Mutilation or Not?

May 4th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 50 comments

This is going to be an incomplete Musing because I am committing to paper thoughts that need to be sharpened and shaped. That, of course, is true of all my Musings.  New information or ideas always abound.   Sometimes a phrase occurs to me that I wish I had thought of earlier.  Yet, this Musing is different because the topic is both difficult and important and I have never seen it discussed elsewhere. So, I am advancing opening thoughts and hope that others will pick up the conversation or point me to articles I have missed on the subject.

The New York Times Health Editor recently suggested that journalists replace the term “female genital mutilation” with “genital cutting.” This seemingly small change strikes me as hugely significant. The New York Times feels that the word “mutilation” is “culturally loaded.” In other words, it implies a negative judgment of a practice that in some cultures is perfectly acceptable (left unstated is that the ‘other’ is Moslem).

Meanwhile, over the years some have urged that male circumcision be called “male genital mutilation” or that the Moslem practice be termed ‘female circumcision’.   The intention here is to insist that circumcision of males and females is identical. In both these cases language is a way to affect perception.

What’s our nation to do?  We’re not alone; the question of dealing with many diverse cultures plagues Europe, Canada and other countries around the world as well. We Americans have tied ourselves into knots over the years, unsure how to reconcile the Founders’ roots in Christianity with the great mosaic of religions, including atheism, that over time have become part of the American social tapestry.  One response is to rewrite history and remove the Christian underpinnings of this country; another is to acknowledge but abandon those principles. Both those options force us down the road of establishing an entirely new country. Indeed, it is hard to argue that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were they to visit our times, while initially being elated at how America has survived and thrived, would also be deeply worried about her continuing to do so.

In the 1800s, our country adamantly resisted Utah becoming a state as long as large numbers of future citizens insisted on retaining multiple wives in accordance with what was then Mormon Church doctrine. I think it obvious that had there been an active Hindu population in America in the 1800s, the practice of suttee, or burning widows on their husband’s pyres, would never have been legalized in the name of ‘religious freedom,’ a problem the British grappled with in their India colonies.

We have become increasingly reluctant to acknowledge that Christianity, in all its various denominations, played a special role in the codification of our Constitution.  America is not a theocracy but Christian roots underpin its entire existence. Not conceding and respecting this has diminished our ability to uphold certain acts and condemn others.  How the law treats circumcision greatly affects my family’s ability to live in this country, along with many other committed Jews.

Should our laws and culture start to allow, or turn a blind eye to, female genital mutilation in the name of Islamic freedom of religion, America will have taken  a giant leap to elevating Sharia law.  As a result this country will become less safe for many groups such as Christians, Jews, homosexuals and females.  To remain a nation of free people we must be able to say that Sharia law and many Islamic practices are incompatible with America’s laws, values and culture.

On the other hand, if, in the interest of not favoring one religion over another, brit milah – the circumcision of a Jewish baby boy on the eighth day of life – is outlawed, observant Jews would be hard-pressed to stay in America. Despite a presence since colonial days, they would now be forced to leave. This is not an idle threat like that of Hollywood stars who hysterically announced that they would emigrate should Donald Trump become president and then quietly reneged on their promises after November’s results. This is a statement of fact: For Jews who are faithful to their God, brit milah is non-negotiable.

Brit Milah is at the core of a religious Jewish life. It was outlawed by both the Romans and the Greeks leading Jews to martyrdom and revolt rather than acquiescence. It was a dangerous tell-tale sign of Jewishness in Nazi Germany, yet religious Jewish parents did not abandon the practice. If progressives succeed in renaming brit milah “male genital mutilation” it would quickly follow that this act would be unacceptable.  If this were to happen what arguments could be mustered to keep it legal?

Possible health benefits for either males or their spouses from brit milah are interesting but irrelevant.  On the other hand, should some scientific study show increased risks caused by circumcision, it would make no difference to me as a Jewish parent. With science today being politically and ideologically driven I would expect such a study to appear. Should I be told that my sons can opt for circumcision when they are old enough to make that independent choice, it would make no difference either. The Biblical obligation commands circumcision on the eighth day, barring medical problems.

I am left asking why, as an American,  I hold that brit milah should be legal and female genital mutilation be criminal? The bottom line I come back to is because brit milah is part of a religious tradition that was known to and  accepted by America’s founders, whose familiarity with Jews, Judaism and Hebrew texts is astounding.

The automatic response to that statement is, “Ah, but so was slavery accepted.” That argument doesn’t pass the test of historic literacy. Source documents of the time make eminently clear that the issue of slavery was uniquely and endlessly discussed by the Founders. They were fully aware that, for many, it contradicted the underlying principles on which this country was being based. Their solution was to kick a contentious issue down the road knowing that it had the possibility of destroying the entire enterprise.

No such debate over the position of Jews took place. Historically, America was deeply rooted in a broad Judeo-Christian tradition. The promise of federal religious freedom allowed groups within Christianity such as Catholics and various Protestant denominations as well as Jews to foresee a future of coexistence. This showed a marked difference from the bloody and contentious alternative in Europe.

Yet, our Founders did not promise that anything done under the umbrella of any religion, including ones unknown or not yet conceived at the time, would and should be accepted. Certain practices, such as human sacrifice, are in conflict with the founding documents and culture of this country. Female genital mutilation is one such practice. Our history shows no more deference to female genital mutilation than it does to ritual human sacrifice.

On so many issues, our country faces troubling decisions that if decided wrongly could lead to the end of the great American experiment. We have made many deeply disturbing decisions already. How we deal with female genital mutilation is one enormous signpost as to which path we are choosing to take.

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50 comments

Warren Ward says:

We keep giving in to evil over and over again. It is time to stand up for the right, not the politically correct.

Susan Lapin says:

Warren, once you can ‘create’ rights in the Constitution, we are far down the road. The question is if we’re ready to turn back.

Carl August Schleg III says:

Because ‘Christianity’ too often has no back bone…..One personal example, in the late 60’s, the minister of our church (United Church of Christ) said and I quote-‘IF we leave the UC of Christ’ in who’s name will we baptize our children(from the pulpit ) . My father in the Choir said only one word which ostracized our family (but made us stronger). He recently died at 89, having buried ALL his enemies, and had a GR8 LIFE. He would say often later in life he wished he had not, and I chastised him with respect.
OH the word he said ‘GOD’…….

Maria McMullen says:

I believe the bottom line is this….female genital mutilation is to subjugate women, prevent them from sexual satisfaction. The “whole enchilada” is purely for the man’s satisfaction and dominance over the woman…much like the Chinese binding the feet of Female babies. Small feet were sexually preferred by men and limited the freedom of females. It had nothing to do with being healthier. I looked on a Muslim website and they stated this procedure prevented the female from being stimulated and increased male satisfaction. Also a Muslim female doctor stated if Allah wills it it must be so. Where is the Women’s rights Movement on this outrage.

Marsha Oliver-Hussain says:

Female genital mutilation is not an Islamic practice, it is a cultural practice that was started before Islam even exist. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was actually against the practice. It is not practice among all Islamic cultures nor is it a mandatory practice of Islam. It is a Cultural practice among a few Muslim and non-Islamic people, mostly in Africa.

Marsha Oliver-Hussain

Judy Gruen says:

Susan, there is an enormous difference between the two practices that is critical: brit milah does not, nor is it meant to, suppress or eliminate sexual pleasure of the male. Female genital mutilation has no other purpose than to deprive females of sexual pleasure. This difference is incontrovertible and should be a main reason why brit milah should be protected and female genital mutilation should not.

Susan Lapin says:

Judy, I appreciate the input, and there are all sorts of reasons the two practices aren’t the same. I’m pretty sure you could find a scientific study that ‘proves’ that sexual pleasure of the male is diminished, even if that isn’t the motivating reason. (I also think, though I’m not positive, that FMG is not a basic belief of Islam but rather a cultural one.) I think in the final analysis it still comes down to America’s Christian foundation and respect for Judaism and the Bible.

Beth says:

Susan just as you are sure that somewhere there can be found a scientific study that circumcision diminishes the sexual pleasure of the male, I am sure that you cannot. I do not know the background or reason for circumcision but I do feel sure that If a man thought it would diminish male sexual arousal or pleasure why would he allow that to be done to his children especially knowing that in order for man to fulfill his role of populating the earth, sexual arousal would be necessary, whereas a woman does not have to be sexually aroused to have relations or conceive.

Bruce Frank says:

There is not much that is cultural in the Islamic tribes that is not based on the Qur’an or its derived Sharia Law. Christian and Jewish beliefs certainly are the basis for both the Magna Carta and US Constitutional Law. All are composed to limit government and its control over the governed.

There are imperfections. A significant one is the inability of the governed to rescind an incorrect ruling by the Supreme court, such a creating a right to abortion. That power, of the people, likely in a super-majority, to rescind rulings, that actually contradict or have no basis in the Constitution, may well have prevented the condition in which we find ourselves today.

Not much specific remains from my Grammar School days, but I do remember a Civics Class lesson (not taught these days) that said that the SCOTUS could only rule on the Constitutionality of a law. There was no power granted them to change a law from the bench, thus nullifying the rights of the people to have a voice in the making of laws through the election of their chosen representatives in the legislative branch. There were specific words used in that Civics Class; …and return the law to the Legislature to be rewritten such that it conformed to the Constitution.

Mark says:

Susan, I think you are right about FGM being cultural rather than religious. To the best of my knowledge it is practiced in some Muslim countries, but not in others.

I once knew a man from Europe, where few men are circumcised, who was very surprised when he came to America and discovered that many men here are circumcised, Jewish or not. He used to argue that because he was not circumcised he was able to experience greater sexual pleasure, that circumcision reduced sensitivity. Of course, he was never able to tell me how he could know that without experiencing it both ways.

Jac says:

Infidel by Aayan Hirsi Ali and The Self Study Course of Islam, Shari Law and The Islamic Doctrine of Christian and Jews will give you perfect insight.

Judy Bisbee says:

In my opinion the biggest difference between female genital mutilation and male circumcision is the first destroys a female’s ability to ever enjoy an orgasm and the male circumcision does not. It is literally a mutilation of the female sex organs and its purpose appears to be about the same as when males are turned into eunuchs -i. e. to destroy the sex drive/pleasure. It robs a person of a gift from G-d and that’s why I think it’s sinful.

Susan Lapin says:

That’s an interesting analysis, Judy, of eunuchs. As I said, I’m working through this. You and Judy both feel that a rational, logical case can be made.

James says:

In my early days well I remember (and I cannot forget) the basic tenet of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, distilled in The Golden Rule my father taught me: Treat others as you would wish to be treated. My father also taught me that America was the greatest nation on earth because we were founded by wise men who built in safeguards against such abuses. And he told me how he had observed in his travels that there were many regions on earth to this day where little value is placed upon human life.

Down the road in life many ‘enlightened scholars’ have tried to convince me of cultural relativism, that it was culturally ‘OK’ if the Amerindians tortured their captives, if the Aztecs sacrificed their victims by ripping their hearts out, etc., etc. Given the erosion of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in America, it appears as if we are headed in the same direction, toward allowing the inhuman excesses of religion and a wholesale sanctioning of barbarism in the name of ‘political correctness.’ Is it not funny that the very agents of barbarism that promote cultural relativism, or many of them, also turn a blind eye toward terminating full-term pregnancy under the false cloak of ‘women’s rights?’

Mary Johnson says:

Female subjugation is the real purpose and goal for the moslem practice of genital mutilation, whereas circumcision is the mark of God. I am an Islamiphobe by definition, because I fear, as a free woman, if those men come to power, women will be forced back to the stone age.

As for the Mormons, many of their wives were little girls, much like the moslem world today.

James says:

You are right, Mary. I know a precious Muslim lady who refused to follow her husband back to the Muslim Middle-East, because in America she had finally escaped the oppression of women as sixth-class citizens. The socio-religious practices in the Muslim world reflect their Prophet’s doctrines to effect the utter subjugation of women as chattels and slaves.

Scott says:

As for the ages of Mormon and plural wives in 19th century, marriages to teenagers was at the same rate as monogamous marriages in the US. According to the 1850 Census, a fifteen year old girl was just as likely to be married than an over-25 year old (about 4% of marriages each). The youngest age permitted by law for most states was 10, and as young as 7. Your information Mary is false.

Maria McMullen says:

There is no such thing as Islamophobia…a phobia is an irrational fear of something. I have studied Islam and I have a rational fear of Islam I am not an Islamophobic.

Peter B. says:

Hi Mary,
You may or may not be aware that Islam, with the support of the worldwide Left has deliberately and successfully introduced the concept of Islamophobia. The very term Islamophobia was cooked up during the 1990s in an Islamic “think tank” at Britain’s East Anglia University and is designed for the very purpose of insulating the West from the truth about Islam.

Joyce Redos says:

If ever there was an issue fraught with angst for the majority of Americans, raised to think that all cultures and religions have equal value, this is it. You are correct when you state that our nation’s founders would be concerned for the future of the American enterprise. I do not know how our society at large will ultimately resolve this issue. I only know how I view it. I reject multiculturalism’s view that all cultures are equal or have equal value. The goal of any worthwhile culture should be to raise the well-being of everyone in the culture – man, woman, and child. That was the gift of Judaism to Christianity and the blessing that both religions, when working at their best in various cultures, have salted through humanity worldwide. Islam does not appear to have the betterment of its adherents as a goal. FGM is a case in point. Unlike male circumcision, which is a sign of the covenant between the Lord and Israel, the goal of FGM is to protect family honor by robbing women of any enjoyment in the sexual act. It is a symbol of male dominance, not of care or concern for the woman. It is about human power of the stronger over the weaker. To the best of my knowledge male circumcision involves no such physical debility or any issue of sexual dominance. FGM is rooted in the exercise of dominance of male over female and does not have any essentially spiritual component to it. Bottom line, it demonstrates that all cultures are not equal in the value they have for humanity at large nor are they all deserving of equal treatment before the law.

Peter B. says:

Hi Joyce:

Your comment, just like Susan’s Musing, in my opinion is very insightful. As a matter of fact, you Joyce have put your finger directly on one of three main points whereby one may argue that Islam is not actually a religion, but rather primarily a totalitarian political ideology masquerading as a religion.

Point one: regarding Islam’s Apostacy Law

In Islam, there is the universal Qur’anic based Apostasy Law – the law that requires any and all Muslims to kill those who leave Islam. This law alone immediately moves Islam from the realm of religion to the realm of totalitarian political ideology like those of Fascism, Nazism, and Communism.

The very notion that God would sanction the slaughter of people for nothing other than exercising the dictates of their conscience is in and of itself morally reprehensible. For what is religion if not a choice, an exercise of the free will of a woman or man for the purpose of that individual person’s connecting with God?

So how is it that Islam manages to get away with being accepted as a religion while at the same time having the audacity to have and (where Shari’ah law dominates) enforce this Apostacy Law?

Point two: regarding Islam’s Blasphemy Law

What about the exercise of freedom of speech in Islam? Just ask the cartoonists at the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo (or rather, those few survivors of Islam’s enforcement of another of their morally reprehensible dictates, in this instance Islam’s Blasphemy Law). Because of the totalitarian character of this theocracy, there is no freedom in Islam; no freedom of speech nor freedom of any kind.

Under the guise of freedom of religion, Islam exploits Western laws to erode everyone else’s freedom of speech.

Point three: (the one that you, Joyce, have so perceptively put your finger squarely upon) – the absence of any requirement or even promotion of moral development.

The Muslim is primarily an adherent to a system of law, rather than someone holding particular theological views. “Islam is an ideology. In the Western world, it was not called a ‘religion’ until the twentieth century”, explains Hugh Fitzgerald. “Rather, it was a ‘faith’, or to many Western travelers, a ‘fanatical faith.’ Islam does contain rituals of worship – the so-called Five Pillars of Islam …. These duties are to be performed. They do not require, nor do they promote moral development”.

What religion elevates to “sainthood” the likes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the late spiritual father of ISIS who broke onto the international scene in the infamous video where he (experts believe is the one who) sawed off the head of an American Jew named Nick Berg? Islamic martyrs are not those who suffer and die for the Truth, but those who are killed while making others suffer and die.

Islam as a religion is more in line with Secular Fundamentalism as a religion, or for that matter Fascism as a religion. What is it that these, i.e. Islam and the Left share in common? Answer: hatred. Hatred is the lifeblood of the Left and has been since the French Revolution. Hate is the Left’s political homeland and its raison d’etre. For the Left, hatred is a mass movement. Left hate groups swim successfully in the American main stream, posturing as idealists and protectors of the downtrodden while spewing hate.

Islam, we’re told, means “submission”. What we are not told, however, is that this submission is Islam’s absolute requirement of every human being on the planet. What Islam really mean’s is DOMINANCE and submission: the dominance of Islam over any and every other faith, and the dominance of every Muslim man over every Muslim woman – as facilitated by female genital mutilation. So is Islam the Religion of Peace? Or is it really the Religion of Hate?

Jeff Estes says:

There is nothing “cultural” about the term “mutilation.” Calling something by less offensive terms should never be used for what constitutes criminal behavior. If it’s involuntary, it’s a crime. If it involves mutilating body parts outside a medical facility, it’s mutilation, and it’s criminal.

Flayer says:

Jeff – I don’t consider that I “mutilated” my boys when they had bris milah. I view it as a blessing. I do not view cutting of female genitalia as anything but mutilation as it often causes a lifetime of pain and prevents them from enjoying a fulfilling sex life. Completely apart from bris milah, Scientifically and not religiously there is no advantage but only disadvantage to cutting of female genitalia whereas there is ample evidence that bris, or circumcision, is advantageous to both partners. Even in some African tribes that practice circumcision, there is evidence of low or no rates of HIV and other diseases.

Mark Lampe says:

I’m standing with you and the two Judys here Susan. What the Secular Humanists and Islamists are trying to foist off on us is the Devil’s work, I’m confident that our new President and those of the Religious Right that are close to him will put a shunt in their evil plans.

My Mother was the daughter of a non-practicing Jew, my Father was a renegade Catholic, but on the eighth day mom had her say. Fast forward to my Vietnam experience I can attest to the fact that I was glad that my mom had been insistent, because several men from my company were forced to have the job done for health reasons due to the constant temperatures and high humidity which is tough on an adult male.

Rich Flink says:

Hi Susan, I’m sorry that I have no easy answer for you. Where is King Solomon when we need him?
Rich

Francine Davis says:

Today, I heard a woman defend Dr. Jumana Nagarwala who has been accused of performing FGM on young girls. The said that the doctor only “nicked” the girls genitalia. Words do matter.

Judi Gad says:

Well, here’s another “Judy(i)” leaving a comment. LOL

It’s my understanding that not only do they remove certain parts of the female anatomy, they also stitch up most of the opening to a girl’s vagina… leaving only enough room for her to urinate (and menstruate).

How on earth is that healthy (or hygienic) for a female?!

Also, FGM takes place when the girl is older – not when she’s a baby. Most of the time, anesthetics aren’t used. During a brit milah, didn’t I read/hear from Rabbi Lapin that on the 8th day the male baby doesn’t have as much feeling (sensitivity) there? (The body on day 8 has a natural anesthetic or something?) (Please forgive me if I’m not using the correct words… chemo brain doesn’t allow me to remember things the way I should.)

I, too, have heard that FGM is a cultural thing and not a ‘religious’ belief. (I believe I listened to a Somali woman who converted to Christianity discussing FGM.)

I’ve also heard/read that we (our government) should never have allowed moslems to enter this country because their theocracy is not compatible with our Constitution – moslems seek to overthrow this country using sharia. The 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act has actually been completely ignored. And no moslem will ever recite the Pledge of Allegiance because sharia (to them) takes precedence.

But I do agree with you, Susan. And trying to make everyone happy and not hurt their feelings by changing the rhetoric just isn’t working in this wonderful country of ours. I know that a lot of wrongs have been done to various ethnic groups in the last 200+ years, but we cannot keep dragging that baggage along with us if we’re ever going to be a truly harmonious melting pot.

Paula says:

There is absolutely no equivalence in circumcision and female genital mutilation. This claim is disingenuous and just plain stupid.

1. Circumcision is commanded by G-d of the Jews as a sign of His covenant with them.
2. This circumcision does not amputate the glans or sew up the opening so that a little dribble of urine comes out, which FMG does in females. It’s a removal of excess skin that actually is beneficial to both male and female, both in sexual performance and health reasons. In fact, I cannot think of one Torah mitzvah that results in harm to humans.
3. There is no mandate in any religion for either a cliteradectomy, or cutting off the labia, or sewing the labia together so that not only is sex next to impossible, but the menses and urine have a difficult time being eliminated. Not in Koran, not in hadith. This is not a religious practice whatsoever. It’s a cultural practice done by women on girls. We need to wipe this out.

I find it hypocritical in the extreme that so-called “feminists” are the ones that are supporting Muslims in this practice. They are ignorant and anti-intellectuals.

Sandy says:

You asked, “I am left asking why, as an American, I hold that brit milah should be legal and female genital mutilation be criminal?” Male circumcision does not change the pleasure of sex. My understanding of female genital mutilation, depending on the extent/severity that it is done to the female, can completely remove female pleasure. It can also cause issues with female urination and menstruation in the female. A female is also sewn back together again after every child is born. In my opinion to damage/scar a female’s reproductive/ urinary area to this extent is criminal. Do not Muslim’s also practice circumcision of their males?

It’s the same as calling “Illegal Aliens” “Immigrants”. The left changes the language to promote their own agenda. They want to make palatable, what is not palatable, so that all will accept this new world order. It is political correctness, and if I remember correctly, your husband had a show on the communist roots of political correctness and how very wrong it is for our free America. Keep up the good work. Annette

Michael Overstreet says:

I can’t help but think how the feminist movement might address this conodundrum as a woman right to choose issue. The increasing contridictions in social norms is deeply disturbing and we must all pray for G-d’s divine intervention into this instanity.

Susan says:

Dear Susan,

Thank you for starting this conversation. I think we should think about this, talk about this, and act about this (doing what, I don’t know.) This twisting of speech is twisting minds to call evil good.

Here in Southeast Michigan, we occasionally see a woman in a full burka. I feel sickened and a little uneasy, but my 82- year-old mom – no feminist – gets so angry about this form of oppression that it’s like her head is on fire! She says she wants “to go rip that thing off of her!!” She takes it very personally, puts herself in that woman’s place. She is old enough to have been raised to know good from evil. She’s not afraid to point it out, either, even at the risk of being deemed judgmental by family members of a younger generation. Go, Mom!

My mothrr knows right from wrong, seeks to do right and not wrong, and has empathy. In short, she is what I consider to be a normal person with a healthy mind.

The practice of fmg is horrifying in and of itself. It’s hard to believe that any woman, free, in America, would choose to perpetrate this on a little girl. The idea that other people – free people – not even muslims – are trying to legitimize it as something that the free world should just accept is actually crazy-making. Is this America or the bizarro world? You would think that any person not raised under sharia would hear about fmg and just flip out, reject it flatly, but that’s not happening. Many people have lost not just their moral compass, but actually their minds. We feel as if we are being gas-lighted. These others have been, successfully. That’s how they have come to see an apple and an orange, and see no difference.

Leftist thought has no room for empathy. They must not consider an individual little girl undergoing this amateur surgery, or the woman she grows up to be, or the life she lives for how many years she is alive, in this strange irreversible condition.

(As an aside, I think the left hates children, as a group, since they either don’t want them to be born in the first place, or they experiment on them with every social-engineering scheme that they ever dream up.)

They must not see people, only groups. People are just dumped into marked bins. This is how they can be so detached and rationalize this sort of thing.

I’m sickened, by the “macro” and “micro” aspects of this issue. I just don’t know what to do! Any ideas, anyone?

Susan in MI, USA

Heidi Christensen says:

Dear Mrs. Lapin,

Thank you for another thoughtful insight. For those curious about Judaism’s teachings on brit milah, read Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s Thou Shalt Prosper.

Thou Shalt Prosper shows that the significance of male circumcision includes teaching men the communal importance of their sex. These rituals introduce the sacred nature of sex, which is what distinguishes man from animals.

Judaism also has many teachings about a husband placing his wife’s pleasure first. This is not crude and profane, this is sacred and necessary for creating a family and cementing the bonds between husband and wife.

The connection between poverty and dysfunction and wealth and stability are always a theme in the writings of Rabbi and Mrs. Lapin. Respect for Judaism and these sacred rituals is key to returning us to that great ideal in “America the Beautiful”. How much better to “confirm thy soul in self control” than to be swayed by the winds of doctrine.

Thanks for listening.

WILLIAM J BROWER says:

Miss Susan, Talk about going down the rabbit hole. I detest the idea of this mutilation. and I am very concerned with the implications that can grow from it. Here in the south, and in other regions we have seen little children beaten to death in church under the guise of religious belief. We see families who won’t seek readily available medical care for their children because of a belief that it is G-d’s will for the child to be sick and if G-d wants the child to recover he will.
As an attorney who sees the worst of mankind can tell you of things people do to children that would raise your hair. One parents spanking is another’s child abuse. Yes words do matter.
I can accept the value of different cultures to our civilization. Some of the practices in those cultures not so much.
I am against the abuse of children, and of adults and to me this the primary duty of government.
We must look at each of the alleged abusive practices and determine what constitutes the abusive harm to the health, happiness and welfare of children adults male and female and to the general population.
I was circumcised as an infant, although I am Christian and I had my sons and grand sons circumcised. I do not consider it to be abuse, I have seen no detrimental effect of the procedure. It was not because it was a religious requirement, but was a commonly accepted medical practice.
I would do it again.
I put the female genital mutilation in the same category as back street abortion, It should be outlawed in our country and around the words. It should be treated the same as other sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, anywhere it is found, whoever performs, it and regardless of the alleged cultural or religious basis,
You are to be commended for bringing this to a general discussion. Your essay was well thought out and poignant. I applaud you and your husband for fearlessly using your forum to say what needs to be said.
I have gone on too long (again) but abuse, and let us do call it what it is abuse plain and simple, has no place in a civilized society.
Your ardent fan
Bill Brower

Kristen says:

I appreciate your thoughts on this topic Rabbi Lapin. I feel strongly that FGM should not be allowed, and should continue to be correctly labeled “mutilation.” As a student midwife I’ve had to learn the details of FGM surgery. All levels are devastating to a young girl’s future sexual pleasure, and most create direct danger to her ability to give birth to a child safely. There is just no parallel to normal male circumcision, regardless of one’s opinion on the practice.

James says:

As regards the ‘debate’ about circumcision being ‘male genital mutilation,’ actually I quite forgot to mention that I had an uncle who had himself circumcised as an ADULT! He went through life uncircumcised, until he completed his medical training and learned all the benefits of circumcision. Circumcision apparently helps males avoid various diseases that afflict the uncircumcised, including infections, inflammation and cancer. The benefits convinced him to get ‘the snip’ and he did not regret it to my knowledge, although I balk at trying to imagine the post-op pain an adult would experience.

Although female mutilation is one of the first things I addressed in my book, My Duty to Offend, I’ll admit that I failed to consider the serious implications for Jewish Americans if equivalency is ever adopted by our legal system regarding male and female “circumcision.” Of course, human anatomy makes equivalency impossible. I would like to hear the outcry if Muslim males were rendered permanently and irreversibly incapable of orgasm as a matter of accepted religious custom. I wonder how many males would exercise the option to have four wives, then. I wish I could say it could never happen here, however many of my dear countrymen, especially the younger ones, have rejected truth and reason.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Kerry–
I totally agree with your sad final sentence having just had the profoundly disturbing experience of encountering a group of privileged young American university students protesting my speech in San Francisco.
The earlier part of your comment is also very true.
Cordially
RDL

Walter Davis says:

A true dilemma.
Were I a non-Observant Moslem, I would follow American Law.
As an observant Muslim, I would go to Saudi Arabia on vacation with my daughter and return to America,
Such is the nature of religion.
It is a dilemma.

Ali says:

Dear Susan,

Just to clarify, FGM is never mentioned in the Quran, Hadith, or Islamic Laws (Sharias). It is practiced by a small minority of Muslims (and some non-Muslims) who cannot claim it to be a religious requirement. It is probably a pre-Islamic custom. The way to deal with FMG, is to make sure it stays illegal. This is not a religious issue for Muslims.

Male circumcision is an Islamic requirement, stated in the Quran.

Best Regards,

Ali-

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you for clearing this up, Ali.

Marsha Oliver-Hussain says:

Thank you Ali…as a female Muslim woman I am annoyed when I see people list this as and Islamic practice. As Prophet Muhammad was traveling he came across a tribe of people who practice this. Not to offend them he considered the issue, although he did not himself like the practice he found there was no ruling against the practice. So he said it is allowed and request that any female going through this ritual not be disfigured.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Yes, Marsha Oliver-Hussein,
That is my understanding. This is what I found in the Hadith:

It mentions a discussion between Muhammed and Um Habibah (or Um ‘Atiyyah). This woman, known as an exciser of female slaves, was one of a group of women who had immigrated with Muhammed. Having seen her, Muhammad asked her if she kept practicing her profession. She answered affirmatively, adding: “unless it is forbidden, and you order me to stop doing it.” Muhammed replied: “Yes, it is allowed. Come closer so I can teach you: if you cut, do not overdo it, because it brings more radiance to the face, and it is more pleasant for the husband.” Abu Sahlieh further cited Muhammad as saying, “Circumcision is a sunna (tradition) for the men and makruma (honorable deed) for the women.”

Anyway, though evidently not required by Moslem holy texts it is not discouraged either. There are apparently huge numbers of religious leaders throughout the Moslem world who actively encourage it.
One can feel only sorrow and sadness for those mutilated little girls. I hope that those Muslim women working to end it are successful.
Cordially
RDL

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Ali–
Not to argue about someone else’s theology, but I do believe you are mistaken. Male circumcision is NOT mentioned in the Quoran but IS mentioned in the Hadith, as is female genital mutilation as I quoted right above. I could not find any mention of male circumcision in the Quoran and Moslem friends assure me it is not there.
Please let me know if I am mistaken.
Cordially
RDL

Kindra Gibson says:

This is unthinkable that Americans would even consider to allow the Muslim practice of female mutilation in our country. America is not a Muslim nation it’s a Christian and Jewish nation. The civil rights we have are because of our Christian and Jewish roots that God put into practice a long time ago.

H- says:

Fgm must be some heathenous practice from the polytheistic era. Its interesting that fgm mummies were found in Egypt and that the countries where its practiced are a horizontal strip in Africa all the way to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Why they did it? Maybe it was yet another way for satan to mock male circumcision as he always imitates and mocks what God does. Wheres as brit milah is a blessing and a sign of a holy covenant, fgm is a sadistic display of oppression towards females.

The western countries are parading their sin before God thinking He won’t intervene. But God is not mocked. And they will find this out in the judgement that is to come from God. We are sighing and crying over the sin being done in the land.

Lora says:

I had heard there had been (continues to be, I’m sure) FGM in our country, but I had not heard that some in the media might actually be supporting it in their way. It amazes me in nauseating ways. While in the opinion of the left leaning society around us ‘culturally loaded’ terms must be expurgated because, somehow, all cultures are, you know, pretty much the same, this same source of thinking refuses to support an actual clean language environment. I am immediately reminded of how ‘celebrated’ Colbert is right now. Of how the profane is the new worship language of the media. Of how in our country the threat is against saying ‘Oh my God’ in prayer, but it’s perfectly allowable in vain imprecations, especially loud ones.
That may seem like such a jump, from FGM to OMG. But it all ties together, at least for me. Our nation is built on our culture and that culture involves moral stances, freedom, and support for natural families. Virtue! That’s a word we have to rescue from the threat of obsolescence.

Susan Lapin says:

Very well said, Lora. It is all tied together.

LK Kelly says:

Mrs. Lapin, this was brilliantly written.

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