I’m Not Laughing

Ever have one of those moments where someone you consider a friend says something, adds a LMAO or a Haha to the end of it and you find yourself scratching your head wondering if it’s pure ignorance, poor taste, or if they realize how they’re coming across or if maybe they’re not the person you thought they were?

So what triggered this outrage in the normally quirky, laid back Kitt?

A couple of days ago, an old friend (father to a young girl whom he adores with his whole heart) posted on his feed…. “LMAO! Ask Siri what holiday it is today. You’ll thank me later.” I wondered for a moment what holiday he was talking about until I saw this in his feed…

Gen Mut

I couldn’t understand the humor.  Maybe he hadn’t heard of the plight of young girls, usually between the ages of 5 and 10, and mostly in Africa? Did he think it was some sort of joke? But the responses that were coming in had that same “LOL” style answer, too….and my blood started to boil.

Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in other countries. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of an activist for women and a sex positive message, but I knew what happened to these young girls and it was more than I could take to watch all the laughter without saying something about the plight of these mutilated children. So I said something. Do I know if it sunk in? No. I don’t. But I did what I could there to educate, then brought up my frustration on my Facebook page.

The cool thing is, it got an open dialogue started.

For those who don’t know, Female Genital Mutilation is where young girls, usually between the ages of 5 and 10 are held down by several village women and their external privates, clit hood, clit, labia, and often the tissue at they entry of the vagina are cut off by the local midwife using an unsterilized blade and without anesthesia.

This is funny?

And the “whys” for this are even less humorous. As it turns out, one of my Facebook friends lived for an extended amount of time in Botswana, so she shared some of what she’d witnessed while she was there. The primary purpose of such brutality (and this, I already knew) is to prevent feelings of sexual arousal in their women. But it’s also more than that. They are under the misguided belief that destroying a woman’s privates will make her more desirable for marriage. That she’ll be more faithful. That it will maintain her virginity.

But my friend, Shabby, had more to share. She stated that she’d gotten to know several young ladies while living in Botswana with her husband for business, and the pain and brutality didn’t end with the mutilation. According to what she’d learned, no woman was safe from rape. The biggest targets were usually between the ages of 13-14, and that she’d seen 15 year olds pregnant. They were often beaten, left pregnant, with no alimony.

Their struggle was not what we consider a struggle here. No job, no car…. Their struggle was the rape the night before, the possibility that they now had AIDS, that their third child was on the way and they didn’t have enough money to get past the week. They had no marital prospects because maybe they weren’t deemed “desirable” enough or their last boyfriend left them the night before with no money and no way to fend for themselves, or they were robbed of their last five pula (their currency).

In fact, she said that her maid walked 5 miles to and from work daily and was robbed at least once a month and that all the women she’d gotten to know died before the age of 35. She cried every time. My heart ached.

Here my friends were, joking about something I’m pretty sure they didn’t even think truly existed because  it didn’t directly touch their lives or anyone they loved, yet on this very same planet are women hurting. Most of you know I’m all about empowerment and a sex positive message, but this goes so far beyond that! This is simple human kindness and decency.

The reality is, overall, we’re spoiled here in the States and thank God for it. But that doesn’t mean we can turn a blind eye to other people’s suffering. Or that we shouldn’t try to make the world a better place by opening ourselves up to understanding some of the hardships the rest of the world battles.

And by the way, this is impacting us here in the States, too! One of my nurse friends chimed in to tell me that the percentage of young girls in this country that this happens to is also climbing. She said that there are many Somali women who come to the hospital having been in this condition most of their lives, and when they get pregnant with baby girls, the pediatricians often know that these women are going to send their daughters out of the country to have the process done to their children. Because in their culture, this is a thing to be desired. They truly believe it’s the only way to guarantee the purity and desirability for marriage of their little ones.

Again, where is the humor in any of this?

As I was thinking about what to say, I found that lack of knowledge on the subject is actually not that uncommon….

So I guess that’s where we start, right? Educate? Share? Open the lines of communication up? From there, there are several charities and advocacy groups where one can choose to take their dedication a step or few further.

So tell me… Are you one of those people who didn’t know about this? Now that you do, what are you going to do with that knowledge?

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28 thoughts on “I’m Not Laughing

  1. Tana Bevan says:

    Thank you for shedding light on an uncomfortable subject. I am actually one of those who knows about the FGM. Once again women, females, girls, are taught to believe mutilation is a worthy means to an end. This idea/belief began with a thought which was transmitted from generation to generation. It will end with a thought that will be transmitted from generation to generation. Kitt, by your actions, you’re doing your part to change this thought. Each person who does the same, contributes to the change. Let us hope for those girls not-yet-mutilated, the change comes sooner rather than later.

  2. ratmom says:

    I knew about it but didn’t realize how many people in the world actually think this the only way to keep the women pure.

  3. MonaKarel says:

    Thank you for speaking out.
    I seriously don’t know how anyone educated enough to use the Internet would not know about FGM. It has certainly not been kept secret.
    On the whole subject of NOT FUNNY, a lot of those ‘cute’ videos of scared pets or children or “Funniest Home Videos” of balls in crotches, falling in a very painful fashion are NOT FUNNY.

  4. Indira says:

    Very pertinent question’ Are you one of those people who didn’t know about this? Now that you do, what are you going to do with that knowledge?’ Sharing this knowledge with as much people as possible. It’s horrific what people do in the name of culture and religion.

  5. Jessi Gage says:

    The first time I heard about FGM was in a Law and Order episode. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0629403/ My husband and I watched it together and were both astonished that something like this existed. The episode potrays it as an accepted cultural ritual on one hand and an extreme abusive violation of a child’s body on the other. I’m firmly on the side of the latter. It’s a vile practice meant to manipulate a child sexually before they’re even aware of what sexuality is.

    Versions of male manipulation of female sexualtiy can be found in any religion, unfortunately, because people are really good at perverting what God says. I’m a Christian and I love the Lord, but I hate the guilt and feelings of being “less than” because I have a dirty mind and I lost my virginity before I got married. These feelings don’t come from my reading the Bible. They come from parents and pastors and youth pastors and youth pastors’ wives and any number of other human sources.

    God is forgiving and loving, and he wants men to honor women and vice versa. I think it breaks God’s heart to see men and women steal away a precious gift from these young girls in his name or in the name of purity. It’s a perversion of His warning that if we are unpure it can lead to heartbreak.

    Thanks, Kitt, for opening a dialog. It’s important to approach cultural rituals with an open mind, but there’s such a thing as being so open minded your brains fall right out of your head. There are lines, and this particular cultural ritual is so far over the line. It’s a form of rape and it needs to be stopped.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I saw that episode. Like you, I don’t see it as a cultural rite, but a form of violence/abuse.

      I love how you brought up the way people pervert sexuality under the guise of religion as well. You’re so right. It’s people and their interpretations that create much of the guilt, condemnation, and shame surrounding the beauty and joys of sex.

      Thanks for sharing!

  6. jansenschmidt says:

    It’ so sad that people make fun of stuff they know nothing about. The same reaction happens to me when I see people with mental illness being mistreated or made fun of because others don’t understand the situation. It’s so much easier to make fun and point fingers than it is to accept the horror of a sad situation and deal with it compassionately. Ignorance is no excuse and I’m glad you took the high road with this “friend” and took a stand.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  7. The Regular Guy NYC says:

    I have read about this and saw it on a TV news report. It’s sad, abusive, and disgusting that this is happening. I think it’s because people don’t realize it really happens, and are uneducated about it. It’s shocking what many cultures still believe in.

  8. anna@herding cats & burning soup says:

    That’s so crazy that people don’t know about it. We were told about it in school growing up and have seen it on television shows over the years.

    I don’t get what was funny about that either. Did they actually reply to your comment?

    I wonder about friends on FB often. It can be a wonderful thing but I’ve also lost a lot of respect for some people because of it.

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