Of the various topics that cause concern for individuals trying to raise the status of women internationally, circumcision and ritual mutilation have long been considered a crime of horrendous proportions. Unlike male circumcision, which is primarily health-related and performed early in life, female genital rites are done as the girl approaches puberty and lacks the justification of health issues.
While within the medical community male circumcision, except in the case of religion, goes in and out of style, no obstetrician would even consider the procedure for a girl. Vaginal circumcision is an act of unnecessary violence used to mark a woman as property, and reduce the amount of pleasure she can receive from sex.
Since her purpose is to provide babies to any prospective husband, enjoyment is not considered a prerequisite for procreation. The theory is that denial of pleasure will keep her from wandering, and of course the physical marks will let any other man know she is somebody else’s property.
In North America, we are far too sophisticated to allow that sort of practice to occur. Our enlightened society would never allow women to be so maltreated, at least, not without their permission. Now comes the news that the latest fad in plastic surgery is vaginal modifications.
Once your lips are right, your hips are fine, and your breasts just perky enough, the final touch-up required is that little nip and tuck to give you the perfect vagina. The Globe and Mail reports that Dr. David Matlock of Los Angeles has pioneered this latest “advancement” in the field of cosmetic surgery.
The techniques have long been known to obstetricians from their work in repairing new mother’s episiotomies. While a surgeon may have added an extra stitch to tighten the vaginal wall (called the “stitch for the husband”) on their own, actual deliberate vaginal modification was unheard of until now.
Women come to Dr. Matlock clutching pictures of how they’d like their vaginas to look. Airbrushed pictures out of porn magazines tend to be the usual references, leading one to wonder who planted the idea in their heads in the first place. Why would a woman be checking out the shape and size of another woman’s vagina?
The more likely scenario is their significant other, (not ruling out same sex partner here because sexual politics is sexual politics) has let it slip “casually” that they think so and so’s vagina looks perfect. If you are like me, you are probably still wondering how you bring this topic of conversation up casually.
Over breakfast with the morning coffee do you idly turn to your wife and say: “By the by dear, I was looking through Hustler last night and I really like Miss April’s vagina, what’s your opinion?” Unless Hustler has changed dramatically in style, as I remember you used to be able to see up into a woman’s throat with their manner of presentation, it would make an ideal visual aid for this type of comparison study.
How much more damage are we going to inflict upon a women’s self-esteem? What new standards are we going to invent for them to measure up to? Isn’t it bad enough that we parade anorexic models as the ideal form, while at the same time demanding large breasts and perfectly symmetrical hips?
Have you seen the clothes they sell in the fashionable shops? How many women do you know that can fit in them? (One day my wife, who is quite small, was wandering through one of these shops and lifted a small strapless number off the rack. While staring at in wonder a perky little shop assistant bounded over to her and said: “Isn’t that just the cutest?” Looking her straight in the eye my wife replied: “Not if you’re forty with sagging tits.”) More to the point why would they want to?
While there is a genuine need for this type of surgery to aid women who suffer from incontinence, the benefits as a means of improving one’s sex life are open to debate. Dr. Matlock claimed in his first ad that it was “the first sexual advance of the new millennium” and featured a bikini-clad woman with the caption “You won’t believe how good sex can be”.
Gynaecologists warn, however, about significant contra-indications to these procedures, and say that there is no proof that they will have the benefits advertised. Aside from normal post-surgical complications like infection and haemorrhaging, there is also the risk of nerve damage, loss of sensation, formation of scar tissue, and over-tightening of the muscles.
Not only does Dr. Matlock promise an increase sexual satisfaction but, he bills himself as an artist. He creates, claims his website, a “youthful and aesthetically appealing vulva”. This can involve the trimming of the labia, fat transplants to plump up the outer labia, or tightening the vagina by decreasing the vaginal opening through drawing the muscle and other support tissue together with an absorbable stitch. He also builds up the perineum, between the anus and vagina, to offer more support.
“ Does anybody wake up in the morning and say, ‘I just really, really, really need to have my genitals reshaped because I just really want to do that because it’s going to feel better’?” Professor Michael Atkinson is quoted as saying in the Globe and Mail
Dr Atkinson is a Professor of Sociology at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario. He, along with others, wonders what really is driving women to have this procedure and who is really receiving its benefits. When it used to be referred to as the “husband’s stitch” the implications were the benefits would be felt by the husband. The tighter the vagina the greater the stimulation and arousal felt by the man.
When all these satisfied women are claiming an increase in sexual pleasure, are they talking about their own, or their ability to satisfy their partner? Again, raising the question of who or what brought the subject up in the first place.
Equally, if not more disturbing, is the fact that Dr. Matlock’s demographic is expanding to include teenage girls as young as fifteen. His claim of them being physically mature as justification for performing the operation is nauseating.
What good reason is there for a person who is not even legally sexually active to have this procedure done? What kind of mindset is being developed in the young women who believe they need to modify their genitalia? As these people have not reached age of consent, they require their parent’s permission to have the surgery. What are these people thinking?
We find the ritual abuse of young women’s genitalia in other countries appalling. Yet, women of all ages in our society are having the equivalent done on a daily basis under the guise of body enhancement.
There is no evidence (Dr. Matlock refuses to submit studies for publication in medical journals because he does not want anyone stealing his techniques) supporting any of the claims made of increased sexual pleasure. There has been no study done on what the possible repercussions of this procedure could be, or if the effects are permanent.
Even if this were completely risk-free, what does it say about our view of woman? Do not these type of demands for physical perfection placed on women further reduce them in stature to mere objects modifiable for men’s pleasure?
Before we start pointing fingers at other cultures and how backward they are, we need to take a good long look at our own. Until we get over the notion that women only exist to please men, we have no right to take any sort of moral high ground on any issue. The stones we are throwing are will soon start bringing our own house down around our ears.