Modern Horror Stories

February 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

The Tyranny of the Esthetic is probably the most disturbing, painful and cringe-worthy essay I’ve ever read. But yet, also one of the most interesting. Stories about people getting their clitorises/penises chopped off could make a decent horror story for just about anyone. After reading the essay, it got me thinking about which side would I choose on this topic matter. Martha Conventry put a lot of emotion into her essay, which almost convinced me there, but I usually like to put myself in the bad guy’s shoes just have a balanced idea about the situation.

Although this essay seems to lean towards not allowing genital cosmetic surgery performed on children, I am able to understand why some parents do it. Putting myself in a parent’s place, all I would be thinking of would be the sake of my child’s future. After finding out about the physical abnormality of my child, I would have two options: 1) I can perform the surgery early in her life and have one out of two outcomes: My baby turns out normal and appreciate her normal-looking body, or on the other hand, she realizes a difference between herself and other girls (especially if the surgery is not done right) and cultivate a self esteem issue. 2) I don’t perform this surgery now so that she can have a choice in this matter, but if she goes through surgery, she will forever remember the pain and torture she had to go through and humiliation that she was born abnormal. There really isn’t a good option.

But all the examples shown in this essay seem to have negative outcomes for the children who undergo this surgery. Why? In this essay, Martha Conventry says that the recommended age to perform this surgery is between the age of 6 weeks to 15 months – exactly the period of time where adults do not remember their childhood memories. Yet, most if not all of her examples show children who are older than the recommended age undergoing this surgery, therefore are able to remember and question their surgery. But other adults who have gone through this surgery when they are younger would probably not remember it, and therefore, would have grown up thinking that they were normal. As for Martha’s problem with parents not telling their children about their surgery, the fact is that parents just wanted their children to grow up thinking that they are normal. Thinking that they didn’t have to go for surgery to turn out normal. Hoping they’ll just ignore the issue and move on. Sometimes that works, sometimes that doesn’t.

I guess what I take from this essay is that there really is not right answer to the question of whether parents should perform genital cosmetic surgery on children, as I feel that there will never be a right answer.

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§ One Response to Modern Horror Stories

  • What is normal? Who gets to decide what variations of human physical traits are normal or not? Thought experiment: The majority of the world’s population is not white. White “features” — hair texture, skin tone, eye colors — therefore are not predominant or “normal” in humanity. Those recessive traits are common to particular people only in particular regions of the world, a minority of the world’s population. Are white people forced to become more “normal” by changing their physical features to appear like most of the people of the world — brown and black? Do white parents worry that their children don’t look like everyone else in the world? Why not? [Hint: Our desires to be “normal” is never as simple as a 50/50 choice. It’s about power. Who has the power to define normal?]

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