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.