Language Does Matter: FGM is not “cissexist”

These four tweets have been appearing in my TL for days.

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The term FGM is not cissexist. Female genital mutilation, as defined by the World Health Organisation,

“includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. … FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”

This definition does not even begin to describe the actual practise and consequences of female genital mutilation. The long-term consequences of FGM includes: sterility, difficulty urinating, increased infant and maternal mortality, fistulas, bleeding, and infections. As an organisation, the WHO has serious problems with misogyny, racism, and classism. It replicates capitalist, patriarchal white supremacist controls over women’s bodies, an allegiance to wealthy industrialised nations and far too much investment from pharmaceutical corporations whose whole raison d’être is making money: not helping people.

Yet, even the WHO recognises that FGM is a form of violence against women and girls. It is only performed on girls. We need to be able to name this crime – just as we need to name every other form of violence against women and girls. We will not end violence against women and girls by obfuscating language.

We need to be able to talk about abortion, access to birth control, and all other forms of reproductive justice as women’s issues. We need to recognise and label these as forms of violence against women and girls. We need to be clear that male circumcision is not equivalent to female genital mutilation. It may not be medically necessary and it may cause pain to infant boys, but it does not maim and kill infant boys like the practise of female genital mutilation does. Circumcision does not cause sterility or result in difficulty in urination. It doesn’t kill.

It is not “cissexist” to talk about the biological reality of women’s bodies and the damage done to them within a capitalist-patriarchy. Frankly, even the suggestion that it is “cissexist” demonstrates a fundamental inability to actually understand the reality of lives of women and girls in our world. I am incredibly angry at living in a society in which identity politics have not only erased all political and theoretical understandings of the oppression of women as a class but that we have to see this type of bullshit bandied about as if it’s The Most Important Thing Ever Written. It’s not. It’s just the same women-hating shite that we have to deal with on a daily basis.

The term FGM is not “cissexist” and suggesting that it is is misogyny.

Leave a Reply

  1. Vivian demonstrates his ignorance about the process as well with these tweets. FGM is much more radical and intrusive than just excising the clitoris, though that is barbaric enough by itself.

  2. FGM is not cissexist. It is simply sexist. Vivian is doing as much to erase male victims as female ones.

    Male circumcision, unlike FGM, DOES harm male-bodied people, including gays and gender-variants. It is intended to cause harm, and by trying to appropriate the term ‘female’ in this context Vivian is erasing 1.2 billion male victims by saying their violation doesn’t matter.

  3. The proper comparison between FGM and male genital mutilation is not removal of the foreskin, but casration as it was practiced by slavers where the entire penis and testicles were cut off.

    I’m anti the routine circumcision of male infants. But let’s get our comparisons correct.

    • Yes many straight men, not having studied a lot of penises, aren’t actually sure if they are circumcised. No one has trouble peeing because of circumcision. No do they get infections because of it. Nor do they sustain injury when they first have sex. No do they find sex painful throughout their lives.

      Its not the same thing. At all.

  4. A certain small branch of trans activism seems to see its main priority as asserting its own members’ ‘womanhood’ by actively denying the everyday realities of ‘cis’ women and aggressively suppressing all discussion thereof.
    As well as no-platforming gender-critical feminists, statements like Vivian’s aren’t unique. I’ve seen people reproached angrily for talking about period pain, childbirth or smear tests because such talk is ‘triggering’ for trans women.
    Women’s discussions are increasingly policed and jumped on by this small but very hostile group and its allies.
    If we want that, we already have MRA and their handmaidens, thanks. We don’t need other women to threaten us into shutting up and prioritising their ‘feels’ over our reality, while claiming to be feminists.
    Way to go, ‘sisters’!