Home > Full Canvas Jacket > The Power of Choice: Elective Female Circumcision
What possible comment could I make about this atrocity.
My name is Beatrice Sinewski and I am a founding member of Females Against Choice Extermination (or F.A.C.E.). F.A.C.E. is committed to fighting for our right to choose, for ourselves and our daughters, Elective Female Circumcision. At this time, the procedure as a whole is illegal per federal law for persons under the age of 18 years (S1030.) Several states have begun passing legislation outlawing it COMPLETELY! We assert this is a violation of our fundamental human rights as citizens of the United States of America. It limits our freedom to do what we choose with our bodies medically and prohibits our rights to free speech. Join us in our Pro-Choice stand for Elective Female Circumcision.
Please do not be confused. There are three VERY different operations all lumped under the heading of "Female Circumcision." They are:
1. "SUNNA" CIRCUMCISION. This consists of removing the prepuce and/or the tip of the clitoris. BEWARE. DO NOT BE MISLED! Often times this INCREASES clitoral sensitivity. It does not excise the clitoris completely and goes against the moral agenda of Elective Female Circumcision.
2. INFIBULATION. Often referred to as Female Genital Mutilation. This is an extremely disgusting operation practiced most often in Africa and the Middle East. It consists of the removal of clitoris, the adjacent labia, and the joining of the two sides of the vulva across the vagina. They are often secured with thorns, or sewn with thread. A small opening is left for the passage of both urine and menstrual fluid. THIS IS A DISGUSTING AND PAINFUL PRACTICE. Young women then have to be CUT OPEN in order to have intercourse and further cut to have a child. Permanent urinary dysfunction and birth canal defects are common. THIS IS BARBARIC AND SHOULD BE OUTLAWED!
3. CLITORIDECTOMY. This consists of the excision of the entire clitoris (both prepuce and glans) and the removal of the adjacent labia. (This is the endorsed operation.) It simply removes a useless and potentially harmful part of the female genitalia. Sexual, urinary, and menstrual functions remain normal.
We understand not everyone supports our position that the clitoris is comparable to a serious birth defect or cancerous tumor (334.) But history DOES. According to the Massachusetts Lunatic Asylum 1848 annual report 32% of admissions were for "self-pollution" or masturbation associated with an obsession with clitoral orgasm. According to the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, "masturbation is very injudicious to the health"(9:67, 1881- 1882.) It also linked the following diseases to masturbation of the clitoris: leucorrhoea, falling of the womb, cancer, functional disorders of the heart, spinal irritation, hysteria, convulsions, haggard features, mania, halitosis, and propensity for prostitution! "In my opinion, neither the plague, nor war, nor smallpox, nor a crowd of similar evils have resulted more disastrously for humanity, then the habit of masturbation: it is the destroying element of civilized society"(Review of European Legislation for Control of Prostitution, New Orleans Med Surg J 11:700-705, 1854- 1855). In 1866 British physician Dr. Isaac Brown Baker found excising the clitoris successful in treating and preventing epilepsy and other nervous disorders in female patients.
I’d like to share with you my experience of circumcising my daughters Jeanine and Kari. Each was a very rewarding and powerful event. I think this will help to further outline our organization’s philosophy and stand for Elective Female Circumcision.
When my daughter Jeanine turned seven years old she noticed a lot of the other girls at school were getting their ears pierced. Like a typical second grader, she was seduced by the sparkly stars and dangling hoops on the faces of the other girls in her class. She came home and questioned me about this practice. "Mommy, can I get earrings in my ears?" she asked. I said, "Jeanine, have you ever heard the expression, ‘I need blank about as much as I need a hole in the head?" "Yes," she answered. She had. I said, "Isn’t a pierced ear a lot like a hole in the head? You need a hole in the head about as much as you need…" "A hole in the head!" she said laughing. The subject was dropped. However, I used it as an opportunity to begin our discussion of female sexuality and development. I assert that about the time your daughter begins comparing herself physically to other females, it is time to have this discussion.
I started with a diagram of the female anatomy. We discussed the various functions of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, and uterus. When we came to the subject of the clitoris I explained its function was to give sexual gratification by producing something called an "orgasm." "Does this help make a baby?" she asked. "No," I said. "What’s it good for then?" (My daughter is very smart.) "It just makes you feel good. Kind of like getting goose bumps all over your body," I said. "That’s it?" she asked. "That’s it," I said. "Except, this kind of feeling good can be dangerous. You might become so preoccupied with feeling good that you don’t want to do anything else that is important to you." At this point I explained masturbation. I used the analogy of drug taking as we’d already discussed the dangers of drugs and alcohol. "In the same way that drugs and alcohol can distract you from your future or even contribute to an early death, so can a preoccupation with masturbation and sexual gratification. It can lead to loose sexual behavior, teen pregnancy, all the way to prostitution!" I said.
I asked Jeanine what was important to her. She said her sister Kari, getting good grades, her skating classes, and being a good mommy to our pet raccoons Beetlejuice and Charlie. I asked her if "feeling good for a few seconds" was something that was worth losing those things. Like I said, she’s very smart and quickly said no. Then I explained that there was an operation that could remove her clitoris so she would never be tempted to play around with it. Again, I used the analogy of alcohol. "Just like mommy doesn’t keep any alcohol in the house so we will never be tempted." She was very interested.
It was extremely important to me that my daughter be properly educated on the subject of female circumcision. Most people’s experience with Female Circumcision are the primitive practices in areas of the Middle East and Africa where there is NO explanation of the process and often times young girls are held down against their will. It is done mostly in unsanitary conditions in which a midwife uses unclean instruments like razor blades, pieces of glass or metal, scissors or kitchen knives to perform the operations. Sometimes they are used on several girls in a row and are rarely cleaned or sanitized. Naturally this causes the transmission of a variety of infections and these botched operations have numerous complications. Antiseptic and anesthesia are rarely used. Please understand I find this practice DISGUSTING and DANGEROUS. That is NOT the procedure I or my organization promote. I would NEVER subject my darling daughters to such barbaric treatment. In fact, F.A.C.E. worked on the task force that helped to pass legislation in Egypt making it ILLEGAL to perform these operations outside of a sanitary doctor’s office.
My daughter and I went together to visit one of the three F.A.C.E. doctors, who I will refer to as "Dr. G." since current federal laws prohibit this procedure on persons under 18. (Even though circumcision is FAR MORE PAINFUL and DANGEROUS to perform on women after puberty. Imagine a grown man circumcising his penis. Painful right? The Law is designed to PROHIBIT our choice as parents and women by limiting this procedure until the age when most doctors would refuse to perform it making it nearly IMPOSSIBLE.) Anyway, Dr. Gosselin was wonderful. During our first visit, he took my daughter into his office and discussed the operation in full detail. He explained the anesthesia, the various tools he would employ and used a clay vagina to point out exactly what would happen. My daughter found this exhilarating. She paid close attention. I could see her dreams of becoming a nurse shining in her eyes. I was bursting with pride. I wanted to be sure she was making an educated decision. I had her remove her pants and Dr. G showed her exactly where her clitoris was. He manipulated it for a short while and I asked her how it felt. "Good," she said. "That is the feeling I was talking about," I said. "I can live without it," she announced.
That evening we took the notes from our visit with Dr. G. and planned her aftercare. Since she would require approx. 10-14 days of rest we made a list of her favorite movies, snacks, and books. We went to the store and bought special "Recovery Pajama’s" and matching teddy bear. I also gave her $100.00 to spend on whatever she wanted. I moved the television set into her bedroom. She called this "Pretend Hospital." I had a special pendant made with her birthstone and presented it to her as a medal for her courage and integrity. Each year on the anniversary of her operation I celebrate by fixing her favorite meal and dessert and I give her a gift I think represents the power of being a woman.
On the morning of her operation she was the first one up! The operation and her wake from anesthesia was complete by mid-morning. By the following day, she was coloring in her journal and teasing her sister just like normal. Her follow-up visits with Dr. G (recommended every 2-3 days for 14 days) showed everything was successful. She was back to her skating classes the next month.
The entire experience was incredible. My daughter’s bravery was an inspiration to me. Her commitment to her full self and the stand she was willing to take moved me to tears. I am jealous of her Clitoridectomy and can only imagine what my life would have been like without my preoccupation for sexual gratification. I know now that my marriage would have been saved had I not been so adamant regarding my own sexual pleasure. There is PURPOSE to the male orgasm…to create life. The purpose of the female orgasm is to FEEL GOOD. If only I had my daughter’s wisdom when I was her age. This was an incredible bonding experience for me and my daughters. During Jeanine’s after- care, we colored, read books together and laughed a lot. She is a shining example of power and femininity.
My youngest daughter, Kari, was four at the time. On her seventh birthday she was practically BEGGING for her Clitoridectomy. My youngest daughter had obviously picked up on her older sister’s energy (which is magical) and was eager to produce the same results for her life. I made sure my daughter Kari’s process was special. (It is hard having two girls. The second often feels left out or like she got a hand-me-down.) At the time of Jeaninie’s operation there were only a handful of us participating in F.A.C.E.. Since that time we’ve grown and when it was Kari’s turn I had the idea of throwing a pre-operation party. Everyone was very excited about this and it has since become a tradition for our group; we call it the "Sacred Heart". At each Sacred Heart girls who have had the procedure can read inspirational poems to the Lady of Honor. The mother of the Honoree picks a courageous female role model (or Monta) she feels connects to her daughter’s spirit. Kari’s Monta was Joan of Arc. We read about the Monta and gifts are given according to this theme. Kari had a WONDERFUL time. Since there were four girls who had the operation before the induction of this new tradition we went back and assigned each of them a Monta and they now receive gifts in relation to this Monta on the anniversary of their operation.
Both of my daughters are amazing. I credit myself for my commitment to hands-on parenting, open communication and freedom. It is not easy being a single mother but I am careful to never complain, raise my voice or be "too busy" to attend to my children’s needs. I want to emphasize that the main point of F.A.C.E. is CHOICE. If one of our daughter’s expresses concern, or resistance to the operation we keep the lines of communication open. We encourage questions. And if a girl ultimately wishes to forgo the procedure, she is allowed to exercise that right. We are careful to make that clear to each of our daughters.
F.A.C.E. currently has 308 members nationwide. We have offices in South Carolina, California, Texas, Rhode Island, and Virginia. Presently Federal Law only outlaws Female Circumcision for persons under the age of 18 years. However, nine states have enacted laws to outlaw the operation COMPLETELY—AT ANY AGE! We have successfully defeated similar amendments in Colorado (96-031:1989), New York (S597 & S510: 1993), and South Carolina (7769:1994.) We are currently fighting a bill that has been on the table in Illinois (HB 3572) since 1996. However important these battles are, they are not the war.
As soon as we have raised $15 million dollars for our projected legal bills, myself and another mother will come out of hiding with our circumcised daughters and fight our case all the way to the Supreme Court in an effort to repeal the federal law. (Inspired by the courageous action of Woody Harrelson planting hemp seeds.) I am willing to put my so-called "freedom" on the line and risk jail time for this cause. Any support you can provide will be invaluable. We also use funds for the transportation and aftercare of participants without a F.A.C.E. doctor in their area.
For more information on F.A.C.E., how to talk with you daughter about the dangers of masturbation, a free guide and coloring book for preparing your daughter for Clitoridectomy or to pledge your monetary support, please contact us at:
F.A.C.E. 124 N. Alfred Street Alexandria, VA 22314
Please DO NOT SEND MONEY. Due to legal complications we are required to change our contact information every 90 days. We would hate to miss out on your generous contribution. Simply send your personal information and pledge amount and someone will contact you shortly.
Thank you in advance for your support,
Beatrice A. "Billy" Sinewski Founding Member & Development Officer, F.A.C.E.