Why has Ally Fogg suggested an equivalence between male circumcision and female genital mutilation?

The Bayon, Cambodia, October 2007

The Bayon, Cambodia, October 2007

Why has Ally Fogg suggested an equivalence between male circumcision and female genital mutilation?

In his recent article aimed at the self-pitying Men’s Rights Activists who Ally has increasingly attracted to both his site and his Guardian CiF articles, he makes an excellent job of dismissing those men who would like to blame feminists and feminism for just about every one of their perceived grievances, whether it’s their poor performance in education or their failure to prove to the courts that they are fit people to have unsupervised access to children.

So why has he suggested an equivalence between male circumcision and female genital mutilation? He writes:

Society treats men and boys in many ways that are unfair, unjust and harmful. Some of these are institutionalised and formal: the workings of the family courts (especially their inability to enforce contact arrangements for fathers); male-only military conscription in 40% of countries on earth; or the legality of male genital mutilation.

There are lots of articles about and studies of male cicumcision and FGM which rightly condemn any attempt to equate the two. Here’s one from the Guardian last July.

Female genital circumcision implies the removal of the clitoris, sometimes with the inner labia, sometimes infibulation. It is often practised with blunt razors or knives and without anaesthetics. The risks: fatal haemorrhaging, cysts, urinary and vaginal infections, chronic pain, obstetrical complications.

Male circumcision, in the Jewish community, is done on a baby aged only a few days. In the case of my baby son, it was performed in a hospital and he was brought back to me after less than 10 minutes, fast asleep. Circumcision reduces female to male HIV transmission and is recommended by the World Health Organisation in countries with high endemic HIV rates. There is no evidence whatsoever to support the notion that it affects function, sensation or satisfaction.

As such it can’t be from ignorance or from a genuine belief that the two practices are equal. I posted on his site:

The suggestion that male circumcision is the same as female genital mutilation is quite grotesque. To make this suggestion is a denial of the purpose of FGM and the life threatening and life long problems it causes to those girls who are forced to undergo this barbaric “operation”.

Is it small wonder that attempts to save girls in the UK from enduring this practice have been so appallingly ineffective, when a prominent social commentator (as Ally Fogg) provides the pro-FGM lobby with an such an alibi?

So was it simply to be controversial or was it a sop to those MRAs who frequent his site?

The World Health Organisation list four major types of FGM

Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).

Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are “the lips” that surround the vagina)
Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.

Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

Immediate complications can include severe pain, shock, haemorrhage (bleeding), tetanus or sepsis (bacterial infection), urine retention, open sores in the genital region and injury to nearby genital tissue.

Long-term consequences can include:

recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections;
an increased risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths;
the need for later surgeries. For example, the FGM procedure that seals or narrows a vaginal opening (type 3 above) needs to be cut open later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth. Sometimes it is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing and repeated both immediate and long-term risks.


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