WARNING: The following article contains extremely graphic material.
Saturday, Elephant Journal published an article in which a woman shares her experience with “period shaming.” The author decided that the only way to combat such shaming was by having nude pictures taken of herself with menstrual blood dripping down her legs.
This is not satire–and I’m deliberately not linking to it.
The woman is upset that some people think menstrual blood and tissue is “gross,” so she’s fighting. She’s a warrior! Many third-wave feminists praise garbage like this, but refuse to acknowledge the horrific things done to women in the name of Islam.
Something to note before continuing: This woman could very well condemn FGM and honor killings. However, I’m using her piece as a general example. In other words, don’t assume.
Third-wavers pretend to be warriors by bashing the “patriarchy,” and “slut-shaming” in the United States, meanwhile, women around the world (and even in the states) are having their genitals mutilated and being murdered for going to school or having a boyfriend.
“When we say someone has blood on their hands, it is usually perceived as dirty, something to be afraid or ashamed of. I had blood on my hands and I owned it…As women who bleed [sic], we have been suppressed. We have been shamed, humiliated, hurt, wronged. We have had to explain ourselves when we are emotional, and are even ridiculed because of it. We have been viewed as less capable to function in the world.”
According to UNICEF, “at least 200 million girls and women alive today living in 30 countries have undergone FGM/C,” which is short for “Female Genital Mutilation.” There are four types of FGM, each one increasingly horrific, according to the World Health Organization:
- Type 1: Often referred to as clitoridectomy, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris…and in very rare cases, only the prepuce…
- Type 2: Often referred to as excision, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without excision of the labia majora…
- Type 3: Often referred to as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoris…
- Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.
UNICEF reports that 87% of Egyptian girls and women have been mutilated. That number is 98% in Somalia, 87% in Sudan, and 90% in Sierra Leone. The Muslim population in those nations are as follows, according to Pew Research:
- Egypt: 94.9%
- Somalia: 99.8%
- Sudan: 90.7%
- Sierra Leone: 78%
It doesn’t matter if the Koran supports this disgusting procedure, a great many Muslims in the Middle East and Africa practice it. But people are so reticent to criticize anything relating even remotely to Islam for fear of being labeled an “Islamophobe.” So instead of focusing on FGM, they focus on “period shaming.”
And according to Newsweek, FGM isn’t just happening overseas, but in the U.S. as well:
“More than half a million women and girls in the U.S. are at risk of undergoing FGM in the U.S. or abroad, or have already undergone the procedure, including 166,173 under the age of 18, according to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB)…
Immigration to the U.S. from African and Middle Eastern countries—where the practice of FGM is a deeply entrenched cultural tradition—is the sole factor for the rise in numbers, says Mark Mather, a demographer at PRB who led the data analysis.”
The woman continues bravely:
“When we as human beings don’t know anything about something, we usually start with what we can perceive with our senses—we look, we hear, we see, we smell, we touch. I dare you. Go sit down with your blood during one of the first days of bleeding. Meditate on it. Smell it. Feel it. Why is it gross or scary? Look at me. Look me in the eyes and tell me why.”
Sophie Goddard of Cosmopolitan describes type 3 mutilation:
“…infibulation involves the girl having her clitoris cut out and other parts of her genitalia carved away. The bleeding sides of the girl’s labia are then sewn up with silk or held together with horizontally-inserted thorns.
Then, after a paste of herbs has been applied on the wound, the thighs of the girl are tied up and she is left lying on a mat for several weeks. If she survives, and the wound has healed, the entrance to the vagina is closed except for a tiny opening created by inserting a splinter of wood.”
It gets worse:
“On her wedding night (which for many of these girls will happen before she is even 10 years old), the groom will have to open his bride (de-infibulation). This is often done with a dagger or sharp instrument.”
But it’s the blood-soaked model who’s a warrior:
“I believe generations of shaming have led us to serious alienation and disconnection from our bodies. Shame exists in my bloodline. I am sure shame exists in yours as well. I am trying to break this line of shame…I believe that when a woman is ashamed about her menstrual blood, she will take this shame with her into pregnancy and she may increase her chances of feeling ashamed of or uncomfortable with all the fluids that flow from her womb and vagina during and after childbirth.”
NDTV quotes a 40-year-old woman named Malko Jama, who was mutilated when she was a child:
“I was nine. A woman came to the house. They held me down and held my legs apart and she cut me with a razor and stitched me back up with acacia thorns…
She cut out the clitoris and the inner labia and then she cut out the flesh from the outer labia and sewed up the skin that was left…When it was finished they took a big sheet and a cord and they bound my thighs together…They brought me small pieces of bread but refused to allow me water or tea. They said the body had to dry out…
After seven days they removed the sheet and the cutter came to inspect me. She said I was completely closed up.”
I’m aware that oppression exists everywhere and in very different forms, but I’m really tired of granola third-wave feminists beating the drum of “patriarchal oppression” in the United States, and basically ignoring the fact that women around the world–many in predominantly Muslim countries–are being oppressed (see: mutilated) in a way they could not possibly imagine.
Can we stop pretending that a period-drenched photo shoot is brave, and talk about the real issues facing women around the world–including the United States?