From Psychology Today:
Prisoners of Biology What the practice of female genital mutilation teaches us by Robert James King, Ph.D.
No gags or quips this week. My topic is female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and this is not a joking matter. It does, however, demonstrate that no culture is neutral about female orgasm. Some cultures celebrate it, others deny its existence and indeed go to some trouble to prevent it. Over-enthusiatic reports from anthropologists that this or that culture does not have female orgasm should be taken with a large grain of salt. Some researchers have been a little too quick to take difference at face value.
It has become fashionable in some quarters to decry the fact that behavioural scientists only investigate WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic) populations. The population that receives FGM/C is largely, though not as you shall see, exclusively—not like this. Therefore, findings about them should be of especial interest.
What is FGM/C?
Something like three million women a year--mostly in sub-Saharan Africa--receive some level of genital mutilation. This is usually done at a very young age. Ayaan Hirsi Ali vividly describes her experience at the age of five. FGM/C can range from a comparatively mild incision to a full “scraping clean” of the external genitalia—leaving a smooth flat surface devoid of the clitoral glans and labia. This so-called “Full Pharonic” is every bit as ghastly as it sounds, and produces injuries far too shocking to post pictures of on a family friendly website. This injury is then sewn-up (infibulated). The resultant stitches are expected to be burst on the woman’s wedding night. Injuries and complications abound and are discussed in detail here (strong stomachs required). Those who want full details should read Prisoners of Ritual by the incomparable Hanny Lightfoot Klein and I would like to take the opportunity to thank her again for her help and support during my research. You can get a flavour of this remarkable woman here. Please support her work.
Read the rest, including why Westerners should do some self-relfection before getting embroiled in cultural imperialism, and some things about FGM that may come as a surprise to you, here.