Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Female Genital Cutting, USA-style

We weren't content to steal "ethnic" clothes from developing countries. We had to take their genital surgeries, too.

I'm only partly joking. There's been buzz on feminist blogs about Phit, which stands for "pelvic health integrated techniques". They are ... a med-spa for your hoo-ha. Judging by the "services" page, "pelvic health" is all about keeping you, well, tight. "Baby Boot-Camp," for example, is designed to counteract the (natural) effects of blowing an 8-pound miniature person out of your vagina. But what really gets to me is their "Lip Sync" service, aka (NSFW, or lunchtime) labiaplasty. If you for some reason think your labia are too long, too fat, or just plain ugly, a little snip-snip will take care of it for you.

I realize that Kegels and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can increase sexual pleasure for all involved in intercourse. But labiaplasty seems a lot like female genital cutting (some people say mutilation). I have neither the time nor the eloquence to adequately address all of the issues involved with these practices; suffice it to say that it's a big, messy issue that tangles religion and feminism and sexuality. In certain contexts, it's done for appearances (see this book for a detailed, thoughtful analysis). While some types of FGC entail the removal of the clitoris and infibulation, others involve only the removal of external labia. Which in Western parlance is labiaplasty, and completely acceptable.

This makes my head hurt. It's okay for a supposedly empowered, independent, Western woman to trim off her lady parts, but it's not okay for women to continue an ancient (we're talking pre-Islam) practice chock-full of cultural significance? And WHY are people worried about what their LABIA look like? Call me insensitive, but I think some people need more to do with their time.

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