to the AAP after venting our frustration here just might.

  127. #127 tutone21
    May 6, 2010

    Aahhh…after reading reading Becky’s comment at #95 I see the argument. The ol’ “What? It’s just a nick. We’ve been cutting up baby boys for years and no one said shit,” argument.

    Fucking retards. Why? This is grotesque. I would like to see the minutes from the meeting and attendance. I am willing to bet that 80% of the of the people in the room were men.

    Hmmm…I just adopted a new religion, and one of my beliefs is that I have to punch someone in the face if they perform a clitoral nicking procedure. Does anyone know how I can get this idea to the AAP so it can be approved? ooohhhh wait…my new “high priest” just spoke with our “god” and told me that I have to punch them in their faces repeatedly to achieve salvation.

  128. #128 Paul
    May 6, 2010

    In addition, “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.”

    Curiously, more than one man on Pharyngula has replied quite acerbically with the latter response when people mention male circumcision being mutilation in past threads. Interesting parallel.

    What I find far more disturbing than this statement by the AAP are those advocating for FGM for “hygienic” and cultural reasons.

    And this is how male circumcision took hold. It was about hygiene and keeping kids from masturbating. Same pattern.

    I do want to be clear that I consider it wrong to equivocate between male circumcision and FGM, mainly as a matter of degree (the latter is much more severe, if not any better in principle). I do feel it gets overlooked too often that the justifications for circumcision over the last hundred years (everyone else does it, don’t want my kid to feel awkward; it’s more hygenic; it’s to keep the kids from playing with themselves) are almost exactly the same — the only real additional justification with FGM is to keep women from cheating on their spouses.

    The AAP’s position only has the effect of providing cover for / legitimizing the continued practice of FGM. Once you start pretending religious ritual has a medical justification, it’s almost impossible to convince people otherwise when you come to your senses and decide to stop pretending (my mom didn’t have me circumcised, against her “better” judgment…she did think there was a legitimate medical case for the procedure).

  129. #129 SaraJ
    May 6, 2010

    I don’t honestly think many of the posters were trying to derail the convo to “but what about the menz?!?!”. I think people read this story and it automatically triggered those broader thoughts in their head about unnecessarily cutting things off of infants and children, and how it’s odd that it’s okay for one gender but not the other.

    I know that is how I think, and I am a female who definitely has experienced cases of “but us males are SO oppressed, what are you ladies whining about?” – this just doesn’t seem like that type of situation to me. I honestly didn’t see anything sexist in bringing up male circumcision because to me it’s all one big issue of the medical profession okay-ing these rather disgusting practices.

  130. #130 Aquaria
    May 6, 2010

    High five to Carlie for how we both slapped Tim Fuckface around for the all in your head bullshit.

  131. #131 coughlanbrianm
    May 6, 2010

    Nice bit of accommodationism there. “We’ll just mutilate baby girls a little bit, to make the misogynist patriarchal assholes happy.”

    I think you’re overreacting here PZ, lacking in creativity and vision. This is a major conceptual breakthrough in our dialouge with religious adherents which has broad application in ongoing efforts to draw the religious and secular camps together.

    For example, instead of complaining about the religious practice of burning witches, we could meet the religious half way by offering to allow witches – duly identified by the relevant sacred procedures – to be “burned” while wearing flame retarding garments; cities that endorse homosexuality could be ritually sprinkled with salt in lieu of erasing them from existence; and difficult children could be metaphorically (yet literally!!) “stoned” using foam boulders. A little effort to see things from the other perspective has the potential to yield some truly surprising results.

  132. #132 Fortknox
    May 6, 2010

    I’m from Europe and I knew that US is in many ways a third world country with a great mainstream tradition of anti-intellectualism but this…this is a shocking turn of events.

    How the hell can people, medical professionals be so obtuse and so disgustingly pandering to barbaric superstition…this really pisses me off!

  133. #133 matthew.james.neil
    May 6, 2010

    For instance, in Egypt FGM is illegal except for medical reasons.

    Hmm, kind of like marijuana in California?

    I wonder what is done to catch and prosecute offenders of the existing US law.

    I can see why people opposed to the practice would still rather see it done in a hospital than, say, at home or in a back alley in horrible conditions by someone untrained. However, this still doesn’t seem like the appropriate way to take care of the problem, especially with an existing law on the books.

    Hmm, what to do?

  134. #134 Aquaria
    May 6, 2010

    I’m told it’s still done without any anaesthesia

    Maybe in the Jewish tradition, but in most hospitals in America and Canada, a local anesthetic is usually used. Don’t know about Europe or Australia/Asia. Anyone?

  135. #135 IslandBrewer
    May 6, 2010

    Ok, I’ll put myself up as a target, now.

    I don’t agree with the AAP on this, but I totally understand their reasoning. In certain contexts, the rationale is beneficial, but in this case, I don’t think it’ll work.

    Their thinking is this:

    1) Those who practice FGM (the parents) are so far gone in their [tradition/religion/superstition] that trying to educate them or make the practice illegal won’t work on them.

    2)Persuading parents to have a doctor perform a ritualized version safely here in the US is likely considering travel costs and the potential for unsafe conditions.

    3) Having girls get a small cut in the clitoris in a clean American doctor’s office is preferable to having a blind octegenarian hack away at the girl with a rusty piece of scrap iron in a third world country.

    Thus, the AAP sincerely thinks that they are making a net benefit, here. They’re sort of conceding defeat by thowing up their hands and saying “Hey, we can’t stop you from abusing your daughter, but if you must abuse her, can we offer a milder, sterile abuse under medical scrutiny?”

    Personally, I don’t buy step 2. Parents that far into their … whatever … aren’t going to go for half measures. “A rusty piece of scrap iron has been good enough for all the (surviving) women in our family, so it’s good enough for you!”

    Otherwise, I might not entirely disagree with their strategy.

    Yes, it’s kind of deplorable, but they truly think that they’re making thinks less deplorable by this measure.

  136. #136 SomeGuy123
    May 6, 2010

    the same rate that it lists for a circ needing to be redone:

    You mean the foreskin grows back sometimes? Who knew?

    There may be hope for me yet!

  137. #137 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Personally, I see it as more akin to needle-exchange programs. We don’t want to endorse intravenous drug use, but we know the morons are going to use IV drugs anyway, so the needle exchange helps keep users safe.

    If the morons who want to cut their daughters’ genitals off will be satisfied by simply pricking them with a needle (like most diabetics do to their fingers 3-10 times a day), then there’ll be a net reduction in harm.

    We still need to have people pointing out just how fucking stupid circumcision is, but in the meantime, we can keep the kids from getting permanently damaged by their parents’ fuckups.

  138. #138 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    Tim Harris @ 96;

    Carlie: There has been no fight whatsoever over who has it worse, except in the minds of people like Aquaria and perhaps yourself. Please re-read what has been said. And if you are a non-Muslim, as I suspect you are, then in what danger of circumcision of any kind have you ever been? It is admirable of you to sympathise with and support your Muslim sisters, but why do you seem to suppose that members of the other sex cannot do the same?

    Were you born that patronising and misogynistic, or did it take practice?

  139. #139 Zaphod
    May 6, 2010

    Thus the confusion of language: calling the forced removal of a prepubescent (or in some cases adolescent, since their clitorises are easier to find) child’s primary sexual organ with no anesthetic at the hands of unskilled butchers ‘circumscision’ is the verbal equivalent to calling a point-blank shotgun blast to your kneecap a ‘boo-boo’.

    You might think you are comparing apples to apples here, since they’re both removing a tiny bit of flesh from genitalia, but it’s more like comparing an apple-seed to an orchard. Yes, technically they are both mutilation, but so is losing a pinky-toe to frostbite and having your leg ripped off by a combine are both technically amputations.

    A simple case of the AAP trying to please everyone and end up pleasing nobody (and I dare say, insulting EVERYONE). Did the AAP honestly think that those who practice this religious ritual would compromise?

    I’m waiting for the AAP to announce an age they recommend you should tart binding girls’ feet.

  140. #140 IslandBrewer
    May 6, 2010

    things

    ” … they truly think that they’re making thinGs less deplorable by this measure.”

  141. #141 PZ Myers
    May 6, 2010

    I oppose male circumcision vehemently. It’s a pointless medical procedure that does no good and does a small amount of harm, and should not be continued.

    There, happy now?

    Now please focus. Infant girls are getting their clitorises chopped off and their labia sewn together. Don’t run away from that issue to defend a small flap of skin on infant boys.

  142. #142 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    Janine, MOFMA, OM:

    What does anyone have to say about my suggestion in #24 about moving the practice of throwing acid in the faces of women into the hospital room?

    Oh, why not? Probably stop us being rude about staying on topic and whatnot.

  143. #143 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Zaphod:

    Did the AAP honestly think that those who practice this religious ritual would compromise?

    Of course not everyone will compromise, but I’m sure some will.

  144. #144 duras
    May 6, 2010

    @ Becky

    Yeah, I’m wrong. I did control+f so I wouldn’t have to read the whole paper, but for some reason it didn’t pick up that instance of “nick”.

    I think banning trips to other countries for the procedure would be much more beneficial to everyone than the nick. This is a truly surprising thing for them to say. But again, they do not recommend the “nick” they suggest it might be beneficial. Stupid thing to say (something that should be argued about in private), but not exactly an endorsement of female genital mutilation.

  145. #145 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    If it leaves no lasting harm, then it might be an easier way to transition from genital mutilation to no mutilation. You might call it accommodation, but I’d rather a girl get a legal, small prick that, hopefully, leaves no lasting harm, then her fundamentalist parents take her out of country to get something nasty done to her.

  146. #146 Matt Penfold
    May 6, 2010

    I oppose male circumcision vehemently. It’s a pointless medical procedure that does no good and does a small amount of harm, and should not be continued.

    In most cases when it is carried out it is not a medical procedure at all.

    There are a few cases where circumcision is medically indicated, but these are not common, especially in infants.

  147. #147 Sisyphus
    May 6, 2010

    Welcome to 1984. The thought police are alive and well and the language police are in their prime. It is forbidden to use accurate and appropriate words to describe a practice. The following words are now forbidden: barbaric, evil, mutilation, cruel, damaging, injury, catastrophic.

    Citizens must remember that slicing off a female’s most sensitive organ (her clitoris) usually with a sharpened stone with no anaesthetic then sewing her labia shut so that her future husband can break the stitches thus ensuring his wife is a virgin is NOT barbaric, it does not result in the mutilation, damage, injurious, catastrophic injury to her body. Big Brother would like you to know that such a practice is in the girl’s best interest, does not hurt and is merely a small cut to her genitals.

    Remember kids: 2+2=5.

  148. #148 PZ Myers
    May 6, 2010

    Throwing acid in women’s faces is barbarous and wrong.

    I suggest we wean them from the practice by having doctors instead cut small but visible scars in their faces using a scalpel, under clinical conditions.

    I think we should also immediately change the topic to discuss the problem of acne scars in adolescent boys.

  149. #149 OurDeadSelves
    May 6, 2010

    Holy fucking shit.

    Holy. Fucking. Shit. Did I really just read that?

    What’s wrong with saying, “hey everyone, if parents in the US attempt to have their little girls genitals hacked to pieces, then let’s arrest those abusive creeps”? Have we really gone so far that we feel the need to accommodate everyone and their crazy cultural practices??

    Fuck that. FUCK THAT.

    *fumes*

  150. #150 raven
    May 6, 2010

    If people just keep pointing out how stupid female genital mutilation is, it will die out quickly enough.

    The Hindu Indians used to burn mommy alive if daddy died first, settee. The British told them this was barbaric and to stop it or else.

    The Chinese used to bind the feet of girls for some obscure reason not all that long ago. Some government of theirs prohibited it, and it ended almost immediately.

    The xians used to hunt down and kill alleged witches. This is now illegal in most of the world and rarely happens anymore in the USA.

    Cultures are flexible, constantly changing, and occasionally capable of common sense.

  151. #151 OurDeadSelves
    May 6, 2010

    PS- Whatever happened to the word “genitalia”? It sounds so much… prettier.

  152. #152 hyman.rosen
    May 6, 2010

    It is an aspect of being human that we do stuff just because other people in our group have done it before, and that we resent it when other groups try to tell us not to do our group stuff. We routinely subject children to all sorts of things they find objectionable and uncomfortable – shots, dentists, tongue depressors, haircuts, baths, school – “for their own good” and that includes things that are culturally important.

    If older girls consent to a procedure that doesn’t cause lasting harm and satisfies their cultural needs, then they should be accommodated. And consent is possible, since these procedures are often performed on older girls, not infants. It doesn’t sound like the ‘nick’ procedure is worse than the routinely legal piercings and tattoos available to teenagers.

    It’s also kind of odd that people are making the argument both that the AAP report must have been made by a majority of men and that they justify it by appealing to male circumcision.

  153. #153 duras
    May 6, 2010

    @ notVerneant

    I think it’s the same logic for why there are programs to give clean needles to heroin addicts. We don’t want them to do it, and it’s illegal, but if they must we’ll try to minimize the damage.

    Or the same logic that many people give for legal abortions: we’d rather not have people get abortions, but if they must we’d rather it not be back alley or worse yet, have women throw their babies in the trash. Both alternatives are much worse.

    But at the same time these two comparisons I just made are different in at least one huge way: both are made by consenting adults. A young girl does not consent to having her clitoris nicked. However, it must be noted that the statement indicates they support a nick that does no lasting damage. It is supposedly no different than a piercing.

    The problem is that it really could open the door for more invasive, permanent procedures. However, I believe I just committed the slippery slope fallacy. Forgive me, logic gods.

  154. #154 dmorrison
    May 6, 2010

    @raven (150
    I think you’ve hit on a useful perspective there.

    Which is it more important to protect, people or traditions?

    I know which side my money is on.

  155. #155 Weed Monkey
    May 6, 2010

    Throwing acid in women’s faces is barbarous and wrong.

    I suggest we wean them from the practice by having doctors instead cut small but visible scars in their faces using a scalpel, under clinical conditions.

    That might be the next fad for rebellious young women, I’ve seen some marvellous scar tattoos…

    But seriously, acid throwing is not even limited to within families, the Taliban do it to girls who dare to, say, go to school.

  156. #156 frzamonkey
    May 6, 2010

    as a person with semi-heavy body modifications, I know from experience that asking a doctor to do similar (but purely aesthetic) procedures as an adult gets you blank stares at best and suggestions to seek psychiatric help at worst.

    but cutting up babies junk? A-ok. Awesome.

  157. #157 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 6, 2010

    PZ, I must disagree. It should not be merely the cutting of the face with a scalpel. Acid must be dripped on her face but under controlled circumstances. If her family permits it, pain killers can be used. And all precaution will be used to keep the acid out of her eyes, nose and mouth. That is, unless the men in her family would like her to be blinded in one or both eyes.

    Remember, we must be sensitive to cultural differences.

  158. #158 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    PZ:

    Throwing acid in women’s faces is barbarous and wrong.

    I suggest we wean them from the practice by having doctors instead cut small but visible scars in their faces using a scalpel, under clinical conditions.

    I think we should also immediately change the topic to discuss the problem of acne scars in adolescent boys.

    *Snortle* Thank you for that.

  159. #159 aratina cage
    May 6, 2010

    The AAP needs to have their brains “ritually nicked”. They won’t even feel it, I swear!

  160. #160 Bill Dauphin, OM
    May 6, 2010

    Benjamin Geiger (@143):

    Of course not everyone will compromise, but I’m sure some will.

    You would think so, but I’m not so sure: Someone upthread mentioned that some Jews accept the simple drawing of a drop of blood as a sufficient honoring of the letter of their traditional law regarding circumcision (I won’t use the term male circumcision because it implies the existence of female circumcision, and as many others here have pointed out, what happens to girls shouldn’t be dignified by such a clinical sounding term)… but AFAIK the purpose of FGM is generally not simply to honor some ancient cultural tradition, but specifically to functionally disable girls’ capacity for sexual pleasure.

    To the extent that this is the real goal of FGM, it’s hard to see how anything symbolic could really gain much of a foothold, or have any hope of changing the culture of mutilation.

  161. #161 Ibis3
    May 6, 2010

    So, I don’t think it is acceptable to meet someone halfway to barbarism.

    QFT.

  162. #162 Zaphod
    May 6, 2010

    I have to agree with Island and Ben on the likely reasoning behind the AAP’s descision, but I too see the obvious fault in their reasoning: that being the people who practice this butchery would be satisfied with blood being drawn in lieu of castration.

    Personally (and perhaps this is more my hope rather than my contempt for batshit crazy religious practices) I think this might actually do some sort of reduction in harm.

    I have to believe that among the population of the culture that practice this, there has got to be a percentage of them that don’t have any idea “why” they do it, and might be convinced that simply nicking the boy in the boat in a nice clean hospital will be enough to satisfy the tradition.

    My only real fear is that, given the option, more girls will be nicked in the groin than there would have been if the option didn’t exist, but I have to imagine that a significant percentage of them that get nicked would’ve been the ones that got castrated otherwise.

    In short, this strategy wholly relies on the assumption that most religious nutcases have no clue as to the purpose of their rituals, and I think they are probably right.

  163. #163 Ben Goren
    May 6, 2010

    I think most sexologists would agree that the clitoris is only the second most important female sex organ, with the brain being the first.

    Therefore, I propose that all parents be permitted to have a clitordectomy performed on their daughters, so long as the parents first subject themselves to the surgical removal of their brains.

    Those wishing to go the modern route of an AAP-approved “nick” may do so only after undergoing a prefontal lobotomy.

    All in favor, signal approval by voting, “aye.”

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  164. #164 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    For the AAP to support any form of cultural or ritualistic mutilation, even in the attempt to otherwise mitigate potential further harm, is simply deplorable.

    The only correct response from any reputable medical institution is: “we will not support, condone or in any way participate in barbaric ritualistic actions that serve to physically and potentially psychologically harm another human being while providing no medical benefit”.

    Anything short of that statement is unacceptable, IMO.

  165. #165 ecpaulsen
    May 6, 2010

    I imagine it went something like this:

    OPEN SCENE – DEEP IN THE BOWELS OF THE AAC

    Republican doctor: Well, we have to allow this barbaric practice be done HERE, in America, so that our doctors can get paid for it.

    Democratic Doctor: I have a problem with it because it harms the infant, but on the other hand NOT to do it would be an affront to their religious freedom.

    Advertising executive: And that NAME… We would have to rebrand it to make it acceptable to the American marketplace. Hoodwink? A cliptoris? A “nick”?

    All three together: A NICK! That sounds just inconsequential and harmless enough that it might work!

    Republican doctor: Yeah, and we can negate our responsibility to the patient by hiding behind that “religious diversity” crap!.

    Democratic Doctor: Truly a great day for bi-partisanship and religious diversity!

    END SCENE

  166. #166 Shplane
    May 6, 2010

    #99

    Except that’s not what they’re doing at all. :D

    Also, can we stop making up idiotic sounding new terms for things we already have terms for? What’s wrong with saying “Stop being a sexist prick”? I mean, if that was what they were doing.

    It’s unfair to say that they can’t discuss one kind of genital mutilation in a thread about genital mutilation. Occasionally pointing out that men have problems too does not equal sexism.

    It’s especially not sexism when they specifically admitted that FGM was worse.

    Oh, and just one more thing: Screaming “U R MANSPLAN” is meaningless and does not help a discussion. Make an actual attempt to refute their points or gtfo.

  167. #167 Hannah
    May 6, 2010

    There is no possible way I can adequately express my disgust and anger at this.

  168. #168 grudgedk
    May 6, 2010

    In addition, “rape” is an inflammatory term that tends to foreclose communication and that fails to respect the experience of the many women who have had involuntary sexual intercourse and who do not perceive themselves as “raped.”

    Just because a person does not perceive him- or herself as mutilated, does not mean they aren’t. Most soldiers (and executioners) do not perceive themselves as government sanctioned murderers. Doesn’t mean they aren’t, it just means that the human psyche is really good at dealing with an inconvenient truth.

  169. #169 Shplane
    May 6, 2010

    Holy crap that was a lot of posts while I was typing mine. Did I pass out and not notice it or something?

    Also, I forgot to add my own “WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?”

  170. #170 skeptifem
    May 6, 2010

    Omg, the medical establishment is promoting woman hatred? I am so…. not fucking surprised. Where the shit have you people been?

  171. #171 hyman.rosen
    May 6, 2010

    not participate in barbaric ritualistic actions providing no medical benefit

    Good idea – let me be the first to congratulate you on finally getting cosmetic surgery banned.

  172. #172 Joey Mack
    May 6, 2010

    Hey, while we’re at it, why not make it ok to rough the girls up instead of subjecting them to an honor killing? Instead of a full on stoning, just some really, really little rocks.

  173. #173 Shplane
    May 6, 2010

    Wait, shit, forgot to put it in bold.

    WHAT THE FUCKING SHITFUCKING MOTHERFUCKING PTERODACTYLFUCKING FUCKING FUCK???

    The general rule should be “If parents want their daughter’s bits cut on, they shouldn’t get to be parents anymore.” No compromise. At all. Ever.

  174. #174 Weed Monkey
    May 6, 2010

    hyman.rosen #171,

    Good idea – let me be the first to congratulate you on finally getting cosmetic surgery banned.

    Oh for fucks sake. You must see a difference between infants/children and consenting adults. I for one have absolutely no problems with people having their body parts cut in the name of perceived beauty, no matter whether it means breast implants or removing their testicles as long as they are of legal age and sane enough to make that call.

  175. #175 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    hyman.rosen:

    Good idea – let me be the first to congratulate you on finally getting cosmetic surgery banned.

    Well, that’s stupid. Cosmetic surgery is a choice, made by consenting adults and it often has a psychological effect, generally a positive one. Claiming it’s on par with genital mutilation done to children is absurd.

    *I think botoxing one’s face into a scary lizard look and suchlike things is silly; however, it’s a personal choice made by an adult. It’s not even close to scissoring out a clitoris and inner labia.

  176. #176 skeptical scientist
    May 6, 2010

    I feel like this conversation would benefit from not using deliberately inflammatory exaggerations to describe what the AAP is proposing. They are not saying, “We’ll just mutilate baby girls a little bit.” They are not saying, “How about we maim your child just a bit?” If I understand correctly, what they are advocating is a purely symbolic procedure which will heal completely with no permanent damage: “[T]he ritual nick is not physically harmful.” Furthermore, they are only advocating this procedure be used in circumstances where there is a significant danger that if they didn’t, the parents would go home and perform very real genital mutilation instead:

    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.

    Yes, it’s pandering to a misogynistic and barbaric practice, but isn’t rescuing some girls from genital mutilation by substituting a harmless procedure worth a little pandering?

    If you want to attack their actual position, fine. But please, enough with the straw-men.

  177. #177 Ben Goren
    May 6, 2010

    Maybe we can get Tim Minchin to release a variation on the Pope song to properly address this topic?

    “Fuck the motherfucking AAP” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but I’m sure Tim is talented enough to come up with something catchier.

    And anybody care to explain the meaningful difference, if any, between a trusted authority figure raping a child and a trusted authority figure taking a knife to the child’s genitals?

    Yes, I know. The one has long been an honored religious practice. (So too, apparently, has been the other.) So too was stoning somebody who did a bit of tidying up on the weekend; we got over that one.

    Let’s forgive our ancestors who did the deed out of ignorance and for lack of thinking it through, and move on. No point in holding grudges.

    But there’s no longer any excuse for doing it today.

    Cheers,

    b&

    P.S. There isn’t, of course, any excuse for child rape, lest anybody think I’m implying as much. b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  178. #178 Fortknox
    May 6, 2010

    USA, the leading first world third world country!

  179. #179 Katharine
    May 6, 2010

    I quite firmly believe any culture that doesn’t sanction and doesn’t condone circumcision is superior to any culture that does either.

  180. #180 SomeGuy123
    May 6, 2010

    I think we should also immediately change the topic to discuss the problem of acne scars in adolescent boys.

    Or hirsuties papillaris genitalis, to keep somewhat closer to the original theme. Lack of same is somewhat correlated with lack of circumcision.

  181. #181 PZ Myers
    May 6, 2010

    For anyone who feels like talking about the horrors of circumcision,

    THE CIRCUMCISION CRYING ROOM IS OPEN.

    Please take any injured penises there.

    Thank you.

  182. #182 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    skeptical scientist:

    Yes, it’s pandering to a misogynistic and barbaric practice, but isn’t rescuing some girls from genital mutilation by substituting a harmless procedure worth a little pandering?

    The parents and grandparents who wish this “procedure” done are not going to be fooled by, or settle for a little nick. The U.S. message should be clear: this is barbaric, unacceptable and illegal. Other people have brought up the former tradition in India of tossing widows onto their late husband’s funeral pyre. The British didn’t pander, they said outright that it was barbaric, wrong and it had to stop. Guess what? It did.

    Pandering in this regard is dangerous.

  183. #183 IslandBrewer
    May 6, 2010

    @ OurDeadSelves

    What’s wrong with saying, “hey everyone, if parents in the US attempt to have their little girls genitals hacked to pieces, then let’s arrest those abusive creeps”? Have we really gone so far that we feel the need to accommodate everyone and their crazy cultural practices??

    Except that we already do that (arrest abusive creeps, I mean). And know what? It doesn’t work all the time. Parents still sneak off to Whereverthefuckia and get their daughter’s clitoris, labia, and bits of whatever else is in the way whacked off with whatever broken bottle is on hand.

    So, want to make it illegal? Great. Already done that. Make it illegal to leave the U.S. to get it done? Wonderful – still can’t prevent or restrict people’s travel to … “visit relatives”. I don’t have much hope in the efficacy of that legislation, despite supporting it.

    So now we have a bunch of girls from immigrant families, whose parents want to mutilate their genitals. Their parents don’t care what the law is, and there’s not much likelihood that they’ll get caught if they break the law.

    Start a campaign showing how barbaric and horrible the practice is? We have those. Throw more money at the problem? Sure, I’ll donate, too.

    It’ll still happen, and is happening.

    Ok, so now what do you want to do.

  184. #184 Ben Goren
    May 6, 2010

    skeptical scientist, if the doctors have reason to suspect that the parents will ritualistically torture and sexually mutilate their children, don’t you think they should be calling the police, or at least child protective services?

    Or would you advocate some sort of clinical ritualistic rape of choir boys and girls if the diocese suspects the priests might be getting to rape some of them?

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  185. #185 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    If I understand correctly, what they are advocating is a purely symbolic procedure which will heal completely with no permanent damage: “[T]he ritual nick is not physically harmful.”

    It is still unnecessary and barbaric, and is done in deference to misogynistic ritual that no competent medical establishment should ever, under any circumstances actively support. In fact, it should be a mission of medical establishments to actively engage in activities that outwardly discourage such practices.

  186. #186 SomeGuy123
    May 6, 2010

    Please take any injured penises there.

    Did you invite Bobbitt?

  187. #187 Sophist
    May 6, 2010

    People, would it kill you to read the fucking policy statement before denouncing it? Here are their recommendations:

    The American Academy of Pediatrics:

    1. Opposes all forms of FGC that pose
    risks of physical or psychological
    harm.

    2. Encourages its members to become
    informed about FGC and its complications
    and to be able to recognize
    physical signs of FGC.

    3. Recommends that its members actively
    seek to dissuade families from carrying out harmful forms of
    FGC.

    4. Recommends that its members provide
    patients and their parents with
    compassionate education about the
    physicalharmsandpsychological risks
    of FGC while remaining sensitive to the
    cultural and religious reasons that motivate
    parents to seek this procedure
    for their daughters.

    They are not advocating that the law be changed to allow ‘nicking’ or whatever you want to call it. They do discuss arguments for and against it, and here are some excerpts:

    In some countries in
    which FGC is common, some progress
    toward eradication or amelioration
    has been made by substituting ritual
    ?nicks? for more severe forms.2 In contrast,
    there is also evidence that medicalizing
    FGC can prolong the custom
    among middle-class families (eg, in
    Egypt).35 Many anti-FGC activists in the
    West, including women from African
    countries, strongly oppose any compromise
    that would legitimize even the
    most minimal procedure.4 There is
    also some evidence (eg, in Scandinavia)
    that a criminalization of the practice,
    with the attendant risk of losing
    custody of one?s children, is one of the
    factors that led to abandonment of this
    tradition among Somali immigrants.36
    The World Health Organization and
    other international health organizations
    are silent on the pros and cons of
    pricking or minor incisions. The option
    of offering a ?ritual nick? is currently
    precluded by US federal law, which
    makes criminal any nonmedical procedure
    performed on the genitals of a
    female minor.

    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 lifethreatening
    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.

    Also, all the instances of “cultural sensitivity” and similar that I have found occur in the context of the doctor interacting with the patient and their parents. The APP is not saying that the law should be changed because of “sensitivity’, they are telling doctors that if you’re trying to talk people out of performing this procedure on their daughter, calling the fucking barbarians isn’t going to help.

  188. #188 skeptifem
    May 6, 2010

    Oh and just as an example of long standing and unquestioned mutilation- wtf do you call elective plastic surgery? that does harm and causes significant risks to patients, it is fucking surgery, for fucks sake. The do no harm thing hasn’t meant much for a long time, imo.

  189. #189 skeptical scientist
    May 6, 2010

    Addendum to my previous post: after we stop using straw-men, perhaps we could also try avoiding arguments from personal incredulity.

    I have to agree with Island and Ben on the likely reasoning behind the AAP’s descision, but I too see the obvious fault in their reasoning: that being the people who practice this butchery would be satisfied with blood being drawn in lieu of castration.

    To the extent that this [elimination of sexual pleasure] is the real goal of FGM, it’s hard to see how anything symbolic could really gain much of a foothold, or have any hope of changing the culture of mutilation.

  190. #190 Fortknox
    May 6, 2010

    If I understand correctly, what they are advocating is a purely symbolic procedure which will heal completely with no permanent damage: “[T]he ritual nick is not physically harmful.”

    The same warped logic enabled male genital mutilation to become mainstream, as a result thousands of children unnecessarily lost their genitalia in accidents and infections.

    For no reason at all, except to pander to superstition.

  191. #191 Ben Goren
    May 6, 2010

    One thing that has me wondering. How on Earth do “parents” expect to get away with doing it themselves or in a foreign country?

    I would think that the fact that the “procedure” has been done would be instantly obvious upon the child’s next annual physical examination. Or do these children never see the doctor? Or do the doctors just smile and nod? In either case, how is child protective services not coming down on them like a ton of bricks?

    I think this deserves another “Whatthefuck!?”

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  192. #192 Crudely Wrott
    May 6, 2010

    . . . and advocates for “federal and state laws [to] enable pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ‘ritual nick’,” such as pricking or minor incisions of girls’ clitorises.

    Wha . . . what? Reach out? Reach out??!

    Enabling pediatricians to reach out and “nick” a little girl?

    Enough of this maudlin pandering to a made up and sickly kind of “niceness!” Mutilating little girls cannot in any way be considered desirable or defensible.

    Unless, it seems, that their parents are thereby placated and another future woman is denied the pleasure and utility of her own self. [/snark}

    This is the lowest political pandering to unreasonable beliefs I’ve seen in a very long time.

    A lot of noise is going to be raised over this. A lot of noise.

  193. #193 Tulse
    May 6, 2010

    Andrew Sullivan mentions this posting. I’ve noticed that Sully has been doing a lot of PZ-promoting of late, which is odd given his past antipathy.

  194. #194 Becky
    May 6, 2010

    @sophist

    The statement also said, “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.”

    This is advocating a change in law, or at least suggesting a change in law, to allow ritual nicks.

  195. #195 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    If America gives an inch on FGM, you can bet your bottom unit of colonial currency that the fundies will take a mile. I think that the definition of ‘just a little nick’ would soon expand out of all recognition. In any case, why the fictional hell-trope should law accomodate manifest child abuse, however strongly it may be culturally mandated?

    There are cultures that advocate the ritual murder of ‘possessed’ children, and I do not see a rush to accomodate that particular behaviour. Maybe instead of actual murder, they could just be roughed up a bit? That is the better alternative, is it not?

    Religion should never be a justification for assault and actual bodily harm. FGM is nothing less than the vilest sexual mutilation of a child. It should be unconscionable to any person who has a shred of humanity. As for the comparison with male circumcision, I am with PZ. I condemn it, it is wrong and harmful, but it is nowhere near as damaging and life-destroying as FGM. The two are not even remotely comparable.

  196. #196 Becky
    May 6, 2010

    Oops, I see you did quote that. How is that not suggesting a change in law or approving of the use of “ritual nicks” at least in some circumstances? And note that their final recommendations doesn’t oppose all forms of FGM but only those “that pose
    risks of physical or psychological harm,” which implies that there exist some forms of FGM, excuse me, FGC, that don’t pose these risks.

  197. #197 David Marjanovi?
    May 6, 2010

    Maybe in the Jewish tradition, but in most hospitals in America and Canada, a local anesthetic is usually used. Don’t know about Europe or Australia/Asia.

    It’s not done in Europe generally (and I bet the same holds for Australia); I don’t know how Jews and Muslims get theirs. Until recently I didn’t even know any medical reasons existed ever, and it was just a few years ago that I even figured out that many Americans are circumcised.

  198. #198 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    Sophist #187

    Read for comprehension… the point here is that in their recommendations the AAP doesn’t simply stop with this:

    1. Opposes all forms of FGC.

    But the don’t,… they feel it necessary to qualify that position with this:

    “that pose risks of physical or psychological harm.”

    Which then opens the door for the possibility of forms of FGC that somehow don’t pose risks of harm. And then actually propose such a form with their “little nick” proposal. It’s deplorable.

    And that’s where we have the problem. There is no acceptable form of FGC, period. And the AAP should not be putting forth an idea that there might be, especially in deference to barbaric, misogynistic ritual.

  199. #199 Zaphod
    May 6, 2010

    skeptic scientist:

    Addendum to my previous post: after we stop using straw-men, perhaps we could also try avoiding arguments from personal incredulity.

    [Zaphod]

    I have to agree with Island and Ben on the likely reasoning behind the AAP’s descision, but I too see the obvious fault in their reasoning: that being the people who practice this butchery would be satisfied with blood being drawn in lieu of castration.

    I’m confused here, are you saying that *I* am using an argument from personal incredulity, or that I am agreeing with Island and Benjamin that the AAP is using an argument from personal incredulity to justify their decision?

    If you are saying that *I* am arguing from personal incredulity, then I’d have to say yes. Yes I am.

    Because an argument from personal incredulity is the ONLY way to justify this ridiculous decision from the AAP.

  200. #200 David Marjanovi?
    May 6, 2010

    Other people have brought up the former tradition in India of tossing widows onto their late husband’s funeral pyre. The British didn’t pander, they said outright that it was barbaric, wrong and it had to stop. Guess what? It did.

    Well, that’s a bit more visible and therefore a bit easier to stop…

  201. #201 bubbabubba666
    May 6, 2010

    @176 Skeptical Scientist. I could not agree with you more. I amazed at “fundamentalism” in this thread. It reminds me of the Catholic church going to an AIDS infested country and preaching against condoms. Or those idiots who would argue that you always have to tell the truth even if it means telling the Nazis at your door that you have a Jew in the attic.

    This is an attempt to placate those who believe they must practice a barbaric ritual in a way that protects women. But hey, I guess it’s better to express our outrage and send them over to some witch doctor who will thoroughly mutilate them. And like the Catholic church we can stand proud in our unwillingness to compromise, no matter how many women suffer because of it.

    I find it funny that PZ has started another thread where he (quite rightly) mocks the pain men suffer from circumcision in comparison to female genital mutilation. Yet here everyone is outraged that we move from full mutilation to something more akin to male circumcision.

    In closing, it seems to me the ONLY real question here is “will this result in women who would have otherwise been mutilated instead being nicked”. It seems to me it is very likely it will, and therefore over all seems a good compromise, even if it’s a compromise we don’t like.

  202. #202 Kraid
    May 6, 2010

    SaraJ #129:

    I think people read this story and it automatically triggered those broader thoughts in their head about unnecessarily cutting things off of infants and children, and how it’s odd that it’s okay for one gender but not the other.

    A ray of insight. Thank you.

    And before I get howled at, I fully acknowledge that FGM is waaay worse than MGM. To those wondering why people don’t get as incensed about MGM, it’s because FGM, though much less prevalent in the US, is an even more severe and evil act.

    The accomodationist law is absurd… although it doesn’t really surprise me that it popped up in America. ‘Round these parts we have a callous disregard for childrens’ bodily integrity, particularly wrt the genitals (due to some Puritan influence, maybe?)

    I’m thinking that in addition to being absurd, the law seems rather pointless. If the parents have their twisted, black hearts set on amputating their daughter’s clitoris and labia minora and sewing the remainder shut, I doubt a little ritual pin prick is going to suffice for them.

    Someguy123 #136:

    You mean the foreskin grows back sometimes? Who knew?
    There may be hope for me yet!

    Google foreskin restoration. Applying tension to what foreskin remains will cause it to grow, just like lip or earlobe stretching. Obviously any amputated structures (dartos muscle, a few thousand neurons, etc) won’t magically reappear, but for some people it reverses at least some of the physical and psychological damage.

  203. #203 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    What bubbabubba666 said.

  204. #204 Sophist
    May 6, 2010

    Becky, look at the passages I quoted again. Compare this:

    In contrast,
    there is also evidence that medicalizing
    FGC can prolong the custom
    among middle-class families (eg, in
    Egypt).35 Many anti-FGC activists in the
    West, including women from African
    countries, strongly oppose any compromise
    that would legitimize even the
    most minimal procedure.4 There is
    also some evidence (eg, in Scandinavia)
    that a criminalization of the practice,
    with the attendant risk of losing
    custody of one?s children, is one of the
    factors that led to abandonment of this
    tradition among Somali immigrants.36

    …with what you quoted. Yes, it says changing the law might help fight FGM. It also includes a claim that making all FGM illegal is the more effective course of action. How can you claim that a document that presents strong arguments for the two different sides of the debate is unambiguously advocating for the law to be changed to allow the practice? You’ll notice it’s nowhere in the recommendations.

    Also, regarding this passage:

    In addition, “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.

    ..it seem pretty clear from context that they are talking about the terms to use when they “provide
    patients and their parents with compassionate education about the physical harms and psychological risks of FGC while remaining sensitive to the cultural and religious reasons that motivate parents to seek this procedure for their daughters”. They’re not saying nobody should call it mutilation, they are merely saying that when you’re doing community outreach and education you used the language and terminology that is most effective. Calling it mutilation in this context is counterproductive to the goal of convincing them not to do it, or such is the AAP’s claim at any rate.

  205. #205 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawl3TpOVyxxwCT5cVU3M80c_cpxoMBZmiOQ
    May 6, 2010

    Wow… this politically correct accommodation of sexist assholes by the AAP is mind-staggering.

    Let’s see what other words we have to change.

    One suggestions would be:

    Rape -> Unilaterally initiated intercourse.

  206. #206 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    David Marjanovic:

    Well, that’s a bit more visible and therefore a bit easier to stop…

    That’s certainly true. One other thing that comes across crystal clear in Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel is the often pervasive attitude of women (who have been “circumcised) regarding purity. They think and feel women who aren’t are impure and that there’s a problem associating with impure women. It’s much more than a surface “oh, it’s tradition” problem.

  207. #207 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    Oh, hey, PZ, about the boo-boo thread, it’s closed-minded to assume it’s males who are the only ones concerned with male circumcision. Secondly, if you give a girl a nick comparable to a male circumcision, not the full-on mutilation they might encounter in unsanitary, unregulated conditions in a foreign country, then the two are worth comparing. If you’re going to say that there’s no room for any type of female genital modification that isn’t consensual and minimally harmful, then there isn’t any room for the same thing in males either.

  208. #208 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    bubbabubba666 @ 201;

    In closing, it seems to me the ONLY real question here is “will this result in women who would have otherwise been mutilated instead being nicked”. It seems to me it is very likely it will, and therefore over all seems a good compromise, even if it’s a compromise we don’t like.

    Even if we accept your claim that this will protect women from the worst extremes of FGM (an argument I find unconvincing, since most fundies will not be satisified with a nominal nick and instead will want to go the whole hog), I assume that you are A-OK with the implied misogyny of the ritual itself?

    The idea that patriarchal religions should be allowed to depict female sexuality and the female form itself as sinful and in need of some kind of modification to ‘sanitise’ it?

    You accept the idea of medically wholly uneccessary surgical procedures being forced on children for no other reason than to mollify fanatics and pander to their stupidity?

    You are alright with the entrenchment, with the collusion of government and judiciary, of misogyny in US law and medical practice?

    Well, my friend, you may accept these consequences but I will not.

  209. #209 IslandBrewer
    May 6, 2010

    While I have to agree that the overwhelming majority of mutilating parents aren’t going to accept a compromise, but it’s possible that some might.

    But, the rationale behind offering a safe and less aggregious procedure to prevent an unsafe and horrible mutilation isn’t that different from the argument that banning abortion will simply promote unsafe illegal abortions.

    When I read these posts, I have to ask, if a poster’s first priority is to (1) save a girl from a horrible dangerous mutilation, or (2) express their own outrage and righteous indignation and vow to punish the horrible religious immigrant parents? If it comes down to a choice between the two, which would you pick?

  210. #210 PZ Myers
    May 6, 2010

    Good grief. Stop it. Fret over male circumcision here.

  211. #211 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    bubbabubba666

    It reminds me of the Catholic church going to an AIDS infested country and preaching against condoms.

    Oh, fuck right off… insisting that no amount of FGC is acceptable is in no way akin to Catholics killing people by telling them not to use condoms, you asshole… what next, you gonna go Godwin on us?

    Oh, wait…

    Or those idiots who would argue that you always have to tell the truth even if it means telling the Nazis at your door that you have a Jew in the attic.

    People, please read the fucking title of PZ’s post… it states clearly the whole point.

    “What ever happened to “first, do no harm”.

    It’s the Hippocratic oath, and does not equivocate in any way by saying “It’s ok to do a little harm if it potentially prevents more harm later”.

    There’s a reason it doesn’t.

  212. #212 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 6, 2010

    Congratulations, notVerneant, for not understanding context. When ever the subject of FGM comes up, people come out complaining What about male circumcision? As it been pointed out, it is cruel and barbaric. But it is still not as severe, serious and devastating as FGM. Yet all talk must turn to the phallus.

  213. #213 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution:

    So, it’s not okay to do a little harm (inject a person with toxic chemicals) now to prevent more harm (them dying from cancer) later?

  214. #214 Sophist
    May 6, 2010

    Which then opens the door for the possibility of forms of FGC that somehow don’t pose risks of harm. And then actually propose such a form with their “little nick” proposal. It’s deplorable.

    And that’s where we have the problem. There is no acceptable form of FGC, period. And the AAP should not be putting forth an idea that there might be, especially in deference to barbaric, misogynistic ritual.

    A hypothetical question. Suppose you were given the option to push a button that magically changed all the five million genital mutilations performed every year into small ritual needle pricks? Would you do it?

  215. #215 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Janine: Except that male circumcision is more barbaric than what the AAP is talking about.

    Quit equivocating.

  216. #216 PZ Myers
    May 6, 2010

    Doctors do procedures that harm patients, when the procedure provides greater long term good. It’s a reasonable balancing act.

    There is no long term good to be gained by making a pointless slice in a baby’s genitals.

  217. #217 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    So, it’s not okay to do a little harm (inject a person with toxic chemicals) now to prevent more harm (them dying from cancer) later?

    False equivalence. Benjamin, you’re better than this…

    Injecting a person with chemicals is a treatment for an existing condition. Injecting them with toxic chemicals on the off chance they might get cancer later? Yeah… that would be wrong, too.

  218. #218 bubbabubba666
    May 6, 2010

    @#208. Was there any sentence in that post that wasn’t a strawman?

    Again, my stance can be summed up as I stated it in my last paragraph:

    In closing, it seems to me the ONLY real question here is “will this result in women who would have otherwise been mutilated instead being nicked”*. It seems to me it is very likely it will, and therefore over all seems a good compromise, even if it’s a compromise we don’t like.

    *And I do not claim to know the answer to this, but it seems to me that if we look at how cultures evolve, this (AAP practice) could be a good idea. Is it not true that we moved from human sacrifice to animal sacrifice before largely giving up sacrifice altogether? Is it not true that we often move away from superstitions slowly by first moving from actual acts to symbolic acts?

  219. #219 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    Congratulations, Jeanine. There’s a thread for fretting about male circumcision, with a link posted by PZ not two comments above you. Foul mouthed, indeed, yet duller than a rusty third-world scalpel.

  220. #220 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    Quit equivocating.

    That’s really funny of you to say after your #213…

  221. #221 Iris
    May 6, 2010

    @ Tim & Benjamin:

    Thanks for mansplaining my infantile douchebaggery to me.

    @Shplane:

    Their points have been addressed by others, including PZ, in this very thread. Yet they continue to repeat themselves, as if no one here is agreeing that male circumcision is awful and doesn’t receive nearly enough condemnation.

    Maybe if we all acknowledge and agree with them some more, then they’ll allow us to focus on the topic of this post?

    PZ opened a thread just so we can be ‘splained to some more. But let’s just talk about male circumcision here some more.

  222. #222 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution:

    A better analogy is vaccines. Inject the person with dead viruses (and whatever other stuff is in the vaccine), on the chance that they’re exposed to the disease in question.

    Remember that the alternative to ‘give a ritual pinprick’ is not ‘leave the genitals intact’; it’s ‘cut the entirety of the clitoris off’.

  223. #223 Ben Goren
    May 6, 2010

    Sophist wrote:

    A hypothetical question. Suppose you were given the option to push a button that magically changed all the five million genital mutilations performed every year into small ritual needle pricks? Would you do it?

    If such a magical button could exist, then so too could one exist that graced the barbarians with enough sense to leave the pricks out of it entirely. And that’s the button I’d be pushing.

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  224. #224 Sophist
    May 6, 2010

    It’s the Hippocratic oath, and does not equivocate in any way by saying “It’s ok to do a little harm if it potentially prevents more harm later.

    Do you realize how silly this makes you sound? Pretty much all of modern medicine is based on doing a little harm now to prevent more harm later. Do you know how traumatic, say, an open heart bypass is? A liver transplant? Treating a gunshot wound?

    A doctor that practiced the extreme naivety you advocate here would be about as much use as a homeopath.

  225. #225 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    May 6, 2010

    #219:

    Foul mouthed, indeed, yet duller than a rusty third-world scalpel.

    1. It’s “Janine.”

    2. Back off from my fake wife.

    3. Get Kw*kk*d sideways with a Leica rangefinder. Scratch that – make it a knock-off.

  226. #226 IslandBrewer
    May 6, 2010

    Even if we accept your claim that this will protect women from the worst extremes of FGM (an argument I find unconvincing, since most fundies will not be satisified with a nominal nick and instead will want to go the whole hog), I assume that you are A-OK with the implied misogyny of the ritual itself?

    @Gregory Greenwood

    The idea that patriarchal religions should be allowed to depict female sexuality and the female form itself as sinful and in need of some kind of modification to ‘sanitise’ it?

    No, but that’s not what the AAP statement does. Can’t do anything to immediately change how patriarchal religions depict female sexuality, and the AAP does nothing to ‘sanitise’ it.

    You accept the idea of medically wholly uneccessary surgical procedures being forced on children for no other reason than to mollify fanatics and pander to their stupidity?

    No, I do not, and I don’t think bubba does either.

    And here is where you miss the point. It’s not for “NO OTHER reason than to mollify fanatics and pander to their stupidity.” It’s to SAVE A GIRL FROM HAVING HER CLITORIS HACKED OFF WITH A PAIR OF RUSTY SCISSORS.

    Apologies for the shouting, but that’s the primary motivation for the AAP statement, whether or not it’s likely to work. Ignoring that point ignores the whole fucking argument of whether girls genitals are worth saving through any measure, no matter how pandering it is.

    You are alright with the entrenchment, with the collusion of government and judiciary, of misogyny in US law and medical practice?

    Are you alright with allowing girl’s genital to get chopped off in a third world country with a rusty piece of scrap iron?

    Again, is your purpose to express outrage at the pandering to barbaric misogynist traditions, or to keep a girl from having nearly everything between her legs sawn off by some half-blind witch doctor?

  227. #227 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    A hypothetical question. Suppose you were given the option to push a button that magically changed all the five million genital mutilations performed every year into small ritual needle pricks? Would you do it?

    No… while we’re inventing magical bullshit scenarios that purport to further our positions, I’ll propose that I would instead use the magical button that imprisons every asshole that attempts to mutilate the genitals of their children, makes public examples of them, and magically instills the pain and psychological harm of the children they are mutilating to themselves.

    There… that’s my hypothetical response to your hypothetical question.

  228. #228 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Iris:

    “You’re mansplaining” is just another way of saying “I don’t care if you’re right or wrong; I’m not going to listen to you because you’re a man.”

    Celtic_Evolution:

    You’re equivocating by calling both clitoridectomies and “ritual nicks” by the same name and claiming they’re equally bad.

    When we say, “It’s better for parents to draw a drop of blood than to cut off entire functioning organs”, and you (collectively) respond “BUT IT’S GENITAL MUTILATION AND THEY WON’T BE ABLE TO FEEL ANYTHING!!!!!1″… who’s being reasonable and who’s equivocating?

  229. #229 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 6, 2010

    Quit equivocating.

    Please, Benjamin, explain to me how I have been equivocating.

    notVerneant, thank you for taking the effort to spell my name correctly.

    And I fucking well aware of the thread. I was commenting on you fine whine. Congratulations for being duller then me. There is not even a scratch my my skin.

  230. #230 bubbabubba666
    May 6, 2010

    Let me add a little bit to why I believe this will likely reduce female genital mutilation. Some years ago I heard a wonderful Egyptian woman who has pioneered against the practice talk about it. She explained how deeply ingrained it was in her cultured and how even her father who was a liberal and learned man had allowed it to be done to his first daughters before stopping the practice later in life.

    Her point in explaining this was to help people understand that while the practice itself may be misogynistic, that it was so deeply ingrained in the culture that even those who were not woman haters often went along with it.

    It is precisely for this reason that I believe the AAP practice will in fact help women. Yes, the most extreme zealots will still search someone out that will mutilate to their hearts content. But there are many people who do not fall into that category. And those people may indeed be perfectly content to be satisfied with the “nick”. So I expect this will SAVE many women from mutilation.

  231. #231 Sophist
    May 6, 2010

    If such a magical button could exist, then so too could one exist that graced the barbarians with enough sense to leave the pricks out of it entirely. And that?s the button I?d be pushing.

    Cute. Now answer the question. You have claimed that all forms of genital mutilation are equally bad, so it seem like your answer should be a no-brainer.

    PZ:

    There is no long term good to be gained by making a pointless slice in a baby’s genitals.

    If it prevent the girl from losing her genitals altogether, is that not a long term good?

  232. #232 ashleyfmiller
    May 6, 2010

    Just thought I’d share this jewel. Within minutes of my posting this on Facebook a Southern Christian posted this in response:

    Why are you surprised, doctors murder babies every day?

  233. #233 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Janine:

    As I’ve said, when you claim there’s no difference between pricking the clitoris with a lancet, and sawing it off altogether, because both are ‘female genital mutilation’, that’s equivocation.

  234. #234 matthew.james.neil
    May 6, 2010

    This seems more to me a position out of desperation on the AAP’s part than anything else.

    I realized in following these comments what a privileged position I was holding in my head when I first thought “how the fuck could they think this is a good idea?” because I then put myself in the position of pediatricians (who don’t usually become pediatricians so they can cut on babys) that have to deal with large populations of people for whom this is a cultural norm. After seeing firsthand the horrors of what is done to little girls, my brain would start screaming “something, ANYTHING, must be done to stop this!”

    My question is, what can we do to help end this, at least in the US where it is already illegal? Contact cultural groups, legislators, who? I’d much rather be proactive about this than scream at the APA for trying to do something about this problem (which I honestly had no idea was such a prominent issue in this country).

    I don’t entirely agree with what the AAP has come out with as a stance, but again, it seems more out of desperation to me than saying “hey, I know, let’s start cutting up little girls.”

  235. #235 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    bubbabubba666;

    Was there any sentence in that post that wasn’t a strawman?

    You think that religiously mandated misogyny is a strawman? How interesting…

    In closing, it seems to me the ONLY real question here is “will this result in women who would have otherwise been mutilated instead being nicked”*. It seems to me it is very likely it will, and therefore over all seems a good compromise, even if it’s a compromise we don’t like.

    No, that is the ONLY question YOU wish to address. You seem to dismiss the broader issues of the attitude toward women that underlies the ritual of FGM as ‘strawman’ irrelevancies. I find this somewhat disturbing, and cannot help but wonder if it does not point toward your own attitude toward women. Minimising physical harm (if you are right on that point) would be beneficial from a medical standpoint, but what about the plight of the girls in question and women in society at large? Surely you are not so blinkered as to believe that fundies would not take such a position being adopted by the medical community as a validation of their fundamentally misogynist beliefs?

    Rubber-stamping bigotry is never a good thing.

  236. #236 PZ Myers
    May 6, 2010

    Suppose you were given the option to push a button that magically changed all the five million genital mutilations performed every year into small ritual needle pricks? Would you do it?

    Ah, if only we had magic buttons. Yes, of course.

    Unfortunately, magic buttons do not exist. What we need to do instead is convince millions of hidebound traditionalists that what they are doing to their children is a barbarity that does them obvious physical harm. OBVIOUS harm. Look at the diagrams in the AAP literature to see what I’m talking about. There are obviously powerful cultural forces at work that allow parents to do something so evil to their daughters.

    In the absence of magic buttons, I’m saying that confrontation is the only responsible answer. Pandering, as the AAP report proposes, only maintains the fundamental flaw, and further, reassures parents that their tradition of knifing their daughters’ genitals is acceptable. It isn’t. We need to change the belief in the permissibility of mangling children, not just find ways to allow more limited versions of mangling children.

    I don’t understand why that is so hard to get across to people.

    Don’t do elective cosmetic surgery to babies. Don’t do damaging, pointless surgery to babies. It’s a good general principle to follow.

  237. #237 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @216, I disagree. Consider this choice:

    1. Nick a girls vagina now in a small way with no further damage, ever.
    2. Don’t do anything and risk that much more serious damage is caused later.

    Obviously, taken out of context, there’s no benefit to doing anything to a vagina, but in context, you need to take into account what will happen if you don’t do something small. Yes, it is ideal to stop the practice altogether, but the question is how. This is a practice that will eventually be ended. The question is how to reduce the net damage to girls until then. I’ll go with a total ban if the net damage is less than the stepped-down ritualistic version, but if the reverse is true, and performing the nick will placate enough people so that the net damage is less than trying to enforce a total ban, then I’m for nicking until it’s phased out. I would say it’s analogous to giving someone a live vaccine. It might infect and kill them (rare), but it will probably prevent them from getting seriously ill (very likely).

  238. #238 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    A better analogy is vaccines. Inject the person with dead viruses (and whatever other stuff is in the vaccine), on the chance that they’re exposed to the disease in question.

    Oh for fuck sake Benjamin, it’s still false equivalence. Injecting a vaccine addresses a real medical concern and provides a solution to an actual medical problem. It’s not remotely the same as fucking cutting children even a little to satisfy barbaric misogynistic ritual.

    Remember that the alternative to ‘give a ritual pinprick’ is not ‘leave the genitals intact’; it’s ‘cut the entirety of the clitoris off’.

    And the proper response to that is to hold the motherfuckers who do it accountable and educate as much as possible until we rid ourselves of the fucking custom… not to simply offer a lesser alternative that still coddles the deplorable and inhuman mentality behind the practice.

  239. #239 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    PZ:

    Since that’s worked oh so well for reducing other elective cosmetic surgery. (I’m not even talking about circumcision here. How many baby girls get their ears pierced each year?)

  240. #240 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @238, it’s not a false equivalence unless you don’t consider the possibility of clitoris getting hacked off altogether a real medical concern.

  241. #241 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 6, 2010

    As I’ve said, when you claim there’s no difference between pricking the clitoris with a lancet, and sawing it off altogether, because both are ‘female genital mutilation’, that’s equivocation.

    Please review what I have said. I said no such thing. Honestly, Benjamin, I expect better from you because normally, you are.

    I dislike even going through a useless medical procedure in order to mollify a barbaric reason. Fuck this accommodating bullshit.

  242. #242 ashleyfmiller
    May 6, 2010

    Those of you saying that it’s ok because (you hope) it might save some genitals, you’re ignoring the fact that this is the American Medical Society saying that this is OK. Doctors are endorsing the behavior as acceptable.

    The goal should be to eradicate the behavior entirely by constantly and consistently exposing it as evil. Saying that it maybe sometimes is OK to totally violate human rights of a baby girl is just giving people cause to think it’s OK.

    It’s like saying well if the government endorses rapists to only tie people down while they masturbate on top of them, then that’s better than fucking them in the vagina. Yeah it’s better on some scale, but it’s still abuse and the the government is complicit in the act.

  243. #243 strange gods before me ?
    May 6, 2010

    “You’re mansplaining” is just another way of saying “I don’t care if you’re right or wrong; I’m not going to listen to you because you’re a man.”

    Actually, it means “you may be surprised to learn that being a man does not automatically entitle you to being taken seriously every time you feel like opening your mouth.”

    EvilSooty decided that the conversation should be all about what he wanted it to be about; talking about women was a mistake, and we should be talking about men instead. That shit happens so often that there’s a name for it. You might be upset that there’s a name for it, but the sooner you can get guys like EvilSooty to stop doing that shit, the sooner you won’t have to hear the word “mansplaining” again.

  244. #244 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution:

    Do the words ‘false dichotomy’ mean anything to you? Because that’s what your entire second paragraph is. There’s nothing stopping us from offering a lesser alternative while educating people and holding the fuckers who still do clitoridectomies responsible. Simply criminalizing it just drives it underground.

    And I know it’s a false equivalence, but it’s still close enough to disprove your point:

    It’s the Hippocratic oath, and does not equivocate in any way by saying “It’s ok to do a little harm if it potentially prevents more harm later.”

    It is acceptable to do harm now to prevent harm later, in some cases. As with everything else in life, it’s a balancing act between benefit and risk.

  245. #245 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 6, 2010

    I did not notice that my fake hubby popped in to “defend my honor”. Thank you, Josh.

    (I will keep quiet about your, hmmm, peculiarity.)

  246. #246 mams99
    May 6, 2010

    I did a paper on this in university and presented it at a school conference.. First, I was amazed at how few people knew that a. it ever happened and b. it is still happening. And not just the ‘minor’ form of removing the skin or the complete clitoris, but complete removal of all parts of female genitalia.

    This paper was written 15 years ago and the debate was raging then. What to do… Do you forbid it and forbid doctors from performing it at all? Which means people still do it the way they’ve always done it – with primitive instruments, with a midwife or other lay person and with no pain killers and improper sterilization and no modern anything. Or, do you just accept that this is a cultural norm and at least make it safer for every girl going through the procedure?

    While researching, many papers cited that it’s the WOMEN who are the ones are the biggest proponents of this procedure – not the men. Women fear for their daughters. They fear that they will not find partners because they are left ‘unclean’. Women seem to have clung to traditions because “it’s what we do” (and when you look at our society too – who are the ones to keep with traditions – men or women?). Everyone blames it on men, but it’s not generally the men who are stealing the girls to have it done in the homeland, it’s grandmothers.

    I don’t agree with genital mutilation and I don’t condone doctor’s doing it either, but I understand the dilemma. I try to imagine what it must be like to turn away a girl and her mother, only to discover later, she had it done in the bush and now has a raging infection.

    My guess, is this is a compromise they are hoping will keep more severe forms of mutilations from happening, to perhaps slowly kill off the practice all together by easing it out of tradition. I can’t say that I agree, but I understand it.

    I do disagree with any forms of this procedure being sanctioned and I will work on getting this stopped, but it also pulls at my heart strings too for all the girls who will suffer more in the meantime.

    P.S. I don’t believe in male circumcision either (and neither of my boys are circumcised), but I will agree that there are some benefits to male circumcision. In some parts of the world it’s probably better for boys to be circumcised than not due to the rampant spread of AIDS which is spread even faster by uncircumcised men, however, I can see no positive side to female circumcision.

  247. #247 PZ Myers
    May 6, 2010

    You’re placing the responsibility in the wrong place.

    If it prevent the girl from losing her genitals altogether, is that not a long term good?

    Say I turn into a dangerous psychotic, and announce that I must kill Sophist because I hate his balls. Wouldn’t it then be a long term good if we had you castrated? It would reduce the risk of you being killed, after all.

    Or would it make more sense to denounce Psycho PZ, have him institutionalized and put under the treatment of a psychiatrist until he loses his dangerous delusion?

    I suppose it would be a fair compromise to have your testicles pierced briefly with a sharp, sterile needle. If you think Psycho PZ would be satisfied with that.

  248. #248 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    SGBM:

    Except I was accused of ‘mansplaining’ when I was discussing *female* mutilation. It’s quite literally an ad hominem: “Don’t listen to him, he’s a man.”

  249. #249 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    @238, it’s not a false equivalence unless you don’t consider the possibility of clitoris getting hacked off altogether a real medical concern.

    I don’t consider it a medical concern any more than I’d consider punitive amputation a medical concern… I consider it a cultural and moreover a criminal concern. And I maintain that if we don’t attack it as such, and provide even the slightest allowance for medically sanctioned mutilation of infant genitals on any scale, we are enabling the continuation of those barbaric practices.

  250. #250 ashleyfmiller
    May 6, 2010

    Where is this research saying that doing this will in any way save any girl from being mutilated? To me it looks like it would increase the acts by making it easily available and the assholes who still want to sew the whole thing up are still going to figure out a way to do it.

    To me it looks like a big “Hey, you were on the fence about this, well don’t be, because we’re saying it’s OK to stab your little girls clit! And now we don’t even have the moral authority to tell you other fuckers not to take it just a little bit further!”

  251. #251 bubbabubba666
    May 6, 2010

    @#226 PZ

    “I don’t understand why that is so hard to get across to people.”

    I think people understand just fine. PZ you have written extensively about how animal experiments are a necessary evil. Might not this be too?

    Let me ask you this. If studies showed that this AAP strategy works, and that the result is a reduction in female genital mutilation, versus say an area where the AAP takes your uncompromising stance, would you be willing to reevaluate your stance? Or would you still insist that the uncompromising stance is the way to go?

  252. #252 Aquaria
    May 6, 2010

    It’s not done in Europe generally (and I bet the same holds for Australia)

    Well, score one for America and Canada, then.

    America has done it since 1987 at least; that’s when the procedure was explained to me when my son was born. I didn’t go with it because–gee, imagine it–I thought circumcision was barbaric.

    Wow. Even a shrill old feminist like me can think of the pain that lopping off boy parts might cause, and did what I could best do to stop the bullshit: Not engage in it myself when my son’s tallywhacker was on the line.

    Now where are all the sexist douchebags to start decrying the horrors of FGM, and how giving even an inch on this is fucking unacceptable?

  253. #253 bubbabubba666
    May 6, 2010

    #226 IslandBrewer said

    “And here is where you miss the point. It’s not for “NO OTHER reason than to mollify fanatics and pander to their stupidity.” It’s to SAVE A GIRL FROM HAVING HER CLITORIS HACKED OFF WITH A PAIR OF RUSTY SCISSORS.”

    Yep, and I can’t get why that’s so hard to get across to people ;-).

  254. #254 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    I agree. Well said ; ) The most important thing to consider is the girls in question. If you were offered a choice, A “Psycho PZ has a 90% chance of hacking you to bits and making a stylish suit from your skin,” or B “We let Psycho PZ break your legs”, which would you choose?

  255. #255 Sophist
    May 6, 2010

    What we need to do instead is convince millions of hidebound traditionalists that what they are doing to their children is a barbarity that does them obvious physical harm. OBVIOUS harm. Look at the diagrams in the AAP literature to see what I’m talking about. There are obviously powerful cultural forces at work that allow parents to do something so evil to their daughters.

    In the absence of magic buttons, I’m saying that confrontation is the only responsible answer.

    How long do you expect this to take? Because every year 5 million more girls are mutilated. What do you say to a girl who could have had a small pinprick, but got some of her external genitalia chopped off instead? “Sorry, but you gotta take one for the team?”

    Maybe you’re right. Maybe taking a hardline position on this will lead to less overall suffering, and the girls that we could help now are just collateral damage that we have to live with. On the other hand, maybe the compromise procedure will prolong the duration of the practice, but reduce the severity enough to make up the difference. I don’t know. And I’m pretty sure you don’t either. This is a hard question, and I don’t think your position is a self-evidently true as you make it out to be.

  256. #256 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    IslandBrewer @ 226;

    Are you alright with allowing girl’s genital to get chopped off in a third world country with a rusty piece of scrap iron?

    Again, is your purpose to express outrage at the pandering to barbaric misogynist traditions, or to keep a girl from having nearly everything between her legs sawn off by some half-blind witch doctor?

    Once more unto the breach…

    I am not OK with the mutilation of the genitalia of children at all. I do not think that this policy would acheive much in the way of prevention of harm to children, but it certainly would be viewed as the endorsement of FGM by the state in the eyes of fundies.

    Even if it prevented the rusty scissor scenario, it would still be the nicking of children’s genital organs, however sanitary the conditions, rather than condemning all genital mutilation unequivically. As a hypothetical (since these seem to be in vogue), would it be a better alternative to allow paedophile priests to just fondle children rather than rape them via full penetration? Bearing in mind that if you say ‘no’, then by your own logic you are OK with child rape?

    I do not wish to see compromise on the mutilation of children, I want to see this barbarous practice fade into the more unpleasant annals of history. I will not apologise for this.

    This is not about my ‘outrage’ or lack thereof. This is not about me at all. This is about protecting children from any uneccessary modification of their genitals, and it is also about protecting women in society from the misogyny of fundies.

  257. #257 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    Oh yeah, @253 on my last comment.

  258. #258 ashleyfmiller
    May 6, 2010

    Those of you accommodationists arguing that it might prevent some of the worse mutilations, you’re disregarding 1. that there’s no proof that that’s true and 2. that it is not a medical procedure.

  259. #259 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    Do the words ‘false dichotomy’ mean anything to you?

    Yes, and I’m not offering one, because I’m not saying it’s an either or… I’m saying that FGC is unacceptable. Period. On any scale. I’m not going to agree that we could do BOTH and that would be acceptable. I’m not saying that the AAP isn’t, on some level, advocating education on the dangers of FGC and also advocating that parents do not pursue such action. They are. What I am saying is that there need be no further qualification, nor any offer of a “lesser alternative” that still legitimizes the practice.

    And I don’t agree that offering a “small nick” serves a greater good. I believe in the long term it does a far greater harm by continuing to coddle the mentality that allows such barbarism to be seen as acceptable. The greater good would be served by unequivocally denouncing the entire practice. Period. In addition to the other steps taken to educate and inform.

  260. #260 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    notVerneant @ 219:

    Foul mouthed, indeed, yet duller than a rusty third-world scalpel.

    That’s my sister wife you’re talking to, you dim-witted clod. You posted in the wrong thread at least once, so shut the fuck up.

  261. #261 Sophist
    May 6, 2010

    Say I turn into a dangerous psychotic, and announce that I must kill Sophist because I hate his balls. Wouldn’t it then be a long term good if we had you castrated? It would reduce the risk of you being killed, after all.

    Or would it make more sense to denounce Psycho PZ, have him institutionalized and put under the treatment of a psychiatrist until he loses his dangerous delusion?

    I suppose it would be a fair compromise to have your testicles pierced briefly with a sharp, sterile needle. If you think Psycho PZ would be satisfied with that.

    How to respond to this sort of situation depends on what actions are within your power to accomplish. If I have the power to get you institutionalized then yes, that would be the way to go. However, if getting you institutionalized was a decades long process with no guarantee of success, and the chances of my getting killed in the meantime are unacceptably high, then I would probably take the needle. I would suck, but if it’s the best available option it’s the best available option. You have to have a realistic idea of the change you have the power to effect in the world.

  262. #262 Dianne
    May 6, 2010

    Where is this research saying that doing this will in any way save any girl from being mutilated? To me it looks like it would increase the acts by making it easily available and the assholes who still want to sew the whole thing up are still going to figure out a way to do it.

    I have seen research that suggests that a significant minority of parents in areas where FGM is the norm perform or have performed a less extreme form of FGM in order for their daughter to be “acceptable” and not have more severe forms performed on her by potential in-laws. However, even if I could find the original article again (which I can’t at the moment), that’s in Africa. Which is not where the majority of the members of the AMERICAN Academy of Pediatrics practice.

    Having a ritual nick made in your daughter’s clitoris because the scary neighbors down the road might cut it off altogether otherwise-and the law supports their “right” to do so-is one thing. Having a ritual nick made when she’s in a country where mutilation of the genitalia is a crime and looked on with horror.

    Ok, if you’re spending 6 months in Sierre Leone with MSF and a parent brings in their daughter demanding FGM (or they’ll take her to the local psycho who usually does it) go ahead, make a ritual cut and call it done. But in the US? I see no reason to make any compromise on this.

  263. #263 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    You know you got a lot of burn when three people need to flail back at your zinger.

  264. #264 mams99
    May 6, 2010

    And you know – I bet this compromise we are all hot and bothered about wouldn’t fly. I don’t think it would alter the practice one bit because it’s not the same procedure, but a ‘new’ modern twist on it. That would be like partially circumcising a boy.

  265. #265 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    If you were offered a choice, A “Psycho PZ has a 90% chance of hacking you to bits and making a stylish suit from your skin,” or B “We let Psycho PZ break your legs”, which would you choose?

    Yeah… let’s fucking keep pretending like those were the only choices available, or that taking choice B necessarily prevents choice A.

  266. #266 PZ Myers
    May 6, 2010

    You guys keep playing this game, that taking a surgical knife to a child’s genitals will prevent someone from taking a pair of rusty scissors to them, as if the proposed cutting is some kind of vaccination that will place a powerful barrier in front of the child’s clitoris. It won’t. There is no empirical evidence to support such a contention, and there isn’t even theoretical reasoning in support of it. Token stabbing with a needle doesn’t address any of the cultural rationales for FGM that even the AAP document notes.

    Read the account from Ayaan Hirsi Ali in #28 above. Grandma isn’t doing this because it is a cultural tradition to take any swipe at the baby girls genitals, it is because they believe the clitoris is evil and will make the young woman later do evil things. Would Grandma have been dissuaded if a non-disfiguring, undetectable slice had been made in Baby Ayaan’s clitoris?

    This is a practice done to limit and control women’s sexual feelings. That is the attitude that is at the heart of the problem, that some societies think it acceptable to root out women’s sexuality at the physical source.

  267. #267 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    I’m merely extending PZ’s metaphor. What other choices are available? [gratuitous expletive]

  268. #268 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    You know you got a lot of burn when three people need to flail back at your zinger.

    Or it could just mean you’ve been widely regarded as an asshat…

  269. #269 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    Dianne @ 262 makes a very good point. This is a law being poroposed for the US. How exactly does weakening the legal protection of children help to protect them? If they are being taken out of the country for FGM, then stopping this familial people smuggling should be the priority, not bringing even a watered-down version of FGM into the process of Western medicine.

    There is no need for compromise on this issue within American jurisprudence. Doing so will only be seen as an endorsement of FGM by the US government and medical community, which will destroy their moral authority to go after the un-ameliorated versions of the practice.

  270. #270 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 6, 2010

    You know you got a lot of burnsaid something stupid when three people need to flail back at your zingerpoint out the stupid.

    Corrected it for you, you dumb fuck. Now crawl back under your stone.

  271. #271 ashleyfmiller
    May 6, 2010

    PZ @266

    Exactly. There’s no reason to think this would even work and it’s morally compromising. I just fail to see the positives.

  272. #272 strange gods before me ?
    May 6, 2010

    Except I was accused of ‘mansplaining’ when I was discussing *female* mutilation. It’s quite literally an ad hominem: “Don’t listen to him, he’s a man.”

    Benjamin, you shithead.

    You were accused of mansplaining at #221, you made your idiotic comment at #125. For which, by the way, you can go fuck yourself.

    You are being disingenuous now, acting like you’ve said nothing to instigate matters. I haven’t read all the comments on the on-topic discussion, but no one is being unfair to you re mansplaining.

  273. #273 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlgxhgi9JRQToMqiWfe2yfok7uF4SVBEw4
    May 6, 2010

    This is an amazing idea! Just give them a little nick. What could be the harm in that? If only all religious barbarism could be solved like this. Muslims want apostates to be executed? Well, maybe we could kill them a little bit; hack off a limb or strangle them for a minute.

    And if I want to tear these sniveling, backpedaling, hypocritical WEASELS apart, maybe I can just maim them, or kill their kids.

    It’s just so amazing how much religious idiocy has perverted everything good and fair in society, how we’re all to willing to offer up our children, innocent people who can’t speak for themselves, to mouth-foaming nutcases.

    FUCKING STUPID AAP CUNTS!!! THEY DON’T DESERVE TO BE CALLED DOCTORS, THEY’RE TORTURERS!!!

  274. #274 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    [gratuitous expletive]

    Gratuitous reference to perceived gratuitous expletive. Clutch your fucking pearls somewhere else.

    What other choices are available?

    Asking such a stupid question requires a baffling lack of imagination on your part.

  275. #275 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @268, 270

    Touche.

    @266
    Yeah, I agree, that’s a fucking horrendous practice. I’ll merely reiterate that the most detached, effective course of action should be taken, whatever it may be, and that our emotions shouldn’t get in the way of implementing it.

  276. #276 PZ Myers
    May 6, 2010

    Since I have unique insight into Psycho PZ’s attitudes, I can safely say that no, Psycho PZ will not be satisfied with leg-breaking or needles into testicles, but will instead be gratified that he can get the authorities to support his psychosis with various novel forms of perverse torture to his chosen victims, all with an official, legal imprimatur.

    Psycho PZ is now daydreaming about even more horrific threats he can make in order to get learned medical societies to dance to his tune, and is looking forward to the interesting permutations on his pathological obsessions that the straights will generate for him. He’s finding it all perversely arousing, and would like to thank the academy for legitimizing and sanctifying his mental illness in this way.

  277. #277 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    This is a practice done to limit and control women’s sexual feelings. That is the attitude that is at the heart of the problem, that some societies think it acceptable to root out women’s sexuality at the physical source.

    *sigh* I wish I was as eloquent as PZ. This little paragraph gets right to the heart of the matter. FGM is a deliberate assault on the physical manifestation of female sexuality itself. It is a pure, pseudo-surgical expression of misogyny. It cannot and should not be condoned. Compromise on this is not an option, unless you want to establish the precedent that a woman’s clitoris is the property of frothing fundie nutballs to dispose of as they see fit.

  278. #278 Ryan F Stello
    May 6, 2010

    I can’t tell which is the worst part of the accomodationist’s arguments here:

    1. That they tend to think that a procedure done ONLY for cultural cohesion is in any way similar to harm that does serve benefial purposes that are not limited to cultural cohesion (or elective actions without overt societal pressure).

    2. That they think the only options for the AAP is to promote nicking or full-blown mutilation, ignoring that the AAP could be taking a strong stance against the practice and supporting legislators in their existing efforts to outlaw it outright (as if the AAP itself has control over the people doing the harm)

    3. That they seem to think that the people who ARE doing this to FUCKING CHILDREN on the grounds of cultural tradition would be willing to change their tradition in favor of nicking.

    Unless someone can show some evidence that by promoting nicking, the AAP will be convincing a significant portion FGM advocates to stop or cut down the practice in its entirety, I can?t see how an accomodationist can make the argument that the AAP decision is the better option to promoting an outright ban.

    Otherwise I?d have to say: so much grasping logic wasted to such an illogical and inhumane end.

  279. #279 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    SGBM:

    Note the first person I told to STFU in that comment.

    Notice anything unusual?

    Right. He was the one that started with the circumcision comparisons.

    Isis immediately started screeching “MANSPLAINING!” so I simply countered with the same thing. You were included because you were echoing the same nonsense.

  280. #280 Dianne
    May 6, 2010

    BTW: Has anyone here seen the results of FGM? Do you want a description?

  281. #281 irenedelse
    May 6, 2010

    Shame on the AAP for going the faux “culturally sensitive”, but actually pretty blatantly patronizing, route, here!

    They may be interested to know that there are very active anti-FGM movements in Africa itself… In Mali, for instance, women’s rights activists make common cause with health care professionals to try to educate parents about how bad a turn they do to their daughters if they listen to the old women (it’s often old women who do it, matriarchs who are objective allies with the patriarchy) in the community about the “need” to cut the “bad” part of the girl’s genitals… Sometimes, charismatic African celebrities (like singer Tiken Jah Fakoly, or supermodel Waris Dirie) offer a strong support to the anti-FGM cause. In some countries, the anti-FGM activists have the support of the government, but not in places where the authorities are too invested in upholding a “traditional” society, in opposition to anything that looks Westernized.

    But at least, you would think that the health care regulatory bodies in Western countries would side with those who want to protect the girls, not with the reactionaries!

  282. #282 matthew.james.neil
    May 6, 2010

    Again, what can we be doing about FGM that can have an impact? I’ll reiterate my earlier point that I don’t think the AAP put out this information because they just realized they haven’t been in the FGM business before and were missing a market share.

    It seems to me more like the status quo has not been working and they seem to be grasping at straws as to how to curtail this. Anyone have useful suggestions for how any of us that are abhorred by the practice can help stop it?

  283. #283 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Ryan F Stello:

    First of all, there are strong laws against FGM in the US. That doesn’t stop the parents; they fly kids out of the country to get their genitals mutilated.

    If the parents want the ‘nick’ for whatever perverse religious reason, they could get that in the US, instead of flying out and having the full mutilation done in a mud hut somewhere. That’s why some parents might accept it.

    Basically, it boils down to this:

    1. It won’t increase the existing rate of FGM.
    2. It might decrease the existing rate of FGM.

  284. #284 ashleyfmiller
    May 6, 2010

    @Dianne, if they download the PDF there are some pretty horrifying pictures. And they’re just line drawings.

    I don’t think anyone is doubting that it’s absolutely horrible though… Some of the stories I’ve read about necrotizing flesh and being sewn to the point that vaginal secretions couldn’t exit and… excuse me while I vomit.

  285. #285 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    It’s not fair on the one hand saying you know what Psycho PZ is thinking, but on the other hand saying there are no assurances either way whether other methods are sure to work, but institutionalizing him definitely will work. We have to assume to competing observers share equal knowledge of PPZ’s state of mind. If it’s true that Psycho PZ is incurable, then institutionalize him. But if he is curable through some unorthodox method, cure him, so long as the *net* outcome is good.

  286. #286 strange gods before me ?
    May 6, 2010

    Isis immediately started screeching “MANSPLAINING!” so I simply countered with the same thing. You were included because you were echoing the same nonsense.

    No I wasn’t, you stupid lying fuck.

  287. #287 Dianne
    May 6, 2010

    First of all, there are strong laws against FGM in the US. That doesn’t stop the parents; they fly kids out of the country to get their genitals mutilated.

    There are also now laws against that. Again, that won’t stop everyone, but since when did laws have to be perfect?

    Basically, it boils down to this:

    1. It won’t increase the existing rate of FGM.
    2. It might decrease the existing rate of FGM.

    As the wiki protester said, citation needed. I haven’t read the thread in detail so I apologize if I’m asking for a citation that has already been given.

  288. #288 treehuggerish
    May 6, 2010

    people are actually doing kid-mutilation-apologetics… really? this surprises me. I mean, I know that the oath doesn’t directly have any legal consequences but over here we have a law besides the oath that paraphrases into “you are a doctor, people trust you to do good by them, if you do not, it is prison time biatch” and we all get to sign a paper going “yeah I’ve read this fine law” after we go “bleh bleh in front of god and peers bleh bleh”.

    Granted I’m more of a pill-induced mindfuckery sort of doctor but… is the AAP actually the like… the real org. of the American kiddie doctors? because if that is so then man, that wouldn’t fly over here.

    Look at what happened to the “god is trying to prevent the LHC from working” dude, nobody is listening to him anymore, and I mean.. he didn’t mutilate anyone he just talked shit about science.

  289. #289 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    SGBM:

    Let’s just agree with Tim Harris that men are more important than women, and whenever we have a discussion about violence against women it’s important to remember that we should be talking about men instead.

  290. #290 Ben Goren
    May 6, 2010

    I still can’t quite believe we’re having this discussion.

    A doctor’s response to parents who want to chop up their children’privates should NOT to help them chop the privates, only not as badly.

    The doctor’s response should be to call the cops.

    Never thought I’d read so many Donohue-wannabes on Pharyngula.

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  291. #291 strange gods before me ?
    May 6, 2010

    Let’s just agree with Tim Harris that men are more important than women, and whenever we have a discussion about violence against women it’s important to remember that we should be talking about men instead.

    Indeed.

    And that was his point. So what the fuck is your point, Benjamin?

  292. #292 Iris
    May 6, 2010

    @Benjamin-

    “You’re mansplaining” is just another way of saying “I don’t care if you’re right or wrong; I’m not going to listen to you because you’re a man.”

    Thanks for mansplaining to me what mansplaining is. On a man’s blog that I love to read every day.

    and:

    No, you were accused of mansplaining when you were repeatedly relating the discussion of female mutilation to… wait for it…

    male circumcusion.

    @sgbm-

    Thanks.

  293. #293 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    Basically, it boils down to this:
    1. It won’t increase the existing rate of FGM.
    2. It might decrease the existing rate of FGM.

    NO… it fucking does NOT boil down to that…

    You also forgot…

    3. It legitimizes the practice of FGM.

    Go ahead and minimize the importance of that last point.

  294. #294 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @Benjamin, if you stay on topic and ignore attempts to belittle your opinion based on your gender, you can move on. Don’t let them get your goat.

  295. #295 Sophist
    May 6, 2010

    Since I have unique insight into Psycho PZ’s attitudes, I can safely say that no, Psycho PZ will not be satisfied with leg-breaking or needles into testicles, but will instead be gratified that he can get the authorities to support his psychosis with various novel forms of perverse torture to his chosen victims, all with an official, legal imprimatur.

    Psycho PZ’s attitude is the one that supports Regular PZ’s position? Quelle surprise!

  296. #296 Ryan F Stello
    May 6, 2010

    Thanks Benjamin, but you didn’t answer the challenge, so I’ll reword it to fit your situation:

    If parents are traditionally having FGM performed (here or abroad), can you show that they would be willing to change their traditional practice to allow nicking?

    Also, a follow-up:
    if it’s possible for the AAP to convince these people to change tradition to allow nicking, would it be possible for the AAP to convince these people to change tradition to not touch their girls at all?

    2nd followup:
    Which would be the better outcome in your estimation?

  297. #297 PZ Myers
    May 6, 2010

    It’s not fair on the one hand saying you know what Psycho PZ is thinking

    Actually, I think it is fair for everyone to judge Psycho PZ on the fact that he wants to damage Sophist’s balls in the first place, and that it’s probably a pretty good approximation to the truth to decide that Psycho PZ is a fucked up dude and maybe it’s a waste of time to play games trying to cater to his weird whims.

  298. #298 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Iris:

    Stop with the recursive bullshit. I’m getting dizzy. And no, I was accused of mansplaining when pointing out how many people were equivocating a pinprick to the complete removal of a sexual organ.

  299. #299 Dark Matter
    May 6, 2010

    From the wikipedia page on Equality Now:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality_Now

    Key programs

    Equality Now works to achieve its mission of ending violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world through its work in the 4 program areas:
    [edit]
    Justice and equality

    The fight for civil and political rights, as well as economic and social rights, all relate to the underlying struggle for justice and equality. Equality Now?s work in this area addresses the organization?s goal of reforming discriminatory laws and practices, and bringing justice and equality to women and girls. Equality Now leads and participates in a range of activities and campaigns that aim to hold governments accountable to the pledges they have made to protect the fundamental rights of women and girls around the world.

    Female genital mutilation

    It is estimated that more than 130 million girls and women around the world have undergone genital mutilation. At least 2 million girls are at risk every year. The cutting, which is generally done without anesthetic, may have lifelong health consequences including chronic infection, severe pain during urination, menstruation, sexual intercourse, and childbirth, and psychological trauma. Some girls die from the cutting, usually as a result of bleeding or infection. Equality Now’s FGM fund provides financial support to grassroots organizations opposing these practices.

    Trafficking and sex tourism

    Equality Now has campaigned against sex tourism and trafficking, putting pressure on governments and helping to shut down companies that support or profit from these practices. In one prominent case, Equality Now successfully campaigned to have the New York sex tourism travel agency Big Apple Oriental Tours prosecuted for promotion of prostitution. While a restraining order was obtained preventing the company from advertising, the criminal case against the agency’s owners was ultimately unsuccessful.

    International peace and security

    Equality Now advocates the important role of women in conflict resolution and prevention, believing that women?s full participation in peace processes can significantly contribute to sustainable international peace and security. The organization’s work in the International Peace and Security Program addresses its goal of promoting equal partnership of women in decision-making. The campaign work in this area also addresses the impact of war on women, as women and children account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict.

    Be *very*, *very* careful these days in dealing with NGOs.

    I would recommend that you reevaluate your
    support for this group the more they support
    “intervention” in strategically important
    countries (translation: “third world” countries with
    unexploited resources or “allies of terra-wrists”).

  300. #300 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 6, 2010

    Benjamin, thank you for taking the time for apologizing to me for putting words in my mouth.

  301. #301 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @297

    Why don’t we just have PPZ executed, then? It’s cheaper, safer, and less problematic. He’s fucked up anyway, so why should anyone care? Are we gonna keep in like an animal in a cage, or, like a rabid animal, put him out of his misery?

  302. #302 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    Why don’t we just have PPZ executed, then?

    Huh… when pressed to find alternatives, you immediately come up with one that’s equally inhuman.

    What a surprise…

  303. #303 Sophist
    May 6, 2010

    Actually, I think it is fair for everyone to judge Psycho PZ on the fact that he wants to damage Sophist’s balls in the first place, and that it’s probably a pretty good approximation to the truth to decide that Psycho PZ is a fucked up dude and maybe it’s a waste of time to play games trying to cater to his weird whims.

    So every parent who has their daughters genitals mutilated does so because the are psychologically broken and have a deep seated hatred of women?

    If you really believe this is true, how do you square this with your preferred solution, to “convince millions of hidebound traditionalists that what they are doing to their children is a barbarity that does them obvious physical harm”?

    Look, either these people can be engaged or they cannot. If there are none that can be convinced to replace more extensive mutilation with a small incision, then how can you hope to convince any of them to give it up entirely? What’s you’re plan to persuade the unpersuadable?

  304. #304 Dianne
    May 6, 2010

    Why don’t we just have PPZ executed, then?

    Because tissue damage causes PPZ to mitose and so all executing him will do is produce lots of PPZs.

  305. #305 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Janine: What the hell are you talking about?

    Ryan P. Stello:

    I know it’s anathema, but you have to look at male circumcision for the answer to both of those questions. Some groups have switched to a ‘nick’ in the foreskin, which satisfies religious requirements.

    I intentionally didn’t say that it *will* reduce FGM… but I did say that it *might*. For those that continue to pursue full clitoridectomies, we keep smacking ‘em with the law hammer. The choice goes from “obey our religion and slice up our girl, or disobey our religion and stay out of prison” to “obey our religion and cut our girl, or obey our religion, prick our girl, and stay out of prison”. Easy choice, even for a fundidiot.

  306. #306 skeptical scientist
    May 6, 2010

    Zaphod, 199:

    I’m confused here, are you saying that *I* am using an argument from personal incredulity, or that I am agreeing with Island and Benjamin that the AAP is using an argument from personal incredulity to justify their decision?
    If you are saying that *I* am arguing from personal incredulity, then I’d have to say yes. Yes I am.

    I’m saying you are. I’m saying that several people, yourself included, have said words to the effect of, “I don’t believe that people who practice FGM will be satisfied by a ritual nick.” Your beliefs, when accompanied by no evidence whatsoever, are of no consequence. In fact, the article alluded to evidence that a substitute procedure has been effective in reducing FGM in some countries. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the reference for that claim.)

  307. #307 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    Look, either these people can be engaged or they cannot. If there are none that can be convinced to replace more extensive mutilation with a small incision, then how can you hope to convince any of them to give it up entirely? What’s you’re plan to persuade the unpersuadable?

    Whatever the plan, it should not include legitimization of the practice of FGM, on any scale. And certainly not by the medical community actively participating in it.

    I really do not get why this is so hard to grasp…

  308. #308 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    Skeptical Scientist @ 306;

    In fact, the article alluded to evidence that a substitute procedure has been effective in reducing FGM in some countries. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the reference for that claim.)

    Wouldn’t the examples quoted refer to societies where FGM was not only already legal, but at least in some measure normalised by the mainstream society of that culture? I fail to see how those criteria are transferable to the USA.

    Why pander to the abusive cultural artifacts of fundies where the law already unambiguously outlaws this behaviour? You have provided no evidence to support your contention that this proposed law will reduce the incidence or severity of FGM in the society for which it is proposed.

    In the absence of such evidence, I do not think it is reasonable to require medical professionals to nick the genitals of children ‘on faith’, so to speak. As you said yourself;

    Your beliefs, when accompanied by no evidence whatsoever, are of no consequence.

  309. #309 Sophist
    May 6, 2010

    Whatever the plan, it should not include legitimization of the practice of FGM, on any scale. And certainly not by the medical community actively participating in it.

    I really do not get why this is so hard to grasp…

    What if the plan that results in the least net suffering includes some degree of legitimization for some of the lesser forms of female genital mutilation? Which is more important, denying legitimacy or preventing suffering?

  310. #310 Ryan F Stello
    May 6, 2010

    I intentionally didn’t say that it *will* reduce FGM… but I did say that it *might*.

    I get that, but I’m still not seeing any validity in your argument.

    If we have laws discouraging FGM and then turn around and allow nicks based off this decision, I would think that would increase the frequency in this country and not discourage these people at all.

    As I’ve been asking: which is better? some nicks or none?
    I see this decision as not moving us to what I would hope we’d agree is the better outcome: none.

  311. #311 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    You don’t overcome cultural and ritualistic barbarities by offering to legitimize them, only on a smaller scale.

    You overcome them with education, cultural pressure, and civil law. It was done that way with barbaric rituals like human sacrifice, animal sacrifice, etc…

    I’m pretty sure we didn’t overcome the practice of human sacrifice by offering to appease the gods by burning little babies “just a little” with lit torches instead of throwing them into the volcano altogether when they got older…

  312. #312 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    Which is more important, denying legitimacy or preventing suffering?

    False Fucking Dichotomy

  313. #313 Dianne
    May 6, 2010

    The AAP’s position is likely to have unintended consequences.

    For example, currently, FGM is grounds for granting asylum to women from countries where it is practiced. (Whether they have undergone it or are at risk of being forced to undergo it.) If FGM-no matter how “ritual” and “non-mutilating” the cutting-becomes legal in the US, this means of obtaining asylum will, presumably, be dropped because how can one seek refuge from FGM in a country which practices it?

    And how can we condemn the practice of FGM unequivocally when we practice it ourselves?

  314. #314 Greylander
    May 6, 2010

    I think that Pz and other harsh critics of these recomendations are missing a crucial point. While you are busy crusading for absolute prohibition and condemnation of the practice (worthy goals), you are perhaps forgetting about the young girls who are being victimized by the practice *right now*. Parents of these girls are not going to be persuaded by our condemnation of the practice. But if their paediatricians are non-confrontational, they may then actually listen to the reasons, and they may be persuaded to give their daughter a “little nick” (if not abandon the practice entirely), rather than go out-of-country to have the full job done. I see these recommendations as likely to save more girls from the worst forms of the procedure in the here and now.

  315. #315 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Ryan F Stello:

    Of course, no cutting at all is better than some pricks, but some pricks are better than having girls’ clitorises (screw you, Firefox says it’s right) cut off.

    The people reacting to this seem as though they’re cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Because they can’t stop *everybody* from mutilating genitals, they’d rather have them all cutting parts off instead of merely drawing a drop of blood?

  316. #316 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @394

    Hmmm. Do you think some sort of biological containment area would work? Would fire kill it; maybe a napalm strike?

  317. #317 strange gods before me ?
    May 6, 2010

    @Benjamin, if you stay on topic and ignore attempts to belittle your opinion based on your gender, you can move on. Don’t let them get your goat.

    Nobody is belittling anyone’s opinion based on anyone’s gender.

    When you don’t understand what’s going on, notVerneant, you should ask.

  318. #318 Aquaria
    May 6, 2010

    So if the British had let the Indians burn widows just a little, that would have gotten India to stop practicing settee?

    Somehow. I think not. Somehow, I think telling them, “burn your windows, you’ll die, fucker” was decidedly effective. Of course, it is easier to tell who’s burning a widow than it is to tell when a 5 year old girl has had her clitoris and inner labia whacked off and her outer labia sewn together around a straw.

    I also don’t think prison will reform these nuts. They have a peculiar fondness for martyrdom. That would fuel it a lot.

  319. #319 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    Sophist @ 309;

    What if the plan that results in the least net suffering includes some degree of legitimization for some of the lesser forms of female genital mutilation? Which is more important, denying legitimacy or preventing suffering?

    You are assuming that it is impossible to prevent suffering and deny legitimacy by preventing genital mutilation altogether. While the law may not be 100% effective the same could be said of any given law, and yet we do not abandon the concept of a system of law because of it.

    Any endorsement of FGM by law could very easily encourage the practice, not mitigate it. Especially in a society where the practice is already illegal, and some would-be practitioners may have been discouraged by the possible sanction of law.

    As Ryan F Stello asked @ 310;

    …which is better? some nicks or none?

  320. #320 Dianne
    May 6, 2010

    But if their paediatricians are non-confrontational, they may then actually listen to the reasons, and they may be persuaded to give their daughter a “little nick” (if not abandon the practice entirely), rather than go out-of-country to have the full job done.

    If the pediatricians are non-confrontational, listen in an open manner, and give accurate data to the parents about the consequences of FGM, the parents may be persuaded to forego any type of FGM. Why not work for that?

  321. #321 Ben Goren
    May 6, 2010

    Um, hello? People?

    If a doctor thinks there’s a significant chance parents will take a knife to their children, the doctor should call the cops.

    It’s that simple.

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  322. #322 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    Greylander:

    But if their paediatricians are non-confrontational, they may then actually listen to the reasons, and they may be persuaded to give their daughter a “little nick” (if not abandon the practice entirely), rather than go out-of-country to have the full job done.

    That won’t happen. See the small excerpt of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s account at #28. Her father didn’t believe in FGM, even though both his wife and mother had had it done. He did not want it done on his daughters. As soon as he and his wife were away, grandma had the scissors out. This is a very deep seated belief, not just a tradition. People who want this done will do it, one way or another. It’s a fucking slippery slope to be conciliatory on this matter at all. It’s also flat out fucking wrong.

    There are times to stand up and say something is wrong – this is one of those times.

  323. #323 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    While you are busy crusading for absolute prohibition and condemnation of the practice (worthy goals), you are perhaps forgetting about the young girls who are being victimized by the practice *right now*.

    Considering we’ve been arguing the point for the better part of 200+ posts, I’m not sure how you think we’re somehow forgetting it. We’re well aware of the young girls being victimized here.

    What we’re saying is that:
    1. Offering to “nick” these girls is legitimizing the practice of FGM no matter how you slice it, and cause unnecessary harm to little children.

    2. There is no evidence that this procedure will curb or prevent FGM (that I’ve seen a citation to, anyhow).

    3. The larger issue is the misogynistic mentality behind the practice of FGM, and how it must be denounced, strongly and unequivocally. And that this policy does exactly the opposite.

    Parents of these girls are not going to be persuaded by our condemnation of the practice.

    Says you. Large scale condemnation and ridicule of barbaric practices is a perfectly effective means of curbing behavior.

    But if their paediatricians are non-confrontational, they may then actually listen to the reasons, and they may be persuaded to give their daughter a “little nick” (if not abandon the practice entirely), rather than go out-of-country to have the full job done.

    I’d like to see any evidence of that. Again, this completely dismisses the reason these rituals are done. “Nicking” would not perform the ritualistic function and I doubt people that would be inclined to do such things to their children in the first place would see it as an acceptable substitute. Again, show me the data that I am wrong and I’ll reconsider at least that part of my argument.

  324. #324 MadScientist
    May 6, 2010

    Sounds like a busload of dumbassery to me. This is the sort of shit you get when you’re raised believing you should respect other people’s bullshit.

  325. #325 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmVT1LBhwmO9ej9LNg7a5e9d-AVJ8ezfmE
    May 6, 2010

    It seems to me like the “cultural cohesion” argument can be countered by the observation that feeling oppressed also helps with cultural cohesion.

    As Charles Napier explained, regarding the custom of suttee, “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

    Those were admittedly less culturally sensitive times.

  326. #326 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @317

    Same to you.

  327. #327 Ryan F Stello
    May 6, 2010

    Some new examples of conflating and bad reasoning by the accomodationists.

    Why would people presume that if AAP took a definitive stance against FGM and FGM-lite that a pediatrician would suddenly be confrontational and off-putting when presenting the facts.

  328. #328 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @321,

    The cops can’t do anything until the girl has left the country for it. I’m not sure how the law is worded, but it would probably be difficult to stick the accusation of intent to cut genitals. They could get them when they come back, but by then it’s too late for the little girl.

  329. #329 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    Gregory Greenwood:

    Any endorsement of FGM by law could very easily encourage the practice, not mitigate it.

    Yes it could. As it stands, this so-called compromise is putting a stamp of legitimacy on the practice, which is definitely bad. For those who believe, no ‘nick’ or pretend clitoridectomy will work. For those who truly believe, it’s not possible for a female to be pure as long as she has an intact clitoris. Even the removal of the clitoris isn’t enough to ensure purity – the minor labia must be cut out, and the outer labia sewn shut. *That* makes a female pure and incapable of “tricking” a male. It also takes care of that OMGZ, she could get all lusty or something!!1!

  330. #330 Sophist
    May 6, 2010

    Somehow. I think not. Somehow, I think telling them, “burn your windows, you’ll die, fucker” was decidedly effective. Of course, it is easier to tell who’s burning a widow than it is to tell when a 5 year old girl has had her clitoris and inner labia whacked off and her outer labia sewn together around a straw.

    Also, the Brits had India under their thumb as part of their empire. We don’t have the same powers and options they did. Nor should we.

    You are assuming that it is impossible to prevent suffering and deny legitimacy by preventing genital mutilation altogether.

    No. I’ll admit it’s quite possible that the best course of action will be to stick to principle. I just think that asserting that any plan that gave any level of legitimacy to any form of genital mutilation is by definition a worse plan doesn’t make sense unless you are more interested in preserving the principle than preventing suffering. It is possible that the number of people who would opt for the lesser mutilation, and the effect this would have on the cultural pressure to mutilate, would be large enough to offset the damage caused by giving it legitimacy.

  331. #331 IslandBrewer
    May 6, 2010

    This thread moves far too fast for me.

    @Gregory Greenwood

    I am not OK with the mutilation of the genitalia of children at all.

    Of course not, I didn’t expect you to be. I was using a reactive rhetorical question (Staw question?) in response to the accusatory questions that you posed to bubba. If this were a forum for a civil debate, I would apologize, but it’s Pharyngula.

    I do not think that this policy would acheive much in the way of prevention of harm to children, but it certainly would be viewed as the endorsement of FGM by the state in the eyes of fundies.

    Finally, this is getting to the heart of the question. This is where the debate should be – the proposed efficacy of this policy. I’ll admit there’s no good evidence for it working, there’s no particularly good evidence for it not working. The research alluded to by Dianne @262 sounds interesting and suggestive, but by no means conclusive. PZ’s post @266 is an excellent argument against the policy. If only we’d had more of that than all the whinging about the “horrible accomodationist AAP”, well, this thread would be about a third as long.

    The characterization of the AAP as some sort of cabal of evil misogynist accomodationists just itching to get their scalpels on girls clitorises is absolute pure bullshit. Argue that the policy won’t work, that’s fine, but the argument that some (not you, GG) have made that the AAP statement was motivated by anything other than a desperation to prevent those mutilations that evade the law is just crap.

    Further, if you argue that such a policy might appear to endorse mutilation in the eyes of fundies, you’d also have to admit that those same fundies (islamic fundies, I presume) would also be inclined to consider going to an American doctor for the procedure instead of flying off to grandma.

    Even if it prevented the rusty scissor scenario, it would still be the nicking of children’s genital organs, however sanitary the conditions, rather than condemning all genital mutilation unequivically.

    It would, absolutely. I fully admit I’m picking one evil over another (or one hypothetical evil over another, if you’re so keen on the distinction). Convince me that the policy wouldn’t work at all, and I’ll happily condemn it using whatever sorts of swearing you recommend.

    But the complaint that it’s somehow “accomodationist” won’t do it for me. I need to be shown that it won’t work.

    As a hypothetical (since these seem to be in vogue), would it be a better alternative to allow paedophile priests to just fondle children rather than rape them via full penetration? Bearing in mind that if you say ‘no’, then by your own logic you are OK with child rape?

    *sigh* Hypotheticals are perfectly fine rhetorical devices. When did they become so contempt worthy? You can’t talk about a proposed policy or law without speaking in hypotheticals. Stating that the policy, if enacted, would be viewed as an endorsement by the state is no less hypothetical than saying it would prevent mutilations.

    Anyway, your analogy isn’t equivalent. The alternative of allowing priests to fondle children (1) doesn’t imply that the priest might not go ahead and rape a child anyway, (2) may encourage priests who wouldn’t have raped children to go ahead and fondle them – if parents aren’t going to mutilate their daughter’s genitals, this policy isn’t going to persuade them that maybe they should do it anyway.

    So no, allowing priests to fondle children is not an acceptable proposal, but no – you’re worong, my logic does NOT make me ok with child rape.

    I do not wish to see compromise on the mutilation of children, I want to see this barbarous practice fade into the more unpleasant annals of history. I will not apologise for this.

    (emphasis mine)

    Nor do I, and I do too. You ought not apologize (or apologise) for this.

    This is not about my ‘outrage’ or lack thereof.

    No, quite right. But for several posters, it certainly does seem to be about their outrage, you must admit.

    This is not about me at all. This is about protecting children from any uneccessary modification of their genitals …

    See – right there. “Modification” vs. “mutilation”. It’s wonderful that you’re so uncompromising when it comes to any modification. For me and the other horrible “accomodationists” that everyone is so quick to condemn, mutilation far outweighs the harm of modification.

    And of course, I’m going to predict that after submitting this, we’ll be at about post … 400.

  332. #332 skeptical scientist
    May 6, 2010

    Wouldn’t the examples quoted refer to societies where FGM was not only already legal, but at least in some measure normalised by the mainstream society of that culture? I fail to see how those criteria are transferable to the USA.

    Perhaps not, and the best way to reduce FGM is to take a hardline approach. And perhaps the best way to reduce FGM involves some pandering. I don’t claim to know the answer to that question. All I’m saying is that I can live with some pandering if it results in fewer mutilated women. The debate should be focused squarely on the question, “What is the best way to reduce FGM?” rather than on burning straw.

  333. #333 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    The cops can’t do anything until the girl has left the country for it. I’m not sure how the law is worded, but it would probably be difficult to stick the accusation of intent to cut genitals. They could get them when they come back, but by then it’s too late for the little girl.

    Well, while we’re dealing in hypotheticals, let’s assume that the nutjob parent in question agrees to the “nicking” procedure, but then at the age of 15 the girl is caught having sex with a classmate… obviously the “nicking” procedure didn’t work… so better make with the full mutilation… now to a 15 year-old girl instead of an infant, and certainly not medically facilitated…

    Is this really more far fetched? Once again, stop misplacing the point of attack here… it’s not only the physical act that needs to be aggressively denounced… it’s the mentality behind it, and that’s not going to be addressed in this policy, in fact it’s going to be legitimized.

  334. #334 Dark Matter
    May 6, 2010

    To Aquaria at #318 and “Rudyard Kipling” at #325:

    Yeah baby…hoover out all the natural
    resources of conquered countries and give
    yourself some soothing PR along
    the way by saving some of “those poor women”…

    The concern for “those poor women” will end
    just as soon as all the valuables are taken!

  335. #335 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    Caine, Fleur du mal @ 329;

    It also takes care of that OMGZ, she could get all lusty or something!!1!

    Oh noes! We can’t have that! I mean, what is next? Before you know it they would be thinking for themselves, and then the sky fairy would surely smite civilisation as we know it unto fiery ruin…

    ;-p

  336. #336 Zaphod
    May 6, 2010

    SkepSci

    I’m saying you are. I’m saying that several people, yourself included, have said words to the effect of, “I don’t believe that people who practice FGM will be satisfied by a ritual nick.” Your beliefs, when accompanied by no evidence whatsoever, are of no consequence.

    Woah Woah WOAH!!

    Plenty of evidence has been presented in this thread alone that informed that particular belief, my friend.

    Also, since we are discussing beliefs without evidence, what of the belief that FGM proponents (see the excerpt from Infidel for a prime example of one) will change their traditional practices from a clitorectomy to razor-burn at the suggestion of a western medical association?

    In fact, the article alluded to evidence that a substitute procedure has been effective in reducing FGM in some countries. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the reference for that claim.)

    Interesting.

    So I am arguing from personal credulity when I gather evidence from the thread about the practitioners of this butchery, but fail to cite it.

    But YOU are NOT using fallacious reasoning when you believe an inference to a possibility of this working IN OTHER COUNTRIES, and cannot find the evidence for it.

  337. #337 Celtic_Evolution
    May 6, 2010

    Dark Matter #334

    I don’t think anyone was making a point in defense of British occupation of India, in general… the point was to show that barbaric cultural rituals can be overcome by uncompromising action, and this is an example.

    One has nothing to do with the other.

  338. #338 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @333

    You’re the one dealing in hypotheticals. If the doctor thinks parents of a girl might be considering flying a girl out of country to get her genitals cut, and calls the cops, what can the cops do? If the girl gets caught having sex, until the parents actually do anything illegal to harm her, what can they (the cops) do? Maybe they can take her into protective custody if there’s reasonable belief of intent to harm, but no crime, no time.

  339. #339 Ben Goren
    May 6, 2010

    notVerneant, if somebody wants to leave the US to commit a crime, there’s not much we can do. But if they want to come back to the US, we have every right to throw them in jail for committing a violent sexual assault on a child.

    For many immigrants, I think de-facto exile is sufficient deterrent. And, if not…well, they’re welcome to stay in America, on the government’s dime — if you get my drift.

    This isn’t a medical issue, it’s not a moral issue, it’s not a policy issue, it’t not an ethical issue.

    It’s a law enforcement issue, first, last, and always.

    I will also observe that the US has laws permitting it to arrest citizens on foreign soil for sex crimes against children committed in the foreign country. Frankly, I fail to see how “hiring” a child prostitute should be considered any different from brutalizing a child’s genitals.

    Or would you support doctors offering parents the chance to engage in limited sexual activity with their children in a supervised manner in the clinic as a way to discourage them from going to a foreign country where they’ll tie them down and sodomize them with a broomstick?

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  340. #340 Iris
    May 6, 2010

    @Benjamin 298-

    Stop with the recursive bullshit.

    No. I don’t have to stop calling you on your bullshit, unless PZ asks me to. It’s not your fucking blog.

    And no, I was accused of mansplaining when pointing out how many people were equivocating a pinprick to the complete removal of a sexual organ.

    Holy fucking shit. Did you just mansplain, to me, what my real reason is for accusing you of mansplaining? And do so while referring to my specific comment in which I told you my actual reason? Recursive bullshit indeed.

    Thanks, that’s the best laugh I’ve had in a while!

    @notVerneant 294-

    No one is belittling anyone’s opinions based on gender. I am personally belittling opinions based on (a) my objection to opening the currently closed floodgates to state-sanctioned FGM, even if it’s a “pinprick,” and (b) the tacit acceptance and minimization of the harm of FGM, in any form, by those who are comparing it favorably to harsher forms, or to male circumcision. But I don’t expect you to recognize that. For you, I must always be objecting based on the commenters’ gender.

  341. #341 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    Sophist @ 330;

    No. I’ll admit it’s quite possible that the best course of action will be to stick to principle. I just think that asserting that any plan that gave any level of legitimacy to any form of genital mutilation is by definition a worse plan doesn’t make sense unless you are more interested in preserving the principle than preventing suffering. It is possible that the number of people who would opt for the lesser mutilation, and the effect this would have on the cultural pressure to mutilate, would be large enough to offset the damage caused by giving it legitimacy.

    No hard evidence has been presented that demonstrates that the policy in question will reduce FGM in the society for which it is proposed. Without such evidence, this policy amounts to compromising the legal protection of children on an unsubstantialted assumption that it will mitigate the extremes of FGM.

    Also, your post does not deal with the social and theological attitude behind FGM. The state should not be taking any action that endorses misogyny or the idea that a womans body and sexuality is inherently ‘sinful’.

  342. #342 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @340

    You got all that from what I said to Benjamin in 294? You weren’t directly implicated.

  343. #343 shonny
    May 6, 2010

    Here in Norway we now have laws that ban these barbaric, misogynist practices, but it is incredible to what length Somalis in particular will go to have it done to young girls.
    And when there are procedures in place to ascertain that this has not taken place (visual checks), there is a scream from fucking muzzies that they are being discriminated against.
    And again, the practice is there for religious reasons.
    Fucking pre-troglodyte morons! And the four-by-two’s with their circumcision are in a similar category, – same shit, different bucket.

  344. #344 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    I agree with sophist @330.

  345. #345 Dianne
    May 6, 2010

    From, ironically, the AAP’s policy statement: “There is
    also some evidence (eg, in Scandinavia)
    that a criminalization of the practice,
    with the attendant risk of losing
    custody of one?s children, is one of the
    factors that led to abandonment of this
    tradition among Somali immigrants.36″ (Reference is Esse´n B, Johnsdotter S. Female genital mutilation
    in the West: traditional circumcision
    versus genital cosmetic surgery. Acta Obstet
    Gynecol Scand. 2004;83(7):611? 613)

    So, yes, there is evidence that banning FGM can result in lower levels of the practice, at least in the context of countries where the practice is not the norm.

  346. #346 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Iris:

    “You’re mansplaining.”

    “No, I’m not. You’re wrong because < ...>”

    “Why are you mansplaining why you’re mansplaining?”

    sounds an awful lot like

    “You just disagree because the devil talks through you.”

    “No, you’re wrong because < ...>”

    “I’m not going to listen to you! Get thee behind me!”

    I’m not mansplaining to you. I’m pointing out what I actually said, and trying to figure out what the fuck you heard, since it’s obviously not the same.

  347. #347 sharky
    May 6, 2010

    http://www.clitoraid.org/news.php?item.30.1

    Just mentioning a worthy charity.

  348. #348 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Dammit. “because ” should have been “because <…>” in both cases.

  349. #349 IslandBrewer
    May 6, 2010

    @GG #341

    No hard evidence has been presented that demonstrates that the policy in question will reduce FGM in the society for which it is proposed. Without such evidence, this policy amounts to compromising the legal protection of children on an unsubstantialted assumption that it will mitigate the extremes of FGM.

    And no hard evidence has been presented that the policy would not work. A lot of suggestive evidence, a lot of good argument, but the evidence standard works both ways. Sure, it’s an unsubstantiated assumption, true. That’s not going to be convincing enough for those who think it might work.

    Also, your post does not deal with the social and theological attitude behind FGM. The state should not be taking any action that endorses misogyny or the idea that a womans body and sexuality is inherently ‘sinful’.

    Not just Sophist’s post, but the AAP policy doesn’t address the whole motivation behind FGM. It’s not meant to – it’s meant to merely mitigate the number of mutilations that occur. Yes, yes, I’ve heard the “no hard evidence” line, but again, unless you convincingly argue that it won’t work, you certainly aren’t going to persuade the AAP to retract such a policy.

    As far as the state not taking any action that endorses misogyny, does the state endorse hard drug use by supporting needle exchange programs?

  350. #350 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @339, I’ve stated it many times: whatever leads to the least amount of harm to the most people. If you wanna arrest them or bar them from reentering the country after they’ve committed the act, be my guest, but by then it’s too late for the girl, and that’s what I’m saying: focus on what happens to the girls. Yes, maybe that deterrent factor would work, but there’s no guarantee, just like people have been saying that the small cut isn’t guaranteed to deter. There seem to be many crimes committed in spite of deterrent, especially for religious reasons, e.g. honor killings, terrorist attacks – of both domestic and international origin -, etc. You call them block heads who are hidebound, but then assume they’re flexible are reasonable enough to be less hidebound when faced with jail time. I don’t remember his name, but there was the one man who killed an abortion practitioner knowing he would go to jail, and stated that he had no regrets. This was irrational, religiously-motivated behavior, and you can expect the same from people who feel the need to mutilate their own daughters in spite of a legal no-no against it.

  351. #351 Dianne
    May 6, 2010

    a scream from fucking muzzies that they are being discriminated against.

    Now why would the “fucking muzzies” EVER suspect you of being inclined to discriminate against them? Of course, your motives are as pure as your language is not,no doubt and you support women’s rights even in situations where they are counter to your culture’s traditions.

  352. #352 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @339, I’ve stated it many times: whatever leads to the least amount of harm to the most people. If you wanna arrest them or bar them from reentering the country after they’ve committed the act, be my guest, but by then it’s too late for the girl, and that’s what I’m saying: focus on what happens to the girls. Yes, maybe that deterrent factor would work, but there’s no guarantee, just like people have been saying that the small cut isn’t guaranteed to deter. There seem to be many crimes committed in spite of deterrent, especially for religious reasons, e.g. honor killings, terrorist attacks – of both domestic and international origin -, etc. You call them block heads who are hidebound, but then assume they’re flexible are reasonable enough to be less hidebound when faced with jail time. I don’t remember his name, but there was the one man who killed an abortion practitioner knowing he would go to jail, and stated that he had no regrets. This was irrational, religiously-motivated behavior, and you can expect the same from people who feel the need to mutilate their own daughters, THEIR OWN DAUGHTERS, in spite of a legal no-no against it.

    (excuse the caps, but I there’s no bold or italics option)

  353. #353 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    IslandBrewer @ 331;

    Of course not, I didn’t expect you to be. I was using a reactive rhetorical question (Staw question?) in response to the accusatory questions that you posed to bubba. If this were a forum for a civil debate, I would apologize, but it’s Pharyngula.

    I was simply clarifying my position. I did not take offence, I am fully used to the rough-and-tumble that is Pharyngula (actually, I rather enjoy it [/kinky]).

    Finally, this is getting to the heart of the question.

    Here I must disagree. This is one element of a more complex issue. Even if FGM was mitigated by this policy (an argument that I still do not find persuasive), this does still not address the social impact of the endorsement by the state of a practice that is rooted in rank, religiously mandated misogyny. It does not deal with the attitude that leads to a practice that amounts to a direct assault on female sexuality and female sexual physiology itself. If these issues are not addressed, then the underlying cause of FGM goes unopposed and the worst extremes of the practice will continue.

    It would, absolutely. I fully admit I’m picking one evil over another (or one hypothetical evil over another, if you’re so keen on the distinction). Convince me that the policy wouldn’t work at all, and I’ll happily condemn it using whatever sorts of swearing you recommend.

    Firstly, I do not recommend swearing at all. Of all the Pharyngulites here present, I am perhaps least enamoured of the swears (though I do sometimes enjoy the more… hyperbolic expressionary language of others).

    Also, if you are endorsing the policy, surely the burden of proof should be on yourself to prove that it would have a beneficial effect on the society it is proposed for, rather than on myself to prove a negative?

    Anyway, your analogy isn’t equivalent. The alternative of allowing priests to fondle children (1) doesn’t imply that the priest might not go ahead and rape a child anyway, (2) may encourage priests who wouldn’t have raped children to go ahead and fondle them – if parents aren’t going to mutilate their daughter’s genitals, this policy isn’t going to persuade them that maybe they should do it anyway.

    If I may appropriate your words for a moment…

    The alternative of allowing parents to circumcise their daughters (1) doesn’t imply that the parent might not go ahead and perform full FGM on the child at a later date anyway (for instance if she is accused of ‘sexual immorality’ as a teenager), (2) may encourage parents who wouldn’t have fully circumcised their children to go ahead and engage in a little FGM-lite that, however sanitary the conditions, is still an unecessary procedure that will inevitably carry some risk and reinforces misogynist cultural attitudes.

    See – right there. “Modification” vs. “mutilation”. It’s wonderful that you’re so uncompromising when it comes to any modification. For me and the other horrible “accomodationists” that everyone is so quick to condemn, mutilation far outweighs the harm of modification.

    What of the risk that legally endorsing ‘modification’ may also serve to legitimise ‘mutilation’? What of the misogynist attitudes that underpin the very idea that a girl’s genitals must be altered (whether by ‘modification’ or ‘mutilation’) to render her ‘pure’? These factors cannot simply be ignored in the name of expediency, even where such expediency is intended to mitigate FGM. Once the state endorses such attitudes at law, we will have set foot on the slipperiest of all slopes.

  354. #354 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    Skeptical; scientist @ 332;

    All I’m saying is that I can live with some pandering if it results in fewer mutilated women. The debate should be focused squarely on the question, “What is the best way to reduce FGM?” rather than on burning straw.

    And all I am saying is that there is no evidence that it will result in fewer cases of FGM in the USA, and even if it did this does not address the broader issues brought up by the proposed law potentially amounting, in the eyes of the fundies at least, to the US government endorsing the misogynist attitudes that underpin the very cultural imperatives that lead to FGM in the first place.

  355. #355 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 6, 2010

    Dianne:

    So, yes, there is evidence that banning FGM can result in lower levels of the practice, at least in the context of countries where the practice is not the norm.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali talks about that in Infidel. Outright banning with consequences if caught does make a difference. There’s zero evidence that pandering with pretend clitoridectomies will have any positive effect at all.

    notVerneant:

    (excuse the caps, but I there’s no bold or italics option)

    Yes there is, you moron. It’s called html. Look below the comment box for help, as you don’t seem to be too swift.

  356. #356 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @355

    You have issues. Yeah, I missed it on the preview page where I was-not swift indeed-but you talk like you’re the one whose had her clit cut.

  357. #357 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    Islandbrewer @ 349;

    And no hard evidence has been presented that the policy would not work. A lot of suggestive evidence, a lot of good argument, but the evidence standard works both ways. Sure, it’s an unsubstantiated assumption, true. That’s not going to be convincing enough for those who think it might work.

    As I noted above, the burden of proof falls on the person making the assertion. You cannot demand that I prove a negative. You could say that you can fly by flapping your arms. Would you expect me to gpo through all the data on aerodynamics, gravity, and the strength-to-weight ratio of human musculature or simply say ‘OK. You say you can fly. Why don’t you give us a demonstration?’

    As far as the state not taking any action that endorses misogyny, does the state endorse hard drug use by supporting needle exchange programs?

    Needle exchange programs are designed to mitigate the spread of AIDs and other venerial disease. There is no equivilent in your example to the rampant and often violently expressed misogyny that lies at the very heart of the cultural attitudes that lead to FGM. Also, needle exchange programs do not involve compelling a vulnerable group in society to do anything, whereas slicing even a small scar into the genitalia of children certainly does.

  358. #358 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    Accurs’ed blockquote fail!

  359. #359 skeptical scientist
    May 6, 2010

    Zaphod:

    Plenty of evidence has been presented in this thread alone that informed that particular belief [that no one who practices FGM will be satisfied by a ritual nick], my friend.

    I must have missed it. Where is this evidence? I’ll grant you that some will not be satisfied, but I haven’t seen any evidence that none will, so substituting a ritual nick may save some girls from FGM.

    So I am arguing from personal credulity when I gather evidence from the thread about the practitioners of this butchery, but fail to cite it.
    But YOU are NOT using fallacious reasoning when you believe an inference to a possibility of this working IN OTHER COUNTRIES, and cannot find the evidence for it.

    I didn’t say I believed it; I remain unconvinced either way. Since the link the paper cited was out-of-date, it’s hard to evaluate its reliability or make inferences about it’s applicability to immigrant communities in the US. I merely pointed out the fallacy in the reasoning that led to your conclusion that nobody would use a non-harmful ritual procedure in place of FGM, and pointed out that there may be reasons to doubt that conclusion. So no, I don’t think I’m using fallacious reasoning in pointing out holes in your argument.

  360. #360 Paul
    May 6, 2010

    IslandBrewer:

    And no hard evidence has been presented that the policy would not work.

    Silly. If PsychoPZ said he’d cut the fingers off 10 children because he was tired of kids pointing and laughing, and you proposed merely nipping the tips off in hopes that he would forego his threat, it’s really up to people telling you not to do any harm to show that there’s no chance he will forego his action if you perform yours?

    notVerneant:

    I’ve stated it many times: whatever leads to the least amount of harm to the most people.

    Using the former example, if simply cutting the fingers off 9 children would placate PsychoPZ, is that now the proper course of action? It leads to the least amount of harm, if you stick to the stupid false dichotomy between “you hurt them first” or else “he will hurt them more”. I would argue that even if it were not a false dichotomy, not sanctioning performance of violence would still be the proper course of action.

  361. #361 Gregory Greenwood
    May 6, 2010

    I fear I must retire from the field for tonight. I have an early morning on the morrow.

    Goodnight all.

  362. #362 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @360

    Your logic is flawed. The least amount of harm would be if no children’s fingers were cut. I’d go for that option if it were available, but given reasonable knowledge of the situation, I’d choose whichever option led to the fewest fingers getting cut off if it was demonstrably likely that someone (thanks, Caine, flur yadda yadda) was gonna lose some fingers. Shit, if I had to throw a finger or two into the pot to share the burden with the kids, I would.

  363. #363 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    Ok, that part about sacrificing some fingers is bull, I admit. Don’t even call me on it. It depends on whether I was give the choice right now.

  364. #364 OurDeadSelves
    May 6, 2010

    Islandbrewer:

    Ok, so now what do you want to do.

    Shorter: The system fails, yada yada, yada.

    Even so, accommodating the practice of FGM is not on my list of things to do.

    I was irrationally angry when I wrote my original post and (as my mom would put it) spouting off at the mouth. I will agree, there is little that we can do to change minds, short of an extremely intense educational campaign and even then it will probably take a generation or two to completely stop.

    The world isn’t perfect and the AAP isn’t helping.

  365. #365 Paul
    May 6, 2010

    I’d go for that option if it were available, but given reasonable knowledge of the situation, I’d choose whichever option led to the fewest fingers getting cut off if it was demonstrably likely that someone (thanks, Caine, flur yadda yadda) was gonna lose some fingers.

    Evidence has been cited showing that banning FGM reduces the incidence of FGM. There is some evidence that ritual nicks may do the same. So which option does the least harm? Banning FGM to reduce the incidence, or actively participating in justifying the sentiment behind it for (at best) the same outcome? Since you’ve been talking about average outcomes, why go for the less optimal outcome when there’s no evidence that it works better than a complete ban?

  366. #366 sharky
    May 6, 2010

    I’m a little on the fence about the idea itself. “Desert Flower” by Waris Dirie is about a survivor of FGM. The operation was done in childhood in the desert by a travelling… herbwoman might be the best approximate word, if I remember correctly. Certainly not someone we in the West would ask to help with an ingrown nail.

    The reason I’m unsure is entirely because some parents do it to make their children marriageable and protect their futures. Dirae said her parents both loved her; they had it done to her anyway. If someone had said “instead of ritually putting your child in such agony when she has her period that she buries her lower body in the dirt every month for the coolness, why don’t you just let us wave this scalpel at her in a sort of ritual way,” they might have gone for it.

    But in the absence of studies, I have to agree: I really don’t think it should be made policy in a country where the whole thing is supposed to be illegal anyway.

    (Also: According to Dirae, FGM is proscribed nowhere in the Koran. So it’s a cultural problem, not necessarily a religious one, and it endures because of a cultural, patriarchal mindset about female purity.)

  367. #367 Benjamin Geiger
    May 6, 2010

    Paul:

    Because it’s already banned, and it’s not working. It’s worth trying a different approach.

  368. #368 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    @365

    I wouldn’t. When you put it that way, I’d go for the one that works better. Given new evidence, I might change my mind.

    I see this thread as two different points being argued.

    1. If patronizing the sentiment behind FGM led to less actual physical, and by extension, emotional, harm, would it be morally acceptable to do so?

    My opinion is yes, though many disagree.

    2. There isn’t enough evidence that offering the parents a similar alternative will work, but should we try it anyway?

    This is a separate argument and you could say that since banning FGM both attacks the sentiment behind it as well as reducing the incidence, then go with bans. You could also say that there may be a better way which leads to potentially negligible harm for child and less incidence of egregious FGM.

    It may seem risky, but I’d be willing to try the second long enough to compare it to the first. Yes, these are people’s lives we’re dealing with, but even in cases were people’s minds and bodies are on the line, you should still be willing to explore the options that could lead to a general optimum instead of the perceived local optimum.

  369. #369 IslandBrewer
    May 6, 2010

    @GG

    As I noted above, the burden of proof falls on the person making the assertion. You cannot demand that I prove a negative.

    But aren’t you asserting that it won’t work? Maybe not, but I’m not asserting that it will, either.

    For what it’s worth, if you go back and read all my posts (I really don’t want you to waste the time, however), I’ve never really been convinced that the AAP policy would be effective. But that’s not really the point.

    The AAP has already made its policy statement. Shouldn’t your (or rather, us Americans’) goal be to ultimately get them to retract their policy? Oddly enough, that board of doctors doesn’t determine its policy with any sort of scientific rigor. (And I’m going to refrain from making an unflattering statement about pediatricians in general.)

    My point (well, one of them) is really that if you’re going to gunning for the AAP, or federal or state legislators in this country to change policy, you’re going to have to bring better ammunition than “there’s no hard evidence”. (Apologies for the gun analogy, but I’m American.)

    Otherwise, you’re just arguing with some schmuck on the internet.

    Needle exchange programs are designed to mitigate the spread of AIDs and other venerial disease. There is no equivilent in your example to the rampant and often violently expressed misogyny that lies at the very heart of the cultural attitudes that lead to FGM.

    Needle exchange programs don’t address the underlying problems at the cause of drug addiction. They expressly fail to address the underlying social and economic causes of proliferating the use of heroin and other needle-delivered drugs.

    Also, needle exchange programs do not involve compelling a vulnerable group in society to do anything, whereas slicing even a small scar into the genitalia of children certainly does.

    I’d argue that the state does no compelling with the AAP policy. However, insofar as parents are compelled to subject their daughter to modification or mutilation, junkies are also compelled to use a needle, wherever they can find it.

    Now, forgive me if I don’t respond further, this schmuck has ignored work far too long.

  370. #370 Paul
    May 6, 2010

    If someone had said “instead of ritually putting your child in such agony when she has her period that she buries her lower body in the dirt every month for the coolness, why don’t you just let us wave this scalpel at her in a sort of ritual way,” they might have gone for it.

    Why is there any way to believe this would work any more than “instead of ritually putting your child….etc, why not forego the whole thing”? If they think they’re obligated to cut out the unclean parts, a nick won’t work. If they do not see that obligation, why should a ritual nick be any more convincing?

    Because it’s already banned, and it’s not working. It’s worth trying a different approach.

    We apparently have good Congresspeople working on such an approach. Banning flying girls out of the country for the purposes of mutilate them. If they want to emigrate away from the US because their religion requires actions we will not allow, so be it. It is not something we can do anything about.

    What we do not need is medical fucking professionals pretending there is any merit in ritual cutting of clitorises. As I mentioned before, with no intent of equivocating that is how circumcision became so normal in the United States. And it’s not easy to wipe away the “suggested by doctors” label. Let the loving parents think there’s a medical justification for the lesser nick, and you just open them up for the further convincing that the whole thing needs to go for the kid’s own good. This is a box we should not fucking open, and it’s disgusting to see a medical body treating it like something that is honestly worth advocating.

  371. #371 sharky
    May 6, 2010

    370: Yeah. I was thinking about it more, and it’s really not the parents themselves that need to be confident/satisfied, it’s future husbands. And carrying out a medical procedure to please some random future man is just wrong.

    The whole thing is starting to strike me as akin to lopping off a girl’s small toe rather than putting her through a foot binding.

  372. #372 Sili, The Unknown Virgin
    May 6, 2010

    ::digs::

    Ah. I see has already dealt with this strategy before.

  373. #373 IslandBrewer
    May 6, 2010

    @Paul

    Silly. If PsychoPZ said he’d cut the fingers off 10 children because he was tired of kids pointing and laughing, and you proposed merely nipping the tips off in hopes that he would forego his threat, it’s really up to people telling you not to do any harm to show that there’s no chance he will forego his action if you perform yours?

    Close, but not quite.

    If PPZ said he’d cut the fingers off 10 children, and the AAP proposed nipping the tips off, and they had the ear of some legislators, is it really up to people telling the AAP that there’s no chance he will forego his action if AAP performs it’s tip-nipping?

    Yes!

    Me? As previously stated, I’m some schmuck on the internet.

  374. #374 Ben Goren
    May 6, 2010

    sharky wrote:

    The reason I’m unsure is entirely because some parents do it to make their children marriageable and protect their futures.

    Dear sweet Jesus assraping Mary with a redwood four-by-four and NO LUBE Christ on a stick, you have no clue how fucking much that fucking makes me goddamned fucking furious.

    Obviously, words fail me.

    Do please be so kind as to play Tim Minchin’s Pope song and substitute “sharky” for every instance of “Pope,” okay?

    Eat shit and die a horrible fucking death, you motherfucking sonofabitch asshole,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  375. #375 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010
  376. #376 notVerneant
    May 6, 2010

    Ben Goren and Caine, flur du mal should get together.

  377. #377 Carlie
    May 6, 2010

    I’ve also seen an argument that this position will make things worse – women who can now hide behind the illegality of FGM in the United States as a reason that they refuse to have it done to their daughters just had the rug pulled out from under them. Whereas they could claim before that it is not done here, now there’s a door open for the family pressure to be “well, but they DO do this little nick business…” and not have any way to counter it. Because hey, the AAP endorses it!

  378. #378 herr doktor bimler
    May 6, 2010

    How could *anyone* in the medical biz possibly support this??

    They are PAID FOR IT.

  379. #379 pugowner
    May 6, 2010

    I will state as a pediatrician, as a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and as a physician who just returned from a country where FGM is practiced, that PZ is factually wrong.

    PZ wrote: “we have no obligation to make misogynist patriarchal assholes happy.” If PZ read the AAP policy statement, it states that physicians have no obligation to accommodate FGM. In fact, it clearly argues against mutilation.

    The assholes in question are matriarchal females who have undergone FGM themselves, shocking as that may seem to outsiders. FGM is requested by mothers for their daughters and is performed by women on girls held down by other women. It isn’t possible to fully explain the mindset in a brief post, but it is held by women as well as men.

    PZ wrote: “They do say that they offer “nicking” as a compromise to avoid greater harm, so that the parents are satisfied and do not go looking for more severe forms of mutilation to perpetrate on their children. It is not enough. Their whole policy is designed to avoid confronting misogynistic bigots with the horrendous consequences of their traditions.”

    PZ obviously did not read the policy. PZ is no better than a critic of “The God Delusion” who never read the book but saw it reviewed on a creationist website. (Is there a lower blow?)

    The whole policy IS designed to confront those who request FGM with the horrendous consequences of their traditions.

    Lastly, as a pediatrician who has some familiarity with FGM in Africa, I will state that changing a culture from performing FGM to a symbolic prick is not optimal, but is revolutionary.

    Find some images of FGM. Learn about the culture of FGM among women in societies where it is traditional. It is a sobering experience. Then read the AAP Policy. We can then discuss how to protect real children from real harm. (my apologies for any typos).

  380. #380 ktesibios
    May 6, 2010

    Any parent who solicits a medical practitioner to commit FGM should automatically be deemed an unfit parent and lose their parental rights. Period.

    Also, if you’ve just got to have some sort of “oh look, our baby’s got a vulva” ritual, how about one where the doctor reverently hands the parents a certificate redeemable for a free HPV vaccination when their daughter is old enough for it?

  381. #381 IslandBrewer
    May 6, 2010

    Alright, peoples, I have officially lost an entire productive day to this thread.

    With all the power vested in me by the internet, I declare that no one can gripe about me on this thread until they (as I’ve just spent the past hour doing) complain to (if you can’t be bothered to click):

    Errol R. Alden, M.D. FAAP
    Executive Director/CEO, American Academy of Pediatrics
    141 Northwest Point Blvd
    Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1019
    Phone: +1 847 434 7500
    Fax: +1 847 434 8385
    Email: ealden@aap.org

    Please send copies of your letters to the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Board of Pediatrics at the addresses listed below:

    Kevin B. Weiss, M.D., MPH
    President and CEO, American Board of Medical Specialties
    222 North LaSalle Street
    Chicago, IL 60601
    Phone: +1 312 436 2600
    Fax: +1 312 436 2700
    Email: kweiss@abms.org

    Alan R. Cohen, M.D.
    Chair, The American Board of Pediatrics
    111 Silver Cedar Court
    Chapel Hill, NC 27514
    Phone: +1 919 929 0461
    Fax: +1 919 913 2070
    Email: abpeds@abpeds.org

    Otherwise you’re just arguing with some schmuck on the internet.

    Don’t make me use my internet powers!

  382. #382 Greylander
    May 6, 2010

    @Caine, Fleur du mal, #322

    Greylander:

    But if their paediatricians are non-confrontational, they may then actually listen to the reasons, and they may be persuaded to give their daughter a “little nick” (if not abandon the practice entirely), rather than go out-of-country to have the full job done.

    That won’t happen. See the small excerpt of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s account at #28. Her father didn’t believe…soon as he and his wife were away, grandma had the scissors out.

    Go read the entire policy statement. Substituting a ritual “nick” or “prick” (no more than ear piercing) for symbolic purposes is already a common approach in some African countries as a way to curb the severe forms. Alsot some of the culture have much milder forms as part of their established tradition — forms less harmful than male circumcision. There is nothing a doctor can do about grandma getting her scissors out. But if parents come to a doctor wanting FGM, he might be able to persuade them to go with the simple “nick” — in part by showing them that this approach has been adopted in some communities not so different from their own. If the doctor just flat out refuses and condemns them, they are all but certain to seek elsewhere.

    It is important to realize that, however heinous the act is, these parents actually believe they are doing what is best for their daughters. If the parents had the presence of mind to go to an actual doctor, instead of grandma or the witch-doctor back home, the doctor certainly should be sensitive to their good intentions, and gently explain why the procedure harms rather than helps their daughter. If substituting the harmless “prick” helps with that persuasion and keeps them from buying plane tickets back home… then it is clearly a good thing.

    I should think it obvious that this can only decrease the number of truly destructive procedures. For those of you who are about to whine “where’s the data”… good grief. Obviously neither side has a great deal of data to go on, but I should point out that the actual policy statement is replete with references. Also, in this case it is a no-brainer. Consider these cases:

    1) Doctor says “NO! You evil sick bastards!”
    2) Doctor says “I understand that you are trying to do what is best for your daughter, but…”, and if the parents still insist, doctor politely refuses.
    3) Like #2 above, but as a *last resort*, Doctor suggests the symbolic “prick” as a substitute, and explains about some cultures similar to the parents which now do this.

    It is mathematically obvious that option #3 above can only reduce the number of mutilations, if just one set of parents agrees (and can keep “grandma” from getting her hands on their daughter). Will it significantly reduce the number of mutilations? I do not know, but it seems stupid to tie a doctors hands when he/she is approached by parents that want any form of FGM.

    And let me emphasize again that there is nothing a doctor can do to prevent and incident of FGM, unless they know that the crime is imminent, in which case of course they should call the police.

  383. #383 bubbabubba666
    May 6, 2010

    @#332 skeptical scientist:

    “The debate should be focused squarely on the question, “What is the best way to reduce FGM?” rather than on burning straw.”

    Oh come on now, what fun would that be ;-)?

    @Dianne

    I think all of your points have been nicely said even though we have argued different sides. I should note that you pointed out earlier that if we are talking about doctors in the Sierra Leone, maybe, doctors here in the US not so much.

    I agree totally and was always arguing from the standpoint of doctors that might be doing work overseas (yes I know it is *A*AP), in cultures where FGM is common place, and this (AAP policy) seems to me a practice that might help reduce its occurrence. Here in the US – not so sure.

  384. #384 Dianne
    May 6, 2010

    @382: Why assume that the parents in scenario 2 are going straight for the scissors after the first rejection? What if instead they went to another doctor who also gently explained why FGM was dangerous and refused? They might start to get the idea that this is unacceptably dangerous and just not a good idea.

  385. #385 Paul
    May 6, 2010

    The whole policy IS designed to confront those who request FGM with the horrendous consequences of their traditions.

    It doesn’t read that way.

    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 lifethreatening 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.

    There is a lot of noise about “seek[ing] to dissuade families from carrying out harmful forms of FGC”, but advocating the non-harmful forms (the “nick”) gives justification for the harmful forms. It grants legitimacy to the concept of FGM.

    I am absolutely disgusted that when faced by families that fly their children to foreign countries to be mutilated, our doctors note this and say “perhaps if we ask them to settle for a ceremonial nick they’ll not do it” instead of demanding that our government outlaw the practice (of going to other countries for the purpose of FGM). We have laws prosecuting child sex tourism, and I don’t see how ritual child disfigurement is any better.

  386. #386 Kliwon
    May 6, 2010

    #12
    AJ, sounds fair to me.

  387. #387 pugowner
    May 6, 2010

    Paul,

    Nice quote mining. On my copy of the policy statement, you are quoting a sentence in the next to last paragraph of the “Education of Patients and Parents’ on page 5 of 6 pages. I noticed that you did not quote the next paragraph, or in fact the entire policy which preceeds that sentence.

    It says dissuade parents, counsel on detrimental effects, note that performing it is illegal and consitutes child abuse. I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit in with the tenor of these posts.

  388. #388 paulmurray
    May 6, 2010

    “Even if it prevented the rusty scissor scenario, it would still be the nicking of children’s genital organs, however sanitary the conditions, rather than condemning all genital mutilation unequivically. … I do not wish to see compromise on the mutilation of children,”

    Yup. Also, safe heroin injecting rooms are a terrible idea. Sure, they prevent the spread of AIDS and are a (maybe the only) point of contact between medical and social services and the IV drug-using community, but goddammit: doesn’t it send the wrong *message*? Aren’t we just throwing up our hands in the air and giving up? What next? First, safe injecting rooms, pretty soon they’ll be making smack addiction mandatory to get into pre-school. You couldn’t make it up.

  389. #389 Sophist
    May 6, 2010

    1)

    The assholes in question are matriarchal females who have undergone FGM themselves, shocking as that may seem to outsiders.

    Stop using words you don’t understand. Patriarchal refers to why it’s done, not who does it. If you’re hacking pieces of a girl’s genitals off for nothing other than the peace-of-mind of her hypothetical future husband, it doesn’t matter what you have between your legs, you’re advancing a patriarchal agenda.

    2)
    Everyone needs to stop saying that the AAP is advocating making this legal. There is one sentence that suggests changing the law might be effective. There are also several sentences that say making it totally illegal would be effective. The AAP does not say which of these positions is the correct one. Stop saying they did.

    3)
    I have not seen anyone here arguing that there is enough evidence that making the lesser mutilation legal right now is a good idea. I am certainly not saying that. All I have argued is that it is a course of action that has the potential to effect the change we want. I probably wouldn’t bet a lot of money that its benefits will be shown to outweigh its costs, but it’s something I think is worth looking into.

    4)
    I understand and sympathize with the position that making this minimized mutilation legal in the US would be an extremely distasteful thing to do, and would set a bad precedent. All things being equal, I would much prefer not to have to do that. However, all things are rarely equal, and if the optimal solution involves some similar law, I don’t see how I could morally oppose just of my own personal and philosophical distaste. My personal moral purity and superiority does not outweigh the suffering of others.

    5)
    As an alternative to making legal in this country, what about making pin prick and small incision forms of FGM the only ones we don’t send you to jail for if you have them done in another country? As it stands it would be virtually impossible to prove that they had done that in a court of law. If a girl comes back to the US and she’s missing most of her vulva, it’s pretty easy to prove what happened. But a pin prick or a small cut? An OB/GYN probably wouldn’t even notice, let alone be able to prove what had been done.

  390. #390 Greylander
    May 6, 2010

    @Celtic_Evolution

    1. Offering to “nick” these girls is legitimizing the practice of FGM…

    How does a “nick” legitimize FGM? Does male circumcision legitimize castration? The proposed “nick” is no more harmful than an ear piercing and far less mutilating than male circumcision. There is no way that this “nick” can be confused with actual FGM. Conflating the two only makes you look like an idiot and does nothing to advance the cause of eliminating the practice of FGM. There is no “slippery slope” here. Making the “nick” legal in no way makes FGM legal. Of course FGM should be banned and the policy statement says so. And yes, the loophole of travelling to a foreign country for the procedure should also be closed.

    2. There is no evidence that this procedure will curb or prevent FGM (that I’ve seen a citation to, anyhow).

    How will a doctor’s offer of an essentially harmless substitute procedure, presumably as a last resort to persuade the parents, increase the rate of occurance of FGM? It stands to reason that at least a few of the parents will be persuaded to accept the substitute where they would not accept abandoning the practice altogether. Therefore it will reduce the number of cases of FGM. Furthermore, the doctor’s obligation is foremost to the little girl in her office right then and there. Now tell me, if this doctor, after talking with the parents for a while gets the distinct impression that they would accept the “nick” as a substitute, but that if she does not offer then *something* then they are going to go to grandma, or fly back to the home country for real FGM, What should the doctor do for her patient, who is right there in front of her, right now?

    3. The larger issue is the misogynistic mentality behind the practice of FGM, and how it must be denounced, strongly and unequivocally. And that this policy does exactly the opposite.

    No, the policy does no such thing. First of all it is a policy for doctors to follow in dealing with real patients and parents, at the time they come to the doctor for treatment or advice or to request an FGM procedure. The objective of the policy is to achieve the highest probability of best possible mental/emotional/physical health for the patient. Condemning “mysogonistic mentalities” is not what should be on the doctor’s mind at this time. The policy also quite clearly opposes FGM.

    Now regarding the “misogynistic mentality”. Certainly the practice itself can be considered misogynistic, along with some of the theological reasoning behind it. However, the motives of the parents is not misogynistic. The practice is so ingrained in their culture that they are simply trying to do what is best for their child according to what to them is “common wisdom”. The fathers do not (necessarily) hate women, nor to the mothers (necessarily) hate their own gender. Yelling at these poor ignorant and superstitious parents that they are being misogynistic would be silly and unproductive. Patiently trying to convince them that FGM does great harm and no particular good for their daughters seems to be wuld have much better effect. Suppose you were going to air a commericial or put up a billboard in one of those countries. Which would be more effective — one that said something like “You people are a bunch of evil misogynists for doing FGM!!” or one with a message like “Why would you want to cause your daughter so much pain and scar her for life?”

    Parents of these girls are not going to be persuaded by our condemnation of the practice.

    Says you. Large scale condemnation and ridicule of barbaric practices is a perfectly effective means of curbing behavior.

    I will be more precise. When parents bring their daughters to a doctor wanting FGM, the doctor’s condemnation and/or ridicule is not likely to help that little girl. As to societal change at large, of course we should condemn or perhaps even ridicule the practice. But I think that approach will only be effective in places where practitioners cannot more or less isolate themselves within their own communities.

    But if their paediatricians are non-confrontational, they may then actually listen to the reasons, and they may be persuaded to give their daughter a “little nick” (if not abandon the practice entirely), rather than go out-of-country to have the full job done.

    I’d like to see any evidence of that.

    Evidence of what? That they *may* be persuaded? I made no quantitative statements such as 67% of parents presented with this option will accept it. Given a large enough sample, I am quite certain that *some* will accept this alternative. I do not know how many. But even one will be better than none.

    Where is your evidence that offering the “nick” substitute will “legitimize” FGM? Where is your evidence that allowing this substitute will increase the number of cases of FGM?

    Again, this completely dismisses the reason these rituals are done. “Nicking” would not perform the ritualistic function and I doubt people that would be inclined to do such things to their children in the first place would see it as an acceptable substitute.

    Did you even read the policy statement? They discuss the whole range of FGM, from the forms that are most severe, to forms which are less harmful than male circumcision. All of these are practised in various cultures. They also note that the “nick” substitute is already used to some good effect in some places in Africa. They provide references. So obviously the people who wrote the policy did have some good reasons to think offering the “nick” as substitute would be effective in some cases.

    Again, show me the data that I am wrong and I’ll reconsider at least that part of my argument.

    Evidence is always important, but this “show me the data” defence (in a discussion of this nature) is just a way of closing your mind to good points made by the other side. If evidence is so important to you, then why are you not demanding evidence for your own position? Why are you not withholding judgement entirely until you have gathered sufficient data? We all have a lifetime of experience of human nature, each of us with a somewhat different experience. The question at hand is a question for which conclusive and objective data is not available and would be impossible to produce in a timely fashion. All we can do is provide insights based on our own experience — our intuitions about human behavior. Instead of ending the discussion with “show me the data”, the best we can do is compare our conclusions derived from differing intuitions and try to provide *reasons* why the other’s intuitions & conclusions might be false.

  391. #391 Kirk
    May 6, 2010

    There are already nearly 400 comments here and I’m not pretending to add anything new, but … damn. You feel like you have to say something.

    These pediatricians aren’t idiots, and they aren’t evil, and they think they are doing a good thing. It’s a terrible condemnation of what religion can do, that a bunch of doctors think they are doing a good thing by taking a scalpel and …

  392. #392 jcfitzner
    May 6, 2010

    All I can say is:

    Fuck the motherfuckers, fuck the motherfuckers,
    Fuck the motherfuckers they are fucking motherfuckers.
    Fuck the motherfuckers, fuck the fucking fuckers,
    Fuck the motherfuckers, fuck the motherfucking AAP.

  393. #393 sharky
    May 6, 2010

    374:

    Chill out, Ben Goren. I didn’t say that made it a good idea. I said that was why the parents did it.

    In a patriarchal society, women are viewed as commodities. Sorry about that, it’s the way it is. Women are desired to be virgins for marriage. Sorry, it’s the way it is. A woman who is rejected by her husband because she doesn’t fit his cultural expectations is considered a burden on her family (sorry, it’s the way it is) and probably won’t be able to marry again if her family isn’t rich (sorry, it’s the way it is.) So parents who love their children may still assault their bodies because they think it will be good for their futures.

    What that isn’t is my fault and I didn’t say it was good, so chill on the rage and stop unloading the uzi on the damn messenger.

  394. #394 Restoring Tally
    May 6, 2010

    @pugowner what you describe is that the AAP thinks it is better to change the American culture to accept FGM than to change the culture of immigrants. That is wrong thinking.

    People who immigrate to the US need to learn to adapt to the US culture. We should not be changing the US culture to accommodate another group in the hope that we can influence that group to accept a practice that is less harmful.

  395. #395 sharky
    May 6, 2010

    (Ahh. Reading again, Ben, it makes more sense that you’re raging if you missed the ENTIRE FIRST PARAGRAPH where I explained the idea of using the nick to convince the parents otherwise was what I was considering as a possible maybe, not the entire practice of FGM.)

    (Woooow. Sorry my putting cars of a train of thought in multiple paragraphs was so bad for your blood pressure, and I certainly will not try it again in future. I’ve heard death by aneurysm is no fun.)

  396. #396 rubincorso
    May 6, 2010

    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 (their families determined to get around the law) just get a token scar instead, wouldn’t that be worth the dirty feeling that even I am getting just by writing this?

    I’m just being a devil’s advocate here, but in this case half-measures and evil-in-name-only, as bad a taste in our mouths as it might give us, just might (and I say only Might) save more girls from this in the long run. Remember the bigots are holding the daughters hostage on this one. Just saying…

  397. #397 Greylander
    May 6, 2010

    @Restoring Tally, #394

    @pugowner what you describe is that the AAP thinks it is better to change the American culture to accept FGM than to change the culture of immigrants.

    How is suggesting a tiny “nick” the same as adapting our culture to accept FGM? The “nick” is like an ear piercing and much less than quite legal circumcision (which ultimately should also be abolished… but one thing at time). Lumping the proposed “nick” in with FGM is just a boneheaded conflation of two very different things, like suggesting that pinching someone’s ear is the same as tearing their ear off. The AAP policy makes no suggestion that FGM should be accepted or legal. Quite the opposite.

    PZ is a big supporter of calling out stupidity for what it is, in the bluntest possible terms, and this is great opportunity that I will not pass up.

    If you think that allowing doctors to do the “nick” procedure, would in any way legitimize or suggest acceptance of FGM, then you are an idiot (PZ included, sorry dude). You may be brilliant at other times, but in the moment you make or think that assertion, you are absolutely idiotic.

    Get some perspective, people. Suppose you actually know some parents who believe in FGM and intend it for their daughter (who perhaps is friends with your own children). Now, suppose in discussing the issue with them you realise there is no way you are going to convince them *not* to do it. But you get some idea that they might be open to a lesser variation than the one they learned from their own parents. Would you not try to persuade them to do the least harmful variation that you could get them to accept? Shouldn’t a doctor in the same situation do the same? And would it be such a horrible thing if the doctor had the option of offering an essentially harmless procedure as a substitute in the course of that conversation? If the parents cannot get something they will accept from the doctor, then they will go to “grandma” or to the priest back in the home-country.

    And for those of you who jump in and say they would call the police… um what exactly would you tell the police. Unless you knew that the crime was imminent, what do you think the police could do? You might also call child services, but if the parents are otherwise not in any way abusive, what can child services do based only on your word that the parents have such intentions?

    It would be good to have a law closing the foreign travel loophole… so that if they left and came back and you knew what they had done, you could *then* go to the police.

  398. #399 John Scanlon FCD
    May 6, 2010

    raven,

    If people just keep pointing out how stupid female genital mutilation is, it will die out quickly enough.

    No, not quickly enough. Pointing out stupidity, sure, but also pointing out evil, illegality, and serious consequences can only help.

    Where adults are concerned, harm minimization is a good principle, but in this case compromise with promoters of mutilation is misguided.

  399. #400 pugowner
    May 6, 2010

    @Restoring Tally,

    Toughtful comment. As noted, the AAP is opposed to FGM. It is illegal and constitutes child abuse. The issue is whether to a symbolic procedure which does not result in FGM is an acceptable option to offer families who otherwise are going have their daughters subjected to illegal FGM, either here or abroad.

    The AAP is noting that some physicians who work with these communities think having the option of a symbolic procedure may result in reducing the incidence of FGM among the generation of children born to immigrant parents.

    The AAP is not in favor of a symbolic procedure, nor is this something I would want to do as a pediatrician. The committee does not advocate physicians doing it, and is very clear on discouraging the whole concept. BUT, having the option of a symbolic procedure may decrease FGM among families who see this tradition as moral, ethical, and valid.

    @sophist
    matriarchal here refers to mothers, and the communal culture of women, who believe an intact young girl is a slut, an immoral woman who cannot control her sexual desires. This is common knowledge among these women, who themselves had FGM as children. I realize you believe that any such denigration of women must originate with men, or be a rationalition by women who accept subjectation by men. However, the tradition predates current religions and is passed down by women. My objection is to the presumption that FGM is only being forced on women by men. Those countering FGM have to deal with traditional beliefs held by women about female sexuality and genitalia.

  400. #401 Greylander
    May 6, 2010

    @Paul, #360

    Paul:

    IslandBrewer:

    And no hard evidence has been presented that the policy would not work.

    Silly. If PsychoPZ said he’d cut the fingers off 10 children because he was tired of kids pointing and laughing, and you proposed merely nipping the tips off in hopes that he would forego his threat, it’s really up to people telling you not to do any harm to show that there’s no chance he will forego his action if you perform yours?

    Paul, this analogy does not hold up for the following reasons. First if you equate FGM to PsychoPZ chopping off childrens’ fingers, then you must equate the “nick” to poking the childrens’ fingers once with a needle, not chopping off their finger tips. Second, your analogy must presume that PsychoPZ cannot be stopped by means at your disposal, so it is PsychoPZ who must accept or reject your alternative. You cannot control PsychoPZ, so certainly if you can persuade him choose the pinprick rather than the finger chop, you have done a great service to the children, even if you must do the finger pricking yourself. Of course, if you can convince PsychoPZ to forego any harm to the children, that would be best… but failing that, I think all of the children will be quite happy to trade a harmless pin-prick to losing their fingers or finger-tips.

    It leads to the least amount of harm, if you stick to the stupid false dichotomy between “you hurt them first” or else “he will hurt them more”. I would argue that even if it were not a false dichotomy, not sanctioning performance of violence would still be the proper course of action.

    This false dichotomy is your own invention. In the real situation, a doctor must decide what to do with a real patient and her parents/guardians who are all right there with the doctor in the exam room. The doctor has no control over what the parents do at home or on some ‘vacation’ to the home-land. But if the parents say that they are persuaded to go with the “nick” alternative, the doctor has no reason to doubt them. The parents have no reason to lie about their intentions, since they can just tell the doctor to fuck off and go do what they want to do.

    Some of those who are criticizing the AAP are falsely equating the “nick” with FGM… which is like equating a finger-prick with getting a finger chopped off, or a pierced ear with getting an ear chopped off.

  401. #402 Ing
    May 6, 2010

    “And no hard evidence has been presented that the policy would not work.”

    And there is no hard evidence that there is no God.

    That said the only one question remains: are we invited to the baptism?

  402. #403 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    May 6, 2010

    Moral relativism be damned!

  403. #404 PO
    May 7, 2010

    From the APP Policy statement:

    “There is also some evidence (eg, in Scandinavia)
    that a criminalization of the practice,
    with the attendant risk of losing
    custody of one?s children, is one of the
    factors that led to abandonment of this
    tradition among Somali immigrants.”

    I think the approach of Scandinavian countries is correct. There have been prosecutions and children taken into custody.

    “Scandinavian governments are trying to stand up for the women. The Swedish government has launched a national campaign trying to stop female circumcision in Sweden, including among immigrants without citizenship. It has also moved to support girls and women in Sweden who already are victims of circumcision. The act directs Swedish schools, preschools, hospitals, local health centers, social services, police authorities and prosecutors to understand, prevent and deal with circumcision. Police and prosecutors have attended regional conferences on how to do that.

    A new law in Norway that goes into effect nationwide Jan. 1 will offer free genital screenings to all girls emigrating from countries where 30 percent or more women are circumcised. If the offer is not accepted, immigration authorities can alert the Children?s Welfare Institution. Girls who reside in Norway will have health checks in the fifth and 10th grades.

    ?Genital cutting is illegal and results in incurable damage for the victims,? said Norway?s Secretary of Health Bjarne Hanssen. ?Therefore, we launch this additional rule.?

    Laws regarding female circumcision were adopted in Sweden in 1982, in Norway in 1986 and in Denmark in 2003″

    From this article:

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/europe/090916/scandinavia-female-genital-mutilation?page=0,2

  404. #405 Al B. Quirky
    May 7, 2010

    Their whole policy is designed to avoid confronting misogynistic bigots with the horrendous consequences of their traditions

    Agreed. Would these ‘misogynistic bigots’ be Muslim males, perchance?

  405. #406 raven
    May 7, 2010

    sharky the idiot troll:

    In a patriarchal society, women are viewed as commodities.

    Well yes. But what does that have to do with this thread? We are talking about the USA here. The organization is the AMERICAN Academy of Pediatrics. I realize you are stupid but find a map and a third grader and have them explain where the USA is. Hint, it is only part of the world.

    If the immigrants want to live in some third world, primitive hell hole fine. While they are in the USA they have to obey our laws. Way it is idiot. So do you. So do I.

    Where I live, the Southeast Asian refugees, mostly Vietnamese, used to have a problem with domestic violence. Apparently beating up your wife is a cultural norm or at least a husband’s right. The police just took the guys downtown, explained the law, let them sit in jail overnight, and told them the next time it might be a few months or years. It didn’t take very long for word to get around that beating up your family in the USA wasn’t legal, permitted, or a good idea. End of that particular cultural custom.

  406. #407 bubbabubba666
    May 7, 2010

    @211 Celtic_Evolution said:

    “Oh, fuck right off… insisting that no amount of FGC is acceptable is in no way akin to Catholics killing people by telling them not to use condoms, you asshole… what next, you gonna go Godwin on us?”

    It is akin insofar as both are based on the refusal to compromise on a principle so that one can maintains ones purity of principles even if that compromise could result in a reduction of aids or in this case FGM. And again, the question is whether it will, I believe it would, others argue otherwise.

    However I am mainly responding to you just because it’s late in the evening and I need to humor myself and I’m curious to see if you’ll be able to respond without several “fucks” and “asshole” or similar. I bet I know the answer :-).

  407. #408 Numad
    May 7, 2010

    “I’m curious to see if you’ll be able to respond without several “fucks” and “asshole” or similar. I bet I know the answer :-).”

    Why would Celtic Evolution actively avoid responding without using “fucks” and “assholes?” I’m pretty sure that they wont.

    You seem to fail to comprehend that using this type of language isn’t a failing in itself. It certainly seems appropriate to use it now.

  408. #409 ambulocetacean
    May 7, 2010

    Absoulte scum. And female genital mutilation is far, far, far worse than male circumcision. There is nothing resembling equivalence between the two.

  409. #410 Rorschach
    May 7, 2010

    As has been rightly pointed out above, FGM is passed on through the generations, and actually done, by women, saw a docu about a place once where old women with rusty blades did just mutilate female children all day, absolutely disgusting.

    I think some people should go back and have a look at the post title.Of course FGM is not comparable with some sort of symbolic nick, but the principle for medical practitioners is “nil nocere”.

    2 reasons I am against this suggestion : First, I don’t believe that a symbolic nick will just do, in a culture where generations of women got the real deal, and I see girls getting their nick to satisfy the authorities, and still ending up with a backyard FGM.I dont believe at all that getting a nick would prevent any girl from getting the real thing at some point.
    Second, what is a child to think who gets this nick?Why is the doctor cutting me?The whole thing is just insane.

  410. #411 rajesh.shenoy.myopenid.com
    May 7, 2010

    24 hours later, I still feel queasy reading this article. And this is the 4th time I’ve come back to this article today – hoping that this is not true, that such a devious practice doesn’t exist. I have 2 daughters of my own in the 4-8 years’ age group. I hate you, PZ. You have shown me the ugly side of humans.

  411. #412 https://me.yahoo.com/a/FXVzkcUPxY8bpTS7kynCvPXc27w-#98e22
    May 7, 2010

    This is the link to the PDF of the full AAP article:

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/125/5/1088

    From the article:
    “…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.”

    I wonder if everyone who is outraged that the AAP is suggesting a compromise in order to avoid the possibility of a girl being subjected to a much worse mutilation refused to have their own sons subjected to genital mutilation (circumcision). What the AAP is suggesting seems to be much less barbaric. The AAP is suggesting something akin to a body piercing. Do those who object to substituting the term “cutting” for “mutilation” also insist that the innocent term, “circumcision” be amended? Let’s call it what it is: male genital mutilation!

    Also, I noticed a few comments referring to “Jewish circumcision.” From 2007: “The National Health and Life Survey reports that circumcision rates in the United States are now down to 57% among males born. That number is low compared to a whopping 90% circumcision rate in the 1960′s.”

    I don’t think they’re all Jewish!

    Just to be clear, I’m against any form of genital mutilation of children and hope that all forms will be eliminated as soon as possible.

  412. #413 Celtic_Evolution
    May 7, 2010

    fuckstick666 @407

    It is akin insofar as both are based on the refusal to compromise on a principle so that one can maintains ones purity of principles

    Right, because the only thing at issue here in regards to FGM is the “purity of the principles”, right?

    Teaching people that is is sinful to wear condoms in an AIDS inflicted population and actively promoting against their use is killing them and is done in direct contradiction to basic human morality in favor of archaic, foolish religious tradition.

    Suggesting that we not allow the medical community to legitimize a barbaric, misogynistic ritual that causes undue harm to infant children is not akin to that in any way.

    You fail at analogies, clownshoe.

    However I am mainly responding to you just because it’s late in the evening and I need to humor myself and I’m curious to see if you’ll be able to respond without several “fucks” and “asshole” or similar. I bet I know the answer :-).

    So you’re not just an ignorant asshole, you’re also a fucking troll. And a piss-poor one at that.

    Since I’d hate to disappoint you, go fuck yourself sideways with rusty hedge-trimmer, you dimwitted fucknozzle.

    Oh, and in case that’s not good enough, go here.

  413. #414 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 7, 2010

    However I am mainly responding to you just because it’s late in the evening and I need to humor myself and I’m curious to see if you’ll be able to respond without several “fucks” and “asshole” or similar. I bet I know the answer :-).

    1. You fucking asshole mother fucker, Pi is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter

    2. Oh hi fine young fellow, Pi is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter

    Oh I see where you’re going. Obviously the first sentence is incorrect about Pi where the second one is dead on correct.

    Thanks for enlightening me on how tone changes the accuracy and validity of an argument or statement.

  414. #415 Dianne
    May 7, 2010

    Now tell me, if this doctor, after talking with the parents for a while gets the distinct impression that they would accept the “nick” as a substitute, but that if she does not offer then *something* then they are going to go to grandma, or fly back to the home country for real FGM, What should the doctor do for her patient, who is right there in front of her, right now?

    Call child protective services. Same as if the doctor had reason to believe that the parents would take the child home and beat her or sexually abuse her. Pediatricians are mandatory reporters of suspected abuse. They should NOT, under any circumstances, join the parents in their commission of the abuse.

  415. #416 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 7, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution, I thought you were going to send the troll to The Intersection. It is where he belongs.

  416. #417 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 7, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution, I thought you were going to send the troll to The Intersection. It is where he belongs.

    So did I. Instead I clicked on the link to see what it was.

    Thankfully I use headphones at work.

  417. #418 Celtic_Evolution
    May 7, 2010

    Janine -

    Damn… good idea… I should have.

    Oh, well… always leave them wanting more…

  418. #419 Dianne
    May 7, 2010

    FGM is passed on through the generations, and actually done, by women,

    So? Using members of an oppressed group to keep that group under control is a very commonly used technique among oppressors. Ever heard the term kapo? The fact that members of an oppressed group participate in their own oppression and, more to the point, the oppression of others in the same group does not mean that everything’s ok and they really like things the way they are.

  419. #420 Dianne
    May 7, 2010

    The symbolic nick would only satisfy one group of people: those who are only doing it because of peer pressure. And they would likely be satisfied with a discussion of why it’s a bad idea and not usual in the US anyway (that is, their peers won’t think better of them for doing it so they might as well not). Those who want “purity” in their daughters won’t be satisifiedwith less than mutilation. I suppose it’s possible that they may never look at their child’s body and so will assume that purity is satisfied if the doctor says it is, but then why not just wave the scalpel near the child and pretend you’ve made a symbolic nick? In short, I just don’t see a situation where it’s going to help.

  420. #421 Celtic_Evolution
    May 7, 2010

    So did I. Instead I clicked on the link to see what it was.

    Thankfully I use headphones at work.

    Actually, I feel a little bad about the “sound” part of that link… I should have put a “use headphones” warning with it… I don’t like to get people into trouble at work.

    My bad.

  421. #422 bubbabubba666
    May 7, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution said:

    “fuckstick666 @407

    So you’re not just an ignorant asshole, you’re also a fucking troll.

    Since I’d hate to disappoint you, go fuck yourself sideways with rusty hedge-trimmer, you dimwitted fucknozzle.”

    Now that’s impressive and original!

  422. #423 bubbabubba666
    May 7, 2010

    No worries, I didn’t click on it. Thanks though.

  423. #424 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlehUz78U5rNLyGDnNwGc8JlODlTLh44MA
    May 7, 2010

    wow

  424. #425 daniel.a.orr
    May 7, 2010

    I’d like to add a dose of political reality to this. What politician is going to vote for a bill that makes provisions for this AAP recommendation? Nobody. I could win a campaign against that politician. My ad script: “Senator So and So voted to allow Doctors to abuse baby girls.” Flash to images of girls dying from FGMs.

    The AAP knows this. They made a bet: this release improves their access to immigrant children/first generation children of African origin, while raising the hackles of the educated well off, but not enough to stop them taking their kids to the Doctor.

    Understanding this doesn’t make me despise the paper any less. But I’m not going to stop taking my daughter to the Doctor. So they’re right. That’s all they care about.

  425. #426 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 7, 2010

    Actually, I feel a little bad about the “sound” part of that link… I should have put a “use headphones” warning with it… I don’t like to get people into trouble at work.
    My bad.

    No worries on my end.

    Now I gotta figure out how I’m going to fuck myself…

    wait

  426. #427 bubbabubba666
    May 7, 2010

    Rev.BigDumbChimp said:

    “1. You fucking asshole mother fucker, Pi is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter

    2. Oh hi fine young fellow, Pi is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter

    Oh I see where you’re going. Obviously the first sentence is incorrect about Pi where the second one is dead on correct.”

    Excellent point. Next time I disagree with my wife, even if she’s being civil, if I think I’m right, I’ll tell her she’s a cunt and a bitch. And then I’ll point out to her that just because I called her a cunt and a bitch does not in any way invalidate my argument. And I would be correct. It might however, say quite a bit about what a miserable human being I would be.

  427. #428 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 7, 2010

    Excellent point. Next time I disagree with my wife, even if she’s being civil, if I think I’m right, I’ll tell her she’s a cunt and a bitch. And then I’ll point out to her that just because I called her a cunt and a bitch does not in any way invalidate my argument. And I would be correct. It might however, say quite a bit about what a miserable human being I would be.

    Oh, right because random people on an internet blog are exactly like your wife.

    Do you need people to give you a big hug and a kiss before they tell you how wrong you are?

  428. #429 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 7, 2010

    And beyond that it still doesn’t change what I wrote. An argument stands on it’s own merit whether the presenter is telling you to go fuck yourself or gently cupping your ballsack and giving it a loving kiss. People who complain about tone are generally the people who can’t come up with a response to the argument presented to them.

    You yourself said you were only responding to see if you could provoke CE’s profanity.

    So like Janine said earlier, I think you’ll be much happier with the pearl clutching tone worriers at the Intersection.

  429. #430 Greylander
    May 7, 2010

    @ Dianne, #415 & #420

    Now tell me, if this doctor, after talking with the parents for a while gets the distinct impression that they would accept the “nick” as a substitute, but that if she does not offer then *something* then they are going to go to grandma, or fly back to the home country for real FGM, What should the doctor do for her patient, who is right there in front of her, right now?

    Call child protective services. Same as if the doctor had reason to believe that the parents would take the child home and beat her or sexually abuse her. Pediatricians are mandatory reporters of suspected abuse. They should NOT, under any circumstances, join the parents in their commission of the abuse.

    Yes, if when the parents leave, and the physician believes they still intend on FGM, then calling child services would be the appropriate course of action. But without any other evidence of abuse or intent of abuse, the best the CS can do is likely to visit the home once or twice and then close the case.

    …symbolic nick? In short, I just don’t see a situation where it’s going to help.

    I did some digging on the references from the policy statement, and some deep googling. Turns out the debate we are having here in this thread is at least 14 years old. Quick summary: A hospital in Seattle was considering the “nick” option for girls old enough to give consent. They had about 40 Somali mothers interested in this option and delaying trips to the home-country for the more severe types. When the press got the story, it was distorted, and a large protest forced the hospital to abandon any consideration of this option, resulting in some if not all of the daughters of those 40 women getting real FGM.

    It is obvious from reading the paper that the physicians were involved with the local Somali community, had discussed the issue at length with many of the mothers and they were aware of the “midwives” in the community who would likely perform FGM on girls who did not get the “nick” option.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.cirp.org/library/legal/davis1/

    Scroll down to the section titled “3. The Seattle Experience”. I suggest reading it all, but here are some relevant quotes:

    The women were committed enough to the compromise that they waited for the hospital to make a decision, not turning to other avenues of genital alteration until the hospital backed out.

    Opponents did not have good answers to the problem Harborview faced, that is, the near certainty that these girls would face a far worse fate elsewhere.

    In addition to the onslaught in the press, individual members of [the hosptital] received hate-mail and death threats.

    Physicians at the Center are convinced that many of the girls whose mothers had asked for the minimalist procedure were instead subjected to some form of ritual practice either in Africa or by one of three California “midwives” imported by the community.

    In their Pyrrhic victory . . . Harborview’s opponents probably denied some Somali girls in Seattle the possibility of living a life free of the physical and emotional devastation caused by the traditional circumcision practiced in their community; in the name of ideological purity, they probably sacrificed some of the very girls they claim are the beneficiaries of their efforts.”

    So, now given this account of the experience of actual doctors involved with an actual immigrant community, do you still claim that you do not “see a situation where it’s going to help.”

    You may choose to equate a harmless “nick” with FGM and “abuse”, and thus be horrified by the idea of granting that option to parents and physicians.

    I am horrified by the reality of a number of girls subjected to real FGM because those outraged protesters denied them an option no more severe than an ear piercing. Note that in this case the procedure was only to be applied to girls able to give consent with parental permission. Minors get ear piercings all the time. The procedure the hospital considered was still legal at the time, but soon-to-become-illegal when a newly passed law took effect.

  430. #431 Dark Matter
    May 7, 2010

    ….call it liberation….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/world/asia/06afghan.html?bl

    Afghan Investigators Say U.S. Troops Tried to Cover Up Evidence in Botched Raid
    By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and ABDUL WAHEED WAFA
    Published: April 5, 2010

    KABUL, Afghanistan ? Afghan officials investigating the deaths of five Afghan civilians gunned down in February during a bungled raid by American Special Operations forces believe that troops tampered with evidence at the scene, the lead investigator said Monday. NATO officials disclosed that they were looking into the allegations.

    Evidence tampering helps explain why NATO officials were so ?confused? initially and offered inaccurate accounts of the killings, said the Afghan official, Merza Mohammed Yarmand, of the Ministry of Interior?s criminal investigation division.

    The Feb. 12 nighttime raid left three women ? two of them pregnant ? and a local police chief and prosecutor dead. It was one of the latest examples of Special Operations forces? killing civilians during raids, deaths that have infuriated Afghan officials and generated support for the Taliban despite efforts by American and NATO commanders to reduce civilian casualties.

    ———————————————-

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/26/AR2006052602069.html

    In Haditha, Memories of a Massacre
    Iraqi Townspeople Describe Slaying of 24 Civilians by Marines in Nov. 19 Incident

    By Ellen Knickmeyer
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Saturday, May 27, 2006

    BAGHDAD, May 26 — Witnesses to the slaying of 24 Iraqi civilians by U.S. Marines in the western town of Haditha say the Americans shot men, women and children at close range in retaliation for the death of a Marine lance corporal in a roadside bombing.

    Aws Fahmi, a Haditha resident who said he watched and listened from his home as Marines went from house to house killing members of three families, recalled hearing his neighbor across the street, Younis Salim Khafif, plead in English for his life and the lives of his family members. “I heard Younis speaking to the Americans, saying: ‘I am a friend. I am good,’ ” Fahmi said. “But they killed him, and his wife and daughters.”

    ———————————-

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/02/AR2006070200673_pf.html

    Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings

    By Ellen Knickmeyer
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Monday, July 3, 2006; A15

    BAGHDAD, July 2 — Fifteen-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza was afraid, her mother confided in a neighbor.

    As pretty as she was young, the girl had attracted the unwelcome attention of U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint that the girl had to pass through almost daily in their village in the south-central city of Mahmudiyah, her mother told the neighbor.

    Abeer told her mother again and again in her last days that the soldiers had made advances toward her, a neighbor, Omar Janabi, said this weekend, recounting a conversation he said he had with the girl’s mother, Fakhriyah, on March 10.

    Fakhriyah feared that the Americans might come for her daughter at night, at their home. She asked her neighbor if Abeer might sleep at his house, with the women there.

    Janabi said he agreed.

    Then, “I tried to reassure her, remove some of her fear,” Janabi said. “I told her, the Americans would not do such a thing.”

    Abeer did not live to take up the offer of shelter.

    Instead, attackers came to the girl’s house the next day, apparently separating Abeer from her mother, father and young sister.

    Janabi and others knowledgeable about the incident said they believed that the attackers raped Abeer in another room. Medical officials who handled the bodies also said the girl had been raped, but they did not elaborate.

    ————————————–

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/31/AR2006053100564.html

    U.S. Troops Kill Pregnant Woman in Iraq

    By KIM GAMEL
    The Associated Press
    Wednesday, May 31, 2006; 11:03 PM

    BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S. forces killed two Iraqi women _ one of them about to give birth _ when the troops shot at a car that failed to stop at an observation post in a city north of Baghdad, Iraqi officials and relatives said Wednesday. Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, 35, was being raced to the maternity hospital in Samarra by her brother when the shooting occurred Tuesday.

    Jassim, the mother of two children, and her 57-year-old cousin, Saliha Mohammed Hassan, were killed by the U.S. forces, according to police Capt. Laith Mohammed and witnesses.

    ——————————————

    Dead with their genitalia intact, courtesy of
    the US occupation regime!

  431. #432 bubbabubba666
    May 7, 2010

    Greylander,

    That is an excellent article, thanks for finding it. And I don’t find it particularly surprising either.

    It’s also worth noting how some of the women who were fighting against FGM were very active in supporting the more symbolic method as they believed it was reducing FGM.

  432. #433 Greylander
    May 7, 2010

    @ Dianne, #420

    The symbolic nick would only satisfy one group of people: those who are only doing it because of peer pressure. And they would likely be satisfied with a discussion of why it’s a bad idea…

    What is your basis for making these assumptions? You are trivializing the powerful force of deeply held cultural beliefs, traditions, and superstitions by dismissing them as mere “peer pressure”. They are not going to turn into atheists or skeptics overnite. There is a great deal of difference in the symbolic power of an actual physical cut verses mere gestures. Having said that, apparently a substitutev call “circumcision by words” which involes no cutting of any kind and is really just a sex education and coming-of-age ceremony for girls, is starting to take hold. (link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/129960.stm ) The fact that this is working in some communities proves that people steeped in the more severe traditions can be persuaded to much less severe options.

    So it stands to reason that a doctor can first educate and try to persuade entirely against the procedure, second the doctor can introduce the idea of a purely symbolic/educational ceremony like “circumcision by words” (which would probably be more effective as a community program, not on individual basis). If those two options did not work, the doctor could offer the “nick” option (if it were legal) in lieu of the parents taking the daughter to the midwife or to the home country. Obviously if there are those persuaded by the “words” option, and those who stick with the full traditional FGM, there will be those in between who will accept the “nick” option.

    Your position that the “nick” option would not be helpful for some girls is completely demolished.

    I also want to point out that the AAP statement does not actually recommend the “nick” option (which is illegal in U.S.) nor does it even recommend a change to the law. It only says that legalizing the “nick” might be a good idea. It also presents the other side of the debate, that “any form of ‘legitimization’” might make the problem worse or delay abandonment of the practice in some societies.

    I have not seen anyone so far present any evidence or even reasoned argument that the “nick” option, no more severe than an ear piercing, would somehow increase the number of more severe cases of FGM. It is just asserted with metaphorical hands waving “this will legitmize FGM!!”

    It does not. It no more legitimizes FGM than male circumcision (which is more severe than the “nick”) legitimizes male castration.

  433. #434 IslandBrewer
    May 7, 2010

    Thanks, Greylander. I was hoping there was more actual data out there.

  434. #435 Dianne
    May 7, 2010

    I have not seen anyone so far present any evidence or even reasoned argument that the “nick” option, no more severe than an ear piercing, would somehow increase the number of more severe cases of FGM.

    Nor have I seen anyone present any evidence that it would decrease the number of cases of FGM (even if one pretends that the procedure being performed is not FGM). I have found studies of what does reduce the rate of FGM. The answer is education, education, education. Especially for women.

    I also stumbled on this little piece of irony. FGM doesn’t work. Like “abstinence education” it has no effect on age at first sexual contact or on sexual activity. The people practicing it are just being idiot fundies. Wonder if pointing out to them that the procedure won’t stop their daughters from having sex would make any difference to them.

  435. #436 daniel.a.orr
    May 7, 2010

    Greylander –

    Things like that can happen when doctors make Faustian bargains: things can end up worse than if they were left well alone. At least, they end up no better.

    As of now, FGM IV is against the law. The law is not going to change through the legislative process. Unless the AAP is gearing up to go to Federal Court over this, or gearing up to provide cover for someone else going to Federal Court, this is all moot. And the ****storm that would come from the AAP doing that would make the reaction to Harborview look tame.

    This is all just going nowhere. Hoping to save girls from FGM through ritual nicks is completely futile without a sea-change in general public opinion. I’d put my money on the Somali community assimilating first. The AAP and Harborview ought to have had the sense to suggest the same. Not sensitive perhaps, but it’s the most productive course.

    I still think this was all just an empty gesture on the part of AAP.

  436. #437 Dianne
    May 7, 2010

    A hospital in Seattle was considering the “nick” option for girls old enough to give consent.

    “Old enough to give consent” is age 18. At that point, a parent or anyone else forcing the young woman to board a plane to her parents’ country for any reason, FGM or anything else, is simply committing kidnapping. Parents have no rights over the bodies of their 18+ year old children. If the young women themselves want to get their clitorises pierced or removed, that’s a different issue, but I don’t get understand this claim.

    Also I would refer you to the Scandinavian experience in which parents who threatened or completed FGM had their children taken away. The practice died out in Sweden because of this. That seems to me to be a working model.

  437. #438 notVerneant
    May 7, 2010

    To all the people saying that you should call the cops, this is assuming that the police in these countries are effective or even willing or able to pursue the matter. You might be able to get to the people in urban areas, but the economies and cultures of these places may currently be unable to handle the situation legally, especially in rural areas where it’s hard to even keep track of people.

    @406, raven
    You’re assuming that these people have anything to do with they USA. They might be living completely out of the first-world circle of countries, let alone the USA.

  438. #439 Dark Matter
    May 7, 2010

    daniel.a.orr wrote:

    This is all just
    going nowhere. Hoping to save girls from FGM
    through ritual nicks is completely
    futile without a sea-change in general public opinion.

    That’s right…because the people who have their
    hands on the power in the US don’t care
    about women’s delicate body parts, they only
    want a “general public opinion” suitable for
    “regime change” in other peoples’ countries.

    I am convinced more than ever that this is
    what this whole issue is about…watch for calls
    for “sanctions” and more sanctions as soon as enough
    steam on this issue builds up…

  439. #440 Dark Matter
    May 7, 2010

    Look at all the noise on this issue, just in time
    for the US november election season..what
    a bunch of suckers…

  440. #441 Gregory Greenwood
    May 7, 2010

    Dark Matter;

    Let me get this straight… If you are unconditionally opposed to FGM along with FGM-lite on the basis that the ritual is inherently harmful and misogynistic, then you are an evil warmonger or at least a ‘sucker’?

    Don’t you think you are reaching here? It is possible to oppose FGM without wanting to invade the Middle East and grab all the oil, you know.

    You are entitled to your opinion on FGM-lite, just do not pretend that your position is some kind of mark of great sagacity. Your position is still unevidenced, and paranoid conspiracy theories do not a cogent argument make.

  441. #442 daniel.a.orr
    May 7, 2010

    I completely disagree, DarkMatter. I think there are lots of people governing this country who care very much about delicate body parts. My trouble is that some of them care less about the people who own them.

    The internal U.S. debate over FGM policy is about as consequential as the MLB All Star game. Yeah, a few people care about FGM’s illegality. It might marginalize some immigrant/first generation groups for a decade or two. For the rest of us, FGM – as a local matter – it is symbolic of infringements on women’s and girls’ autonomy. But that symbolism is powerful stuff.

    I’m deeply troubled by the lack of respect for children’s autonomy, and girls’ autonomy in the United States. Increasing legal barriers to abortion, and practical barriers to sex education and reproductive empowerment are far more worrisome.

    What’s troubling about the AAP’s decision is that they’ve given up on the principle of girls’ autonomy. They’ve said a little infringement is okay. But they’ve come at this at the wrong time. There is a new wave of legislation, starting in Oklahoma, which allows doctors to actively compromise the autonomous decision-making of their pregnant patients by lying to them, among other things.

    http://maremare1225.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/oklahomas-new-abortion-law-is-not-ok/

    To be perfectly honest, I don’t give a rat’s *** about doctors being culturally sensitive to immigrant and first-generation populations when it’s *autonomy* that’s on the line.

    So while social-engineering might be a laudable goal in a vacuum, it’s not, by half, worth accelerating the erosion of girls’ and women’s autonomy, autonomy my parent’s generation fought damn hard for!

    Also, it’s not exactly obscure that children’s autonomy correlates strongly with women’s autonomy. That’s a broad brush stroke some social engineers seem to miss.

  442. #443 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 7, 2010

    Dark Matter what other conspiracy theories do you subscribe to?

  443. #444 Paul
    May 7, 2010

    To all the people saying that you should call the cops, this is assuming that the police in these countries are effective or even willing or able to pursue the matter.

    Uh, we’re talking about the US. The American Academy of Pediatrics. Obviously we have no direct influence over law enforcement in other countries. This does not mean our doctors have to pretend there is merit to the idea of slicing childrens’ clitorises.

  444. #445 sharky
    May 7, 2010

    Raven: I’m… actually not trolling. I’m approaching something as calmly as possible, and getting it taken in interesting ways, but my point is that this is not entirely religious and it’s not entirely cultural, and some of the people who do it are doing it with the best of intentions. Which is why it’s so hard to stop. One solution will not fix this.

    Perhaps I’m approaching it too calmly and not giving enough background on where I’m coming from, which is trying to think of it in the same way I think of foot binding and corseting (which happened in America.)

    And even though it may be in America, immigrants who come to America still are thinking of their kid’s future with their own attitudes. Otherwise they wouldn’t fly their children back home for mutilation and we would not have this problem and this whole discussion? wouldn’t be happening.

    This is probably the least productive discussion I’ve ever had on it, and yes, I’m giving up on having it here.

  445. #446 Morse
    May 7, 2010

    I think the “call the cops” argument is a little silly, there won’t be enough for any arrest, or even probably custody removal until the act has already been done. And even if there are arrests/consequences for even requesting the procedure, word will get around not to go to doctors with this question, which may actually hurt assimilation.

    I think in some ways, the ‘nick’ legitimizes the practice of genital cutting, but I can also see it ending the cycle of abuse within a few generation. I can’t really see recipients of the ‘nick’ feeling the strong need to inflict it on their daughters or grand-daughters.

    Overall, I think that we should just stick with our hard-line ‘no’ approach, and maybe also adopt spot-checks by the school nurse so that people know they won’t get away with it. (We don’t do this already, do we?)

  446. #447 notVerneant
    May 7, 2010

    @444

    You completely missed the point of what I was saying. I give up, too.

  447. #448 Dianne
    May 7, 2010

    I think the “call the cops” argument is a little silly, there won’t be enough for any arrest, or even probably custody removal until the act has already been done. And even if there are arrests/consequences for even requesting the procedure, word will get around not to go to doctors with this question, which may actually hurt assimilation.

    The same could be said of reporting any form of abuse. If a pediatrician sees a suspicious bruise on a child, s/he is required to report it. But the bruise will probably be gone by the time CPS arrives and maybe they will do nothing because there is no physical evidence is left. But maybe the child will be abused worse because the abuser was scared by the cops. And if abusers know that pediatricians will call the cops they might withhold all medical care from their children and let them die, right? So is it better to not require pediatricians to report suspected abuse? Should pediatricians ignore signs of minor abuse because the cops will probably do nothing anyway?

    Again, I refer you to reference #36 in the AAP policy statement, Essen et al on the results of criminalizing the procedure in Scandinavia. It worked. The custom died away among Somali immigrants to Scandinavia. There isn’t a shred of evidence that I’ve seen that the nicking procedure reduces the number of girls forced into the more severe form (the statement in the AAP policy paper references the WHO web site, but the WHO web site contradicts the AAP’s statement), certainly not in countries where FGM is not the norm.

  448. #449 bubbabubba666
    May 7, 2010

    @#448 Diane said:

    “There isn’t a shred of evidence that I’ve seen that the nicking procedure reduces the number of girls forced into the more severe form”.

    Yes, you keep saying that. But can’t we acknowledge that this type of subject is going to be quite hard to produce evidence on? Not to mention the fact that any evidence, such as the little that was presented earlier, would probably instantly be rejected if it didn’t conform to peoples confirmation bias.

    A good many of us do seem to think it would likely reduce the number of girls forced into the more severe form, even women who have spent their lives crusading against the issue and one might assume have a better understanding of these cultures having actually grown up in them.

    So wouldn’t the wise thing to do in this instance be to consult with:
    A. Experts in these cultures who are opposed to FGM, preferably women.
    B. Sociologists and others who have studied if societies have moved from harmful practices to harmless symbolic ones?

    And see if A & B arrived at a consensus? And then IF that consensus favored “nicking” we could start running studies on it, no?

  449. #450 Paul
    May 7, 2010

    A good many of us do seem to think it would likely reduce the number of girls forced into the more severe form

    A good number of people think the earth was created 6000 years ago. Justify the belief, or quit throwing it out there. Start with why people are “forced into the more severe form”, and how these needs would or would not be served by a nick.

    A. Experts in these cultures who are opposed to FGM, preferably women.

    This is like saying we need to discuss with experts in cultures who are opposed to jihad to find out if we should oppose flying planes into buildings. When deciding what we consider acceptable behavior, discussing the effects of the behavior itself is paramount. Not discussing what people in cultures that practice it believe it does.

    B. Sociologists and others who have studied if societies have moved from harmful practices to harmless symbolic ones?

    This is not even relevant to the situation being discussed. We don’t come from a society that needs to move from harmful FGM practices. They are already not the norm. We have studies in hand showing that in societies where FGM is not a cultural norm, dealing with immigrants from countries where it is, banning any practice (including “just a nick on the clit”) is effective. If one is going to seriously suggest a symbolic treatment that coddles the sentiments behind FGM, the burden is very definitely on them to show why we should try a different approach. This has not been done.

  450. #451 bubbabubba666
    May 7, 2010

    It’s been justified Paul, about a hundred times. And I’ll throw whatever I want out there, thank you very much. And as stated earlier, I’m talking about using this approach in foreign countries where I believe such an approach might be highly effective in reducing FGM.

  451. #452 Greylander
    May 7, 2010

    @ Dianne

    I think the “call the cops” argument is a little silly, there won’t be enough [evidence] [sic] for any arrest…

    The same could be said of reporting any form of abuse. If a pediatrician sees a suspicious bruise on a child, s/he is required to report it.

    The same cannot be said of “any form of abuse”. Even the example you mention has physical evidence of abuse that has already occurred, the doctor could even take photos. In the hypothetical case of parents wanting FGM and talking to a doctor, the doctor at best could testify to the parents speaking of their intent, and it is entirely possible, even likely, that the parents are only seeking information about their options without ever expressly stating their intentions. Furthermore, classic cases of “abuse” involve an ongoing problem where child services has some chance of identifying a pattern of abuse, neglect, documenting injuries, and so forth. FGM is a “one off” event, and is probably done by loving parents who care very much about the well being of their daughter, so their is not likely to be a pattern of problems for child services to identify.

    Noone is suggesting that a doctor should not report parents if he has relevant knowledge of an imminent crime of FGM. The parents are not likely to be caught, but the doc should certainly report it. But this is irrelevant to the question of whether a legal “nick” procedure available to doctors would save some girls from FGM.

  452. #453 Greylander
    May 7, 2010

    @ daniel.a.orr, #442

    To be perfectly honest, I don’t give a rat’s *** about doctors being culturally sensitive to immigrant and first-generation populations when it’s *autonomy* that’s on the line.

    So, Daniel, you don’t give a rats ass about the little girls who might be saved from serious FGM by a sensitive doctor who can offer a harmless “nick” to her parents as a substitute?

    Your self-righteous stand about “autonomy” disgusts me.

    The means by which we fight for a better society, a better world, must always be weighed against the cost to the lives of real people who may be casualties in that fight.

  453. #454 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 7, 2010

    So, Daniel, you don’t give a rats ass about the little girls who might be saved from serious FGM by a sensitive doctor who can offer a harmless “nick” to her parents as a substitute?

    Oh the high lofty roads we travel.

    Define harmless.

  454. #455 Greylander
    May 7, 2010

    @ Dianne Author #437

    A hospital in Seattle was considering the “nick” option for girls old enough to give consent.

    “Old enough to give consent” is age 18.

    Minors can consent to all sorts of things if the parents also consent to it.

    At that point, a parent or anyone else forcing the young woman to board a plane to her parents’ country for any reason, FGM or anything else, is simply committing kidnapping. Parents have no rights over the bodies of their 18+ year old children.

    What planet are you on? Parents have a great deal of power to make decisions for their own children. There are legal limits to this power, which essentially provide the legal definition of abuse. We here now are essentially debating what the legal boundary should be.

    If the young women themselves want to get their clitorises pierced or removed, that’s a different issue, but I don’t get understand this claim.

    Don’t get what claim? Why are you conflating piercing with removal, neither of which equates to the “nick” which is under consideration? Those are three very different things, and the only one under consideration is the “nick” which is not even as traumatic a clitoral piercing (which conjures up images of the barbell stud, etc.). That little girl is going to have countless skinned knees and elbows far worse than that little “nick”. Little girls brought up in a community that tells the this is a necessary and positive step to becoming a woman, will almost certainly want to have it done. In some of the cultures, they do it to themselves as part of a grand celebration! Of course these girls do not understand the pain, disfigurement, loss of much of the pleasure of love, and potential medical complications. But all their foremothers went through it and say it is a good thing, why should they doubt the own mothers and grandmothers? The “nick” is no more harmful than an ear-piercing… and girls of quite young age are free to elect to pierce their ears with parental consent. In our culture an ear-piercing is a somewhat a coming-of-age event, or at least a step in that direction. If in these other cultures they abandon FGM but accept the “nick” as a substitute as part of the “coming of age”, how is that such a harmful thing? Just because they take it more seriously or more religiously than we take ear-piercings?

    Also I would refer you to the Scandinavian experience in which parents who threatened or completed FGM had their children taken away. The practice died out in Sweden because of this. That seems to me to be a working model.

    Yes, great, this should definitely be the law! Foreign travel for this purpose should also be illegal. What to do with parents who perform real FGM on their daughters is punish them and take the kids away. (Actually as to taking the kids away, the courts should ahve some flexibility to determine if this is actually what is best for those children).

    But the “nick” is not real FGM, not by any stretch. No more than piercing an ear is the same as tearing the ear off. Lumping them together in the same category, then screaming bloody murder at doctors who might want to offer the “nick” option to these parents, raging at the doctors who supposedly want to “legitimize and perform FGM procedures”… that is just plain stupid. Get some perspective.

    Try to imagine that you are a doctor… and here is this cute little girl in front of you, and her parents by her side. The parents earnestly want to do what is best for their daughter. They are willing to listen to you about the harms of FGM, but they are adamant that something must be done. They are open minded about substituting a minor “nick” procedure — in their minds they can just barely be convinced this would satisfy the requirements of their religious/cultural traditions. If the “nick” was a legal option, could you really turn that little girl away, telling the parents that even such a harmless procedure is an unacceptable violation of their daughter’s rights… and you know damn well that those parents are then going to take their little girl to a midwife, or back to the homeland… and that far far worse that the little “nick” will be done to her.

    Can you really tell me that this is what you would do? Yes, yes, I know that you would also call the cops and child services. But they will not be able to protect that girl unless they can prove *intent* in a court of law, which is virtually impossible. So the girl is going off to the home country… and you, the doctor, have done this to her.

    If you could really let that little girl go… then a say you are heartless.

    Right now, the “nick” is illegal in the U.S. How can you not lobby in favor of making it legal?

    I will say that the AAP made a mistake in classifying the nick in as “Type IV FGC”. Most of the other forms of FGM classified as “Type IV”, while much less severe, still qualify modestly as mutilation. Something that is no more harmful than a piercing has no business being put in the same category with more severe procedures. The “nick” should not be considered FGM at all, and should be described as “a harmless form of FGC.

    In any event, the AAP is not even recommending the “nick” option, nor advocating a change to the law. They only say it might be a good idea… and then they also mention your Scandinavian example and the “legitimization” argument.

  455. #456 Greylander
    May 7, 2010

    @ Rev. BigDumbChimp, #454

    So, Daniel, you don’t give a rats ass about the little girls who might be saved from serious FGM by a sensitive doctor who can offer a harmless “nick” to her parents as a substitute?

    Oh the high lofty roads we travel.
    Define harmless.

    Good grief. Going to quibble about the use of the word “harmless”? It is a relative term with no absolute boundaries. Will this “nick” draw a tiny bit of blood, kill a few cells, and cause a tiny pin-prick of pain? Sure. If you do not want to call that “harmless”, so what? It is far less harmful than the alternatives by several orders of magnitude. The harm done is insignificant compared to real FGM. The harm done is insignificant compared to a skinned knee. Any procedure which is more “harmful” than I have described is clearly not what the AAP is suggesting (and I repeat: the AAP is not recommending it… they suggest it as one possible approach that may save some girls from far worse).


    As to lofty roads… what other road do you suggest I take to reach the moral high ground?

  456. #457 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 8, 2010

    Good grief. Going to quibble about the use of the word “harmless”?

    I think being concerned about it is is much more than quibbling.

    What other damage is done by pandering to the people who’d rather be slicing off the whole clitoris?

  457. #458 Greylander
    May 8, 2010

    #448

    @ Dianne, #448

    Again, I refer you to reference #36 in the AAP policy statement, Essen et al on the results of criminalizing the procedure in Scandinavia. It worked.

    Dianne, has anyone suggested that FGM not be criminalized? The *only* point of disagreement is on whether the “nick” should be included in what is considered “illegal”. You apparently keep on just assuming the “nick” is lumped in with FGM as the same thing and then hammer on making FGM illegal. How about focusing on your reasons for including the “nick” in with FGM, and why doing so is better than considering the “nick” to not be a form of FSM but rather a distinct and essentially harmless procedure that could be made a legal option?

    There isn’t a shred of evidence that I’ve seen that the nicking procedure reduces the number of girls forced into the more severe form (the statement in the AAP policy paper references the WHO web site, but the WHO web site contradicts the AAP’s statement).

    There is also not “a shred of evidence” (in the sense of hard data) that allowing the “nick” option will fail to reduce (and/or possibly increase) occurrences of FGM. Although the AAP reference is to the WHO site from a year or so ago, which has changed, I have already provided you with two references that support the “nick” option. Perhaps you can explain why you dismiss these sources but accept those that seem to support your position?

    Furthermore, the references I have found that seem to support your position have the following flaw: they refer to legal procedures more drastic than the “nick”, up to and including doctors doing the most drastic types of FGM with benefit of sanitation and anaesthesia. Noone here is suggesting such an option. The only thing anyone is suggesting might be legalized is a procedure no more harmful than an ear-piercing (which I would imagine to be far less harmful than a clitoral piercing, but that is not what the “nick” is proposed to be). Of course legalizing anything more harmful than the “nick” and having doctors perform the procedure under sanitary/anaesthetised conditions will make those more severe procedures seem much more acceptable and less harmless than we all agree that they are, thereby promoting their continuation.

  458. #459 Greylander
    May 8, 2010

    @ Rev. BigDumbChimp #457

    Good grief. Going to quibble about the use of the word “harmless”?

    I think being concerned about it is is much more than quibbling.

    You asked me to define an obviously relative term, which obviously is going to have a fuzzy meaning at the edges and everyone will drawn the line differently. Try addressing the substance of my response to you: that the “nick” is orders of magnitude less harmful than all those procedures that all of us readily agree are horrific, and the “nick” is even substantially less harmful than a skinned knee. Worrying about the exact definition of “harmless” is not productive here.

    What other damage is done by pandering to the people who’d rather be slicing off the whole clitoris?

    If by “pandering” you mean a doctor’s gentle efforts to explain to the parent why “slicing off the whole clitoris” is drastically harmful and to steer the parents to a symbolic and harmless (or, if you prefer, trivially harmful [or now are you going to quibble on the definition of 'trivially'?]) procedure, then I say no other damage is going to be done to the cause of eliminating FGM in general, and one little girl might actually be saved from FGM.

    Instead of blithely applying a pejorative label like “pandering”, why not provide a reasoned argument against what is actually suggested?

    Boy to I have a bad case of SIWOTI fever today…

  459. #460 bubbabubba666
    May 8, 2010

    Greylander, thanks for all your posts. A pleasure to read.

  460. #461 Knockgoats
    May 8, 2010

    Seems to me that it is an empirical issue whether allowing doctors to provide the “nick” will reduce the number of girls mutilated in far more severe fashion, or not – and that is the key issue. As bubbabubba666 said, this is very hard to discover. The suggestion bubbabubba666 makes to:

    “consult with:
    A. Experts in these cultures who are opposed to FGM, preferably women.
    B. Sociologists and others who have studied if societies have moved from harmful practices to harmless symbolic ones?”

    is eminently sensible.

  461. #462 Gregory Greenwood
    May 8, 2010

    If consultation is the order of the day, then we should consult with more than just paediatricians. They are not qualified to determone the possible level of harm ‘just a nick’ could cause. Given the size and level of delicacy of the clitoris of a child at the kind of ages we are talikng about, what is only a small nick at the time could possibly be a significant scar by the time the woman reaches sexual maturity that may severely degrade her sexual function. Urino-genital specialists and developmental experts should be consulted before the procedure is even countenanced, and I personally consider it dountful they would be in favour. This is leaving aside the risk of infection even in the most sanitary conditions that cannot simply be ignored, especially where the procedure is medically unnecessary. We cannot depict this as a case of an act of butchery versus a zero-harm ‘nick’ option before we establish the harm that ‘just a nick’ could cause.

    There is also the issue of the definition of ‘just a nick’. The term as it stands is all but meaningless, since it is far too vague to provide an effective guideline. The medical definition of the ‘nick’ and that of the parents may well be in conflict. At some point the parameters of the hypothetical procedure would have to be rigorously defined.

    Finally, we should consult with sociologists, human rights lawyers and women’s rights activists on the legal and social consequences of blithely endorsing a ritual based explicitly on misogyny in pursuit of the alledged reduction of the incidence of unmitigated FGM (a case that still has yet to be made).

    After we have consulted on all these issues, then we may have a bare-bones basis for informed judgement. The stakes are too high for anything less when we are talking about state-sanctioned cutting if clitori.

  462. #463 Gregory Greenwood
    May 8, 2010

    Apologies for the typos in my last post.

  463. #464 bubbabubba666
    May 8, 2010

    Gregory, re: #462 I disagree with nothing you said, save for the bit of editorializing by adding the word “blithely endorsing a ritual”. This is a discussion on an Internet forum and we are therefore free to speculate. However I doubt that anyone arguing the AAP recommendations might reduce FGM believe they should be “blithely instituted”.

    Personally I think that even if there was strong evidence this could save a thousand women from FGM, it has 0 chance of happening.

  464. #465 Gregory Greenwood
    May 8, 2010

    bubbabubba666;

    This is a discussion on an Internet forum and we are therefore free to speculate.

    It weas not my intent to imply that you hd no right to speculate on possible scenarios. I simply do not agree with your position.

    …save for the bit of editorializing by adding the word “blithely endorsing a ritual”.

    Mea culpa. Though, I still feel that those posters who say that the only issue is whether or not the number of FGM cases is reduced are missing the broader social consequences to women of taking action that may be seen as validating misogyny. Ignoring the issues of the status and rights of women raised by this proposed policy would, in my opinion, amount to “blithely endorsing a ritual based explicitly on misogyny”.

    Personally I think that even if there was strong evidence this could save a thousand women from FGM, it has 0 chance of happening.

    What if it saved a thousand women from full blown FGM today and resulted instead in the ‘lesser evil’ of FGM-lite, but established a social precedent that condemns millions of women to further inequal treatment, possibly including unmitigated FGM, tommorrow? What if we are simply deferring the problem, rather than solving it? What if the perceived endorsement of FGM, even in its ameliorated form, by the Western medical community and the US government emboldens the misogynist fundies who are demanding the mutilation of women to try to force the hand of government and the medical services to accomodate more of their… preferences? What if other brands of fundie demand parity of treatment for their own harmful expressions of faith?

    This issue has potential Pandora’s Box written all over it.

  465. #466 Greylander
    May 8, 2010

    @ daniel.a.orr, #436

    This is all just going nowhere. Hoping to save girls from FGM through ritual nicks is completely futile without a sea-change in general public opinion. I’d put my money on the Somali community assimilating first. The AAP and Harborview ought to have had the sense to suggest the same. Not sensitive perhaps, but it’s the most productive course.

    I would say here that you are missing the trees for the forest. How to achieve a sea-change in public oppinion within these cultures is a completely different question than what is the best thing a doctor can do for her patient, a little girl, who has been brought into the doctors office by parents who want some type of FGM done to said little girl.

    For communities, the strategy of introducing milder alternatives rather than outright bans, will depend upon the people actually working within those communities and what the people in those communities are willing to accept.

    For the doctor who is confronted with that little girl… the imperative question is “what can I do to save this girl from the horror of FGM?” The “nick” option would be just one more tool in the doctor’s belt.

  466. #467 Stephen Wells
    May 8, 2010

    If the parents have come to a doctor’s office and asked for her to be mutilated, the doctor should be calling child protective services, not offering nicks.

  467. #468 bubbabubba666
    May 8, 2010

    You are the first person who thought of or suggested that in 467 posts Steven ;-).

  468. #469 bubbabubba666
    May 8, 2010

    Sorry about the name misspelling Stephen.

  469. #470 triptrain
    May 8, 2010

    @467 -

    What exactly would you expect child protective services to do about it? Wait for the mutilation to take place, then toss the kid into the foster care system? Would that really be doing a service for the little girl involved?

    And at what point, exactly, does Doctor-Patient Confidentiality not count for shit? Some states mandate disclosure for child abuse, but it would REALLY be stretching it to argue that you THOUGHT the parents MIGHT abuse their child at some point in the future based on a question they asked you.

  470. #471 bubbabubba666
    May 8, 2010

    @465 Gregory Greenwood:

    “It was not my intent to imply that you had no right to speculate on possible scenarios.”

    Sorry, nor was it mine to suggest you did. I was simply acknowledging that while I (and just about everyone else) have indulged in some “blithe” speculation, that should not suggest I believe that such a practice should be undertaken based on the type of speculation that has taken place here.

    “What if…”

    Those were a LOT of what if’s :-). Some of which are good points, which is why I agreed such a step should not be taken blithely.

  471. #472 bubbabubba666
    May 8, 2010

    @#465 Gregory Greenwood:

    “What if it…established a social precedent that condemns millions of women to further unequal treatment?”

    Couldn’t an argument be made that if most women could get “FGM Lite”, that would be comparable to most men being circumcised, and would be a big step towards equality for women? ;-) :-)

  472. #473 bubbabubba666
    May 8, 2010

    On a separate but somewhat related subject, I found this statement by PZ to Obama with regard to proclaiming a day of prayer interesting, because it made me think of this thread:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/05/happy_national_day_of_prayer_1.php
    “Get stuffed, you pandering, unprincipled hack.”

    Somehow I find this attitude interestingly similar to some of the issues being discussed in this thread. Let?s see, we just finished with 8 years of insanity and an unjustified war due to the right wing being in charge. Ah, what the hell. Let?s scream for Obama not to ?accommodate? on the national day of prayer. Even If such an action would be CLEAR political suicide and would all but guarantee a wipeout for the Democrats in the mid-term and next presidential election.

    It?s one thing to argue that scientists should not accommodate the religious kooks. It seems to me another thing entirely to refuse to even consider accommodation on subjects such as this one or the one mentioned above.

  473. #474 John Morales
    May 9, 2010

    bubbabubba666, your predilection for accomodation is noted with disdain.

  474. #475 Gregory Greenwood
    May 9, 2010

    bubbabubba666 @ 473;

    Let?s scream for Obama not to ?accommodate? on the national day of prayer. Even If such an action would be CLEAR political suicide and would all but guarantee a wipeout for the Democrats in the mid-term and next presidential election.

    It?s one thing to argue that scientists should not accommodate the religious kooks. It seems to me another thing entirely to refuse to even consider accommodation on subjects such as this one or the one mentioned above.

    Once you start accomodating religious kookery for reasons such as political expediencey you are walking a path fraught with risk. What is the merit of maintaining a Democrat government in power in the US if the price is the abandonment of those values that make Democrats preferable to Republican’s in the first place?

    Once you start giving ground to fundamentalists to keep them quiessant you risk the death of freedom by a thousand cuts.

  475. #476 Crunchy Frog
    May 9, 2010

    I have to say that as heinous as this is, at least it begins to move the AAP in the direction of consistency.

    The relevant passage:

    The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on newborn male circumcision expresses respect for parental decision-making and acknowledges the legitimacy of including cultural, religious, and ethnic traditions when making the choice of whether to surgically alter a male infant’s genitals. Of course, parental decision-making is not without limits, and pediatricians must always resist decisions that are likely to cause harm to children. 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.

    Given that American doctors have been routinely doing a pretty severe form of genital cutting on newborn boys almost routinely, and for most of the past century, I don’t think you can say that there is anything particularly mysoginistic about this. It’s more like equalizing the playing field.

    FWIW, I’m in favor of gender equality when it comes to child genital cutting. If a certain degree of cutting is allowed for one gender for cultural reasons, then a similar degree should be allowed for the other gender as well.

    And I’m saying this as a woman. And if it were up to me it would all be completely illegal.

  476. #477 Gregory Greenwood
    May 9, 2010

    Crunchy Frog @ 476;

    Given that American doctors have been routinely doing a pretty severe form of genital cutting on newborn boys almost routinely, and for most of the past century, I don’t think you can say that there is anything particularly mysoginistic about this. It’s more like equalizing the playing field.

    I cannot agree. Male genital mutilation is harmful and irrational, but it is not motivated by misandrony. It is not intended to impair male sexual function or render men compliant. This cannot be said of FGM, which is predicated upon the openly misogynist belief that by cutting away part or all of the clitoris and labia not only is a woman ‘purified’, but her sexual desires and her independence of spirit are also believed to be curtailed. FGM is, at its very core, a ritual behaviour motivated explicitly by misogyny. The motivation is, in this case at least, significant siince it speaks to the broader attitudes toward women of its practitioners.

    FWIW, I’m in favor of gender equality when it comes to child genital cutting. If a certain degree of cutting is allowed for one gender for cultural reasons, then a similar degree should be allowed for the other gender as well.

    As for this argument and the “equalizing the playing field” statement, it has often been noted that two wrongs do not make a right. Female suffering does not offset male harm. Equality of pain and injury is no equality worth pursuing.

    And I’m saying this as a woman.

    Well, I am saying this as a man. I suppose that this might skew my perspective somewhat, but I still find the idea of any FGM, even FGM-lite, unconscionable.

    And if it were up to me it would all be completely illegal.

    With the exception of those cases where male circumcision proves medically necessary, we are in complete agreement on this point.

  477. #478 walabio
    May 9, 2010

    We know that the American Academy of Pædiatrics is into nonconsentually sexually genitally mutilating boys; so therefore, ¿why should anyone be surprised that the American Academy of Pædiatrics agrees to nonconsentual sexual mutilation of girls?

  478. #479 daniel.a.orr
    May 10, 2010

    I would say here that you are missing the trees for the forest. How to achieve a sea-change in public oppinion within these cultures is a completely different question than what is the best thing a doctor can do for her patient, a little girl, who has been brought into the doctors office by parents who want some type of FGM done to said little girl.

    Public opinion very much is the issue when that particular doctor’s “tool” is illegal. In other words, the law would have to change, and that requires a change of public opinion. This is not hypothetical. The AAP is asking for a change in law when there is no will to do so. That is why this is completely futile. It is wrongheaded, given that futility, because it sends the wrong message about autonomy.

    Now suppose someone were to bring a case against a Doctor who performed a nick. Do you think it would be a good idea for the AAP to send an amicus curiae on behalf of that doctor/defendant? Do you think that in such a case autonomy would not be at issue? On the contrary, the best grounds for allowing these nicks would be that autonomy is *not* protected in other cases, where there is thought to be no permanent harm done to sexual organs, i.e., of male circumcision. That is, if we suppose that procedure lightly advocated by AAP is no more physically damaging than male circumcision.

    Without court cases, and without autonomy becoming *the issue*, this is a tool in the toolbox only of rogues.

    As for personal opinion, I think the interests of children are far better served by holding firm on autonomy. The only time children are treated like adults (or even potential adults) is when they’ve committed crimes.

    So keep your charges of self-righteousness. Each of us posting wouldn’t assert an argument unless we thought we were right.

    Note: I am not ‘comparing’ FGM to male circumcision. I am indicating what I believe would come up in a court of law. I have no doubt the comparison would come up there.

  479. #480 daniel.a.orr
    May 10, 2010

    Gregory Greenwood said:

    I cannot agree. Male genital mutilation is harmful and irrational, but it is not motivated by misandrony. It is not intended to impair male sexual function or render men compliant.

    Although male circumcision and FGM are not alike in many ways, I don’t believe this is correct. If you do a little bit of reading on moral hygiene, you’ll find that circumcision was used to control/stop masturbation. You can argue that this does not impair sexual function, but that depends on one’s view of masturbation in developing sexuality. Still, it certainly seems as if compliance to the mores of a certain set of adults is part of the intention.

  480. #481 Gregory Greenwood
    May 10, 2010

    daniel.a.orr @ 480;

    Good point, but I still think that male circumcision was not motivated by misandrony in the same way that FGM is motivated by misogyny. It is not based on a belief that cutting the genitals alters the personality. It does not have the same associations of marital ‘purity’.

    In any case, I take your point that male circumcision is also utterly irrational and harmful to the sexual development of its victims. All cutting of the genitals of children for any non-medical reason should be considered a very serious crime and punished accordingly.

    As an aside, the idea of ‘moral hygiene’ is surely something that only fundies and delusional wooists would come up with. As Harris says, religion really does poison everything.

  481. #482 redrabbitslife
    May 10, 2010

    In Malawi, there is a tradition known as fisi or hyena.

    It’s the ritual loss of a girl’s virginity, usually undergone around age 10-13.

    It involves a man who is hired to be the fisi; this is usually a poor man from another village. He ritually rapes all the girls of that age. It is done with the consent of the parents, the consent of the whole village.

    There were local womens’ groups, of local women who had undergone fisi as girls. They had had some headway in changing the tradition, which, incidentally, is less than a hundred years old itself.

    The new tradition involved no men and involved elder village women disupting a girl’s hymen with a hard-boiled egg. There was, as I understand it, education by the older women on family planning, on safer sex, on whatever health resources were available.

    Then WE (the NGO’s and expatriate groups) got wind of the tradition, and started doing “education” against it. Which brought in a load of nationalistic pride, and resurrected a dying tradition.

    What a cock-up.

    My points are two-fold: harm reduction is quite often acceptable. And outsider outrage, while good in bringing pressure to bear, can backfire.

    The AAP, in issuing this statement, is trying to get girls who might never have seen a physician otherwise (because the parents fear that she will be taken away) in the doors of doctors’ offices.

    Think marijuana: if it’s underground, you can’t regulate it. You can’t control it. You can’t change it.

  482. #483 redrabbitslife
    May 10, 2010

    ***I really ought to have said, as I meant, the misguided “war on drugs.”

  483. #484 Gregory Greenwood
    May 10, 2010

    I am not sure that we should be in the business of ‘regulating’ misogyny. The example you give is of ‘outsiders’ interfering in another culture. The AAP is not proposing this change of policy to be applied in Malawi, it is proposing it to be applied within the US itself, and so I do not think that your analagy holds. FGM is already illegal in the US. Legalising a mitigated version is still legally endorsing the idea that a woman’s body should be subject to patriarchal religion. It is engraving misogyny into figurative legal stone. I have a hard time seeing this as an acceptable compromise, still less a triumph for child protection and women’s rights.