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This post is about a specific incident/article. It is about the mutilation and abuse of girl children. It is not about circumscision. Unless you have one HELL of a convincing/excellent/relevant comment including circumscision in it, it will NOT be approved for posting. If there is enough demand, I'll open a post on circumscision. But this is not that post, please respect that.





All of these blog posts and articles discuss the genital mutilation of girls performed at Cornell University by Dr. Dix Poppas. Dr. Poppas performed surgery on the clitorises of elementary school-aged girls to make their genitalia look "more normal" (i.e. smaller). He used a procedure that is theoretically "nerve-sparing", in order to preserve sensation in the clitorises (clitorii?). He then, over the course of several years performed regular sensitivity tests on the girls, using a small medical vibrator device (not a huge vibrating cock, let's be fair before we string him up).

I really don't have the words for how angry, sick and depressed this makes me feel.

I'm angry at the parents who decided that a "large" clitoris was enough of an excuse to inflict a painful and unnecessary procedure on a girl-child that puts her future sexual function and enjoyment at great risk. Now, let me emphasize here that there is rarely (very rarely) a medical reason to decrease clitoris size. They weren't going to die from it. Their parents were concerned that their genitalia didn't look "normal."

I'm fucking furious with a doctor who has sworn as part of the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, and who has caused immeasurable harm to these girls. I'm also fucking furious with the society that has these parents so terrified of their children's "abnormalities" that they are willing to let this butcher at them, at a society that doesn't recognize the wide variation in healthy genitalia.

Granted, what do you expect from a society that has things like vaginoplasty and anus bleaching in it?

Several commenters at various blogs, etc... have stated that the parents just wanted to save the girls the embarassment of having a boy feel them up when they were teenagers and then yell "Ew!" because they had a big clit.

So... sexuality destroying surgery is the answer so a boy doesn't say "Ew?"


I think I need a lie down about now.

Seriously. I just... As one commenter said over at Pharyngula (paraphrasing), so it's LESS traumatic to have a painful surgery on the most sensitive part of the female anatomy and then have an adult male doctor masturbate you annually in front of your parents to see if he killed your sexuality?

I... Yeah... I have no words. In fact I'm kind of nauseated right now after typing that sentence.

For those of you screaming for the blood of the Cornell IRB, apparently, according to several sources, what the IRB had cleared him for was the evaluation of the medical files of girls who underwent this surgery (whether in the past, or had recently undergone it). His IRB app reportedly said nothing about the vibratory device or touching little girls' parts for years afterwards, I'm guessing, other than for regular post-op treatment for that surgery. And as far as the peer-review process for articles, when you submit journal articles (at least as far as dentistry and immunology), you don't submit your IRB application. You state in your article that you had IRB approval. Some journals MAY ask to see your IRB application to see if it matches what you say you've done, but most won't bother. That would be why the Peer-Review process didn't catch it. They would have assumed his IRB checked out his procedure and found it ethically sound.

That this procedure and study exist is a symptom of a sick society. A very sick society. A society in which conformity to arbitrary norms trumps actual health and well-being, particularly for women and girls. A society that dictates that women starve and carve themselves to look like unattainable beauty ideals, even down to perfect pink anuses and teeny little clits like buttons.

In several places on the web, sorry to depend on anecdata, but as several people have pointed out there are few, if any, studies on the range of normal regarding female genitalia, women who had "large" clitorii as children who WEREN'T operated on, have come forward to say that they either "grew into it," or even if their clit remained proportionally large, it wasn't a problem.

There, in fact, have been NO studies about how the genital size of infants and children relates to the genital size of the full grown adults they become. So, really, we have no proof that a five year old girl with a big clit (or micro-penis) is going to grow up to be an adult woman, or even a fifteen year old girl, with a big clit. Just as we have no proof that an infant boy with penis size in the low range is going to grow up to be an adult man with a small dick. We don't know. The doctors don't know. Nobody fucking knows.

So, for all these parents and this doctor ACTUALLY know, they have performed a completely unnecessary plastic surgery on these girls. A completely unnecessary plastic surgery with a good chance of destroying their ability to experience clitoral arousal and orgasm when they do become adults. But that's ok, right? I mean, it's not like women are SUPPOSED to enjoy sex or anything.

I have to stop writing this, it's just making me angrier and angrier as I think about how incredibly unnecessary these procedures are. UNNECESSARY! You heard me. If a little girl grows up to be a woman who wants to have her clit shortened because it's long, and can consent to a surgery after being informed of the risks, more power to her. But doing this to children who really don't know what they could be losing?

Fuck you. Fuck you, parents of these girls. Fuck you Dr. Poppas. And fuck you society that says this shit is ok. Fuck you right in the ear.

ETA: I would like to encourage you to also read TextualDeviance's post on the subject as well: http://textualdeviance.livejournal.com/594473.html Textual mentions CAH, which is often a cause of genital malformation, including large clits, however, while some symptoms require surgery, large clits... don't.

The existence of this "study" and the reaction to it also touches on the problematic way in which our society treats Intersexed individuals, or those who are born with indeterminate (meaning that you can't tell at a casual glance, apparently) genitalia. Until fairly recently, the common practice was to decide which gender the genitalia most looked like, and then surgically alter it to "fit." BUT I want to stress that Dr. Poppas was not performing this procedure on Intersexed individuals, but rather apparently cis-gendered female children with "large" clitorii.


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October 2012

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