London’s feminists have found a brand new hot-topic – and, seemingly, they’re not willing to share the stage with anyone. Especially baby boys.
Which is ironic given that their area of concern, involuntary circumcision, is a horror that doesn’t discriminate. It effects people from all over the world, both male and female, every single day. Even in a city as progressive as London.
Shockingly, for boys, this includes the state-sanctioned National Health Service.
But pick up a copy of London’s Evening Standard newspaper and you could be forgiven for thinking that so-called ‘genital cutting’ was a procedure which only affected women. Why? Because it’s under the feminist guidance of editor Sarah Sands.
Keen to write for and about women, she is constantly reporting on FGM as part of a personal campaign to make it the next human rights battle for Londoners – specifically, female Londoners. And, while this has many merits, the exclusion of men and boys troubles me. After all, while female circumcision is abhorrent and must be stopped, the same must apply for boys.
Not convinced? Read on.
Leading US website Not Just Skin note that: ‘Female circumcision is typically viewed as more horrific than male circumcision because it is usually done under unhygienic conditions rather than in a hospital, and because one form of female circumcision, infibulation, is particularly severe. However, both male and female circumcisions are classed as genital mutilation by the International Coalition for Genital Integrity.
‘Both forms of circumcision remove functional, normal tissue, cause extreme pain, permanently disfigure the genitals, and permanently damage the sexual response. And in most cultures where female circumcision is performed, male circumcision is also performed with equally unhygienic instruments. Regardless of the child’s gender, when done to infants or children, unnecessary genital surgeries violate human rights because they are amputations performed without medical need and without the individual’s consent.
‘The World Health Organization recognizes three types of female circumcision. Type I removes the clitoral hood and/or the clitoral tip. Type II removes the clitoral hood, clitoris, and part or all of the labia. Type III, also known as infibulation or pharaonic circumcision, involves removal of all external female genitalia and suturing of the vaginal opening. Male circumcision can be compared to type I or II female circumcision. Although the glans is not harmed at the time of circumcision, the loss of protective structures causes it to dry out and lose sensitivity over time. It is also important to note that most of the nerves and pleasure receptors present in the clitoris are, in the male, present in the foreskin and its associated structure, the frenulum. Removal of these nerves constitutes a loss that can be most adequately compared to a partial clitoridectomy.’
Fuelled by this, I addressed the matter with Sarah Sands when we met at an event in September.
There, at a party for The Power 1000: London’s Most Influential People 2013 – a list appropriately topped by baby Prince George – she stood up and delivered an unexpected, perhaps shoehorned, speech about female genital mutilation. She’d even invited a special guest to sing about the practice for the entertainment of partygoers.
So it wasn’t inappropriate for me to approach Ms Sands and politely asked her to widen her newspaper’s stance on circumcision to include men and boys. After all, somebody which such compassion would surely be keen to save every possible victim from this barbaric practice – not just one group with whom she identifies.
Shockingly, she – quite literally – ‘shhh-ed’ me.
Stunned, I waited, then tried again. But she maintained that circumcision was always, always, always worse for women. After further attempts to draw her attention to the devastating effects circumcision can have on boys, her parting words were that she would consider my views and potentially update her paper’s policy.
I was grateful for this. After all, it seemed like a very fair outcome for a busy editor hosting a party.
But, since then, I have sent Sarah Sands several follow-up emails over the past two months. I have even tried to contact her via twitter (her handle is @sandsstandard) but have been ignored.
In fact, every single correspondence has been greeted with silence.
Perhaps she is frightened of offending London’s Jewish community. Perhaps she’s too busy to reply. Perhaps she simply doesn’t care.
Either way, I have been forced to up my game. Yesterday, I started an online petition on Change.org to make her listen and protect both genders from circumcision. I would appreciate it if every reader of A Voice For Men took a minute to sign it – and share it.
After all, I support Sarah Sands’ commendable work on FGM – and will continue to do so. But, until she widens her newspaper’s stance to include men and boys, there’s a very real risk she has blood on her hands.
Sign the petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/sarah-sands-editor-at-the-evening-standard-newspaper-to-include-men-and-boys-in-their-opposition-to-involuntary-unnecessary-circumcision-otherwise-known-as-genital-mutilation
Note: This article is also available in Spanish.
Publishers note: To the editors, managers, contributors and readers of A Voice for Men. This post will remain at the top of our featured posts in the most prominent position on the site for a few days or until this petition has 1,000 signatures. Please sign and pass around for others to sign. –PE