Individual and varying female sexuality: Aiieee! Scary! Let's lock it up! Or, you know, slice it up. Either or.
(La Grade Odalisque, Ingres)
I don't keep up much with Feministing or Feministe, so Les Comtesses know to forward something when I'll find it particularly inspiring or appalling. Guess which category THIS falls into.
Why - whyyyyyyy??? - is there this cultural obsession with women having "normal-looking" genitals? I never understood why parents would want to roll the dice on an intersex child rather than allowing the child to mature and make the decision. I can understand parents' apprehension about the child's navigation of social norms, and about the child's own confusion, but I'm not sure how arbitrarily making a decision then having to surprise your girl child about why she can't have children is a healthier option?
But when you aren't even talking about a clearly intersex child? When you're clearly talking about a female newborn? All that really comes to mind to say about it is, *ehm*
WHAT. THE FUCK.
I mean, sure, it's okay for the penis, scrotum or testicles to vary from one male to another so very widely. But you'd think that vulva and clitorises are supposed to come from a single, "correct" mold. I mean, labiaplasty on women with no history of trauma to that region is sad enough to me. But clitoroplasty and subsequent testing on little girls? What. The Fuck.
Men's bodies can look pretty much however they want (until they get WAY too fat, then look out! he'll kill us all with his selfish piggishness!) but a female body has to be managed right down to the most private detail - a "detail" that should have nothing to do with some arbitrary esthetic at all. The point of the clitoris and the labia is not to be pretty. In fact, if you believe Eve Ensler *bless*, the entire point of the clitoris is to, you know, orgasm. The clitoris is special, isn't it? Why on earth would you risk taking away part or all of clitoral function from your newborn, who will one day be a woman who might, you know, want the option of a fully pleasurable sex life?
We can say what we will about the barbaric FGM practices in certain societies (Somalia, Egypt, etc.) and decry the morphing of women into nonpersons in countries that enforce veiling (Saudi, Iran, etc.). But in the area of expecting women to look a certain way, are we really so much better? The conformity of the female genitalia is an obsession that's just as weird as abayas, if you ask me. And people are obsessed. I get over a thousand hits a month on my Brazilian wax post. Personally, I make grooming decisions based around comfort rather than esthetics, since the husband could not care less (sorry - TMI). But do I think for a second that the over twelve thousand people a year reading the Brazilian wax post are there because they're thinking about comfort rather than what's perceived as the trendy thing for female genitals right now? I don't think that for a second.
It's a bizarre, bizarre obsession, and in the case of these little girls who will grow up to be women, and who are being fondled by adults throughout their childhoods??? It's heartbreaking.