Tuesday 10 April 2007
Last week, I exchanged emails with a young circumcised woman who had the operation and who wanted to make contact. Since then I have been asking myself some questions about militancy.
Up till now I hadn’t wondered too much about the subject. I had an individualistic view (not to say self centred) of female circumcision. My first objective is to have my reconstruction, to come out of the state pain of a circumcised woman, an entirely personal quest to which I dedicated a lot of energy. But, behind this goal, appear secondary questions which are also important.
Some time ago, I answered my psychologist with anger and indignation when she asked me if I could be persuaded to have my daughters circumcised, if I ever had any. The question seemed to me to be superfluous and almost insulting. Of course not! A thousand times no! I would never have it done to any daughter of mine! I have already planned never to send them alone to Senegal because I know that in certain cases, small girls are circumcised on the instigation of their grandparents behind the backs of their parents and even if the latter oppose it. I would take no risks and too bad about trust, too bad about family ties. What is more for me to be persuaded would first mean agreeing to discuss the possibility, which in my case will never happen. I will not discuss the integrity of my daughters! Never! No one will touch my daughters, no one will do them harm. Full stop. End of story.
So, in the future and for the flesh of my flesh, I will fight. That’s clear and unambiguous. OK. But today? If I heard that one of my cousins or nieces was at risk of being circumcised, what would I do? Would I intervene? Would I warn the authorities? Would I face up to my family, I who daren’t speak to my mother? And what if it was to do with my neighbour? These questions bother me.
They come down to asking oneself if you have a duty to become militant, when you have been circumcised and find it to be a barbaric act (I exclude those who, if they exist, have a positive view of circumcision). Have you the right to think only of yourself, of trying to protect and help only yourself? Can you shut your eyes to the continuation of this crime? Can you legitimately be an egoist? Or should you use all force to prevent others suffering what you have suffered? Have you the duty to fight, or at least testify?
Personally I am afraid. I am torn between wanting to forget what was done to me, and the values that I have been taught, which make me want to try to help. I would find it inconceivable to keep quiet and be indifferent saying to myself “I have been rescued so as for the others, I don’t care..” I wouldn’t have an easy conscience, that’s certain. Even if I would like to, sometimes.
At the same time, facing advocates of circumcision, discussing with them, arguing, looking for ways to convince them to stop this horrible practice in an educational way, quietly, repulses me. I would have too much difficulty not to judge and condemn them, I would have too much difficulty not to be angry, even furious. To tell the truth, I wouldn’t try to understand them. I don’t want to have anything to do with them. I admire the courage of the men and women who devote themselves to it, especially women who haven’t been circumcised. I admire them so much more than I find the task titanic.
But I would like to help the victims, not educate the torturers. I would like to help my cousin to have the operation, the one who lives abroad and has nothing to pay for the reconstruction. I would like to help women who have been circumcised, who feel all alone in their unhappiness, to believe that they can come out of it and I would like to give them the means.
My blog is for me a means of speaking to myself, of setting down my thoughts on this abomination, of coming out of the trauma and to absorb the fact that I was circumcised. It’s a way for me to progress, to leave the shore of my personal drama, to step back and reassure myself that I am still a normal human being.
I used to say to myself that it was enough that it would be read by other women in my situation, that it would perhaps help them one way or another. But it’s not nearly enough I believe. And then, it’s too easy also, because it comes back to saying “good, I am doing something for myself alone and if others can get something from it, good for them”. Frankly that seems like I don’t know what sort of vision of things. That doesn’t really help, being content with that.
So I’d like to make this blog a place of exchange, a place where anyone can find information, answers, testimonies, comfort, support. This would be a first step in my move to wanting to help… I don’t know yet how I’m going to manage to do it exactly but I know I’ll need other voices than my own.
I have emailed several young circumcised women, about to have the operation or having already had the operation. Some showed up on Hélène’s blog Mon blog de fille**. The commented on a post of Hélène’s called The repaired circumcision, about Dr Foldes and apparently wanted to discuss with other young women in their situation. They didn’t all reply to my emails but I’m not disheartened. Perhaps one day they will write to me. Perhaps one day they will let me put their words on this blog so that the greatest number can benefit from their experience also. Perhaps it will also do them good to speak about it.
Ladies, will you take my hand I am waving here? Will you join your words to mine? Will you militate with me?
**I would like to recommend this blog warmly, it's so amusing, intelligent and varied. It should be regularly prescribed in cases of a sad mood.