Depressing Response from Good Vibrations
Update: don’t just get mad or sad, act!
The online petition to Good Vibrations is up and running here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/feministschallengingclitoraid
so please show your support and click to sign it.
So I finally heard from Good Vibrations and its not good news. They firmly stand behind the public humiliation of African women through Clitoraid’s Adopt a Clitoris campaign :(
I have to admit that I feel incredibly betrayed by this business that is supposed to be at the progressive edge of the feminist movement. Most so because I believed. I believed that there was such a thing as a sisterhood that was based on mutual respect and dignity.
Not once does their letter mention the very humiliating campaign targeting African women’s most private of parts. And not once do they address the fact that Clitoraid is ran by a UFO cult, the Raelians. These are strategic decisions on their part. To sidestep the issues at the center of my critique of their approach.
The issue under debate is not whether there are cultural complexities around the practice of FGM. Of course there are. Everyone knows it.
The issue is whether it is right for an allegedly progressive feminist organization to support a cult that is advancing the adoption of African women’s clitorises. I articulated that quite carefully in my first letter to GV and I’m deeply disappointed that GV chose to side with the continued humiliation of African women.
But I do hope that American feminists will have the courage to critique one of their own. Because apparently, African voices are irrelevant.
For the full and unedited text of the letter that has me so depressed read on:
In response to your recent criticism we would like to clarify our role and re-state that we are honored to engage in a supportive role with women who have chosen to undergo this elective surgery. We understand that there are large cultural issues underlying the very need for this surgery and wish to reiterate that our involvement is intended to support women who wish to achieve the pleasure that is their birthright.
Good Vibrations: Who We Are
Good Vibrations, www.goodvibes.com, is the nation’s first and premier provider of sex education and sex positive products. We are a San Francisco-based multi channel retailer that women and couples have trusted for over three decades to provide a comfortable, safe environment for finding sex-positive products and educational materials to enhance their sex life.
Good Vibrations strives to be an agent for social change, through the lenses of sexuality, diversity and alternative business practices. Both within our organization, and throughout the communities we serve and in which we live, Good Vibrations is committed to fostering respect, promoting supportive communication, providing access to educational resources and strongly advocating for women in leadership roles.
We make it a priority to employ and interact with individuals and organizations according to their skills, abilities and experience. We value diversity and embrace all manifestations of gender, orientation and consensual sexual expression in the fulfillment of our sex-positive mission. We are conscious of the roles that the race, class, age and the physical and emotional abilities of our workers and our communities play in the realization of that mission.
Good Vibrations has partnered with Clitoraid to donate vibrators and bath and body products to assist with the post-op physical therapy of patients who have undergone reconstructive surgery. Betty Dodson leads the physical therapy sessions and recommended Good Vibrations as a partner since we carry vibrators that she prefers.
Our founding principle as a sex education and retail company is that pleasure is a birthright of all people. Clitoraid’s mission of “restoring a sense of pleasure and dignity” resonates with this foundation. Despite the politics around the practice of clitoridectomy, sometimes called female circumcision, we believe that women who so desire should have access to a surgery that would give them clitoral sensation and pleasure free of charge, and that is what Clitoraid offers.
Clitoraid was the only nonprofit organization we could find that was specifically funded for this purpose. There are very few surgeons in the world who do this practice, and the surgeon in Colorado studied under the surgeon who pioneered the practice in France. Newsweek did an interesting story following several patients, here: http://www.newsweek.com/id/218692 Betty Dodson’s endorsement is indeed powerful, as an important founder of the pro-sex feminist movement and the greatest champion of female orgasm ever. http://dodsonandross.com/blogs/betty-dodson/2010/03/dr-marci-bowers-new-clitoral-reconstructive-surgery-brings-hope-140m-wome
There is clearly a very large demand for this surgery, as the wait list for the Clitoraid hospital in Burkina Faso is already up to 224, and it isn’t even completed yet. So far, Clitoraid has funded 16 surgeries free of charge in Colorado to women from around the world, including Canada, Japan, and Korea. This is not limited to African women.
Elective Reconstructive Surgery
At this point, the number of surgeries performed is still relatively small. However, the patients have expressed great satisfaction with the process. Even though it can take several months to fully heal, many have “reclaimed” their orgasms. Their gratitude is largely between them and their surgeon, and the people who assisted them. Patients typically keep the experience private so they may continue to function within their community.
Good Vibrations understands that the relationships between cultural practices, colonization, and activism are complex and we are not suggesting that Clitoraid or their work is a substitute for the important work to address the issue of female genital mutilation. We would be happy to support any organization, African or not, that supports women from all over the world getting access to surgery that connects them to their pleasure.
Camilla Lombard, Events and Publicity Manager
Dr. Carol Queen, Staff Sexologist and Chief Cultural Officer
Dr. Charlie Glickman, Education Program Manager
Events and Publicity Manager
(415) 974-8985 ext.201