On April 26, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) changed its long-held stance on female genital cutting (FGC). This ritual is practiced mostly in Muslim, Arabic and African counties and is illegal in much of the West. The procedure was referred to as female genital mutilation (FGM) by the AAP, who in 1998 came out strongly against FGM. They are now “exploring” the possibility of allowing American doctors to perform a “ceremonial pinprick” on young girls to keep their families from pursuing what has been called female circumcision, but what is actually for all intents and purposes a removal of the clitoris.

What Has Changed?

Why has the AAP changed its position? Excellent question. Let’s compare the 1998 policy statement to the 2010 version

1998:

In the abstract:

The AAP opposes all forms of FGM, counsels its members not to perform such ritual procedures, and encourages the development of community educational programs for immigrant populations.

In the recommendations section:

The American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Opposes all forms of female genital mutilation (FGM).
  • Recommends that its members actively seek to dissuade families from carrying out FGM.
  • Recommends that its members provide patients and their parents with compassionate education about the physical harms and psychological risks of FGM.

2010:

In the abstract:

The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes all types of female genital cutting that pose risks of physical or psychological harm, counsels its members not to perform such procedures, recommends that its members actively seek to dissuade families from carrying out harmful forms of FGC, and urges its members to provide patients and their parents with compassionate education about the harms of FGC while remaining sensitive to the cultural and religious reasons that motivate parents to seek this procedure for their daughters.

In the recommendations section:

The American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Opposes all forms of FGC that pose risks of physical or psychological harm.
  • Encourages its members to become informed about FGC and its complications and to be able to recognize physical signs of FGC.
  • Recommends that its members actively seek to dissuade families from carrying out harmful forms of FGC.

First of all, notice the change in wording from FGM—recall the M stands for mutilation—to the term FGC, which means female genital cutting. Cutting sounds much better than mutiliation. Clearly we have a neutralization of what before was held in disregard.

Next there is the qualifying phrase “that pose risks of physical or psychological harm.” Who, may I ask, will be making the determination of whether or not the procedure poses such risks: The family, or the doctor they hire to do the mutilating? Sorry, I mean cutting.

Moving on we find “recommends that its members actively seek to dissuade families from carrying out harmful forms of FGC.”

And then we get to the crux of the matter: “…while remaining sensitive to the cultural and religious reasons that motivate parents to seek this procedure for their daughters.” It's hard to believe we have become this politically correct, that we are afraid to offend the practitioners of this heinously offensive practice. And what exactly is the noble cultural or religious reason behind FGM? According to Amnesty International FGM is done primarily to decrease a woman’s pleasure during and desire for sex. Because apparently the fairer sex cannot be trusted to keep her pants on, and therefore removing her pesky sexual desire will help keep the society intact.

How Can Mutilating Girls Be Politically Correct?

The AAP seems to be attempting to placate those who would seek to damage women in this way, comparing a ritualistic prick of the clitoris to ear piercing. Other women may disagree, but my pierced ears have never interfered with orgasms.

Time spoke with the report's lead author, Dena Davis, a professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University.

"We knew that it was a controversial idea. We knew simply making the language more neutral was highly controversial."

Taina Bien-Aime, executive director of the human rights organization Equality Now put the new policy into perspective.

"If foot-binding were still being carried out, would the AAP encourage pediatricians to execute a milder version of this practice?"

And before you ask, yes, my son is circumcised. You may think it’s cruel, or misguided, but to me male and female circumcision are very, very different procedures

What do you think?