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R-E-S-P-E-C-T: find out what it means to me (Still ranting about Clitoraid)

April 8, 2010

Sign the petition here

Chris asks a fantastic question that deserves its very own blog post.  He asks: If there was someone besides the Raelians who was offering it (reconstructive surgery), or if there was an African-based organization that made these treatments available, would you object to that?”

the quick answer is simple: NO!

I WOULD NOT OBJECT TO OTHER ORGANIZATIONS ADDRESSING THE NEEDS OF WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN CIRCUMCISED!

In fact, I agree that there is a need for services to such women.  According to the research I’ve done, there are indeed local Burkina Faso doctors offering surgeries to reverse the tissue damage.  Indeed it seems that the government of Burkina Faso itself offers these surgeries and since 2001 975 women have had state-funded genital repair surgeries. (If Good Vibrations had done their due diligence they would have known this!)

Some of the people performing the surgeries include Dr. Michel Akotionga, a gynaecologist and one of the first gynaecologists in Burkina Faso to perform the reconstructive surgery.

I am NOT opposed to Clitoraid because it offers reconstructive surgeries.  I am opposed to it because of their demeaning campaign. Again, I am ALL for women’s pleasure!  But I am also for respect and against humiliation. Nobody’s genitalia should be talked about in the way that Clitoraid is talking about African women’s genitalia.  In fact, no part of anyone’s body should be up for adoption in this way that reminds us too much of the slave trade (Oh no, I went there!).

Seriously, what does it mean to ‘adopt a clitoris’?  Does that mean you own said clitoris or are you just fostering it for a little bit?  Do you get to name it?   What are the implications for the person whose clitoris is being adopted?

As an African woman I’m sick and tired of my entire experience reduced to what is between my legs.  And this is not a new feminist argument.  Western feminists have been arguing this for generations now.  Why is it o.k. for Western feminist to argue that they should not be reduced only to what is between their legs while an allegedly feminist organization like Good Vibrations engages in such a practice?  Where is the sisterhood there?

That is why I’m angry.  But behind the anger is a real sense of betrayal and being thrown under the bus by Good Vibrations.  All in favor of a UFO cult that has my clitoris up for adoption for anyone with spare change.  Thankfully they do not have a price tag on it.  How much would it suck if it only cost $1!!! 🙂

Apparently the disrespect extends to the way Clitoraid carries out their activities in Burkina Faso where it sounds like the Raelians have ran afoul of local authorities with their activities.

In further research about what the Raelians are doing on the ground I have found the following links rather helpful:
http://le10sident.blogspirit.com/archive/2009/08/28/la-clinique-du-plaisir-qui-fait-couler-beaucoup-d-encre-et-d.html

Their own newsletter describing their operations in Burkina Faso further confirms my suspicions.  In this newsletter they brag about misrepresenting the name of the hospital they are building stating,
“The official name of the Hospital was another ball game! The name “Pleasure Hospital” seems to have shocked some people along the administrative trail of the file. One of the women who were to sign for the Health Ministry, retained the file for several months, asserting that she would never sign as long as the word pleasure would not be removed from the official name. After many endless discussions, the women’s access to pleasure who were waiting, appeared more important to us than the name itself and the hospital thus became: The “KAMKASSO HOSPITAL” which means in the local language, the women’s house. But we will keep for our communications the name “Pleasure Hospital”, no matter how displeased that woman was that we could associate a clitoris and pleasure”.

They admit to blatant duplicity in how they are marketing the hospital!! And that is their side of the story.  I’m eager to find out how the opposition would describe their activities.

Doesn’t it seem like strange bedfellows for Good Vibrations?  where was the due diligence before pledging their support?  Did they know, and decide to ignore, all this before they decided to support the organization or was the temptation to adopt clitorises just too much to resist?

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2010 1:46 AM

    Now I get you. The point is the demeaning phrases they use. They should come up with a better way of addressing the cause.
    Its quite interesting how foreing NGOs come to Africa with this oh so called causy stuff but end up doing utter nonsense!

  2. Giunia permalink
    April 9, 2010 4:26 AM

    I am absolutely fascinated by this exchange. In fact, I am writing something on it, which I will send to you shortly. For now, let me just say that I think this post would have made a more effective letter to Good Vibrations!

  3. Tuittu permalink
    April 9, 2010 8:06 AM

    You go, Wanjiru. I thought you were clear enough in the first post, but it’s good to keep clarifying! (Especially since I noticed that some who signed the petition did so because they thought Clitoraid was cutting away clitorises… 🙂

    Mostly people read just two paragraphs or one of any named text, have you noticed? So this was a GOOD clarification – the most important message in the beginning.

  4. April 9, 2010 10:04 PM

    My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

  5. Mbugua Wathika permalink
    April 12, 2010 1:53 AM

    I am a Kenyan man who lives in the US and I cannot pretend to be an authority on matters relating to women (obviously). However, as a kid, I sneaked into a female circumcision ritual and observed the gruesome act, first hand. The fact that I observed the ritual on that morning does not make me an expert on the matter, but I think you are waging the wrong war.
    I really don’t think the women who have had to live with the physical and psychological scars for years care about a ‘demeaning’ phrase used at the Clitoraid web site. They care more about the group that seems to want to restore some of the dignity caused by the mutilations.
    I think a more constructive approach would be for you to work with the Clitoraid group. Educate them about the problems faced by African women and assist them in coming up with more appropriate words for their fund raising campaign. Trying to derail the only group that is actually helping seems counterproductive.
    -Mbugua Wathika-

    • Annick permalink
      April 13, 2010 10:59 AM

      Mbugua –
      No one is saying that FGM/C is a good thing.

      One of the main problems is that there are MUCH BETTER ORGANIZATIONS to support if you want to REALLY fight FGM/C (check out the Global Fund for Women who will put you in touch with relevant, community-based organizations) … the Raelians are not known to actually do what their claiming to do (they had a project called clonaid, where they claimed to have cloned a baby which illustrates their honesty).

      Also, Wanjiru told me that the government of Burkina Faso (where the hospital is supposedly being built) actually provides government funding for reconstructive surgeries!!! Thus there is no need for this bogus organization to intervene…

  6. Ollaid permalink
    April 22, 2010 8:58 AM

    Dear Wanjiru,

    Have you involved African Woman in your process of stopping Good Vribations from sponsoring Clitoraid? Do you know how African Woman feel about Clitoraid? I believe that these are 2 important questions that need to be addressed.
    I am from Africa and I strongly doubt that the Government of Burkina Faso will fund the FGM surgeries which lives only Clitoraid to do the job. Withouth funding, all those poor African woman will never have reconstructive surgeries.

    Ollaid.

    • April 22, 2010 10:50 AM

      @Ollaid
      I AM AN AFRICAN WOMAN!!!
      Why do you assume I’m not? Did I miss a memo somewhere?

      Have you missed all the other African women who have complained about Clitoraid!!

      What of the fact that the Government of Burkina Faso has for YEARS now been offering free reconstructive surgeries as a result of pressures by women there?

  7. Missthing permalink
    April 26, 2010 2:12 AM

    Dear Miss Wanjiru,

    Have you personally gone through FGM? I honestly don’t understand what you are protesting here. Charity is charity. The fact that you are working against these group of people who are just trying to help makes me wonder what your agenda is. I have heard that people have started protesting against Good Vibrations as well. Protesting against a company that so generously offered to donate toys to women who so desperately need it! Have you ever had an orgasm? Do you know how it feels to not feel whole? To never know how it feels to be a real woman? There is no worse feeling than that! FGM is a horrible, horrible, horrible thing. And if this company you are fighting against is going to get people to donate money to build a hospital in order to help these women regain their sense of self, how can you fight against that? If your issue is against the wording ‘adopt a clitoris’, then you should argue against that. Don not take hope away from so many women who need it! I believe ‘adopt a clitoris’ grabs peoples attention and makes them read more about FGMs. And maybe makes them want t donate. That phrase grabbed my attention!

    By the way, thanks to Clitoraid, I have had the surgery! I am an African woman who has nothing but respect for Clitoraid and Good Vibrations! They have given me the chance to be a woman again! And I hope they continue their good work!

    • Ollaid permalink
      April 27, 2010 7:26 PM

      Dear Missthing,

      THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!You went straight to the point…I really wonder if Miss Wanjiru is a victim of FGM. I still don’t get her arguments against Clitoraid and Good Vibrations. If she has so much energy to waste, I would suggest she finds something else to focus on. I also had the reconstructive surgery thanks to Clitoraid. Thanks to them, I am a complete woman. I hope that Clitoraid helps MANY MANY more other women. It is really unfurtunate that Good Vibrations will no longer continue their fund raising activities for Clitoraid.

      Ollaid.

  8. Gina Rodriguez permalink
    August 10, 2010 12:25 PM

    Come on! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that when they mean when they say “adopt a clitoris”. The doctors donate their time, but the hospitals charge a particular amount for using their facilities. Would you consider it demeaning to “adopt a stomach” to help a starving child or to “adopt a cleft” to help provide funds for those in tribal communities who cannot afford cleft pallet restoration? When I saw “adopt a clitoris”, I thought it was brilliant! It communicated the mission perfectly. I immediately knew that the purpose of the campaign was to find donors who would cover the cost of reconstructive surgery for those who cannot afford it.

    I think the Raelian religion is a bunch of cuckoo doodoo, too, but who cares???? So it is a REALLY weird religion…but that doesn’t negate the fact that they are doing an INCREDIBLE thing! Why stand in the way of women getting the help they need?

    Shame on you!

  9. Gina Rodriguez permalink
    August 10, 2010 12:26 PM

    Rephrase: “to know what they mean when they say”

  10. Missthing permalink
    September 10, 2010 5:52 PM

    Well put Ms. Rodriguez! I seriously think Ms. Wanjiru should find something better to protest. Do not take this opportunity away from those who desperately need it, but are too ashamed to get help. I don’t believe in the religion, but I believe in their cause–to help women.
    I recently found out that your ranting has caused Good Vibrations to stop donating sex-toys to women who go through the re-constructive surgery through Clitoraid. How is this a good thing? What are these women to do now? These ‘toys’ help with their recovery. Where shall they go now? Where will they get the money to pay for them now? Do you really think you are doing good? Honestly, I don’t think you are any different than the mad reverend in America who called on everyone to burn the Koran. You should seriously look for a better way to ‘save’ Africa!

  11. June 4, 2013 6:34 AM

    Okay, I understand the contraversy over the slogan, “Adopt A Clitoris.” It actually put me off a bit, too, and I also understand the concerns about this particular “religious” group that sponors Clitoraid. My question is: Is Clitoraid a legitimate charity? Do they actually use the money they raise to help the women who want to have this surgery? I want to be informed about where the money goes. Why is the office in Las Vegas? Why do they not have an office where the hospital is? Are there any well-documented charities out there that are actually doing something to end this practice and if so, someone please tell me what they are so can get involved. Thank you.

Trackbacks

  1. Someone IS listening!! Good news from the Challenging Clitoraid campaign « Can? We? Save? Africa?
  2. No free lunch: African women are still not for sale « Can? We? Save? Africa?
  3. Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Sometimes the world does not suck: Part Two
  4. links for 2010-04-20 « Embololalia
  5. Arguing with fools hurts my head « Can? We? Save? Africa?

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