Those outside the third world have discovered yet another atrocity of that world: breast ironing — a process of applying heat, pressure, and violent massage to a young female's budding breasts in an attempt to squelch their growth.
This is not a practice inflicted upon young girls by oppressive men. Rather it is their female relatives who do this — their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and big sisters — as it was done to them. Breast ironing is about a four-million females and many generations-strong practice in countries like Cameroon, West and Central Africa, including Chad, Togo, Benin, and Guinea-Conakry.
The motivation is not religious and is only cultural if one thinks avoiding danger is a characteristic of a culture. Unlike the practices of using neck rings, foot binding, and corsetry (or tightlacing) to enhance one's natural beauty by ungodly and unnatural means, breast ironing is an ungodly and unnatural practice meant to minimize and even eliminate a young girl's allure. We will never mind beautiful eyes, luscious lips, and a sway that must be jelly 'cos jam don't shake like that. We will instead count our blessings that no one has yet thought to use live slaughter as a preventative measure.
Yes, I said, "preventative." All those mothers in all those African nations aren't stupid. They are, however, as limited in their resources as they are lacking the physical strength and legislative power it would take to invoke and enforce the only alternative to breast ironing the mothers would be willing to accept before giving up the practice.
This lack of resources and the inability of these mothers to secure the alternative is not the source of "civilized" angst. Rather it is the only answer these mothers have come up with that is the reason for the cries heard from as close by as the UK and as far away as the US — we must stop them from hurting their daughters!
A campaign aimed at educating mothers about the dangers of breast ironing has been launched. The hope is to eradicate the practice with information. What is it the mothers don't know? According to a line from a campaign leaflet, they don't know that "A girl…has to be proud of her breasts because it is natural. It is a gift from God. Allow the breasts to grow naturally. Do not force them to disappear or appear." Interesting.
Thank goodness "civilization" has enough money to step in and tell them about the dangers of breast ironing, that its side effects can and do include "severe pain and abscesses, infections, breast cancer, and even the complete disappearance of one or both breasts." Up to now, I guess the mothers hadn't even noticed any of this. Silly, uncivilized women.
The outrage about the practice and the efforts made to eradicate it are as useless and benign as the desired result of the practice is evasive. Every mother and other female relative speaking in defense of this practice has stated the reason for it over and over, and for naught. No one seems to want to repeat everything the mothers say.
The campaign members heard "breast ironing" and stopped listening. They've embarked on this educational and informative campaign, writing furiously about this barbaric practice, and still, no one mentions the real deal here, the nitty gritty, the smoking gun. No one — not CNN's article detailing the practice and the history of it, not the BBC's article about the campaign to stop the practice, nor Canada's CBC article urging donations to the campaign — has pointed the finger and aimed the fire at the actual cause.
Sadly, all these mothers could submit all their girl children to sex-change operations and it would do little to meet their need. The motivation behind the practice is said to be to lessen the young girl's physical allure. If this is indeed the motivation, and we've no doubt it is as defined by those who bemoan the practice, then the practice needs to be stopped, right?
Well, sure, if you've never read and/or understood a damn thing about logical fallacy. But if you have, you're with me on this and have been since the beginning. The rest of you, try to keep up.
If you are one of those still lost, I'm going to torture you for a few more paragraphs because the pain of the wait (assuming you have as much patience as you have ability to fly off the handle and support worthless causes) might well serve to further ingrain the lesson once you've learned it.
Yes, I said "worthless," as in a campaign to stop mothers from ironing their daughters' breasts by way of educating them about natural beauty is a worthless cause. The mothers and daughters are not worthless, nor are their breasts and their beauty; just the cause. Ironically, this worthless venture has accrued a great deal of money. It's worth something to someone, but not to those for whom it is supposedly directed.
The campaign is worthless to those who engage in breast ironing because it seeks to educate women about their own natural beauty — the very thing the mothers are so aware of that they seek to minimize it. We could ask why the mothers are doing this and then dump time and money into that, but instead we throw millions of dollars into a program that serves no other purpose than to tell these women what they already know: breasts are natural and beautiful.
The "civilized" world has little need for solutions and cures. Oh sure, we say it's all about solving problems and wiping bad things from the surface of the earth, but actions speak louder than words — and the action of campaigning to stop breast ironing instead of campaigning to stop the reason for the breast ironing is loud and clear: "We're not out to make you feel better; we're out to make ourselves feel better." A lot of money could be saved and the same thing would result by simply dropping a few dozen leaflets from the sky that say:
Dear Mothers and Daughters, Women and Girls,
Stop denying your female beauty.
Sincerely, The World
Unfortunately, the reason given by these mothers and other female relatives for breast ironing, to suppress and lessen the budding female's sexual attractiveness, is for naught. The "civilized" world knows this. They're going after the mothers instead of what the mothers fear because going after the actual cause would not only cast a dismal shadow on their charitable efforts, it would also shine a glaring light on how ineffective they are at preventing this very problem within their own societies.
Those of you I left behind a few paragraphs ago, here's the dealio: The mothers who iron their daughters' breasts do think breasts are beautiful. Unfortunately, rapists think so, too. Rape is not a crime in many African nations. It is seen as a right of the male gender. In this, even those males who are not predisposed to violence see rape not as a crime, but as an acceptable, non-criminal behavior.
As bad as breast ironing is, it is, at least in the hearts and minds of many African mothers, the only preventative to the otherwise inevitable sexual assault of their daughters. They know this because many of them have been raped themselves. They've heard rumor that men don't like women or girls who don't have breasts (read: natural beauty), thus they do the one thing they can: get rid of the breasts. Unfortunately, these rumors about men aren't true. While men might not have sex with a woman or girl who has no breasts, rapists will and do. Pedophiles are even less particular. Who is who in a society where males are allowed to run hormonally and criminally free is any mother's guess.
While those males who aren't inclined to violence might learn through attrition that rape is wrong, they haven't yet. Those who are so inclined are not going to be more or less inclined by outward appearance. They need only an available victim to commit their crime.
Many societies throughout Africa have instilled the right to rape in the hearts and minds of the male gender. This is not the angle from which our "civilized" donors feel the strength to fight. They've lost the battle on their own soil and can't bring themselves to admit it. They have instead opted for the cowardly and ineffective road that leads to and ends with those who have to live with the threat — not those who present the threat. No matter; they're doing a good deed.
While the actions of the breast ironing mothers can be explained, the actions of the "civilized" and their campaign cannot. Seeking to educate women about their beauty when the real problem is rapists is not much different than removing all the food from a society so poor and hungry they've resorted to stealing food. While removing the food will prevent food from being stolen, it hardly addresses the problem of hunger or poverty. But of course, this assumes the sought-after solution had something to do with hunger and poverty.
The members of the campaign to eradicate breast ironing might be interested to know that a Google search of the keywords "characteristics" and "rapist" results in no link wherein the word "beauty" is found.
Might I suggest an alternative campaign — eradicating those who sexually assault their fellow human beings? Yes, too simple for overachievers and too costly for fiscal chickenshits, but maybe those with a wee bit more moxie could put a program in place that would insure enforcement of the following notice as it is dropped from the sky by way of millions of leaflets:
Dear Fathers and Sons, Men and Boys,
You will stop assaulting females. This is not nature's course. The world doesn't revolve around your penis. You are going to be removed from society as even your most minor infraction has consistently predicated, not the intent of, but rather the act of criminal behavior. Look behind you. Those guys are going to take you away and see that you are not released back into society until you get it through your thick skull that females are not there for your taking. If you don't graduate from our program, you get to repeat it as many times as is necessary. Should you die here, good on you; so will your next opportunity to rape. If you do graduate, you will be afforded the opportunity to teach this program abroad (the US, Europe, and other exotic locales) where sexual assault, while illegal, continues to afford the criminal short sentences, early releases, and the opportunity to assault again.
Have a nice day.
Sincerely, The World
Anything less, oh ye "civilized" citizens of the world, is just throwing money — and breasts — away.