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.