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Is it possible to have a conversation around here?
June 9, 2004 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to have a conversation around here?
posted by languagehat to Etiquette/Policy at 10:22 AM (98 comments total)

On some forums, you can't mention Macedonia without having people post MACEDONIA IS WAS AND ALWAYS WILL BE GREEK! LEARN SOME HISTORY!, or Armenians without getting drowned out by ARMENIANS WERE NOT GENOCIDED BY TURKS! THEY WERE ENEMIES IN WAR! Here, you can't talk about female genital cutting without getting MEN GET MUTILATED TOO! CIRCUMCISION IS EVIL!! Leaving aside the question of how one feels about circumcision, invading threads where people are trying to talk about one thing and insisting on changing the conversation to something else (in this case, something irrelevant) is not only rude—when the point is as repetitive as this one, it's boring. (And I'm not complaining because it's "my" thread -- I feel this way whenever it happens.)
posted by languagehat at 10:23 AM on June 9, 2004


Seems to me that the best response to the unwanted interlopers would have been to ignore them. Those who wanted to discuss the nominal topic of the thread seemed to feel obligated to address the comments on circumcision, thereby engaging in an argument (and a pretty stupid argument, at that.) Had the comments been left alone, the thread wouldn't have been derailed.

It's not as if the thread was drowned out by a flood of anti-circumcision comments; it looks to me like both sides were itching for an argument.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:31 AM on June 9, 2004


Yeah, that is dumb whenever it happens. It comes up in this case because there are a lot of men here that want to say something I suppose. Female genital mutilation is horrific and leaves me speechless, and circumcision totally pales in comparison.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:32 AM on June 9, 2004


Agreed. It was too difficult to ascertain any semblance of languagehat’s FFP without magikeye’s circumcised cock flailing in my face. Keep it in your pants, magikeye.
posted by naxosaxur at 10:35 AM on June 9, 2004


I agree with languagehat.
posted by The God Complex at 10:58 AM on June 9, 2004


it looks to me like both sides were itching for an argument.

Yup. A couple of men seemed overly defensive when a couple of women suggested that one was worse than the other. A couple of women were overly defensive when it seemed like the men were attempting to hijack the thread.

Seems to me that the best response to the unwanted interlopers would have been to ignore them.

We have that problem every single day in political threads. It's going fine until someone drops a bombshell of a comment, which is followed by a dozen extremely defensive comments.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:00 AM on June 9, 2004


So, by 'conversation' you mean 'everyone hewing to the same point of view sans any discussion.' And here I was thinking you were a descriptivist.

And I thought it was considered bad form to moderate the topics of discussion in one's own thread?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:09 AM on June 9, 2004


I WANT MY FORESKIN BACK!
(falls to ground, sobs)
posted by hackly_fracture at 11:17 AM on June 9, 2004


On some forums, you can't mention Macedonia without having people post MACEDONIA IS WAS AND ALWAYS WILL BE GREEK! LEARN SOME HISTORY!, or Armenians without getting drowned out by ARMENIANS WERE NOT GENOCIDED BY TURKS!

Ah, those were the days...
posted by Armitage Shanks at 11:18 AM on June 9, 2004


"Is it possible to have a conversation around here?"

That's a rhetorical question, right?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:18 AM on June 9, 2004


Is it possible to have a conversation around here?

No.

Next question?
How long have you been here, hat? ;-)
posted by Shane at 11:25 AM on June 9, 2004


Irrelevant conversation, I assume means all the circumcision talk. Is it totally Irrelevant? perhaps but does this stifle any chance of cultural comparison concerning aspects of altering the female body? Though unrelated to the topic, i found that foot binding is relevant if not for a seemingly juxtaposed view of "beauty"....but these practices seem to have an underlying theme of control.

another off topic but somewhat related is the old practice (used about 1000 years ago) of how Cambodian families took daughters to bonze for 'De-flowering' (usually around ages 9 or 10) This practice seems horrid and it could have contributed to cambodian girls reaching puberty earlier in age then many other cultures. Having these aspects of cultural anthology leaving one "speech less" which, to me, is worse then trying to enter the conversation, shows no willingness to learn, and discard bias.

is conversation possible...thats a role of the dice. and cannot be controlled without moderators.
posted by clavdivs at 11:26 AM on June 9, 2004


I'm off to see if I can't make some sort of positive contribution to the thread in question.
posted by orange swan at 11:30 AM on June 9, 2004


You know, the circumcision opponents in that thread have no love for female genital mutilation, and the females who are offended at the comparison I'm *sure* are usually more supportive and understanding and willing to hear a critique of circumcision. So basically what you have is a bunch of people who don't disagree, they're just fighting over whose cut-up genitalia is more important.

Considering that the people on the side of women are probably not suffering from the affliction themselves, and that the male affliction is incredibly widespread in the societies where our membership lives, they oughtta be a bit less eager to get uppity, and exhibit some solidarity.

But considering how much nastier the practice inflicted on females can be, perhaps the comparison to circumcision isn't entirely appropriate. At least, maybe it should be made at another time, in another post. It certainly doesn't need to comandeer any conversation about FGM, but the penis-haters in that thread are equally responsible for how off-topic it became.

In other words: everybody shut up.
posted by scarabic at 11:35 AM on June 9, 2004


languagehat's right, of course. it was an excellent post, and the comments are indeed substandard. but:

I see the "conversation" part as a problem. I like conversation as much as the next guy, but many good threads (most good threads?) don't really require many comments. some of my favorite threads have less than 10 comments. the FGM was one of these threads, imo. it didn't need lots of comments, nor conversation. it had a good leg to stand on already

but the inflammatory, not particularly relevant (and, frankly, lame) comparison with male circumcision quickly turned the thread into a trademark MeFi pissing match. it happens a lot. also, we're a boys club. we don't do circumcision threads well

_____________

btw, the male circumcision comments are sadly lacking in context. by reading the thread one wouldn't even know that Muslims boys get circumcised at 12, so it's far from a Jewish / Victorian custom (Victorian doctors thought circumcision was a remedy for teenage masturbation, it was thought to reduce sexual thoughts -- and that "scientific" Anglosaxon Victorian heritage is the reason why millions of non-Jewish, non-Muslim Brits and Americans have been circumcised these last 100 years. non-Brits and non-Americans get cut only later in life, only if they suffer from phimosis).

oh, yeah, and these last 130 years all future Kings of England have been circumcised, and by a mohel of all people (Diana broke with the tradition, William and Harry are uncut) because Victoria herself thought the Kings of England were the successors of, who else, King Solomon
posted by matteo at 11:45 AM on June 9, 2004


You launch your little boat on the great sea of blue, and where she goes from there, she goes.

There are no captains here, languagehat, for better or for worse.
posted by rushmc at 11:47 AM on June 9, 2004


oh, I forgot: frenulum breve is another condition that does not require circumcision anymore, in non-circumcision-obsessed countries a simple frenuloplasty is considered enough in most cases
posted by matteo at 11:54 AM on June 9, 2004


I WANT MY FORESKIN BACK!

Like, you rang? /Maynard G. Krebs
posted by y2karl at 12:14 PM on June 9, 2004


also, we're a boys club.

I don't mean to pick on you particularly, matteo, but I'm getting tired of hearing this (and "boyzone," etc). I won't argue with the demographics of the MeFi survey, but I don't believe that a largely male membership has to mean that women are not welcome, that their views are automatically handicapped, or that there's anything "male" necessarily about most of the views expressed here. I think there's a larger-than-world-average proportion of penis-bearing feminists in this room, personally, myself among them. I don't mind setting a higher standard that the average treehouse. In fact, I'd greatly prefer that.

I know that people are trying to be critical when they apply the "boyzone" label, but the more we resign ourselves to being one (even if only grudgingly) the more accepted that idea will become, and, subsequently, the more true. Let's not give license to the people who would love to turn this into a mere boyzone by articulating, over and over, that this is what it's become - for better or worse.

If it's something we don't like, let's just halt the codification of the word "boyzone" right away, and keep on cultivating an open forum.

I don't consider this a boy's club at all. Never have. And I don't intend to.
posted by scarabic at 12:15 PM on June 9, 2004


I don't know. I think MGM had a place in the discussion, though it could have been brought up in a better way that wouldn't have hijacked the thread.

But these things happen. Two or three or five people take something the wrong way or have a little too much axe to grind, and the thread goes south.

Thirty-three some-odd thousand posts along, it's gonna happen every once in a while. Sometimes it's avoidable. And sometimes, like possibly in this case, the thread is still quite salvageable.
posted by chicobangs at 12:16 PM on June 9, 2004


I'm off to see if I can't make some sort of positive contribution to the thread in question.

I like orange swan's new philosophy, but in this case I can't think of anything positive to say except "female genital mutilation bad, circumcision maybe bad too, group hug now?"
posted by Shane at 12:24 PM on June 9, 2004


when they apply the "boyzone" label, but the more we resign ourselves to being one (even if only grudgingly) the more accepted that idea will become, and, subsequently, the more true.

unless Matt decides to start an affirmative action program to maximize diversity in his site's userbase and let only women -- hundreds of them -- get a login, the majority of users here is male and will remain so. it's numbers. it's a fact. we just have to deal with it. it's useless to pretend it's not true. it's the elephant in the room.
also, it's self-evident that it's one thing to be a man who is also a feminist. but to be a woman is entirely another. pro-feminist as many of us are, we inherently have a different perspective
posted by matteo at 12:33 PM on June 9, 2004


it's numbers. it's a fact. we just have to deal with it

I love it when I've already addressed the rebuttal in my original comment. Read slowly, post slowly, dood.

I reject the fact that I'm inherently handicapped as a feminist, in comparison to any woman. There are plenty of women who are poor feminists, and more who eschew the title altogether as some kind of perversion or evil. I will never bear a child, have to get an abortion, or have my clitoris removed, but I believe I'm capable of more than merely populating a "boyzone." I may even be capable of having a productive disussion in mixed company (which is all I'm really saying anyway).

Nothing is self-evident, matteo. If it were, we'd have little to talk about.
posted by scarabic at 12:50 PM on June 9, 2004


Not to be completely argumentative, matteo, I do think you're right about the fact that the numbers are real and must be recognized. Absolutely. All I'm saying is that the numbers don't have to prevent us from having gender-egalitarian discussions with respect and appreciation for one another.
posted by scarabic at 12:54 PM on June 9, 2004


I think maybe I'm glad I didn't jump into that thread. I'm frankly shocked and dismayed at the acrimony. But I have to be honest: last year, a friend who's active against MGM made the comparison to FGM and I got pretty annoyed. I shortly sent him statistics on FGM that indicate that about 60% of FGM include complete removal of the clitoris and an additional number include removal of all external female genitalia. MGM is not nearly as bad and the comparison vastly understates the severity of FGM. However, note that not all FGM is clitorectomy, and, given that, a minority of FGM is comparable to MGM. Also, there is a lot of ignorance around MGM, specifically that many people do not realize that the male foreskin is in a sense a sexual organ not unlike the labia minora. Our culture greatly understates the seriousness of MGM.

While I strongly disagree with those who object to the mention of MGM in that thread on the basis that they believe MGM is benign, that is a perspective I can undertand and the reaction is defensible.

On the other hand, I am dismayed by the objection raised by feminists (or fellow-travelers) who, although they may acknowledge the seriousness of MGM, believe that mentioning it in this context is some form of implicit sexism. This bothers me because even if MGM is not as heinous as FGM, and even if (as I believe is the case) the cultural purpose of MGM is not facilitation of the subjugation of an oppressed group (as is FGM), it is comparable to FGM in that it is a culturally-sanctioned barbarism that is defended as the status quo. Not unlike so, so many other things I can mention, including sexism. In this context, of course opponents of MGM will bring it up when the subject of FGM arises because, to them, it is the elephant in the living room. While I agree with the point of view that in many ways MGM and FGM are not directly comparable, I, too, this it's absurd and revealing that people in our culture can immediately see the offense of cutting off portion of a girl's private bits, but not the offense of cutting off portions of a boy's private bits—only because the latter is accepted in our culture. Does it not occur to folks that were we members of an FGM culture, this perspective might be reversed?

I have been informed and outspoken against FGM for well over twenty years now. Some of you may not recall this, but twenty years ago feminism was ambivalent about FGM and generally refused to take a stand against it. I vividly recall an argument in a university honor's course twenty years ago where out of a dozen or so people in a class, I was the only person willing to condemn FGM—the rest excused it on the basis of cultural relativism. My women's studies class was more hostile to FGM but even it handled the issue like a hot potato. The feminist consensus against FGM has only recently arisen. I say all this to put my feminist and anti-sexist credentials forward; I have been active on this issue for many years and feel passionately about it.

But in the last ten years it has become obvious to me that MGM is a serious issue in its own right. It is the elephant in the living room, it continues to be inflicted upon infants daily throughout the US, and it should be fought. Given all this context, it seems to me that not only is it defensible, but inevitable, that MGM come up in any US-centric discussion of FGM.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:00 PM on June 9, 2004


I agree with scarabic. Yes, matteo, the majority here are males but not all. Why do you want to exclude metafilter members in your description of metafilter? If people keep tossing around the label it may start acting prescriptively and this place will truly become a sad boys only club.
posted by meech at 1:32 PM on June 9, 2004


oh, yeah, and these last 130 years all future Kings of England have been circumcised, and by a mohel of all people... because Victoria herself thought the Kings of England were the successors of, who else, King Solomon

As far as I'm concerned, this entire brouhaha has been worth it for the sake of that bit of useless information, the best thing I've learned all week. I shall use it at every cocktail party I attend from now on.

So, by 'conversation' you mean 'everyone hewing to the same point of view sans any discussion.' And here I was thinking you were a descriptivist.

Not picking on Ishmael in particular, just taking this as representative of the "who are you to tell us what to say" school: I am a descriptivist, and I'd never tell anyone what to say; I certainly don't want everyone to hew to one point of view. I understand that threads move in unpredictable directions, and that's usually fine. In this particular case, if clavdivs had brought foot binding or Cambodian deflowering into the conversation, that would have been unexpected and good fodder for discussion. My point is that every conversation about FGM is immediately derailed by the circumcision-haters, and I just don't see why they feel the need to do it. If it's that important to get the message out, why not inject it into threads about Chinese art museums or Reagan's death? It just seems to be very important not to let women's problems be discussed on their own, as if that were somehow insulting to males. I think it's stupid. And boring. That's all. I defend to the death anyone's right to be stupid and boring.
posted by languagehat at 1:49 PM on June 9, 2004


it may start acting prescriptively

Thanks, that was what I was trying to say.

EB: you say so much better than I can even think it, and I would like to dig even deeper on one point:

the cultural purpose of MGM is not facilitation of the subjugation of an oppressed group

It *is*, inasmuch as it is part of what makes men men. The assumption that men are "in charge" of the gender system is faulty. They are afforded many rewards by the gender system, including dominion over women, but as individuals, they are just as powerless to deviate from it as women.

Men opress women in a largely identifiable group-to-group dynamic, but this does not mean that the system we all maintain, overall, holds no gender-specific tortures for men. It does, and perhaps one of the best ways that women can get men to listen to them is to connect to these common experiences of pain and oppression.

The modern theory of social oppression, as I understand it, is the *continuum* of social bonds, across which oppression moves upward and downward through a multi-dimensional hierarcy or matris. White women oppress black women. Black women oppress lesbians and homsexuals. White male homosexuals oppress their hispanic employees. Etc.

Key to understand here is that women also oppress women, and men. They are key players in perpectuating the gender system as we know it. To paraphrase bell hooks: most wife-beaters were raised primarily by their mothers. I'm not making this shit up, this is what the feminist establishment taught me in college only 5 years ago.

If you broaden your viewpoint a little bit, you stop seeing simply that we live in a world where men oppress women, and begin to see that we all operate within a gender system which pidgeonsholes all of us, and violence is one of its most effective tools. While men more frequently master the use of vilence to their own benefit, they're hardly immune from its ill effects as a tool of social organization.

Circumcision is an instance of violence against men. No one knows the depth of the impact it makes on their psyches. Much violent crime between men can also be attributed to the forces that compell the gender system, prison rape being the extreme and obvious example.

I'm not equating mens' suffering with that of women, because obviously the women have had a raw deal to work with for many centuries, but I don't think the solution is about comparing scars anyway. It's about mutual respect, which is frequently as lacking in feminists as it is in sexist men.

To open a conversation about genital mulilation across gender lines is, I think, a gesture of solidarity in that it opens the trail to common ground between our experiences. Closing the door on that conversation obviously only shuts that down.
posted by scarabic at 1:58 PM on June 9, 2004


for the sake of that bit of useless information, the best thing I've learned all week. I shall use it at every cocktail party I attend from now on.

please do, it is a winner. this is weird (the "useless" bit) because I was saying just that last night, offsite, to another member. I am constantly surprised by the amount of useless information that I seem to remember, despite my best efforts to try and learn more important stuff. I'm not exactly ignorant -- is just that I possess lots and lots of irrelevant knowledge.
it does make me very popular at parties, though (if I manage not to drink too much, of course)
posted by matteo at 2:02 PM on June 9, 2004

"To open a conversation about genital mulilation across gender lines is, I think, a gesture of solidarity in that it opens the trail to common ground between our experiences. Closing the door on that conversation obviously only shuts that down."—scarabic
I agree. And I also agree with the broader point implicit in "...but this does not mean that the system we all maintain, overall, holds no gender-specific tortures for men". This is why I have for about ten years self-described as an "anti-sexist" and not as a feminist. It's not because I think that sexism against men is comparable in scope and quality to sexism against women; but that a) I believe that the feminist cause had reached a point where it needed to redefine male roles in order to redefine female roles, and thus, a general anti-sexism serves that need; and that b) sexism against men on its own terms deserves attention and that, finally, anti-sexism should be the ultimate social goal.

But I repeat that I don't think that sexism against men is comparable in quality or scope to sexism against women. They occur in very different contexts.

Just so with MGM and FGM. I really can't agree with your specific point of comparison because I firmly believe that FGM exists specifically as a cultural tool to desexualize women (and thus is a direct instrument of oppression); and I (not quite as firmly) believe that this isn't the case with regard to MGM and men.

You'll note that I exclusively use the terms "MGM" and "FGM". This is not because I wish to place MGM and FGM on an equal footing, but because I believe that "circumcision" in both cases vastly understates the severity of the mutilation—the worse in the case of FGM. It is here that I took umbrage with my friend, as he (at that time) used the term "circumcision" in both cases and the use of the term "female circumcision" really annoys me. Yet, "male circumcision" is effectively a euphemism, disguising the reality that it's both a mutilation and a removal of an active organ.

Languagehat and others seem to be arguing that MGM and FGM are in no way comparable. But this is absurd, really. Both are involuntary medical procedures involving the removal of a portion of primary sexual anatomy. Both are defended on the basis of "cultural norms". That's pretty damn similar. Given that FGM, though a true horror that afflicts young women every day, is exotic and essentially a curiosity in the context of of American culture; and given that MGM pervasive, it seems to me that it is entirely appropriate to discuss MGM in the context of FGM given, as I said before, this is a US-centric discussion.

I am most disturbed, as I have always been, by dueling "my oppression (or whatever) is worse than yours" assertions. I don't take the easy way out and flat-out deny that comparison is possible. It is. But, really, that sort of discussion serves no useful purpose for almost anyone. Certainly it isn't helpful in general.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:18 PM on June 9, 2004


EB: beers and semantics next time you're anywhere near SF, or as soon as I visit Austin.
posted by scarabic at 2:24 PM on June 9, 2004


Matt decides to start an affirmative action program to maximize diversity in his site's userbase and let only women -- hundreds of them -- get a login

Slightly off-topic, I would be in favor of this, if only to liven up the various Mefi get-togethers...
posted by rushmc at 2:32 PM on June 9, 2004


Scarabic: seriously, let me know if you're ever in Austin.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:37 PM on June 9, 2004


I would be in favor of this, if only to liven up the various Mefi get-togethers...

I would too, but unless there's a gender test we'll wind up with hundreds of men in drag.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.
posted by timeistight at 2:43 PM on June 9, 2004


<interrupts discussion on FGM and MGM>

Wait, so lemme get this straight, we're migrating languagehat's thread over to MetaTalk now? Is this a new standard operating procedure for derails?

On a serious note, cheers from the peanut gallery for the noble effort in rescuing the thread in the blue.

</peanut>
posted by DaShiv at 3:31 PM on June 9, 2004


many of the comments here would have helped that thread if posted in it, and not all of the penis-bearers in there derailed it
posted by amberglow at 3:34 PM on June 9, 2004


I thought anarchists liked anarchy. I didn't get the memo. El futuro?
posted by hama7 at 3:34 PM on June 9, 2004


Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

No, no... it's OK, there is.
posted by Witty at 3:37 PM on June 9, 2004


MGM? It's freakin' male genital enhancement, man. The circumcized penis looks better, tastes better, and lasts longer. Plus guys who are cut get a much bigger penis as they grow older.

Circumcision is to mutilation as ear piercings are to mutiliation.

Also, most of the first paragraph in this post is probably not true. At least, not for anyone else but me. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 3:39 PM on June 9, 2004


Well, I put my comments here because the context here, unlike there, is the appropriateness of a discussion of MGM in the context of FGM. It's meta. Also, while I'm defending the idea that some discussion of MGM is appropriate in the context of a US-centric discussion of FGM, the thread in the blue is supersaturated with it and I don't want to worsen that.

On preview: fff
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:40 PM on June 9, 2004


*makes date with fff for Friday night* ; >
posted by amberglow at 4:09 PM on June 9, 2004


DaShiv: we're discussing the discussion, primarily, though we wander to the topic as necessary.

We can discuss the discussion of the discussion further, if you like, but we'll need to start a thread on http://meta-meta-malkovich-malkovichtalk.metafilter.com
posted by scarabic at 4:09 PM on June 9, 2004


Malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich "malkovich" malkovich "malkovich". Malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich MALKOVICH malkovich MALKOVICH malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich, malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich "malkovich" malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich—malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich MALKOVICH. Malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich, malkovich malkovich (malkovich malkovich malkovich) malkovich malkovich malkovich "malkovich" malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich malkovich "malkovich malkovich" malkovich malkovich malkovich.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:24 PM on June 9, 2004


ITS my HEAD!
posted by scarabic at 4:32 PM on June 9, 2004


we'll wind up with hundreds of men in drag.

MetaSheMaleFilter
posted by matteo at 4:42 PM on June 9, 2004


Languagehat and others seem to be arguing that MGM and FGM are in no way comparable

No, I never said that and I don't believe it. Most things are "comparable" (humans are very good at semantic linkage), and obviously two forms of genital cutting are. That's irrelevant to my point, which I will now repeat again, because I'd like to be understood. If we'd had a number of threads on FGM (I hate these acronyms, but they certainly are convenient) and somehow the subject of circumcision (which is the proper name for the male procedure, EB -- I have no idea what you're objecting to; it's like saying "cat" doesn't describe a cat) had never come up, and another thread got started and someone said "You know, it would be enlightening to compare this to male circumcision," that would be great.

The case is entirely different. It is impossible to have a discussion about FGM without men jumping in and delivering the same, numbingly repetitious rants about circumcision. Look, suppose every time hama7 made one of his museum posts, I jumped in and commented that museums were a tool of cultural oppression. The first time you might think this was an interesting point of view (well, somebody might—work with me here); the second time you might be a bit impatient; after that, I guarantee you you'd be hollering for me to shut up so people could talk about museums. (Yes, yes, theoretically everyone could ignore me, but we all know that doesn't happen.)

hama7: Not sure what your point is, but if you're thinking that it's inconsistent for me as an anarchist to want to control the thread or the site, you're missing my point. I don't want to control anything; I would just like the circumaniacs to realize the error of their ways, or failing that I'd like for enough people to point at them and hoot so that they'd think twice before butting in with their repetitive comments. It's called self-policing, which is the only kind of policing an anarchist believes in. Anarchism can only work if people act in reasonably mature ways; it can never be an appropriate system for five-year-olds (of any age).
posted by languagehat at 5:00 PM on June 9, 2004


This thread is pretty conversational....
posted by WolfDaddy at 5:16 PM on June 9, 2004


Hold on, comparing FGM with the removal of the foreskin does kind of raise a red flag for me. The two are NOT in my mind equivalent. One is horrific, one is unnecessary but benign.
posted by Hildago at 6:38 PM on June 9, 2004


ITS my HEAD!

ROTFLMFO
posted by eddydamascene at 7:15 PM on June 9, 2004


comparing FGM with the removal of the foreskin does kind of raise a red flag for me

Some gentle stroking should lower that red flag again.
posted by scarabic at 7:41 PM on June 9, 2004


I want my foreskin back too. There's a hole in my hot-air baloon I need to patch.
posted by jonmc at 8:07 PM on June 9, 2004


FGM is extreme body modification. It is a serious medical procedure and has no health benefits.

Circumcision is minor body modification. It is not a particularly dangerous or difficult procedure when not performed by a halfwit. It has negligible health benefit.

FGM is akin to genital nullification or limb removal. Hell, it's arguably exactly like genital nullification, but performed on children instead of informed, consenting adults.

Circumcision is akin to ear piercing. Any kid can walk into a boutique store with mumsy and get its ears pierced. No biggie. People get slightly more squeamish when parents get a baby's ears pierced, but not much so.

IMO, YMMV.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:13 PM on June 9, 2004


I note that there has never been a time when the mere mention of "circumcision" in an online discussion has not led to frothing-at-the-mouth rants about the evils of circumcision.

Nor, I believe, has there ever been a time when talk of FGM hasn't been inexorably forced to turn into a discussion of circumcision.

Man, men are weird about their dicks. I just don't understand that: if it can get hard and feels good, WTF does it matter whether it's got a hoodie, is the size of the Washington monument, or is corkscrewed like a pig's tail?! It just wants to be put to use! Love it for all it's worth, and be happy.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:29 PM on June 9, 2004


Fivefresh, female genital mutilation often has health consequences.
posted by theora55 at 8:30 PM on June 9, 2004


Anyone who has spayed their cat or cut off their dog's balls has no room to talk against genital modifications. ;-P
posted by mischief at 8:31 PM on June 9, 2004


Anyone who has had their cat spayed has had their female cat undergo a hysterectomy. Ovaries are not genitalia by the common account.
posted by y2karl at 8:44 PM on June 9, 2004


I just don't understand that: if it can get hard and feels good, WTF does it matter whether it's got a hoodie, is the size of the Washington monument, or is corkscrewed like a pig's tail?!

FFF, what matters above all else, and in both M and F cases of GM, is that the bearer did not have a free choice of having it corkscrewed like a pig's tail, or whatever.

And languagehat, it's funny that you're getting all kinds of nonsense about "controlling" or "over-moderating" a thread in which I was frankly amazed that you kept such a light touch. BUT I gotta say, you're being disingenuous toward EB: As you know, terms for things that happen in and around people's genitals may be and often are freighted with much more political (and usually sexist) baggage than are the names we give to species of fauna, so the "callling it a cat" analogy is, well, BS. I don't agree with EB that the two procedures are largely equivalent, but I can see the point that their respective terminology is unlikely to be Fair & Balanced.
posted by soyjoy at 8:50 PM on June 9, 2004


messing with her hoohah is worse than cutting his whatsis.
/my grandma
posted by amberglow at 9:02 PM on June 9, 2004


"hoohah"?
posted by matteo at 9:24 PM on June 9, 2004


yup
posted by amberglow at 9:46 PM on June 9, 2004


is the size of the Washington monument

This is not to be mocked lightly--do you have any idea the kinds of sartorial problems I have to endure?
posted by DaShiv at 10:19 PM on June 9, 2004


I just don't understand that: if it can get hard and feels good, WTF does it matter

Well, perhaps not knowing, and not being able to know the difference, bums some of us out. You're talking about the foreskin like it's the appendix: something you'll never miss, instead of an additional inch of orgasmatronic dick-flesh. I'm not sayin' I'm dysfunctional, I'm just saying I love my cock so much that I could hardly imagine passing up EVEN MORE of it.

Can I compare what I lost to several types of mutilation of a very different anatomical region? Could I put a judgement on what's extreme and what's minor? Could I judge other people's pain or the relative value of damage to their various parts? I could, but what's the point? It's stupid, always uninformed (unless you can find me a hermaphrodite who's had both procedures), and, gradmas aside, it's rude.

I've participated in one circumcision thread before, and I think it was in the green. I've never participated in a FGM thread before, and I agree it's a pity if they all get permanently steered toward circumcision talk. That's sad.
posted by scarabic at 10:20 PM on June 9, 2004


I think I understand you, scarabic. I can see how someone might feel cheated by not having the whole shebang, figuring that they're getting one yard when they should have the whole nine yards. Me, I'm positive I'm getting the whole nine yards, and possibly some extra for being such a good customer.

One judgement of major and minor is in measurable health outcomes. And in that case, circumcision is indeed a very minor procedure, while FGM is a very major one.

And, finally, while the bearer of a corkscrewed cock may have had no ability to choose the matter, neither does a newborn. In the end it works out the same: be it a straight or slightly twisted penis, a larger or smaller penis, or a penis with or without a foreskin, men grow up with it without choice. You don't have a choice and almost all the time, it's no better or worse than most other men's dinks.

What society really needs to fret about isn't whether circumcision is right or wrong, but about teaching their boys to grow up to be excellent lovers and husbands.

But that would be a discussion that takes us even further astray...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:45 PM on June 9, 2004


Congratulations on the sex life, F3. It's not really the point, but it's good news anytime.
posted by scarabic at 11:10 PM on June 9, 2004


(I apologize in advance for this, which is tangential at best. I'm bored today, is my only excuse.)

languagehat: Ah. I'd like to have an conversation, please.
Metafilter Thread: Certainly sir. Have you posted about this before?
languagehat: No, I haven't, this is my first time.
Metafilter Thread: I see. Well, do you want to have just one conversation, or were you thinking of taking a course?
languagehat: Well, what is the cost?
Metafilter Thread: Well, it's free for a five minute conversation, and also free for a course of ten.
languagehat: I think it would be best if I perhaps started off with just the one and then see how it goes.
Metafilter Thread: Fine. I'll see who's free at the moment.

(Pause)

Metafilter Thread: John Kenneth Fisher's free, but he's a little bit off-topic. Ahh yes, try Metatalk; thread 7819.
languagehat: Thank you.

(Walks down the hall. Opens door.)

Metatalk: WHAT DO YOU WANT?
languagehat: Well, I was told outside that...
Metatalk: Don't give me that, you snotty-faced heap of parrot droppings!
languagehat: What?
Metatalk: Shut your festering gob, you tit! Your type really makes me puke, you vacuous, toffee-nosed maloderous pervert!
languagehat: Look, I came here for an conversation. I'm not going to just stand...
Metatalk: Oh. I'm sorry, but this is Metatalk.
languagehat: Oh, I see. Well, that explains it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:10 PM on June 9, 2004


Ack!!! Instant MeTa Hell of FameTM contribution.
posted by taz at 12:37 AM on June 10, 2004


This thread is pretty conversational....

Now this will be conversational:

EB: beers and semantics next time you're anywhere near SF, or as soon as I visit Austin.

I'm betting they both lose their voices.
posted by Shane at 6:52 AM on June 10, 2004


And, finally, while the bearer of a corkscrewed cock may have had no ability to choose the matter, neither does a newborn. In the end it works out the same: be it a straight or slightly twisted penis, a larger or smaller penis, or a penis with or without a foreskin, men grow up with it without choice. You don't have a choice and almost all the time, it's no better or worse than most other men's dinks.

Not sure what you're getting at there, FFF. I'm not concerned with whether anyone's dink is better or worse than someone else's. Only that choice is forcibly removed by people who do have a choice of whether to do so. Surely you're not equating the lack of choice newborns have about their own body structure with forcible mutilation by so-called adults? I mean, some (XY) males are born with essentially no penis. So if yours had been chopped off for some religious or social ritual, you'd now be sitting there saying it didn't matter because you might've been born that way anyway?

What society really needs to fret about isn't whether circumcision is right or wrong, but about teaching their boys to grow up to be excellent lovers and husbands.

ENNNNNT! [buzzer sound]

Classic false dichotomy. What society needs is both. A little fretting about the former is very closely related to the teaching in the other - especially if you included the logical addition "and fathers."
posted by soyjoy at 7:44 AM on June 10, 2004


I haven't read all the comments yet, so it's possible someone already pointed this out,
but pretty much the same thing happened in this thread.
posted by milovoo at 9:01 AM on June 10, 2004


soyjoy: I was not being disingenuous toward EB. "Circumcision" is the word for snipping off a foreskin, just as "cat" is the word for Felis catus. The difference is in the emotional weight attached to the former concept, which has nothing to do with the word. If we all agreed to call it snargleflox instead, that word would quickly become freighted with the same associations. But thank you for noticing my restraint in the thread!

stavros: You are now my MetaGod.
posted by languagehat at 9:17 AM on June 10, 2004


Only that choice is forcibly removed by people who do have a choice of whether to do so.

Yes, but it's an inconsequential choice. It's like deciding to pierce your baby's ears: strange, but no biggie. Or deciding to have that sixth toe removed.


scarabic: What can I say? My cup runneth over. [grin]
posted by five fresh fish at 10:08 AM on June 10, 2004


"also, we're a boys club.

I don't mean to pick on you particularly, matteo, but I'm getting tired of hearing this (and "boyzone," etc). I won't argue with the demographics of the MeFi survey, but I don't believe that a largely male membership has to mean that women are not welcome, that their views are automatically handicapped, or that there's anything "male" necessarily about most of the views expressed here."


Heh. Sorry, but I'm loving the fact that guys are arguing that this isn't a boys club. Priceless.

Not that I don't get your meaning - and I have to say that since I've started reading here it has become less of one - in the sense that when someone is being sexist, such as crushing some woman's argument by using the phrase "gang rape" in a recent thread, the guys are the first to jump in, immediately, and say "that's inappropriate!" In fact there are some members that are such good feminists (or maybe I should just say polite and reasonable human beings) that I was stunned to find out later that they were male - I was sure their arguments (on whatever topic that dealt with women oriented issues) had to come from a woman. Guess that was a sexist assumption on my part.

Now having said that it's interesting how all the guys really want to focus on circumcision rather than FGM. Or at least that's how it seems when you look at the comments. But hey, I suppose everyone feels more comfortable discussing the package they were born with - and it's a topic you're more, er, attached to.

Meanwhile I'm still dealing with the horrors of the NPR program I listened to several months ago on the topic, and the articles that led me to (which I irritatingly can't find now). Which discussed the vagina being sewn shut in some cases. And other proceedures that made sex for some of these women difficult (even when the procedure was reversed) or unpleasant for the rest of their lives. Not to mention some complications in childbirth. And continual infections.
posted by batgrlHG at 11:56 AM on June 10, 2004


there are some members that are such good feminists (or maybe I should just say polite and reasonable human beings) that I was stunned to find out later that they were male - I was sure their arguments (on whatever topic that dealt with women oriented issues) had to come from a woman.

it's an interesting point. that's a conversation I'd find very interesting, actually -- the fallacies and general modus operandi of assuming users gender based on their comments in gender-issues-related threads
posted by matteo at 12:00 PM on June 10, 2004


This is not the place to debate about MGM. For the purposes of this discussion, it's only relevant to recognize that there are reasonable (but perhaps ultimately false) arguments asserting that MGM is far beyond a merely cosmetic alteration. For those who accept such arguments, FGM and MGM are loosely comparable. For those that don't, they're not and a discussion of MGM in the context of FGM seems absurd. My argument here was against the idea that regardless of the severity of MGM, a mention of it in the context of FGM is out-of-place.

Many people confuse valid arguments that start from alien premises and invalid arguments; and they tend to label everything with which they disagree "invalid" as if everyone with whom they disagree is some sort of irrational moron.

LH: 40% of FGM are not clitorectomies. Convention in English labels all FGM "circumcisions", but especially in the case of this 40%, such nomenclature is arguably accurate. Do you defend the use of the term "female circumcision" as simply correct? You're the wordsmith, look up "euphemism" (and particularly its etymology). It's not that a euphemism is inaccurate—it's perfectly accurate. It's that, though accurate, it attempts to conceal something that would otherwise offend. Just so, in my opinion, with "circumcision". You can disagree with me that there's anything inherently offensive about the procedure. You cannot disagree with me that the term, for those of us who think there is, is euphemistic.

On preview: batgrlHG, do you know anyone who's suffered FGM? 'Cause I know many, many people who've suffered MGM. This is not a "I'm a guy so I'm especially concerned about my penis" situation. It's an "FGM is very similar to an atrocity that's being committed every day, on the majority of infant males, in our society." As someone who's been active in feminism for probably very nearly as long as you've been alive, I find your implication that the concern about MGM in this context is sexist to be extremely offensive, reflexive, thoughtless, and narrow-minded.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:04 PM on June 10, 2004


Circumcision is akin to ear piercing. Any kid can walk into a boutique store with mumsy and get its ears pierced. No biggie.

Actually, some of us find it pretty appalling. But now you ARE getting very far afield from the original subject.
posted by rushmc at 12:50 PM on June 10, 2004


As someone who's been active in feminism for probably very nearly as long as you've been alive, I find your implication that the concern about MGM in this context is sexist to be extremely offensive, reflexive, thoughtless, and narrow-minded.

Ethereal Bligh, that seems a bit harsh. I'm having a hard time seeing how "I suppose everyone feels more comfortable discussing the package they were born with" contains an accusation of sexism. BatgrlHG may have made a generalization that is untrue for you and/or others involved in the thread -- and if that's the case, I certainly see why you'd want to refute it -- but it seems to me that she was doing so in an effort to express her understanding and acceptance of why a man might bring up MGM during an FGM discussion: as a means of relating more closely to the topic by connecting it to his personal experience (which is valid and can be beneficial when done in such a way so as not to completely divert discussion from the original subject). I'm unclear on how you arrived at your interpretation, and why you found the statement so offensive.

(And on a slight side note, I honestly do have a ton of respect for your history of anti-sexist activism, but it was disappointing to see the 'I've been doing X longer than you've been alive' thing. You may not have meant it this way at all, but just about every time someone's said that to me, it's come along with a silent but implicit 'so my opinion matters more' tacked on to the end.)
posted by purplemonkie at 1:43 PM on June 10, 2004


Heh. "This is not the place to debate about MGM" - but you leave me no choice!...

Point taken, though. The blue thread was about FGM, this thread was about people being able to stay on topic. I have to assume that FFF is just trolling at this point in calling the choice of whether to mutilate one's genitals "inconsequential," and I'll bow outa here without taking that bait.

But LH: Stud. Slut. They're only words, right? I mean, that's what they're called...
posted by soyjoy at 1:43 PM on June 10, 2004


Purplemonie (and BatgrlHG): on reflection, I realized that her comment was more innocent than I thought. I hadn't realized that it wasn't (I don't think) BatgrlHG who had made the similar comments in the thread in the blue—my reaction was to the sum total of such comments, several of which appeared both in the blue and here. It really seems to me that the implication is that the only reason MGM would be discussed in the context of FGM is because of unconscious sexism or bias.

And I didn't mean to sound as if I was saying because of my age and experience my opinion counts more. It was a kneejerk response to what I thought was an accusation of sexism.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:36 PM on June 10, 2004


OK, I understand where you're coming from. Disappointment retracted.
posted by purplemonkie at 7:01 PM on June 10, 2004


EB, we seem to be talking at cross purposes -- or more accurately, you seem to be shifting ground. You said:

Yet, "male circumcision" is effectively a euphemism, disguising the reality that it's both a mutilation and a removal of an active organ.

Side note: I've been trying heroically to avoid getting into the issue of circumcision, but I'm finally annoyed enough by all the hysterical comments to say that I think this is complete bullshit. It's a minor procedure that I feel no regrets (in fact considerable relief) at having had done to me and that I would not hesitate to have done to my son if I had one.

I responded thus:

circumcision (which is the proper name for the male procedure, EB -- I have no idea what you're objecting to; it's like saying "cat" doesn't describe a cat)

Now you come back with:

Do you defend the use of the term "female circumcision" as simply correct?

I defy you to find anywhere where I said anything remotely like that. Do you disagree with my point about the word "circumcision"? If so, why?

Stud. Slut. They're only words, right?

Right.
posted by languagehat at 7:05 PM on June 10, 2004


I think I articulated my case well enough. You seem, in my opinion, to be blinded by your hostility to the opposition to "circumcision" such that you are unable to distinguish between the argument against it and the argument that, to many, it is reasonable to find the use of the term "circumcision" euphemistic. (NB: my example of "female circumcision" was intended to reveal what I suspected was a cognitive dissonance on your part—the point was that I didn't expect you to defend its use.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:16 PM on June 10, 2004


"On preview: batgrlHG, do you know anyone who's suffered FGM?"

Not personally. It was brought up and discussed in my African history class by some of the African (not African American) women who were students with me. But I didn't know them personally and they didn't share any gorey details. In fact it wasn't til recently that I learned of more of the details since it's been publicized more. But we read of and discussed it in that class. Back in 1987.

"As someone who's been active in feminism for probably very nearly as long as you've been alive"

Um, is my age in here somewhere? I'm 37 and by some folks in here's ages I think that may be considered ancient. And I'm a graduate of one of the seven sisters, so I have indeed some knowledge of feminism. But thanks for making me feel I might still be young enough to be considered foolish. I think.

purplemonkie did interpret my words correctly.
I didn't think I was being cryptic.

" It was a kneejerk response to what I thought was an accusation of sexism."

Kneejerk reactions are dangerous. But I wouldn't have started to comment more here if I hadn't felt my skin had thickened up enough.
And I havent "sex'd" you EB, so at this point I'm not sure if you're male or female. I'd have to go through this post and look for clues - off hand I'd guess male because you seem het up over the whole circumcision thing, but then, that's pretty sexist of me. (Hey, always willing to admit my own sexism. And I'm biased - I already admitted I think MeFi is a boys' club, which doesn't bother me btw.)

Frankly I still think this is all apples and oranges. FGM is a cultural rite that is foreign to most of us who were brought up in the West. How ever you feel about it morally or as a feminist, medically there are many reasons to be against the proceedure. Circumcision - and I think you have to use that phase only for others to know what the hell you're talking about, as the majority of people don't call it MGM (where I live that's a media corp) - is well known enough in our Western culture not to be shocking. However in other cultures it is. I'm also aware that some reputable medical folk think there are medical problems related to circumcision but that the jury's still out - there isn't widespread agreement. However you would be hard pressed to find anyone with a medical background, even coming from the culture where FGM is practiced, who wont' tell you that there are definite health problems involved, constant infection being only one of the side effects. There's alot that FGM can mean - it can be removal of one or two areas of skin, or it can involve major cutting and sewing the vagina partly closed in order to insure the woman's virginity - there are various extremes. To my knowledge there's not such extremes in circumcision. I still don't equate the pupose of the two rituals - FGM and circumcision are carried out for different reasons, and in different cultures. The only similarity I see is that this is a proceedure that deals with genitalia.

Interestingly I've heard FGM discussed before in various places, and no one even brought up circumcision except as an aside - "in the west we're very used to the process of circumcision but other cultures find it as barbaric as we find FGM." But besides that it (circumcision) didn't...er...come up.
posted by batgrlHG at 9:39 PM on June 10, 2004


Scarring from MGM can (and does) cause complications for many men—pain when erect, etc. The foreskin is a minor organ in its own right, serving several purposes including containing a good number of nerve endings. I have already said that I don't want to get into arguing against MGM here—that's not the point of this thread. But you and others keep making the argument that they FGM and MGM are, at most, only incidentally comparable. You don't have to accept my (and other people's) arguments to the contrary; but for the purposes of this discussion you (and others—I'm looking at you, LanguageHat) could at least recognize that for many, many informed and reasonable people "circumcision" is not prima facie relatively benign, as your arguments implicitly assume.

I shouldn't have made the comment about your/my age, especially since you're only a few years younger than me. Your moniker led me to gamble that you were much younger than you are.

For what it's worth, I'm male and I'm indifferent to my own circumcision. I'm not at all one of those men that takes it personally—although many do, and, really, for good reason. I am persuaded of the seriousness of the issue on purely intellectual grounds and, indeed, have not (for the most part) perviously been outspoken on the subject. I have been long and passionately outspoken on the subject of FGM. What passion I do have on the issue of MGM has everything to do with the fact that this tradition which I've come to believe is a horror occurs in my culture, with great acceptance and little scrutiny; and that it is these sorts of things that most demand action, not those which arouse nearly universal condemnation. I loudly opposed FGM when there weren't many other liberal, feminist Americans doing so. Now there are. FGM doesn't need my voice any more. MGM does.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:30 PM on June 10, 2004


So, in other words, the whole problem here is basically languagehat's fault for not posting about circumcision/mgm instead of fgm, and you have merely been correcting this oversight?
posted by taz at 4:27 AM on June 11, 2004


"female genital mutilation REALLY bad, circumcision maybe bad too, group hug now?"
posted by Shane at 6:54 AM on June 11, 2004


*hugs*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:13 AM on June 11, 2004


I'm male and I'm indifferent to my own circumcision.

So it's me your worried about?
posted by yerfatma at 7:48 AM on June 11, 2004


*joins hug uncomfortably late, trying hard to tenderly avoid what may or may not be other people's "sore spots"*
posted by chicobangs at 8:13 AM on June 11, 2004


Should've let the rowdy little foreskins stay and play...maybe made them sit in the cheap seats...if nothing else, they proved to be irresistible targets for some highly entertaining (and therapeutic) compare-and-contrast outrage. Shouldn't have exoticized the subject by announcing that "this is about women in Africa"...forestalled discussions of the type to which clavdivs alludes.

Kindofashame. The subject could have generated a nice little batch of hyphenated neologisms...maybe even provided a few cultural anthropologists a reason to get out of bed and get dressed.

I kinda think we've covered everything. Is there anyone who hasn't gotten a look at Bligh's activism credentials? No? Okay, does anyone else want to add some nuances which are sliced so thin that it takes ten of 'em stacked together to become visible? No? Good. Meeting adjourned.

Nice work, Stavros. If the phrase "toffee-nosed" didn't exist, I'd expect you to coin it.
posted by Opus Dark at 8:50 AM on June 11, 2004


Hey, wait a minute. I'm not done hugging yet.
posted by purplemonkie at 8:55 AM on June 11, 2004


*hugs purplemonkie for the cameras*
*backstage, kicks purplemonkie's ass into the alley*
posted by Opus Dark at 9:05 AM on June 11, 2004

"So, in other words, the whole problem here is basically languagehat's fault for not posting about circumcision/mgm instead of fgm, and you have merely been correcting this oversight?"—taz
Hey, look! What do you know? I didn't post to the thread in the blue. There goes that theory.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:11 AM on June 11, 2004


Guess EB doesn't want any hugs.

*hugs everyone else, backing cautiously away from Opus Dark afterwards*
posted by languagehat at 9:14 AM on June 11, 2004


Forget hugs, I need a full-blown sexual encounter. Hugging is wimpy and unsatisfying. Well, except with Opus Dark. Them's good huggins' *shiver*.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:37 AM on June 11, 2004


I have to assume that FFF is just trolling at this point in calling the choice of whether to mutilate one's [er, no, one's baby's] genitals "inconsequential," and I'll bow outa here without taking that bait.

Trolling? Not at all.

Cut cocks work as well as uncut.1 That is why it doesn't matter.

FGM, on the other hand, destroys the ability to fully enjoy sex, often causes serious health issues, and is a very high-risk procedure. That is why it matters. It's also why it can't be compared to circumcision.

1vis a vis the vast majority of cut men, excluding those with botched jobs, have perfectly satisfactory sex lives and don't care about having been cut.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:57 AM on June 11, 2004


Well, except with Opus Dark. Them's good huggins' *shiver*.

*raises head long enough to give weak nod of agreement before collapsing back into crumpled heap near garbage dumpster*
posted by purplemonkie at 10:04 AM on June 11, 2004


Man, you folks are still at it?

the choice of whether to mutilate one's [er, no, one's baby's] genitals

Er, no, I meant exactly what I said. The choice we were discussing belongs to the person who owns the genitals. In the case of a baby who cannot consent, that choice, the baby's choice, which you call "inconsequential," is permanently removed, abrogated by the act of mutilation.

When I tried to bow out, I really thought you were just being silly - especially given this quote: "No one has the right to inflict extreme body modification on an unconsenting human being." Now I'm more confused than ever as to what you're trying to contribute here. I do know that proclamations about whether a body part "works" or not have little to nothing to do with whether modifying that part is consequential. An ass covered with tattoos "works" as well as another ass. Thus doing so to a newborn baby (with proper anesthesia, of course) would be "inconsequential," right?

Maybe you meant "inconsequential when compared with FGM," in which case we have no disagreement. Hugs?
posted by soyjoy at 10:57 AM on June 11, 2004


I'm sorry, but a baby with Bam Bam Bigelow's flaming head tattoo would be kick-ass. Plus we're about 15 minutes from some wanna-be pr0n star getting her newborn daughter one of those inviting butterfly-above-the-ass tats.
posted by yerfatma at 4:13 PM on June 12, 2004


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