I sometimes wonder if the patriarchy allows women to speak out to a certain extent and then send out a load of rubbish to undermine it a little while later, just to make sure that women don’t get too big for their boots.
The issue of FGM (female genital mutilation) has been given quite a bit of press recently. Comic relief and the BBC sent Zawe Ashton (Vod from Fresh Meat) to Kenya to see how bad the problem is. She also met UK women who were taken on “holiday” by their families to then have their genitals pretty much removed, with no anesthetic, no sterilisation and no good reason.
It was explained that it is a cultural practice to prevent girls from “chasing” boys when they hit puberty. It keeps them pure until marriage when their husband has to tear them open to consummate their nuptials. The local men interviewed mainly said that they would not want an “uncut” woman for a wife.
UK families take their daughters to undo go this torture between the ages of nine and fourteen. Many of the girls who are subjected to this torture are left mentally scarred as well as having recurring uterine problems. Many of them end up infertile as when they are sewn up (stage three FGM) they menstruate and the blood can not get out, so it returns into the womb and into the Fallopian tubes. This causes immense pain and infection.
The idea that women are unable to control themselves if left whole is absurd and this is a long practiced method of control that must be prevented at all costs.
This morning I did my usual log onto Facebook and noticed that many of my friends are in an anxious state over a piece in the daily mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2999462/Women-vaginal-piercings-classed-having-suffered-female-genital-mutilation-says-Department-Health.html. Quite a few of my friends work in the body piercing industry.
To be told that performing consensual piercings on female genitals is going to be considered FGM is ridiculous and I think distracts from the real issue.
I have had my clitoral hood pierced horizontally on three separate occasions. Each time I have done it, I have wanted the piercing. The first time I had a little bar bell in there and one of the balls came undone so it came out in the night and in the morning when I tried to get it back in it had already healed up.
The second time was a first time for the body piercer and it was not quite in the place that I wanted so I took it out, went back a few weeks later and got him to try again. Third time lucky. I had a little purple titanium ring in there. I thought it was beautiful, feminine and it made me feel sexy. I would accept a lift from anyone with a motorbike (it was like a free trip to Ann Summers if you catch my drift) I would arrive at my destination much happier than as a car passenger.
I have recently become a mother, that is an experience that I would describe as genital mutilation, my piercing experiences however are not. When I went to the piercing studio I signed a consent form, everything was sterile, I happily lay on the couch and asked for the piercing. (The second time I had to calm the guy down as he was terrified of making a mistake).
I have had lots of bits of me pierced (now I am in my thirties and a sensible mum, I still have twenty one piercings in, I had many more in my twenties.). I can happily say that particular place is one of the least painful and fastest healing places that I have ever been pierced. I would not have done it three times if it was horrific. For example, if I ever need to repierce my tongue it will stay jewellery free (actual piercing not that bad, the healing process is painful, slow and not suited to someone who talks as much as I do)
So why is the NHS thinking about making female genital piercings FGM? And what about male genital piercings? Are they fine?
But why is this being drawn into the forefront of people’s minds? Why is anyone trying to cloud the issue of FGM? More people signed a petition to save Jeremy Clarkson’s job at the BBC after he punched someone and behaved like a massive idiot for years than signed the petition to help stop FGM.
If there was a cultural practice to take boys on holiday to a mud hut and cut off their balls so that they didn’t become unruly as teenagers there would be a global outcry. It wouldn’t be tolerated.
People are still very uneducated about the female anatomy, people don’t like to talk about vagina’s and the clitoris. Many people could not tell you where the clitoris is (another excellent reason for a clitoral hood piercing, it is like a little helpful marker for anyone on a confusing sexy adventure) teenage boys spend LOTS of time drawing penises on things, it’s a common feature in graffiti, we are very used to the phallus, its obvious and right there on the outside.
Vagina’s are on the outside as well as the inside, just not quite so obvious as the male version, you have to go for a little rummage, a bit more of a delve might be required for some women. Our brilliant lady gardens come in lots of different shapes, sizes and colours, just the same as men’s man treasure.
I think that everyone, regardless of gender should be allowed to have their genitals unmutilated and unmolested.
However if you are a grown up, you have signed a consent form and paid money for a body modification that can not be regarded in the same light.
I really hope that the NHS abandon this path of action. I think that it is putting restrictions on choice and the ability to have ownership of your body and your sexuality as well as a distraction from the very real and important issue of FGM.