Well, well, well! Would you look at this! I guess I'm on a roll after a long hiatus. Who knows how long it will last? Well, I guess I might as well ride the wave while I'm at it.
I was surfing Facebook and I came across an old video I hadn't noticed before. Fox's Tucker Carlson was interviewing Fuambai Ahmadu and her advocacy for female genital cutting. According to YouTube, the video was put up on May 4, 2017, around the time the federal ban on FGM was lifted due to a court case in Detroit.
I'll embed the video here. Today is December 15, 2021 and I can still see the video as of today, so if you can't see the video anymore, it was probably taken down. See the video below.
I decided to watch the whole video, and I couldn't help but notice that basically these two are making the case against male infant circumcision in the United States.
I think this back-and-forth perfectly illustrates the male infant circumcision slash female circumcision debate and how it usually goes down in this country because people are committed to the narrative that ignores and protects their cognitive dissonance.
I decided to type up a transcript of the whole thing and post it here. (I'm afraid there are some things that I couldn't quite hear clearly, please forgive me)
I'll be inserting my own commentary; if you want to hear the argument without any commentary, please feel free to watch the video.
"I don't defend FGM. I don't mutilation. I would never defend the mutilation of anybody. I don't identify with the term 'mutilation.' I don't know anybody in my family who does, or my community. From over 25 years of research I've done on this field, I would say the great majority of women who are affected by what I call female circumcision practices do not see themselves as mutilated. I think we need to start interrogating how we use that terminology."
I'd like to draw a parallel here; she sounds precisely like an advocate for male infant circumcision. People who advocate and support cutting the genitals of boys never think it's "mutilation" and they feel "insulted" that anyone ever referred to what they do as such. Well THEY don't do "mutilation," it's those other people who do it. We're the innocent ones. And I think this is where the whole trouble of "female genital cutting is mutilation" begins, because the point is not actually to decry mutilation; if it were, we would talk about the elephant in the room, and we would have to talk about the very practice one is defending. In my opinion, the whole point of decrying genital cutting as it occurs in girls as "mutilation" is to diverge attention to the practice one wishes to defend. If "that other" thing is "mutilation," what we do is perfectly fine.
"I almost don't want to specify what it refers to because it's upsetting, but it's the removal of a kind of key female sex organ in a lot of cases and this is being done to girls who obviously can't give consent, and it affects them for life."
Notice here the arguments that Carlson is putting forward, because it will get him in the end.
He has a problem with cutting girls because they can't give consent, and it affects them for life.
The same is irrefutably and demonstrably true for male infant circumcision. The biggest problem any intactivist have with male infant circumcision are, as you can read throughout my entire blog is, consent, and the fact that a man has to live with the outcome, adverse or benign, for the rest of his life.
"This is why I think we DO need to have a discussion on what IT is. When we use the term "female genital mutilation, automatically a certain image comes to mind, an image that has been put out there for over 30, 40 years in the mainstream media through activists, efforts and women's groups. It's the idea of the most horrific of procedure, which is Type 3, the WHO's classified this as type 3 infibulation, that involves the suturing and sowing up of the labia majora. This is a very rare procedure that is confined, basically, to a specific part of sub-Sahara Africa, the horn of Africa. It makes up less than 10% of the entire prevalence of the procedures in sub-Sahara Africa and across various parts of the world.
A case I've made on here on several posts already (scroll to the bottom for links to other posts I've written on this subject).
Ahmadu is engaging in a classic tactic that advocates of male infant circumcision turn to, and that's blaming it all on the media and the negative image it has given it. It is forceful cutting of a healthy, non-consenting child, but that's not the problem; it's the negative attention it has garnered.
Can you imagine pedophiles arguing that nothing is wrong with what they do; it's the negative image the media and others have given them and they're being oppressed?
Actually, in the case of male infant circumcision, it's quite the opposite; for the past century it's been presented as this good and wonderful and harmless and "medically beneficial" thing.
We need to understand that over 90% of what we call 'female circumcision' involves what WHO classifes as Types 1, and that's divided up into types A and B, and Types 2, A and B as well. So for instance, the Dawoodi Bohra case that has become quite talked about in recent weeks with the doctor, the female doctor, Dr. Nagarwala I believe, in Michigan, their community, their Shia Muslim, you know, quiet community here in the United States, their community performs, first of all they perform circumcision on boys, we'll get to that in a moment, and they perform Type 1 A circumcision, which is a nick, a nick of the prepuce, the foreskin of the clitoris."
Exactly. She's on point.
Advocates of male infant circumcision would like people to believe that female genital cutting is "much, much worse" without actually ever making comparisons. The argument usually goes something like this:
Male infant circumcision advocate:
"Female infant circumcision is so much worse."
"So let's discuss it."
Male infant circumcision advocate:
"How dare you compare them! You just can't! So don't!"
I'm SO glad to see a woman discussing this; I'm usually shut down because I'm male. Well, here is an actual woman who has undergone so-called "FGM."
"That is not actually what is illegal as far as I understand. What I understand is the removal of an entire portion of the female sex organ without the consent of the child. Now, you underwent this as an adult; there's a quantum difference between making a decision to do something like that, and having that decision made for you that cannot be reversed as a child. That seems to me, probably the worst thing you can do to a child."
Here again, Carlson brings up the elephant in the room when it comes to male infant circumcision; the consent of the person involved for a decision that cannot be reversed. This is precisely it, Tucker! You've got it!
"OK, so back to the case of the Dawoodi Bohra doctor who is now in prison waiting trial, she is accused, she's charged with FGM, mutilating 7yo girls , he performed nicks, nicks, Type 1 A to the clitoral foreskin. (Carlson tries to interrupt) But it's really important because what's happened it's the activists who have made the term female genital mutilation they've conflated it with all these different practices..."
Yes! It's a nick! So small! And she's completely right. This shouldn't be a problem. Not if it's OK to slice off a chunk of flesh from a child's penis.
"Some of these activists are victims of the practice itself. And we've interviewed them on this set. And they have said this has affected my life and my happiness, and my ability to experience happiness in a profound way, and it's totally barbaric, and guess I don't buy the 'hey it's a different culture,' well so is throwing widows on the pyre, and it's still wrong."
Tucker sounds like he could be on the intactivist team! Except when Fuambai actually throws his own logic in his face.
Yes, Tucker. "It's a different culture" shouldn't justify slicing parts of children's genitals without their consent. You are right on the money.
"...and I absolutely agree with you, Tucker, but there's one thing I want to correct. You've said it removes a vital part of the female genital anatomy, alright? And is it OK to say if I actually that part is? Because there's a misconception about actually, you know, what these surgeries entail. There is no female circumcision procedure that removes the clitoris of a woman. It is absolutely impossible to remove a woman's clitoris without killing her. What is exposed is a tiny fraction of what is actually an extensive organ.
Again. Fuambai is on point.
And here too is an argument that male infant circumcision advocates like to use; the foreskin isn't a VITAL part of man's anatomy, is it? Since it isn't "vital," then it should be OK for parents to have doctors remove it in their children. After all, they can still have fulfilling lives, sexual or otherwise, what's the real "harm?"
This argument works in the case of female genital cutting. If it's not actually removing anything "vital," what's actually wrong with it? Why can't parents choose to have doctors do this? It's the same argument.
"I'm going to stop you there and before we get too into it, I'm gonna just... lemme just say... (he's interrupting) Would you concede, because there are a lot of women who feel mutilated by this, this is being led by women, that maybe we should let adults make this decision and not imposed on six year olds? Is that fair?"
(Clap, clap, clap...) BRAVO, Tucker. Bravo.
Now if only you could agree to carry this argument through its logical conclusion...
"Well here's what I think. There are a lot of men, right? ...who have experience male infant circumcision who say that this is mutilation. In fact, in the courtroom, when Dr. Nagarwala appeared in court, there were protesters outside they were not anti-FGM protesters...
Jesus Christ! Who's side is this Fuambai woman on?
Intactivists could easily confuse her as one of our own.
She's completely right.
The one thing that I would have to say to this is that far from being an "experience," a lot of men have graphic evidence that circumcision has indeed harmed them, because their procedures resulted in severe deformity of their organs. It is verifiably, objectively true that, to many men, circumcision has resulted in "mutilation" as defined by opponents of FGM.
Of course, in my book, unless there is medical or clinical indication, slicing ANY part of a healthy, non-consenting person's body off is "mutilation."
(Interrupts again) But that's not an argument for female circumcision...
Tucker, yes it is. Readers, scroll back up. Did he, or did he not bring up that "there are a lot of women who feel mutilated by this, this is being led by women, that maybe we should let adults make this decision and not imposed on six year olds?"
Sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander, Tucker.
"What I'm saying is, you're saying to me that there are opponents to female circumcision...
"Look as you know, there's a lot of research, and I don't want to get into the circumcision debate on men, but there is research that shows that there are profound medical advantages in that, there is no research that shows there's any medical advantage in female genital mutilation.
Notice here how his own argument of consent and letting adults make their own decision flies right out the window...
"First of all, that research is contested. There's a lot of research that shows that yes there IS harm, there IS risk. There are over a hundred deaths, a hundred deaths each year from male circumcision.
THIS WOMAN! Fuambai, you're an intactivist!!!
"Look, I don't want to... that's... that's a separate show... and I'm open-minded but, but, but what you're doing is not making...
Poor Tucker... walked into his own trap on this one...
"You're saying we're abusing girls...
That's what he said, Fuambai...
"But that's like saying... you know we can't ban weed because beer is legal... it's two separate arguments..."
Talk about attacking a straw man... what does weed and beer, two substances that adults choose to take out of their own accord, have to do with the arguments at hand, that of the severity of genital cutting and the consent of the individual...
"You are accepting that it is OK to perform a much more intensive or, invasive procedure on boys...
When she dies, Fuambai Ahmadu needs to be made an intactivist saint...
"No, I'm not accepting that I'm just saying that this is bad to do to little girls it's pretty simple...
But OK to do to little boys...
"I disagree. I think that if we accept it in American society that we do remove the foreskin on boys, we do practice genital cutting here, in the US, on boys, then it should not be impossible to understand that there are cultures and societies that practice what certain people are now calling gender inclusive genital surgery.
"Well I just don't want it in my culture, in my society, I guess it's what it all comes down to."
As his society mutilates 1.4 million boys annually...
"So what, it's OK to cut BOYS in your society?"
YOU GO, GIRL!!!
"I'm just saying I don't want THIS. I think it's awful."
Yes to this, but no to that.
The words "ad hoc" and "special pleading" come to mind...
"Well we don't in our culture we don't discriminate. You know, we have gender egalitarian surgeries. We do not discriminate."
"We're out of time I feel that we could finish the hour... I'd probably die of embarrassment but thank you very much..."
Poor Tucker... clearly here tripping over his own arguments, and clearly his attacking the straw men of beer and weed isn't working and he can't stand it so he's got to end the segment...
But see, neither of them is wrong. They're both absolutely correct.
Both of these individuals make the case as to why forcibly cutting the genitals of boys, and girls, is wrong.
Tucker Carlson, quite rightly so, points out that this is a decision that needs to be made by consenting adults, and he makes no exception for culture. He says "I don't want this in my culture," but then recoils when he is faced with the fact that his own culture already accepts the forcible cutting of minors.
Fuambai Ahmadu is on point when she talks about gender egalitarianism and non-discrimination, albeit in the wrong direction. She's right though.
"..if we accept it in American society that we do remove the foreskin on boys, we do practice genital cutting here, in the US, on boys, then it should not be impossible to understand that there are cultures and societies that practice what certain people are now calling gender inclusive genital surgery."
Absolutely on point.
However, conversely, if we oppose it in American society, the forced cutting of healthy, non-consenting girls without their consent, regard for culture or religion, then the same should be true of the forced cutting of healthy, non-consenting boys, regardless of culture, religion or otherwise.
Though it's on Fox, I thought this was an excellent interview and an excellent representation of how the circumcision debate usually goes, with the absolute meltdown when male and female genital cutting is discussed in the the same breath, the refusal to acknowledge that they are the same issue.
Circumcision is Child Abuse: A Picture Essay