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Arguing with fools hurts my head

April 21, 2010

“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference”

These are my thoughts as I read Clitoraid’s recent, and very personalized attack of a collective challenge to their humiliating campaign to adopt African women’s clitorises.

In their latest public statements Clitoraid has “likened the call for sensitivity toward those in Africa who perpetuate and condone FGM to those who were “sensitive” toward slave owners or Nazis

What?!!  Over and Over and Over again I, and others including Dr. Petra Boynton, Dr. Elisabeth  WoodMatthew Greenall, DarkladyKudzai Makombe and Caille Milner of the San Francisco Chronicle, have expressed our position that we do not support the continuation of Female Circumcision.  Our collective concerns have been about Clitoraid’s humiliating adoptions of African women’s genitalia for dubious fundraising purposes.

Yet when faced with the very real critique that their fundraising campaign, indeed their entire organization, is culturally imperialistic and racist at best, Clitoraid and the Raelians behind them still do not get it!

I think part of the problem thus far has been that we have all abandoned issues of race and culture to the margins of feminism in ways that have led to the Clitoraid mess.  Had we heeded Audre Lorde’s call 26 years ago and made conversations about race and cultural difference a central plank of the feminist platform we would not still be debating whether its right or wrong for anyone to adopt an African woman’s clitoris.  Unfortunately, we’re still debating whether African women deserve dignity and respect.

But back to Clitoraid’s nonsense.  They argue that,

“Slave owners in the American South thought Northerners were insensitive to their needs,” Gary said. “And it wasn’t considered polite in Nazi Germany to ask what was happening to the Jews. Both situations demanded blunt, effective, immediate opposition, not sensitivity toward the perpetrators and their supporters.”
She said the same principle applies for eliminating FGM and restoring clitoral functionality through surgery for as many victims as possible.“This is a senseless, horrible act that causes excruciating pain and sexual deprivation for millions,” Gary said. “While other organizations just discuss and wring their hands, CLITORAID acts.”

What of the dozens if not hundreds of African women’s organizations that have been mobilizing around the issue of FGM for decades now?  Is that who’s wringing their hands?  Or does it not count when African women do something about their experiences, it only counts when ‘Westerners’ act?

And for the Slavery and Nazi analogies, I don’t even know what to do with that logic.  So is it Africans that are analogous to Nazis and slave holders?   Because thats who practices FGM.  Or is it the African woman activist (me) who raises the alarm about this humiliating campaign that is analogous to the slave holder of the Nazi? hmmmmmmm?!

My head hurts. and not in a good way.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Teri Caraway permalink
    April 21, 2010 7:31 PM

    I’m with you Wanjiru but I think the problem is not so much with feminism but with Eurocentrism…I think the problem here is not so much feminists in the academy but pseudo-feminism rooted in some ngos, corporations, and gov’t agencies that frames things as the US acting to “save” women of color in post-colonial states from local patriarchies, w/out actually engaging in dialogue with the women they purport to rescue…Teri

  2. April 21, 2010 8:49 PM

    Horrible attack. I think this organization really likes attention. Not in a good way.

  3. April 22, 2010 1:25 AM

    They’re also forgetting the fact that they are not being sensitive to the victims of FGM. If I had already been brutalised physically, is it fair to ‘sell’ my clitoris? Their respect for the victims has to come first.

    I agree it’s eurocentrism at it’s worst; the value system applied to Africa is clearly not the same as they would use in their own back yard.

  4. Kao permalink
    April 22, 2010 12:16 PM

    I was disgusted when I read Clitoraid’s ‘rebuttal’ to all the informed, well thought out and critically examine criticism that they have been justly receiving. I hate to refer to an Internet meme, but have you seen the macro of the golden retriever being sprayed by a hose, with ‘wharrrgarrbble’ underneath it? That’s honestly what ran through my mind when attempting to slog through those responses.

    I’m unimpressed by the lack of transparency Clitoraid actually has, in terms of their financing, since that alone is a hallmark of terrible charities. A good charity is as clear and open as possible about how much money comes in and where and how money goes out. Blustering around and acting offended by the fact that we’re expecting them to act like a reasonable charity just illustrates that they are neither.

    Mostly, the amount of entitlement is ridiculous. It’s like they think that because they see their intentions as good, and think that whites of European descent can so clearly do better than any local African efforts that the local efforts effectively don’t exist, they should only ever receive praise. They’re such a clear example of people who do “charity” because it makes them feel good, without actually caring one bit about the effects of said “charity” or whether or not the recipients even want it.

    (Please forgive if this is a bit garbled. My brain chemistry is wonky today thanks to a minor med mishap.)

  5. Annick permalink
    April 22, 2010 1:10 PM

    Ain’t that the truth….

  6. Jonquil permalink
    April 23, 2010 11:30 AM

    All Africans *including the organizations that are already fighting FGM without any help from the Raelians* are Nazis. Awesome.

  7. May 23, 2010 4:55 AM

    i know this is a bit off-topic but i have been quoting “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference” widely. works for all sorts of situations.

  8. June 6, 2010 6:27 PM

    I learned several years ago that it’s useless trying to be rational with irrational people.

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  1. Interesting posts, weekend of 4/24/10 « Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction

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