February 11, 2014

"If an Ohio punk has the right to have her genitalia operated on, why has not the Somali woman the same right?"

Asked Germaine Greer, in her book "The Whole Woman," and now, unsurprisingly, she's being attacked for defending female genital mutilation. I'm not reading the whole "Whole Woman" book, and I don't know how much it defends the other culture's genital cuttings as opposed to challenging us to judge the culture we don't know with the same degree of harshness or sympathy that we use in judging the culture we do know.

Are her critics really answering the question asked above? I'm seeing things like:
The MPs' report... says that Ms Greer takes "no account of the purposes of female genital mutilation, nor the lack of choice for those young girls on whom it is inflicted.  Equating the forcible clitoridectomy of an eight-year-old girl with the voluntary body-piercing of an American teenager is absurd"....
Because the operation is often carried out in non-sterile conditions, sometimes using kitchen knives or pieces of glass, there is a risk that the child or woman could die of infections such a septicaemia.
But the quoted question refers to "the same right" and to "the Somali woman." Again, I have not read the whole book and don't know everything Greer may have said, but going on only the quoted question above, I see her talking about voluntary surgery, performed within high-quality medical facilities, on adult women. That is what the same right would look like.

What's the answer to that question? Come forward and say that gender reassignment surgery should be forbidden or explain what the difference is! We've learned — within our own culture — to be sympathetic or at least silent and uncritical of our culture-mates who want radical surgical rearrangement of their genitalia. I see Greer's question as a call to examine our own prejudice and hypocrisy. It's a fallacious move to tell us about coerced, unsterile surgery with a blunt instrument performed on a child. What a bad analogy! It's like responding to an argument about consensual adult sex by acting like the topic is the rape of a child at knifepoint.

I got to the linked article — at BBC.com — via Instapundit, who says:
I READ A REVIEW OF HER YEARS AGO THAT SAID NO ACT IS TOO UNSPEAKABLE FOR HER, SO LONG AS THE HAND THAT PERFORMS IT IS SUITABLY BROWN AND WEATHERED: Feminist Icon Germaine Greer Supports Female Genital Mutilation On Grounds Of Cultural Sensitivity. Female eunuchs are okay, so long as they’re not Europeans, I guess.
It's funny to say that, but if that's not missing the point, it's missing a point.

I've written a few posts about Germaine Greer over the years. I won't review them all, but the first one was written in the first month of this blog, and I said:
The first time I ever sprang for the hardcover price of a book because I couldn't wait until it came out in paper, it was for a book by Germaine Greer. The price was $5.95. What great fun that book was back then! I well remember the shock--more shocking than Janet Jackson's Superbowl breast--of the photo of the brash feminist as she appeared on the back of the book: she wore heavy eye makeup right when it had seemed that we weren't going to do that any more.
Germaine Greer challenges your complacency, and I'm sure she's happy to grab the world's attention one more time by shocking people. I'm sure she'd like to sell some more copies of "The Whole Woman," and frankly, I feel that I need to buy it so I can blog about what it really says, a feeling I'd never had before, but if people are going to get all outraged and pander what look to me like distortions, that's where I go. 

118 comments:

Seeing Red said...

Just because Russians are white, doesn't mean we know their culture.

chickenlittle said...

I see her talking about voluntary surgery, performed within high-quality medical facilities, on adult women. That what the same right would look like.

I see a rant about economic inequality. Why don't we go ahead and imagine a scenario wherein wealth is suddenly equilibrated worldwide according to need alone. Exactly how much could Ohio bear to lose to improve Somalia? Isn't that the question?

tim maguire said...

You have to twist plausibility pretty far to come up with a response that doesn't involving spitting on Germaine Greer.

Because she chose to hide behind the euphemism "woman", it's ok that she is defending female genital mutilation?

AustinRoth said...

The age at which FGM is performed depends on the country; it ranges from shortly after birth to the teenage years. The variation in ages signals that the practice is usually not regarded as a rite of passage between childhood and adulthood. In half the countries for which there is data, most girls are cut before the age of five, including over 80 percent in Eritrea, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania and Nigeria. The percentage is reversed in Chad, Central African Republic, Egypt and Somalia, where over 80 percent are cut between the ages of five and 14. A 1997 survey found that 76 percent of girls in Yemen were cut within two weeks of birth.

That sure does NOT seem to support ANY concept of a voluntary, adult-chosen experience.

I cannot believe Ann is trying to give any cover to this deranged woman, whose agenda is so obviously "Western culture BAD, all others GOOD".

This is beneath you, Ann.

jr565 said...

Are tattoos mutilation of the skin? how about those cultures that stick the metal rods into their cheeks?
How about circumcision?
A lot of it is technically mutilation, but there seems to be a cultural reason for it, and many accept that cultural reason for it.

paul a'barge said...

Moral equivalence drives Althouse insane.

Hope it's temporary.

Pogo is Dead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo is Dead said...

"I see her talking about voluntary surgery, performed within high-quality medical facilities, on adult women."

Then your scotoma isn't gone.

Gabriel Hanna said...

She's challenging on of our (counter)cultural practices by comparing it with a cultural practice that does not exist.

Genital mutilations are not performed on adults and are not voluntary.

Bob Boyd said...

Its all just talk anyway. None of this is going to affect a single woman in Ohio or Somalia.
People want to feel outraged and righteous, they are willing to pay for something that engenders that feeling. Why not be the one selling it to them?

jr565 said...

"Because the operation is often carried out in non-sterile conditions, sometimes using kitchen knives or pieces of glass, there is a risk that the child or woman could die of infections such a septicaemia."


It's not like tattoos and body piercings are carried out in a hospital by a surgeon. You go to a place, at the mall, and you hope the person doing the job has sanitized the equipment.

Lyssa said...

Can we just agree that a mentally sound, non-coerced adult has the right to have all of these things done (FGM, piercing, and gender reassignment surgery), but that they are foolish, dangerous, and evidence questionable judgment?

Tank said...

No.

surfed said...

Talk to Somali teenagers. I did for years. It's not anything like what you think or have read or know. Especially for the females juxtapositioned in a new culture here in the United Staes while still living in their old culture with their families. The transition they go through everyday from home to school to work and then back home would wear down even the greatest of actors in the constant role shifting and playing they do. Especially for the teenage girls.

The Godfather said...

According to the linked article, Greer said, "One man's beautification is another man's mutilation."

And this is a feminist?

Shouting Thomas said...

I'm neither complacent nor shocked.

Translation please.

Feminist babbling is a godawful bore.

Seeing Red said...

Greer interviewed Gosnell?

Seeing Red said...

It's my understanding the sauds provide high-end clinics.

MadisonMan said...

I agree that a Somali adult woman should have a choice for FGM if she chooses, just as an Ohio Adult would.

In practice, though, FGM is not something done to adults, but rather to children. To suggest it is anything but barbaric because some adult in Ohio might opt for it is foolhardy nonsense.

Pogo is Dead said...

Feminism and fascism are two sides of the same coin; one face male, the other female.

"One man's beautification is another man's mutilation."

"One man's murder is another man's necessary sacrifice."

If Western culture is no better than a thuggish murderous one, then indeed we have nothing to say and nothing to offer.

Seeing Red said...

"Challenges your complacency?" Seriously? She wants a clinic, she can afford to fund it. She's challenging nothing.

Smilin' Jack said...

Germaine Greer challenges your complacency, and I'm sure she's happy to grab the world's attention one more time by shocking people.

In my smug and unchallenged complacency let me just say that the average doorknob is far more shocking than Germaine Greer, and also writes better.

Seeing Red said...

"Operated on." Lolol a Bobbitt by any others name...

Pogo is Dead said...

"Germaine Greer challenges your complacency"

Ah, the feminist jargon generator.

'Endeavor to persevere.'

'This product will move the needle and demonstrate world-class performance in learnings.'

'The student can connect phenomena and models across spatial and temporal scales.'

'Our hospital is fully committed to equip its staff with the skills, knowledge and attitudes required to improve and deliver services".'


Add $4 and you can buy a latte.

madAsHell said...

Because "It's a woman's right to ooze" just isn't a very catchy slogan....???

DWPittelli said...

"If an Ohio punk has the right to have her genitalia operated on, why has not the Somali woman the same right?"
-- Totally the same. I mean, apart from the Somali "woman" being a child, and having no say in the matter.

Similarly:
"If a Catholic American woman has the right to become a Nun and wear a habit, why has not the Saudi woman the right to wear similar garments?"
-- Because the Saudi woman doesn't have a choice if she doesn't want to be beaten and whipped, sane people wouldn't make this irrelevant comparison, either.

Tarrou said...

If a woman can enjoy some mutually satisfying BDSM in a "dungeon" on the Upper East Side, why can't a lower-income woman make the voluntary choice to stay with the trucker currently kicking her ass?

Big Mike said...

Germaine Greer challenges your complacency.

I've never felt complacent about female genital mutilation. I have, however, been stunned that self-described feminists aren't fighting fang and claw until the practice is ended.

Too much like work, I suppose.

Roughcoat said...

One again, a jab at Instapundit.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Doesn't anyone else find the idea that a book titled The Whole Woman champions people slicing bits of actual whole women -- girls, really -- off, then sewing up the wound so that the mutilated girl can sort of pee, just a bit sickening?

Someone ought to ask Greer about foot-binding. I mean, "One [wo]man's beautification is another [wo]man's mutilation," yes?

Seeing Red said...

FGM should be like abortion should have bee, safe, rare & legal. Cheer up, Professor, Obamacare pays for sterilization, could be depending on how state laws are written, to 15 year olds.

Virgil Hilts said...

Ann, you're a surgeon. An adult patient comes in and says please amputate my left arm. There is nothing wrong with it, but I really would prefer not to have it anymore. I have thought long and hard over a year and decided I want this surgery. Ann, do you say yes (and assume for this hypo that you would not lose your medical license or suffer any other professional repercussions)? If no, why not?

Ann Althouse said...

"That sure does NOT seem to support ANY concept of a voluntary, adult-chosen experience."

You're not looking at Greer's question.

She's talking about equal rights for women.

What would that mean?

To posit the equivalent as something that is obviously not equal is fallacious and demagogic.

You're doing the same thing.

Really, if my point is that hard to understand… please try again and salvage my faith in the power of reading and thinking.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"It's not like tattoos and body piercings are carried out in a hospital by a surgeon. You go to a place, at the mall, and you hope the person doing the job has sanitized the equipment.

I've never gotten a tattoo or even been in a tattoo parlor, so I was astounded back when I was in the Army while stationed in the U.S. to read in the local paper that the city that had jurisdiction over the street outside the base were all the payday loan and title mortgage shops and crappy used car lots and nasty bars and tattoo parlors were located was not performing health inspections at the tattoo parlors because they had no ordinance requiring such inspections.

So yes, you are literally just hoping they are sterilizing their equipment.

As for FGM, I think it is awful, but if it was entirely voluntary on an adult, who was paying for it out of their own funds, I would still think it was awful, but I would not try to prohibit it.

But FGM is not offered to adult women on a fully voluntary basis and done in a sterile environment (at least not in Somalia) so what is the point of the comparison? To remind me that my tribes customs are not laws of nature? I already know that. But just because my tribes customs are not universal does not mean another tribes customs are good.

Naked Surfer said...

Proof that the bandits in Colorado who severed the man’s penis and drove away with it were really Somali feminists suffering a temporary scotoma of gender confusion thinking the Colorado head shop owner was another willing, voluntary, adult, non-coerced Somali female.

Weren’t the bandits doing her a favor, after all? What does this kind of gender confusion forebode for women who want to break through the glass ceiling of entrepreneurship in Colorado by owning their very own head shops, complete with in-store clitoral piercing salons? Do we trust Greer that female head-shop owners who perform in-store piercings should have “the same right” to do clitoral piercing as the local UW emergency room?

The question (Lyssa) – “Can we just agree that a mentally sound, non-coerced adult has the right to have all of these things done (FGM, piercing, and gender reassignment surgery), but that they are foolish, dangerous, and evidence questionable judgment?” – is probably best answered by Tank’s direct, “no,” despite the superficial appeal of Lyssa’s statement to make a (good faith?) stipulated agreement. The ideas of “mentally sound” and “non-coerced” and “adult” and “has the right” – are all well and good.

Maybe Obamacare will grow to cover “the right” to clitoral piercings performed in head shops in Colorado, that is, if the great “hope” of a leisured society is .... consumed?

Shouting Thomas said...

@Althouse

A writer who complains about her readers failing to comprehend has admitted to failing as a writer.

You might want to go back to the drawing board on this one.

Seeing Red said...

She would have more gravitas if she had gotten it done herself instead of encouraging the youth to fight for this. It's almost like an old general sending the young into war.

Roughcoat said...


Re:"Really, if my point is that hard to understand… please try again and salvage my faith in the power of reading and thinking."

Palpable bitchery?

Ann Althouse said...

"Greer interviewed Gosnell?"

I'm glad you brought up Gosnell, who is the example of someone doing terrible medical procedures.

He makes it easier to argue against late-term abortions, but you need arguments that will also work when the medical facility is run well. You're taking a shortcut to the finish line when you assume the surgery will be done badly (and without fully informed consent).

The equivalent right for women who want that FGM procedure would be a fully informed, consenting adult, with access to a perfectly good surgeon.

Please see the question that is presented in this post.

I totally get that you don't want women to have the surgery and that banning it outright seems to be a justified remedy given the risk of coercion.

But the question in the abstract asked by Greer needs to be understood and dealt with, which is what I am demanding.

Shortcuts to the argument's finish line are unimpressive. You're re-understanding the post to make it way easier.

This reminds me of the perennial problem with law school exams where some students choose to reinterpret the question into something that was not asked and is easier to answer. I would not have made an exam about that easier question!

You're gunning for a C or lower on this exam if you don't answer the question asked.

Seeing Red said...

What Greer is really showing is that Western women's rights have come so far, she's really getting to the nub of the matter because that's all that's left to titillate.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, you're a surgeon. An adult patient comes in and says please amputate my left arm…."

There's an old post on that topic about which there'd been an article in The Atlantic or someplace.

You can probably find it in the archive.

Seeing Red said...

Where was Greer's voice on Gosnell?

rhhardin said...

Mark Steyn on Rush once, on labiaplasty coming up in the news, the news is that women think some man somewhere is not happy with how female genitals look.

Ann Althouse said...

A writer who complains about her readers failing to comprehend has admitted to failing as a writer. You might want to go back to the drawing board on this one."

No writer writes for an audience of everyone. You pick your level. Personally, I don't write children's books. I'm a law professor trying to reach a general audience of people who have gone to law school (or will go) and people who don't but could if they so chose. That's the level.

If it doesn't work for you, read something else.

James Pawlak said...

It appears that this "Felony Child Abuse" is endemic in the "Twin Cities" and other US cities with large Somali populations. Parents send their very little girls out of the USA to facilitate this crime.

Ann Althouse said...

"Mark Steyn on Rush once, on labiaplasty coming up in the news, the news is that women think some man somewhere is not happy with how female genitals look."

What did Mark Steyn say about pubic hair?

Ann Althouse said...

Some people say that the circumcision of males should be either banned or restricted to consenting adults.

Seeing Red said...

Don't kid yourself, this isn't about rights. This is about taxpayers funding a pet of hers for privileged white women.

rhhardin said...

I think if you want to debate the issue, you have to get rid of the female modesty and vulnerability angle.

Substitute tribal elbow surgery.

rhhardin said...

Steyn is silent on pubic hair. Probably, with the majority, he doesn't care. It all happens in the dark anyway.

Shouting Thomas said...

I spent two decades reading and discussing the writing of the two most prominent litigators of our generation with those litigators, Althouse.

Snark doesn't work on me.

rhhardin said...

I think the pubic hair thing was a porn industry invention, to show the action.

Then it became a fashion, as if the action needed to be shown.

Kelly said...

Isn't the mutilation done so that the female can't ever enjoy sex? In fact, the procedure makes sex very painful. I don't think this is comparable to male circumcision at all. To put it in the same category as piercings or tattoos is laughable.

I remember reading about a super-model from Somalia that had it forcibly done when she was five years old. She was left under a tree for several days to recover, or die. When she was 13 her family tried to force her to marry a 60 year old man so she fled and eventually ended up in London or Paris.

Seeing Red said...

Greer has access power and money. She chose Somalia for a reason. If that's how she feels, let her fund clinics. She won't because it would sully her "legacy."

PatHMV said...

Ann, I think the problem is that the actuality of the world differs so profoundly from the intellectual hypothetical posited that it can be deceiving to even engage with it.

Yes, if FGM were practiced on willing, consenting, adult women in a safe medical environment, then possibly that would be philosophically equivalent to the weirder forms of tattoos and piercings and things done in our own society. But the reality is that there is no place in the world where that is really, actually, done, so what is the point of even having the discussion? To have the discussion detracts from the severity of what is going on now, today, a barbaric practice that should be strongly condemned.

A better hypothetical to pick is one made by an earlier commenter, a comparison between nuns choosing to wear a habit and Islamic women wearing a veil or the burka. There you can see a real and legitimate and interesting philosophical quandary. There are many Islamic women who voluntarily desire to wear the burka; it is their free choice to do so. But there are also a great many Islamic women who wear it only because they would be ostracized, beaten, or killed if they refused to do so.

And some of the women who freely choose to do so feel that way only because they have been raised (and their mothers and grandmothers were raised) in an environment where the pressure from society in general, and powerful men in particular, was so great that there really wasn't freedom to choose otherwise. So how does that impact the view of whether their choice is "free" or not.

That hypothetical works for the same essential philosophical discussion you attribute to Greer, but has the benefit of having at least some basis in the real world, whereas FGM has few, if any, areas in the real world where it is practiced in the manner Greer uses for her hypothetical.

traditionalguy said...

Germain is quite a talented anarchist/bomb thrower.

The mystery is why that passes as intellectual activity. It is more like the sport of hunting game, shooting it, and displaying the trophy.

A new Olympic event: Shooting down males with ideas they cannot understand.

Seeing Red said...

I'm so happy I'm not a feminist. Decades spent obsessing about the vagina, letting the vagina roar and be free, strumming the vagina, and now it's freeing to whack
Or desensitize part of the whole.

Shouting Thomas said...

The biz of law is not the shrine of ideals you are so addicted to, Althouse.

I suspect that's why you chose not to practice law.

In an odd way, I think that the legal profession pushed you into the ivory tower to get you out of the way.

As I said, your actual role in this world is as gatekeeper to an industry that functions primarily for the purpose of rent seeking at the door of various governments.

Feminism is a rent seeking biz.

Ann Althouse said...

"Steyn is silent on pubic hair. Probably, with the majority, he doesn't care. It all happens in the dark anyway."

Yeah, but my point is, his joke depends on the belief that men just like female genitalia in any form, but there's plenty of expressions of disgust for pubic hair on female genitalia from men, so the hearty masculine Steynian we-just-love-the-ladies position is a little pose-y.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

No writer writes for an audience of everyone. You pick your level. Personally, I don't write children's books. I'm a law professor trying to reach a general audience of people who have gone to law school (or will go) and people who don't but could if they so chose. That's the level.

Interesting. I don't think you have ever said that before. So you think of your audience as people who are lawyers, or in law school, or at least are smart enough to get into law school, even if they decided to do something else?

OK, then. The answer to Greer's question about the "Ohio punk" and the "Somali woman" is that either is free to consent to whatever, um, manipulation of their genitalia they like.

But the emphasis ought to be on "woman." There are very few women who undergo FGM when they are adults. The vast, vast majority are children, and they are not in a position to refuse consent to this "surgery," however "hygienic" the conditions.

Admitted, of course, that some "Ohio punks" might also be underage. When I see their parents pressuring them into getting labial piercings, I will concede that these are comparable situations.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think the pubic hair thing was a porn industry invention, to show the action. Then it became a fashion, as if the action needed to be shown."

There's a funny description, somewhere in a David Sedaris piece, I think, about realizing that the reason your sexual partner insists on getting into some not-to-pleasurable positions is that it's what he's seen in porn, where the actors are trying to give the camera a viewpoint.

But how much of what we do is what we've learned from watching movies? From female creaky voice to male casual obscenities to comic eye-rolling and double-takes. There's no way to be natural.

I'm sure some of my personal style came from Shirley Temple (and Sally Starr and Olive Oyl and Gidget and That Girl! and who knows what-all).

Ignorance is Bliss said...

If an Ohio punk has the right to have her genitalia operated on, why has not the Somali woman the same right?

For the same reason that an Ohio Nazi has the right to promote Nazism, but a German Nazi does not. Germany has a history that is needs to overcome, and a certain restriction of rights to get there is worth the cost.

FGM in Africa has a strong history of being inflicted on children without any meaningful consent. That must stop. If you could stop that while allowing adult women to voluntarily get a piercing, that would be fine. But you can't, because the culture would use that loophole to force involuntary FGM. Until the culture is changed what would otherwise be a right must be balanced against the need to prevent great harm.

Similar balancing happened during reconstruction in the south.

Michael K said...

" the news is that women think some man somewhere is not happy with how female genitals look."

I once had a young woman come to me because she had external hemorrhoids and her new husband didn't like the way they looked. I didn't ask how close he got to the view.

Anyway, I referred her to a guy in Beverly Hills who I thought was just the guy for a cosmetic hemorrhoidectomy. I told her that he had done Elizabeth Taylor's hemorrhoids, which was true. Then I heaved a sigh of relief as she she left.

I had forgotten the incident until your comment. Thanks.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"But the question in the abstract asked by Greer needs to be understood and dealt with, which is what I am demanding."

The question, in the abstract, seems to be "aren't you hypocritical for opposing FGM while not opposing this thing that has some superficial resemblance to it but is not really like it at all?"

Nope.

William said...

Have you seen Nancy Pelosi's face. What kind of barbaric society does something like that to the face of one of its esteemed elders. You can say it was all voluntary, but was it really? What kind of pressure is being exerted on that poor woman to make her go through such painful procedures?

John Lynch said...

We can't judge because real mutilation has never been tried! If only it was performed in circumstances that don't exist, that would make it OK.

Using an abstract hypothetical to excuse something that's completely different in reality is an old trick. That's ideology.

The way to tell if an abstraction is bullshit is to look closely at what actually happens to individual people. If it's horrible, then ignore the abstraction. No matter how good or neat the argument is, it fails reality testing.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ann Althouse said...

Really, if my point is that hard to understand…

Did you forget to have someone read your post back to you out loud? Was Dumb Meade off at Dumb Starbucks this morning?

Xmas said...

You can read the chapter on mutilation at Amazon (minus some pages). The gist of the chapter of her book is a discussion of female self-mutilation across all cultures. Cutting and piercing in the West compared to the culture of Female Genital Mutilation in Africa and the Middle East. It looks like she's making a point about women using painful actions as a way of claiming their bodies for themselves.

An interesting point made in the pages you can read, that African men don't care, one way or the other, if a woman is circumcised. It's women that perpetuate the ritual of circumcision, when mothers say that they're not interested in circumcising their daughter, their mothers (the girl's grandmothers) push to have the procedure done.

She then goes into comparing an episiotomy to FGM because both result in "a tight vagina". In the process damning male OBGyns as being as terrible as those African grandmothers for perpetuating the Western form of female mutilation.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"The way to tell if an abstraction is bullshit is to look closely at what actually happens to individual people. If it's horrible, then ignore the abstraction. No matter how good or neat the argument is, it fails reality testing."

I am going to borrow this when discussing the ACA. It failed reality testing.

Pogo is Dead said...

"But the question in the abstract asked by Greer needs to be understood and dealt with, which is what I am demanding."

No, the question in the abstract proves that Greer is a fool. The fact that an intelligent fool can twist a concept into a bullshit intellectual exercise doesn't require us to understand or dealt with it.

Lefties have been distorting reality for ages. Socialism, for example. Purely intellectual; it has never worked and cannot work.

Greer writing some half-considered piffle about unicorns doesn't mean anything other than Greer is readying herself and Western feminists to submit to Islam, an evil death cult.

Gabriel Hanna said...

It's a bit like the old "the rich and the poor have equal right to sleep under bridges if they choose".

Look at Michael Jackson, there are surgeons in the West who will do anything for money. Nothing is preventing an adult woman in the West from getting a clitorectomy if she wishes it, provided she will find a doctor who will do it at a price she is willing to pay.

It's almost, but not quite, entirely unlike what goes on in Somali families. If an adult Somali woman with lots of money goes to Beverly Hills--or Somalia--to have it done, nothing is stopping her.

The law will make it harder for poor families from subjecting their minor daughters to it by force. No adult woman able to exercise the right will be impeded in it. No rich family determined to impose it by force will be either--but there are a lot fewer of them.

jacksonjay said...

Personally, I don't write children's books. I'm a law professor trying to reach a general audience of people who have gone to law school (or will go) and people who don't but could if they so chose. That's the level.

Frankly, based on my experience with lawyers, the only thing they learned was how to overcharge for shitty advice! Cost me a bundle! I pray every day that I don't need more shitty legal advice!

With all due respect!

Shouting Thomas said...

Your appeal to you own status as your vindication is fascinating, isn't it Althouse?

I'd like to see you try that in a court.

If the law is so difficult to understand that only a savant can manage it, what does that say for the law?

The great hero of my home region, Abraham Lincoln, became a lawyer by reading the law library in a Springfield law office, then passing the bar.

Some argue that law schools have no reason to exist except to complicate the law beyond the ability of the common person to understand, thus enforcing the exclusionary practices of a labor guild.

rhhardin said...

Yeah, but my point is, his joke depends on the belief that men just like female genitalia in any form, but there's plenty of expressions of disgust for pubic hair on female genitalia from men, so the hearty masculine Steynian we-just-love-the-ladies position is a little pose-y.

Everything is pretty much around the corner, in the light or in the dark.

As to how it looks, it's just your wife with no clothes on no matter how beautiful she is, pretty quickly.

Something else makes it work.

Mary Beth said...

It doesn't seem any better in context.

eric said...

Ann wrote;

"You're not looking at Greer's question.

She's talking about equal rights for women."

In your list of fallacies, this is called a straw man fallacy.

Those straw men are pretty easy to knock down. How many Somali women are opting for FGM?

Ahhhh, but if she pretends it's something being done on equal footing, it makes her argument more persuasive, doesn't it?

Why, it's exactly the same thing, Somali FGM and a woman in the USofA piercing her nethers.

Julie C said...

Greer's statement demonstrates the leftist willingness to use bland language to cover up a horror.

"Abortion should be a private decision between a woman and her doctor" is an example. A 16 year old and some intake worker at a seedy abortion clinic might be more accurate. Calling abortion a "woman's health issue" ...

Julie C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo is Dead said...

"Some people say that the circumcision of males should be either banned or restricted to consenting adults."

but they would also be fools.

The effectiveness of male circumcision for HIV prevention and effects on risk behaviors in a posttrial follow-up study
Gray, Ron; Kigozi, Godfrey; Kong
AIDS:
13 March 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 5 - p 609–615
"High effectiveness of male circumcision for HIV prevention was maintained for almost 5 years following trial closure. There was no self-selection or evidence of behavioral risk compensation associated with posttrial male circumcision acceptance."

eric said...

Ann wrote;

"No writer writes for an audience of everyone. You pick your level. Personally, I don't write children's books."

No, you don't. It does seem however that you comment on people who do. Although, like you, I haven't read the book, it does seem like her moral equivalancy argument is at about the same level as my 13 year old daughter.

Seeing Red said...

Greer, 1st world privileged white women problems, to whack or not to whack.

We have a president, Ms. Constitutional Law Professor expert, who've riding roughshod over your speciality. You choose to wire about clits.

I'm seeing, rightly or wrongly, a clit country surrounded by dicks. The Russian Bear dick is in Cuba like our glorious 60s & 70s, the black turbans are getting the bomb and can put missiles in Venezuela, and sending a warship off out territorial waters, and vodkapundit is wondering if the Peoples liberation Army is going rogue from the Chicoms leadership.

But the vagina trumps all, we must be happy happy, catered to, protected (from white male underwear statues)1st world issues.

Bored now.

Naked Surfer said...

Again, I have not read the whole book and don't know everything Greer may have said, but going on only the quoted question above, I see her talking about voluntary surgery, performed within high-quality medical facilities, on adult women. That is what the same right would look like.

Maybe it’s my poor reading comprehension in understanding the exact question posed by this law exam, but isn’t this concession or confession of ignorance built into the exam itself? What if Greer isn’t building a case in favor of the high-gods of the professional clinics of professional medicine and big pharm, and instead, what if Greer has in mind some extension of her extensible logic into the domain of public commerce – where female business owners of head-shops are allowed to perform in-house clitoral piercings? If we don’t know the limits that Greer has in mind for her logic (and we admit we don’t know), then why is an “Ohio punk” in the header itself? – because “Ohio punks” are protected from themselves by professional medical clinics? - to what degree would Greer allow that “Ohio punks” should be permitted the right – the right – to have clitoral piercings in female owned (sticking to the gendered equality) head-shops? And at just what point – not whether, but at what point – do female owned head-shops that offer clitoral piercings to “Ohio punks” end up resembling Somali practices?

To say that this reorientation of the question is a cheap trick to give easy answers to an easier question (an no one has said this) makes me feel that the professor’s discount (admitting ignorance of Greer) at the header of the question, has just left me in a state of confusion over what the question really is.

If I’m gunning for a “C” on this exam, then I could merely regurgitate what Greer said with a roughly accurate paraphrase of what Greer said in the context of all the other things that Greer says and in light of what Greer intends to say. The problem with gunning for this “C” is that Greer is not the only voice in the public sphere contributing to public policy debates, and the harder part of this law exam is to project (one role of the lawyer is to prophesy with predictions) just how all the other voices in the public marketplace will extend, contort, twist, and wrangle Greer’s ideas (whatever they are) into public policy debates about the already existing state laws favoring female owned businesses, including debates about just why medical professionalism should be allowed to hog the monopoly of female clitoral piercings, like some giant East India Trading Company for all-things-clitoral, when female business owners of head-shops should have “the same right” to perform these procedures on female “Ohio punks” – with two consenting females sealing the contract?

jr565 said...

"
""If an Ohio punk has the right to have her genitalia operated on, why has not the Somali woman the same right?""

What if the cliteredectomies were carried out by doctors not using glass and blunt instruments. To the point where the cliteredectomy was more of a medical procedure than a tatoo or body piercing.
I always hear how they are carried out by using "kitchen knives and pieces of glass". But what if instead they're performed by surgeons. Would that change the view or cliteredectomies.

Julie C said...

I spent two years in an African country where this was practiced. It isn't talked about at all, although a few men did tell me they didn't think it was a necessary practice.

My experience is that it is promoted by women, on young girls.

When I first came to my little town, an area outside the town was pointed out to me. In the center was a circular, fenced in area. The fence was high. I was told that was the "bush school" where young girls were taught about how to be women. I knew better.

About twice a year, for several days, you could hear very loud drumming coming from that fenced area. That's when they were doing the cutting. The drums were to cover up the screams.

jr565 said...

""If an Ohio punk has the right to have her genitalia operated on, why has not the Somali woman the same right?""

Only its not an argument of rights, but an argument of forced cliteredectomies.
Then again, ots not like we ask for permission when we snip babies foreskins either.

Illuninati said...

Germaine Greer is correct. Once you reject the supremacy of Judeo-Christian culture along with its morality and accept the tenant that every culture is just as good as every other culture then there is no unassailable argument to reject female genital mutilation. This is why lefty multiculturalism leaves Western civilization wide open to the invasion of Islamic supremacists.

Who would have guessed on 9/11/2001 that within 13 years a lefty mayor in New York would publically proclaim school holidays to celebrate the religion which motivated the hijackers who flew planes into the twin towers. The jihadis who flew those planes into the towers were Muslim missionaries. They have already succeeded far beyond their wildest expectations.

Pogo is Dead said...

" The drums were to cover up the screams."

Best analogy for feminism I have ever read.

Shit, that's Greer's whole schtick, intellectual babble drumming to cover up leftism's crimes.

broomhandle said...

"given the risk of coercion"

Given the certainty of coercion.

jr565 said...

Althouse wrote:

"No writer writes for an audience of everyone. You pick your level. Personally, I don't write children's books. I'm a law professor trying to reach a general audience of people who have gone to law school (or will go) and people who don't but could if they so chose. That's the level."
But even if you pick the level to write at doesn't mean that you are automatically coherent when making points. You could choose to box at welterweight but someone could still make the argument that you suck as a welterweight.
So, it is a fair argument to say the writer should be clearer with their writing. Not that I'm saying that about you in particular.
The writer needs to be clear, and if the words don't convey the meaning properly (which is up to the reader to determine) should be able to expand on the point to make it clearer still.

broomhandle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Inga said...

"But the question in the abstract asked by Greer needs to be understood and dealt with, which is what I am demanding."
--------------------------------
"No, the question in the abstract proves that Greer is a fool. The fact that an intelligent fool can twist a concept into a bullshit intellectual exercise doesn't require us to understand or dealt with it."

2/11/14, 11:31 AM
--------------------------------
I have to agree with this. The rest of Pogo's comment is piffle.

Julie C said...

China managed to stop foot-binding its females.

How about some enterprising doctor open a clinic specializing in safe foot-binding on adult women. Break all the foot bones, maybe a safely done amputation of the half of the foot that isn't wanted, so that adult women can hobble around on stumps.

Perhaps India can bring back the practice of widows throwing themselves on funeral pyres. If they do it voluntarily, it should be fine, right? And of course, since they are adults they won't feel any cultural pressure to do that, no siree.

jr565 said...

"What's the answer to that question? Come forward and say that gender reassignment surgery should be forbidden or explain what the difference is! We've learned — within our own culture — to be sympathetic or at least silent and uncritical of our culture-mates who want radical surgical rearrangement of their genitalia."
Maybe, just maybe doctors should be a little more reluctanct to perform these surgeries,when the real issue is actually in their brains and not their genitals.

Julie C said...

In sex reassignment surgery, there is an attempt, if I am understanding the process correctly, to allow for some form of sexual pleasure (at least for changing a man into a woman).

The purpose of FGM is to ensure that sexual pleasure is non-existent for the female.

jr565 said...

Julie C wrote:
n sex reassignment surgery, there is an attempt, if I am understanding the process correctly, to allow for some form of sexual pleasure (at least for changing a man into a woman).

What about the changing of a woman to a man? Is that more like a cliteredectomy for a woman?

Kirk Parker said...

Julie C,

Which country?

Julie C said...

Kirk -
Liberia. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer there.

MadisonMan said...

My experience is that it is promoted by women, on young girls.

I wonder about this. Is this something that mothers-in-law push on their grand-daughters to achieve superiority over their daughters-in-law?

Because I don't see how a caring grandmother, or mother, would do this. But I write this from a different culture (in my opinion, given that I have a daughter, better culture).

Sam L. said...

These two examples are not the same, so Greer is intentionally lying. Or seriously dumb.

William said...

Outside of the odd toupee, men rarely suffer from body dysmorphia. However, many men work themselves to death in a sad attempt to gain sufficient wealth and status to attract the attention of large breasted females. In such a way does our matriarchal society distort and destroy the lives of its male victims. I long for the day when women judge men by the flatness of their stomachs and not the bulge of their wallets.

EMD said...

Really, if my point is that hard to understand… please try again and salvage my faith in the power of reading and thinking.

Professor Smartypants has spoken.

Don't you get it? You're all her students.

Alex said...

Look if people want to mutilate themselves, I think they should be forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation first. Mutilation is not reversible. I don't understand why American liberals encourage this behavior which is rooted in tribal cultures.

Alex said...

This story should be filed under "liberals believe all cultures are equal".

Kirk Parker said...

Julie,

Interesting. I spent the first half of the 80's in Southern Sudan (still a single, though badly divided, country then.) Male circumcision was done as a coming-of-age ritual, but nary a hint of female circumcision.

EMD said...

"He makes it easier to argue against slavery, but you need arguments that will also work when the plantation is run well and the slaves aren't harmed."



Grimstarr said...

jr565 posted: Julie C wrote:
"(I)n sex reassignment surgery, there is an attempt, if I am understanding the process correctly, to allow for some form of sexual pleasure (at least for changing a man into a woman)."

"What about the changing of a woman to a man? Is that more like a cliteredectomy for a woman?"

jr565: I believe the technical term for that is an addadicktome.

Lydia said...

That BBC article is old -- it's from 1999. Why did this now hit Instapundit's radar screen?

Anyway, there's a Q&A panel discussion on YouTube about it all. The panel includes Greer, who starts talking about the 11:00 point. Her position is odd, but not as simplistic as it first appears. For one thing, she seems to be talking mainly about things other than clitoridectomy; in fact, she seems to think that's rare.

Scott M said...

Greer is a "radfem", a radical feminist.

If you truly want to see chilling conversations, go to just about any radfem blog and read through the comments. Or simply do a search for "culling".

You will find the womyn thereabouts actively calling for and defending the concept of culling, or, aborting male babies until the population split (male/female) is more in line with what they believe is "natural".

It's surreal. It's wholly earnest. It's no better than the message of a white supremacist calling for the deaths of all Jews or some such.

B said...

jr565: I believe the technical term for that is an addadicktome.

Thread winner. And already favored by the academy for the 2014 best thread winner award.

Smilin' Jack said...

...I have not read the whole book and don't know everything Greer may have said, but going on only the quoted question above, I see her talking about voluntary surgery, performed within high-quality medical facilities, on adult women. That is what the same right would look like.

Adult Somali women don't have that right? OMG send in the UN!

wildswan said...

What if the idea behind what Greer was saying was: we should not make rules about their culture and they should not make rules for ours. What do Somalis think about gender reassignment surgery?

But then I think that I don't want FGM going on here in America in towns where there are a lot of Somalis. But then American Somalis don't want people who drink in their taxis and they don't want bacon served in their part of town. So what are the foundations for rational rules? When in Rome do as Romans do? is clear but not rational.

Or what about this? Sharia law is accepted for Muslims in Great Britain so there is an honor killing about to happen in Liverpool. And a Christian Englishman intervenes because his law, existing English law, says that it a citizen's duty to prevent deadly harm. Who is guilty? and who is innocent?

wildswan said...

I wouldn't accept multiculturalism or honor killings or FGM or sex selection as a reason for abortion. But if I accepted multiculturalism I would feel I had to accept the other three. And suttee and Chinese foot binding. And beheading and flogging and slavery.
It's as if the feminists want us to say that there IS a right and a wrong on certain select issues - and they do the selecting and all these issues have to do with women. But otherwise there is no right and no wrong and no consequences. And not even genders anymore, so how are there any feminists? All too hard for me.

Thomas Richards said...

Greer presents a totally implausible equivalence -- voluntary genital mutiliation on the part of adult females. There aren't women lining up anywhere to get that done. Additionally, piercing is a wholly different thing than female circumcision. The male equivalent would be lopping off half the head of a man's penis, which is significantly different than merely piercing it.

What Greer really reveals is the hierarchy in liberal dogma. Above worldwide gender equality are multicultural considerations and the general discounting of western civilization being massively more successful than cultures outside of it.

A similar subordination occurred during the Clinton administration. The fight against sexual harassment took a back seat because Clinton had paid indulgences to the political goals of those that normally would be horrified by Bill Clinton's behavior.

Naked Surfer said...

wildswan, great questions. Lifelong ones. Don’t give up. Just take a breath to come up for air once in awhile. Discover your own reasons and purposes for living. Go from there in outwardly broadening circles. Or whatever you like. As you go wildswaning along. Those questions are too tough.

jr565 said...

Grimstar wrote:
r565: I believe the technical term for that is an addadicktome.


LOL. It's always good to know the techical terms.

JimT Utah said...

As a technical matter, a freshly broken piece of glass is sharper and more sterile than a surgeon's scalpel.

Kirk Parker said...

JimT,

Oh good grief! Sharper? I wouldn't know. But more sterile??? Only the sheared edge is sterile, and then only until dust from the unbroken sides of the glass fall on it.

Please tell me you've never actually been present at a clitoridectomy in Somalia, OK?

boinky said...

there are three types of "female circumcision", and only type one is essentially harmless, and equivalent to male circumcision.

Type two means a lady looses her clitoris but type three removes everything, and can affect both childbearing and urination.
link

As a doc who worked in Africa, I had to deliver some type three ladies, and can give you the gruesome details.

And yes, this is done under duress, and predates Islam.

Mohammed knew he couldn't stop it so tried to discourage it by saying "only cut a little", but alas that hasn't stopped the practice.

So the fight against the custom goes back quite awhile.