MISANDRY – Encouraging Sign – Noted Feminist Demolishes Pro-circumcision Arguments

Catherine Bennett, a well-known British feminist, has an op/ed at the Guardian that is to date the sanest, calmest, most complete and most unaswerable treatment of the circumcision question.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that a feminist is saying these things. Feminists got on the right side of this issue from the very beginning, or many did. But more importantly the vocabulary of concepts for discussing infant MGM as a form of misandry and a human rights abuse comes out of feminism, all of it. Thank you feminists. Thank you feminism. Now shout down those people who dismiss concerns about circumcision as trivial or somehow misogynist(!) as anti-feminist.

Can I get the MRAs to say “Thank you feminists. Thank you feminism”?

The comments are the usual hot mess of misinformation, disinformation, hysterics and then sweet reason counter-attacking. The op/ed is good, but the comments are where the real meat is.

You get all the usual idiocies: MGM is in no way analogous or as severe as FGM, how dare you compare them? FGM is equivalent to penectomy, not circumcision. (This one is just straight anatomically illiterate.) Circumcison is sacred, how dare you try to ban it, how bigoted of you. Then there is the intentional and misleading conflation of infant and thus  nonconsensual circumcision with adult circumcision. It’s all the usual dishonest tricks.

It should amaze me though it does not that anyone can argue for infant circumcision as a religious right, that they can assert their own individual rights, in complete disregard of someone else’s individual rights. People should be reminded that they live in some rather fragile and exposed glass houses.

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  • robo

    “MGM is in no way analogous or as severe as FGM”
    because that proves that it doesn’t matter, right? sexual harassment isn’t as severe as rape, so by this logic, it doesn’t matter. just following that logic…
    I’m sick of that argument. fuck it.

  • Ginkgo

    It’s a basically just a deflection. It takes a men’s issue and turns it back into what about teh wymynz, which is chivalrous and patriarchal all the way. Me too, I’m sick of that argument. It’s dishonest and bigoted.

  • http://marjaerwin.livejournal.com Marja Erwin

    I don’t see it as clearly a men’s issue or a womyn’s issue. It’s about cutting up children’s genitalia. Yes, the nastiest forms tend to be those targeting intersex children and female children, but it’s the same wrongness and it can inflict the same horrors [death, destruction of the genitalia, lifelong pain, etc.] on any child subject to any type of genital mutilation.

  • Eagle34

    Bravo. Bravo.

    That’s step one.

    Now all that’s left is for feminists like her to acknowledge that, in terms of male victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse from females (or just general abuse from females), the movement screwed up big time.

  • dungone

    This is what is wrong with opinion columns. Ordinarily sensible people, being paid to come up with another eye-catching, provocative opinion, week after week, end up taking quite sensible steps towards a ridiculous conclusion. Poor Catherine Bennet! It must have seemed such an easy argument. Of course slashing a piece of a man’s penis off must be wrong, just as it is wrong to mutilate a woman’s genitalia.

    But such is the vanity of logic, unencumbered by common sense. Wouldn’t it have been just a little tempting to take a step outside of the perfectly formed steps inside your reasoning mind, and look around and ask about circumcision, before pronouncing upon it?

    Yes, of course, it is perfectly logical that 2.1 billion muslims, 13 million Jews, one third of all Americans, six per cent of Britons are sexually mutilating their babies. It must be the case that approaching half the world’s population are torturing their infants.

    Except its not. At some point even the most deluded dalectician must be interrupted by the actual subjects of her polemic. Circumcision is not comparable to facial scarring or forced marriage (that is why we have different words for those things, to show that they are different). It is not ‘inhuman’ – not unless something that around a third of human communities do can be called inhuman. Witty as it may seem to call circumcision ‘redesigning’ a child’s genitals, parents do not choose from a catalogue.

    Children do not need protecting from their loving parents. But families do need protecting – most especially those Jewish and Muslim families whom it finds so alien – from the tyrannical, inhuman authority of the German constitutional court, as well as its unworldly apologists.

    Holocaust Denier.

  • Paul

    ^ “and if all you friend’s jumped off a cliff….?”

  • http://dannyscorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Danny

    Eagle34:
    Now all that’s left is for feminists like her to acknowledge that, in terms of male victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse from females (or just general abuse from females), the movement screwed up big time.
    Whoa let’s not get crazy here. Next you’ll be asking folks to turn water into wine. (But I do agree with you though.)

  • robo

    ^^ basically, “lots of people do it,so it must be ok.” I suppose we should have supported slavery as well then, at one time it was seriously widespread and accepted in virtually every society. (and even now is still an issue).

  • Ginkgo

    “I don’t see it as clearly a men’s issue or a womyn’s issue. It’s about cutting up children’s genitalia.”

    Goddamit, Marja, the plain-spoken sanity of that comment, which is after all the core argument in all of this, is almost enough to win me over to your innovative spelling of Weiben. ( just kidding about the swearing -In fact I don’t have any principled opposition anyway – it represents the phonetic form of the word and the etymology is no more authoritative in spelliong than in semantics. So.)

    Dungone, I’m sorry. I can’t parse your menaing. Are you calling her, me or whoever wrote that piece you quote a Holocaust denier?

    “It is not ‘inhuman’ – not unless something that around a third of human communities do can be called inhuman. ”

    When it comes to counting on the moral sense of those two religions on what is human and inhuman, one word comes ot mind – slavery. Both approve of it or have and to my knowledge neither has formally renounced that approval. as for the argument to popualrity, that would excuse anti-Semitism – at least the same numbers of people are anti-Semitic to one degree or another.

  • dungone

    Dungone, I’m sorry. I can’t parse your menaing. Are you calling her, me or whoever wrote that piece you quote a Holocaust denier?

    I was referring to the man who left the downright evil comment on the op-ed. I once heard some people rationalizing that the Holocaust must not have happened on such an unprecedented scale because too many regular decent people didn’t even seem to notice.

  • elementary_watson

    But such is the vanity of logic, unencumbered by common sense.

    That sentence is a horrid example of the vanity of common sense, unencumbered by logic. Anyone who uses that line of thought (and there are many people, unfortunately) basically is saying that they are immune to any rational arguments against a position they think is obviously right.

    The more I read by strongly pro-circumcision people, the clearer it becomes just *how* morally ugly their position is.

  • elementary_watson

    Oh, and: “Thanks, feminism!” (even though I’m not an MRA)

    Without the absulte objection against any form of FGM, no matter how little tissue being cut off, we wouldn’t think too much about male circumcision.

    Feminism consists of many great humanist principles, even if many feminists fight tooth and nail against applying them universally.

  • http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com Stoner With a Boner

    I just looked up this definition of misogyny:

    “hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women.”

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/misogyny

    whoa, now, mistrust is misogyny….

    now at the same dictionary, misandry is:

    “hatred of males”

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/misandry?s=t

    not hatred, dislike or mistrust of males, just hatred of males….

    so if you merely distrust or dislike females, you are a misogynist you absolutely must hate males to be misandrist….

    Am I misreading or is there a lower threshold to be a misogynist?

  • Eagle34

    elementary_watson: “Feminism consists of many great humanist principles, even if many feminists fight tooth and nail against applying them universally.”

    I’ll start believing ALL of feminism has great humanist principles when they admit they screwed up big time in terms of male survivors of female abuse/rape. Until then, only a portion of them are humanist in my eyes.

  • Eagle34

    Danny: “Whoa let’s not get crazy here. Next you’ll be asking folks to turn water into wine. (But I do agree with you though.)”

    I’m not holding my breath. You’re right, it’s going to take a bigger instrument to pull those teeth.

  • Druk

    “say “Thank you feminists. Thank you feminism”?”

    I refuse to let feminism be a monolith only when they get something right. At best, I’ll give you “thank you, some feminists!”.

  • Ginkgo

    Druk, I agree in general, but sometimes feminism is a monolith. Those times are when it refers to some core doctrine that all feminists accpet and embrace. and that happens to be the case wiht the circumcison positon so many take. they are extrapolating from their principled opposition to FGM, which was based core feminst principles. that’s the monlith I am thanking.

    Otherwise you are quite right. My standard is, if you claim a name, then you must denounce anything negative associated with it or be counted as agreeing with it.

  • RocketFrog

    Ginkgo:

    There is currently a debate going on in my home country about circumcision (the government wants to outlaw infant circumcision for non-medical reasons), and apart from religious people who traditionally practice it, quite a lot of the people who argue in favour of male infant circumcision in comments on eg. newspapers’ online forums are self-identified feminist women. Apparently, they are not quite so monolithic about it here (because there are also feminists in favour of banning the practice).

    Secular reasons cited include that circumcision is more hygienic, less prone to infections, less likely to transmit STDs in adulthood, circumcised men being better in bed, and uncircumcised penises being aesthetically disgusting.

    It sort of disturbs me that any argument about a practice on infants can possibly be based on adult sexual preferences. Not because I think these women are pedophiles, but because the thought of violating a defenseless human being’s right to bodily integrity because of a sexual fetish in adults seems not just absurd, but utterly repugnant to me.

  • Ginkgo

    RF,

    Where are you? I thought you were British. If you’re not, I menat no offense, but I did think you were British. If you are in Germany, I have been wathcing that very closely.

    “and apart from religious people who traditionally practice it, quite a lot of the people who argue in favour of male infant circumcision in comments on eg. newspapers’ online forums are self-identified feminist women.”

    What I think oyu are seeing is feminist solidarity with Third World groups, in this case Muslims. You get big moral exhibitionism points for sticking up for Muslims in Europe. This solidarity has been criticized form outside feminism for years, as silencing feminists on feminist issues in the Middle East and Africa.

  • http://www.youtube.com/pianomosaic Diesirae

    It’s not easy for me to talk about circumcision. I remember the procedure and what life was like before. I was lied to about what was going to be done to me and I was lied to about it being a medical necessity. I just cannot fathom how people can allow this to happen to their own children – or anyone. It certainly shows how religion can make decent people commit atrocities.
    It’s an disgrace to civilization and so are all the people who defend it.

  • http://dannyscorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Danny

    SWAB:
    I just looked up this definition of misogyny:

    “hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women.”

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/misogyny

    whoa, now, mistrust is misogyny….

    now at the same dictionary, misandry is:

    “hatred of males”

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/misandry?s=t

    not hatred, dislike or mistrust of males, just hatred of males….

    so if you merely distrust or dislike females, you are a misogynist you absolutely must hate males to be misandrist….

    Am I misreading or is there a lower threshold to be a misogynist?

    Either a lower threshold on misogyny or such a high threshold on misandry that the small subset of those that display it and the folks that call it out can be dismissed as “loners” and “nutcases”, respectively. Which in turn allows people to deny its existence because “it doesn’t happen that often”.

    Check out the definition of misandry in the following link (http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Fathers+edge/6968504/story.html) and tell if you see what’s wrong.

    “Misandry is the hatred of men by women and there are dozens of websites like this one in what sometimes gets called the “manosphere,” dedicated to the idea that men’s civil rights – often fathers’ rights – are under attack by feminists and the courts.”

  • Aych

    I will give a big thank you out to THEORETICAL feminism.

    That’s right. To the theoretical feminism which exists ever so wonderfully in the dictionary. But, in substance, is only half-applied in practice.

    There is no end to the wonderful praise that I can lavish upon theoretical feminism, that which says that there ought to be unfair preferences based on the genitals one was born with. That which says that all professional (and parental) fields should be open to all who have the skills and desires to fill them. That which says that people should not be discriminated against on the basis of sex.

    In other words, Liberalism which has been properly applied.

    I have lots of praise for feminism.* Especially since it provides a vocabulary and theoretical framework to criticize for harmful gender-based restrictions, such as (but not limited to) the mutilation of infants’ genitals.

    It’s a pity that those who’d arrogate themselves the label of “feminist” are hell-bent on strictly applying the theory in one-sided ways which are opportunistic and personally convenient, much to the detriment of half the world’s population.

    So, yeah, you can get lots of praise and thanks about feminism** from me.

    * Now that I’m criticizing feminism, there are many different kinds of feminisms, and none of them are similar in any way. Conveniently.

    ** Now that I’m praising feminism, all feminisms are one and the same. Conveniently.

  • Aych

    ought NOT to be unfair preferences.

    Ugh.

    Whatever, just delete what I’ve written.

  • Hackberry

    Applaud feminism? No, not I. If Valerie Solenas said something nice about men do you think she would deserve applause? No. Hatefulness deserves no applause. Neither does feminism.

  • HidingFromtheDinosaurs

    Thank you Catherine Bennett, or, if you would prefer (and if she would prefer, seeing as she’s the one who actually did the thing we’re thanking her for and her opinion therefore carries more weight in this matter), thank you feminist.

    Feminism, as a single entity, has done nothing. This is not even a case of an organized group of feminists doing something: These are the actions of a single woman and, regardless of how she chooses to label herself, they ought be recognized as such. I still do not believe that the core principle and monolithic aspects to which you refer exist, and I consider “feminism” to be far too broad and vague a category to be worth talking about at all. I refuse to treat with any proposition which does not deal in more definite, and definitely definable, terms. Until such time as I become impressed by the merits of a different course of action, I intend to treat feminists exclusively as individuals, accruing no blame, and no credit, by virtue of that name (their connections to other specific individuals are, of course, still open to criticism).

    I am through with movements and the conflicts they generate, but the prospect of fence-sitting is equally unappealing to me. I therefore choose to renounce even the idea of movements and to refuse to view the debate, or the world, in terms of the imaginary battle lines they have drawn.

  • Sigil

    Echoing an earlier comment from Durk. I can go along with thanking the individual feminist, but not feminists or feminism, feminism is not a monolith 😉 and presumably a good portion of the bigotry and ignorance in the comments section is coming from feminists that are repeating what they have learned in feminist discussions on mgm.

  • Ginkgo

    Alright guys, you’ve convinced me. They’ve got their thanks from me, now fuck those bigots. They are irrelevant anyway.

  • Sigil

    “They are irrelevant anyway.”

    Increasingly so, though they are useful for showing themselves up on an ever more public gender debating stage.

  • Ginkgo

    “Increasingly so, though they are useful for showing themselves up on an ever more public gender debating stage.”

    I made this argument several years ago over at Feminst Critics. At that time there was a lot of concern about how to foster debate and discussion with feminists, and what they hoped to achieve with that. I maintained that the conversation was three -sided, with the public as the always present third party, and it could be quite useful and would serve the purposes of social justice to show feminists as irrational, dogmatic and bigoted, to give them full range to express themselves and discredit themselves. part of that would be drawing them inot daming statements.

    Didn’t convince anyone but myself. But time moves on. Now they are getting so desperate they shoot their mouths off all over.

  • Sigil

    “Now they are getting so desperate they shoot their mouths off all over.”

    I think there is a false sense of security that has been built up from talking in echo chambers, and that they don’t realize how they are presenting when they behave the same way in public and without the safety net of the mob and the ban hammer.

  • Ginkgo

    Well just look at the fucking stats on young women not calling themselves feminists. Where does that come from? People making up their own minds. That by the way is one of the strongest counter-arguments ot misogyny, in or outsdide the MRM – look at all these sensible, fair-minded women. (Not that these same young women don’t also harbor a lot of misandrist attitudes, but at least those are probably unconscious and ones they are willing to examine and probably reject.)

    But look at how feminist spaces work – they are airtight safe spaces – clubhouses for cliques of cool kids. That is where the majority of the energy in those spaces is about – who belongs and who doesn’t. And you know how the cool kids always ignore all the rest of us lamesters.

  • dungone

    @Gingko, were you referring to the question that I responded to here? http://www.genderratic.com/p/1764/misandry-encouraging-sign-noted-feminist-demolishes-pro-circumcision-arguments/#comment-10500

    I know that I sucked providing the context, but my comment was about the author of the comment that i had quoted and the intention was allegorical. The person who wrote that comment has an incredibly difficult time imagining that a practice that happens on such a massive scale could ever really be the destruction of men’s sexuality by purposefully maiming their bodies. By his logic, then he should be a Holocaust denier as well. He truly believes that if something was really wrong with it, then “someone” would have noticed and put an end to it, so therefore by his circular reasoning, there must not be anything wrong with it.

  • Ginkgo

    Got it. That’s a pretty wide loop, of the kind my friends get on me about. (My enemies just snicker.)

    And it’s valid. Something else about that is the point that so many others have made, that leaders who decry this as equal to the Holocaust are trivializing the Holocaust to the point of denying it.

  • http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/ ballgame

    Hey Gingko, I just noticed over at NSWATM your mentioning that ozy has spoken out in favor of allowing MGM in some (presumably not medically required) circumstances. I missed that completely … where/when did ozy do that?

    Nice post, BTW.

  • http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/ ballgame

    Found the ozy thing … never mind! 😉

  • http://twitter.com/loveunderlaw loveunderlaw

    If this sexual MUTILATION called “circumcision” is done to EITHER sex of infant children, it is pure EVIL and nothing else ! The only way to end it, is to start killing the mentally ill people that are fond of harming innocent children in their Abrahamic “God”s name.

    I for one would kill the “Dr.” that did it to me as an infant if I could just get my hands around his throat, I’d fucking LOVE to snap his neck as though it were a twig. Any amount of jail time or even the death penalty would be a worthwhile sacrifice to take the evil fucks out that enjoy sexually mutilating small children that can’t defend themselves against their attackers.

  • Druk

    @loveunderlaw:
    Hanlon’s Razor.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HanlonsRazor
    Your anger at the actions are reasonable; the extreme anger at the people involved, somewhat less so.

  • Ginkgo

    Thank you, Druk, for making the necesary distinction. Two things though – at a certain point stupidity becomes culpable negligence. Also, generally the way to stop an activity is oot go after the agents one way or another.