Saturday, March 8, 2008

Women's History Month blog carnival

Visit Women's Space and read the latest submission, a poem entitled "Hagar and Sarah" by Jennifer Wildflower.

Because female genital mutilation is funny

I have always been on the fence about Jezebel, the female-focused entry into the Gawker Media family of Web sites, described as:
...celebrity, fashion, and sex without the airbrushing. The witty, informative tone draws a readership that is intelligent and sophisticated, but still willing to get down and dirty. Jezebel does what those women’s monthlies only wish they could. SOURCE

The site makes grrrl power, big tent noises, but always seems more invested in bringing the outre, hipster snark.

A recent Jezebel recap of America's Next Top Model that recounted an argument involving Fatima, a Somali-born contestant who is a victim of female genital mutilation, struck me as beyond the pale. Fatima's opponent made the utterly ridiculous statement, "You take it in the back, because you're black." (I know. I know.) Jezebel agreed that the statement was racist and stupid, but added:
(Especially because Fatima probably takes it in the back because the front is sewn up. Awww snap! Sorry, that was mean.)

Really? This is "what those women's monthlies only wish they could do." Equally disturbing is that most commenters let the crack slip by. One even added to it, referring to the wanna-be model as "the girl who had her clit cut off."

This, by the way, is what is so funny:
In a study of infibulation in the Horn of Africa, Pieters observed that the procedure involves extensive tissue removal of the external genitalia, including all of the labia minora and the inside of the labia majora. The labia majora are then held together using thorns or stitching. In some cases the girl's legs have been tied together for two to six weeks, to prevent her from moving and to allow the healing of the two sides of the vulva. Nothing remains but the walls of flesh from the pubis down to the anus, with the exception of an opening at the inferior portion of the vulva to allow urine and menstrual blood to pass through, see Diagram 1D. Generally, a practitioner deemed to have the necessary skill carries out this procedure, and a local anesthetic is used. However, when carried out "in the bush," infibulation is often performed by an elderly matron or midwife of the village, with no anesthesia used.[21] SOURCE

I know GenXers like me started the whole sardonic, no-sacred-cows thing, but God I wish sometimes we could take it all back. It is evidence of privilege that we can carelessly toss off bon mots about the mutilation of women in "third world" countries. Sure, that stuff happening to women "over there" is bad, but...

Hey, I laugh at snark. That is why I visit Jezebel from time to time in the first place. But I have never bought into the belief that all is fair in comedy. Laughing at some things just makes us all seem less humane.

Check out Gina's post about Jezebel's Black History Month celebration that encouraged black women to send in their best and worst hairstyles over the years, including "fuzzy fros," "crooked cornrows" and "Jheri curls? Please???" More at What About Our Daughters. A head scratcher, this one.

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