Monday, 31 July 2006

Self pressured

Things have really progressed here.

My clitoris has shrunk. Literally. In the end I was worried over nothing. Over the days and with the application of JONCTUM, it grew smaller steadily until it reached the unobtrusive size of a rosebud.

What’s more, it is now entirely brown, like the rest of my skin.

And to crown it all, the painful sensations are on the way to disappearing. The only area still sensitive is at the front where the stitches are. Because yes, these damned stitches are still firmly in place. Besides that irritates me terribly. Almost four weeks have gone by since my last consultation at the Louis XIV Clinic and the stitches should have come out easily two weeks ago.


I’ll wait, I’ll wait. I’m even becoming a champion of waiting.

In spite of this good news, I have been assailed by a thousand feelings of guilt during the last weeks.

Each of these has been about my man’s frustration. I have been thinking about it all the more, now that my clitoris is all but healed, which leaves me no excuse, no justification for not taking up the question of sex again, from where I left it.

My love keeps insisting that he would prefer me to wait, that he wants to wait for me to be ready in my head as well. And me, I feel bad about making him wait.

It’s so long since we made love that I find it hard to believe when he swears he doesn't bear me any grudge over such a long abstinence. Seven weeks and a half of waiting serenely? No I haven’t believed it for a second. I thought he was saying it out of kindness, out of love or whatever, and that he was sparing me from his dissatisfaction.

He has had to repeat again and again that, although he misses making love, he wants us both to enjoy our lovemaking, and for that he is ready to wait a long time if necessary. He had to repeat it because that doesn’t relate to what I believe I know about men.

For me, a man would like to make love all the time. And if his partner is unavailable too long, then he’ll go and look elsewhere. It seems simplistic but it appears to me to be exactly what I think. Of course a man in love will wait a very long time, but all the same, what I believe is that without sex there is no salvation.

So, for me, more than two months without sex is the antechamber to a split up.

It took me a long time to shake this belief. And in the meantime I have given myself a little anxiety which I will need to discuss with my therapist when he returns from holiday.

What revealed this fear of being left because of the lack of sex was the pre-eminence of my man’s pleasure in my mind. Until now, his needs, wishes, rhythm has guided our sexual life more than mine. My weak libido was happy with little and was inspired by the desire to give him pleasure.

To push the reasoning further, I would say that I was “at my man’s disposal”. Not being able to give him pleasure during my healing, I had the feeling of lacking in my duty, to be at fault.

The sad admission of the complete success of the circumcision that I suffered, I am a docile woman, sexually submissive to male desire. I had, and still have, my mind focused on the sexual needs of my man, totally denying my own.

This reminds me of my room mate at the clinic who told me that her husband, who was working outside Paris, wasn’t expecting to return to Paris until after six weeks of healing. She thought that normal. “You can’t make love, so OK, what good if he returns?” At the time I thought it was awful. To tell the truth, it shocked me.

And, now, I know that basically I think like she does.

I am convinced that it is a view of things that stems from the fact of having been circumcised and the sexuality that you have afterwards when you are adult.

My docility in sexual matters, my subordination to masculine desire, that’s what has been slowly building in my head since my circumcision.

That brings tears to my eyes, that idea. It puts me into a black rage and at the same time makes me sad.

So is that what my mother wanted for me? That I should be submissive to a man? That I should be his sex object? Is this the woman's future she chose for me? Or did she even think about it? After all, if she was circumcised herself, perhaps these are questions that never occurred to her, it seems so normal not to have any sexual prerogative when you are a woman?

I am disgusted. I don’t even want to ask these questions. I can no longer take discovering the extent of the tragedy of circumcision on its victims.

I feel I have still further to go along the road before blossoming. Kilometres even. The price to pay for repairing the broken pots seems to me to be heavy, very heavy. That annoys me to some extent, that statement.

My man has suggested to me consulting a sexologist in a few months “to learn how to make love well”. I think it’s a good idea. Because even if we have taken up lovemaking again (pianissimo this time, I’ve learnt my lesson) and it’s going relatively well, I basically don’t know how to make love well….

[Original in French]

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  1. Dear Papillon

    I have been visiting your blog for some months, and supporting you all the way.

    That said, I am allowing myself to say that you ask yourself too many questions. You are ruining your life. Live your life and be happy!
    What would people say who had lost their entire families in the war, or, even a part of their body and have just lived like vegetables?

    So, stop thinking about everything and make the most of your life. It's heartfelt advice that I'm giving you, because otherwise you will pass all your life moaning about it and looking for reasons for your unhappiness.
    Courage :)

  2. Papillon, you have a man of gold, so be as reasonable as he is!
    I have time and again been staggered to learn that many women, young women too, put the sexual desires of their partner over their own. If that can happen in 2007 in the country of Badinter, Halimi and Veil, I ask myself what it's like elsewhere.

    In your earlier posts I was smiling when you said you were in a hurry to take up making love again, I didn't think at all that it came from being aware of losing your man or not. I admit I was astonished, at the time when I read it, and by what I know of you from being a reader of your blog, to learn that you take men to be beings perpetually dying of hunger. That's not showing them great respect ;-)

    It's a big question that you ask, and one I think about very often, what education do we receive that when we are adult we have such submissive reflexes? To pass by our own wishes, our desires, our body in preference for the other? Indeed there is something there to make you feel angry.

    As for the sexologist, it's a good and courageous idea! I have the feeling that you ask 10,000 questions of which some are too much. Perhaps a specialist will help you make allowances and re-find your serenity.

    I am happy to hear your news anyway, and await the post "stitches removed, vanished" ;-)

  3. Dear Papillion,

    I disagree that you are "ruining your life" by "asking yourself too many questions". I have been reading your blog for months and you are a very good writer.

    I have been in some sort of therapy most of my life for mental reasons (as have most of my family). It's been a struggle to find the reasons for my unhappiness and I think that meri is missing the point.

    Best wishes.

  4. Papillon, you ask lots of questions and that's normal: you are in the process of understanding that you have been conditioned to be submissive to masculine desire and pleasure. Your victory has already started because you have already decided to re-appropriate your body. But you need to keep going, to get rid of the mistaken ideas which are cluttering up. A sexologist could perhaps help you clear some of these, but I'm not sure it's the only solution, because that depends on the sexologist you happen upon: he/she too could be conditioned by these codes of society! And a sexologist can't teach you to make love....
    Listen to your body and your emotions, making love and feeling pleasure is an apprenticeship for oneself, it's surely what the Doctor meant to say when he said to you not to "count on a man". If you take the time to know yourself, to know what makes you feel good, you can guide your man, because *he's* not going to be the one to show *you*.

    There's something else I want to add: men don't have uncontrollable sexual urges.... When they want sex, they aren't "obliged" to go and see a woman. The urge can be satisfied in other ways and by themselves if you see what I'm trying to say ;-) It's society that's trying to make us believe that men have more sexual needs than women and it's totally untrue. Not only do they not want to make love all the time, but also they do know how to contain themselves or satisfy a "physical need" instead of using a woman for that.

    Also one last thing which seems essential to me (because I have experienced it, making love isn't necessarily tied to vaginal penetration. Making love is sharing feelings and sensations. Penetration isn't an obligation, it should be done from desire and in a natural manner (I prefer to speak of a meeting of two sexes rather than penetration). Learning pleasure is a wonderful adventure which every one of us, male and female, has at the beginning of your sexuality: it's a discovery of your own body and the other person's body. And like all apprenticeships it's sometimes necessary to do it "wrong" to learn how to do it right ;-)

    I hope I haven't been too crude in my proposals...

    Good luck Papillon, leave your chrysalis, once and for all, to blossom! :-)

  5. Well, I too have had an operation in that area for a totally different reason, and as my stitches didn't come out either, well after expected, I went to see a GP who took them out in five minutes with a pair tweezers. My doctor even suggested I took them out myself, in a bath to make it easier, but I didn't dare. In short, I believe this problem often happens with this type of stitch, but it isn't fatal! Call your doctor and ask if you can see a nurse or even a GP....
    Otherwise I understand you entirely about your sexual life and I don't find you ask too many questions, it's easy to say "live your life and don't lose your head" but I believe an operation in this area you need plenty of time to accept and live with. And I too feel an old guilt regarding my bloke, even though I've had a "feminist" education, just goes to show...
    And I discovered that the best thing to do was to caress myself alone before letting anyone else touch my body which I no longer knew. As I knew exactly where it felt good, or where it hurt, what I wanted... It's a sort of reclaiming of yourself, while making love with someone else can be fairly violent: he doesn't know your "new" body, risks being clumsy and hurting you, whereas if you can guide him, it's better!..

    Good luck!

  6. Hello Papillon
    You aren't alone in thinking that.

    The circumcision marks in the woman's flesh the fact that a man's desire is essentially put ahead of a woman's. In the case of circumcision, a woman's desire is feared (the woman "is at risk" of "doing something" or putting "the honour" of "the family" in danger) so it's denied, or refused as fundamentally bad (come on!)
    But you aren't the only woman in France putting her partner's desire before her own, thinking that giving pleasure means giving HIM pleasure. It's true when you love someone. Except all of us, we have this idea in our heads: a man has more needs, so it's hard for him to be faithful. No, a man has as much a duty to be faithful to a woman, if it's his choice, as the woman has to a man, if it's her choice.
    This chauvinist idea which has existed in Europe for a long time (talking of the sexuality of a man as an "irrepressible need", that of a woman as being "dangerous") is firmly fixed. But not only is it insulting for men (seen as incapable of "restraint" or "control") but also dangerous. Pushing the argument that almost justifies rape "I can't control myself so I'll take) and sets the woman back to being a passive object to be taken or thrown away or abandoned or taken again. French has a heap of expressions like that which make the woman such an object, or a being without will ("passive"). I have heard lots of accounts from women born at the beginning of the 20th century, or even well after, who explain that for them it was really the equivalent of "submitting oneself to a conjugal duty" to stop their husbands leaving, and also for "procreation". For them it really was a question of being at their husbands' mercy, and "being forced to have sex". One said "It's a very disagreeable moment, but you grit your teeth, and afterwards it passes"... what horror. And the woman who looked for pleasure was a "slut", a "bitch", a "whore" (once more a woman whom any man is able to have "because she is looking for it"...) I've put the text in the past tense, but nevertheless I'm very much afraid that all too often it should still be in the present tense.
    - End of feminist tirade ;-)

    In short, all that to say that it has been fixed in our heads for centuries, but that we can also have confidence in our men, perhaps, for once? Sexuality isn't an obvious thing, we sometimes ask ourselves lots of questions, we look for ourselves ... the difficulty is also that desire is unfaithful, and won't take orders. But it will come back too, when you're not expecting it (good news ;-)). I think the sexologist is without doubt a very good idea and will enable a guilt-free discussion... Good luck!

  7. There we have a difficult subject ...
    I understand your anger, besides I share it, it's so odious to deny female sexual desire... another stone in our garden of women...
    If it reassures you a little, it seems to me that in general, even without having been circumcised, society takes on a load of subliminal messages (ads, cinema, media, received ideas etc.), to deny female desire. You only ever see it formatted, and far too often "in service" to a man.
    Conclusion: I have the impression that there are many who adopt this type of behaviour without asking questions. And then one day, a brain wave, which often appears when meeting a loving and attentive man who sincerely asks us to follow OUR desire, and then, panic, good grief! what is it I want??
    In short, all that is to say this challenge is a "normal" process for women (from my totally non-representative sample made up of my friends and me:) ).. Obviously, that has coincided for you with an operation which has stirred up lots of complex and deep emotions, and that no doubt makes things more painful...
    I wish you all the best, soon :)
    (and I think it's really good that you ask thousands of questions:) )

  8. Meri, I *adore* thinking. In fact I can't stop myself :)
    At times my thoughts lead me to observations that make me angry, or make me sad but I don't wallow in it either you know? It's important to me to put into words all these thoughts that occur to me, but furthermore I appreciate totally what I have already had and what I have now. Don't worry, it's not in my nature to spoil my life. Quite the contrary.

    You are right Elté, my view of male desire was indifferent, very indifferent even. I am somewhat happy to discover that, basically. It's something that I am going to be able to change. With hindsight I know that my ignorance of men on the one hand, and of this way I have of reassuring myself saying that, even if I don't have much pleasure, my man will be fulfilled. I didn't try looking very far. That allowed me to hide my frustration I think... Of course I wanted to make love "for myself" but you see, on thinking about it, I am aware that I also wanted even more to make love "for him".

    As for the sexologist Shiloune, we have decided not to go until some months later because we want to try for ourselves first, at our own pace. I already want to feel comfortable with my clitoris, know its sensations and reactions, as Dr Foldes advised me. So for several months it's "practical work" :) And I am dedicating myself to it, I admit, with a certain enthusiasm.

    And no, you weren't crude. At times I think it's better to call a spade a spade :)

    Marie, you reassure me. When I return from holiday, if my stitches are still in place, I will do what you did. And actually I believe that going beyond this idea of subordination to male desire will happen when I take charge of my own body first.

    Moira, I find your comment extremely interesting. It really shows that this view of male and female sexuality is not the prerogative of a cultural or ethnic community, but on the contrary, it spreads insidiously and is kept in the head. Trusting our men is an excellent suggestion. And perhaps it's the key which will let us move beyond these entrenched ideas about sexuality.

    It's really an unexpected male reaction which pushes you to question yourself on the subject Fyfe. When it happened, my man's [reaction] shook me (and set the little windmill in my brain in motion). Before when he was troubled about the limited pleasure I had from our bedroom sport sessions, I avoided it (of the type "it's not a drama all the same, let's talk about something else"). And at times I begrudged him. He was serene, he found pleasure easily. And not me. But if I'm honest, I really never answered his questions on what pleased me and what didn't. So, I now think it's time to take a little responsibility for my sexuality and stop waiting for him to show it to me. You know, like a grown-up :)

  9. Hi I am a victim of FGM. I had the type one FGM.I want to get my clitoris back also but I have heard negative comments about this corrective surgery with Foldes and Bowers. I loved reading your blog. I would like to know how the surgery went after you healed. do you see your clitoris still? how is love making? do you enjoy your restored clitoris? I am so desperate to find answers. Please help

    Thank you very much

  10. Hi! I'm sorry to say that Papillon who wrote this has disappeared and has never come back to say how things really turned out. I have tried to contact her several times but she has never replied.

  11. Hi A. I am so very much appreciative of you translating these blog posts for us. I have followed Papillon's story through your blog and I can't describe how happy I am to be able to do so. I checked the original blog and there are a few blog entries after this one and I was wondering if you could by any chance translate them as well ? I tried the automatic translator but it was kind of wonky.
    Thanks for all you work,

  12. Hi Rosa! You are right, there are more posts, and I did translate them but for some reason I left out the link at the end of this post. I will rectify it now.

    Strangely, nobody else has noticed or mentioned it, but thinking about it, I've seen that people don't read through the whole series and now I can stop wondering why. :)


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