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Jan 15 2012

Fairy tale Sunday

Have you heard about the recent breast implant scare in Europe and South America? It goes like this:

A French manufacturer (Poly Implant Prosthese, or “PIP”) gets busted for making their sexbags with cut-rate industrial grade silicone and (some allege) a fuel additive. The bags are distributed globally into the innocent chests of over 300,000 women. Naturally, these cheap-ass implants are rupture-prone. Depending on the agenda of the organization doing the reporting, the rupture rate is between 1% and 7%.

In the wake of this revelation there emerges a big furor over whether governments will endorse recommendations to remove the PIPs, who will pay for the removals, whether patients should get free replacements, and which patients would qualify for which services. In the UK, for example, although they’re not recommending removal across the board, the NHS says it will remove the chest units for free, but it won’t replace ‘em. Etc.

Here is the story of a UK woman who needed big boobs, so she took out a loan and got some PIPs installed. Five years of suffering later, she finds out the PIPs have been recalled, but the installer, Harley Medical Group, won’t pay. Suck it, lady, that’s what you get for being fatuous and vain.

Mang, this kind of thing makes my lobe sprout tumors.

As Marianne Møllmann of Amnesty International notes in her essay on the subject of the PIP scare,

[I]t is an intervention which is carried out solely to satisfy stereotyped notions of what a women could or should be, and which has:
1. no discernible health benefits;
2. a negative impact on women’s sexual health; and
3. permanent effects on women’s health more generally.

But oh snap! Møllmann isn’t talking about breast implants. She’s talking about female genital mutilation. In her essay she observes the similarities between FGM and breast enbiggenment surgery (what I’ll call FBM, female breast mutilation). She even remarks that, apart from the fact that “the former makes us queasy and the second doesn’t,” they’re the same flippin thing. Like most people, however, she stops short of calling FBM a human rights violation, although to most Westerners, FGM clearly is.

But really, what’s the diff? The two practices occupy overlapping points in the oppression continuum. They are both the result of misogynist social conditioning, they are both carried out on victims who have little or no personal autonomy, they are both justified by the notion that conformity to a patriarchal ideal will improve their chances of success. Either they are both a human rights violation, or neither is.

Much is made of the notion that FGM is practiced 1) in unsanitary conditions 2) on children who have not consented, and for those two reasons it supposedly differs wildly from elective procedures performed in clinics on empowerful Western women who are jumbo-izing their boobs “for themselves.” But I assert that even adult women who ostensibly agree to breast mutilation cannot have arrived at that choice from a position of full human agency. I assert this because no woman anywhere enjoys full human agency.

300,000 women in this PIP debacle alone. It’s a fucking bloodbath! The sequence of events leading to this moment are tragic, macabre, and horrific in the extreme. Consider:

300,000 women aren’t dumb. But instead of getting an invitation to life’s rich pageant, since the cradle they have done nothing but absorb messages that illuminate their many defects. As a matter of survival they have been forced to embrace femininity as their prime directive. Land a dude and beget the son and heir, etc.

Now adults, these women perceive that, as members of the sex class, their prospects with dudes — and in fact their value as human beings — depend entirely on the degree to which they succeed in appeasing the dominant class. They grasp that greater rewards accrue to women who display sexual availability than do to women who make no effort to submissively self-pornulate. They further observe that they belong to a culture wherein large breasts are fetishized. They surmise that they will achieve higher status, and in turn be happy and loved, if they conform as closely as possible to the fetishized ideal.

So 300,000 women study themselves in the mirror. They note in scrupulous detail their numerous cosmetic departures from the beauty standard. They decide that they are defective enough to warrant self-mutilation. They submit to extremely gross, painful, invasive, potentially life-ending surgery wherein leaky baggies filled with a substance normally used as mattress gel are implanted into healthy tissue. Their reward? Now they can send the message the oppressor longs to hear: “You win. I am a sack of meat. Fill me up with your fluids, your garbage, your mattress gel, and your disdain.”

And they live happily ever after.

194 comments

3 pings

  1. Lady K

    So, um, did I just miss something, or is nobody trying to sue the everloving fuck out of the manufacturers of these breast implants? Because even as ungainly and painstakingly time-consuming as the legal systems of these various countries can be, surely someone has a vested interest in taking the people who put jet fuel in their tits and relieving them of their money?

  2. Twisty

    You just missed something:

    PARIS: About 1,000 South American women plan to sue French firm PIP over the potentially faulty breast implants the company supplied to about 300,000 women across the world, their lawyer said Tuesday.

    Lawyer Arie Alimi said about 500 Argentinian women and an equal number from Venezuela were planning to be civil plaintiffs in the probe by French police into PIP and its founder Jean-Claude Mas.

    The probe is expected to lead to a court case to be held in the southern French city of Marseille later this year.

    PIP allegedly used an illegal industrial-grade gel that investigators say has led to abnormally high rates of ruptured implants.

    France, Germany and the Czech Republic have recommended that the devices be removed as a precaution but Britain has said it will not follow suit.

    Thirteen countries in Europe and Latin America have urged women to have a check up. In two of them — Bolivia and Venezuela — the state is offering operations to have the implants removed, but has not made this a recommendation.

    In contrast, Australia says it found no evidence that the implants posed a risk.

    More than 450 lawsuits have been filed in three countries, and French police have placed PIP and its 72-year-old founder under investigation. – AFP/wk

  3. Tehomet

    That thing about one of the reasons that FGM is reprehensible is due to it being carried out in unsanitary conditions, without anaesthetic, by untrained people, and so on, enrages me. Like it would be just *fine* to mutilate the genitals of women and girls if it was done in a hospital in a warm haze of disinfectant! FFS.

    Re: the PIP suckfest, I’m told that around twenty per cent of the women who had those faulty implants installed did so as part of the aftermath of cancer treatment. Talk about first the Patriarchy injures you, then it rubs salt in the wound.

  4. gwyllion

    i cried this morning after reading this section:

    Now adults, these women perceive that, as members of the sex class, their prospects with dudes — and in fact their value as human beings — depend entirely on the degree to which they succeed in appeasing the dominant class. They grasp that greater rewards accrue to women who display sexual availability than do to women who make no effort to submissively self-pornulate. They further observe that they belong to a culture wherein large breasts are fetishized. They surmise that they will achieve higher status, and in turn be happy and loved, if they conform as closely as possible to the fetishized ideal.

    So 300,000 women study themselves in the mirror. They note in scrupulous detail their numerous cosmetic departures from the beauty standard. They decide that they are defective enough to warrant self-mutilation. They submit to extremely gross, painful, invasive, potentially life-ending surgery wherein leaky baggies filled with a substance normally used as mattress gel are implanted into healthy tissue. Their reward? Now they can send the message the oppressor longs to hear: “You win. I am a sack of meat. Fill me up with your fluids, your garbage, your mattress gel, and your disdain.”

    And they live happily ever after.

    Man oh man is this ever the truth – distilled down to a t-shirt i had made after a performance piece (about the aging female body entitled Imperfect Specimen)

    UNFUCKABLE=INVISIBLE

  5. TansyJ

    If a 12-year-old girl raised in an oppressive culture that celebrated FGM showed up at an American hospital volunteering herself for the process one would like to think that there would be at least some controversy.

    Questions asked maybe about her age, her influences of the right to practice her “chosen” religion vs. the ethics of FGM.

    If a 16-year-old raised on a steady diet of Gossip Girl and Playboy culture showed up and asked for breast implants, well, she’s just another dumb whore, right?

    Also, as an owner of (very)large breasts, can I postulate that out culture does not so much fetishize large breasts as it does fake ones?

  6. Gayle

    “Much is made of the notion that FGM is practiced 1) in unsanitary conditions 2) on children who have not consented, and for those two reasons it supposedly differs wildly from elective procedures performed in clinics on empowerful Western women who are jumbo-izing their boobs”

    FGM and boob jobs are wildly different. Your reason number two is one reason and the level of lifelong damage/ heinous consequences FGM creates is another.

  7. susanw

    “Also, as an owner of (very)large breasts, can I postulate that out culture does not so much fetishize large breasts as it does fake ones?”

    What it fetishizes is compliance. It doesn’t matter if implants, make-up, fashion, working out, coquettishness or constant dieting make a women more aesthetically pleasing; it is her acceptance of her membership in the sex class, her acquiescence to objectification, and her surrender of any claim to personhood that makes her more attractive

  8. Comrade PhysioProf

    FGM and boob jobs are wildly different. Your reason number two is one reason and the level of lifelong damage/ heinous consequences FGM creates is another.

    The post very clearly explains how it is that the “consent” of women to breast enlargement procedures is not really consent. It also very clearly explains that breast enlargement procedures can result in lifelong damage and heinous consequences.

  9. Jenna

    Along with FBM we have our own form of FGM. Labiaplasty is unfortunately a real plastic surgery practice.

  10. crickets

    Have been using this story as a prime illustration of exactly what place women hold in western culture to anyone who’ll listen. First women get told how shit they are, then sold the “solution” to the problem of their shitness by vast corporations who pretend to care. Corporations in fact care so little about women that they pump women full of non-medical grade shit, then sit back and snigger whilst raking in the cash. It’s sad and it’s sick. Any of the men invoved in this crime would no doubt profess their great “love” for women if asked. I hope this hits the cosmetic surgery industry hard and puts an end to or at least a serious dint in the number of implant surgeries sold. It angers me – it’s such a naked illustration of western contempt for women, the poor treatment on top of the misogyny, and the refusal of responsibility. (I say western, because we’re the people buying implants and surgeries in the west, and so sadly this story strikes a greater chord for most of us than news about FGM happening in “other” countries, or even to the women we see as “other” in our countries. I agree with the comparison between breast surgery or labiaplasty and FGM. On some FGM awareness training I learned that in practice, it tends to be women performing FGM on other younger women, and espousing the bullshit rhetoric of how good it is for girls to have it done otherwise they won’t grow up right. It’s the same old story of getting us to mutilate each other or ourselves, and the men can wash their hands of it and laugh about the crazy things women dream up.)

  11. yttik

    “FGM and boob jobs are wildly different”

    FGM and boob jobs are not wildly different. Leaking industrial grade silicone into your system can be deadly.

    “If a 12-year-old girl raised in an oppressive culture that celebrated FGM showed up at an American hospital volunteering herself for the process one would like to think that there would be at least some controversy.”

    Sadly, no. Until the 1950′s FGM was practiced here in the US in hospitals as a cure for everything from lesbianism to hysteria. Even today, as recently as last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics was endorsing the practice, perhaps believing that if the procedure was performed under sterile conditions it would be better than having it done at home.

  12. MPMR

    Tansy: Like susanw said. You can have 34DD’s (or whatever the “perfect” size is today), but they can still be very very wrong. Your nipples might be too low, or your areolas too large or too brown. They might hang or be asymmetrical. They could be too soft, or too hard; too close together or too far apart. There’s ALWAYS room for “improvement”, whether you have implants or not.

    Hating yourself, no matter how close to the beauty ideal you are, is important, because it gives you and men something in common.

  13. Twisty

    Gayle, you have rejected the thesis of my post, but you forgot to present supporting arguments.

  14. Bushfire

    It’s not just about the breasts being large, they also have to look a certain way. They have to be round and buoyant, with flawless, tanned skin, no hairs, and small, smooth nipples. Getting breast implants is only a part of it, there’s also tanning, lotion application, plucking, etc. You could really dedicate your whole life to it.

    Mariah Carey has a staff member who “monitors her cleavage”.

    In the evening, this assistant also has the task of monitoring her cleavage and reapplying modesty tape, if required.

    Seriously, read, the article. It takes a lot of staff to maintain femininity. Imagine if, instead of monitoring cleavage, human beings built affordable housing or fed the starving?

    Femininity Degrades The Whole Species.

  15. yttik

    “They surmise that they will achieve higher status, and in turn be happy and loved, if they conform as closely as possible to the fetishized ideal.”

    Okay Twisty, out of respect for you, I’ll just shut my damn mouth.

  16. Killerchick

    The correlation between breast implants and the development of autoimmunity diseases is long recorded in medical literature. See e.g.: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1022384/ . (It’s from 1994. There are more up-to-date studies, but I don’t have them to hand.)

    Warning: descent into anecdotia for the purpose of point validation:

    I have, since the age of 22, suffered from a (currently undifferentiated) autoimmunity disease which behaves mostly like Lupus. I have never had a cosmetic procedure in my life. My disease is just a bum crap shoot – the result of some combination of genes and personality type, apparently. It is debilitating, exhausting, and chronically painful.

    For the fact that the beauty mandate is sufficiently powerful that otherwise perfectly healthy women are prepared. not only to undergo life-threatening surgery to conform to it, but also to risk the daily hell that I have known for the past 15 years, I blame you know what.

  17. Killerchick

    Bugger. My full stop after “prepared” in the last paragraph convinced me that it was a comma.

  18. Kea

    The P fetishizes compliance, yes, and it has chosen fake breasts as one symbol of this compliance. For example, having large breasts is a definite disadvantage in fields where women have to immitate men to achieve the highest permitted position of Token Woman.

  19. polarcontrol

    There’s a piece on the same issue at Feministe:

    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/01/13/the-parallels-between-breast-augmentation-and-fgm/

    There are even some good comments, before it all somehow turns into a debate on trans and feminism 101..

  20. Keri

    We “organic” women just complain so dern much about emboobulating and having our clits cut off. That’s why it just better if men become a “doll husband” and love a synthetic lady like on this show I saw on Nat Geo the other day (you can elect to skip an ad at the beginning).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH97GbkagBw

    I say we just order these up for all the dudes out there and then we “organic” women don’t have to be bothered anymore. What a relief!

  21. josquin

    This post is absolute brilliance. Absolutely right on and to the point; your comparison of FGM and breast implants is unimpeachable. And it made me want to cry also.

  22. quixote

    Yup. It’s all about advertising compliance. That’s the main reason FGM, FBM, and “bridalplasty” are all brothers under the skin. That’s why fashion and comfort are strangers. The French had (have?) a saying, “Il faut souffrir pour etre belle,” “you have to suffer to be beautiful.” No suffering, no conventional beauty.

    I know a young woman who’s a natural supermodel. Perfect shape, perfect size, perfect face, and when she’s happy light glows from her eyes. But she’s not trying to make anything of it. She’s brilliant, and she’s going to Stanford, and she doesn’t care how she looks. When I pointed out to somebody how extraordinary her looks were, he didn’t know what I was talking about. He had to really consider and think about it, and then he said, “Yeah. I guess I see what you mean.” No compliance advertising, and even the most extraordinary beauty becomes invisible.

  23. quixote

    Oh, and a cleavage monitoring assistant?

    /*snorts coffee even though, really, it’s just one more sad sad sad self-empornulation*/

  24. Will Blame for Food

    But instead of getting an invitation to life’s rich pageant, since the cradle they have done nothing but absorb messages that illuminate their many defects.

    We members of the sex class ARE the “life’s rich pageant.” The only invitees are dude.

  25. Twisty

    Well when I say “life’s rich pageant” I mean the fulfilling stuff men get to accomplish and take credit for, like directing films and being physicists. But I see what you mean.

  26. tinfoil hattie

    I am 100% sure that “Will Blame for Food” was being utterly sardonic.

    The difference between other, feminist-y blogs and this one lies in the comments:

    Not sure I’m understanding the comparison here… if FGM were to be carried out on a consenting adult female, would we actually call it a human rights violation? Really? What if she wanted it? People do extraordinary things to their bodies and to their genitals – extreme body modifications, if you will – and nobody says it’s a human rights violation: indeed, quite the opposite, it’s people asserting their rights to do what they want with their own bodies.

    And Tehmoet, above, is right on the mark. From the same commenter I quoted:

    A woman in a clean, sanitary operating theatre, actively choosing to have the same procedure done on her, with full knowledge and consent, is WORLDS away from that scared girl. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that FGM, if done in the right spirit (i.e. one of reclaiming one’s own body, of making oneself happy), could even be potentially empowering for some women (for comparison, consider men who voluntarily bifurcate their penises – extreme body modification done for aesthetic/artistic reasons). But that is very, VERY different, clearly, from the majority of FGM that occurs at the moment.

    Breast enlargement? Not even on that commenter’s radar screen.

  27. No Sugarcoating

    FGM can be empowering if done in the right spirit? Seriously? Seriously.

  28. yttik

    “FGM can be empowering if done in the right spirit? Seriously?”

    Yep, seriously. Today self mutilation is how women reclaim their bodies, pornography and sex is how we empower ourselves, gender is a consensual choice, and marriage is a desirable civil right. Go figure.

  29. Yessenia

    What I love about the argument that FGM could be an empowerful choice if made by an adult, consenting woman in a clean environment is the implicit requirement that we, the women who are being scolded about empowerfulness, are not fully human adults capable of judging this choice.

    Kind of makes our point for us. We, foolishly thinking we have more agency than women who pay thousands of dollars to experience the pain and misery of having bags shoved in their chest, cannot possibly know what an empowerful choice that woman is making. We’re not allowed to make comparisons between FGM and FBM, because if we ever tasted the sweet nectar of agency, we might find ourselves volunteering for such a nightmare.

    It’s as if the only women whose agency we must defend at all costs are the women who are mutilating themselves, wearing identity-obliterating tents, or otherwise advertising their compliance to the patriarchal mandate.

    It’s a feature, I suspect, to add one more doubt to the revolution: maybe we’re not free enough to recognize our own oppression for what it is, or to judge the oppression of others. The irony!

  30. Mildred

    I’m married. I argue with my husband endlessly about things he’ll never get because he is a dude. I say that I pity these women, for they have been brainwashed, and it is all men’s fault and if they had a lick of decency the daily sport would charge an extra 10p for every issue sold until they can replace these ladies breast implants, for where else did they get this expectation of what they should look like from? And of course they will want them replaced, because a health scare like this is probably not going to erase the hate they feel for their normal breasts, and normal bodies.
    He says that I’M a misogynist for saying that we’re these brainwashed little drones, that women do these things for power, to gain favour and sexual attention off men and make other women feel like crap.
    And this is where my brain can’t make the next leap. Because I do feel like this whole system is men’s fault, I just can’t articulate how or why. I mean, if WE were in charge would we all suddenly stop competing with one another? It feels like you can never have the upper hand in this argument because you’ve got the whole social system backing the other side.
    Its all uncharted territory. Easier just to say that these ladies got what was coming to them for being so vain like my brother in law said today while watching more boring Sunday football.

  31. Yessenia

    You could ask your husband why lack of boobs or a little extra weight around the midsection never held a man back from power. They’re making a rational choice, given their patriarchy-limited options. That doesn’t make those choices a good thing, or mean those choices would exist in a world where a woman’s power is inversely proportionate to her age.

  32. Kea

    Mildred, have you asked him exactly what kind of REAL power these women have? What if they were horrendously disfigured in an accident? Would the P continue to grant them their ‘power’?

  33. Twisty

    “He says that I’M a misogynist for saying that we’re these brainwashed little drones”

    Misogynists accuse me of misogyny every flippin day. Pah. It is not an act of misogyny to point out misogyny, but it is an act of misogyny to for a dude to tell a woman that she’s a misogynist for noticing her own oppression.

  34. Notorious Ph.D.

    I do feel like this whole system is men’s fault, I just can’t articulate how or why. I mean, if WE were in charge would we all suddenly stop competing with one another?

    It may have started out that way, and men certainly benefit more than women. But there are enough little rewards for the especially compliant that women have become complicit. Patriarchy couldn’t survive without it.

    Think of patriarchy like one of those horrendous reality shows where women compete to get some guy to marry them or something. The men start it running, then just step back and let the women contort themselves and scrabble with each other for the meager prize that only one of them can get, stirring the pot as necessary with a complement or a slight or a silence or a piece of jewelry when the women start to lose interest in the prize itself. It’s a game that you can’t really win — you just get the illusion of winning something.

    Patriarchy is like that, except that there is no Outside the Game.

  35. AlienNumber

    Twisty, this was just such a brilliant essay.
    I just can’t quit you!

    I’d add one thing: that with or without industrial toxic mattress leakage and/or the absence of clitoris, surgery in and of itself fucking hurts. Necessary or unnecessary surgery. I’m saying this after a mere fall from my bike which resulted in some stitches (and then their removal) in my chin. Who knew having a needle inserted into one’s chin – with neosporin, mind you- can be so effin’ unbelievably painful?
    The fact that 300,000 women survived the experience of having neosporin injected into their breasts alone only speaks to the amazing strength women actually have.
    Anyway, wow that shit hurts. Stay away from it!

  36. susanw

    Kia is right: it’s power. Power is measured by the range and scope of choices available. Women’s choices will always be more restricted under patriarchy because our fitness, our survivability, is contingent in great part on quoxite’s advertised compliance. ( I love that phrase and plan to use it often.) Mothers who push their daughters to shave their legs are no less enforcing male preferences than the mothers who subject their daughters to FGM. The difference lies in male tastes, not in the power of the mothers. As cricket said, the women are required to do the dirty work, and for the saddest of reasons. Males dictate what is acceptable, and mothers try to mold their daughters in the ways that will keep them safe and help them be successful. We do it because we love them. This may be the worst cruelty of patriarchal oppression.

  37. IBlameRonPaul

    Well, it looks like patriarchy just won’t quit. From the Atlantic (Monthly? Is it still called that?)

    Though the recession has blunted overall demand for cosmetic surgeries, one subcategory appears to be entering a growth phase, at least judging from the fifth annual Congress on Aesthetic Vaginal Surgery, held late last year in a luxury resort outside Tucson. There, about 60 doctors, most of them OB-GYNs, converged to discuss the expanding field of “cosmetic-gyn”—elective surgeries for women seeking to “rejuvenate” and/or “beautify” their vaginas. Attendance at the conference has been increasing by about 20 percent each year (snipped for copyright)

    The affable organizer of the Tucson event, Dr. Red Alinsod, was an early entrant into cosmetic-gyn, and is recognized for inventing the procedure in which the labia minora are completely amputated to create a “smooth” genital look known in the field as “the Barbie.”

    The rest (prepare for lobe-splosion):

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/06/perverse-incentives/8489/

    If that wasn’t enough, take a gander at this link from a California plastic surgery clinic that “pretends” to be a gynecologist’s office: http://urogyn.org/avs_essure_sterilization.html. The stories about Hymenoplasty (involving a potential non-virgin bride killing, for real) and Labial Reduction are just awesome. (Note: Some of the links are NSFW due to photos. Also, I am being sarcastic about the awesomeness. Legalized, ENDORSED FGM is anything but.)

    Meanwhile, I’m one of those 1 in 100 people whose blood doesn’t clot properly, and stress makes me sick, so about half my menstrual periods each year are utter hell. (I don’t have endometriosis or any physical problem – this is purely related to the stress of the macho job world I inhabited, as it doesn’t pop up on weekends, vacations, during “light” work months, or while unemployed.) The gyno’s answer? “Go on the pill.” Whoops, can’t. Progesterone, estrogen, or combo – they all exacerbate my migraines, and send me to the mental hospital for panic attacks. Any other ideas? “Uh, take an Advil.” My stomach lining’s shot from gobbling 4 at a time for years. Any other bright ideas? “No, that’s all I can think of.” Wow, brilliant! Can I have my co-pay back?

    We’ve made “miraculous breakthroughs” in labiablasty but can’t be fucked to treat menstrual troubles without hormones? This blamer started buying painkillers from friends for those hellish cycles. Blamer healed thyself. And blames, oh how she blames. Is also considering moving to country where painkillers are legal and abundant in time for menopause, since the American Medical Establishment can’t do fuck-all for that either.

  38. IBlameRonPaul

    My comment’s in moderation and I’ve been yapping too much lately on here anyway, so if it doesn’t make it out, Google “south coast urogynecology aesthetic surgery,” and prepare to be angry.

  39. Wandering Uterus

    “They surmise that they will achieve higher status, and in turn be happy and loved, if they conform as closely as possible to the fetishized ideal.”

    A horrible irony in all this is that even if women do get enough surgeries that they’re significantly close to the ideal, it doesn’t get them love. It can’t. It gets them status as approved, fuckable objects, and being an object and being loved are mutually exclusive.

    Dudes become attached to such perceived women-objects and claim that they can’t live without them. They might even say they love these women. But do they actually love them as people? Nope.

  40. Ugsome

    Oh, IBlameRonPaul, when I lived in SoCal I got an advertising postcard from these assholes! No, the card was not addressed to me personally–I don’t pop up on the radar for ‘aesthetic’ services of any kind, thank goddess–but I was all the same wildly offended that this item invaded my home.

    We put up with a lot here in France but at least they like our hoo-hoos they way they are.

  41. Margaret

    Medically unnecessary episiotomy would belong on the WHO list Type IV. Why is this monstrous routine-in-many-places practise not specifically mentioned?

  42. Keira

    As always, there’s no way to win. As WanderingUterus pointed out, women don’t get love for fake boobs.

    If you don’t get ‘em, men whinge and humiliate about unattractive boobs. If you do get ‘em, you’re stupid, vain, and only worthy for fucking, not for marrying/keeping (or any other kind of dudenation-sanctioned “love”).

    As per usual, if it were toxic, leaky ball-implants, there’d be two minutes national silence and free replacements for everyone.

  43. Mildred

    Being married has taught me a very valuable lesson, no matter how much a dude might care about you, or spend time with you, listening to your deep thoughts, they’ll never understand the P, they will fight it and deny it til they’re blue in the face because at the root of it they have to recognise the part they play in perpetuating it. I don’t think they will ever be capable of loving or respecting a woman until they recognise how they tyrannise women and spend years of self reflection to eradicate all these behaviours, don’t ALL women do this for their partners as standard, as we’re taught and chastised by society unless we are emotionally sensitive, supportive of all their dreams and goals, nurturing, sexually available, selfless.
    I got married thinking that we were clever people and we could make of marriage whatever we wanted, while the big things are okay I know there is this ‘default setting’ as it were. I know he cares about me a real whole lot, and probably loves me as much as his conditioning allows. But respect me? No. See me as any sort of authority, no. Accept or empathise with any of the things I say about the P, no, never.
    We had an argument about the breast implants situation and he kept insisting that the reason why all of these women got breast implants was power, that that is the reason why men have created this hierarchical society, power, and women getting breast implants is just a manifestation of a human desire to dominate one another. Therefore, it is human, and not a patriarchal problem.
    I wouldn’t back down from my position and he wouldn’t back down from his, even though he’s never had breasts, only ‘consumed them’ until he finally raised his hand to me. But didn’t do it. And said he’d never respect my history of domestic abuse, because he understands why they did it now.
    I’m very lonely and isolated here and I feel really trapped. I have no one to talk about this to, what he’s like, or about my radical feminist perspective on breast implants. I feel like, I can identify these things, but I’m trapped in them and I’m still a victim to them. The only place I have is the internet.

  44. Ugsome

    “But respect me? No. See me as any sort of authority, no. Accept or empathise with any of the things I say about the P, no, never.” Mildred, you have echoed my thoughts exactly. I’m not even ‘allowed’ to kick my husband’s ass in Bananagrams–and I’m the goddamn native English speaker.

  45. slipperyslope

    I like how this post mentions “rewards.” What rewards to we get? Love and sexual attention were mentioned. As already pointed out, these two things are not mutually exclusive. Maybe we need to ask ourselves what we expect to happen by letting a man into our intimate lives. I know we are not supposed to mention heterosexual intercourse in our posts, but I think this may be at the crux of the situation. The truth that most people are loath to admit is that heterosexual intercourse does not result in orgasm for most women. There are several factors which contribute to this.

    Anatomy – Many men (and women) do not know that the clitoris exists. It is mostly ignored during heterosexual intercourse.

    Unattractive Male Parter – Most straight women have intercourse with men for many reasons other than to experience orgasm (all men, gay, straight, or bi have sex expecting to reach orgasm). Most women have sex to gain acceptance, feel good about themselves, get love, get money, etc. Many straight men these days just don’t look good. They are fat, hairless and sloppy. In our society, women must respond to an offer, they cannot make one. It is very difficult to become sexually stimulated under these circumstances.

    Poor Body Image – This doesn’t need much more explanation. We all know what this is.

    Getting breast implants does not increase the chance of a woman reaching orgasm. Most straight men are terrible lovers. And men do not “love” women. They want sex and that sometimes leads to dependency which appears to be love but it isn’t. For myself, I have experienced different kinds of love such as love in long-term non-conjugal friendships and familial love of my parents, siblings and children. Regarding sexual partners, I have felt sexual attraction, infatuation and codependency but not love.

    As far as professional advancement is concerned, I am employed in a female dominant organization. I am an elementary school teacher. The principal of our school hired me not because of my breast size but because I can keep thirty kindergarteners under control while pushing Dubya’s All Children Left Behind curriculum.

    So I really don’t see what rewards breast implants bestow on their owners. Maybe they could financially benefit strippers, porn stars and sex workers, but most women do not work in these professions. And what happens if you get breast implants and the dude you are interested in turns out to be gay or likes flat chested women.

    Things are definitely way out of balance. I don’t think dudes are supposed to be as big a part of straight women’s lives as they currently occupy. They are violent, fickle and unpredictable. Straight women need to think carefully before abusing their bodies. What do we really want. Is there another way of we can achieve this?

  46. Treefinger

    @Keira

    They also whine about fake boobs for being unattractive. 90% of straight men think they can tell the difference between fake and not just by looking*, and are turned off by the idea of fake boobs (if they know, or think they know, a woman has them). They claim they prefer natural large breasts, but as someone explained above, the only natural large breasts they would actually praise are the 0.01% of those that are also perky, large, tanned, hairless and with small pale nipples.

    *They can’t. People look for unnaturally rounded, pushed up breasts when they look for fake breasts, but since only very large implants can be seen under the skin, and many women without implants use push-up bras to create that same dome shape, it’s hardly reliable. Also, implants aren’t the only way to enlarge breasts cosmetically- there’s also injections of spurious substances, from the generally outlawed liquid silicone to the generally approved macrolane.

  47. Katherine

    The Barbie? What the ever-loving fuck? There have been years of examination and criticism of the damn doll, and now male doctors (who apparently have never heard of the Hypocratic Oath) are turning women INTO the damn doll.

    It’s getting worse intead of better.

  48. Twisty

    It isn’t that “we are not supposed to mention heterosexual intercourse in our posts.” My preference is that blamers refrain from descriptions of their personal sex lives. Why? Call me mentally ill, but I just can’t fucking stand reading that shit. Any point about straight sex relevant to patriarchy blaming can be made without a porny level of detail. Happily for straight people who need to describe their boinking rituals to thousands of strangers, the entire rest of the internet welcomes it with open arms, so I’m not depriving anybody of their Right to TMI.

  49. Bushfire

    Being married has taught me a very valuable lesson, no matter how much a dude might care about you, or spend time with you, listening to your deep thoughts, they’ll never understand the P, they will fight it and deny it til they’re blue in the face because at the root of it they have to recognise the part they play in perpetuating it. I don’t think they will ever be capable of loving or respecting a woman until they recognise how they tyrannise women and spend years of self reflection to eradicate all these behaviours, don’t ALL women do this for their partners as standard, as we’re taught and chastised by society unless we are emotionally sensitive, supportive of all their dreams and goals, nurturing, sexually available, selfless.

    Mildred, that was extremely well written. Brava! I have no interest at all in getting married, and you’ve described why better than I ever have.

    @Katherine And after you get the Barbie surgery, you can put on the Barbie makeup.

  50. Twisty

    Quoth Mildred:

    “I’m very lonely and isolated here and I feel really trapped. I have no one to talk about this to, what he’s like, or about my radical feminist perspective on breast implants. I feel like, I can identify these things, but I’m trapped in them and I’m still a victim to them. The only place I have is the internet.”

    This is precisely what I mean when I try to explain to women that this patriarchy shit is not just an intellectual conceit. It actually affects actual women — not hypothetical women, but all women, even YOU. Sometimes women who are fairly comfortable or busy with their kids and jobs, they don’t give it much thought, but the reason revolution is the only solution is that just reading sardonic essays about it doesn’t make it go away. Patriarchy entraps all of us, and there’s no opting out. Even the most privileged among us is oppressed. The nuclear family — specifically the hetero nuclear family — is how patriarchy replicates itself. The “institution” of marriage is a human rights crisis.

  51. Laurie

    Thank you for not only this brilliant post, but the kick-ass coda:

    The “institution” of marriage is a human rights crisis.

    Too true.

  52. Margaret

    “I wouldn’t back down from my position and he wouldn’t back down from his, even though he’s never had breasts, only ‘consumed them’ until he finally raised his hand to me. But didn’t do it. And said he’d never respect my history of domestic abuse, because he understands why they did it now.”

    This – this lack of understanding, this threat of danger, and violent retaliation for speaking truth – is a feature of the P. They’ll defend their right to be willfully blind to the utmost. What an utterly lonely life to have with one’s supposed intimate partner. It’s a sickening situation.

    IBTP and Thank Twisty for the bright spot of sanity to help us name and shame the P, and know we are in good company.

  53. Notorious Ph.D.

    Mildred, that sounds like a living hell. Run, don’t walk. Alone is better.

  54. Tehomet

    @slipperyslope: Please leave out the anti-fat prejudice. Thank you.

  55. Twisty

    I’m not sure why I put “institution” in quotation marks. Sometimes I go punctuation CRAZY!!!!!!@#$

  56. yttik

    “Run, don’t walk. Alone is better.”

    Not everybody has the means or the option to run. Twisty’s post said, “300,000 women aren’t dumb.” That applies to everything in our lives. Many women are forced to make the best choices we can under the circumstances. If we had genuine autonomy and freedom, we wouldn’t have to choose between burning to death or freezing to death.

  57. AlienNumber

    “Burning to death and freezing to death”? What a choosey choice!
    Reminds me of that someecard: trying to decide which one is the least bad Republican candidate is like trying to decide what’s my favorite STD.

    Well-put, yttik.

  58. Sistertongue

    MILDRED

    “He says that I’M a misogynist for saying that we’re these brainwashed little drones, that women do these things for power, to gain favour and sexual attention off men and make other women feel like crap.
    And this is where my brain can’t make the next leap. Because I do feel like this whole system is men’s fault, I just can’t articulate how or why. I mean, if WE were in charge would we all suddenly stop competing with one another? It feels like you can never have the upper hand in this argument because you’ve got the whole social system backing the other side.”

    I’d like to address that point, because it is one where many, many people get stuck and so, excellent to bring it up.

    And, here, I’m going to introduce a feminist family therapy systems lens as I think it can shed light. Conventionally, in that field, we are trained to see a couple’s/marriage dilemma as one taking place on an even playing field, among equals. So, you’ll hear dude-y brainwashed therapists say, “Well, HE has to give 50% and SHE has to give 50% to make it work fairly.”

    First thing, under patriarchy, no arena is being played on even ground. Dude-ies are always placed in a position above the girls. They HAVE given themselves the upper hand. They earn more than we do. fact. They are given more social, political, etc. status. So, when we look at women as having to manipulate etc to exercise power, it’s kind of like blaming the slaves for trying to empower themselves in an apartheid system. If we lived in a system of true equality, manipulation would be unnecessary. And, let us not overlook the fact that the patriarchy uses highly manipulative practices to position themselves in the upperhand state. The primary form of that is in withholding resources and access to power.

    So, when dude-y type therapists (which always makes my knuckles go white and my teeth grind) do the 50%/50% couples routine, they actually do NOTHING to change the field of play, because it remains uneven. The power differential is re-inforced and unchanged. In order to truly even it out, the person holding the power would have to throw in 75% and the one in the disempowered position 25% (or whatever % combination necessary for equality to emerge).

    The other tooth gnashing statement I hear VERY frequently is the one you also state: would women be any different? The fact is, we have lived for millenia (about 7,000 BC if you read your archeology/history books) in the hierarchical, patriarchal system and we view women in that light. Of course its all based on competition – by the design of left-brained society. And, of course, that dude-y left brain paradigm can only see women in their own light. We actually, do not know what our world would look like if we had not abandoned our ancient equality-based civilizations. It’s like the dummies who also say, “but it’s always been this way.” Actually, it hasn’t, it’s just that all the evidence has been burned and destroyed so we have no current memory of it. And, besides, staying stuck in the limitations of the mess of this current situation is pretty, uh, unimaginative. And, calling you a misogynist for saying the truth of how women have to behave to survive is irrational and insane, again designed to put you in the lower hand position.

    Imagining is a very worthwhile exercise and I do it quite often. Just go to any random place: cafe, restaurant, bookstore (hardware/sports if you really want the inequalities to be underlined). Close your eyes and really imagine into how the scene would be completely altered had we not chosen the path of this hierarchical, power-over state of being. Imagine if we had followed the paradigm of the real, ancient temples (and very advanced civilizations) where priestesses and priests (scientists, astronomers, mathematicians, etc.) served equally, together, for a purpose and vision much higher than their individual selves. Those civilizations were very, very real places and, when we revive them within ourselves, they ARE real.

    I recommend a wonderful book, “When the Drummers Were Women,” by Layne Redmond. Excellent book on tracing the history of women front and center in humanity’s spiritual/scientific/government leadership. Whenever I am in a blue funk over our current diseased state, travesty of relationship, I turn to it. Instant lifting of the down mood and an inspiration for me to, despite the apparent largesse of our current, seemingly hopeless situation, it is worth continuing the fight in the light.

    Excellent, fantastic “connect the dots” article, Twisty. Find the operational paradigm and all the details that feed into it become clear. The same philosophy that guides the surgeons hand in freak plastic surgery laboratories is the exact same one operating when sewing up a woman’s labia.

  59. alamo

    Sorry, no. The adverse health effects of FGM are much worse than those of FBM.

    And please, don’t tell me there is no difference between an adult woman getting a boob job and that same woman forcing her underage daughter to get a boob job.

  60. AlienNumber

    Alamo, not if one dies from a botched FBM job but another person doesn’t die from FGM. See, in that case, the health effects are worse for the FBM victim, because she dies.

    But really, even that situation is irrelevant. You’re missing the larger point: that the P hates women’s bodies everywhere all the time; if you’re a female, you just get a different flavor of shit to eat depending on your latitude+ longitude. But you still end up eating shit. Which really has terrible adverse health effects.

    Second, yes, there’s a difference between a woman getting FBM and her forcing her underage daughter to get one, but what’s your point? Something about agency? Or something about how you personally don’t have a good grasp of how oppression works? Because you made this latter point beautifully.

    We will never start that Feminist Revolt until we realize that women as a class are oppressed by men as a class, in eerily similar ways across times and cultures. Take off the blinders! (and please stop blaming women)

  61. Sistertongue

    Just want to add:

    There ARE men out there who are not dude-y’s and I have, fortunately, been in the company of more than a few. And, we can form very, very powerful partnerships in undoing the damage of the dude-ies.

    I give the family therapy example because i also directed two such teams. The second one happened after having to witness a “teaching” session for interns conducted by a psychiatrist. My colleague, a male psychologist who also specialized in family therapy, and I stood behind the one-way mirror and witnessed one of the most egregious, misogynistic, demeaning sessions conducted by this Dr. against a woman I have witnessed. Psychiatrists actually have no training in family therapy, folks, not unless they have actively chosen to undertake it outside of their conventional doctor/patient pill-pushing paradigm.

    It was everything I could do not to enter the interview room and remove him from his chair/thrown. Both of our jaws were dropping 9mine and my colleague’s)watching this verbal violence, disguised in patronization and infanilization of the “patient” unfolding before us. My future partner in revolt leaned over to me in the darkness behind that mirror and said, “This is appalling. We, we have to do something about this.”

    “I know, this is sick.”

    So, we staged a complete, total and successful takeover by founding our own family therapy team. Fortunately, we both had the credentials and formal experience to stage such a takeover and did so professionally and effectively. Our team soon became the formal teaching forum in the clinic.

    Find the people who get it and turn your backs on those who don’t.

  62. Sistertongue

    “the adverse health effects of FGM are far worse than FBM.”

    This is participating in arguing over SYMPTOMS, which is exactly what the media and medicals want us to do. Divide and conquer. Why, because it distracts from the shared CAUSES of these problems, which is ownership over and humiliation of women’s bodies/spirits. It’s the “my wounds are worse than yours, here let me pull up my shirt and show you how much more awful mine are,” or the “physical trauma is worse than emotional incest” routines.

    Mutilation of women’s bodies, whether self-inflicted or other-inflicted should fill us all equally with the horror that they all are. Being turned into the equivalent of an internal oil spill by chemical companies or brutally gouged like machines in fracking projects is equal in my view and, hopefully, will give rise to unifying ourselves together against this sick regime that perpetrates these crimes against mother nature and her embodied representatives, ALL women.

  63. Sistertongue

    AlienNumber:
    I posted before I saw your response to the comment to which i was commenting. You made my point.

    We have a choice: to win the battle or the war. If we want to sit around in rooms pulling our panties down or pulling up our bras and comparing war wounds, we’re engaged in the battle while the bigger war wages on outside – and we will lose it.

  64. susanw

    “…until he finally raised his hand to me. But didn’t do it. And said he’d never respect my history of domestic abuse, because he understands why they did it now.”

    He has decided that you deserve it. This is a very dangerous justification for ill-treatment. Enforcing patriarchy limits women’s choices and ups the ante on the consequences of those choices. Please be as safe as you can be.

  65. speedbudget

    It doesn’t matter which has worse health effects. Both FBM and FGM are symbols of our repression. You don’t see entire industries built up around plastic surgery for men, do you? Why is that? Because they don’t need to modify their bodies in any way to become acceptable. They are acceptable form the word “go.” They are the default human. FBM and FGM are on the same shit-sandwich continuum.

    Personally, I would choose to freeze to death. I hear you just kind of lay down and go to sleep.

  66. quixote

    @Mildred “I feel like, I can identify these things, but I’m trapped in them and I’m still a victim to them. The only place I have is the internet.”

    Yup. Still, I’d say those of us who know we’re trapped are less so than the ones who can’t stand to see it. If that makes any sense.

    I seem to remember you said you were in Australia? I was born there and lived there at various times of my life. And if you’re married to an Australian guy, your diagnosis is probably accurate. Never gonna see it. I don’t know what it is about them. They miss essential brain lobes, or something.

    But as for his comment about abuse, that’s right beyond the pale. Tell him to go get therapy until he gets it. And take karate or something, if you can. Anybody who doesn’t understand that smashing down an argument is not the same as winning it is someone who needs help.

  67. BuffyA

    SusanW, your comment about mothers and daughters really got to me. I’ve read IBTP for awhile, but that hasn’t stopped me from participating in the femininity game for the P. My daughter watches me do this in the morning and she’ll watch me shave my legs while in the shower/bath. The very process of this will become so normalized to her that when she’s old enough to really talk with me about feminism, how will I not appear hypocritical to her?

    There is no choice, that’s what I’m taking away from this awesome post. Not that FGM is inherently more gruesome than a breast augmentation or vice versa, but that both exist because of the P.

  68. Kea

    I can confirm the Aussie male problem. Never went out with one. I think it comes down to all the male bonding in youth, over outdoor pursuits and beer.

  69. Anne

    @Notorious PhD – Your Bachelor/Rock of Love reality show analogy to patriarchy is just perfect.

  70. Embee

    Mildred, your experience is nightmarish. I’m sorry.

    My male cousin recently did this to his wife and I’ve refused all contact with him since (he had called me to chat about a fight and stated he thought his wife had provoked the violence that caused her to leave her first marriage). My family is aghast at my behavior but, as a domestic abuse survivor, I literally cannot communicate with a man who has stated his wife prodded her ex into abuse. My cousin contributed a chapter to the book his soon-to-be-ex wife wrote about her domestic abuse (she is a NWA media darling and Emmy award winning journalist) and he even stooped to this shit. I’ve tried to feel guilty/loyal enough to return his calls but I cannot.

    They truly don’t/won’t get it, especially within the context of marriage. It’s a terrifying, lonely realization to know you are sleeping with the enemy, and that all prior discussions on equality/love/respect were bullshit wooing behavior. I’m glad you have this forum to reality-test your experiences.

    If you can leave I hope that you do. I am a het female and have resolved never to be in a relationship with a man again. I may have physical relationships with men whom I think won’t kill me (sometimes I crave contact) but there is no living with them. I’ve been married twice and cohabited once, and in each relationship it came down to the detente you described: hand raised, a proclamation that I had “deserved” it.

    And so I have finally released the fairy tale. In its stead I’ve adopted a gorgeous greyhound/husky mix from the SPCA and named him Hector. He is very male (although neutered) and satisfies my desire for male-flavored companionship in all but the sexual aspects. With Hec I’ve come to realize how little I need from a human male. As with husbands/boyfriends, I am responsible for everything (food medical, entertainment, etc), but I’m in charge as well as responsible, which is appropriate and ever so much more pleasant. He’s asleep against my leg now, lovely thing.

  71. Cyberwulf

    Just imagine if women flipped their shit and aimed a kick at their boyfriends’/husbands’ crotches every time we got frustrated because they didn’t agree with everything we said. Imagine the shrieks of “Crazy bitch!” that would go up. Talk of “he deserved that nut-stomping he got in his previous relationship” would not be countenanced.

  72. speedbudget

    Really. Someone explain to me how men are so all-powerful and all-knowledgeable that they should be the ones in charge of the world and the nuclear football but they can’t control themselves sexually (“She made me rape her! Look what she was wearing!”) or emotionally (“She made me hit her! I was so mad!”).

    Look, I’ve been pissed off enough to want to grab a gun and blow someone’s head off. I did not. Because I am an adult who can control myself. I’ve also been horny to the point of crazy. I have never forced sex on anyone. What is the deal?

  73. Katherine

    Reading the Mollman essay that Twisty linked to I made the mistake of reading the comments (NEVER read the comments). It really is fascinating how, in the face of a well reasoned argument about self-mutilation, mutilation, agency and consent, so many people are so completely unwilling to accept that breast implants might be on the same continuum with FGM. Some commenters are doing it here too, even.

    It’s the classic old Us and Them – They do FGM, We do breast implants. They have scared children, We have empowerfulized women. They are in the Dark Ages, We are in the Post-Feminist World. They need to progress, We need to do, guess what, nothing.

  74. Mildred

    I seem to remember you said you were in Australia? I was born there and lived there at various times of my life. And if you’re married to an Australian guy, your diagnosis is probably accurate. Never gonna see it. I don’t know what it is about them. They miss essential brain lobes, or something.

    This made me smile, a wry smile but a smile none the less! No, my husband is English, I am Australian but we live in England now. Funnily enough after several beer drinking, bermuda shorts wearing, sunburnt, macho boyfriends I resolved to never date an Australian male again, sadly I’ve found that across the seas its same shit different smell.
    Although, slightly off topic, is anyone else aware of the Matthew Johns gang rape? This was what made me resolutely decide I HAD to leave Australia. In a nutshell a young woman in New Zealand decides to go home with an Australian football player, as she’s in the room with him many guys enter the room, so many she can’t remember how many, and they proceed to rape her, amongst these men is the much beloved knob football player, Matthew Johns. She comes public with this years after and no one believes her even though Matthew Johns doesn’t deny it, in fact he apologises to his wife for ‘cheating on her’ (but not the woman he raped). Everyone more or less thinks this lady asked for it for going home with a football player (she should know what she was getting herself in for)*, or think she enjoyed it and just had ‘buyers remorse’. I felt like I was going insane, the public opinion is resolutely pro-dude, so sickeningly and explicitly pro-rape.
    Long story short, the media labels it a ‘sex scandal’ and one year later Johns gets his own variety show where he proceeds to make jokes about disabled people, gay people, and of course, women. And not a single fuck was given.

    * One retired football player at the time even stated “Girls!! When will you learn! At 3am when you are blind drunk & you decide to go home with a guy ITS NOT FOR A CUP OF MILO!*”

    *Milo is a popular and delicious chocolate beverage found in Oceania.

    And then a popular female chat show host even said “[The behaviour of AFL players] is in the spotlight. They know that. But [the players] put themselves in harm’s way by picking up strays.”
    So it is the football players fault, but only because they’re picking up sluts.

    I swear Australia is trapped in a 1950′s time warp. If you want to point the finger at the worst first world English speaking country look no further than Australia, terrifyingly high rape rates, terrifyingly low conviction rates, and the feminist scene is dominated by sex pozzers. It is a God forsaken place to be born female. Men are knobs but Australian men take it to the next level.

  75. TwissB

    @Mildred: “If you want to point the finger at the worst first world English speaking country look no further than Australia, terrifyingly high rape rates, terrifyingly low conviction rates, and the feminist scene is dominated by sex pozzers. It is a God forsaken place to be born female. Men are knobs but Australian men take it to the next level”

    Not to mention the endlessly contentious results of legalized prostitution in Victoria and toyed with in other states – institutionalized violation of women’s human rights that serves as a symbolic hand raised against all women like showing the stick to a beaten dog.

    It’s asking too much to expect brave and much-maligned Sheila Jeffreys and a few Australian confederates to fight the men and their sex-pozz handmaidens-to-misogyny virtually alone. Get Sheila’s books and take what action you can.

  76. speedbudget

    One retired football player at the time even stated “Girls!! When will you learn! At 3am when you are blind drunk & you decide to go home with a guy ITS NOT FOR A CUP OF MILO!

    Funny, cause here in the States there was Elevatorgate recently wherein a woman was hassled by a man on an elevator at Skepticon to come to his room for a cup of coffee at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. after she had just given a presentation and spent a large amount of time in the hotel bar explaining her presentation on why women aren’t more involved in atheist communities (sexism, objectification) at which this man was present, and when this woman had the gall to suggest that this kind of hassling is exactly what she was talking about, the men came out of the woodwork to defend said hassler with such statements as “COFFEE IS JUST COFFEE! EVEN AT 3 A.M.! EVEN WHEN YOU ARE LITERALLY LOCKED IN A TINY BOX WITH A MAN WHO DOESN’T RESPECT YOUR AGENCY!”

    Sigh. I hate Catch-22.

  77. KittyWrangler

    @speedbudget – I was just thinking about “elevatorgate” having just watched “Let’s Make Love,” with Marilyn Monroe. How to override a “no” from a woman to whom you’ve been an utter manipulative asshole? Why, humiliate her then lock her in an elevator owned by your billionaire self, tell her though the intercom she cannot escape, and when that’s not enough, get in the elevator yourself and squeeze the visible terror right out of her till, ta-da!, she’s magically horny for you (it’s ok, he’s French). No wonder that one’s not such a classic.

    My husband’s male friend was talking about how he can tell fake breasts from natural breasts, with the implication that his knowing put one over on those trashy fake-havers and somehow vindicated the natural-havers. He summed it up with, “hey, I just want to be an expert!” nudge nudge, wink wink! So I filled him in on some details. Described how the buoyancy is due to the existing breast being mutilated to become a hammock for the silicone sack, described the surgery and incision in gory detail, and explained the “hardness” was the feel of a foreign object shifting just under the skin, similar to the way one can feel a testicle inside of its sack. Explained some health risks such as the ruptured sack and silicone and poison leaking straight into your chest cavity. “There,” I said. “Now you’re an expert.” That shut him up quick. And I saw that “I get it!” expression come over my husband’s face which is so rewarding for me. My very Nigel-y experience may not be welcome here after some previous comments so apologies, I suppose.

  78. polarcontrol

    As enjoyable as the comments of the mighty Blametariat are, sometimes, like now, it just gets depressing as fuck. Would someone have a story ending with a (small) victory or some sort of feminist revolt? You know, some hope, à la Sistertongue. Anyone?

  79. polarcontrol

    KittyWrangler, I sent my previous comment before I read yours. At least for this blamer here, stories like the one you told (even with the Nigel) are welcome! A little bit of “feminism in real life” is always inspiring.

  80. Mildred

    @KittyWrangler

    We could go on with rape anecdotes for days. Like this passage from Frank Sinatra’s biography.

    Zsa Zsa Gabor was thirty-eight in 1955, not long divorced–for the third time–and best known professionally for a decorative appearance in the movie Moulin Rouge. After a first date with Frank, according to Gabor, he pushed his way into her house and said he wouldn’t leave until she had sex with him. When she refused, he claimed he had a terrible headache and said he needed to lie down. Gabor had her maid show him to a guest bedroom and locked herself into her own. Frank then came knocking on her door, to no avail, before retreating to the guest room again. At first light, afraid that her eight-year old daughter would see Frank, or his Cadillac parked in the driveway, Gabor went to the guest room to ask her unwanted guest to leave. “My begging took nearly an hour,” she recalled,” but Frank Sinatra wouldn’t leave unless I made love to him. So I did. I made love to Sinatra so that he would leave and from then on I hated him. And Frank knew it.”

  81. Kea

    I swear Australia is trapped in a 1950’s time warp.

    Yup. That’s why I moved to New Zealand (I grew up in Australia) many years ago. New Zealand was my only choice, because I only have Aussie/Kiwi citizenship. The standard of living is now far below that of Australia, but I would never go back.

  82. alamo

    ” even that situation is irrelevant. You’re missing the larger point: that the P hates women’s bodies everywhere all the time;”

    No, I’m not missing the point. I get it. Patriarchy mutilates women everywhere all the time–but not to the same extent and degree everywhere, all the time.

  83. alamo

    “so many people are so completely unwilling to accept that breast implants might be on the same continuum with FGM.”

    Ah, but saying that it is “on the same continuum” is not the same thing as saying that they are just as bad, that one is just as harmful as the other.

    The only way make the FBM and FGM equal is to minimize the harm of the latter. And that attitude–FGM isn’t worse than FBM–itself comes from a Western perspective. Namely, a Western, postmodern, relativist perspective.

    I see the same thing going on with liberal dudes who argue that Sharia law isn’t worse than any other system of law.

  84. Cyberwulf

    alamo, nobody said they were exactly the same. Nobody.

  85. tinfoil hattie

    So I did. I made love to Sinatra so that he would leave

    correction:

    “Sinatra wouldn’t leave until he raped me”

    @alamo, we really don’t need to play, “Which form of female body mutilation at the behest of men is WORSE?” Really, we don’t.

  86. Twisty

    Perhaps alamo wishes to ensure that the horror of FGM is not diminished by equating it with something as delightful as boobal mutilation.

  87. ElizaN

    The Oppression Olympics are my favorite! I’ll bring the popcorn!

  88. KittyWrangler

    @Mildred – “rape anecdotes.” yeesh, what a phrase! Even considering the P I’m still surprised this one hasn’t made more of a splash: John Stamos (aka. Uncle Jessie on “Full House,” whose career is still actually lukewarm and who was married briefly to Rebecca Romijn) told the story of how he staged the rape of one of his fans, as an ANECDOTE while being interviewed for a “cute guy” feature in the self-identified feminist Jane Magazine. They asked something along the lines of, “what’s the most terrible thing you’ve ever done,” to which most people give amusing but harmless anecdotes. He said he invited a fan back to his hotel room for sex and turned off the lights. Then he said, “just a second,” and went into the bathroom where his friend, who had “the hots” for this fan, was waiting. The friend came out and had sex with the girl, who thought he was John Stamos. The end. Jane Magazine published the interview, along with a bold headline about how the incident is clearly rape and that Jane is officially out of love with Stamos. But this was just before the era when all articles were online and Jane is now defunct, so you Google it and can’t find very much. No adverse effects on his career for voluntarily telling an anecdote about how he and a friend raped a woman like it’s a charming story. He should get together with Mel Gibson, Frank Sinatra and Charlie Sheen so they can all rape and beat each other. Oh the stories they could tell!

  89. IBlameRonPaul

    I’m very lonely and isolated here and I feel really trapped. I have no one to talk about this to, what he’s like, or about my radical feminist perspective on breast implants. I feel like, I can identify these things, but I’m trapped in them and I’m still a victim to them. The only place I have is the internet.

    Jay-sus, Mildred, YOUR comment made me bawl because of its truth. If we dare raise issues outside of our safe spaces, the American general public has a monolithic, disapproving retort for us, and it’s not pretty. Why, since the recession, The Atlantic and other former publications of record are now peddling the notion that the upper-middle-class white man is the most endangered, oppressed being in America these days. The patriarchy reinforces its dominance by gaslighting anyone who speaks up against it, while doling out sweet rewards for folks who play along. And evidence abounds – you don’t have to look too hard.

    Try a December Washington Post story, which came to the “radical” conclusion that even in Egypt, women who are forced to cover up from head to toe and are beaten as war collateral can empowerfulize themselves with symbolic blue bras! (Title for the interested: “Amid the misogyny and violence, one thing stood out: the blue bra.”) The reason the empowerfulizing blue bras are so cool, says WaPo, is because “Men know that women’s sexuality is something they cannot live without; it is something that renders them powerless.” Thank you, reporter Sally Quinn, for this breathtaking piece. If only we all wear blue bras, women everywhere will realize full human rights. Your sensitivity to the issue has bowled me over.

    I’ve also taken a shining to the 27-year-old female CEO of Outspoken Media, a blog marketing company in Albany, who claims to know exactly what it’s like to be a female employee at a high-tech/software/app company. (No, not really.) Her message to women? “Shut up about discrimination. Because YOU SAY it exists, you’re holding women down in high tech! It’s your fault!” She blogs about this concept once in a while. (Key articles: “A Letter to Women in Tech, I Let You Down” and “Women Hating Women In Tech,” neither of which have anything to do with discrimination in tech.) The real genius of her stance is, if you argue it, she can gaslight you, claiming you’re causing the problem. I LOVE being told what my field is like by a 20something who’s never worked in it before! Tellingly, so do her male commenters, and other optimistic, 20something women with no software experience, all of whom bark in agreement with her. Score one more for Team Patriarchy.

    Sure, I wish I could post a cheery story about someone fighting the good fight against patriarchy and winning. But my experiences have been closer to Mildred’s. The system is designed to isolate you – and it often does an admirable job. My partner and I are biffing off to NYC come springtime, where the GLBT and feminist communities are more robust. Still, I won’t expect to have much company in my thoughts. Which is why, like Mildred, I generally resign them to safe spaces on the Internet. Sigh.

  90. speedbudget

    OBVIOUSLY if there is anesthesia and an operating theater involved, there can’t possibly be anything amiss.

  91. Twisty

    “OBVIOUSLY if there is anesthesia and an operating theater involved, there can’t possibly be anything amiss.”

    Omigod, an aunt I know once had this biopsy, in a sanitary clinic, where they injected radioactive goo into her NIPPLE about EIGHT TIMES while she was TOTALLY AWAKE. YeeOOWWW!!!!!!!!!! A while later they chopped off that whole boob, and six months of chemo and radiation later, they chopped off the other one. She had an inept octogenarian anesthesiologist who tripped over the IV in pre-op, ripping it out of her hand, and who went on to nearly suffocate her. The anaesthesia made her psychotic, she threw up for two days after each procedure, it took weeks to recover physically, and she still has PTSD attacks whenever she so much as drives by a hospital or sees an old guy in a blue shirt. She’s been addicted to tranquilizers ever since. That’s boob surgery!

  92. buttercup

    I swear, we are going backwards. We sat around and watched the cheesy 1980 movie “9 to 5″ and the longer it went on, the more I realized it would never, ever get made today. Three female leads, no male hero? And they all like each other? Women change things and it’s good for business? The one male lead is a total jerk who gets what he has coming to him? Never happen. Not today.

    Depressing.

  93. yttik

    I can understand Alamo’s concern. We don’t want to diminish and dismiss the horror of FGM. In the US the Academy of Pediatrics did just that and decided that FGM was a valid cultural practice, the only problem being that it wasn’t been done by doctors in a hospital, so they actually went and endorsed the practice.

  94. Twisty

    I disagree that “9 to 5″ is cheesy. It’s totes subversive. Also it’s got a killer theme song, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda AND Dolly for crissake, and they make Dabney Coleman their bitch. I give it 5 Pokes In The Eye With A Sharp Stick.

  95. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    “9 to 5″ rocks. When I was a card-carrying member of the Pink Collar Ghetto Gang (aka Cleveland Working Women), we used to re-wind and watch the garage-door-opener scene over and over. And howl with delight.

    This worthy organization also worked and lobbied for such things as flex-time, job sharing arrangements, and on-site day care centers. Some we scored, some not so much.

  96. tinfoil hattie

    “Violet, why are you doing this?”

    “Why do you think?”

    “Because I’m a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bastard?”

    “Bingo!”

    AND, my favorite line of all time:

    “I’m no fool! I’ve killed the boss! You think they’re not gonna fire me for a thing like that?”

    Best movie ever. So very true, and STILL true. And to think I once believed all the great things in it would one day happen. Job sharing, child care in every workplace. HA.

  97. Mildred

    @IBlameRonPaul

    “Men know that women’s sexuality is something they cannot live without; it is something that renders them powerless.”

    LOL! Isn’t it so transparent that men invented that they were powerless to womens charms, it means that
    1. They can rape and say they were ‘out of control’. CASE CLOSED! (especially if she’s sexy)
    2. It makes women think they can overpower men with their raw and powerful sexuality and this means that dudes get all this guilt free sex/titillation from ladies who cater to their every porn whim and style themselves and groom themselves and starve themselves and fill themselves up with toxic tits accordingly.

    Speaking of subversive 80′s films, I watched The Accused last night for the first time, BLOODY HELL! That would never be made now.
    Whenever I watch a movie and they use a word like: slut,whore,cunt, whatever you like, against a woman, I like to imagine if they used the word ‘nigger’ against a black person in the same context, would it make people uncomfortable? Usually the answer is yes and I’m reminded of how utterly blind people are.

  98. Mildred

    I tried to get a torrent of this movie 9 to 5 and what’s the first thing that comes up; 9 to 5 days in porn.

    !!!

  99. Kathleen

    Katherine — yuppity yup yup.

    Mildred and TwissB — that is really interesting (about Australia). It illuminates some recent guest blogging at Feministe.

  100. TwissB

    @Sistertongue: “They earn more than we do.”

    No, men don’t earn more than women. Men are paid more than women because men pay each other more than they pay women.

  101. yttik

    TwissB is right. What you “earn” and what you get paid are two different things.

    Off topic, but above somebody was asking for positive stories. We’ve got about a foot of snow on the ground here and there are these horses down the road acting like little kids. It’s just hilarious, they’re rolling around trying to make snow angels and using their muzzles to toss snow at each other. I wish I had a camera, I’d try to capture their joy for you all.

  102. buttercup

    Cheesy as in the wardrobes etc. Jane Fonda’s giant glasses, which I think I had. I love it too. My 25 year old daughter had never seen it and she is a huge fan of Dolly Parton, having lived for a few years in Pigeon Forge/Sevierville and worked at Dollywood several summers. I got to explain Jane Fonda and she already loved Lily Tomlin from “I <3 Huckabees." We agreed the movie could not be made today.

  103. speedbudget

    Self-infliction does not lessen the horror of useless mutilation in order to please men for me.

  104. stacey

    Right on, Twisty. Nailed it.

    Success stories: about a frickin’ decade ago, I opined out loud (i.e. went on a rant) to Nigel about how his PhD professor never hired or acquired women in his lab. They were all tall and white (except for the Asian guys, but in Vancouver, Asian=white in the STEM fields). He carefully explained how girls don’t have the skills the lab needs, like machine tool and building experience, which prompted the next rant of OF COURSE THEY DON’T, BECAUSE THEY NEVER GET HIRED, DUMBASS.

    The next hiring wave, one of the four techs, one co-op student, and one grad student were women. Slowly but surely the lab became more diverse, gender- and colour-wise, and Nigel has carried over that practice in his own hiring (last summer hiring two women at once!) to my great joy and respect.

    But lo, ladies, the victory is bittersweet. He was telling me about having lunch with a former (female) co-op student of his, who is now doing her Phd at Stanford, and I said, “Aren’t you happy that I encouraged your lab to hire women? Look at how far she got because of the training you gave her!” and he said, “What do you mean? That was *my* idea to hire more women.”

    BITTERSWEET, ladies.

  105. Embee

    Twisty,

    Your account of “treatment” sounds more like hostage torture than anything else.

    Horrifying.

  106. Val

    Mildred, your post also brought tears to my eyes (gotta stop sneaking in my Blame fixx @ work)…
    We are truly sisters under the skin – I married a British import, thinking he was a great improvement over Narcissistic American Dude the 1st. Well, he IS in many aspects, but you nailed it w/this:
    “I got married thinking that we were clever people and we could make of marriage whatever we wanted, while the big things are okay I know there is this ‘default setting’ as it were. I know he cares about me a real whole lot, and probably loves me as much as his conditioning allows. But respect me? No. See me as any sort of authority, no. Accept or empathise with any of the things I say about the P, no, never.”
    Anytime you want to collaborate, here I am. Blame on!

  107. lizor

    @ Cyberwulf

    “Just imagine if women flipped their shit and aimed a kick at their boyfriends’/husbands’ crotches every time we got frustrated because they didn’t agree with everything we said. ”

    It amazes me that there are so few Lorena Bobbitts out there. These guys walk around with there most precious bits HANGING RIGHT OFF THEIR BODIES. It just seems so darn easy…

  108. lizor

    @ Mildred

    I feel for you and have been thinking of you a lot. The pain of coming to terms with the realization that your “partner” does not and never will truly respect you is awful. I hope you find some allies and supporters in your location soon. Try to take care of yourself, OK?

  109. EmilyBites

    Mildred, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Come here for sanity and laughs.

    Labiaplasty is also on the up in the UK. I feel weird equating FGM and…a different kind of FGM, but from an article published in 2011 in BJOG (abstract here http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-0528.2011.03088.x/abstract): of 33 women seeking labiaplasty after being referred by their GP, one was 11 years old, and the average age was 23. And they all had labia of a size within the ‘normal’ range anyway.

    The social cost of not conforming in some cultures that practice FGM and FBM is so great that girls really want to have surgery, and their relatives will ensure it’s done. And by ‘some cultures’, I mean ‘western culture’.

  110. roseh

    IBlameRonPaul, that Atlantic article creeped me the fuck out. I was already upset, but I wondered why I was so particularly disturbed by the name of the doctor who invented the “Barbie” labia-butchery. Dr. Red Alinsod was sued last year for branding a woman’s uterus and injuring her during a hysterectomy. Warning, googling his name will make your blood boil and your lobes explode.

  111. alamo

    “Perhaps alamo wishes to ensure that the horror of FGM is not diminished by equating it with something as delightful as boobal mutilation.”

    Oh yes, of course, when I say FBM isn’t as harmful as FGM it *must* mean that I looove boob jobs.

  112. Wandering Uterus

    I should have heeded your warning, roseh. Guess I’ll share the wealth by including an excerpt from Dr. Red Alinsod’s page on how he currently does “labiaplasty”:

    “After you receive all our shots you will go to the procedure room… This is probably the time you feel like you just had a couple of Margaritas or Martinis! ‘Comfortably Drunk’ is what we call it… If you are a ‘cheap date’ and feeling tired and comfortable after one set of shots then we start with surgery.”

    http://www.labiaplasty.net/procedure.html

    Not only is he a misogynistic little shit who mutilates his “cheap dates,” but he’s trying to give margaritas a bad name too.

    There are descriptions of the labiaplasty on the same page. They are not for the faint of stomach or lobe.

  113. Darragh Murphy

    What the christ is labioplasty? but seriously? Other than some one in a zillion freak accident or something why on earth would anyone need/desire labia reconstruction? Please tell me this is a freak habit of the .001% of P compliant women? It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that I refuse to type “labiaplasty” into a search engine so relying on recycled knowledge here.

  114. Twisty

    “It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that I refuse to type “labiaplasty” into a search engine [...]”

    They’re all blacked out anyway. Check the Ancient Texts here at Savage Death Island.

  115. IBlameRonPaul

    Maybe I’m not seeing what others see, but I think ole’ Alinsod’s patients looked totally healthy and normal before their butcherings, and well, butchered afterward. Sleazy, rape-y tone of the procedure (and prep) noted and filed away for future blaming sessions.

    Nice, too, that you can get morphine or Demerol to recover from getting ladybits chopped up, as per the /recovery page, but for crushingly painful menstrual cramps, this blamer must resort to the “friend economy.” (How come they don’t tell THOSE women the pain is “all in their heads” and they should just “take Advil or go on the Pill?”) No matter, I wouldn’t want any drug, painkilling or not, from that creeper anyway.

  116. Katherine

    Discuss: is FGM worse or better than footbinding? Is footbinding worse or better than breatself-mutilation?

    Actually, let’s not discuss, and just blame the P instead.

  117. alamo

    FBM:FGM::adult marriage:child prostitution.

    matter of degree of harm is important. Otherwise there is no reason why we should spend more time, money and energy abolishing child prostitution than abolishing adult marriage.

  118. speedbudget

    Nobody here is going to argue with you about marriage being a shithole and a way of replicating the patriarchy, which makes it an abomination. Now you’re getting it!

  119. speedbudget

    And my ladybrain apparently can’t hold more than one patriarchal evil in it at a time, so I guess I have to chooooooooose! ONE AT A TIME, LADIES! You only get to rail against one patriarchal evil EVAR, so CHOOSE WISELY!

  120. TwissB

    @Alamo. Child prostitution? Since that is the inevitable by-product of prostitution, why not just address prostitution as a universal violation of the human rights of women and women substitutes?

  121. Twisty

    Any discussion of matters of degree should proceed from a thorough understanding of the broader underlying principles. FGM and FBM are not identical in that one chops up genitals and the other chops up boobs, but the nature of these practices — unnecessary body mutilation of oppressed persons for purposes of appeasement — is the precisely the same.

    Your argument, alamo, that “we” put more energy into abolishing child prostitution than marriage, therefore child prostitution is worse than marriage, proceeds from sort of a faulty premise and some unproven assumptions. The faulty premise is:

    that whenever an unnamed force (“we”) works to abolish something, there abides within the something in question an intrinsic worseness with respect to things the unnamed force is not working to abolish. Efforts to abolish stuff are not necessarily commensurate with the horribleness of the stuff. And there’s a buttload of stuff that “we” should be abolishing but for some reason aren’t.

    Your questionable assumptions are that 1) there is actually any meaningful effort anywhere to abolish child prostitution, and 2) that child prostitution is intrinsically “worse” than marriage. I would argue that the greatest difference between these two institutions is the ick factor; objectively they are extremely similar. There abounds data to suggest that marriage is plenty detrimental to women in terms of both health and well-being.

  122. yttik

    Why do we always have to mock and ridicule other blamers who simply try to point out parts of the issue we may not be seeing? Alamo is correct and this in no way detracts from the discussion we are having, it embiggens it.

    Drives me nuts when another blamer’s motivations are called into question, when they’re accused of strawman crap, like stereotyping “ladybrains” or some such nonsense. Other blamers expressing ideas and opinions are not the Greatest Threat Ever.

  123. Kali

    but the nature of these practices — unnecessary body mutilation of oppressed persons for purposes of appeasement — is precisely the same.

    Exactly. Regardless of whether your mother is forced to do it to you, or you are forced to do it to yourself, you are being mutilated so that some guy some where can get off on it.

  124. susanw

    Feminism works on many fronts to reduce suffering and make the world a more equitable place. Radical Feminism doesn’t discount these efforts, or grade them on a quality/quantity scale of atrocity, but digs to the root of the problem which is always women’s restricted agency under Patriarchy.

  125. KittyWrangler

    “9 to 5″ would probably not be conceived and made as a film today, but oddly enough it opened as a Broadway musical in 2009 (I’ve just been Googleing). Dolly Parton did the lyrics and Allison Janney (CJ from “West Wing”) played Violet. That’s one of the best casting decisions I’ve heard of in a while. It may still be on tour but I think I may pass on seeing it.

  126. Hari

    Twisty, OMG you make me laugh so hard even while I’m cryin…just what I need. Especially at this moment, fresh over from feministe’s discussion on this topic. Which, as one of the posters here said, soon devolved into a discussion of trans issues…and then into somewhat of a Hari-bash, when I resisted going along for that ride. I kept saying FGM and FBM do most assuredly both arise straight from the beast of P, no matter WHO thinks they’re giving ‘consent’, no matter WHAT their really good reasons are for doing it, or HOW sanitary and modern the surgical conditions are.

    Anyway, thanks for the big laughs of rageful delight and recognition! And for hosting a space for some of us others to speak as well.

    MILDRED–Been there, done that–I can totally relate. Find the way OUT. I did, with some young kids in tow. Been 14yrs now, and we’ve been poor, and it’s been hard–but SO WORTH IT. Yes–you have it right, there will never be any respect given you, though your respect for him is utterly required. And in a pinch, HIS violent impulse will always be YOUR fault. Get out, save your sanity and life.

  127. speedbudget

    yttik, scolding feminists for discussing one aspect of Patriarchy because we are not focused solely on this OTHER aspect of Patriarchy is exactly how you end up stirring the pot and silencing people.

    What didn’t we see about FGM? Coming in here and telling us all to shut up about FBM and focus solely on FGM is NOT embiggening anything. It is silencing us and telling us that mutilating boobs for the enjoyment of men is really not that a big a deal and just a Thing Women Do. It is also suggesting that we should just shut up about the mutilation of boobs and focus on this other thing over here.

  128. yttik

    Nobody has told anybody to shut up. That is all projection. All these things being assigned to Alamo’s short posts are things men say, often liberal men, not what is actually being discussed right now.

  129. Cyberwulf

    Yttik, it may also interest you to know that NOBODY said that getting breast implants is exactly the same as having one’s genitals mutilated. Nobody.

  130. alamo

    “Your questionable assumptions are that 1) there is actually any meaningful effort anywhere to abolish child prostitution, and 2) that child prostitution is intrinsically “worse” than marriage.”

    Yes, I agree that I am making the assumptions #1 and #2.

  131. alamo

    Cyberwolf (and others) said: “NOBODY said that getting breast implants is exactly the same as having one’s genitals mutilated. Nobody.”

    How about this:

    “apart from the fact that ‘the former makes us queasy and the second doesn’t,’ they’re the same flippin thing.”

  132. tinfoil hattie

    Who gives a shit? It all sucks and it’s all patriarchy! For crying out loud, we don’t need the rad-splanations! We ARE radical feminists here. Save the fighting for people who don’t already know this stuff! It’s all bad, okay? It all SUCK!

    There are no medals awarded in the Oppression Olympics.

  133. Embee

    A woman’s compliance with her mutilation only lessens it’s horror for those who are looking for a scapegoat.

  134. Embee

    Apologies for the ungrammatical “it’s”. I am conditioned to use the apostrophe for possessive, even though I know the rule differs in the case of “its”

  135. Twisty

    “NOBODY said that getting breast implants is exactly the same as having one’s genitals mutilated”

    Well actually, I said it, more or less. The qualitative identicalness — although of course not the physical minutiae — of breast mutilation and FGM is pretty much the subject of my post, and the gist of my subsequent comments.

    I suggest the parallel to draw attention to the manner in which patriarchal oppression is so seamlessly integrated into the cultural narrative that it is often invisible to or even stridently defended by its victims. Western women are conditioned to not see breast implants as mutilation, but we are supposed to see labiaplasty or clitorectomy as mutilation. These distinctions are nonsensical! All mutilation practices are wrought by oppression culture, are over the top misogynist, and are therefore fucked up.

  136. c2t2

    Some of the confusion here may come from conflating a few concepts. I posit that woman-mutilation is woman-mutilation, regardless of which body parts are involved. However, the extent of the damage done to an average individual differs greatly. For instance:

    Foot binding – will utterly destroy any chance of a healthy life. Is likely to kill the mutilated woman.

    FGM – will utterly destroy any chance of a healthy sexuality. Is somewhat likely to kill the mutilated woman.

    FBM – often permanently damages a woman’s health. Sometimes damages a woman’s sex life. Rarely (but it still happens) kills the mutilated woman.

    On an individual level, this doesn’t matter. A woman dead of mutilation doesn’t care which kind of mutilation was the culprit. The only way the averages matter is looking at populations as a faceless whole.

    Women are considered a faceless monolith too often the way it is. It may be to our benefit to cut that shit out.

  137. Murasaki

    RE: Australian Men

    I think its same shit different accent everywhere.

    We have Rugby and Australian Rules – they have some other shit they call football.

    We have a couple of decent blokes over here. 3 or 4.

  138. Linden

    That FBM doesn’t usually result in a woman’s death doesn’t mean it’s not utterly a tool of the P. Why make qualitative distinctions between different kinds of horrors? I just don’t get it.

  139. alamo

    “Why make qualitative distinctions between different kinds of horrors? I just don’t get it.”

    Because, while agree that they are on the same continuum, it is disingenuous to say that they are the same thing. And as I mentioned earlier, it is this same kind of relativist, postmodern, hyperbolic proclamations that allow liberal dudes to say things like “Sharia law is just as good as any system of law.”

    Let’s say you have two daughters, one is 24 and the other is 12. The 24 year old comes home one day and says she wants to marry her boyfriend. The 12 year old doesn’t come home, because you discover that she has been trafficked to another country into child prostitution. Now tell me, does degree of harm matter or not?

  140. speedbudget

    Hey, you know what? If FGM is your personal axe to grind and you really, really, really want to focus solely on that and talk about that particular horror, why don’t you make your own blog post about it?

  141. Hari

    alamo–

    I agree there is a quantitative difference in the *personal experience* of individuals (along with those who love them), as posed by your picture of 2 daughters’ lives. I doubt any here would argue that–at least not on the most obvious and personal levels of individual experience.

    For me, the problem with your argument lies in 2 things: one is that you seem to fail to acknowledge the common ground of each daughter’s experience: the essential fact of womyn’s universal oppression in patriarchy. I don’t believe we can afford to be less than razor-sharp in our insight on this point, any less than adamant in sticking with it. At least, we must remain clear about the exactly common source of all forms of oppression, if we are ever to free ourselves and create change in the world more generally.

    2nd, you seem not to understand the deeper and far-less-obvious implications for both *individual* womyn AND *all* womyn, regardless of various ‘worse’ or ‘lesser’ forms of oppression. No matter what form it takes, all forms are about erasing womyn as individuals and as a group; all forms are about enslaving womyn to men, and to menstream culture in all of its expressions institutionally, socially, psychologically.

    Tp me, the ‘softer forms’ of oppression are more deeply damaging in real ways, because the horrors of objectification, erasure, enslavement, are not as easily seen. Such things as marriage, FBM, career achievement, are things womyn can *appear* to choose, are things we can fully *believe* we choose ‘freely’ and moreover, we can appear to be rewarded by these choices via social approval and material security. Nowadays, we can even tell ourselves that making choices to erase, objectify and enslave ourselves is in fact *empowering*–an actual sign of our innate power with our willful development of even greater personal power–and many womyn and men both will gleefully agree!

    And no one, least of all such an ‘empowered’ womyn, sees the realities of the choice at all. The realities become ever more blurred, softened, invisiblized by melting into the background of patriarchy entirely. I submit that a womyn who consents even to restrictive clothing and make-up, is a womyn who is already (at least) well on her way to being erased. Through such ‘small things’ she is both manifesting some degree of her erasure, and also agreeing to further erase her authentic self. By the time she gets to the point of FBM (and other forms of body-mutilation for ‘beauty’s sake’), she has no idea either of how erased/enslaved she is, NOR of how much further she is erasing and enslaving herself through the act of FBM/other mutilations.

    But all of the above is only to speak of individuals. The far greater, far more insidiously damaging reality is how much more *all* womyn are erased and enslaved by an individual’s choices-within-oppression-mindset. We are a social species, we impact each other in so many overt and subliminal ways, through all of our senses as well as through the power of our words. Media advertizing is a true scourge…but in a way, what is even more persuasive is the mere sight, smell, feeling and sound of the womyn around us as we grow up, and every day too, as we journey through our adult lives. We soak it all up–both the sight of such things as spike heels and fake boobs, surgically sculpted faces *and* through all the social cues that tell us ‘this is beauty, success, etc’ (and ‘this is NOT’).

    As a mom, and as a womyn with a heart, yes, absolutely–there would be a difference in my responses to the experiences of 2 daughters as you name them. I do recognize the ‘worseness’ of one situation over the other in a real way, on an individual basis. And I don’t see either situation as being any less or worse at their common core of womyn’s enslavement within P. Each person must make decisions, of course, about what particular issues they want to support via donations, consciousness-raising and volunteering, for instance. There are only so many hours in a day, only so many $$ to spare in one’s bank account and so forth. Plus, our personalities are all a bit different–different things will call to us as individuals. This is perfectly well and good on a practical level, IMO.

    And still, I think we (only further) endanger ourselves, and all womyn, to try to persuade ourselves or anyone else that there is any real difference between the ‘harsher’ and ‘softer’ forms of our oppression. In real and far-reaching ways, they are equally destructive to womyn as individuals and on the whole.

  142. Hari

    And–P.S.

    By womyn ‘freely participating’ in ‘lesser forms’ of oppression, they are helping to perpetuate patriarchy, which both literally and symbolically makes child-prostitution possible in the first place.

  143. Hari

    Hmmm, I think I worded that PS poorly…think I should try to improve it: womyn’s choice to participate in their/our oppression supports patriarchy both literally and symbolically–and partiarchy is what makes such things as child prostitution so likely in the first place.

  144. yttik

    When somebody says marriage and prostitution are the same thing, the intent is to expose marriage for what it is, to point out the correlations between the two. Unfortunately under patriarchy what usually happens when we try to do this, is that it gets distorted. The opposite of our intent happens, so prostitution actually becomes elevated, legitimized. It’s just like marriage so now it’s okay!

    Our recent feminist history in the US validates this fact as do many of the comments we read on websites. People now say women mutilating themselves is no big deal, they’re just “reclaiming their bodies.” Porn, prostitution are now just “empowering choices” women can make. FGM is just a valid expression of culture.

    That is why there is some concern about implying that all forms of mutilation are the same. The patriarchy will take that statement and transform it into this idea that FGM is just another valid way of doing femininity, like breast enlargements. And that is exactly what has already happened. Rather then discouraging breast enlargements, we’ve gone and made FGM acceptable in the US, so we are now fighting against allowing it to be performed in hospitals, as a valid practice.

  145. Mildred

    @yttik
    prostitution actually becomes elevated, legitimized. It’s just like marriage so now it’s okay!

    This was the grounding of my funfem sex poz beliefs as a 20 year old camgirl, so naive. Even at the time I felt like something wasn’t right, that it was all too much for men.

    I wasn’t exposed to any radical ideas at the time, at parties with queer theory lovers they always derided Dworkin as an extremist, a witch.
    The main problem with radical feminism is PR because when you really look into it and have the strength to dissolve all your faulty conditioning you find its the only feminism that is philosophically truthful.

  146. TwissB

    yttik – Thanks for your cogent explanation of the concerns that underlie feminist objections to laboring over comparisons between various forms of patriarchy-compliant bodily mutilation. It is a keeper that genuinely advances the discussion.

  147. Linden

    When somebody says marriage and prostitution are the same thing, the intent is to expose marriage for what it is, to point out the correlations between the two. Unfortunately under patriarchy what usually happens when we try to do this, is that it gets distorted. The opposite of our intent happens, so prostitution actually becomes elevated, legitimized. It’s just like marriage so now it’s okay!

    Yes, but not equating the two doesn’t mean that patriarchy is diminished, either. Arguing that breast mutilation in our culture is not that bad compared to genital mutilation in other cultures, is to “other” the P to those people who don’t look or think like us. That’s the root of the argument which launched a thousand Nicholas Kristof columns, “How can you say you’re oppressed, when you freely choose breast mutilation and those women in [Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, fill-in-the-blank] are suffering so much more than you, you privileged Westerner!” And over there, of course, they’re using a variant of the same argument: “How can you ladies say you’re oppressed by wearing the burka, when those Western women are forced to walk around uncovered so men can rape them (and that never happens here to women who follow the rules)!”

    The only answer is to denounce the P and all its works, from the large to the small. Drawing differences in degree among works of the P, in the long run, doesn’t add to the cause of Truth and Beauty.

  148. Shelby

    fucken brilliant

  149. Val

    Really don’t know why I’m psyching myself up to look at those pictures, but this thread reactivated an ancient memory:
    I was the youngest girl in my class to start menstruating (age 10 1/2); at age 11 my mother dragged me to the gynecologist to have my “enlarged” labia examined. He told her all was well, but I’m not so sure if this had happened in THIS day & age, we might have been offered the option of labiaplasty.

  150. Val

    OK, I’m nauseated now (after looking at Dr Red’s photos); more concrete evidence of How Much Men Hate Us.

  151. susanw

    Thank you, Hari. That was a beautifully stated assessment. I know of no other public place that brings together so many fine feminist voices as IBTP.

  152. tinfoil hattie

    Hari, that is some awesome blaming. And I wish to commend you for your amazing responses over at “Feminist-y.” Even though you are a bad person for pointing out that all our ills stem from patriarchy.

    HOW DARE YOU

  153. Megwind

    Off-topic, just need to say: Twisty, you are amazing and I love your blog. I’m reading through your archives now. It brightens my day.

  154. Embee

    @ yttik – awesome blaming. Another unintended result of comparing the institutions of marriage and prostitution is the conclusion by the P that all women are whores, and that the married ones are just bartering as opposed to charging a fee for services.

  155. lizor

    Beautiful post Hari, thanks.

  156. lizor

    And Linden…

  157. alamo

    “For me, the problem with your argument lies in 2 things: one is that you seem to fail to acknowledge the common ground of each daughter’s experience.”

    Really? Because in every post I made I made reference to fact that I DO see both of these as harmful, patriarchal, woman-mutilating, female-hating practices.

    The only sense in which I disagree with you all is that I think that some woman-mutilating practices are intrinsically more harmful than others.

  158. Hari

    Thanks for the kudos, sister blamers! Proud to be welcomed here where yes, there really are a lot of fine, thorough-thinking blamers present.

    tinfoil hattie, thanks too for hon. mention of my defense of patriarchy-blaming on feminist-y. It was hard work, but good fun along the way, hehehe. Which fun-having is the biggest part of what makes me such a very bad person…

  159. Darragh Murphy

    You don’t disagree with us all, Alamo. You agree with me.

  160. Bushfire

    @Tinfoil Hattie
    Hari, that is some awesome blaming. And I wish to commend you for your amazing responses over at “Feminist-y.”Even though you are a bad person for pointing out that all our ills stem from patriarchy.

    Which thread?

  161. Hari

    Bushfire–

    On the homepage, there is a box for Most Commented Recent Posts. See “The Parallels between Breast Augmentation and FGM”

  162. Hari

    Alamo–
    “Really? Because in every post I made I made reference to fact that I DO see both of these as harmful, patriarchal, woman-mutilating, female-hating practices.”

    I did not give you the recognition you feel is deserved on that point and apologize for misunderstanding. My statement on the point, I think, resulted from what I gathered as expressed by your next comment–which sentiment (as I interpret it) was stated in different words in your earlier posts:

    “The only sense in which I disagree with you all is that I think that some woman-mutilating practices are intrinsically more harmful than others.”

    It is always possible that I don’t completely understand you. And because you believe “some woman mutilating practices are INTRINSICALLY more harmful than others”, the way I read you is that you don’t fully acknowledge the common core. Not to argue ‘what you *really* mean’, since I can’t be inside your head, you can’t be in mine, complete understanding may not be possible in this context. I do hear what you are saying–only want to respectfully point out how my 1st point arises from your (various) comments as I’ve interpreted them.

    All the practices are as intrinsically harmful as all others, as I see it. The only difference lies in how overtly/obviously harmful they are–*not* in how intrinsically damaging they are to womyn’s psyches. From my own experience, witnessing other womyn over time, and doing a lot research too, I believe now that the apparently ‘less overt’ things are potentially *more* damaging to us–because of the very fact that they *are* less overt. That is, not nearly so easily seen by anyone, including ourselves.

    Some of the nuttiest, most suffering womyn I know have never been the victim of the worst of the possible offenses against us–and some of them live with much comfort/privilege. And that is precisely why they suffer so greatly: they don’t know why they suffer. A womyn who is prostituted as a child, or raped at any point in her life, or is a survivor of intimate-partner male violence, is a womyn in no doubt at all about why she feels crazy (depressed, obsessed, anxious, angry…) and can’t cope. The very overtness of the harm makes it obvious to her, and moreover, makes it obvious to all others as well.

    For other people to see and acknowledge one’s suffering and its reasons is a particularly important point, since we are a social species hard wired for belonging and approval. I won’t get into this here (a big topic) but more can be learned by searching Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) and especially, Judith Lewis Herman, MD. Main point being that one is far more likely (tho not guaranteed) to get social support/affirmation of harm, including a victim-centered view toward restoration of physical as well as mental health, if overtly harmful traumas have been imposed on a womyn (at least from womyn’s shelters, rape action teams, if not personal community). Whereas, if a womyn experiences ‘generalized existential angst’ or ‘mood swings/irritability/loss of sex drive’ etc, neither she nor anyone else acknowledges the source of this harm. It’s just that pesky estrogen, which makes us ruminate with such habitual futility, it’s just depression/menopause/whatever strictly personal flaw–so here take a pill that will help you remain ‘well-adjusted’ to the inevitabilities of your enslavement…blah blah, endlessly denying, rationalizing, FIXING blah. (here thinkig of Mary Daly, who points out that for us, ‘fixing’ is not repairing/healing at all–just continuous effort to keep us ‘fixed in proper place’).

    Anyway, its so much harder see the harm being done to us by the less-overt (and often socially acceptable) forms of harm, if no one else sees the harm–that’s part of our social-species wiring. And what we cannot see or name does indeed have as much if not more ability to destroy us, than the seemingly worse forms of harm can do. Thus, the only differences are extrinsic, not intrinsic, IMO.

    But like you say–maybe we just disagree.

  163. Hari

    Hmmm, I said above ‘damaging to womyn’s psyches’. Adding that this psychic damage leads too often to our physical self-mutilation as well. This, via ‘consenting’ to surgery/meds that alter our outward appearance as well as internal biochemical functioning–all of which methods are potentially injurious and even lethal. Med/psych psuedo-science is aware of *some* of the risks of these things. However, we have yet to fully understand their longterm ramifications–for societies along with individual womyn. Not to forget either, that some womyn self-mutilate by cutting, puking, starving, in-toxic-ating and various other ‘non-medically approved/supervised’ methods…and it all arises from psyches so deeply damaged by both ‘less’ and ‘more’ overt forms of patriarchal harm to womyn.

  164. Mildred

    @Hari
    Whereas, if a womyn experiences ‘generalized existential angst’ or ‘mood swings/irritability/loss of sex drive’ etc, neither she nor anyone else acknowledges the source of this harm.

    I’m so glad someone finally addressed this. I don’t know any privileged women who do not fall into this category, and men are constantly ruminating on why we’re so ‘crazy’.

    This comments thread has been a hoot for me, I’ve never felt so… accepted. Thank you everyone. I wish we had a IBTP forum.

  165. Katherine

    if a womyn experiences ‘generalized existential angst’ or ‘mood swings/irritability/loss of sex drive’ etc, neither she nor anyone else acknowledges the source of this harm. It’s just that pesky estrogen, which makes us ruminate with such habitual futility, it’s just depression/menopause/whatever strictly personal flaw–so here take a pill that will help you remain ‘well-adjusted’ to the inevitabilities of your enslavement…

    This encapsulates my experience so well I think I should print it out and frame it. Trouble is, it’s take the drugs or spiral ever downwards to suicide. There is no cure, when the cure means a fundamental restructuring of the world we live in. In the meantime, I love my Nigel, I love my child, I have a nice house, I have a nice job, and I spend my time fearing that if I tell people about my depression they’ll wonder what it is I’ve got to complain about. IBTP.

  166. Twisty

    “I wish we had a IBTP forum.”

    There was one, once, but it got cooties and had to be destroyed.

  167. Cara

    FBM:FGM::adult marriage:child prostitution.

    matter of degree of harm is important.

    Alamo:bullshit::lake:water.

  168. Hari

    Cara–

    ? I can read it, but I don’t really understand you. Care to elaborate?

  169. Katherine

    I think she means – as lake is to water, so FBM and FGM are to mutilation of women – ie there are different sizes of lakes, but it’s all still fucking water.

    And you can drown in it, whether it’s a hundred foot deep, or ten inches.

  170. lizor

    @Hari:
    “its so much harder see the harm being done to us by the less-overt (and often socially acceptable) forms of harm, if no one else sees the harm–that’s part of our social-species wiring.”

    Oh yes. This makes me insane with frustration. Thanks again for the insight.

  171. Bushfire

    Oh, dear. I looked at that Feministe thread, Hari. I didn’t read it carefully because that would have taken me forever, but, I can’t help but notice the level of anti-feminism over there. It’s so sad.

  172. alamo

    Cara said it, I believe it, that settles it!

    Thanks, Cara, now that you have pointed out that I am full of shit, I finally see the light!

  173. Hari

    Bushfire–”I can’t help but notice the level of anti-feminism over there”

    Uh-yup. Only thing I can say is, if you’d read that whole thread, the only possible benefit might’ve been moving from sad to infuriated.

  174. tinfoil hattie

    I call bullshit on equating Alamo’s opinions with bullshit. Come ON. I see her point, even if it doesn’t resonate with me the way Hari’s dies. Must we eat our own, here?

  175. Katherine

    I don’t think it’s eating our own as much as, y’know, disagreeing.

    Honestly, if you saw a post saying that FGM was the same as foot binding – in the sense of it coming from the same place of mutilation of women – would you expect lots of people to come along saying nuh-huh it’s not the same because foot binding is worse than FGM?

    And if they did, and they came from cultures that practice FGM rather than foot binding, would you not perhaps wonder at the point of their objection, and wonder if maybe they were unconsciously seeking to minimise the practice of their own culture, since that is normalised to them?

  176. alamo

    @Katherine, this is a good point: “unconsciously seeking to minimise the practice of their own culture, since that is normalised to them?”

    We all have biases that might prevent us from seeing things as they really are. We may operate with a “confirmation bias,” only seeing evidence that supports what we already believe. And you are right, my biases might be due to ethonocentrism. And your biases might be due to your strong, but perhaps unconscious, belief in relativism.

    So we can just say we disagree. Or, we can decide on some objective measure to compare to the two–which one leads to more deaths? Which one causes more psychological and physical harm to the victims? In this way, instead of using opinions, we could draw upon actual data that can be used to compare the degree of harm of two. Or we can just refuse to use any objective measure to compare the two and continue to declare “I’m right, you’re wrong.”

  177. Katherine

    For goodness sake, why the need to compare, in this context?

    Twisty’s original point was this:

    “The two practices occupy overlapping points in the oppression continuum. They are both the result of misogynist social conditioning, they are both carried out on victims who have little or no personal autonomy, they are both justified by the notion that conformity to a patriarchal ideal will improve their chances of success. Either they are both a human rights violation, or neither is.”

    What is it about that that you disagree with exactly?

  178. alamo

    @Katherine, you left out the part that I disagree with:

    “apart from the fact that “the former makes us queasy and the second doesn’t,” they’re the same flippin thing.”

    And saying “there is no need to compare” is not the same thing as opining “the 2 practices are equally bad.” Because we can actually provide data–death rates, etc–to determine which is worse.

  179. alamo

    @Katherine, you left out the part that I disagree with:

    “they’re the same flippin thing.”

    And saying “there is no need to compare” is not the same thing as opining “the 2 practices are equally bad.” Because we can actually provide data–death rates, etc–to determine which is worse.

  180. Twisty

    If one misogynist tradition seems “worse” to you than another, you go, girl. But I swear on the Sacred Weblogs of Obstreperon there is more to this stuff than meets the eye. “Worse” can mean whatever you want, depending on what you’re looking at. One mainstream study I read found that breast implant patients are twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population, and that implants also correlate to high rates of brain cancer and respiratory illness. 3/4 of implant recipients suffer at least one complication (infection, pain, lumpy scar tissue) and half require additional surgery. Implant recipients report higher rates of depression, marital problems, low self-esteem, the lot. ALL breast implants will eventually break. Kind of bleak for a procedure that is only performed to appease oppression culture.

    In case I haven’t been clear, my objective is not to diminish the horror of FGM, but to expose breast enlargement surgery as a discriminatory mutilation practice rather than a harmless feminine conceit. Just because there’s Lysol and anesthesia doesn’t mean it ain’t barbaric.

  181. Katherine

    No actually Alamo, what I said was – “why the need to compare”?

    I’m genuinely curious as to the answer.

  182. Hari

    thanks for this, Twisty–

    “…there is more to this stuff than meets the eye. “Worse” can mean whatever you want, depending on what you’re looking at. One mainstream study I read found that breast implant patients are twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population…[and so on]).”

    You spared me the effort of going there. And it’s exactly what I’m thinking of, when I talk about the just-as-badness of the seemingly-lesser forms of oppression/mutilation. Yes, illness and deaths that can be traced directly as well as indirectly back to it. It’s bigger and uglier and even more lethal than most people know–or even want to know.

  183. vagabondi

    alamo:

    How about this- you have two daughters who get HPV. One gets warts. THe other dies of cervical cancer. Twisty and the commenters are not saying that warts and death are the same thing, but that they are both caused by the same thing, they are both manifestations of the same thing. One may be more bad, but if we overthrew patriarchy both FGM and breast mutilation would vanish.

  184. nails

    “But I assert that even adult women who ostensibly agree to breast mutilation cannot have arrived at that choice from a position of full human agency. ”

    Men sure as shit don’t do plastic surgery the same way, or in the same numbers. Same with organ rearrangement surgery (gastric bypass). You know you are watching some sexist shit when the vast majority of men would be horrified to undergo the same treatment most women would sign up for in a heartbeat. Other notable examples include high heeled shoes, spas, diets, and being fucked.

    “ALL breast implants will eventually break. Kind of bleak for a procedure that is only performed to appease oppression culture.”

    Yep. The surgeons don’t tell the teens or 20 somethings getting fake boobs that they better save up for a replacement pair in 10-15 years. 10-15 years (if I recall correctly) is the approximate average lifespan of a breast implant, once installed. That means you sign up for more surgeries for life, each time slicing into a scar capsule that houses the implant. Then there are all those women with silicone breast implants that can burst and send death inducing silicone all over the body, and sicken children who breastfeed. People still treat this surgery like it isn’t a big deal, and doctors who don’t do plastic surgery don’t know to look for implant related problems when a patient presents with a systemic health problem. Then there is the whole issue of how these things make it extremely difficult to perform an accurate mammogram.

    I watched an episode of Dr 90210 long ago where the shitbag doctor was doing free surgery on people who couldn’t afford it from his mom’s home country of Brazil. One lady had four breasts, two were under her armpits, and so she couldn’t move well and got blisters and such. He took the extra two out, which is cool and all because her quality of life was improved, but he put implants in the remaining two for some unknown reason. He then biffed off back to california, with no known way to contact the woman if she had complications. I used to watch all the plastic surgery shows, back when they were really popular. I can’t unsee it.

  185. Twisty

    I was under the impression that in Brazil plastic surgery is free, and is in fact expected as community service, because Brazilian women are supposed to be hot.

  186. nails

    “Sorry, no. The adverse health effects of FGM are much worse than those of FBM.

    And please, don’t tell me there is no difference between an adult woman getting a boob job and that same woman forcing her underage daughter to get a boob job.”

    If you want to compare the typical experiences of people in each procedure, sure. That is absolutely the truth the majority of the time for each group. I don’t want anyone to think the line is so clear cut either though, because there are adult women who undergo FGM to fit cultural norms (I am not just talking about western women getting labiaplasty). Ayaan Hirsi Ali worked as a refugee advocate in europe, and in her book she discussed adult women who needed their fgm partially reversed for medical procedures (it is impossible to do a gyno exam or a catheter with some forms of fgm). These women uniformly asked that their fgm returned to its former state afterwards. The physicians couldn’t do that and the women cried and cried. There are also a few people who did not have fgm as children but want to as adults to secure a marriage in the same cultural traditions. There are women who are being pimped or prostituted (in porn or out of porn) who are forced to get breast implants. There are women with pornsick husbands who won’t stay with a woman who doesn’t get FBM, or won’t stop emotionally abusing her until she submits. There are people who get low cost and dangerous surgeries from unlicensed people within the united states, often using construction grade silicone for implantation. These people end up dead.

    It is wonderful that western women have the practical option not to do harmful things in order to appear feminine, but it is also very tragic that this group is so indocrtinated that it does not seem like a realistic option to the majority. When a power structure cannot control people by force, it does so by controlling what they think, via schooling, advertising, etc. IBTP is a much more effective weapon against indoctrination than violence in non-western countries, so it makes sense for this website to have the focus you have described, eh?

  187. nails

    “I was under the impression that in Brazil plastic surgery is free, and is in fact expected as community service, because Brazilian women are supposed to be hot.”

    This lady was totally poor. Brazil has one of the worst economic inequality problems in the world, but it is common in the region. Even countries in south or central america with comparatively good social programs (like venezuela) tend to have million dollar mansions, poor/indigenous people in slums or rural land, and very little in between.

  188. quixote

    Regarding the lesser degree of physical harm from breast mutilation vs. genital mutilation. Just as a medical matter, that’s only because Western breast mutilation is performed by surgeons under sterile conditions. If done under the same conditions as the vast majority of East African genital mutilations, there wouldn’t be a patient left alive.

  189. quixote

    And, of course, if no patient survived it would pretty much defeat the purpose of having big boobs, so that’s probably the only reason FBM had to wait for modern medicine to be practiced.

  190. Ugsome

    At least there’s been an arrest in the PIP case. Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of PIP and, of course, a dude, was taken into custody and his house and office searched. He appeared before the investigating judge. That’s more than would probably happen in the US. Thank goodness for small favors I guess.

  191. Fictional Queen

    alamo I somewhat agree with you but I wonder if the level of harm is not just a coincidence relating to geographical situation where the practice takes place. What if it was the other way around, and FGM was done in America and some kind of FBM was done in Africa? Then the numbers of death etc would be higher for the FBM! So I think it’s not intrinsic, but extrinsic!

  192. Ugsome

    Sorry to echo the PIP arrest. Today’s Parisien reports that Jean-Claude Mas has been indicted for ‘involuntary injury’ (yeah right) and is out on 100K euro bail (roughly $130K). He’s also being pursued for aggravated fraud. The headline is ‘Jean-Claude Mas expressed no remorse.’

    http://www.leparisien.fr/societe/videos-scandale-pip-jean-claude-mas-n-a-exprime-aucun-remords-27-01-2012-1832113.php

  193. kikatrixx

    I appreciate the article and what everyone is saying but actually you DON’T HAVE TO BUY IN to all of that crap. I would never CONSIDER getting implants or surgery and I am far from being picture perfect. I don’t even recognise that as an aspiration. yet I have a good job and a fabulous husband (I think he is anyway!). When I go out into the city i see women of all ages and shapes and most of them look perfectly well and happy enough. Why some women get obsessed by the commercialisation of self-hatred I don’t know at all, but one can just reject it. The filthy swine that exploit women’s insecurities and sell them these surgeries etc. are to be condemned – but we women collectively can be better, and stop torturing ourselfes, really we can.

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