Whatever Happened to FGM?

Coupla years ago, everybody was all choked up about the idea that surgery was being done on young girls, even pre-pubescent! To mutilate their genitals in a way of which their culture approved.
This was horrifying to “us”, even though it was apparent that probably, the maidens themselves wanted it. At least we knew that women who had reached the age of majority wanted such surgery, what about THAT? Well—we don’t wanna be judgmental, multiculturalism doncha know—but surely, surely, we can at least agree that they shouldn’t do it to children!

Those once-horrifying procedures were a nose job compared to the massive surgical mayhem now being perpetrated on American adolescents.

This will have undoubtedly occurred to you, readers.

What, exactly is the significant difference between sewing up a 12 year old girl’s vagina —and cutting off her breasts or his penis?

I say: none. Except in degree. And our current practices, incredibly stamped with the consent and approval of the medical profession! —are many, many degrees more destructive and extreme than the (formerly shocking) practices of the Eritreans. (At least sewing up the vagina is reversible: I read that the idea is that a custom-sized opening will be made for the groom when the girl marries. Wonder how they measure for that? )

What a difference half a decade makes.


Excellent analogy. Both undertakings have two things in common: they are based in religion and they are aimed at control of others - women in the first instance or society at large in the second (“If we can insist that everyone believe the sexes are interchangeable, we can insist they believe absolutely anything”).

It is positively stupefying how THE most basic ethical tenet of medicine has been instantly abandoned: First, do no harm! Not long ago, such child mutilation would have been literally unimaginable.


My BMD says actually for some time doctors have been under corporate control, if they wanted to get (and retain) hospital staff privileges. And now, when it seems impossible that any new MD would just go out, like he and his peers did, and open his or her own office: they’re all employees—how could they have any independence?
There HAVE to be many MDs who see these practices s egregiously harmful. But—unless they’re retired or otherwise hors de combat— is it worth it to them to express those opinions?

In my doctor-father’s day, doctors were all worried about “socialized medicine”. What did we get instead? “Capitalized medicine”.
Hospitals, too, used to be independent non-profit entities. But are there ANY left now that aren’t part of a mega-franchise, their original, often overtly religious character briskly sanitized and eliminated?

And now we’re all stuck with the edicts of the woke corporations which put up the capital.


I recently read Ray Kurzweil’s 2019 young adult book Danielle: Chronicles of a Superheroine which is, far and away, the oddest thing I’ve read in many a year. In chapter 11 (each chapter chronicles that year of the heroine’s life), Danielle persuades the king of Saudi Arabia to endorse her campaign to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and eleven-year-old Danielle makes a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of Saudi Arabia that includes the passage:

“Let us discuss female genital mutilation. Or can we? Why does this widespread, horrific practice get so little attention? Because the topic of maiming young girls is too distressing to talk about in polite company, much less in public. FGM involves such intimate matters that it feels too inappropriate to describe, making it virtually impossible to discuss.”

The reaction in the hall is:

Danielle paused at this point and there was discernible discomfort among the delegates who shifted in their seats, coughed, and otherwise made their unease audible. Danielle remained silent and let this display continue for two minutes although it seemed much longer at the time. This effectively made her point.

Predictably, the New York Times editorialises against this imperialist-colonialist assault on the cultural integrity and quaint customs of natives.

“Danielle’s challenge will make things worse and lead to tragedies. She is leading young girls to slaughter.”

Well, it seems to me that in this case, Danielle puts her youthful finger right on the mark. We’re hesitant to discuss FGM because it’s icky, not out of respect for the traditions of the savages who practice it. And now, our “enlightened” societies, which have moved so far beyond such barbarism, have come to endorse and effectively compel physicians to engage in even more savage mutilation and, in our relentless quest for “equity”, extended the practice to both sexes and all thirty-seven genders.

It is the “yuck factor” of this aberrant assault against biology which motivates those who endorse and promote it so aggressively attacking anybody who describes the details of the “gender-affirming” “medical procedures”, shows pictures of their consequences, or presents interviews with victims now experiencing life-long regret for what was done to them.

Danielle’s speech on FGM includes the line, “What other species does this to its young female members?”. Indeed—and what other species does what we’re now doing to both boys and girls?

The Danielle Web site includes a free companion volume, Danielle: A Chronicle of Ideas. Here is the section on FGM.


Those of us familiar with synchronization in parallel computation understand that under certain conditions multiple state changes must be bundled into a composite state change so as to avoid catastrophe. The classic example is perform both operations, subtract $5 from account A and add $5 to account B – or do nothing at all. This is an atomic action.

But it gets even worse when one has two operations that must be performed in sequence with one dependent on the other, and one performs the dependent operation first and then forgets to perform the operation upon which it depends. For example, take the sequence:

  1. Eliminate the welfare state.
  2. Liberalize immigration.

We actually have folks at “Reason” magazine who yammered about the virtues of #1 and about the virtues of #2, while rarely if ever discussing the fact that the regime was committing an atrocity by getting #2 done before #1.

With child abuse we have a similar problem. Which would you rather have: Societal intervention in parent child relationships according to societal definitions of “abuse”, or parental control over their children? I come down on the side of the parents, but on condition that we actually perform 4 operations:

  1. Empower States to control their borders excluding anyone for any reason whatsoever.
  2. Disempower States from restraining people from escaping them.
  3. Reallocate land value between States based on migration between States.
  4. Empower parents to take children, not given up for adoption, with them when they leave.

Ideally, all 4 are one atomic action.


I don’t think we HAVE been hesitant to discuss FGM. I remember many looong threads about it on R>. And in 1996 Congress passed an act banning it nationally, which some fed judge declared unconstitutional. And it was (and so is Lindsay Graham’s bill). Congress’ enumerated powers dont include this kinda thing. And right now there’s a bill pending in the House to ban it some other way, I don’t know, maybe to make it a fed crime even if it’s legal in a particular state. Same kinda problem as with legalizing pot, I reckon. Ennyhoo…this shows we aren’t shy about the subject of FGM.

How can we take the position that girls from an African culture (FGM is common in the nominally Christian country of Eritrea) have no right, and/or lack the mental capacity legally, to consent or not to surgery on their own reproductive organs—but American minors DO have that right and capacity (as long as their motive is “gender affirmation” and not to follow. Religious or cultural custom)?

A few weeks go I read, can’t remember where, an essay by a guy awaiting surgical construction of a vagina. He said he knew it wouldnt make him happy, it was going to be an open surgical wound all his life, it would stink…the whole megilla…and yet…
And yet what? His tone reminded me of the way religious people talk about “mortification of the flesh”—the cilice, the hair shirt. Agony is the point. Because they have a spiritual goal in mind. But they look forward to an eternity of bliss after death; this poor man seemed to only be looking forward to satisfaction in this life, maybe just….he’ll be happy in the thought that he was true to himself? Poor bozo. I hope it’s worth it to him.


Whaddy think would—No, will happen when a boy soprano comes forward and wants to be castrated so he can preserve his voice?


Obviously I m the only one who wonders what this has to do with, how it relates to, my post. You Likers, enlighten me ,please.

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Well, Gavin?

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It is ok to be special, Hypatia. :grinning:

As I read jabowery’s observation on your post, I understand it to refer to the issue of properly diagnosing a problem before proposing a solution. The real problem may not be an obvious crack in the wall, it may be an unseen failing foundation. Anyway, once it becomes acceptable to lop off children’s breasts & penises, the less drastic issue of Female Genital Mutilation has clearly been left behind in society’s wake.

One of the interesting features of Mr. Walker’s site is that conversations are not necessarily linear – topic A can suggest topic B which in turn leads to topic C. I like that … but that is just me.


Ok, “not necessarily linear” , but this is still totes off the wall.
And that “FGM has been left behind” . Is exactly what I was saying, witness my title.
I still don’t see the relevance of jabowery’s commwnt concerning the welfare state and liberalizing immigration ha to do with FGM—. Except that. Like, we’re all human, and it was humans who came up with these ideas, so… cue Khalil Gibran, I reckon. I dont wanna be one of the not-cool kids.
Yet still, I will recognize a non-sequitur when I see one. You science guys can’t intimidate me into pretending otherwise,


Many issues like this involve conflicting interests which cannot be resolved one at a time. In this case, we have a conflict between parents’ desire and traditional authority to raise their children as they wish versus the state’s desire to enforce uniform standards on the bringing up of children, “for the children” but also in the interest of “equity” and other things it values.

There will be, and are, many approaches to balancing these conflicting interests, and in the United States, one can expect the trade-offs chosen by the people of coastal California, Utah, New Hampshire, and Mississippi will be different.

I have often said, even before I emigrated from that dysfunctional country 31 years ago, the “American way” of resolving such disputes was to take each side of the argument to its logical extreme, dig in behind rock walls, and hurl hand grenades back and forth across the ideological gulf.

There are alternatives to this. In Switzerland, for example, these kinds of highly controversial issues are rarely raised, because a population made up in substantial part of descendants of refugees from religious persecution four centuries ago would rather get along and not dispute the odd beliefs of others rather than go back to the battles of yore, and also because none of these issues rise to the federal level but, if they are the subject of legislation at all, are resolved at the level of canton (state) or commune (municipality), which are largely homogeneous. There are other, probably equally effective, solutions than the Swiss, but this is the one with which I’m familiar.

In the U.S., the assumption seems to be that whenever some whacked-out idea bubbles to the top, like “empowering” minors to irreversibly mutilate their bodies without notification or approval of their parents, then this must be the subject of top-down federal diktat affecting a third of a billion people who are almost as diverse as the citizens of the former Soviet Union. How’s that going to work out? How did it work out for them?

Federalism, properly interpreted and implemented, provides at least a hope of allowing people to sort themselves out into polities which align with their view of the world and morality. Of course, as a flaming libertarian™, I would prefer that these matters of individual choice and family life be entirely separated from the powers of the coercive state, but if the state is going to meddle, it should be at the level as close as possible and as much in the control of those it affects.

Or, as I said in a USENET signature block decades ago,

The laws you live under should be made by the people you live with

Here, we call it “subsidiarity”.


So, yuh, no argument. I guess. But still don’t see how that’s what Jabowery was saying.
And I’ll also say, these issues about biological sex are somehow beyond “subsidarity”, IMHO.


Please excuse my perhaps overly-careful introductory comments to the 4-point policy change, Hypatia. I’m attempting to, in those points, avert a rhyme with The Thirty Years War over quasi-religious beliefs/values such as FGM. I believe Scott Adams calls this “the high ground maneuver”. “The National Conversation” over hot-button issues like abortion, FGM, immigration, equity, human rights, etc. has not only stalled – it is reminiscent of the theological debates that erupted killing about 20% of Europe because of religious pluralism. We should have, by now, been free to migrate to our own preferred human ecologies in various space settlements, but that option was closed off by Kennedy’s communistic approach to landing on the moon. So now we have to repair a fatal flaw in the Treaty of Westphalia that brought the Thirty Years War to an end but failed to institute reallocation of nation state territorial value as people assortatively migrated under Cuius regio, eius religio.

If you want to know what kind of space settlement I would prefer to live in, well, you may as well be talking to an alien from another planet for all the good it would do you, but, ok, if I had my druthers, I’d live in a human ecology where if I saw someone mutilating their child’s genitals, I’d be permitted to challenge the person doing it (or whoever was shielding them by mutual consent) to enter from opposite ends of a wilderness area, each equipped with hunting equipment, and at most one of us emerging alive.

Alien enough for you?


No,that’s not alien. Thanks jabowery.


There’s also castration as the extreme male but opt-in version of this. You might find this documentary interesting: American Eunuchs (2003) - Gian Claudio Guiducci, Franco Sacchi | IDFA
It doesn’t pass judgement on what people choose, but I’m left with a lingering sense that it’s been the Internet that brought folks with extreme inclinations together, creating a market (or cult) that then actively recruits new ‘members’.