Monday, 2 March 2009

Irony - or racist hypocrisy?

I was just in the kitchen and listening to the BBC World Service - ah, it is good to hear fluent English! - and there was an item about female genital mutilation in Africa and how campaigns to raise awareness are having concrete effects.

And yet, as I posted yesterday, in the UK a mainstream television programme can advocate a similar procedure. Sure, it is not done with broken glass and without anaesthetics and it goes by the reassuringly latin name of labioplasty but it is nevertheless mutilation. Certainly it is not as extreme but I cannot help but feel that the same impulse underlies both. For example, any surgical procedure leaves a scar and I do not see how scar tissue can have the same sensitivity as normal tissue. I am not a woman but my experience would indicate that the labia are sensitive to pleasurable stimulation. Any surgical procedure must diminish this pleasure. Maybe not to anything near the same extent as in Africa, but the impulse is the same - women must be mutilated, and thereby lose some capacity for pleasure, in order to attract men. That is the bottom line.

So, in Ethiopia and other places, young girls are held down and mutilated so that they can conform to a cultural norm. In the west, television programmes will induce them to volunteer to so conform - telling them that their normal vulva is, in fact ugly, abnormal and pathological and must be cut in order to be acceptable.

So the same media outlets that condemn genital mutilation when performed in Africa will promote it in the UK. This is both racist and hypocritical. I cannot see it as anything other.


Gaina said...

I understand what you're saying.

One proceadure (FGM) is abuse, the other - labioplasty - is elective....but I wonder is the scoietal pressure on women to have this 'elective' proceadure done abuse in itself?

I wonder how many men and women would actually undergo all kinds of cosmetic surgery if they weren't getting all manner of unhealthy messages from society about what constitutes a 'desireable' physique?

Several times I have wondered what it would be like to have my scoliosis corrected, and every time I have realised that it would be about looks and not necessity, and that actually it doesn't bother me that much because I don't give a crap for our image obsessed society, but you have to be very vigilent not to let those insidious messages seep into your psyche.

Haley @ Iridescent Dark said...

I've nominated you for an award =D

Go check it out!

Haley x