Monday, April 24, 2017

You See How They Are? My Rant about FGM

Once again, the mutilation of little girl's vaginas is in the news. We're all a tither of course, because it's happening on (gasp!) American soil.

I've got news for you in case you're late to the party. Two hundred million women in about 30 different countries are circumcised. If it's the United States we're in a lather about, some estimate half a million women in the USA have had some or all of their lady parts sliced off.  As is typical of Americans though, we can't really be bothered with the plight of (black) Africans, or other barbaric (Muslim) cultures until the problem is on our doorstep. Well folks, the problem has been on our doorstep for a long time.

I'm from a small town in central Maine. Yes, I grew up in Hawaii in an academic milieu, among anthropologists, and that certainly informed my world view. At the end of the day though, I identify most with the place from which my extended family hails: A back woods town in the middle of Maine. So Muslims? I didn't really know any. Oh there were some kicking around the university in Honolulu, but if they were part of the crew of grad students drifting in and out of the house when I was a child, I have no memory of them. 

More years ago than I care to remember, another teacher in good ole Augusta, Maine came up to me with an open National Geographic and shoved it under my nose. "You see how they are? You see? This is what Muslims do to women." He stated this as a fact, simple confirmation of all his anti Islamic bias. I looked down. Felt sick. Looked away. I really had no idea this practice existed. I asked my father about it, and he said anthropologists were well aware, but that it wasn't something known outside the countries where it's practiced. It wasn't something anyone talked about then, but this picture helped create wide spread awareness of FGM in the Western Hemisphere. There was a freaking uproar. CNN and the BBC got on the documentary wagon. Alice Walker also published The Temple of My Familiar around this time, which depicts in novel form the effect of FGM on a marriage and a woman's sanity. Heck after the hoopla some countries were....embarrassed. Gestures were made, laws were passed, and the beat went on, one slice at a time. 

"The picture"
An Egyptian barber cutting off a girl's clitoris while whistling (apparently) a merry tune. 

I confess this one picture colored my view of Muslims and Islam in general for a long time. This is how I thought of Muslims for the next 20 years: Woman-hating barbarians. Apostate, irreligious misogynists outside the pale of anything civilized. They were just  Other. So, so |Other. Do I know differently now? Sure. I know this isn't part of Islamic teaching. However, now that the Dawoodi Bohra, an Indian Muslim sect, are in the news for female genital mutilation in the state of Michigan, the PR ain't great.  It isn't enough that Islam is seen as a religion of terror by many;  now Americans are in a (greater) state about the Muslim man's perceived hatred of a woman's sexuality. People are googling FGM and coming up with statements by Egyptian clerics saying moronic bullshit like women need their clitorises straight razored off (I paraphrase here OBVIOUSLY) because men won't be able to keep up with a woman's voracious sexual appetites otherwise. I couldn't make this shit up. 

I've listened to people make apologies for FGM in the Islamic community for years. Know what? I'm really tired of hearing it. Yes, I know this appalling act of misogynistic terror isn't "Islamic." I know it's "cultural." It is, though, a real problem in the world wide Muslim community. Sweeping this . under the carpet or excusing oneself from the discussion because it isn't YOUR Islam is unacceptable. This is an Islamic problem. It is an act of barbarity that affects 200 hundred fucking million women. Your sisters. Putting up your hands and making excuses isn't helping a damn thing. Bleating on about how the Quran advocates for a woman's sexual satisfaction doesn't mean crap when hordes of women undergo a horrifically painful act, done in order to...let's be real here folks...keep us in line. To keep us in line. To keep us from pleasure. To keep us from asking for something other than being a receptacle for a man (much like a toilet is used) or a receptacle for his children. It's because female mutilation isn't Islamic, indeed predates Islam, that we should defend little girls who can't defend themselves. 

What the hell are we going to do about this? For one, speak. If you are an American or live in a country where elected representatives have any power at all, write letters demanding that FGM is pursued as a crime. Arrest parents. Arrest that sweet old lady with the straight razor. Yes. Arrest their parents and put them in jail. There are many, MANY Somalian girls, for example, taken home for a "vacation" during the summer at about age 12. They're not on vacation. They're butchered and told to keep quiet once they return to say...Lewiston, Maine. Although countries like the UK (for example) require doctors to report instances seen of girls who have been mutilated, not one person connected to said mutilations has been arrested. France, in contrast, arrests the shit out of people. Yay France! 


Full disclosure: this is not a pic taken in the UK. It's in, I think, Kazakhstan. 

 I'm convinced the number of men who hate women is legion. Before you get all stroppy and huff and puff about how the men you know don't hate women, or you're a man and you're swelling up resentfully right now, hold on. No shit Sherlock. Of course YOU don't hate women.Clearly all the men you know are oozing with warm, fuzzy vibes for all womankind. If you happen to live in a country that practices FGM (by the way...that covers most countries) start publicly expressing your revulsion. Start a rant about how the parents of people who do this should go to jail. Start some shit, man. You never know who will overhear you and think twice before sneaking his daughter into some back office for a date with Razor Man, like that fucker Fakhruddin Attar and his sweet hand holding wife Farida. I hope they burn in hell. I really do. 

In the end, that is my wish for any person committing atrocities against children. Eternal torture. Like Sisyphus, I hope they spend eternity suffering the same done to them, over and over and over again. 

Make no mistake.  This really isn't Islamic.  This isn't how the vast majority of Muslims "are." It is a problem though.  A big one. 

There's no cake today. Maybe tomorrow, but not today. I almost feel like we should all observe a moment of silence. Damn. 


*This is an addendum in response to "what can we do" concerns. Please write your legislative representative and request that reporting by schools and doctors is required. More importantly,  demand prosecution of all parties involved, including parents. Too harsh?  As one woman said in a documentary I can't place the name of right now,  "They ruined my life. Why shouldn't they pay?" 

Repost this please. It matters.