Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

The Rape of Innocence: One Woman's Story of Female Genital Mutilation in the U.S.A

Academic journal article Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health

The Rape of Innocence: One Woman's Story of Female Genital Mutilation in the U.S.A

Article excerpt

The Rape of Innocence: One Woman's Story of Female Genital Mutilation in the U.S.A. by Patricia Robinett. 2006. Eugene, Oregon: Aesculapius Press. 112 pages. ISBN-10: 187-8411047; ISBN-13: 978-1878411044.

Intactivist Patricia Robinett has written a truly remarkable account of her personal story. (Fair disclosure: Although I do not believe this affected my opinion of her book, Patricia is a friend of mine.) The author was a victim of genital surgeries performed on her when she was a child. She describes the events objectively though not without passion, and of course strong anger particularly toward her mother who arranged for the procedure.

Patricia proves herself that rarest of writers who can write a memoir as her first book and maintain a focus and an objectivity that is genuinely admirable. She writes movingly, stunningly, about events arising from her own incredible experiences while leading the reader through her emotional roller coaster ride rather than, as is more common and much easier, essentially strapping the reader into the car and leaving them to handle the rough ride themselves. More impressively, Patricia simultaneously manages to achieve a paradoxical distance and perspective that places her life events in a larger societal context relating to the paradox that is genital cutting in the US.

Some of us know that the nineteenth century craze for medicalized male circumcision was accompanied by a passion for the corresponding female procedure. Medical justifications were virtually identical, the general idea being that moral hygiene and personal hygiene mirrored each other and that both could be advanced by reducing the incentive, i.e., the pleasure produced by youthful masturbation.

Female circumcision appears never to have numerically matched the cutting of boys. The practice was dying here in the 1950s although articles advocating female circumcision were published in medical journals and popular magazines (including Cosmopolitan) into the 1970s. As the author states on the back cover of her book, Blue Cross Blue Shield actually paid for clitoridectomies until 1977. Ever since medicalized circumcision developed one and a half centuries ago, we have lived in a profoundly wounded culture, which in turn has found an almost limitless number of ways to harm individual boys and girls. …

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