Female Genital Mutilation: Long Term Psychological Effects

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Female Genital Mutilation: Long Term Psychological Effects

The Psychology Department
The Final Paper
Dr. F. Cramer Presented
By: Tim Abbas ID # 92-1356

Female Genital Mutilation, or Female Circumcision as sometimes called, is the partial or complete removal of the female clitoris immediately after birth, few years after birth (early childhood), or several years after birth (adolescence). Originally, female genital mutilation was practiced to ensure female virginity until marriage; as it was discovered that by the partial or complete removal of the clitoris, a female's sexual urge is minimized and, therefore, a girl could have more control over her sexual desires. Because virginity was and remains a very crucial factor in almost every society, circumcision was invented way in the past before any of the Heavenly Religions appeared. In fact, the most traditional and conservative type of circumcision is the Pharoanic type (Infibulation), where the complete removal of the clitoris occurs and the vulva walls are stitched together leaving a small opening for urination and menstrual discharge. Nowadays, however, it continues to be practiced in Africa and the Middle East mostly due to social forces. New reasoning developed through the years to keep the ritual going on. The many reasons given for the practice are bewildering and unfounded in any scientific or medical fact. They fall into four main categories: psycho-sexual, religious, sociological and hygienic. Among the psycho-sexual reasons is a belief that the clitoris is an aggressive organ that threatens the male organ and even endangers babies during delivery. It is believed that if a baby's head touches the mother's clitoris during birth, the child will be born with a low IQ. Hence, a girl who is not circumcised, is considered 'unclean' by local villagers and thus unmarriageable. A girl who does not have here clitoris removed is considered a great danger and ultimately fatal to a man if her clitoris touches his penis. Also, the circumcision issue is seen as a form of beauty. It is seen as aesthetically beautiful, as genitals are disfiguring and ugly in their natural state (Real Net, 2). In short, nowadays the practice isn't done to explicitly mean that girls are untrustable, but because, presently, the woman's clitoris is considered to be an ugly part in a woman's body and perceived to be harmful in many ways. And not long ago, Sigmund Freud wrote 'The elimination of clitorial sexuality is a necessary precondition for the development of femininity."

According to psychologists, the practice is known to be done in order to suppress women. A patriarchal society is what defines most of those African and Middle Eastern countries. It is argued that a man keeps his superiority over women by controlling every aspect in her life. And since sexuality is such a major part in a human's life, a close control over this specific aspect in a woman meant to keep here under a tight male control. Circumcision ensures that a woman will not have had any sexual intercourse before marriage and thus is subject to what she is told to do by her husband. That is, due to past inexperience and low internal sexual drive, she is totally ignorant of what she is supposed to do regarding this matter. According to an article in the Real Net Access, "Women have been persuaded to see their sexual impulses in terms that suit men.... man's pleasure is paramount and women are merely vehicles for procuring this enjoyment."(Real Net, 2). Thus, the husband entails what should be done and what shouldn't, according to his preferences. So, it is only when and how the husband needs; the wife here is reduced to nothing but an object of pleasure. Psychologists, thus, argue that to deny a woman the basic right to her sexuality, is to deny her the rights to having strength, power and identity. The inability of a women to regulate their lives inhabilitates them; "they remain under the heels of patriarchal...
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