A Child’s Right to Choose?
February 26, 2012 § 1 Comment
I have taken multiple Women Studies classes and being a Women Studies major I have been confronted by the issue of Female Genital Mutilation time and time again. However, “The Tyranny of the Esthetic” by Martha Coventry shocked me. I had no idea that these kinds of surgeries occurred here in the United States. I have always been under the impression that FGM occurred from traditions mainly in the Global South. This is not the case. FGM occurs for reasons other than tradition as well as in western countries, such as here in the U.S.
Believing that there is only two kinds of bodies: male or female and they both need to be perfectly one way or the other, we do not allow for anything in between or different. Children are made “’right’ if they were born ‘wrong’”. Before the child has a chance to grow into their large clitoris or their small penis. Instead, doctors “fix” them in hopes of making them normal, but that does not happen. These children grow up confused and without any reason why they needed to have their bodies altered. All they know is that they were not born like the other girls or boys. The latter might not even know they were genetically born male because, as doctors put it, it is much easier to make someone look like a girl than a boy.
These surgeries are rarely, if ever, medically needed. They are cosmetic and done without the child’s consent or, in most cases, knowledge. Since they were born with “genital ambiguity” or abnormal genitalia, children are made “normal” as to not threaten the culture in which they live where we need to be perfectly male or female. No space is made for anything different. Before they have a chance to decide or for parents to see if they could grow into their genitalia, children go through surgery that will change their “personal and sexual destiny” for the rest of their lives. Is it just for doctors and parents to make that decision without the consent of the person they are forever changing? Parents have a right to raise their children as they see fit, but not at the cost of the child’s rights. Should we allow the child an opportunity to decide for themselves or as adults can we tell them how we think they should look? Instead we could embrace these differences or give the child the right to choose for themselves.