Tyranny of the Esthetic
February 29, 2012 § 3 Comments
Martha Coventry shines a light on the practices of genital “corrective” surgeries through her own experience and the experiences of others. As a child she had her clitoris reduced because it was deemed too long. The surgery violated her sense of self and wellbeing. She struggled with identity and self-esteem and endured a great amount of suffering over her secret surgery. Most importantly, the surgery which was supposed to “save” her from feeling abnormal was the very thing that created that feeling. She shares similar stories from others and shows the great damage done from these practices. In spite of these testaments from the patients themselves, the medical community refuses to acknowledge these surgeries as mutilating, harmful and completely unneccessary.
What was most shocking for most of us reading the essay was the position of the American Pediatrics Association has remained unchanged. The APA STILL recommends surgery on infants whose clitorises are over 3/8 of an inch or with penises less than an inch. Normal human variation is being stigmatized as so incredibly offensive that it must be eradicated. Why? Furthermore, in these instances, why wouldn’t it be wise to see if their body caught up to their genitals or vice versa? And say they don’t fit into the perfect image after given time, so what? Really? The surgery can be done later, with CONSENT, so what is the rush? This greatly bothered me and after weighing out several alternatives I believe the greatest motivational factor here is to ease the discomfort of the parents. They are the only ones who will see their childrens genitals for many many years and it is for their comfort the surgeries are done. The kids themselves don’t know what everyone else has in their pants until someone tells them, again, much later. So what’s the hurry? The parents get creeped out. I find that a surgery done, not in the child’s benefit but for the comfort of the parents, is absolutely unacceptable. This IS genital mutilation.