Clementine Ford is renowned for her inability to examine complex issues from a broad and sexually inclusive perspective. One, and only one, perspective is allowed, Ford’s feminist perspective. Now she has even stooped to direct commentators on her articles to conform to her own bias.
Disclaimer: Clementine would like to acknowledge that the issue of male circumcision is also fraught. She is personally against all forms of cultural sanctioned genital surgery, including male circumcision. However, this article is not about that so she would kindly ask that comments not be derailed. There will be a time in which to discuss male circumcision, but this article is not it.
This disclaimer is appended to a recent article titled the “Large Labia Project” which concerns the increasing trend by adult female human beings from the advanced western economy of Australia, to freely choose to undergo elective cosmetic surgery, to alter the appearance of their external genitalia (Vulva) most commonly the labia minora. This procedure is technically described a vuvoplasty or labioplasty but in common parlance is sometimes incorrectly referred to as “Designer Vagina” surgery.
Far from being a “culturally sanctioned” procedure as Ford maintains Vulvoplasty was until recent years a procedure little known to the lay public used by gynaecologists to repair or refashion congenital or other abnormalities of the vulva. It has come to the public’s notice of late because of increasing requests by women whose vulvae are normal to have the procedure preformed for purely aesthetic reasons.
This led to an abuse of Australia’s Medicare system, which funds such surgery for therapeutic reasons but not for simple aesthetics. Medicare figures show that 432 women had vulvoplasties in 1999, but by 2011 this number had risen to 1565.
The increase was not due to some sudden increase in vulval pathology and abnormalities, rather as James Cook University Professor, Ajay Rane notes, “mainly young women aged 19 to 24 are having the procedure, which in up to 70% of cases is unnecessary.”
Medicare’s first response to this data was to reduce the financial rebate for vulvoplasty in an attempt to limit inappropriate use, subsequently a review has been instituted to define more precisely the acceptable use of the procedure and when it should be subsidised at public expense. It is likely that far greater numbers of vulvoplasties are preformed by private unregulated cosmetic clinics and not captured in Medicare data, most if not all of these will be medically unnecessary operations.
Dr Rane sensibly suggests that patients requesting the procedure should view an atlas of normal female genital anatomy, have at least 2 consultations with the doctor and undergo a psychological evaluation prior to being allowed to undergo a medically unnecessary procedure.
One wonders why after more than 50 years of feminist governance and control of the education system by the women who attended consciousness raising and vulva viewing sessions with their ideological sisters, they have not educated their daughters as to what is normal genital appearance?
It is important to note increasing requests for medically unnecessary vulvoplasty is identified as a significant problem with professional bodies, women’s groups and government all taking steps to investigate and protect women.
However in line with Fords usual stance against women owning their own shit, she implies the blame for this trend should be placed firmly at the feet of men, who through their patriarchal power and privilege use the beauty and pornography industries to socially construct ideals of female sexual attractiveness leading to the “sexual packaging of women’s bodies as commodities.”
It is unclear why ford is not lobbying the female models and porn stars that sell the images of their bodies for commercial gain. After all women could stop the beauty and porn industries by simply refusing to take part.
What ford neglects to address in her article is that the equivalent situation from a male perspective is not circumcision but the burgeoning penile enlargement industry. Anyone who has ever received spam email will be aware that this industry is prolific. It targets vulnerable men with the false message that worldly success is directly related to penile size and they should avail themselves of any of dozens of techniques, natural remedies, devices or surgeries to achieve that end.
This message was apparently behind the recent filicide of a 9-year-old boy by his mother who believed his pre-pubertal penis size doomed him to failure in life.
Penile enlargement surgery is aggressively advertised and promoted. It is often performed in unregulated clinics. Many of the non-surgical therapies are unlicensed. Yet public discourse around this form of genital mutilation or concern for the protecting the vulnerable men who seek it out, if it exists at all, is well hidden.
Searching both the Urological Society of Australia and NZ and the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeon’s website for information regarding penile enlargement draws a blank. As with most things when it comes to genitals, women’s matter and men’s don’t. Yet men are just as susceptible to be influenced by societal and media pressure, as are women.
Male models in fashion and porn actors are unlikely to be selected on the basis of having average or smaller genitalia. For that matter when was last time you saw a non–buff, under or over weight, male model without a prominent bulge between the legs? How many male characters in roleplaying computer games are portrayed with average body type and not as exaggerated muscle bound hulks? The so-called beauty myth is targeted at both sexes has it base firmly in commerce and consumerism not in gender politics. Both sexes are susceptible to such influence, and deserving of protection from adverse influences and themselves.
The most egregious error in Ford’s thesis however is equating Female Genital Mutilation, the genital cutting of non-consenting infant girls by women in other cultures but illegal in Australia, with the aesthetic choices of adult women. Similarly the culturally accepted, legal, and Medicare funded genital mutilation (circumcision) of non-consenting defenseless male neonates has no bearing on her thesis; they are quite simply not comparable issues.
By implying they are comparable Ford has already derailed her own arguments with the typical feminist rhetorical trick of NOT comparing apples with apples. Still, her gullible audience slurps at her swill as though she is the rising star of gender equality, rather than the tired and bitter gender bigot she is.