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Made to Measure~ The Dystopia is near - Part III ~

Their very nature, their very anatomy becomes the enemy that needs to be fought, controlled, altered, “Homogenised”, “assembly-lined”, in order to meet the “quality standards” of porn addicts.

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) refers according to the U.N. to “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is according to Unisef “a global human rights issue”and it has happened to at least 200 million women in 30 countries(half of them in Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia) The majority of these females were cut before reaching their fifth birthdays, though it can happen at older ages as well. According to UN statistics, countries with the highest prevalence among girls and women aged 15 to 49 are Somalia 98 %, Guinea 97 % and Djibouti 93 %.

Even though it is often justified as an acceptable “tribal tradition”, a “religious custom”, or a “coming of age ritual” it is an inhuman practise that is specifically aimed at controlling (in fact prohibiting) a woman’ s sexual pleasure. Much like in the case of Ofglen in “The Handmaid’ s Tale” fictional universe, women’ s genitals are cut to ensure that they will become unable to feel sexual pleasure, even to ensure that sex will be a painful experience for them, so as they will never seek it outside of the marriage!Uncircumcised women are generally seen as “highly sexualised”, while women who have undergone this ritual are seen as “docile” and therefore marriageable. The Lebanese-born writer Mona Eltahawy mentions in her book “Headscarves and Hymens”, how whenever parents decide to go against tradition and refuse to force their daughter to go through this humiliation, it is very likely that when she gets married she will be returned to them like damaged goods when on the first night of the marriage her new husband will find out that she was not cut. He will then give them the choice of forcing her to be cut and sent back to him ready for business, or "keep" her, in which case, he’ll divorce her, forcing her to live in shame… So it’s a nice little conundrum.

Men with deeply ingrained misogynistic views, have always been threatened by the mere “Otherness” of females, which they consider to be offensive and threatening (since males are in their eyes the “default” human beings and all that). Think of Victorian physicians for example, who were convinced that women’ s “wandering” wombs were “abnormal” (just because men didn’t have them!) and therefore they considered them to be the cause of all female psychological and physical problems and how they would go on to remove them, as a panacea that cures all maladies. (Countless women were butchered in the hands of doctors who needed to prove their woman-hating theories) Sexist men are also threaten by the idea of women being capable of experiencing pleasure during sex and (the horror! the horror!) by the idea of having a special organ dedicated especially and exclusively to this blessed purpose, as if Nature itself contradicts them, telling them that despite what they have been taught for generations by angry religious leaders, women are not created just in order to serve and please men, but are capable of experiencing life and pleasure, themselves! And this is just too much! That is why the clitoris has always been seen as a scary and mysterious thing.

A penis can be used for sex, for urination, for procreation, but the female body is far more complex machine with "specialised" parts, that even includes the clitoris, which is the ONLY part of the human anatomy whose only purpose is to cause orgasms! When the real purpose of the clitoris was first "discovered" by a 16th century Venetian physician, it was so shocking that he ended up being accused of Satanism by the Church, in a “if-women-can-experience-pleasure-like-men-then-they-must-be-possessed-and-so-is-anyone-who-claims-it” kind of manner… (see: Federico Andahazi's, “The Anatomist”) The very idea of women being capable of experiencing pleasure (let alone pleasure which is not directly related to their precious penis!) is an offensive and deeply disturbing concept for sexist men, that contradicts all their Patriarchal notions and for this alone, it needs to be cut. And so it is. A female sexual awakening can also lead to self awareness, and independence, and in turn, a thirst for freedom and choice, and all kinds of other “dangerous” things that can undermine a man’ s authority over his wife, whose reason for existence is in his eyes to be his compliant, life-long sex slave, not his true partner!

Female genitalia are also cut, in order to make women “more feminine” (talk about WTF...), and because they are considered to be “disgusting” and “unclean”! Reasons that are also given to justify the common demand of men in the Arab world to have women be completely free of pubic hair, (just like children) because any sign of adulthood is associated with sexual maturity, and that’s just a bad thing for females… Yet, before we feel outraged at these "Third World" notions, we need to remind ourselves of the increasingly large numbers of Western women who are having plastic surgery (not to mention Brazilians) in order to “smooth over” the natural form of their female genitalia, so that they look more like the surgically altered and completely hairless women in porn, with whom their partners are obsessed and consider to be “natural”! Women are willingly becoming nothing but an aperture, a “clean” penis-receptible, a smoothed-over female Ken doll with a “front hole" (see: They too were brainwashed by the sexism of modern-day culture that is heavily influenced by the “aesthetics” of porn, and have come to believe that they exist in this world in order to please and be pleasing… Even if it means they are literally going through painful, costly, and even hazardous to their health (not to mention completely unnecessary) procedures in order to be mutilated. Their very nature, their very anatomy becomes the enemy that needs to be fought, controlled, altered, “Homogenised”, “assembly-lined”, in order to meet the “quality standards” of porn addicts.How fucking sad is that, I ask you?!

Young girls are also sewn up like sacks of potatoes, to keep them from losing their virginity (and safeguarding that their future husband will be satisfied in his demands to get a girl who does’t know any better) while married women can be sewn up or, even glued (!) by their husbands in order to ensure that they won’ t cheat on him in his absence or even as a form of punishment when they are suspected of having sexual thoughts… A case comes to mind which has reached the news in the last few days, that of man from Qatar who actually glued his wife's genitals before going on a business trip abroad, because she liked a picture of his 12-year-old cousin on Facebook, which was apparently a sign that she had “adulterous ideas”… He was sentenced to a small fine, while she was subjected to 100 lashes (on top of being glued like an Arts & crafts project that it…)

Female mutilation is also done for a much creepier reason: because it apparently increases a man’s sexual pleasure, which means it is not going to be eradicated any time soon… Which brings to mind the real reason why Chinese women were taught to bind their feet together: not only because it would give them that little, dainty “feminine” gait of theirs with the tiny, timid steps (which was the result of seriously deformed feet and excruciating chronic pain) and not just because the simple act of walking would become such a torment that it ensured they would be docile and domesticated, restricted at home, unable to participate in social life or take part in politics, but also for sexual purposes: the binding of their legs which would literally cripple them, also caused them to walk on their heels and this would in turn cause certain changes to occur in their genitalia, that would apparently enhanced a man’ s pleasure… They were not real human beings; they were nothing but things after all. Soulless sex toys, made to measure…

This inevitably also brings to mind the Bedouin custom of men offering a big golden bracelet to the girl they want to marry, so that she will wear it on her ankle, and then strive to gain enough weight until it would fit her tightly, and by that, indicate that she is sufficient fatten for marriage (like a calf!) Or indeed the African custom of isolating and force-feeding young girls for marriage like cattle, in places like Mauritania or Nigeria, just because that’ s what men like the most in that region. Not to mention how Western girls and women are literally starving themselves or having all kinds of plastic surgery, or the exercise regime of a decathlete, just because Western men are currently obsessed with thinner, muscular, androgynous figures with big breasts…(another by-product of “porn aesthetics” that are being seen as the norm: the body of an emancipated, yet athletic prepubescent boy/girl with the breasts of a lactating mother…) Whether women are fatten, or starved, cut or pierced, exercise like they are going for the Olympics, or wear the kind of heels that – like the Chinese ladies of old – render them unable to walk on their own two feet, all in order to alter themselves and fit the specific criteria of men, it is the same thing: women within Patriarchy are nothing but their bodies. And the only way they get to have any power in this world, is by having a power over a man ’s hormones… A man who will get to judge, approve, reward, save them because he fancies them. Which is to say control them, and by doing that, offer them a reason of existence in his universe. And that’s just sad.

But to go back: female genital mutilation is a horrible crime, yet it is often not seen as one. But what if it did not concern women? What if it was done to men (and BTW, don’t go telling me that FGM and jewish circumcision which does not affect negatively a man’s sexual experience, health or dignity, is in any way the same thing!)? Can you imagine for example the kind of outrage it would cause if say just 10 or even 20 men were forced in some place in the world to have a similar mutilation and were forced to have their genitals cut off for “cosmetic” or “cultural” reasons? And what more, can you imagine that these 10 or 20 men were cut in a way that it would prohibit them from feeling sexual pleasure, on top of causing them infections, life-long pain and health problems? Can you imagine the news frenzy? Can you imagine how horrible we would all find this to be? (and very rightly so!) How inhumane, how cruel, how unthinkable? Now can you imagine the absolute rage it would cause, if this was done in order to somehow increase their wives’ pleasure, while sacrificing their own? How utterly disgusting, we would think these wives to be, right? And yet, because the victims are women, (in fact 200 millions of them!), and because this concerns male needs, male pleasure, we remain unmoved. We do nothing. It is just not seen as nearly as bad, as it would be, if the victims were men. If their own health, their own bodies, or - God forbid - their own orgasms were at stake, this would be a completely different matter. It’ s just the way of the world, we say. It’s a “cultural” thing. It’s just a custom. It’s the way things are being done for centuries. It’s just women… It's just girls...

And so, girls and women continue to be are cut - often with blunt, unsterilised knives - often by other women, who like the “Aunts” in “The Handmaid’ s Tale” are taught that this is the norm, this is what women should be like, if they ever want to get married), who come into the night for them, cutting them while they are bleeding and screaming wildly in pain, causing them to get infections and life-long health problems. All so that the guy who will agree to marry them, will increase his own pleasure and get to be certain that his wife won’t like sex, and therefore won’t ever cheat on him.

How fucked up is that, I ask you?!

"Made to Measure / The Dystopia is near - Part III"- Art & Words Copyright © Fanitsa Petrou. All Rights Reserved.
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Art & Words By Fanitsa Petrou

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