Monday, 29 May 2006

A detour from the normal war …

Monday 28 May 2007

I've been finding that my family has been calling me ridiculously often these last few days.

Yesterday evening, surprise: my sister on the phone.

I was truly astonished. I thought we wouldn’t speak before … at least 3 months considering our last conversation. Which just goes to show, life is full of surprises.

She started by giving me a brilliant demonstration on the limits of cheekiness by launching immediately, and most serenely, into a detailed and enthusiastic tale of her last holiday.

Except that recently I haven’t been able to concentrate on long egocentric monologues.

Briefly, after about fifteen minutes, I started thinking about something completely different, scattering “uh huh” her and there, while she took a breath.

Obviously she quickly realised that I wasn’t listening any more. “Are you doing something else at the same time, or what? You’re not listening!” I replied that I was asking myself some questions about the medications I was taking (“Is it absolutely sure and certain that I must stop the Brexin after 10 days? Wouldn’t it be better to continue until my next consultation with Dr Foldès? And should I call him to confirm it *?”).

“Ah. So it’s done then?” she asked me (she didn’t know that my operation had taken place because the only time I had spoken to her about it, on that disastrous Sunday of humiliation, the date of the procedure hadn’t been mentioned…)

“Yes Wednesday 16 May” I replied.

Silence at the other end of the line.

I waited (once bitten twice shy), then when it seemed to me that she was waiting for me to say a bit more to her, I carefully started to describe my misfortunes in the realm of pain.

That’s when it happened. It’s ridiculous this gift my sister has for stopping me short in a few words.

“Don’t speak in French! Don’t speak in French! Speak in Mandingue” she said, sounding panic-stricken.

“Huh? Why? What’s happening?”

“My hands are full and I’ve put you on the speaker-phone!” she said. Before adding, in Mandigue: “He’s in the room with me, he could hear!”


I stayed speechless. Literally.

Her partner didn’t know. He didn’t know she had been circumcised.

My God!

The moment I realised what she had just said, a surprising weight of sorrow and worry for her came down on me.

My God!

But what was she going to do? Was she going to hide it from him all her life? Had she the right to say nothing? Is that not fatal for the couple?
Is it not too late to speak to him any way? What I mean to say is, they’ve been together several years and they’ve lived together two years… So if she decided to tell him now, would he not be angry with her for having hidden it all these years?

At the same time it’s all very well for me to shout catastrophe while I didn’t have to ask the questions. In truth, I don’t know if it’s so important, or if it’s necessary to panic.

Because before he was my acknowledge lover, my man was a friend, even a very good friend. A friend in whose arms I had cried hot tears after that horrible visit to the gynaecologist who told me my circumcision didn’t matter (“it’s done, it’s done, what do you want …” with this slightly reproachful tone which crucified me) and that well, so, I wouldn’t ever have an orgasm, and I had to accept that (“there are women who have never had an orgasm in their life and you are one of them, that’s all”).

So when we went out together, he knew I had been circumcised. And I hadn’t had to experience that moment which I suppose is very, very difficult, of telling my lover.

The conversation ended inconclusively with a whisper from her (“I’ll call you again during the week”) which left me thinking that she wanted, at last, to talk to me about her circumcision. I felt overcome.

But what was she going to do?

Little by little I am feeling sorry for my sister.

And I no longer know what to do with the war hatchet.

* I called him and I really must stop the Brexin after ten days.

[Original in French]

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  1. "I no longer know what to do with our war hatchet..."

    Yes, I admit it, that made me burst out laughing! :-))

    Besides, is it possible not to notice that a woman has been circumcised? Well I hope this question isn't unwelcome but it seems to me that all the same there must be some notable differences?

  2. I think it's started well ... My God, like me ... my heart is tight thinking about your sister!
    I can't find the words.
    My question is similar to Geralda's.
    At the same time I can imagine your shock because I felt it myself! I think so sadly about my sisters and their denial.
    Affectionate kisses

  3. Good evening, I'm happy you are doing well.

    I am also glad that you realise that the decisions you made have put you on another level. You have grown while the members of your family have not changed, well if a little it is that you have been the trigger.

    As a position it isn't comfortable but at least it's a choice and not something external you have been subjected to.

    I hope everything continues well :o)
    PS you are very courageous.

  4. Yes, it's entirely possible for a man not to notice anything!
    There are different types of circumcision and the one practiced in the Mandingue culture is a "simple" removal of the clitoris so the man doesn't notice unless he's a health professional (gynaecological or other).
    Papillon, bury you war hatchet!
    Your sister couldn't discuss her circumcision with you after your last telephone discussion probably because her man wasn't far away and she feared that he would hear your conversation.
    I feel for your sister because when you hide somehting from the start, it's hard to admit it later... but she needs to take the plunge, it will certainly be better for them as a couple!
    Good luck Papillon, you have found your body and I hope that you will find your family for a new start...
    For myself, in a week it will be my turn, and I'm anxious to be there. I can't wait for 6 June, so I can find my own body!

  5. Hi little butterfly!
    I am happy to read your account, happy that you have found yourself, happy that your father has phoned..
    as far as your sister is concerned, I think that at the moment she needs you, is it not possible for you to meet, alone, to speak in person? I think it's hard to speak of these things on the telephone.
    As for your colleagues, friends, neighbours, you aren't obliged to speak of such personal things.

  6. Oh yes Geralda, I'm really clumsy with my hatchet in my hands. I don't want to bury it immediately Coucoune because I don't yet believe the white flag has come out, but I'll think about it. I believe I'll put it away in a corner and see what happens.

    That's bizarre to go to war and meet a painful denial Lalita, that's true. What's more, not to be able to get her to accept help, I find that a bit heartbreaking. And in order not to be rejected for the nth time and because I believe that it is up to her to make the first movement to ask for help, that I do not want to arrange to meet her, Laety. I told her I have answers, I wait now for her to ask the questions...

    Yes dear Anon, my position, if not easy to hold, pleases me. Considering all the telephone calls I am receiving at the moment, I thought my family had moved on because I had moved on. Anyway, thank you for your comment!

    I agree with Coucoune: a man may not notice at all that his companion is circumcised if this doesn't go beyond the clitoris and the labia minora. At least not without going to look very close, he could have no idea. What's more, my man told me that the scar, if it's not very fine, could be confused with the clitoris. In short there are cases like that of my sister where if the woman doesn't disclose it, it would pass the man by totally.

  7. So forgive me for asking what must seem a stupid question. If the man doesn't notice it what was the point of doing it to you? Was it simply to ensure that you would have no pleasure from sex and therefore would never stray from your husband?

    So a dangerous, mutilating and sometimes crippling procedure is administered to young women to assuage male pride? And they might not even notice? What twisted logic is at work here?

    I am so glad that you at least seem to have been able to win back your birthright to the possibility of complete sexual fulfilment.

  8. Such emotion in this text and in this situation which you have described so well as usual ... I believe that effectively the hatchet can be, if not buried (you never know ... ), at least put away for later (and I hope later never arrives!) But what a life your sister has, with deception and anxiety! She seems to have little confidence in her partner's love (unless it's not her he loves ...) I pity her a lot.
    Hugs and kisses, you're so courageous :o))

  9. That must be hard for your sister, but equally for you because in the end that must trouble you.
    Your sister certainly must have to try to hide it as much as possible and I think in a way she must envy you, you who have succeeded in taking the plunge. But her partner doesn't even know. Besides, I have a question: - If you know the female anatomy, can you tell if a woman has been circumcised? I think yes, but still, you say that her man doesn't know. Perhaps he knows but he too makes as if it's nothing.
    Oh, I would say that you would like to be able to help your sister.

    In any case, I would say that even if she seems to be playing a card of indifference or ignorance, it's not so.

    And you, you are feeling better it seems?


  10. Thanks Christine for your kind words about me, they are heartwarming. For my sister it's a truce. I'm going to put my hatchet in a cupboard. In fact I've lost my bearings as far as she is concerned, I no longer have such interest in this permanent competition between us (she is one and a half years older that I am). Besides I know that I haven't "paraded" in front of her with my decision to have the operation. And what makes me sad is that I believe there is a gap in her self-confidence. And I can imagine her fear ...

    You know, Nono, I'm itching to call her to offer her my help (whether just by listening or more). But I'm afraid she'll send me packing and I think she has to take the first step (if only to indicate that she is ready to talk and encourage me to speak to her). In the end, if she is envious, perhaps she wants to do what I did and start on her reconstruction ...

    Nono, if you know female anatomy, normally you would know that a woman had been circumcised. But you could miss it. I've read that sometimes the clitoris is very "deep" and difficult to locate. So if the circumcision doesn't damage the labia minora too much it's possible to be fooled, indeed, as I said in my earlier comment that the scar can be taken for the clitoris itself...

    Kisses to both of you :)

  11. Good, I was going to say it too, bury it. But in the end your sister seems a bit unpredictable so put it down (within easy reach).
    It's true I wouldn't like to be in her place. But I also believe that you are right to wait for her to make the first move.
    Not very constructive there, but I'm falling asleep, sorry.

  12. Hello Papillon
    By the way, you're back at work aren't you? How is it going? Not too hard? Not too many indiscreet questions?
    Have a good day!

  13. Hello Papillon
    It's not always easy between sisters (I know something about that ;-)), and here the subject matter is very difficult.

    If she is your elder sister, there is no doubt some jealousy: you are younger, but you knew how to accept the situation, speak about it with your man, set of towards a reconstruction, when she was in denial...
    But I think the most important for her, before thinking about the consequences for them as a couple (unless that gets moving) is to think about her own life.
    You can't simply say to her that if she wants to talk to you about all that, you are there, with your own experience? After that it's up to her to make her own way. At the same time you are the younger one who "knows more" that her elder, sometimes not easy to accept, on either side.

    Otherwise, how are you today? Have a good day!

  14. :) Lilou

    Yes I started back at work on Monday Lalita. It was a bit difficult for me to concentrate again on my work, I have the impression of having been away for weeks although I was away only 13 days. Questions, there were some, and even a lot of them. But in one way, after posting and the following comments I made up my mind, but it had been spread around that I had been in hospital, and it irritated me. So I was brief, saying "I'm well now, that's the main thing" and refusing to hear the question: "it's quite personal, I don't much want to talk about it". That worked wonderfully. I was left in peace.

    You put your finger on a very important element of my relationship with my sister, Moira. She is the elder, but our age difference is so small that I have difficulty in accepting it. From her point of view, yes, my initiatives often irritate her if she hasn't taken them first. Hence the annoyance. I find your idea of letting her know I'm available very good. I'm going to email her about that.

    Otherwise, today largely went well. Thanks :)

  15. Moira, I've sent my sister an email saying that I am there if ever there's a day when she wants to discuss circumcision and reconstruction and she replied!!!!
    Very quickly what's more.
    She thanked me and said when she was ready, she would call me.
    It's greeeeat!!

  16. Papillon, stop telling the story of me and my "older" sister! :-)

  17. Hello

    Super, Papillon! I am delighted for you!
    Now she knows that you are available and you know that must leave her to take the time she needs.

    You know, I understand stories of sisters, and it's so much easier when you are an outsider! (the next time that I have a conflict with one of mine, I'll ask your advice;-))

    Have a good day!

  18. Well, I too am floored that a man may not know of the circumcision of his partner! Without wanting to go into too much detail, if he has had any other partners in his life, he ought to feel whether it's not normal? And what's more, if she never has an orgasm, doesn't he ask himself why?
    Excuse me for being harsh, but that's something that has me climbing the walls, this sort of thing, because for so many guys it's much more comfortable not to ask himself any questions ...

  19. Lalita, I swear to you that it's not done deliberately :)
    Moira, agreed, if I can continue to benefit from your excellent ideas!
    Hélène you are right to be in a temper about it I think. Because, basically, when a man doesn't realise his partner has been circumcised, it is most likely because he doesn't pay any attention to her pleasure, nor on how to achieve it. From another point of view, there are only egoists in bedroom romps, there are also women who say they have orgasms in spite of their circumcision (and in this case it would be hard for a young man to know) and then women who fake it ...

    When I think about it, I shudder at the idea of a couple where a man cares so little to know whether his woman experiences pleasure with him or not. That does more than make me shudder, it completely freaks me out... I wonder if my sister's partner asks himself any questions ...

  20. "I no longer know what to do with my war hatchet"
    Bury it, at least for the moment! You can always dig it up if necessary. As I said to you before, talking is wonderful! You thought your sister indifferent and self-centred and it's fear and anxiety that are revealed. You are lucky, or rather intelligent, and have the courage to follow the path all the way, if you offer her a hand - without a hatchet in it;) - you will possibly be able to help her.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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