Sunday, August 8, 2010

Female Genital Cutting and Surgery vs. Male Genital Cutting and Surgery: and one man's use of Logical Phallusy

Please watch this utterly condescending, patronising video made by some white guy named "freedom0f5peech". He's super annoying. But please try and get through his little lesson for all us numb-heads on the realities of all forms of genital cutting and surgery, to infants and children, primarily:



At issue, as is so often the case, is the way "educated" "literate" men misuse a highly cultural and political concept called "logic" to argue "rationally" how some phenomena are injurious to both females and males in some kind of "equal" or "mutually harmful" fashion, as if it were true because information without knowledge is used to present "logical arguments". This is a CLASSIC Western euro-white male supremacist example.

We want to focus our logical attention on this guy: freedom0f5peech who posted on this forum--http://sguforums.com/index.php?topic=28460.10;wap2
about the logic problems in how so many people discuss the matter of what he terms FGM vs. MGM, terms which, for reasons stated below, I refuse to use on this blog, other than to note it here, above.

He's not satisfied to have his rational logical argumentation presented in text. He made all of us stupid idiots that video above, so we can "get it" because, you know, if only we'd just listen to these "logical" white men, the world's suffering would all become understandable as JUST AS DANGEROUS to white males as it is for males of color and females--of all colors. (Because these white guys just never want to own publicly that they have it EASY compared to other groups of people--groups of people that white men systematically and globally oppress and mass murder.) And, as you'll note here, the white guys always kind of want to subtly--or not--suggest that the WORST of what happens is: surprise! really to THEM!

After watching the video, please see my reply to him below, published here only, thus far.

Hello Mr. Logician, aka freedom0f5peech,

What you fail to take into account in your conveniently manipulative video are a few things that humane beings who care about human cruelty might argue are important and relevant to the discussion. Things such as:

1. Just so you know, many women of color do not support the term "female genital mutilation" as they prefer not to consider their genitals "mutilated" for the rest of their lives--and out of compassion for their feelings, I don't use that term. And the term "male genital mutilation" is overtly dishonest, as the genitals aren't "mutilated" at all. The word isn't helpful in any case.

2. Compare to the number of males who experience the worst form of male genital surgery or cutting to the number of females. Personally, I've never even heard of this "top/worst" category of "MGM" you have listed wherein all the skin is removed, including the scrotum. So you're saying somewhere in the world male babies have the whole of their genitals removed? Their penises cut off at the base and their testicles cut off and their scrotal skin removed? Where does that occur and to how many male babies worldwide annually? I'd argue that since you place that form of "MGM"--which you argue shouldn't be understood as happening to males at all, isn't socially real as a human rights problem but I welcome you educating me on this as an endemic cross-cultural problem impacting millions of male babies that, thus far, seems to be going under everyone's social justice radar. (I know of NO males to whom this has happened. Not one.)

3. You very conveniently neglect to frame the discussion in the social context in which these phenomena happen. Do they happen in societies in which male are dominant over women and female sexuality and in which females are not only genitally cut but are controlled in other ways, sexually and physically, oppressively, as a group, by men? Are these cuttings and surgeries occurring in societies which also promote marital rape of girls and women and other physical and psychic traumatic violations of female bodies as natural, God-ordained and ordered, or evolutionarily inevitable?

Or, do they happen in societies in which females are dominant over men and male sexuality and in which males are not only genitally cut but are controlled in other ways sexually and physically, oppressively, as a group, by women? Are these cuttings and surgeries occurring in societies which also promote marital rape of boys and men and other physical and psychic traumatic violations of male bodies as natural, God-ordained and ordered, or evolutionarily inevitable?

Such as through dominate religious and secular institutions promoting woman-hating or man-hating as normal and natural? Do they happen in patriarchal societies or matriarchal ones? Whose interests are served by the procedures? What is the presumed gender of the god who is prayed to? Which gendered beings write the laws, predominantly? What gendered beings, primarily, enforce the laws? Which gendered beings, usually and most forcefully, punish those who break the laws?

This is relevant because no girl, woman, intersex person, or intergender person is served by having their genitals cut or destroyed when a child when there's absolutely no health-related reason to do so. But boys who are circumcised either due to religious custom (as in Judaism) or secular custom (as in the U.S.) DON'T have their penises removed or their scrotums either. And males and boys still end up with fully sexually functional genitals with plenty of sensation sufficient to enjoy happy sexual lives, including having orgasms easily. The most common forms of female genital cutting and surgery, globally, often leave females without most of the nerve endings necessary to experience sexual arousal. Why don't you organise your helpful chart according to which procedures prevent full sexual functioning as adults? Why not make that list in order of trauma to the person, over a lifetime? You show no stats on occurrence of each type. Why?

And, in case you've forgotten: What is this phenomenon you conveniently invent to make it seem like overall, some of what happens to males is worse than what happens to females, while some of what happens to females is worse, as if, overall, it's all kind of awful, but really--pssst: the worst thing that happens is to MALES?

And stop arguing it both ways: you can't keep identifying things in terms of gender and then ask us to ignore gender. And, you're going to have to back up your truth claims, such as this notion that there even is such a thing as all male genitalia, including scrotums, being cut off of male babies. Again, where does that happen and to how many males globally?

Your videos arguments may be "logical" but that doesn't make them knowledgeable or helpful, necessarily. "Logic" alone means nothing, sir. The question is this: in what social reality does the logic exist? Math problems can be logical. So what? What does that have to do with social justice? With ending atrocities? You won't even use math in ways that it could illuminate the practices of atrocity, such as by noting THE NUMBER OF FEMALES negatively impacted by the worst forms of female genital cutting and surgery compared THE NUMBER OF MALES who experience and survive the worst forms done to males. Produce those statistics if you want your video to be taken at all seriously.

Let me draw you a parallel to your "logical" but inaccurate video.

Let's say you were making the "logical" case that all heterosexual spousal murder is wrong. Using your socially well-restricted logic methodology, you, sir, might produce a video showing all the ways humans who are murdered by "the other" sex are accomplished, among heterosexuals who are lawfully wed. And you'd note: some women kill men in their sleep, which gives them no opportunity to fight back. And men beat up women, but those women at least have the chance to fight back, so let's put women killing men in their sleep as "worse" than men beating and killing female spouses.

And you'd display all the ways heterosexual spousal murder occurs. But what you'd fail to note is WHY those women kill those men and that the greatest reason for that happening is that the husbands are terrorists, threatening those women's lives daily, beating and torturing them, or "just" psychologically terrifying them and dominated them, controlling and manipulating them in oppressive and degrading ways designed to crush their wills for freedom. Because that little detail might muddy your "logic system". And men kill women because the women didn't have dinner on the table, didn't get the laundry done, and told a man he was wrong for the way he treats their children. Or she said not to sex. Or she complained that he's spending too much time away from home. So he pounds the shit out of her, and sometimes he breaks her bones, and sometimes he kills her. But, more often, if she leaves him because he beats her, he is then far more likely to kill her. The statistics are that death from battery--from men beating women routinely and regularly in escalating patterns of increasing danger, are more likely to be murdered if they leave than if they stay with the controlling, sadistic bully. So, some women know this and they stay. And for you, them staying wouldn't factor into your argument because she wasn't killed yet.

So you see, your "logic" doesn't equal "knowledge" and it certainly doesn't demonstrate the exercise of compassion or wisdom in the service of gender justice or human rights.

Julian Real

7 comments:

Patti said...

I hope you DO, eventually, post your response at the mentioned forum!

"So you're saying somewhere in the world male babies have the whole of their genitals removed? Their penises cut off at the base and their testicles cut off and their scrotal skin removed?"
And let's not forget having the remaining flesh sewn up, save for a small opening, perhaps near the anal orifice, for urine to eventually drip through.

Historically speaking, male circumsion was intended (aside from religious custom, as in Judaism) solely (and, might I add, mistakenly) to prevent masturbation, not to render other expressions of sexuality so utterly painful that one would not want to indulge in them.

"And stop arguing it both ways"
If you don't allow them THAT, Julian, then you're not allowing them their argument at all!! For instance, have you ever noticed how a large number of proponents of any or all measures (not just female genital cutting) *needing* to be taken in order to curb the pervasiveness of unbridled, unregulated, wanton female sexuality also defend pornography on the basis of males' voracious sexual desires, needs and wants not being understood nor sated by females? Now how does THAT happen when it is supposedly the females who have the enormous sexual appetite that needs controlling??

Julian Real said...

Yes, I'm eager to hear all about that form of "MGM". Good grief--what ways of male-men suffering that male-men don't suffer WILL these dudes invent next?!

Clearly any cultural and religious efforts to stop males from masturbating haven't been at all successful. You'd think the wanking, yanking, spanking, and molesting male priests who seem all too fine with masturbating OTHER males' (boys') penises--and girls' genitals too--would have figured this out by now.

Soooo true, Patti, about men and their desires--kill 'em off in women, and give 'em free reign in liberal patriarchies, and regulated (psssst: means liberal, but on the d.l.) reign in conservative patriarchies.

Andrea said...

This was very good, I personally did not like his tone throughout the entire video and posts. Not to mention the fact that while he claims you cannot compare the two, he blatantly makes a comparison with his own rating system. Thanks for this Julian!

Julian Real said...

Thank YOU, Andrea.

Steve said...

5 months later, and I find this from a Google search. It would have been nice for you to have informed me. I'm not even sure where to begin, considering most of this blog was non-sequiturs and red-herrings. i.e., not relevant to my video, but instead about your personal issues. The point of the video is that we need to stop the sexism... we need to stop dividing this issue by sex, and instead compare the procedures. But it seems that dividing the sexes is too important to your cause (which, from this blog, seems like man-hatred or something). The 2nd point of the video was to show that one of the most common forms of female circumcision (pin pricking) is LESS SEVERE than the most common type of male circumcision, and yet it's illegal while male circumcision is not. I don't know how that point is lost on you, other than that you don't want to understand it. I'm sorry you don't like my tone, but this blog is a perfect example of my frustration. I can't remember the last time I read such a long ramble of non-sequiturs, red-herrings, ad hominem, and other fallacies wrapped into a single page. If you'd really like a full reply from me, contact me, instead of hiding in your blog.

Julian Real said...

Hi Steve,

This'll likely be a two-part response.

5 months later, and I find this from a Google search. It would have been nice for you to have informed me.

Why? You posted something publicly, in a public space. That means it is open for critique and I critiqued it. This wasn't something you told me privately. I owe you nothing at all in terms of the courtesy to alert you to me critiquing something you put in our faces. If you don't want your comments critiqued, keep 'em private.

I'm not even sure where to begin, considering most of this blog was non-sequiturs and red-herrings. i.e., not relevant to my video, but instead about your personal issues.

Well raises a question as to why you'd even feel the need to respond. If it's all just my silly little interpretations, etc., why do you dignify them with this reply?

The point of the video is that we need to stop the sexism...

No, Steve. That's your interpretation of the point of the video. The point of the video is to mislead people into thinking that "male circumcision" and "female circumcision" are kind of "equally bad". I say bullshit. I say you're full of CRAP. And, we get to disagree.

we need to stop dividing this issue by sex, and instead compare the procedures.

That's a conveniently male supremacist way to avoid dealing with the fact that female circumcision exists in an entirely different context politically than male circumcision. You wish, as many do, to hone in on one aspect of violence against girls and women and pretend it alone should be compared to something that happens to some males. But I'm drawing back the lens to note the function of any procedure or practice in the context of patriarchal misogynist atrocities and globalised male supremacy. Who benefits from taking the focus off that dimension of what you discuss? Men and male supremacy.

But it seems that dividing the sexes is too important to your cause

If you took a moment to read the banner, you'd notice that the focus of this blog is to expose and challenge white, het, and male supremacy. There's nothing in my blog that is designed to "divide the sexes". The issue is noting how patriarchal societies divide entitlements and privileges and power by sex. That you seem incapable of comprehending the difference isn't my problem.

Julian Real said...

(which, from this blog, seems like man-hatred or something).

Or something. Like working for justice and human rights for women and other oppressed groups. There's no man-hating here. But if that's all you can see, I'd advise you to check the lenses you're wearing.

The 2nd point of the video was to show that one of the most common forms of female circumcision (pin pricking) is LESS SEVERE than the most common type of male circumcision, and yet it's illegal while male circumcision is not.

I'm critiquing the whole of your video, including your heavy-handed condescension and the male supremacy that is woven into your allegedly objective stats and arguments.

I don't know how that point is lost on you, other than that you don't want to understand it.

There's a lot of that going around, isn't there, Steve?

I'm sorry you don't like my tone,

I don't. At all. Check your arrogance before you turn on the camera, sir.

but this blog is a perfect example of my frustration.

Then I'd advise you not to come here and read it. That solution seems simple enough. Again, if you put out a video on YouTube, I get to critique it on my own blog. This is a common practice among blogs, in case you didn't notice.

I can't remember the last time I read such a long ramble of non-sequiturs, red-herrings, ad hominem, and other fallacies wrapped into a single page.

Again, if that's all you see, then you should feel quite satisfied that I've made no effective points at all.

If you'd really like a full reply from me, contact me, instead of hiding in your blog.

Hiding? That's amusing. My blog is public, Steve. That, by definition, means it's commentary and analysis is not "hiding".

As for hearing more from you, I don't really think we have anything substantive to discuss, given that your work is to deny patriarchal atrocities against girls and women, as such, and my work is to expose patriarchal atrocities, as such. For me, rape of girls and women, female genital cutting, trafficking and sexual slavery, and economic injustice, are all part of the same larger systems of harm. For you, focusing in on what happens to males' penises and female genitals is the appropriate level of lens focusing. So we just disagree on what the fundamental issues are. "Genital surgeries" are not the fundamental issue, here, on this blog. Racist misogyny, ecocide, and genocide are the core issues. I hope you grasp the difference between what each of us views as "what's wrong".

I'll close with these two quotes, in response to your remark about my wish to divide the sexes and the your view that this blog is man-hating:

"[T]hose who point out that women are being victimized are said to victimize women. Those who resist the reduction of women to sex are said to reduce women to sex. Subordinating women harms no one when pornographers do it, but when feminists see women being subordinated in pornography and say so, they are harming women. Words do nothing except when feminists use them. Go figure." -- Catharine A. MacKinnon, Women's Lives, Men's Laws, page 350.

"If I hated men, I would treat men the way that men treat women!" -- Beth Chamblin