Blame Tradition And Religion for FGM

Tradition
All around the world, in traditional cultures, female genital mutilation is a violent, terrifying, painful and medically problematic issue. Traditionally, if you were not cut, you could not be married. In some places this is changing as human rights and modern modes of fairness, compassion and reason seep into formerly tradition-run societies–and in this context, tradition equates to religious leadership, clerics, tribal chiefs, and male dominance.

The Fingers of Control And Marriage
I am not an expert on this issue, however, I can say that there are fingers of the concern that brought FGM to the world in many communities of the non-traditional (or still semi-traditional) world. Those fingers belong to long arms that connect to still male-male-dominated or tradition laden semi-male-dominated cultures where ethnicity and DNA expression (read “race”) are of paramount importance and status is right up there with that primitive concern. In such places, fathers–and mothers, perhaps to a lesser degree–insist their daughters–and sons–marry inside the ethnicity, the religion and the nation. I have seen and heard of this multiple times in my travels, and experienced this kind of traditional prejudice first hand. However, where FGM is concerned, it is an issue of reducing a girl’s and a woman’s amorous desires, and this is what I want to talk about. I will make a tacit mention of the issue of male genital mutilation, too–but as men have a more arguably superfluous protrusion of skin to be removed–beyond the human rights and sensitivity issues inherent–it is not as invasive or deleterious a procedure as that performed on women.

Teaching Love Instead of Marginalizing It
In my opinion, a lot of the traditional minds in the religious parts of the world could be relaxed and their concerns about promiscuity alayed if a practice of love were taught–even here, in the West–especially here.

Love is left to the realm of sex, “fantasy romance,” luxury and poetry–to tales of adventure in lwgend and in Hollywood, and that is, in my opinion, because it was taught that way in ancient religions.

Love (or mating–insofar as it is or was a part of marriage, by some association), has also been left to the realm of fiat, on the part of parents, clerics and royalty. In other words, mates have been–and still are–chosen by authority other than that which should choose mates: love. This still happens jn most of the Muslim world, in India and in parts of Asia–most notably in South Korea, where it is becoming less and less common but is still done–not so much with parents making the outright choice, but in their having the prerogative to pressure their adult children into “Seon” meetings of blind dating–and in refusing some suitors and choosing others.

Religion And The Love
In the Bible there is a passage that warns that the desires of the heart will lead one astray; this is terrible nonsense, and it is there because in ancient times–when male dominance protected bloodlines, fortunes, property and power–love could not be allowed to get in the way–and because humanity seems to have had a very primitively developed concept of what I call “the precepts of love,” which when understood and developed can foster very strong bonds of physical, emotional and honor-bound attraction, dedication and sustainable romantic states of mind–such that a need to curb promiscuity can be made to be almost non-existent; but this depends on virtually sanctifying love, freedom and personal chpice, not curtailing these virtues. However, traditional cultures have a long historical history of not liking freedom of choice.

Demonizing Sex
Finally, and perhaps most succinctly, that passage was in the Bible (the Torah or Talmud), because love was not truly respected or understood as both a bonding force in human relations that renders chastity rules virtually unnecessary, and because love was largely separated from the desire of sex, which was demonized; we continue to do both, today today: “it was just sex.”

The desire for sex is actually the beginning of what can be love, but society teaches us not to honor that, because– ‘mommy and daddy (and traditionally, king, queen, prince and princess; cleric, bishop and Pope) don’t want you to love this one or that one or to love at all, right now; love is for later….’ This is the beginning of the parental and societal guidance toward the habit of “promiscuity” and why we have FGM and parental meddling in nature.

Carl Atteniese

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