Posted in Christianinty, Debate, God, Human Rights, Law, Role of women, sex, Women

I Didn’t Know

The other day I made a disturbing discovery. Sitting on a train, my book title was kept well hidden from public view, as it was held face down in my lap. I certainly did not want to attract attention or raised eyebrows. The subject matter being of such a sensitive nature. Neither did I, nor do I want to be labelled as some perverted person reading such material. I am no such thing. This is too serious for that and I would find that label offensive. It’s simple: I am one female in a quest to know, educate, prevent, and wish to help eradicate, in my own small way, a terrible, terrible thing. It is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision.

My train journey was to take me to a London hospital to visit a Well Women African Clinic, which treats women who have been subject to such a procedure. If you want to know more about the subject, then visit my blog, Zero Tolerance for Women. To date, this is the most active site visited, whether for morbid  curiousity, perversion or genuine interest and concern. My next blog will concentrate on that visit but for now something I need to get off my chest that is more pressing.

In my reading that day I learnt a new thing. It concerns C19th  England. It is well known by Christians and non-Christians that the bible has very exact and rigid views regarding sex. I believed in my ignorance that FGM was a ritual carried out mainly by African tribes and some other eastern nations dating back to pre-Islam, and possibly originating in Egypt.

 WRONG! FGM was practiced in England on woman, up until the last century, as a means of curbing the sexual excesses and appetites of women, with specific concern over the practice of masturbation; perceived by religious authorities as a sexually deviant practice. In effect, clitoridectomy (removal of the clitoris) and other FGM  procedures were carried out as acceptable curative methods of female masturbation. Bennet, an English gynaecologist, also advocated the use of leeches applied to the vulva, or uterus, or administering silver nitrate or hydrate potassium to the uterus with a hot iron instrument for women’s mania or hysteria. The English obstetrician Samuel Ashwall recommended the removal of an enlarged clitoris when causing sexual passion. This procedure soon swept Europe and in England the practice reached its height in the1860’s, becoming widely accepted by surgeons. Issac Baker Brown who was highly regarded at the time as a talented doctor, saw it as a means of curing every kind of women’s ailments.

 The Church Times condoned the practice and described Baker Brown as an “eminent surgeon”. Female masturbation was seen as sign of insanity, harshly condemned and seen as a threat to all men. This sexual behaviour did not sit well in society, including the Christian church, as women were supposed to be seen and perceived as delicate, week and feeble creatures. This included a belief that women were not to have any kind of say, as to the expression of their sexuality, by an act called masturbation. Eventually, much heated debate did occur over the procedure of clitoridectomy and the practice, (which had extended further into the USA and Canada) continued until as recently as the 1940’s as a cure for female “deviance’s” including masturbation.

I was very shocked by these findings, not only was this subject more closer to “home” than I expected but that the practice was encouraged by a Christian church that I had believed in for over 23 yrs. Was this an excuse I had been looking for to leave the church, after my recent discussions concerning my own faith? I was mindful that this would be wrong to use this subject as an excuse, an exit clause, for abandoning my own faith and giving possible good reasons for doing so. BUT I do have a genuine dilemma. How can I go on aligning myself to a faith, that has supported the very practice that I wish to give my life too fighting for its eradication. I can not sit comfortably at all with this  and I need to investigate further.

This leaves me religious question and vitals ones for me, who as part of her profession, studies the human body and is key for me. Why would a God give a women a unique and beautiful piece of anatomy called a clitoris, designed for sexual pleasure and other important functions, then in his mandate called the bible give the women such controlling restrictions on her use of it? Or is this so called bible not the divine word of God after all, but a controlling manual of life written by and written for the privileges, power and control of men. This has left me posing a new mad theory, most theologians would scoff and regard as madness and heresy. Has God been misread? Would he really be happy to see a women’s clitoris chopped out just because she was exercising being a sexual human being? The one according to the Adam and Eve story he created.

If there is a god, I don’t think he would be happy with that. And if he did intend for this to happen then I am no longer happy with him.



Committed to the education of children and the health and human rights of women and mankind. I also enjoy taking photographs and sometimes I write poetry.

8 thoughts on “I Didn’t Know

  1. Interesting reading. I didn’t know about FGM and Europe either. Your post reminded me of two important things:
    1) Some societies, especially Christian societies, have always had huge hangups about sexuality, especially female sexuality. There would be far less trouble and pain and hypocrisy in the world if everyone accepted that we are all (including women) sexual beings, with quite strong and quite normal sexual desires.
    2) Churches have often been convinced about the rightness or wrongness of something, only to change their minds later, but in the process, thousands of people often get damaged (if not burned at the stake) for having the wrong view. That should be a reminder to us all about the need to avoid dogmatism, to be open to discussion and evidence, and not to hide in positions that may bear very little relationship to actual reality.

  2. Two very excellent points you have raised here, especially point number two. Thanks.

  3. I read a book once, a true story….. about an african (i think) model who had to suffer this , it was horrific and has stuck in my mind all this time. Shame i cannot remember name of book or the model.

  4. Yes, that’s the one. I only read a short internet extract and it made me cry. She is now special envoy for the United Nations on this subject.

  5. Hi I just wanted to clarify that the Bible is NOT anti-sexuality. Anyone ever read Song of Songs. It’s considered one of the most beautiful and sensual literary pieces of all time. The woman’s desire for her husband is every bit as passionate as his is for her. What the Bible does talk against is fornication, adultery, and other perversions of sexuallity outside the marriage arrangement He Himself ESTABLISHED in the Garden of Eden. The reasons should be obvious if you’ve ever been a victim of divorce, abortion, molestation, beastiality and other such betrayal that cut to the soul of many and also may have serious health issues attached to them as well. These things leave lifelong agony for those whom they impact. That is why the Bible speaks out against such things. God DESIGNED SEX. God designed marriage. It was His idea. Don’t you think He has a right to tell us how to use it?

  6. Oh and there is NOTHING about Female Circumcison in the Bible, and in fact, male circumcision is deemed unnecessary in the New Testament also

    For the Record

  7. This is a shockingly well hidden barbaric practice based in cultural ignorance and fear. The numbers are staggering for this modern day and I am absolutely enraged that it is permitted in any country in the world. Mothers and grandmothers-victims themselves allow this to be done to their daughters? Where is the love or logic? I would like to help somehow. cj

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